“We Are Christians Because …” Ensign, Jan. 1984, 17
To members of the Church whose lives have been dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it can come as a surprise to learn that there are people in the world who do not know we are Christians. Many people have never made the connection between the nickname “Mormon” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” At the present time there is even an organized effort to confuse the public and convince them that we are a non-Christian sect.
We have always claimed “the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (A of F 1:11.) We believe that all men are at their best when they worship their God. We respect their right to believe in whatever is sacred to them, and we ask that they allow us the same courtesy. For this reason, the following statement is not designed to be a source of contention, but a short review of why we believe we are amply qualified to be considered Christians.
1. We are Christians because we believe Jesus Christ is an important member of the Godhead. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” (A of F 1:1.) We have no other gods before us. (See Ex. 20:3.) We do not worship prophets or saints, neither of modern nor of ancient times. We pray only to the Father, as the Savior taught during his earthly ministry (see Matt. 6:9, 13); and this we do only in the name of the Savior. We teach, as the scriptures do, that there is no intermediary between God and man save Jesus Christ, and “none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ … whereby man can be saved.” (2 Ne. 25:20.)
2. We are Christians because, like the early Christians, we have no graven images or any other objects of idolatrous worship. (See Ex. 20: 4–6.) Nor do we feel that it is proper to make medals, relics of ancient times, icons, or even the cross or other man-made objects part of our worship of the true and living God. Of course we adorn our parks and our buildings with statues and we display pictures of the Savior and others in prominent places, but we attach no undue religious significance to such things made by man.
3. We are Christians because, like the early Christians, we do not take the name of the Lord in vain (see Ex. 20:7), nor do we condone the misuse of any terms referring to Deity. We follow the admonition of the Savior to “swear not at all” in our dealings with each other. (See Matt. 5:34–37.) Therefore, in the conduct of our daily affairs we do not make vain oaths in the name of sacred things. Rather, our communications with one another are simple and honest and straightforward. We also feel that those who follow Christ will avoid the use of vulgar, foul, uncouth language—as well as avoid the use of any expression reserved for Deity in any improper way.
4. We are Christians because we keep the Christian Sabbath day holy. (See Ex. 20:8–11.) And we strive to keep it holy all day long, not just while in church. We are opposed to any desecration of the Lord’s day, be it sports, public entertainment, hunting and fishing, working, or other such activities. Sunday is for us a day of worship, a day of rest, a time to study, an opportunity to visit the sick, and should not be given to things that can be accomplished on other days of the week; nor should it be a day of buying, selling, negotiating, or participating in other commercial transactions.
5. We are Christians because we honor our fathers and our mothers, our grandparents and all other generations, in the Christian way. (See Ex. 20:12.) We seek to turn the hearts of the children to their parents (and forefathers) and to turn the hearts of the parents to their children (see Mal. 4:6), that we may unite all generations in the bonds of eternal love. We seek the goal of marriage in the temple for eternity. Our temple ordinances are Christ-centered. We have Christ-oriented programs to strengthen the home, the family, and each individual. We strive to protect the integrity of the home and the family from the influences of Satan. We are against those things that destroy the home and the family, such as abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, violence, and unwarranted divorce. Indeed, it was a latter-day Christian prophet, President David O. McKay, who taught, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
6. We are Christians because we strive to obey both the Judeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) and the higher law given by Christ: “Whosoever is angry with his brother … shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matt. 5:22.) Christ was against anger, arguments, and contentions. His counsel was “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.) It is our greatest desire to be obedient to him in this thing.
It is because of our reverence for this commandment that we have feelings against suicide, and against abortion except when appropriate in rare cases due to potential danger or death to the mother or due to rape or incest. It is because of our reverence for this commandment that we also have feelings against the “slow death” that many individuals inflict upon themselves through the use of drugs, alcohol, and other mind- and body-destroying stimulants.
7. We are Christians because we strive to obey both the Judeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” as well as the higher law given by Christ: “Whosoever looketh on [persons of the opposite sex] to lust after [them] hath committed adultery with [them] already in [his/her] heart.” (Matt. 5:28.) We therefore feel that Christians will control their thoughts and not indulge in anything pornographic or immoral or indecent. We are totally against premarital sex, petting, and improper dating practices. We feel that both parties should come to the marriage altar in unqualified purity, and that virtue, chastity, and faithfulness lead to solid marriages which will last through eternity.
8. We are Christians because we strive to obey the Judeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not steal.” (Ex. 20:15; see also D&C 42:20.) We emphasize personal honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. We also agree with the prophet Malachi, who indicated that to withhold tithes and offerings is to rob God of that which is His. (See Mal. 3:8–12.) We readily testify that millions believe and practice the principle of tithing and find that it is better to live on 90 percent plus the blessings of the Lord than to try to make it safely through the risks of this uncertain world on their own wisdom and resources alone.
9. We are Christians because we strive to obey the Judeo-Christian commandment never bear false witness against our neighbors (see Ex. 20:16), to which we add our Christian responsibility to bear a true witness at all times. For light and truth are the glory of God (see D&C 93:36), and no one who is filled with untruth or deceit in any degree can come to him. Perhaps the most important part of the true witness that we as Christians bear as often as we can is our testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that he died for our sins, that he was resurrected the third day, that he lives and stands at the head of the Church which bears his name. We testify as true witnesses that his gospel in its fulness has been restored to the earth. We want to share this truth with everyone. Missionary work is a Christian tradition of which we are happy to be a part.
10. We are Christians because we strive to obey the Judeo-Christian commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex. 20:17), to which we add the wise counsel of Christian prophets that we should be self-sufficient, prepared for emergencies, quick to help others in need, and generous in our offerings which are used by the Church for the welfare of others. We believe that if we do these things, we will not covet, nor will we give others cause to covet that which we have.
11. We are Christians because “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions.” (A of F 1:2.) We fully realize that we are responsible and accountable for our actions, and that we will eventually stand before God to be judged according to our works. (See Rev. 20:12.) We believe that the Savior is pleased with those who “doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21.) This Christian principle causes us to seek to live better lives and to seek to accomplish good in the world.
12. We are Christians because “we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (A of F 1:3.) There is no other way to salvation.
13. We are Christians because “we believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (A of F 1:4.) All these things are centered in Christ.
14. We are Christians because we believe in the Christian lay ministry, established in the original Church. “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” (A of F 1:5.) We believe that a call to the ministry is something that “no man taketh … unto himself,” but that he must be “called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4.) In other words, we do not believe that a man may call himself to the Lord’s ministry.
15. We are Christians because “we believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive [Christian] Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” (A of F 1:6), as well as all other offices mentioned in the New Testament, such as deacons, bishops, and high priests. Just as in the early Church, we believe that Christ’s church in our day should be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph. 2:20.) And we testify that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in it alone, this is so.
16. We are Christians because we believe in the same spiritual gifts that existed in the Primitive Christian Church, namely, “the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.” (A of F 1:7.)
17. We are Christians because “we believe the Bible [both the Old Testament and the New Testament] to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” (A of F 1:8.) Just as the Bible was written by Christian prophets in the Old World, so the Book of Mormon was written by Christian prophets in the New World. It is Christian scripture, a new witness of Jesus Christ, with much additional information about the Savior which in no way contradicts the Holy Bible.
18. We are Christians because “we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (A of F 1:9.) We believe in Christian prophets and in the principle of continuing revelation in our day, “as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come.” (1 Ne. 10:19.) For we are convinced that the love of Christ extends to all, and that he is our Shepherd today as well as anciently.
19. We are Christians because we believe in the second coming of Christ in all his glory, that he will “reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” (A of F 1:10.)
20. We are Christians because we believe in all the Christian ideals for living: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. … If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (A of F 1:13.) We accept and strive to live all the Christlike virtues exemplified in the Beatitudes and in the Sermon on the Mount and in all of the Savior’s teachings. We believe that we should serve Christ with all our heart, might, mind, and strength; that we should be examples of faith, charity, love, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, humility, and diligence, and have an eye single to the glory of God.
To summarize, we are Christians because “we believe in Christ, … and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ. … We are made alive in Christ. … We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we … look forward unto that life which is in Christ. … For the right way is to believe in Christ. … Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore [we] … bow down before him and worship him with all [our] might, mind, and strength, and [our] whole soul.” (2 Ne. 25:24–29.)