Christopher Smith's Reviews > Are Mormons Christians?

Are Mormons Christians? by Stephen E. Robinson
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Jan 06, 2011

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The message of Are Mormons Christians could be summarized in a single sentence: the reasons that are usually given for excluding Mormons from the "Christian" fold could also be used to exclude famous Christians like the Apostle Paul, the Apostolic Fathers, Cyril of Jerusalem, and C.S. Lewis. Robinson relentlessly hammers this point home in chapter after chapter, and to his credit, he makes his case well. Catholics and Protestants who have heard the rumor that "Mormons aren't Christians" but who have little or no familiarity with Mormon doctrine might do well to buy this book. As another reviewer put it, it is an invitation to understanding.

That said, Robinson overlooks one reason-- perhaps the most important reason-- that people exclude LDS from the Christian faith: namely, that they worship "a different Jesus". He states on page 111 that "of all the various arguments against Latter-day Saints being considered Christians, not one-- not a singe one-- claims that Latter-day Saints don't acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord." But it could be argued that the one reason he overlooks (which I have seen used more often than any other) DOES in fact suggest that Mormons don't acknowledge Jesus-- or rather that they don't acknowledge the REAL Jesus, the Jesus of traditional Christianity. Fortunately, this reason has been dealt with in a book by Robert Millet titled, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints. That book, in my opinion, is considerably better-written than this one. I recommend that all readers interested in this subject purchase a copy.

Are Mormons Christians? also doesn't stay entirely focused on the subject at hand. There are portions where Robinson is clearly chomping at the bit to try to PROVE the LDS position on a particular issue. The chapter on the Trinity, for example, reads like an excuse to criticize the orthodox view rather than an attempt to defend Mormonism as Christian; on p. 83, in fact, Robinson goes so far as to suggest that Nicene Christians don't worship the God of the NT! These little diversions are all over the book, and make for interesting reading for those who are interested in apologetics (like me), but not for someone who is only trying to figure out whether or not Mormons are Christians. One of the better ones was the defense of esoteric doctrine on pp. 96-103. Much worse, In my opinion, was the treatment of polygamy on pp. 91-96.

This is hardly Robinson's best work. I much more highly recommend How Wide the Divide, which he co-authored with Craig Blomberg. That book is more comprehensive, more focused, more balanced, less rhetorical, and better-written. Still, Are Mormons Christians? is interesting, and die-hard Stephen Robinson fans may find it a rewarding read.
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Nelson I've never heard academics make the "different Jesus" argument. That's more of a redneck argument.

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