Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a former president of Brigham Young University.
... I am deeply hurt when I am called anything but a Christian. ... The thing that defines me is my love of God, my commitment to Christ, my Christianity. ... What is different about Mormons, and why would anybody say you're not a Christian?
The two most distinguishing characteristics that come to mind that would separate us from other institutional religions, including institutional Christianity, are these: One is our view of the godhead. We believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost are three separate, distinct individuals. ... The other is priesthood authority: ... the right to speak and act in the name of God. ... One of these foundational pieces [of Mormonism] ... is the restoration of the holy priesthood, whereby actual authority is conveyed from heaven to us on earth to perform this ordinance; "us" being the Latter-day Saints.
... I have no particular wish to in any way be seen as another Protestant religion. We are adamantly not another Protestant religion. But what I don't like, and what I don't want to perpetuate, is the personal antagonism and the personal cleavage where otherwise wonderful people can go to dinner together and have their kids on the soccer team together and carpool to the PTA together, and then, when it comes to religion, just start throwing fists. That does not seem to me right.
President Gordon B. Hinckley is the 15th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has led the church since March 1995.
There are many, many people -- and I'm talking about the people who are respectful of your religion, and who are knowledgeable, literate -- who nonetheless question whether you are, in fact, Christian according to their definition. I'm wondering whether you can talk to the people who really are trying to understand; can you address their concerns? What is it that people find so difficult?
I don't know. I can't understand it. The very name of the church is the name of Jesus Christ. Our whole message is centered around Christ. The Book of Mormon is an additional witness for Christ. Everything we do is done in the name of Christ. I don't understand why people say we're not Christians. That's their right, of course. They can have their own opinion. But all that I can say is that in our terms, we worship Christ; we believe in Christ; we accept him. And he's our savior; he's our redeemer. He's the Son of God; he's the great creator; he's the word made flesh as spoken of by John. He's the savior of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Terryl Givens is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond and author of By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion.
Then there's the question of are Mormons Christian? It's a paradox; according to Mormons, perhaps the Christians aren't Christian!
Part of the problem is insolvable because Mormons are using "Christians" in one sense; everybody else is using it in another. When Mormons say we're Christian, [what] we mean is we believe in Christ. And we do. We believe there is no salvation outside of Christ, that he is the Son of God.
But when everybody else uses the term, what they mean is there's this historically defined tradition that gives us definition through a set of formal creeds of Christianity, and you don't participate in that tradition or that belief, and they're right. So we're talking at cross purposes.