Christianity vs Mormonism: Comparison [with Charts]


Christianity is the largest religion in the Western world, and Mormonism is one of the fastest-growing. Both have experienced significant growth in Asia and Africa in recent years. At first glance, it’s evident that Christians and Mormons have common ground theologically and morally. Yet, upon closer examination, it’s clear that there is a lot that divides these two faith traditions.

Christianity and Mormonism have different beliefs about the nature of God the Father, the identity of Jesus Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, and the relationship between the three. They also believe differently about scripture, sin, salvation, marriage, and heaven. Yet they have similar moralities.

What are ten areas of general theological agreement between Christians and Mormons? What are ten areas of important disagreement? Is the LDS Church a Christian denomination? Are Mormons Christians? How do their other doctrines compare, like their beliefs about the Bible, sin, baptism, and heaven? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see How Did Christianity Spread? to learn more.

Mormon temple
Do Mormons believe Jesus rose from the dead? See below

Christianity and Mormonism: Similarities and Differences

Below, readers will find ten areas of agreement between historic Christianity and the current teachings of the LDS Church. Some branches and denominations of historic Christianity would nuance some of the descriptions below, as would certain LDS prophets based on their sermons and publications.

Nevertheless, the list reflects current agreements and disagreements between the two faith traditions that are substantially accurate, giving readers a starting point for comparing and contrasting Christianity and Mormonism. Below the lists, readers will find in-depth comparison charts.

10 areas of general agreement

The best way to understand the areas of agreement is to read the ten points of disagreement that follow. Please know that it’s often the case that points of “general agreement” don’t necessarily reflect unity on the entirety of a doctrine, topic, or subject, but only one aspect of it.

  1. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each divine, functionally united, and eternal.
  2. Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, Lord, God, and Son of the Father.
  3. A person can’t be saved apart from Jesus Christ.
  4. Jesus suffered and died on the cross as a substitutionary atonement for sin.
  5. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
  6. God’s grace saves people through the proclaimed gospel.
  7. God saves people by grace through faith.
  8. Sanctification occurs after salvation and progresses through surrendering to God, resisting sin, and pursuing holiness and righteousness.
  9. God inspired the Bible.
  10. Jesus will visibly return to earth one day, judge people, with some going to heaven and others to hell, and establish his kingdom.

10 areas of important disagreement

The ten areas of agreement and disagreement only summarize the similarities and differences between Christianity and Mormonism. The comparison charts provided below are intended to help readers compare and contrast the faith traditions in more detail.

  1. Christians don’t believe God inspired LDS writings like the Book of Mormon; Mormons do.
  2. Christians don’t believe God the Father has a physical body; Mormons do.
  3. Christians don’t believe God the Father was a human being; Mormons do.
  4. Christians don’t believe they will eventually share the attributes of God; Mormons do.
  5. Mormons don’t believe that God is a Trinity in essence; Christians do.
  6. Mormons don’t agree with early church creeds, like the Nicene Creed; Christians do.
  7. Mormons don’t believe in justification by faith alone; most Christians do.
  8. Christians don’t believe dead people can respond to the gospel; Mormons do.
  9. Christians don’t believe works determine tiers of glory in heaven; Mormons do.
  10. Most Christians don’t believe Mormons are saved; most Mormons believe Christians are saved.

Dialogue between Christians and Mormons shouldn’t aim to strip away their differences to find the least common denominators of their theologies and unite over those fragments. Promoting the “bare minimum” suspends serious discussion and dismisses the entirety of each tradition’s beliefs. Instead, the aim should be to assess their respective claims with the Bible’s teachings.

Also see Who Is the Founder of Christianity? to learn more.

Holy Bible
Does the LDS Church believe the Book of Mormon is equal to the Bible? See below

Comparing Christian and Mormon Beliefs

Unfortunately, conversations and interactions between Christianity and Mormonism haven’t always been civil. Yet, the relationship between the traditions may be better today than ever. To continue the trend of civility, readers are encouraged to peruse the comparison charts below in a spirit of humility, respect, and love.

Dialogue between Christians and Mormons must not consist of stereotypes, mischaracterizations, and mockery. Both groups likely agree that how popular media depicts Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptists, evangelicals, and Mormons often reflects hatred, fear, and cluelessness. Christians and Mormons must not duplicate such shortcomings in their relationship with each other.

ChristianityMormonism
OriginFirst-century Israel: The person and work of Jesus of Nazareth (4/6 B.C.-30/33 A.D.), as recorded in the four Gospels, and explained in the rest of the New Testament, are the foundation of the Christian faith.19th-century America: Joseph Smith (1805-1844) founded the LDS Church based on a vision he had at 15 years old and another at 18. He published the Book of Mormon in 1830.
Name“Christianity” is the name of the faith that Jesus of Nazareth founded. A “Christian” is someone who follows him as a disciple (Acts 11:26).Some prefer the formal name, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). “Mormon,” which comes from the name of a prophet-warrior from the Nephite tribe in the Book of Mormon, is the tradition’s informal name.
Branches and Divisions The three historic branches of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism. The latter consists of many denominations. They agree on several doctrines, like the Trinity and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.There have been dozens of offshoots from the LDS Church that Brigham Young (1801-1877) established that mainstream Mormonism doesn’t recognize.
MembershipApproximately 2.5 billion: Catholicism – 1.3 billion; Protestantism – 900 million; Eastern Orthodox – 220 million. [1]The LDS Church has approximately 17 million members worldwide. [2]
Early contributorsJesus’ apostles like Simon Peter, John the Evangelist, and Paul of Tarsus. Paul wrote 12 of the 27 books of the New Testament.Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Oliver H. P. Cowdery (1806-1850), Hyrum Smith (1800-1844)
ChristianityMormonism
OrganizationJesus is the head of the Church. However, the three historic branches disagree on aspects of church governance. For example, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox don’t recognize the Catholic pope as Vicar of Christ.Jesus is the head of the Church. An appointed man on earth, called the prophet or president, is his spokesman. He has two counselors. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the governing body.
AuthorityThe Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions locate authority in the Bible and in the teachings of their respective traditions. Protestantism locates authority in Scripture alone.The prophet speaks authoritatively. The LDS Church also locates authority in the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelations, which complement and complete what the Bible teaches.
Social worldview todayThe majority of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches are conservative. Some mainline Protestant churches have become liberal in recent decades. Yet, the evangelical wing of Protestantism remains devoutly conservative.The LDS Church is conservative. Some offshoots of mainstream Mormonism promote liberal-progressive values, but they are small and inconsequential.
See more comparison charts below
Christian cross
Does the LDS Church teach that the Bible has errors? See below

Is the LDS Church a Christian denomination?

In recent years, the LDS Church has expressed a desire to be seen as a Christian denomination. Yet, the historic branches and denominations of Christianity argue the LDS Church isn’t Christian because of its differing theological views, especially on the nature of God, divine revelation, and salvation (see below).

Responding to the fact that historic Christianity doesn’t consider Mormons to be Christians, the 15th president of the LDS Church, Gordon Hickley (1910-2008), answered, “I can’t understand it. The very name of the church is the name of Jesus Christ. Our whole message is centered around Christ.” [3] There are two important responses to this argument.

  • First, merely mentioning the name “Jesus Christ” in its title doesn’t sufficiently identify any group with Christian beliefs and practices. For example, the LDS Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, and other religions mention the name “Jesus Christ,” but have a wide range of beliefs about him.
  • Second, the number of LDS prophets and writings, both historic and modern, that refer to Christian denominations as “false churches” with “false gospels” [4] that are “of the devil” (e.g. 1 Neph. 13:32; 14:10) is overwhelming. The LDS Church must work to reconcile these damaging statements or else be seen as wanting to identify with an allegedly false religion.

Adding to the confusion are other statements that Hinckley made about Mormons not believing in the same Jesus that Christians do. For example, when asked if he believed in the same Jesus, he responded:

“No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He, together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.” [5]

Book of Mormon
What Bible translation do Mormons read? See below

The Bible and the Book of Mormon Compared

The nature and role of sacred writings in historic Christianity and the LDS Church are foundational to understanding their respective beliefs and practices. All branches of historic Christianity appeal to the Bible to validate their convictions. However, some rely on the traditional teachings of their church or denomination to interpret, explain, and apply them.

Mormonism appeals to the Bible and its other sacred texts, like the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, which it believes are equal in authority with the Bible. The LDS Church also cites teachings, sermons, and writings from LDS prophets and presidents, who Mormons consider spokespersons for God unless more recent revelations have superseded past ones.

ChristianityMormonism
Latter-Day
Revelation
Christianity denies the truthfulness of the latter-day revelations of Joseph Smith, and other LDS prophets, apostles, and writings, which don’t simply add to the Bible but contradict it in multiple places on key doctrines.The LDS Church espouses the legitimacy of latter-day revelation. Therefore, denying recent revelation is akin to rejecting God.
Nature of ScriptureAs Jesus testified (Matt. 22:31-32), the Bible is truthful (John 17:17), inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and without error (2 Pet. 1:20-21) in all that it affirms.The LDS Church speaks positively of the Bible yet emphasizes that it’s filled with errors and that unknown editors removed Mormon doctrines from it (1 Neph. 13:26).
Alleged Errors99% of all alleged errors and contradictions are easily explained. There are many proposed solutions, though not scholarly consensus, on the remaining 1%.Mormons often draw attention to alleged errors in the Bible, making them partners with atheists, skeptics, and other non-believers who do the same. They do this to emphasize the need for a new revelation, i.e. the Book of Mormon.
Modern TranslationsThousands of existing Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts refute all arguments about a corrupt transmission process. Moreover, any word or verse in translations, like the KJV, NIV, ESV, and others, can be checked against the original languages.The LDS Church teaches that historic Christianity has erred in its “translation” of the Bible, though their arguments relate mainly to the “transmission” process. As a result, they distrust modern translations yet use the KJV.
Source of TruthThe Bible’s revelation is the source of all truth (Prov. 30:5-6; Isa. 40:8; Acts 17:11).The LDS Church encourages people to pray about whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. This is because they believe the Holy Spirit confirms their feelings about it.
Christian trinity diagram
A Christian diagram of the Trinity

The Nature of God

Christianity affirms the Bible’s teaching that God is a Trinity. The LDS Church doesn’t. This disagreement is one of the most significant differences between the traditions. The LDS Church commonly argues that the doctrine of the Trinity is rooted in the early church creeds, yet this doesn’t accurately reflect Christian teaching. Christians believe the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, which the early creeds reflect.

Another important difference between Christianity and Mormonism concerns whether God the Father has a physical human body. Christians say he doesn’t; LDS says he does. The disagreement revolves around a literary device in the Bible called anthropomorphism (from the prefix “anthro-” meaning “human”), which is when writers refer to God like a human such as when he “sees” or “hears.”

ChristianityMormonism
God the FatherGod the Father is the first person of the Trinity. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He sent Jesus into the world to die for people’s sin and save them (John 3:16).God the Father has omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and other divine attributes. He has a physical body like Jesus Christ and was a mortal man in a prior existence.
TrinityAll Christian traditions believe in the Trinity, which is so foundational that not believing it renders a person or church decidedly not a Christian.God is not a Trinity in essence. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each divine and have a unity of mind, will, and purpose.
Jesus ChristJesus is God. He is the second person of the Trinity. Jesus is the only way for a person to be saved. Christian traditions are in general agreement about the person and work of Christ. All acknowledge his life, death, and resurrection.Jesus is God, yet he is subordinate to the Father, who is greater than the Son. Jesus is the only way to be saved, but not Jesus alone because there are other necessary aspects to salvation.
Holy SpiritAll Christian traditions generally agree about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Trinity, possesses the attributes of God, and is fully divine. He sanctifies, comforts, and guides Christians.The Holy Spirit is divine. He doesn’t have a body like the Father and Son. The Spirit guides and affirms.
ChristianityMormonism
SinAffirms the Bible’s teaching about original sin. All people are born with a sinful nature, which produces actual sins. Sin manifests in deeds, words, thoughts, motives, attitudes, and more.Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, but people are accountable for their own sin. Mormons deny the doctrine of original sin.
SalvationJesus is the only way a person can be saved (e.g. Acts 4:12). Some Christians are Arminian, and others are Calvinist or Reformed. Protestants affirm salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and in Jesus alone.LDS theology is devoutly Arminian. The LDS Church professes belief in the substitutionary atonement of Christ, justification by faith, and salvation by grace. Though faith saves, faith alone doesn’t save. Faith plus works save sinners.
Ordinances /
Sacraments
Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have seven sacraments. Protestantism only has two, which are those that Christ explicitly taught: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.Sacraments include baptism for youth and adults, the priesthood for males, endowment for females, and marriage.
View of the Lord’s SupperThere is a variety of views regarding the nature of the bread and cup among Christian traditions. Catholicism holds to transubstantiation, Lutheranism to consubstantiation, Presbyterianism to the Real Presence of Christ, and the Baptist tradition teaches a memorial view.The LDS churches administer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, which consists of bread and water. The ritual reminds members of the promises a person made at their baptism.
BaptismThere are a variety of perspectives about baptism among Christian traditions. Some affirm infant baptism and believe it’s a means of grace. Others hold to “believer’s baptism” and only baptize professing adults, and don’t believe it’s a means of God’s grace.Full-immersion baptism is necessary for salvation for youth and adults. Baptism is for the remission of sins. A priesthood holder must perform the baptism.
End timesAll Christian traditions believe in the Second Coming of Christ and eternal life in heaven with God. What happens before the Second Coming is debated in Protestantism. Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy favor amillennialism.Jesus is coming again, and he will judge people. There are four possible eternal destinations: the celestial, terrestrial, telestial kingdoms, and hell. People in hell have a second chance to be saved.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] A New Witness for the Articles of Faith by Bruce McConkie. p. 141-142.
[5] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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