Thomas S. Monson is the current Mormon prophet. Many people wonder if Mormons are Christians. By looking at what the Bible says a Christian is, and by examining the teachings of the current prophet, we can decide whether or not Mormons and their Mormon prophet are Christians.
The word “Christian” appears only a few times in the Bible, always as a term non-Christians use to describe followers of Jesus Christ. They were first called Christians in Antioch by the other people who lived there, and this event is recorded in the Book of Acts, after Jesus’ death. Therefore, researching the Bible for what it says about who is a Christian is not helpful. However, we can look to see what the Bible says about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The word trinity is not found in the Bible and the concept is not taught there. Trinity is an inappropriate evaluation tool for Christianity since it was invented after Jesus’ death.
What did Jesus say on the subject of being a Christian, then?
In Jesus’ own time, the term “disciple” was used to describe the twelve apostles. His explanation of what a disciple is can help us decide what he considered to be the definition of a Christian, since the term disciple refers to following Christ. A Mormon prophet is a disciple of Christ, and the things Jesus said about His disciples in ancient times apply also to Thomas Monson.
Acknowledge God and Jesus
Jesus’ first criteria is that you must acknowledge Christ and His Father are both real and that you must honor them both. These scriptures show that they are different beings and must both be acknowledged:
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. (1 John 2:23)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. . (John 5: 23-24).
Keep the Commandments
Another requirement for being a disciple of Jesus Christ is to keep the commandments. The New Testament has numerous references to God’s requirement that we obey His commandments.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31.)
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
Love One Another
The third requirement found numerous times in the New Testament is to love one another and to treat everyone like family—family you love.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35).
We can see the Bible really doesn’t offer a list of specific doctrine to be believed in if you want to be a Christian. What it does say is that we must love Jesus Christ and God, acknowledge their reality and divinity, treat others well, and live the gospel.
Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, has been a Christian all his life. He was raised in a family that practiced Christian charity on a regular basis. Homeless men riding the rails knew they could find a good meal in his mother’s kitchen. He helped his parents take food and gifts to those in need. As a young boy, he offered his testimony to the heartbroken mother of a young soldier who died, assuring her that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice had saved her son and would allow him to live again.
As an adult, President Monson continued the pattern his parents taught him. He is known for the loving care he gave to 85 widows in the congregation over which he presided as a young adult. He made sure they each had a fresh chicken for their Christmas dinner. He visited them in their homes and later in their nursing homes. He spoke at each of their funerals. Thomas Monson rounded up food, clothing, and other necessities for those in need who were under his care in his congregation.
Throughout his life, he has preached the need for great love and kindness toward others, particularly those who are in need. He testifies often of Jesus Christ and encourages members of the Church to follow the example set by Him. He encourages Mormons to read the Bible and to learn about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
In 1990, Thomas S. Monson gave a talk called The Search for Jesus. In it he said,
Down through the generations of time, the message from Jesus has been the same. To Peter by the shores of beautiful Galilee, he said, “Follow me.” To Philip of old came the call, “Follow me.” To the Levite who sat a receipt of customs came the instructions, “Follow me.” And to you and to me, if we but listen, shall come that same beckoning invitation, “Follow me.”
He outlined the efforts people make in their own personal search for Jesus throughout history. Some mistakenly turn to idols or went on Crusades or debated truth in councils, like the one in Nicaea.
President Monson reminds us this is not how we find Christ. We don’t find Christ or truth in debates, votes, or worldly patterns. The way to find Christ is by following the pattern given us by Christ Himself:
The formula for finding Jesus has always been and ever will be the same—the earnest and sincere prayer of a humble and pure heart. The prophet Jeremiah counseled, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13.)
Before we can successfully undertake a personal search for Jesus, we must first prepare time for him in our lives and room for him in our hearts. In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, time for shopping, time for work, time for play—but no time for Christ.
Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ.
Do we get a pang of conscience as we recall his own words: “The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20.) Or do we flush with embarrassment when we remember, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7.) No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, Thomas Monson works to encourage people to find more time for their personal search for Christ. He also helps people understand the process of making that search.
Prayer, Thomas Monson reminds us, is a key factor in finding Christ. As we pray, we build our relationship with Jesus Christ and with God and learn to recognize when They are speaking to us. We learn to distinguish Their voices from all others, knowing that in James 1:5 of the New Testament, we are told God promises to give us wisdom if we ask for it with faith, and God always keeps His promises.
Thomas S. Monson reminds people to have a clear concept of the Jesus Christ they are seeking. They aren’t looking for the baby in the Christmas story. We are seeking the grown and resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Redeemer of Mankind.
The Mormon prophet tells us that once we find Jesus Christ, we must bring Him gifts. The Wise Men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, but from us, Christ asks for a different type of gift. He wants us to give ourselves to Him. This requires a greater depth of gift-giving. How do we give ourselves to Jesus Christ? A Christian will note the Bible, as shown above, says one way is to serve others. The Book of Mormon says that when we serve others we are in the service of God.
The Book of Mormon outlines another responsibility for those seeking to become Christians and to give of themselves to Jesus Christ. It says when we are baptized we covenant (promise) to stand as a witness of God.
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? (Mosiah 18 in the Book of Mormon)
This scripture tells us a true Christian serves others compassionately. It also tells us we are called to be witnesses of God at all times. This is, for many, the most challenging part of being a Christian.
Being a true Christian is not about sitting in church for a few hours each Sunday, although that is part of it. It is not just about getting baptized or a one-time “being saved” action. It is about living every moment of our lives for Christ, being witnesses to Him. We take on ourselves His name when we’re baptized and that means we have a responsibility to wear the name well, to represent Him honorably even when it involves personal sacrifice.
Sometimes being a Christian and even more often being a Mormon Christian means facing discrimination, persecution, and hardship. It means occasionally facing name calling, discovering that despite laws you are denied a job or the same treatment in your career others receive. Sometimes it means a teacher will attack your faith in class. However, these are temporal concerns. For a Christian, the eternal perspective is the one that counts. When viewed from the eternal scheme of things, the challenges of being a Christian are minimal compared to the blessings of being a Christian.
The Mormon prophet has given most of his life to teaching about and serving Jesus Christ. He has spent untold hours in volunteer service as a leader in a lay church. He is noted for untold hours spent serving individuals as well as the church as a whole.
Is the Mormon prophet a Christian?
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth devil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7)