Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are Mormons Protestant?

I’ve heard a number of people say that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t a Protestant church, but it’s also not a Catholic church. However, this leaves us undefined,* and it’d be nice to have a label of some sort—so here’s my take:

I’d argue that it’s true that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neither Catholic nor Protestant, but rather that we’re part of a third (and much smaller) branch of Xianity, the Restoration branch (as opposed to Restorationist, which is clearly Protestant). This branch includes not just the LDS Movement religions, but also such religions as the New Apostolic Church and possibly the Quakers—basically, those churches that rejected previous approaches in favor of a restoration directly from the divine (or authority or spirit or whatever one cares to call it), without arguing that what’s involved is a “priesthood of all believers” or a similar idea.**

* And saying “We’re not Protestant, we’re not Catholic, we’re true” isn’t a valid way of dealing with it—it ignores the possibility that the Protestants or the Catholics or another of the neither-of-those groups is right.

** The Worldwide Church of God has gone through an interesting shift in which it started out as a Restoration church, but has moved toward fitting in better with Protestantism. There are a number of LDS Movement churches that have done the same.

4 comments:

David H. Sundwall said...

Very interesting. I always thought as us as something in between.

In your second footnote I guess you are referring to the RLDS Community of Christ and the like. What makes them go towards the Protestant route? That they downplay the BoM? Don't they still have an expanded D&C?

I think I see your point that they act more like a mainstream Protestant church.

lucky7777 said...

The Mormon Church is a Protestant Church. Why? It reads the King James Bible -- a Protestant version of the Roman Catholic Bible. You are what you eat.

Josh said...

Attempting to classify the LDS movement, and all of its factions, is not that difficult.

It is obviously not Catholic. Being Protestant would mean coming from the Protestant Reformation. It cames much later than this.

Mormonism comes from the restorationist ideas of the Grate Awakening of the US in the 19th-Century. It is not unique in the sense that it was one of many movements in this time that attempted to recreate primitive Christianity. Historically, the religion founded by Joseph Smith is uniquely American in practice and theology. During this time period we as saw the rise of the Holiness churches, Adventist churches, and the tent revivalism.

So what is Mormanism? This is where people don't want to think too deeply. I suppose the easy answer is American Restorationist, but that is not really the quick and dirty answer people are looking for.

Luther4ever said...

The Mormon Church is NOT a Protestant Church.

Protestant Churches are those that have a direct link to the Protestant Reformation, ie: Cranmer, Luther, Knox, etc