We’ve been talking lately about Mormonism. I have also mentioned the missionaries visiting our house. The last time we had them over, one of our missionaries asked a great question. “What about all the denominations?” We have to remember that Joseph Smith’s start allegedly was that he wasn’t sure which denomination was right and was told by God the Father that he was to choose none of them for they were all an abomination to him.
This isn’t a question just Mormons ask though. This is a question raised by Catholic apologists and raised by skeptics against the Christian faith and by Christians themselves. What is to be the answer to this? Is Christianity really so divided that we have to have thousands of denominations. (From what I hear, the most common number is 30,000+.
To begin with, the number is just false. If you have two independent Baptist churches on each side of the street, each one of them is considered a denomination. In fact, even within Catholicism, there are a number of denominations. I’ve asked people to give me a list right off without looking online or using other sources, just going on memory, of twenty denominations. It takes a long time for most people to name just twenty. (Seems odd considering there are supposed to be over 30,000.
But what about Mormonism? Actually, Mormonism has its own number of sects as well. Smith’s wife formed the Reformed Latter-Day Saints when Joseph Smith died. It was led by the prophet’s grandson Joseph Smith Jr. who was known as Little Joe. This is just one sect of the Mormon movement. There are many others, for instance, the Fundamental Latter-Day Saints.
Furthermore, how is it an answer to all the denominations to just create one more denomination that is claiming that it has the truth? It just makes things tougher. In fact, to add whole new Scripture presents an extra obstacle as we have a hard time understanding the Scripture we have at times, and yet it’s supposed to be easier with another one?
Let’s not forget the main important detail. I am a Baptist at heart. I can preach happily in a Baptist church. I can do the same though in a Restoration movement (The teaching of Alexander Campbell) church, a Methodist church, a Lutheran church, a Presbyterian church, etc. Why? It is because we unite on what is the essential truth.
Christian is not a meaningless word. It has deep content to it. It refers to one who believes in the full deity of Christ and his full humanity. They believe in the Trinity. They believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. They believe in salvation by grace through faith. You could not, for instance, say you were a Muslim and you did not believe Muhammad was a prophet. There are some essential things to believe to be a Muslim just as there are a Christian.
Those essential things are the things that unite us and the things we need to focus on. I’m not saying secondary issues are unimportant. I have opinions on the age of the Earth, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, eschatology, views of the church, etc. However, I make it a point to unite on what is most important. It’s one reason Deeper Waters does not comment much on secondary issues.
Thus, I understand the importance, but the Mormons are missing what is going on. We are far more united than we are divided and we all unite on the essential truths. This is one reason we don’t unite with the Mormons also. They disagree with us on those essential truths. It means something specifically to be a Christian, and Mormonism doesn’t fit into the picture.