Editorial: Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and the Gospel -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:2 (Summer 2005)
Article: Editorial: Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and the Gospel
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and the Gospel

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

There is probably no American religious group that has had a more interesting, complex, and confusing history than the Mormons. Since its founding in the mid-nineteenth century by Joseph Smith, Mormonism—officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (LDS)—has been in constant conflict with historic, biblical Christianity. In fact, historically Mormons have viewed themselves as the only true and living church on earth, the restoration of a true Christianity from the apostate churches represented by both Protestants and Roman Catholics. Today, however, in order to appeal to the larger public, many Mormon leaders often portray their faith as merely another form of Christianity that, unlike other subsets within the larger Christian world, preaches the entirety of Christ’s gospel. That is why Mormons are often indignant when they are excluded from the confines of traditional orthodoxy and viewed by orthodox Christians as a cult or a contrary religion that proclaims another Christ and a false gospel.

But regardless of Mormon claims, it is difficult, nigh impossible, to maintain that Mormonism is just another version or subset of historic Christianity. Why? Because at point after point, if we compare and contrast Christian orthodoxy with Mormon theology, we have to conclude that Mormonism represents an entirely different theology, an alien worldview—another gospel, which is no gospel at all. In this regard, we need to heed the warning of Paul that even if an angel from heaven preaches a gospel other than the one proclaimed by the apostles, let him be eternally condemned (Gal 1:8-9). That is why evangelicals historically view Mormons as those who need to hear and respond to the true gospel found in Scripture alone, and as standing outside a saving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, though, there is a growing, even raging debate among some within the evangelical world over the status of Mormons vis-a-vis the gospel. Most evangelicals view Mormonism as a false religion, but due to recent writings of some within the Mormon body, some evangelicals are beginning to wonder whether there is a shift occurring within the LDS church that is making it...

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