Q: Are Mormons Christians?
The question of whether or not Mormonism is "Christian" turns on our definition of that term. Most broadly, we may use the term Christian in a generic sense, according to which any group is "Christian" if it is properly classified within the category of world religions known as Christianity. In this generic sense, the LDS Church may be described as "Christian." But this means simply that Mormonism should be classified as part of the world religion of Christianity rather than being classified as a branch of, say, Judaism or Hinduism. Likewise, we rightly classify a wide variety of religious bodies, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Branch Davidians, and the Unification Church, as part of Christianity in this generic sense. No approval (or disapproval) of the religion's teachings or practices is implied in such a generic, world-religions description of a religion as Christian.
Obviously, the question "Are Mormons Christians?" is not controversial because of a mere disagreement over classification. The real issue is whether the LDS Church is a valid, authentic, faithful expression of the Christian faith. On this question, we must simply accept the fact that evangelicals and LDS will disagree.
From an evangelical perspective, Mormonism is not faithfully or soundly Christian because it deviates from historic, biblical standards of orthodox Christianity. For example, Mormonism teaches that God the Father is an exalted Man, that Jesus, angels, and human beings were all the literal spirit offspring of our "heavenly Father and Mother," and that the ultimate goal of the Christian life is to become exalted to Godhood ourselves. The LDS Church derives these doctrines from its expanded canon of "scripture" that includes alleged modern revelations given to Joseph Smith, who claimed to be the Prophet through whom God restored true Christianity to the earth. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that God is not a man (Num. 23:19) but is transcendent, omnipresent Spirit (1 Kings 8:27; Is. 31:3; John 4:24), that there are no other Gods alongside him, and that there will be no Gods formed in the future (Is. 43:10; 44:6-8). Human beings did not preexist as spirits in heaven before their earthly lives; the only human being who preexisted in heaven (as spirit) before becoming a man was Jesus Christ (John 3:31; 16:28). The New Testament instructs us as believers in Christ to dissociate ourselves religiously from groups that teach such false doctrines that deviate in crucial ways from the apostolic message (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Titus 1:10-16; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:16-17; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11).
Our conclusion that Mormonism is not "Christian" in this narrower, theological sense does not imply any animosity or hostility toward Latter-day Saints. Devout Mormons tend to be good citizens, to espouse high, conservative moral values, and to make common cause with conservative Christians on such important social issues as abortion. Nor do evangelicals single out Mormonism on this issue, since we reach similar conclusions about a variety of "Christian" religious groups whose teachings differ radically from biblical, historic Christian orthodoxy (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unification Church, mentioned earlier). Our intent is to draw attention to the serious differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity in order that believers may be prepared to share the truth with their LDS friends and loved ones.