Who are Christians? According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, a Christian is "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." There are many things wrong with this definition: 1.) it implies that to be Christian you only need to profess belief, 2.) the belief is in Christ's teachings, not in Him, and 3.) there are many interpretations of what His teachings are. The last problem is why people do not consider us Christians. The first two are why I don't consider many people Christians.
Of course, to be Christian you need to believe in Christ. We do. We believe He is the Son of God and atoned for our sins. We worship Him and only Him--not prophets, dead or alive, as some think, which is why we prefer to be called by our church's true name instead of being called Mormons.
However, a true Christian is more than just someone who believes in the Bible and Jesus Christ. Christ said,
Not 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.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?This passage reveals that more than profession of belief and good works are required to be His disciples. We must also do the will of the Father. We must show our true belief by keeping His commandments (John 14:15) and following in His footsteps (3 Nephi 27:21). If we do these things, our Christlike lives will testify to the world that we Mormons are true Christians (Matthew 7:20).
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23, emphasis added)
Michael Otterson of Church Public affairs addressed the issue of Mormons being excluded from Christians. “If you try to track the number of references to Jesus Christ in the service, you may lose count,” Otterson says. “So just observe the families, listen to the prayers, leaf through the hymn book to see if any of the hymns seem familiar, and make up your own mind as to how Christian our people are.”
A New Era article adapted from Stephen E. Robinson's book Are Mormons Christians? discusses the question more thoroughly. For more articles on the subject, go to lds.org and type "Christians" in the search box.
Discussion: What else makes a true Christian?