Are Mormons Better Christians?

Brian Johnston christianity, church, evangelicals, inter-faith, missions, Mormons, temple 16 Comments

A friend of mine pointed out this blog article to me:

http://timwade.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/are-mormons-better-christians/

It is a piece from an outsider looking in at the world of Mormonism and seeing things that he admires.  I thought it interesting how he focused on some of our practices and rituals in a positive, different way than I expected — especially the idea of sanctification.  We take a lot of this for granted sometimes.  I find myself unfortunately used to criticism on some of the topics he discussed.  It took me by surprise to see them presented in a positive light.  That gave me a moment of introspection.

It is awkward to claim that we are “better” Christians.  I don’t want to say it like that.  We are different.  The LDS Church has things that it focuses on better than others.  Other Christian churches focus on some aspects of the Gospel of Christ better than us.  There is so much to learn from the beliefs and practices of others.  Sharing these views helps us all grow in faith.

What do you all think of Tim Wade’s points?  Do we do these things better?

I’ll turn it around.  Are Baptists better Mormons?  Tell us what you think they do really good that we could learn and make our faith better.

Comments

comments

Comments 16

  1. “Are Baptists better Mormons?”

    hmmm . . .

    Let me pop in here at the beginning with my two cents.

    Biblical Christianity has nothing to do with who is better than who.

    I get enough of my share of listening to this stuff in S.E. Idaho.

    As a Baptist, let me just say that I am that man in the gutter but a man looking up to the grace of Jesus Christ.

  2. Hopefully, with the aid of the atonement acting as a refiner’s fire, Mormons will be better Christians tomorrow than they were today. That is really the only comparison that I think does anybody any good.

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    Well I really like how other churches do more local outreach and charity work — outside their congregational social boundaries. It would be nice if the LDS Church ran soup kitchens or similar charities. I know we have Deseret Industries in high-concentration Mormon areas like Utah, but what about outside the Mormon corridors? We do a lot of charity service work within our own circle and that’s it.

    Tim pointed out how we send out vast numbers of proselyting missionaries. I would love to have an option for young people to do service missions instead. I could see it actually wining over more converts in western countries than knocking on doors. One of my co-workers and his family go on service missions with their Baptist church. They’ve gone to South America to build schools. They went recently to Hungary to work in an orphanage for their last vacation. We have service missionaries in our Church, but not the opportunities to go on short, concentrated missions like that.

  4. I think it is individual in nature. Most Churches give its members good tools to be good Christians. It is up to us to apply them properly and be willing to give of ourselves.

    Now, if you want to talk salvation, it is the means to an end. I like the LDS “means” better than the other churches I have studied because, in most cases, I can not only spiritually but rationally understand how everything fits together in one great whole.

  5. I copied and pasted the portion of this article about garments to a non-LDS friend because it is one of the best succinct explanations about garments for non-LDS that I have read.

  6. It would be nice if the LDS Church ran soup kitchens or similar charities.

    The LDS Church has donated over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance over the past 20 years (here’s a PDF file summarizing that help, and here’s a chart). In particular, the LDS Church has six major humanitarian initiatives aimed at saving lives and improving the quality of life worldwide: clean water, wheelchairs, vision, neonatal resuscitation training, measles vaccination, and food production. In many of these projects, the Church coordinates its efforts with both major and local organizations.

    Beyond that, the Church is heavily involved in local welfare and food bank services all through North America. Rather than set up competing facilities and services, the Church usually chooses to provide materials (and volunteer help) to existing food banks, soup kitchens, charities, and the like. For example, our wards here in Parker (Colorado) have a close relationship with the Parker Food Bank; we had two concerts with the Colorado Mormon Chorale at our stake center last Saturday, and the ‘cost’ of admission was a canned food item for the food bank. We also participate in providing volunteer labor to collect food items for the food bank once or twice a year at the entrance to a local grocery store, and once a year the Denver Bishop’s Warehouse allows the Parker Food Bank to come in and, in effect, take what they want. Finally, the LDS Cannery here in Denver does ‘humanitarian’ canning on a regular basis, with all the food canned that day being donated to one of the local food banks or soup kitchens.

    Given that so many such charities already exist, it makes far more sense for the Church to funnel its efforts through them rather than invest in the property, infrastructure, and staff (not to mention on-going legal, regulatory, and health department issues) to set up its own soup kitches, etc. ..bruce..

  7. We are better christians because we are better looking!

    All right, now that I have said something stupid but that I think is funny I will state my point of view really shortly.
    I can’t see how someone who is sincere and follow the bible can be a “not as good christian” than someone else. To me a good christian and a better christian is defined by what lies deep inside the heart and the soul.
    It is nice of him to write such things about us but the feeling I have about his post is that we are blessed with teachings that have been lost or disregarded by some. It does not make us better Christians. It makes us more accountable when we chose to behave one way or another. Maybe I can say that it makes us more “effective Christians” but not “better” in this way that it does not place us above the rest of the crowd.

  8. bfwebster, thanks for the link to the chart (the link to the PDF doesn’t work). The finances of the LDS church are famously opaque, and I don’t usually know where to look for the information that is available. The chart is fine as far as it goes, but especially in today’s business climate I find it hard to take any organization’s mere word for financial data (LDS members may feel more comfortable doing so in this case, but I’m not a member). I presume the PDF file would provide more detail, auditor’s statements (if applicable) and so on. If you can fix the link, I’d be interested in seeing if it answers some of my questions.

    Putting aside my reservations, though, it seems from the chart that most of the $1 billion you mentioned is concentrated in the last ten years, with a sharp increase year over year between 1998 and 2002, with contributions since then being fairly level, with possibly a slight downtrend, averaging around $90 million per year from 2002-2007. Can you (or anyone) comment on the policy behind this pattern? The year to year fluctuations from 2002 on might be attributable to variations in the need (natural disasters, etc.) but it seems likely that there was a decision to increase annual contributions in the nineties, and that they have been held roughly constant (not adjusted for inflation) since 2002. Did the church comment on this at the time (pardon my ignorance), and has it said anything about its intentions for the future? Is anything known about the principles that guide the allocation of the funds? Again, the PDF may answer these questions, so leave a link if you have a chance. Thanks. I’d like to be better informed about these activities to the extent possible, but I’m a babe in the woods as far as knowing where to look.

  9. Somehow it is foreign to me to even think in the terms of “better” Christians.

    I do, however, really appreciate the article. We can only hope that his view is not as unique as it appears to be. Again, not that I wish to be considered a “better” Christian, but there are times when we Mormons are defined too much by what our detractors are saying about us.

    There are opportunities for service missions, and as has been said in the comments, the Church participates in many charitable projects. I hope that we could get more involved in Europe, too. That is up to local leaders at least to some extent.

  10. The article was really nice. It’s just enjoyable to be on the end of good press. The idea of some being “better” Christians is probably a faulty premise on the whole, but the article was really about sharing best practices I thought. Some of the comments were pretty interesting. I particularly liked the one commenter’s objection that pretty soon anyone who followed Christ would be called a Christian. LOL!

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    Tim Wade used the title to stir the pot a bit in his own community, to get people agitated and interested. I quoted his title for the same reason. It isn’t really a contest to figure out who is the best Christian. Baptists are better “Christians” in the purely academic, long-established, theological meaning of the word. We claim to be better “Christians” because Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets restored vital missing parts of “the truth,” long lost to history. While those are interesting topics to explore, religious practice is what happens when the doctrinal tires meet the worldly pavement. On a macro level, we are all working towards similar goals.

    Do you ever have a hard time explaining what we do in the LDS Church to people who aren’t members, who didn’t grow up in our culture? That is how I find Tim’s article so valuable. He took the time to explain some of the good things we do to people who don’t speak our quirky language.

  12. Regarding the LDS church giving away 1 billion in 20 years compared to their income of about 7-9 billion yearly is chump change.

    That’s of course, an estimate form other areas as the LDS church is not about to reveal the massive loads of cash pouring in.

  13. #13 Rudolph

    The true numbers are unfortunately lower, as seen on the Church’s own website:
    http://www.providentliving.org/welfare/pdf/WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    In at 23 year period (1985-2008), the total value of aid given was $833.6 million. This includes volunteer hours, work assignments, in-kind donations, etc. In actual cash, the amount is $282.3 million for the same time period.

    Putting this into perspective, dividing $282.3 million by 23 years, the Church averages around $12.3 million per year in actual cash used for humanitarian aid. If their income is truly $7-9 billion as you mentioned, this is around 0.15%. Fairly paltry.

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