Posted by: rusch | September 18, 2006

You’re not a Christian, you’re, uh, something else

“You’re not a Christian, you are a cultist!” was an epithet that I became used to while serving my mission in northern California. At first, statements like this really bothered me, but after a while my skin thickened, my testimony was strengthened, and instead of fire issuing forth from my ears and mouth, I was only mildly annoyed if not completely apathetic to what people said about what they thought I believed.

Even though I am member of the true church, I consider myself a Christian. I don’t believe that salvation is in Mormon, Joseph Smith, my own works, so why would I consider myself anything other then a Christian?

Many don’t understand the usage of the name-title Mormon. At first it was a derogative term used by the Church’s opponents and not something that they called themselves. With time whatever venom first found in this statement was drained, and was adopted and used to identify those who believed what many others and I believe.

These days I prefer using “Latter-day Saint” to describe, or state to others what I am. If that does not ring a bell, then I resort to “Mormon”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with referring to ourselves as Mormons, so long as we are using it to distinguish ourselves. But in the end, I am a Christian despite whatever the local minister, or the tracts readily available in his Church say.

When someone now asks, “Are you a Christian?” I consider this a loaded question having little to do with whether or not I believe in Jesus, but having everything to do with the orthodoxy of the person asking the question. It would dishonest if I responded in the negative to this question, but I find it interesting that when I respond in the affirmative, then other questions always follow in an attempt to determine if I “really” am a Christian. If my responses do not line with what they think a Christian should be, then my claims to being Christian are denounced, regardless of previously stating my beliefs that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.

I had an interesting experience that perhaps caught my co-worker off guard. She is a devout evangelical Christian attempting to live her faith to the best of her ability. I admire how she does not tolerate the taking of the name of God in vain among fellow workers, and she has really helped me while my car is being repaired. I have no reservations in counting her as an example of the believers in both word and deed as the scriptures say all should be.

Somehow we were talking about religion. I stated that I believed that I was saved. She responded how is it that you believe that you are saved? I said because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, have accepted his sacrifice and have become a new person because of it. This seemed a bit difficult to her. From her perspective, how could someone who believes in other books of scripture aside from the Bible say such a thing?

On another occasion I was able to share with her the closing verses of the Book of Mormon that invite all to come unto Christ and rely upon his “merits and mercy” to gain salvation. She responded, “That sounds like Christianity to me.”
Interestingly she has never questioned my Christianity although I still think she has her doubts about whether she can consider me a Christian. But in the end, it does not matter what she or anyone else thinks about, or thinks they know what I believe. In the end I am a Mormon and a Christian. Perhaps I am an Evangelical-Mormon-Christian. But what do all these labels prove anyways?




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