(See my disclaimer about the title)
There are many similarities between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity which are generally uncontested by both parties. I thought I would cover these prior to doing a post on the similarities which I suspect will be more controversial.
Typically acknowledged similarities include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Mormons share with charismatic evangelicals a belief in the current practice of miraculous spiritual gifts, as opposed to cessationist evangelicals, who believe miraculous spiritual gifts have ceased.
- The Mormon mode of baptism generally agrees with that of evangelical credobaptists, as opposed to paedobaptism. Often credobaptists only allow for baptism by immersion, while paedobaptists allow for baptism by sprinkling, pouring and immersion, even for adults.
- Mormons and evangelicals both believe in the anointing and companionship of the Holy Spirit, though they tend to have different vocabulary for it. Mormons describe this phenomenon as “the gift of the Holy Ghost” while evangelicals call it “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” “baptism by fire,” or very rarely “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” For some reason Mormons seem to prefer the term “Ghost” while evangelicals stick with “Spirit.”
- Most Mormons share with Arminian evangelicals a belief in both libertarian free will and the absolute foreknowledge of God. The main wing of evangelicalism in opposition to this is Calvinism and, perhaps in part because of this, the majority of counter-cult ministry evangelicals seem to be Calvinist.
- There are evangelical open theists as well as Mormon open theists, who have very similar beliefs on the free will and the foreknowledge of God.
- Mormons and evangelicals tend to align on a lot of political and social issues: pro-life, anti-gay-marriage, anti-poverty, anti-pornography, pro-family. We both tend to agree in shooting for modesty, with evangelicals being willing to show a little more leg and shoulder. (Except for me; I’m a brazen hussy they tell me.)
- Mormons and evangelicals both believe in and preach saving sex for marriage and are generally opposed to divorce.
- Mormon teachings on gender are surprisingly similar to that of complementarian evangelicals. Subsequently, LDS church organization resembles that of complementarian churches on a local level, with some exceptions.
- Mormons and evangelicals both tend to be ardent scripture enthusiasts.
- Mormons and evangelicals share a zeal to convert people to their respective faiths in this life.
- Each group has a stash of delightfully bad faith-promoting rumors, urban legends, and bumper sticker doctrines waiting in the wings. My favorite Mormon urban legend is Bigfoot = Cain. My favorite evangelical urban legend is that Kirk Cameron is a good actor.
Continue to Divide? Maybe not so much — Part 2
DISCLAIMER: The title is not meant to suggest that there are not significant differences between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity. In The New Mormon Challenge, evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg listed the following major points of disagreement as taught by the LDS church: “(1) a finite theism in which God at some point in eternity past was merely a man and not divine; (2) a view of the universe as not eternally contingent on the will and being of God; (3) the denial of the necessity of prevenient grace to overcome humanity’s sinful disposition in the process of conversion and regeneration; (4) the denial of Trinitarian monotheism; and (5) the denial of the classic Christian understanding of the relationship of the two nature of Christ.” (Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, Paul Owen, eds., The New Mormon Challenge, p. 489) I agree with Blomberg’s assessment of these as major points of division. However, I feel that Mormon-evangelical discourse usually focuses on discussion of our differences, so I’d like to focus on the similarities for a change.