Many people have asked if have questioned if Mormons are Christian. Most of the criticism comes from traditional Trinitarians that say Mormons believe in a “different Jesus”. They claim that Jesus is the second person in hypostatic union between man and a homoousios, triune God.
If you didn’t understand that, it’s okay. Most of them don’t either since none of those terms are found in the Bible. But, that is the definition of Jesus that they believe Him to be as found in the Trinity (which we discuss here).
No, Mormons do not believe in that unbiblical definition of Jesus, but does that make them not Christian?
What is a “Christian”?
Just as these Trinitarians have redefined who Jesus is, Christians have also redefined the term “Christian”. Historical records show what the original definition of “Christian” meant.
The chrism is superior to baptism, for it is from the word “Chrism” that we have been called “Christians,” certainly not because of the word “baptism”. And it is because of the chrism that “the Christ” has his name. For the Father anointed the Son, and the Son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us.(Gospel of Philip, Nag Hammadi Library)
The Greek word “chrism” means “to anoint”. It was an “unction” (a physical ordinance) that made them “Christians”. This is further evidenced by Cyril of Jerusalem (350 AD) who wrote:
Having been counted worthy of this Holy Chrism, ye are called Christians, verifying the name also by your new birth. For before you were deemed worthy of this grace, ye had properly no right to this title, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians. (On the Mysteries 3.5)
Cyril calls being “Christian” a title, one that they advanced toward, one that they had to be “counted worthy” for. It was not a title that they just automatically received by having some “born again” experience and claiming to “follow Jesus”.
Both “Christ” in Greek, as well as “Messiah” in Hebrew, mean “The Anointed One”. Jesus is “the Christ” because He was anointed as such by the Father. (see Acts 10:38) It is His title. He earned His title… with His life.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
The chrism was also associated with receiving the Holy Ghost. The apostle John wrote both of these scriptures:
But ye have an unction (chrisma) from the Holy One, and ye know all things … But the anointing (chrisma) which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing (chrisma) teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:20,27)
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
Since we know that it is the Holy Ghost that abides in us, and teaches us all things, John is referring that it is the unction, the physical ordinance, that gives us that gift.
To Mormons it is known as the confirmation. When Mormons are confirmed by the laying on of hands, they actually have more right to the title of “Christian” than modern-day Christians do.
Chrism is also oil
Just to avoid confusion, the word “chrism” has also been used in reference to an oil that was used in ancient times during certain ordinances. The word has become synonymous in the Orthodox religions as they are used for the same purpose.
But, Mormons have that covered, also. In God’s temples, members have to be “counted worthy”, it is something they “progress toward”, and they receive the Initiatory ordinance by washing with water, and an anointing with oil.
So, either way, they still have more right to the title of “Christian” than most modern-day Christians do. The problem is what do we call the usurpers who have stolen the title?
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