Hi, Katie —
To add to what my brethren were saying,
let me bring out the definition you
a Christian is someone who:
- professes a belief
in Jesus Christ,
- is Christ-like,
- is humane.
Many people think along those lines
when they speak of someone as a Christian,
but the ancient churches looked at
Yes, being Christ-like — being
a disciple of Jesus — is a
central theme of living a spiritual
life. Being kind and humane is also
a beautiful virtue. However, these
are not the Church's definition of
a Christian. The example of Scripture
makes this clear: in
Acts, the believers in
Antioch are the first to be called
Christians. One becomes a Christian
by believing the Apostles' message
and being baptized.
In the Church, we follow this same
pattern: one is a Christian if one
holds the Apostolic faith and is
baptized, as the early Church did. So
if a baptized believer does something
wrong, unkind, or un-Christ like,
we don't say he's not a Christian
anymore — unless
he goes so far as to give up believing.
There are good, virtuous, faithful
Christians, and there are weak, sinful
I'm sometimes one of the weak ones
and sometimes I'm one of the virtuous
and faithful ones!
So when a religious movement such
as the LDS, or the Jehovah Witnesses, come
along with many good, kind people, but
with different beliefs about God
and about the identity of Jesus Christ — then we
are forced to admit that those beliefs
are not the same as the faith of
the early Church, and
we consider them to be not quite
within the fold of Christianity.
- the Catholic Church
- the Eastern Orthodox Churches:
- Coptic, etc.
- and the historical Protestant
communities and movements: e.g.
hold to the same understanding of
Who God is:
There is only one God, who is
eternal, without beginning or
end. God is called a Trinity:
that is, there are three divine
Persons in this one Being. Each
is divine, omniscient and all-powerful.
Because there is more than one
Person in God, we can truly say
that God is love.
God's relation to the world:
God created the universe freely
out of nothing, and made all creatures,
including the angels and us human
Who Jesus is:
The Son, one of the three divine
Persons of the Trinity, wishing
to save us sinners, became human,
with a real human soul, mind,
and body, even while he remained
a divine Person: eternal, omnipotent
and omniscient. He was born of
Mary, the Virgin, and He — being
truly human — "is like
us in all things", except
that He does not sin.
What the death of Jesus means:
Jesus, the God-man, willingly
suffered and died, and his self-sacrifice
has infinite value to make amendment
for our sins.
Jesus truly rose from the dead:
He laid down his human life freely,
and — being God — He
freely took it up again, gloriously,
on the third day of His entombment.
His body is now glorified, and
He has ascended to Heaven. Thus
He is a human being now — with
body and soul —
in the presence of God, the Father.
Jesus the Son of God remains truly
divine and truly human, the eternal
mediator of man and God, the High
Priest whose worship is pleasing
to the Father.
When you read the classic declarations
of Christian doctrine — for
example, the Nicene
Creed or the Athanasian
Creed, you'll see that these
are the doctrines the Church considers
most important for our salvation.
I hope all these various observations
shed some light on the subject. When
the Catholic Church regards Mormonism
as set apart from Christianity, it's
not a judgment on the individuals
at all, but an acknowledgment that
we have some differences in these
Thanks for writing! It gives us an
opportunity to answer more questions
and improve the web site.
And of course, it's good to hear
from another person who desires to