Compare Mainstream Christianity and Mormonism

October 18, 2005 · updated February 15, 2022

Whether Mormons should be considered "Christians" is a controversial issue. Many Catholics and Protestants do not consider Mormons to be Christians because they believe the differences in doctrines are larger and more fundamental than those between Christian denominations.

On other hand, religious studies books tend to group Mormons in with Christians because: (1) Mormons regard themselves as Christians; (2) Mormonism emerged in a Christian context; and (3) Mormonism shares much in common with other forms of Christianity.

Mormons also consider themselves Christians for much the same reasons as listed above. However, they consider themselves to be significantly different from other forms of Christianity. They regard themselves as neither Catholic nor Protestant, viewing both of those faiths as corruptions of true Christianity, which has been restored by Mormonism.

The following chart provides a quick-reference guide to the major similarities and differences between the beliefs and practices of Mormonism and mainstream Christianity. As is the case with charts, the information is simplified for brevity and should be used alongside more complete explanations. The beliefs listed for both Mormons and Protestant Christians represent those of most, but not all, churches or individuals within each tradition.

Mainstream ChristianityMormonism (LDS)
religious authority Bible (all), ecumenical councils and creeds (Catholic and Orthodox), papal decrees and canon law (Catholic), continuing revelations (Pentecostal) Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price (all equally); continuing revelations
texts Bible (Hebrew Bible + New Testament) Christian Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price
God One God, who is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; angels; demons; saints God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individual beings
Trinity affirmed by most denominations rejected (Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct beings who are "one in purpose")
Jesus Son of God, God incarnate, Word of God, Messiah, savior of the world Son of God. Savior. Originally one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be. Has a physical body.
Holy Spirit God; Third Person of the Trinity A spirit being who is a separate being from God and Jesus.
original sin affirmed by most denominations denied
free will free will to do good is seriously impaired or non-existent (without grace) Free to do good or evil.
purpose of Jesus' life teach about God, provide a model for right living, die sacrificially for human sin, reveal God directly to humanity teach about God, provide a model for right living, die sacrificially for human sin
resurrection of Jesus affirmed affirmed
Mainstream ChristianityMormonism (LDS)
salvation correct belief, faith, good deeds, sacraments (Protestants emphasize faith alone) faith in Christ, good works, baptism, and temple ordinances (for entrance to the celestial kingdom; all are saved from hell)
second chance after death no Yes, during a period of "learning and preparation" after death.
afterlife Resurrection of body and soul; eternal heaven or hell (most denominations); temporary purgatory (Catholicism) All return to spirit world instruction before resurrection. Then Mormons to heaven with God and families; others rewarded apart from God; hell for those who still reject God.
hell affirmed by most denominations as a place (or state of being) of eternal torment and distance from God The wicked enter an unpleasant "spirit prison" prior to judgment; after that, only the most obstinately wicked (like Satan) will be consigned to "Outer Darkness" for eternity.
house of worship church, chapel, cathedral, basilica, meeting hall chapel (for weekly worship); temple (for ceremonies)
doctrine of sacraments/ordinances symbolic acts commanded by Christ (some Protestants); means of grace if received with faith (Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestants) ordinances are covenants between man and God and a means of grace; some are necessary for salvation
symbols Cross, dove, anchor, fish, alpha/omega, chi rho No official symbol; cross is not used; the angel Moroni raising a trumpet is seen atop Mormon temples.
holidays Easter, Christmas, saints' days (some denominations) Easter, Christmas, celebrations of events in Mormon history.
blood transfusions accepted accepted