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Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D. Answers:
While the members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” consider themselves “Christians” very few Christians would recognize the Jesus that is taught by the LDS. While they use “Christian,” the same words that other Christians use, the meanings they attribute to those words are actually quite different. For example, they Mormons do have the same belief in the nature of God as Christians do. According to the Articles of Faith on their own materials, God is rather malleable is simply “exalted man.”
“We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement — a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of the sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth: ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.’” (LDS Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, Ch.24, p.430 – p.431, LDS Collectors Library ’97 CD-ROM)
This is very a different and much diminished appreciation of God when compared to the Christian notion of the transcendent God who is the uncreated author of all life, the very source of Being itself, who very nature it is to exist.
It can be very confusing talking with an LDS member because they use the same terms that we do, but attribute very different meanings to them. Because of this very different theology of God, among other reasons, the Catholic Church does not consider Mormon baptism to be a valid Christian baptism.
This does not mean that we can’t work with the LDS organization in matters that pertain to religious freedom, the sanctity of marriage, and family life. But one should hold no illusions that they share the same essential beliefs that we do even if they use similar words.