The simple answer is because Mormonism isn’t a saving belief. We prefer labeling it this way, rather than saying it is non-Christian, only because there is so much confusion over the definition of “Christian”.
Another word whose definition causes confusion is “saved”. Mormons sincerely and passionately state they are saved by Jesus. To understand what they mean, you must understand that in Mormonism, salvation is often equivalent to resurrection. In addition, Mormonism teaches that there are three distinct kingdoms in heaven, each with distinct characteristics. Only those who qualify for the highest kingdom will live with God. All others won’t be able to be in his presence. Therefore, the essential question is not: how is a person saved or even how does a person get to heaven. The question which gets to the heart of the matter is: how does a person qualify to live eternally with God.
The Bible clearly and consistently teaches there is only one way for people to be acceptable to God and be welcomed by him into his presence. It is by relying totally upon Christ’s work for them. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). His punishment is what brings us peace. His wounds, and the blood which flowed from them, is what heals us. Salvation is all about what Jesus did for us. It has nothing whatsoever to do with our works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Being right with God rests entirely on Jesus’ works. So much so, that any addition of our works into the mix ruins everything. “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). Christ was perfection personified. Anything people might contribute is by definition flawed and thus mortally taints the perfect salvation Jesus has already earned for us.
In striking contrast, Mormonism clearly and consistently teaches that people must contribute their own works in order to live eternally with heavenly Father. An often-quoted verse from the Book of Mormon says: “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). The official LDS manual, True to the Faith, expands on this. “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him” (p. 77). This is consistently taught in the LDS Church.
It is also consistently believed by LDS members. In thousands of conversations with LDS members, not one has agreed that they don’t have to do anything in order to live eternally with Heavenly Father. They consistently and emphatically have upheld the teaching that they must do something to spend eternity in his presence.
The emphasis on a person’s work in order to qualify to live with God for all eternity is enough to conclude that Mormonism isn’t a saving Christian religion. Many of its other teachings also lead to this conclusion. Here we just mention two.
- Mormonism’s teaching that people can become gods. Referring to people who have faithfully followed Mormonism, the LDS scripture, Doctrine and Covenants, states: “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them” (132:20, emphasis added).
- Mormonism also teaches there are many gods. For example, there is a LDS scripture entitled, The Book of Abraham. The fourth chapter contains an account of creation. Consistently throughout the chapter, instead of talking about God, it talks about Gods creating the world. If people can progress to become gods, it naturally follows that there are many gods.
Why share God’s Word with LDS missionaries? Because it is our heart-felt conviction that Mormonism places them squarely on the path to the outer darkness of hell. We are conscience-bound not only to warn them of this danger but also to show them the escape route, namely, Jesus Christ. As he himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).