You’ve always been curious about the diverse world of religions and how they connect to one another. In your quest for understanding, you find yourself wondering, “What is the closest religion to Mormonism?” As you delve into this intriguing topic, you will uncover surprising similarities and intriguing differences that will expand your knowledge and appreciation for the vast religious landscape.
Christianity is a major religion with various denominations and sects. In this article, we will explore several religious groups that share connections or similarities with Mormonism. While each of these groups has its distinct beliefs, practices, and organizational structures, they all fall under the broader umbrella of Christianity. Let’s delve into each group to gain a better understanding.
1.1 Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination globally, with followers all around the world. It traces its origins back to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Catholicism, like Mormonism, places a strong emphasis on church authority, sacraments, and the belief in an Apostolic succession. However, there are significant differences, such as the Catholic belief in the Pope’s infallibility and the veneration of saints.
Anglicanism, also known as the Church of England, originated from the English Reformation in the 16th century. It shares some similarities with Mormonism, primarily in terms of both having a hierarchical structure and a broad range of beliefs within the faith community. Anglicans place importance on the Book of Common Prayer and hold sacraments, including baptism and Eucharist, in high regard.
Pentecostalism is a modern movement within Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing. While the theology and practices of Pentecostalism differ significantly from Mormonism, both groups place a strong focus on spiritual experiences and a personal relationship with God.
1.4 Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a distinct Christian denomination that emerged in the 19th century. While they identify as Christian, their beliefs diverge significantly from mainstream Christianity and Mormonism. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. They also have unique practices, such as the distribution of literature and door-to-door evangelism.
1.5 Seventh-day Adventism
Seventh-day Adventism, founded in the 19th century, places an emphasis on the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. While sharing some theological similarities with Mormonism, such as the belief in a continuous prophetic guidance, there are notable differences. Adventists observe the Sabbath on Saturdays and uphold a strict dietary code.
1.6 Church of Christ
The Church of Christ, often associated with the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, emphasizes the authority of the Bible and the restoration of New Testament Christianity. While they may share some common beliefs with Mormonism, such as the belief in baptism for the remission of sins, there are significant doctrinal differences, particularly in areas such as the nature of God and the Trinity.
Christadelphians, also known as the Brethren in Christ, emerged in the 19th century and hold a unique set of beliefs. While they share some similarities with Mormonism, including a belief in a restored gospel, they differ in their rejection of the Trinity and their denial of the existence of an immortal soul. Christadelphians emphasize the importance of personal study and interpretation of the Bible.
1.8 Latter Day Saints (reformed)
Reformed Latter Day Saints are a small group that split from the mainstream LDS Church in the late 19th century. They claim to be the true continuation of Joseph Smith’s original teachings and reject subsequent developments in Mormonism. Reformed Latter Day Saints differ from mainstream Mormonism in terms of their rejection of polygamy and other doctrinal differences.
1.9 Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ, emerged in the 19th century and claims to be a continuation of the original Church founded by Joseph Smith. The Community of Christ shares many common beliefs with mainstream Mormonism, such as a belief in the Book of Mormon, the importance of prophetic leadership, and social justice.
1.10 Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religious movement that encompasses a diverse range of beliefs and practices. While it differs significantly from mainstream Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism shares a similar emphasis on personal religious exploration, inclusivity, and social justice. Unitarian Universalists may draw inspiration from various religious traditions and often prioritize individual freedom in matters of faith.
2. Restorationist Movements
In addition to various Christian denominations, there are several restorationist movements that have emerged throughout history, claiming to restore the original teachings and principles of Christianity. While they may share some similarities with Mormonism, it is essential to recognize that they have distinct beliefs and practices. Let’s explore some of these restorationist movements.
2.1 Community of Christ
As mentioned earlier, the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) traces its roots back to Joseph Smith’s early teachings. The Community of Christ embraces the Book of Mormon and continues to emphasize the importance of prophetic leadership. However, they have evolved differently from mainstream Mormonism and have embraced a more progressive theology, ordaining women and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
2.2 Strangite Mormons
The Strangite Mormons are a small group that follows the teachings of James J. Strang, who claimed to be Smith’s successor after his assassination. Interestingly, the Strangite Mormons recognize the Book of Mormon but reject the Doctrine and Covenants, a sacred text in mainstream Mormonism. They have distinct beliefs surrounding the nature of God and priesthood authority.
2.3 Bickertonite Mormons
The Bickertonite Mormons, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ, follow the teachings of Sidney Rigdon and William Bickerton. They believe in the Book of Mormon and claim to hold the true Priesthood authority. Bickertonite Mormons have a distinct organizational structure and sacramental practices, diverging from mainstream Mormonism.
2.4 Hedrickite Mormons
The Hedrickite Mormons emerged as a result of the succession crisis that followed Joseph Smith’s death. They follow the teachings of Granville Hedrick and believe in the Book of Mormon. Hedrickite Mormons have unique doctrines regarding the nature of God and advocate for communal living.
Newelites, often associated with the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), believe in the Book of Mormon and trace their authority back to Joseph Smith. However, they have separate organizational structures and unique sacramental practices, with a strong focus on temple worship.
2.6 Black Mormons
The term “Black Mormons” refers to various groups or individuals who identify as Mormons but may not have an official affiliation with any specific organization. Their beliefs and practices may differ significantly from mainstream Mormonism. It is essential to note that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially disavows any racial discrimination.
The Cutlerites, named after their founder Alpheus Cutler, emerged after Joseph Smith’s death. They have distinct beliefs regarding the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. Cutlerites emphasize communal living and have unique sacramental practices.
2.8 Fettingite Mormons
The Fettingite Mormons originated from a schism within the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They believe in the Book of Mormon and claim prophetic authority. Fettingite Mormons have unique teachings concerning the nature of God and the priesthood.
The Russellites, also known as the Church of Zion, emerged under the leadership of John E. Russell. They trace their beliefs and practices back to Joseph Smith but have distinct teachings regarding the nature of God and the priesthood.
2.10 Church of Jesus Christ
The Church of Jesus Christ (also referred to as the Strangites or Strangite Mormons) follows the teachings of James J. Strang, who claimed to be Joseph Smith’s rightful successor. They believe in the Book of Mormon and have their unique practices and rituals.
3. Other Religions Inspired by Mormonism
Numerous religious groups have been inspired by Mormonism in different ways, either through accepting certain doctrines or recognizing Joseph Smith’s prophetic role. While they may not fall directly under the Christian umbrella, these groups have been influenced by various aspects of Mormonism or consider themselves an extension of it.
3.1 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the main branch of Mormonism)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is the most well-known and populous branch of Mormonism. It recognizes Joseph Smith as its founder and embraces the Book of Mormon, along with additional canonical scripture unique to its faith community. The LDS Church has a hierarchical structure, with a prophet at the helm, and focuses on missionary work, temple worship, and family values.
3.2 Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) is a group that emerged from a schism within the LDS Church. FLDS members follow the teachings of early Mormon leaders, including the practice of polygamy. It is worth noting that the LDS Church officially discontinued the practice of polygamy in 1890.
3.3 True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days
The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC) claims to retain the original teachings and practices of Mormonism as revealed by Joseph Smith. TLC members believe in the Book of Mormon and other early Mormon scriptures while emphasizing the importance of personal revelation and prophetic guidance.
3.4 Apostolic United Brethren
The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) is another sect that emerged from the historical practice of plural marriage within Mormonism. AUB members believe in the Book of Mormon, follow early Mormon teachings, and practice polygamy. It is important to note that while plural marriage is practiced within the AUB, it is illegal and not endorsed or practiced by the mainstream LDS Church.
3.5 Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times
The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times is a small religious group that identifies as an extension of Mormonism. They adhere to the teachings of Joseph Smith and embrace the concept of the “fulness of times.” The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times places a strong emphasis on personal revelation and the attainment of spiritual gifts.
3.6 Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly
The Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly (CJCSA) is a religious group that emerged from the RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ). CJCSA members believe in the Book of Mormon and assert that they represent the continuation of Joseph Smith’s original teachings and practices.
3.7 Restoration Church of Jesus Christ
The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ (RCJC) identifies as an extension of Mormonism but diverges significantly from mainstream Mormon beliefs and practices. RCJC members believe in the Book of Mormon while rejecting certain developments within the LDS Church.
3.8 Latter Day Church of Christ
The Latter Day Church of Christ (LDCC) is a small religious group that follows the teachings of former LDS Church member Wallace B. Smith. LDCC members embrace the Book of Mormon and other early Mormon scriptures, while also incorporating other religious texts and practices.
3.9 United Order Family of Christ
The United Order Family of Christ (UOFC) is a religious community that traces its origins to early Mormonism. UOFC members believe in the Book of Mormon and endorse principles of communal living, self-sufficiency, and sharing.
3.10 Church of Christ with the Elijah Message
The Church of Christ with the Elijah Message is a small religious group that believes in the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith. They claim to represent the fulfillment of prophecies related to the role of Elijah in the last days.
4. Similarities and Differences
While Mormonism has influenced and been influenced by various religious groups, it is essential to recognize that each of these groups has its unique beliefs, practices, and organizational structures. In this section, we will explore some key areas of similarity and difference among these groups, providing a comprehensive overview of their doctrinal beliefs, religious texts, church structure and leadership, worship practices, views on salvation, cultural and historical ties, social and ethical issues, theological stances, relations with other religions, and interfaith dialogue.
4.1 Doctrinal Beliefs
Each of the religious groups discussed above has distinct doctrinal beliefs. While many of them may share some belief in the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the original teachings of Jesus Christ, specific doctrines such as the nature of God, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the role of prophets, the interpretation of scripture, and views on salvation may vary significantly.
4.2 Religious Texts
Religious texts play a vital role in shaping the beliefs and practices of these groups. While many of them recognize the Book of Mormon as scripture, some may also give importance to additional texts or reject certain scriptural developments. The interpretation and application of these texts may differ among the various groups.
4.3 Church Structure and Leadership
Church structures and leadership differ significantly among these religious groups. Some may have hierarchical structures with centralized authority, while others may prioritize a more decentralized or community-based approach. The role and function of clergy, priesthood authority, and the organization of congregations may also vary.
4.4 Worship Practices
Worship practices encompass a broad range of religious rituals, ceremonies, and observances. While these groups may share some commonalities in terms of prayer, hymn singing, scripture study, and communal gatherings, there may be notable differences in the specific rituals, sacraments, or ordinances they practice.
4.5 Views on Salvation
Views on salvation vary among these groups. While many emphasize the importance of faith in Jesus Christ, personal righteousness, and repentance, their specific beliefs on grace, works, and the afterlife may differ. Views on the nature of heaven, hell, and the purpose of human existence can also vary significantly.
4.6 Cultural and Historical Ties
Cultural and historical ties play a significant role in shaping religious identity and practices. These groups may have distinct cultural traditions, historical narratives, and social norms that influence their community life, worship styles, and religious observances. While some may have stronger ties to specific geographical regions, others may have a more global presence.
4.7 Social and Ethical Issues
Social and ethical issues, such as gender roles, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, and racial equality, can vary among these religious groups. While some may adopt more progressive stances, others may hold more conservative or traditional beliefs. It is important to recognize that views on these issues can evolve over time within religious communities.
4.8 Theological Stances
Theological stances can encompass a wide array of beliefs concerning the nature of God, the creation, the purpose of human existence, the problem of evil, and philosophical questions about free will and determinism. While some groups may have similar theological stances to Mormonism, others may diverge significantly in their interpretations or philosophical positions.
4.9 Relations with Other Religions
Interactions and relations with other religions can vary among these groups. Some may actively engage in interfaith dialogue, collaboration, and ecumenical efforts, while others may have more exclusive or isolating practices. It is essential to recognize that religious groups can have a broad range of approaches to engaging with the broader religious landscape.
4.10 Interfaith Dialogue
Interfaith dialogue explores opportunities for understanding, collaboration, and mutual respect among various religious traditions. While some of these groups may actively participate in interfaith dialogue, others may have limited engagement or exclusive beliefs that make interfaith dialogue more challenging. The willingness to engage in interfaith dialogue can vary among different religious groups.
In conclusion, Mormonism has inspired and been influenced by various Christian religions, restorationist movements, and other religious groups that recognize Joseph Smith and the scriptures associated with his teachings. While there are similarities among these groups, it is essential to recognize their distinct beliefs, practices, and organizational structures. Each group carries unique contributions to the broad religious landscape and engages with the challenges and opportunities of the modern world in different ways. By exploring the similarities and differences among these groups, we gain a deeper understanding of the rich diversity within the broader Christian tradition and related religious movements.