In this series of articles, we’ve been exploring similarities between Mormonism and other beliefs. Mormons believe that truth can be found in the beliefs of many different faiths and that truth is truth, regardless of the source. Sometimes the details are different, but often a common belief can be found.
This article is written by a Mormon, which is a nickname sometimes used to describe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Therefore, any statements made about Calvinism should be checked against information from practicing, believing members of that faith. Mormons believe information about a faith is only valid when offered by official sources. I was unable to find an official website for Calvinism, but I did find an organization called Credo House Ministries, which promotes mainstream Calvinism, and studied their site for this article.
Mormonism and Calvinism: Missionary Work
One belief that caught my attention was that of missionary work. Calvinists believe the gospel of Jesus Christ should be taken to all nations and people. Mormons also believe this. Just briefly, I do want to note that to some extent, we do this for different reasons. From what I’ve read, Calvinists believe that although God loves everyone, He elects only some. They evangelize to all because they cannot know who was elected and who was not. Mormons, on the other hand, believe God wants everyone to return home to Him. It is up to us to accept that invitation and to be worthy of His presence—not saved by works, but merely that our actions are evidence of our faith. A person who proclaims himself a follower of Christ would not, for instance, be a mass murderer. If we really follow Christ, we work to align our lives to His.
Mormons take the gospel to everyone because we believe that we lived with God before we came to Earth. He created us and loves us unconditionally—Calvinists also believe we are all loved by God. Mormons believe that He sent us to Earth to gain experience, a body, and a family. He also sent us to be tested. Since we’ve forgotten our previous life with God, we are expected to seek out God and Jesus Christ and to gain a testimony of them. This testimony, if properly nurtured, will cause us to want to be more like Christ and to live with Him forever.
Mormons believe that each person who accepts Christ as his Savior then has a responsibility to share that with others. We all come to Christ through the efforts of others who made some sacrifice to get that belief to us. Mormons want everyone to know and experience the joy they have and also have a responsibility to all of their brothers and sisters of the world.
Mormonism and Calvinism: Free Will
Mormons believe in free will, and so they believe it is each person’s choice to accept or reject the message of God’s unconditional love for us and the Savior’s atonement. Of course, having agency does not mean we are free to choose whatever we want without consequences. Those who choose Christ will receive all the blessings God and Jesus Christ have to offer the faithful. Those who do not will receive only a portion of those blessings. Mormons believe the atonement was for all and that everyone receives a portion of it—the right to live again after death and the ability to repent, for instance. Of course, living again after birth is not a choice. Everyone will do that. The opportunity to repent is available to all, but it only has power if a person actually repents and is thereby forgiven of his or her sins.
Mormons, then, take the gospel to the world, sharing it with anyone willing to listen. They do this because they are taught we are all family—and Mormons famously take care of their families. A desire to share the gospel is one principle Mormons and Calvinists share.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.