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Mormon Beliefs

Mormons are often considered peculiar in their practice and beliefs because they differ from mainstream Christianity in a number of areas. Yet they are still a Christian Church. In fact their official name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bears Christ's name. The following outlines some of the basic Mormon beliefs.

Christ's church has been restored to the earth.

One of the Mormon beliefs is that after Christ died there was an apostasy or falling away from the truth. This truth was fully restored with the organization of the Mormon Church.

Fundamental to Mormon beliefs is the witness of Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. Joseph Smith, questioning which church he should join, went to the woods to pray. While he was praying he "saw two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above [him] in the air. One of them spake unto [him], calling [him] by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!'1 God the Father and Jesus Christ told the young Joseph Smith that the true church of Christ was no longer upon the earth and that he would be instrumental in its restoration.

On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, under the direction of Christ, with Joseph Smith as its leader.

The Bible and Book of Mormon are the word of God.

Mormon beliefs include belief in the Bible just as other Christian faiths. But they also believe in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and was written, "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God."2

Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates that he received from the angel Moroni. The Book of Mormon is an ancient record of the people who inhabited the American continents. It tells of Christ's visit to the people after His resurrection.

The Godhead is three separate beings.

The first article of faith of the Mormon Church states, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."3 Mormons believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings and that God the Father and Jesus Christ have perfect bodies of flesh and bone.

Mormon beliefs included the belief that when Christ says, "The Father and I are one,"4 Christ did not mean that He and the Father are of one substance. Mormons believe that Christ meant that He and the Father are united in heart, purpose, and thought.

James E. Talmage, an LDS apostle, said: "This unity is a type of completeness; the mind of any one member of the Trinity is the mind of the others; seeing as each of them does with the eye of perfection, they see and understand alike. Under any given conditions each would act in the same way, guided by the same principles of unerring justice and equity. The one-ness of the Godhead, to which the scriptures so abundantly testify, implies no mystical union of substance, nor any unnatural and therefore impossible blending of personality. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons and individualities as are any three personages in mortality. Yet their unity of purpose and operation is such as to make their edicts one, and their will the will of God."5

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

Mormons believe, just as Christians everywhere that Christ is the literal Son of God. That He died on the cross and was resurrected after three days. Because of this act everyone will receive the gift of resurrection and their bodies will be reunited with their spirits.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is through the gift of the Atonement that members may repent of their sins and gain the gift of "eternal life", which is life with God.

"This wonderful blessing is made possible through His grace, not by our works. We gain access to his grace through faith (Rom. 5:2), a principle that leads us to act and obey and grow in Christ, gaining patience, hope, and so forth (see Rom. 5:2-6; 2 Peter 1:3-10). Our faith and obedience does not earn salvation, but provides access to the gift."6

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."7 Christ taught numerous times that those who truly followed him needed to obey his teachings, which included repenting and forsaking sin. He taught that a person's salvation was conditional upon the following of His word. In both Matthew 19:16-17 and Luke 10:25-28, Christ was asked what needed to be done to gain eternal life and both times Christ answered keep the commandments.

Priesthood authority exists upon the earth.

The priesthood is the power of God and cannot be taken by man but is conferred by His servants (see Heb. 5:4; D&C 1:38). Mormons believe that both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored to Joseph Smith. Priesthood power is the power and authority by which the Mormon Church is directed and organized.

Joseph Smith defined priesthood as "an everlasting principle, [which has] existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years…holding the keys of power and blessings."8

Having the Priesthood gives one the right to act in God's name and to perform blessings and ordinances that are essential to the salvation of man.

Families can be together forever.

One unique Mormon belief is that through the sealing powers of the priesthood families can be sealed together forever. Which means that those family ties that are established while on earth will continue in the life after.

Because of the Mormon belief that families are eternal the Mormon Church places great emphasis upon families. The proclamation on the family states, "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and women is essential to His eternal plan. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ… Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live."9

Saving ordinances are necessary to return to God.

Mormons believe that certain saving ordinances are needed to return to live with our Father in Heaven. These ordinances include baptism, receiving of the priesthood for men, endowment, and sealing or eternal marriage. Many of these ordinances are performed within Mormon temples.

God reveals His will to prophets today.

In the Lord states, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."10 This has not changed. God continues to work through his modern-day prophets revealing truths that we need today.

Mormons believe that the current leader of their church Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God and receives revelation from God to direct their church, and lead them to "knowledge of the Son of God."11

(1) Joseph Smith History 1:17

(2) Book of Mormon. Title page.

(3) 1st Article of Faith

(4) John 10:30

(5) James E. Talmage. Articles of Faith, p. 37

(6)Jeff Lindsay, "Questions about Salvation and Exaltation". http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_Salvation.shtml#works

(7) James 2:17

(8) Joseph Smith. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. pp. 157, 322.

(9) First Presidency of the LDS Church. "Proclamation on the Family." 1995

(10) Amos 3:7

(11) Ephesians 4:13

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