Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked by our friends outside the faith to explain, and sometimes to defend, the doctrine, principles, and teachings of Mormonism. And as members of the restored church, we are grateful for the opportunity to share some knowledge about our faith.
What is Mormonism?
Mormonism is a common term used to describe the teachings and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons is a commonly used term for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So in short, members are called “Mormons” and their faith “Mormonism”.
But what does it mean to be a Mormon? And where does the word Mormon come from?
The word Mormon was used to call the early followers of Joseph Smith. The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called Mormons by our friends outside the church because we believe in the Book of Mormon — the “keystone” of the organization. However, the nicknames “Mormons”, “Mormonism”, and “Mormon Church” are not acceptable by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.
Can I Still Use the Word “Mormon?”
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is the name that the Lord has given us. The name of the church should be known by the name of Jesus Christ, and it is the name by which the Lord will call us at the last day.
Some people have used the word Mormon to include those former members who have left the church to form various splinter groups. These groups have doctrines and practices that are not used or taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using the nickname Mormon just leads to confusion.
But why does the media still use nicknames? We are making great efforts not to use the word Mormon, however, our friends outside the church are looking for us by searching Mormons, Mormonism, and Mormon Church. And because we want them to reach and know more about our faith and our church through the internet, it’s possible for you to still see those nicknames. (Even in this article!) But the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not using those words anymore.
What Is the Difference Between Mormonism and Christianity?
“Are Mormons Christian?” The one question resulting in never-ending discussion among Bible-believing Christians for centuries.
YES, WE ARE. The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians. In Mormonism, we worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. However, some people might not consider us as ‘Christians’ because we’re not Fourth Century Christians, Athanasian Christians, or Creedal Christians, or other names that began hundreds of years after Jesus Christ.
Some of the reasons why friends outside the church think that we’re not Christians are:
We Believe in an Open Canon
In Mormonism, we believe in the Holy Bible, without any doubt. But we also believe that the Holy Bible has an expanded canon of scripture which includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
This is the first and probably the most common factor why people think that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. Others believe that to be a Christian means to agree to the principle of sola scriptura — that the Bible is the sole and final word of God, to be more specific, the final written word of God.
However, the Bible never proclaimed that all of God’s revelations can only be found in a single volume that is closed forever and that there will be no additional scriptural revelations in the future. More importantly, you cannot find anything in the Bible that justifies the closed canon.
To summarize, Mormonism teaches us that the Bible has an expanded canon of scripture, but it doesn’t mean that we replace the Bible. We actually use the four books side by side.
We don’t accept creeds and confessions of post-New Testament Christianity
Over the centuries, the views of God held by the earliest Christians have changed.
Originally, the views of God were more personal, more anthropomorphic, and less abstract. But over the next hundred years, the views of God have emerged. Due to the loss of apostolic authority, the Christian doctrine has been merged with Greek philosophy.
But in Mormonism, the Latter-day Saints believe that merging the early Christian theology with Greek philosophy was a serious error. One of the most important among the doctrines that have been lost was the nature of Godhead — the true nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, that was restored through Joseph Smith. In Mormonism, we believe that God the Father is an embodied being. This belief is consistent with the attributes referred to God by ancient Christians. And this is how Mormonism differs from the post-New Testament creeds.
There may be doctrinal differences between the Latter-day Saints and members of other Christian religions, but the belief of the Godhead taught in Mormonism agrees with the views of other Christians.
In Mormonism, we believe that God is almighty, infinite, all-loving, and we pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ — like what other Christian religions believe. We acknowledge God the Father as the center of our praise and worship, His Son as our Lord and Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost as the messenger and revealer of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
To sum things up, in Mormonism, the Latter-day Saints, do not recognize the post-New Testament creeds to be a part of our world, but we truly believe in each member of the Godhead in our daily worship, just like what the “Early Christians” did.
We Believe in a Restored Christianity
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t descend from the historical line of traditional Christianity. Which means we are not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a “restored” church, not “reformed”. When we say ‘Restored Christianity’, we meant the Church “as it was originally.” Not the kind of Church that has built when great councils argued over their beliefs, nor Greek-influenced or philosophy-flavored Christianity of post-apostolic times.
That explains why most of the converts from the 1830s to the present were from other Christian denominations. They didn’t plan and they don’t have plans to leave Christianity. Being a convert means that they were thankful to learn about the Restored Church of Jesus Christ — which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and happy to become a part of it. They believe that the church offers the fullness of the Lord’s gospel.
However, the members of creedal churches mistakenly assume that all Christians have and should have the same beliefs — beliefs that they believe are true and accurate. But the truth is since then, Christians have disagreed on every issue of theology and practice. These disagreements have created numerous Christian denominations.
The Mormonism doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different from other Christian religions. I agree with that. But what’s more agreeable is that the doctrine taught in Mormonism is consistent with early Christianity, that Joseph Smith restored the Church that Jesus Christ originally built.
What Are the Beliefs In Mormonism?
In Mormonism, there are beliefs that are similar to other Christian churches, and some are so different but consistent with the belief of early Christians.
Nature of God
“Do Mormons believe in Trinity?” A common question that we always hear. Again, please call us “Latter-day Saints” not “Mormons”.
No, Mormonism is non-trinitarian, meaning, Mormonism doesn’t accept the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
Mormonism is similar to most Christian denominations. It teaches us that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that they are separate and distinct beings — the Father and Son having perfected physical bodies, and the Holy Ghost has a spirit body. Mormonism teaches us that Heavenly Father is the literal father of all men and women’s spirits before they became mortals. Mormonism also teaches us that there is a Heavenly Mother (or Mother in Heaven) — the mother of human spirits and the wife of Heavenly Father.
Revelation is a communication from God to His children through the prophets. In Mormonism, there is a principle called “continuous revelation” where God or His divine agents still communicate to mankind through influences of the Holy Ghost, visions, visitations of divine beings, and in more ways.
In Mormonism, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to develop a personal relationship with the Holy Ghost. Members receive personal revelation either for their own benefit or for the people around them. Mormonism teaches its followers the concept of continuous revelation and helps us understand that the revelation from God is available to those who sincerely ask for it and for a good purpose. So parents can receive inspiration to guide their children and you can receive personal revelation for your own direction.
In Mormonism, the Latter-day Saints believe that through the Prophet Joseph Smith, who is the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, God re-established the early Christian Church found in the New Testament. Like what I’ve mentioned a few paragraphs ago, this is one of the factors why people think that Mormonism isn’t Christianity — because we don’t accept creeds and confessions of post-New Testament Christianity.
In Mormonism, you will learn that the angels, such as Peter, James, and John the Baptist, appeared to Joseph Smith and others and gave them different Priesthood authorities. Mormonism also teaches us that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church and that Joseph Smith and his successors are the modern prophets — people who directly receive revelation and teachings from God to guide the church.
In Mormonism, there’s a unique view of God and the universe, and the origin of all men and women.
The human’s life on earth is just a quick break from eternity, meaning, we do exist eternally. Mormonism teaches us that in the beginning, all of us existed as spirits in the presence of God. For us to progress and have a privilege to be like Him, God proposed a plan of salvation. All the spirits were free to accept or reject His plan.
A few spirits who were led by Satan have rejected this plan. The rest of the spirits accepted that they will come to earth and receive bodies, even though they know that they would experience sin and suffering.
In Mormonism, the central part of God’s plan of salvation is the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Latter-day Saints, we believe that we have granted an earthly life so that we will learn how to choose good over evil. In a human lifespan, we will surely make mistakes, at least once in a lifetime. These mistakes will make us unworthy to return to the presence of God.
But Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the world, and that we can be saved through His atonement. Mormonism teaches us to accept Jesus Christ’s atonement through faith, repentance, baptism, and other formal covenants or ordinances. Mormonism guides us to live a Christ-like life.
The scriptures in Mormonism explains that the creation of the earth was not ex nihilo — a Latin phrase which means “out of nothing”. In Mormonism, we believe that God didn’t create the world “out of nothing,” that everything has its own purpose.
In Mormonism, the word “ordinance” refers to the religious act or ritual involving the formation of a covenant with God. Some Latter-day ordinances are called “saving ordinances” because they are important to our exaltation. Each ordinance is sacred, formal, and performed by the authority of the priesthood. These saving ordinances include baptism, confirmation, the temple endowment, the marriage sealing, and the ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Other ordinances are not essential to our salvation, but they still play a big role in our guidance and encouragement. These ordinances include consecrating oil, naming and blessing children, and administering to the sick, which are all performed by priesthood authority, too.
In Mormonism, the ordinances and covenants help us remember what we really are and remind us of our duty to God. The Latter-day Saints believe that the ordinances help us become closer to the Lord.
Just like what I’ve told you earlier, in Mormonism, Latter-day Saints believe that the Holy Bible has an extended canon of scripture which includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Let’s talk further about the scriptures in Mormonism. Most of our friends outside the church ask questions like “What Bible do Mormons use?” or “What is the Book of Mormon all about?” These questions are common, even converts asked these questions before.
The Holy Bible
Now let’s answer the first question. “What Bible do Mormons use?” (Please call us Latter-day Saints, not Mormons.)
There is one and only Bible, and Mormonism faith doesn’t teach its believers to replace the Bible. So what Bible do we use? It’s the Holy Bible. I would like to emphasize that “we don’t and we won’t replace the Bible with another Bible”.
Because Mormonism has many books, people thought that we have replaced the Bible. But that’s wrong, really wrong. The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price have their own “definitions”.
Book of Mormon
Now the second question is “What’s the Book of Mormon all about?”
The Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” — as you can see on the cover page. It confirms the truths found in the Holy Bible and supports the testimony of Jesus Christ. Meaning, the Book of Mormon DOES NOT replace the Holy Bible, but rather supports it. One passage says that the Book of Mormon “shall establish the truth” of the Bible. (1 Nephi 13:40)
The difference between the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon is that the Holy Bible records the events in the eastern hemisphere, the Book of Mormon records the events in the Ancient Americas. Both are compilations of teachings that were recorded by prophets. To know more about the Book of Mormon, its importance, and different ways to access it, please read the article “Book of Mormon: A New Way to Feast on The Scriptures” by following this link:
One great way to learn more about the stories of the Book of Mormon is to watch the “Animated Book of Mormon” available here at Living Scriptures Streaming. Simply click the link below and claim your free month now!
Doctrine and Covenants
Sometimes abbreviated and cited as D&C or D. and C., the Doctrine and Covenants is a book of scripture that contains the revelations from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and to some latter-day prophets, and not a translation of any other ancient documents.
By reading the Doctrine and Covenants, we will learn the doctrines about the eternal nature of families, what will happen to humans after their life on earth, and how should the church be organized today. We will also learn the covenants that GodWritten by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Pearl of Great Price is a collection of choice materials that inspires many important aspects of the faith, doctrine, and teachings in Mormonism. It includes extracts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible and some of the Egyptian papyri containing the writings of Prophet Abraham, some parts taken from the testimony and history of Joseph Smith, and the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
makes with the people who are willing to keep His commandments.
Pearl of Great Price
Written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Pearl of Great Price is a collection of choice materials that inspires many important aspects of the faith, doctrine, and teachings in Mormonism. It includes extracts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible and some of the Egyptian papyri containing the writings of Prophet Abraham, some parts taken from the testimony and history of Joseph Smith, and the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You are fully aware that a religion criticizes another religion because of the differences in doctrine, principles, and teachings. But in Mormonism, we are taught that even though some of our friends outside the church are giving negative feedback about us, we should still try to help them hear the gospel and give them smiles in exchange for their criticism.
In Mormonism, we are taught to do our best to open up the hearts and minds that were closed by other beliefs. Even if they ignore us over and over again, we will never be tired of helping out our brothers and sisters outside Mormonism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
you can visit the official newsroom of the church by following the link below:
“For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto
repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name,
and him will I freely forgive.”
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