What Do Mormons Believe?
Members of he Salt Lake City- based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS)are nicknamed Mormons after one of the main characters in the Book of Mormon. Mormons follow four books as Scripture: the Bible (officially, the King James Version), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), and the Pearl of Great Price (PGP).
The church’s leaders teach that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a teenager named Joseph Smith in 1820, telling him that all the teachings of existing Christian churches “were an abomination in (God’s) sight” because their “professors” had changed the original gospel message. Three years later, Smith said an angel named Moroni led him to unearth a set of gold plates inscribed with strange writings from a hillside in rural New York. Moroni said that he himself had buried the plates there 14 centuries earlier, before he was transformed from a man to an angel.
Smith claimed the ability to translate the plates, which he said were written in “Reformed Egyptian”. No one else was allowed to see the plates. The result of his “translation” is the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. It tells tales about ancient Israelites coming to the American continent, Jesus visiting here after His resurrection in faraway Israel, and about evil, dark skinned Lamanites destroying the righteous Nephites. After moving his followers to three different states, Smith as killed by an Illinois mob in 1844. Three years later, the second prophet (Brigham Young) led most of the church members to the Utah Territory. Mormons believe their church is guided by a living prophet as well as two counselors, twelve apostles, and several quorums of the "seventy". These men are called general authorities.
Mormonism's emphasis on families and moral values makes it attractive to many people. The young, clean-cut LDS missionaries who spend two years of their lives sharing the LDS message around the world are able to convince many people to convert to Mormonism. Yet while Mormons talk about God and Jesus as well as salvation by grace and baptism, they give different meanings to these topics. For instance, in contradiction to the Bible, Mormonism teaches,
* God the Father was once a human and today has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s (D&C). The Bible says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:24).
* The doctrines of the Trinity and Jesus’ equality with the Father are false.
* Men can become gods of their own worlds and have families that continue forever.
* Living Mormons can do good works in behalf of the dead through rites in the LDS temples.
* Undergoing water baptism, joining the LDS church, and getting married in the temple are requirements for being exalted in the next life.
Many Mormons are wonderful people, but the gospel they follow is not biblical and their belief about America’s history are clearly false. Learning more about Mormon teachings will allow you to become more effective at explaining the vital differences between biblical truth and the mistaken beliefs of the Latter Day Saints.
This article can be found in "Apologetics Study Bible for Students", page 1124.
Please also see our comprehensive study for the book of John that includes commentary from www.enduringword.com.