The Articles of Faith were written by founder Joseph Smith as a brief description of the Mormon faith. Many LDS beliefs are similar to those of Evangelical Christianity. These include the truthfulness of the Bible as it was originally recorded by the books' authors, atonement, resurrection, tithing, the widespread influence of angels and of Satan and his demons. They oppose both equal rights for homosexuals and women's access to abortion (except in rare circumstances, like rape or a life-threatening pregnancy). On other points, the Church differs significantly from the beliefs of most conservative Christian denominations. According to a 2000-NOV issue of US News and World Report, LDS teaching emphasizes the church's commitment to conservative and family values, and downplays its past beliefs in polygamy and racism. Critics maintain while Mormons may use the same vocabulary as mainstream Christians that "they frequently attach radically different meaning to the terms." Many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations regard the LDS as a non-Christian, Pagan or Gnostic cult rather than as a part of the traditional Christian faith. Mormons also differ within the church on a few matters of belief. Teachings which are not found in the Mormon religious texts or which are not officially recognized by the Church are taught in varying degrees throughout Mormon wards, and believed by individual members. Two reasons for this are: the lack of paid or trained clergy on the Church, and the lack of official statements on every little detail of doctrine. 'Teachers' are merely members like the 'students' and they share feelings, ideas and testimony. The Church tolerates varied opinions on some minor matters, as long as it is not presented as official church doctrine.
Some Church teachings which deviate from conventional Evangelical Christianity are:
The nature of deity: The Mormon faith is nominally Trinitarian in its belief about deity. Joseph Smith described God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as being three separate entities. The Book of Mormon describes God as being a trinity: "Christ the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God" (Alma 11:44).
Current LDS teaching is that God and Christ are separate deities of flesh and bone; the Holy Spirit is a Spirit Personage, and not of flesh and bone. However, the three are one in purpose and perfection. This is how Mormons interpret the various scriptures in the Bible and the Book of Mormon which state that the three are 'one.'
Virgin birth: The official teaching of the church is that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. However, it was once commonly taught at the local level that God has a body of flesh and bone and actually engaged in sexual activity with Mary in order to impregnate her. The teaching has not been stressed in recent years. However, the church does still emphasize that Jesus was the son of God the Father and not of the Holy Ghost.
Did Jesus marry? Some early church leaders taught that Jesus Christ was a polygamist. Orson Hyde implied in his writings that Jesus married Mary, Martha and "the other Mary" at the wedding in Cana. Hyde also believed that Jesus was the father of some children. 2 Jedediah M. Grant, another early leader, said that Jews' rejection of Jesus was due to his advocating polygamy. 3 According to the Journal of Discourses, (2:82, 2:210 and 4:259) Jesus was believed by some of the early church leaders to have married Mary, Martha and/or Mary Magdelene at Cana, and to have had children. The LDS church does not now take a formal position on whether Jesus married.
Does God have a wife? According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: "Latter-day Saints infer from authoritative sources of scripture and modern prophecy that there is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father." She is sometimes referred to as "our Mother in heaven." There is no definitive statement in the Mormon canon of scripture that states this belief directly. 5 Quoting from various authors on the "All About Mormons" web site:
"As early as 1839 the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the concept of an eternal mother, as reported in several accounts from that period."
"In 1909 the First Presidency, under Joseph F. Smith, issued a statement on the origin of man that teaches that 'man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents...' "
"We have a mother in heaven. We are the offspring of God. He is our Father, and we have a Mother in the other life as well." Excerpt from Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Page 191 [Emphasis in original; Lorenzo Snow was a LDS president].
LDS President George Q. Cannon wrote in 1884: "The Mormons believe that...God is a married Being, has a wife at least...that God is an exalted Man, and that we are the offspring of Him and His wife."
Elder John A. Widsoe wrote in "A Rational Theology," Page 69: "Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood."
The doctrine is also stated in the LDS Hymn "O My Father:" "In the heav'ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me I've a mother there."
Life after death: Mormons believe that everyone has eternal life. However, they rarely use the term "salvation." Rather they refer to a state of "exaltation" in which the person is destined to attain the highest degree of heaven after death. This is made available to all who believe. But is conditional on a person keeping God's commandments - specifically making and keeping sacred covenants with God through his revealed ordinances. This is based in part on the writings of James who says that "faith without works is dead." Most other conservative Christians believe that salvation is independent of such "works."
Nature of Heaven: A person's final destination after death depends upon their knowledge and belief in Christ, the good works that they have done on earth and the Mormon ordinances that they have completed while on earth (or vicariously by living members of the Church on their behalf.) The highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom are reserved for Mormon couples who have been married in a Mormon temple and thus have had their marriage sealed for eternity. The couples can eventually become a God and Goddess. They will have an eternal family and govern it as God governs His family. Non-Mormons who have led exceptional lives will also spend eternity in the Celestial Kingdom provided that they accept the gospel in the interim Spirit World, and have the ordinances of the gospel performed for them vicariously. There are also the intermediate Terrestrial Kingdom, which is visited by Jesus but not by God. It is reserved for people who have led good lives, but have never accepted the gospel. The lowest is the Telestial Kingdom, reserved for the wicked. It is speculated that individuals will learn and progress within the Kingdom to which they are assigned at death. However, they are not allowed to progress to the next higher level. (D&C 76:70-107 and 1 Corinthians 15:40-42)
Length of marriage: Couples who could have been sealed (married in a Mormon temple), but did not take advantage of that opportunity will be automatically divorced at death and start eternity as single individuals. Fortunately, temple ordinances which will seal a couple can still be done after a person's death. Many Mormons feel a heavy pressure to have a Temple marriage to a fellow Mormon. If they do so, they will be automatically sealed. If they marry a non-Mormon, many believe that they may face a future of loneliness in heaven, and can never be accepted into the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.
Nature of Hell: Hell exists. It is a place where the wicked will pay for their sins, during the millennium. Most will eventually "pass into the telestial kingdom; the balance, cursed as sons of perdition, will be consigned to partake of endless wo [sic] with the devil and his angels." (Doctrines and Covenants", 76:84). Sons of perdition have been defined as some of the individuals who were once devout Mormons, but have who have become apostates. Others define them as those who committed the unforgivable sin, which is to deny the Holy Ghost or shed innocent blood once enlightened. Both of these sins presuppose a knowledge of the truth which one then fully apostasies from.
Pre-birth existence: Before being born, each person is pre-existent in Heaven with God, as a spirit being. They go through a period of learning. Later, they are put into a human body at birth.
Original sin: Mormons do not believe in original sin - the concept that all people inherit the sin of Adam and Eve at birth. One man cannot be not held responsible for the sins of another. However, they believe that all mortal life is in a sinful and carnal state.
Baptism by proxy: Through the process of vicarious ordinances, a Mormon's dead, non-Mormon ancestors can be baptized by proxy into the church. They believe that such baptism gives their ancestors the choice to join, or reject, the Mormon faith. This can result in the growth of the Mormon's family in the Celestial Kingdom. The doctrines of eternal families and eternal marriage are closely related to this work for the dead. Hundreds of millions of ancestors have been so processed. This procedure has generated inter-faith friction. Some Mormons have baptized deceased persons who were not their ancestors. In more than 200 cases, proxy baptisms were held for Holocaust victims and other deceased Jews -- including some famous individuals such as Sigmund Freud, David Ben-Gurion, more than a dozen relatives of Anne Frank, and Ba'al Shem Tov -- the founder of the Hasidic Jewish movement. Aaron Breitbart, senior researcher for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, commented "These people were born Jews, they lived as Jews and many of them died because they were Jews. They would not have chosen to be baptized Mormons in life, and there is no reason they would want to be baptized by proxy in death." As a result of a 1995 agreement between the LDS and various Jewish groups, hundreds of thousands of Jewish names have been stripped from baptismal records. The church still allows present-day Mormons to baptize their Jewish ancestors, even though that would probably be deeply offensive to those ancestors and to most other Jews.
The throne of God: They believe that the star "Kolob" is "nearest onto the throne of God" (Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham 3:2-4). "Kolob" might have been derived from the Hebrew word for star, which is "kokob". It takes 1,000 years to revolve -- a passage of one day to God.
Creation of the universe: The creation of mankind, the earth, and the rest of the universe is accurately recorded in Genesis. But the seven days of creation were not necessarily 24 hours days; they may have involved billions of years. Belief in an old earth appears strong among individual Mormons. An 1973 opinion poll of Mormon students at Brigham Young University found that only 27% (vs 5% in 1935) believed that "The world's creation did not take millions of years." According to the Book of Moses, which the church teaches was written by Moses, creation is a continuous process involving many worlds: "And worlds without number have I created…for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten...And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works"
Evolution: The same 1973 opinion poll found that most students denied that humanity evolved from lower species. 81% of BYU students (vs 36% in 1935) agreed that: "Man's creation did not involve biological evolution." However, the church does teach what is sometimes called "micro-evolution:" that is, change within a species.
End of the world: Some Mormons believe that 6,000 years after creation, the final epoch will begin, with wars, famines, earthquakes and much suffering. This will start in the near future. The continents will converge into a single land mass.
History of North American people: The Jaredite people were one of many groups scattered from the Tower of Babel circa 2250 BCE. They settled on the East coast of Central America. They were totally destroyed because of their corruption.
Some Israelites departed from the Middle East about 600 BCE, before the time of the Babylonian captivity and arrived in America. A patriarch Lehi had two sons: Nephi (from whom the Nephites descended) and Laman (from whom the Lamanites descended). The two tribes lived in a state of continuous feuding and warfare. The earthen mounds throughout the Palmyra area are believed to be attempts at defensive fortification. Eventually, the Lamanites exterminated all of the Nephites circa 385 CE, and became the ancestors of present day Native Americans. God gave to Native Americans their "red skins" in order to visually separate them from those who continued to follow God's commandments and teachings.
Jesus came to America after his resurrection where he performed miracles, delivered a sermon similar to the Beatitudes and selected twelve disciples from the Nephite tribe.
Racism: The Church taught that persons with any black ancestry could not receive the priesthood. This was because blacks had been cursed by God with the "Mark of Ham". A second revelation from God in 1978-JUN terminated this limitation.
Although their beliefs differ significantly from that of historical Christianity, Mormons believe that the same doctrines were held by the very early Christian church. Although their doctrines are based on modern revelation, they do not feel that any of them conflict with the Bible. Depending on one's interpretation they feel that all of the doctrines mentioned can be found described, clearly mentioned, or alluded to in the Bible (at least in part).
site&count=1" border=0 width=96 height=40 alt="The Christian Counter">