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what do mormons believe

What do Mormons Believe?

The following is a collection of several key differences between Mormonism and Christianity. In most places, the differences are exclusive; the points being made can’t both be true.


The Authority of the Bible

Mormon – The Bible is God’s Word.. but only insofar as it has been translated correctly.

(8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church) “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”

—versus—

Christian – The Bible is God’s Inerrant Word

The inspired inerrant word of God. It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

(2 Timothy 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Establishing the Authority of Scriptures

If Joseph Smith’s vision is right, there was no valid Christianity on the earth for hundreds of years. When did it disappear? 1st century. When did it reappear? 19th century. This means Christ and the Apostles failed in their efforts to establish a meaningful church. Their work unraveled into apostasy soon after the physical deaths of the Apostles and not even God could preserve His Word for earnest seekers until Joseph Smith resurrected and delivered it properly in the 1800’s.

Mormonism is pinned on four revelations:

  • The Book of Mormon
  • Doctrine and Covenants
  • Pearl of Great Price
  • KJV Bible (insofar as it is correctly translated)

To establish Scriptural authority, ask the following:

  • Oh, you read Greek and Hebrew?
  • How do you know it’s incorrectly translated?
  • Did the same God inspire all four books?
  • Are they all of equal validity?
  • Does God ever lie?
  • Can God be relied upon at all times?
  • Which is the oldest of these four texts? [Answer: Bible, which spans a period of over 5000 years.]
  • Don’t you think it’s proper to judge the younger revelations by the oldest revelation, because God who cannot lie, will tell us the straight story from the very beginning? And if the other books don’t agree with the oldest book, well then obviously something must be wrong with the younger books, right? (Martin, W.)

The Nature of God: One God of Many?

Mormon – There are many gods.

(Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham 4:3-) “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light…”

According to Mormon theology, all people represent the embryonic status of their own godhood. In a forum article, “Do Mormon Believe in Many Gods?”, the answer is given:

“Mormons believe that every human being is a God in “embryo” form, or childlike form. Just as a boy becomes a man or a girl becomes a woman, we believe men and women become Gods and Goddesses. We believe the purpose of this life is to move us along that path, and that this life is one of multiple steps in that direction. Of course if this is what we believe, then yes, we believe there are multiple Gods. In fact, there must be billions, trillions, or even more Gods.”

Additionally, when asked about the hierarchy of these gods, it is the Mormon belief that all these gods are equal in power and authority. Otherwise, a holier god could come along and usurp the authority of any lesser god resulting in utter chaos! So why do Mormons still say they only worship one god? They employ word-play at this point.

“To sum up, Mormons believe there are many Gods, but only believe in one God. Or to put it another way, Mormons know there are many Gods, but only know one God.”

—versus—

Christian – There is only one God.

(Isaiah 43:11) “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”

(Isaiah 44:6) “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

(Isaiah 44:8-9) “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.”

(Isaiah 45:5-7) “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

The Nature of God: Was God a Man?

Mormon – God is a created being and was once a man.

God an Exalted Man

(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345) I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

—versus—

Christian – God has always been God.

(Psalm 90:2) “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

(Isaiah 57:15) “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The Nature of God: Does God Have a Body?

Mormon – God has a flesh and bone body like ours.

(Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, Compare with Alma 18:26-27, 22:9-10) “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.41) ”Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body, infinitely pure and perfect, and attended by transcendent glory, yet a body of flesh and bone.”

—versus—

Christian – God is a spirit without flesh and bones.

(John 4:24) “God is spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”

[Note: Joseph Smith translated this passage to read, “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth.” (JST, John 4:26.)]

(Luke 24:39) “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

(Romans 1:21-23) “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

The Nature of God: Additional Comments

God Does Not Change

(Malachi 3:6) “For I am the LORD, I change not;”

(James 1:17) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

(Numbers 23:19) “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

We Are Called to Seek God’s Face

The first commandment given to Moses for the Israelites is found in Exodus 20:2-3, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” We must seek the one true God.


The Nature of the Trinity

Mormon – Three separate gods: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.38-39) “The Godhead: The Trinity:–Three personages composing the great presiding council of the universe have revealed themselves to man; (1) God the Eternal Father, (2) His Son, Jesus Christ; and (3) the Holy Ghost. That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is very plainly proved by the accepted records of the divine dealings with man. […] Joseph Smith, while calling upon the Lord in fervent prayer for wisdom to guide him in his religious professions, saw the Father and the Son, standing in the midst of light which shamed the brightness of the sun, one of these declared to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” Each of the members of the Trinity is called God, together they constitute the Godhead.”

—versus—

Christian – One God, three personages: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all the universe and that He exists in three eternal, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


The Nature of Jesus: Jesus’ Conception

Mormon – God had sex with Mary.

(Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p.115) “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers…”

(Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p.547) “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers…”

—versus—

Christian – Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.

(Isaiah 7:14) “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

(Matthew 1:23) “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

(Luke 1:34-35) “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

The Nature of Jesus: Who is Jesus?

Mormon – Jesus is Lucifer’s brother.

(Gospel Through the Ages, p.15) Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation.

Because Jesus is a created being like the angels and like humanity, he is our spirit-brother.

(Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith, p.70) “Among the spirit children of Elohim, the firstborn was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors.”

—versus—

Christian – Jesus is God.

Jesus is the eternal Son. He is second person of the Trinity. He has two natures: He is God in flesh, and the creator of all things.

(John 1:1, 14) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

(Colossians 2:9) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

(Colossians 1:14-18) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

The Nature of Jesus: Additional Comments

False Christs

(Matthew 24:5-8) “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Jesus was a Polygamist?

Mormon apostle, Orson Pratt—in the November 1853 edition of the Mormon publication, The Seer—asserts Jesus married Mary and Martha and others.


The Nature of Salvation

Mormon – Salvation earned through works.

Salvation has a double meaning in Mormonism.

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.78-79) “The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins…”

“As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements–‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,'”

(Doctrines and Covenants 137:7–9) “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”

—versus—

Christian – Salvation cannot be earned.

Good works are an outgrowth and testimony of regeneration in Christ; not the pass by which we achieve salvation. Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and deliverance of the sinner from damnation. It is a free gift received by God’s grace through acceptance of Jesus Christ and cannot be earned.

(Romans 11:6) “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

(Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

(Romans 4:5) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

(Galatians 2:21) “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Jesus says in John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I Am, you shall die in your sins.” Jesus assures us we are to rest in Him and Him alone. No additional revelation required.

(Acts 16:31) “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved…”

(1 Corinthians 15:3) “For I delivered to you as first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”

(Ephesians 1:7) “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

(1 Peter 2:24) “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

(Colossians 2:13) “He forgave us all our sins.”

We are not saved through works. How can anything we ever do be good enough before a Holy God?

(Isaiah 64:6) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Final Comments

We Are to Accept No Other Gospel

(2 Timothy 4:4) “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

(Galatians 1:6-9) “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) boasts over 3,000 additions, subtractions and changes to the King James Bible.

“Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made a “new translation” of the Bible, using the text of the King James Version (KJV). This work differs from the KJV in at least 3,410 verses and consists of additions, deletions, rearrangements, and other alterations that cause it to vary not only from the KJV but from other biblical texts. Changes range from minor details to fully reconstituted chapters.” (Matthews, 1992.)

Discerning False Prophets

(Deuteronomy 13:1-5) “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

(Deuteronomy 18:21-22) And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Mormon Division Doesn’t Add Up

In Mormon teaching, the primary catalyst that spurned Joseph Smith to seek the truth about God and the afterlife was his dissatisfaction with the confusion and strife between Christian doctrine. Today, the Mormon church suffers from this same fragmentation. The “one true church” currently enjoys over 100 different sects, all of whom claim they are the “one true church.” That’s a lot of fracturing in just 200 years from a church boasting a steady stream of God-sent “prophets”.

The Stakes Are Different

If the Mormon is right, their works-based religion allows nearly anyone into a level of heaven, so long as they keep doing good works; regardless of whether you’re Christian, Jehovah Witness, Unitarian, etc. On the other hand, if the Christians are right, the Mormon church isn’t even worshiping the right Jesus and has fallen prey to false doctrine which could lead many to hell.

(Matthew 7:13-15) “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

(Romans 1:17-23)

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

What if Joseph Smith was wrong?

If you are beginning to question your Mormon beliefs, please understand you do not have to lose your faith in God, but you do need to get clear on who God is and who He is not. The disillusionment felt by Mormons as they begin to emerge from the Mormon church can be devastating, especially as they begin to lose the support of their Mormon friends, family and church. As a sad testimony to the gulf that separates Mormonism from Christianity, know this abandonment is definitely not a Christian response!

If you are earnestly seeking God’s truth, humble yourself before His cross and—for a brief moment—step outside your Mormon vows, priesthood, and doctrine. Stand before Him as a simple man or woman searching for His truth and pray this heart-felt prayer:

Lord Jesus,
Open the eyes and ears of my soul and my mind
so I may hear your voice, and
explain this to me, teach me, save me
so I may serve you the way I ought to.

God’s Word can be relied upon completely. When it comes down to deciding between Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, please believe Jesus Christ. So much of your life may be tied up in Mormonism, including your loved ones. Jesus says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

I pray that you will be humble enough and courageous enough to seek God’s Truth for us as it’s been preserved in Scripture.

matt signature

Matt Schoenherr


References

Allred, Alma. The Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Ankerberg, John. Weldon, John. 1991. The Facts on the Mormon Church. Harvest House Publishers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1981. The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/book-of-mormon/book-of-mormon-34406-eng.pdf

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1981. The Doctrines and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/doctrine-and-covenants/doctrine-and-covenants-eng.pdf

Do non-mormons go to hell. LDS.net.
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Martin, Walter. YouTube. Dr. Walter Martin – The Lying Prophets and the Word of the Lord. https://youtu.be/YGiVWDCxulM

Martin, Walter. YouTube. Who Really Wrote The Book Of Mormon?- Dr. Walter Martin. https://youtu.be/ahS_bbaVXBQ

Martin, Walter. Decker, Ed. YouTube. Dialogue on the Doorstep with a Mormon – Walter Martin vs. Ed Decker.

Moore, Russell. September 11, 2012. How Christians Should Engage Latter-day Saints. http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/09/11/how-christians-should-engage-latter-day-saints/

Nelson, William O. July 1987. Is the LDS View of God Consistent with the Bible?  https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/07/is-the-lds-view-of-god-consistent-with-the-bible

Questions To Ask Mormon Missionaries. Flipping the switch.
http://flippingtheswitchon.blogspot.com/p/questions-to-ask-mormon-missionaries.html

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. Reformation Heritage Books. 2014.

Slick, Matt. Difficult Questions for Mormons to Answer. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. https://carm.org/difficult-questions-mormons-answer

Slick, Matt. A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.
https://carm.org/comparison-between-christian-doctrine-and-mormon-doctrine

Smith, Joseph. The Pearl of Great Price. 1981. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/the-pearl-of-great-price/the-pearl-of-great-price-eng.pdf

Steimle, Joshua. September 7th, 2010. Do Mormon Believe in Many Gods?
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