What Do Mormons Believe?

As I mentioned in this post, I felt saddened by the misunderstanding/misinterpretation of the doctrine of my Church, the Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So, I opened it up. Anyone who had a question, I’d take it and answer it here.
Now, if afterwards, you still have questions, either leave a comment or feel free to email me at themorrelltale@gmail.com.
The scripture references I use are from The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants (a set of revelations given to Joseph Smith on the doctrine and covenants and set up of the Church), and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
I will also use our Articles of Faith, which are a basic summary of our beliefs. The 11th Articles of Faith states, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” So, I would appreciate you not saying my religion is isn’t true. I’m not trying to convert you, and I would appreciate the same respect.
Are Mormons Christian?
We believe that anyone who believes in Christ, worships Christ, follows Christ, and tries to be like Christ, is a Christian. That means Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Evangelicals, Baptists, Methodist, Protestants, etc., are all Christians. The full name of our Church is: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We all do have a personal relationship with Christ as well, since we love Him and try to emulate Him. We consider Him our eldest brother.
2 Nephi 25:26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
1st Article of Faith We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Do Mormons believe in being saved by works rather than grace?
This has been a piece of controversy ever since church began to break off the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval ages. Many New Testament epistles written by the different original apostles have different meanings, because each apostle, although one in purpose, had a different audience and a different personal understanding of the Gospel. We believe that men are saved by grace through the Lord’s Atonement, but we still need to follow His commands and receive certain ordinances (works). Otherwise, anyone could say, “I’m a Christian,” and be saved. But it’s more than just that. You need to show you are a Christian by being baptized, following Christ and acting how He would want you act, reading scriptures, going to church, praying, etc. Those are the works. Actions speak louder than words. 
This definition comes from the book, True to the Faith, which is an explanation/reference book of gospel principles in our church: “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fullness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him. The Lord has commanded us to obey His gospel, which included having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
3rd Article of Faith We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4th Article of Faith We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
2 Nephi 25:23  For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
Why do Mormons not believe in the Trinity?
This one is a little harder. We don’t believe in the Trinity in the sense that all 3 personages (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost) are 1 person and a spirit at that. We believe they are 3 separate and distinct members of 1 Godhead. They are all one in purpose, one unit. But separate. We believe that since Christ was resurrected, He still has a body of flesh and bone (the apostles felt his scars and nail marks when He visited them after He was resurrected and Thomas wouldn’t believe until He could feel himself). Heavenly Father created us in His own image, so we also believe that He has a body of flesh and bone. We believe that through most of the scriptures, especially the Old Testament, when Jesus is referred to as Jehovah, Jesus was speaking for Heavenly Father. That’s why we pray to Heavenly Father through Christ’s name. We also think it is the explanation of Christ being baptized, Heavenly Father saying “This is my Beloved Son, hear Him”, and the Holy Ghost descending as  dove all the same time. There is also numerous references in the New Testament of Christ speaking to God as “Father”, especially when He was being crucified, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We don’t think He was talking to Himself.

John 17:11, 21-23 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. [This is when Christ is showing the people how to pray to God. In the beginning, He says, “that they” (meaning us) may be one as we (Christ and Father) are. Now, we’re not all going to become the same person, but one in purpose–Zion. “I in them, and thou in me”–we can have Christ in us, but we don’t become Christ…same with Christ and God…He has God in Him just the same way we have Christ in us. No unclean thing can be in the presence of God, so Christ was the intermediary.]

Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 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.
The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Has Sent” by Jeffrey R. Holland (12 apostles)

What are garments and why do Mormons wear them?
These are not magical underwear, nor do we claim them to be. When we make special covenants with Heavenly Father in the Temple, we receive the garment and are commanded to wear them at all times and to protect and respect them. They are an outward expression of an inward commitment. They remind us and represent the covenants and promises we have made. (It also helps us to be modest in our standards of modesty as you really don’t want to show them–knee length, covered back, no low cut neckline, shoulders covered, no mid-riff.) We consider the garment to be sacred, not secret, and because it is sacred, we respect it and don’t really talk about it or show it off. However, some people do believe that it protects them because, again, it show our obedience to God. My cousin was a soldier in Iraq and he and a few members in his squad were hit with a car bomb. Many of his friends died, but he didn’t, and he claims it is because he was wearing his garments and keeping the covenants and promises he made with them.
Now, I teach in a predominantly Mormon school and when my young preteens come across the word “garment” in their novels or vocabulary lists, they get a little apprehensive since they realize the sacredness of it. So, I have to remind them that the word “garment” really means “clothing”. =)

Exodus 35:19 The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.

What is the Book of Mormon, why do Mormons read it, and it is the True Word of God?

We believe the Book of Mormon to be another Testament of Christ. Through our believe and faith in the Book of Mormon, it help our testimony grow of the Holy Bible being the word of God as well. This is the biggest difference between us and other Christians. In the Old Testament, there were prophets that prophesied that Jerusalem would be captured…and it was by the Babylonian’s (this was about 600 years before the coming of Christ). We believe that there was a family whose father received personal revelation from God that this was going to happen and for them to leave. God lead them out of Jerusalem, through the wilderness, told them how to build a boat, guided the boat to the “promised land” (America), and for hundreds of years, they prospered. Not to say that ALL Native Americans are “Lamanites” (the posterity of one member of this family), but we believe that their blood is mixed (especially with like Mayans, etc). We believe that Christ and God talked to these prophets and guided them. Then, after Christ was resurrected, in the New Testament, He tells His prophets that He is leaving because He has “other sheep not of this fold”, He came to visit His people in the Americas. Prophets kept this record and buried it, and that’s what Joseph Smith was led by an angel of God to find and through God, translated it. 

Ezekiel 37:16-17 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, Fore Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Why don’t Mormons believe in the infallibility of the Bible?
The easiest and most apparent way for me to answer that question is, if the Bible was absolutely perfect, why are there soooo many versions and variations of it? We absolutely believe that principles taught in the Bible are 100% true. That’s not what we mean when we say “as far as it is translated correctly.” However there were so many different original authors and manuscripts written before Christ and before 100 AD, that it is very near impossible to know what is original and “uncorrupted” (in the sense of not being perfectly original). Think about Homer–since it was so long ago, and there were so many manuscripts to what he wrote, many ancient historians actually believe that he may have been a group of people and “Homer” may have either been a title or a conglomerate of men using a single pseudonym. The Bible was not written in chronological order. Revelation was actually written before many epistles! So, we believe that when John the Beloved mentions in Revelation that the “book is closed”, he was talking about the Book of Revelation, not the entire Holy Bible (he couldn’t have meant the entire Bible, as it didn’t exist as one completed work when he wrote Revelation). He still wrote epistles while banished to the Isle of Patmos. I studied history in college, especially medieval history. In the medieval church, and even Dark Age church, monks worked tediously to try to translate the Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek writings of the Bible into Latin to create the Holy Bible. The Roman Catholic Church wanted to have the power, so they didn’t want it translated into the vernacular. Most of the population was illiterate and depended on the priests to tell them what the Bible said. But, some could read in their own language, just not Latin, the language of scholars and the Church. That’s why when John Wycliffe tried to translate the Bible into English and Martin Luther translate it into German, there were riots, excommunications, and burnings at stake. When the King James Version was commissioned, the English Crown wanted to try to make it as accurate as possible, back to the original manuscripts. The translators worked high and low to find original manuscripts and do their own translating. That’s why there are some italicized words and phrases in the KJV. That’s “adding” to the scriptures. But, as anyone who knows more than one language realizes, you will always lose something, some power, some idiom when you translate. That is what we mean by “translated correctly.” Mormons believe in the King James Version, because we believe it to be the most accurate.  We also believe that it is just as sacred and just as important as the Book of Mormon.8th 8th Article of Faith We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
Reverence for the Bible” from the Mormon News Room
Is Joseph Smith a prophet of God and did he really do all he said he did?
Joseph Smith, as a 14 year old child, lived in New York during the time of the 2nd Great Awakening. All the different local Christian sects were vying for followers to save souls (think back to your U.S. History classes–it was a little chaotic, put the fear of Hell in hearts, and honestly, caused for un-Christian behavior and attitudes between sects). Joseph didn’t know which to join, so he followed this scripture: James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. So, he did. He was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and they told him to not join any because they were “corrupted.” Now, I’m an English teacher who teaches Latin Root Vocabulary to my students. “Corrupted” also means imperfect. Think how “hicks” talk–that’s a corrupted version of American English. Think of “cockney”–that’s a corrupted version of English. Same with the churches–they were imperfect. They didn’t have the full gospel or full truth–not that they were evil and out to do wrong. No! He was also told by an angel sent from God where to find gold plates that contained the record of the Book of Mormon. Through the power of God, he was able to translate them. Now, when he disobeyed God, he lost the power to translate until he repented. He restored the true church–the church that Jesus Christ, Himself, founded and led when He was on Earth. The priesthood was given to him by Peter, James, and John, themselves.
Now, many of you think he was a treasure hunter. Joseph came from a very poor family and was hired out to do all sorts of labor many times. He was hired by Josiah Stoal, who was a treasure hunter. It was for money to help his family. He’s also human and has made mistakes like all of us. He mentions himself in his history that as a teenager and young adult, because of his “natural cheery disposition” and all the persecution he received because of his vision as a 14 year old, he did things that he shouldn’t have (he says none that were great sins), but that is because he fell to peer pressure and wanted to be accepted. What teenager and young adult wouldn’t? 
We also believe that he was prepared and prophesied of in the Holy Bible. Not by name, since there are very, very few individuals that were prophesied of by name in the Holy Bible.
Ezekiel 37:16-17 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. [We know that the stick of Judah that was written on were the scriptures by the prophets of old in Judea. We believe that in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites came across the sea to America due to a vision from God…in the Book of Mormon, it is mentioned that they are descended from Joseph of Egypt (the brother of Judah). So, their writings are the stick of Ephraim. Together, the Book of Mormon (another Testament of Christ) and the Holy Bible work together.]

Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
Isaiah 11:10-12 In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

6th Article of Faith We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
9th Article of Faith We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
What do Mormons believe about Heaven and Hell?
We believe that Heavenly Father’s plan was to send us to Earth to have a body, learn, and then be resurrected. While we wait for everyone’s turn, there is Paradise and Spirit Prison, no Hell. In Spirit Prison, missionary work is continued to help those who didn’t accept or didn’t have the chance to learn about the Gospel while on Earth. While on Earth, we help them out by doing their ordinances by proxy for them to accept or decline. Then, during the Second Coming, there is the Resurrection and Judgement. Then, there are 3 kingdoms of glory–the highest being where God and Christ, and all those who have received all necessary ordinances and lived faithfully will end up. We don’t have a hell for non-believers or bad people, just different degrees of glory based on various qualifications.  We have Outer Darkness, or Perdition, which is for those who have known God’s power on a deep and personal level and been partakers of the priesthood, and then literally followed Satan and denied God and His power.
D&C 76 (goes into depth on the revelation Joseph Smith received about the afterlife)

Do you have any other questions? 

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • You are so good at posts like these!! I love reading them!

  • Love this! We are so on the same page right now 🙂

  • I'm so impressed by this post! I feel like this would take me forever to write but you did an amazing job of being well-rounded and simple. I swear there's even some things I didn't know in here. 🙂

  • Thanks, Ashley

  • Yaay! =) Glad you agree!

  • It did take a while to do, but I wanted to make sure it was all correct.

  • This is a really interesting post. Thanks for sharing it! As someone who's not a Mormon it's cool to learn more about Mormonism. I guess the one question I have, which isn't really faith related, is how to do you respond to former Mormons who are critical of Mormonism now?

  • This was very interesting read. I am not to familiar with the mormon faith but I feel like I got a great glimpse into it's orgins. Stopping by from the peony project. facebook link.

  • That was a very thorough and well-written post! Although our beliefs differ I was married to a Mormon and have done a lot of studying to understand him and I think you did a great job explaining your beliefs. The only thing I'm a little unclear on is that I'm not sure that Revelations was written before MANY epistles. This is one I've tried to research before and have read different things. Perhaps James? Anyhow, that is unimportant. I just wanted to give you props for all your hard work and sharing your heart! #Peonyproject

  • Hi! I found your blog trough the Peony Project and am glad I did. I myself am an protestant and have always been fascinated by the Mormon faith. I myself don't really agree with a lot of thoughts and practices of the Mormon church, but I do believe that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, will be saved. I'm so glad we have that common ground, and you explained everything very well! Thanks for an interesting read – and for the renewed realisation we serve the same God!
    x Margriet (www.childoflight.nl)

  • Thanks, Lisa. As for your question, we still love them. One of God's greatest gifts was agency. They are allowed to chose their own paths. We may feel sad about their choice, but it is up to God to judge them, not us. God also commanded us to love everyone, so we still try to treat them with love.

  • Thanks, Michelle. I'm glad you were able to understand it. That was one thing I was worried about–I grew up in this face; I understand the terminology and doctrine, but I wanted to make sure those who weren't familiar could understand it.

  • Thank you so much! I always find inter-denominational relationships interesting! I hope your husband has tried to understand your religion as much as you have tried to understand ours!

  • Thank you so much for the positive comment! I believe that all though dogmas and philosophies and interpretations may differ greatly between religions, the purpose and intent and basic principles are the same.

  • Wow Tayler, I've had this post up in my tabs for a couple days now. I keep coming back when I get a minute and read a little bit then stop, then come back again. You did some amazing research girl! I wanted to share that one of my favorite discussions with the missionaries who taught me (I learned the most from the parents of a boy I went to H.S. with who were/are LDS) was the plan of salvation. I loved hearing that there was a peaceful, happy place for everyone and that it wasn't just heaven or hell and that's IT. There are just so many circumstances for why people make the choices they do, including the biggest thing of all, not choosing where they are born. Countries that don't allow the Gospel to be taught, what of those people?! If God created us in His image and we believe to come from Him, then why would He place us in a country and tell us GOOD LUCK, hope you find Christ before death otherwise that's it for you, it's hell for eternity!!! I just never understood that and personally the plan of salvation always made the most sense. I love the plan of salvation, it's my absolute favorite!

  • The plan of salvation is so optimistic! I love it! Thanks!