Beliefs of the LDS Church
Theological beliefs differing
from conventional Evangelicalism
|At the LDS General Conference of 2002-APR-8, President Hinckley said
non-Mormons often accuse them of rejecting belief in "the
traditional Christ." He acknowledged that the claims have "some
substance." That is because the LDS Church's knowledge of the Savior is
not based "on ancient traditions," some of which were created by
humans. Rather: "Our faith, our knowledge, comes of the witness of a
prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the
universe and his beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ."
Joseph Smith's vision of the Father and Son provided "certain and
unequivocating" knowledge that is the basis of LDS faith, he said.
|Critics maintain while Mormons may use the same vocabulary as mainstream
Christians that "they frequently attach radically different meaning to the
|Many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations regard the LDS
Church and other Mormon groups as
non-Christian, sub-Christian, Pagan or Gnostic
cults rather than a part of the historic
Christian faith. They cite such items as:|
|"secret handshakes, signs and key-words [which] are needed after
death for a person to gain entrance into God's presence." 4|
|The LDS Church's rejection of the historic belief in the Trinity -- the concept of three
persons within a single God -- one of the foundational beliefs
of historic Christianity.|
||The LDS Church teaches polytheism: the belief that there are many Gods.
Further, they teach that selected humans can become Gods after death. 6
The LDS once taught that "We can
become Gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation." 7 However,
they have apparently modified this teaching
in recent years. They now teach: "We can become like our Heavenly
Father. This is exaltation." 8 |
Individual Mormons differ on some 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 specialist, trained clergy
in the Church, and the lack of official statements on details 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
Specific theological beliefs:
|Accuracy of the Bible: In 1991, only 29% of Mormons believe
that the Bible is totally accurate, i.e. inerrant.
Much higher percentage of the members of other conservative Christian
denominations believe that the Bible is totally accurate: (81% of
Pentecostal/Foursquare, 77% of Assembly of God and 70% of non-denominational
-- mostly Fundamentalist -- Christian churches.)
||The nature of deity: The Mormon faith is polytheistic. It believes
that our world has three separate deities: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Current LDS teaching is that the Godhead
is a team of three consisting of:|
|God and Christ, who are separate deities of flesh and bone. Joseph
Smith described a visitation from God and Jesus Christ whose bodies were
separate and in human form. |
|The Holy Ghost (a.k.a. Holy Spirit) is a Spirit Personage, and not of flesh
and bone. The Holy Ghost prompts most humans to act morally. The only
exceptions are those who are hopelessly degenerate.|
|The Book of Mormon refers to: "Christ the Son, God the
Father and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God" (Alma 11:44).
Mormons interpret this passage and various references in the Bible as
referring to the three deities being one in purpose and perfection.|
taught that Jesus would return to earth near Independence, MO and
establish his millennial kingdom.|
|Men and women can become gods and goddesses: The ultimate goal of
a Mormon is to become a deity through a process of exaltation. This is a remarkable belief that has no
parallel in any other Christian denomination or other religion of which we are
|In 1840-JUN, the fifth LDS President, Lorenzo Snow, stated: "As
man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."
|Brigham Young, the second prophet and president of the Mormon
Church, stated: "The Lord created you and me for the purpose of
becoming Gods like Himself." 21|
|LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, stated: "Thus those who gain eternal
life receive exaltation ... They are gods."
|Evangelical activist Sandra Tanner publishes a list of quotations
from Mormon texts that support exaltation and men becoming Gods.
|Evangelical theologian James A. Beverley wrote: "Mormons can
progress to godhood in the next world through following temple endowment
|Original sin: The church teaches that: "Satan tempted Adam and
Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and they chose to do so. This was part of
God's plan. Only in this way could God's children progress and become like
Him." 10 The general
consensus among other conservative Christian denominations is that Adam and
Eve chose to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
by exercising their own free will, and that this was in violation of God's
wishes and expectations.|
||Virgin birth: The current official teaching of the church is that Jesus
was born of the virgin Mary. However, Mormons once commonly believed that God has a body of flesh and
bone and actually engaged in sexual intercourse with
Mary in order to impregnate her. Some conservative Christian
counter-cult groups state, incorrectly, that this is the current
official teaching of the LDS. In fact, it was never an official declared church
belief. It has not been stressed at the local level in recent years.
Many Mormon missionaries have never even heard of the belief. However, the church does still emphasize that Jesus was the son of God the
Father and not of the Holy Ghost. More details.|
|Did Jesus marry? Some early LDS Church leaders taught that Jesus
Christ was a polygamist. 11 Orson Hyde implied in his writings that Jesus
married Mary, Martha and "the other Mary."
Hyde also believed that Jesus was fathered children. 12 Jedediah M. Grant, another early leader, said that Jews' rejection of
Jesus was due to his advocating polygyny. 13 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
currently 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. 15
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:"
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 in the New Testament
book of James which
says that "faith without works is dead." Most other conservative
Christians believe that salvation is attained through
belief, not good works; they believe that good works are a natural result of
having been saved.|
|Atonement and salvation: The LDS church teaches the
atonement: that through Jesus' "...suffering in
the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the Savior atoned for our sins."
However, an individual's personal salvation
requires both faith in Christ and good works. As the Mormon.org web site
"To make His Atonement fully effective in our individual lives, we
must have faith in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the
Holy Ghost, obey God's commandments, and strive to become like Him."
Most Evangelicals believe that salvation is based
totally on faith, not works.
|Nature of Heaven and Hell: A person's final destination after death
depends upon their knowledge and belief in Christ, the good works that
they have done on earth, their degree of repentance, and the Mormon ordinances that they
may have completed
while on earth (or vicariously by living members of the Church on their
|The highest level of Heaven is the Celestial Kingdom.
24 People there are
divided into two groups: |
|The more privileged group consists of LDS couples who have been married in a Mormon temple and thus have
had their marriage sealed for eternity, and who have "a testimony of Christ and
live a Christian life." 25 The couples can eventually become
a God and Goddess. They will have an eternal family and govern it as God
governs His family.|
||Those unmarried LDS members who have led a devout life life can
also attain the Celestial Kingdom, where they will be servants to
the others. Non-Mormons who have led exceptional lives may also
be selected to 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. Some persons who led exceptional lives, were
without knowledge of the Mormon teachings, but would have accepted
them and acted on them, can also be selected to attain the Celestial
|There are also the intermediate Terrestrial Kingdom, which is visited by Jesus but not by God. It is
reserved for people who have led honorable and virtuous lives, but have never accepted the
gospel as interpreted by the LDS church. This would include many individuals
from other Christian denominations and from other religions.|
||The lowest is the Telestial Kingdom, reserved "... for the
murderers and robbers and liars of the world." They will spend time in
"spirit prison" (a.k.a. Hell) before being redeemed and entering this
Kingdom. This is similar to Purgatory as taught by the Roman Catholic Church.|
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
Individuals who are sinful and wicked while on Earth
will spend time in Spirit Prison (a.k.a. Hell, Perdition). They are called
"the sons of perdition."
|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
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,
"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
|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.|
||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 our near future. The continents will
converge into a single land mass. That would certainly wipe out the shipping
businesses and drastically modify airline routes.|
Although their theological beliefs differ significantly from that of historical
Christianity, Mormons believe that their doctrines were held by the very
early Christian church. Although their beliefs are based on modern revelation,
they do not feel that any of them conflict with the Bible, except those changed
as a result of revelations from God. They feel that all of the doctrines mentioned can be found
described, clearly mentioned, or alluded to in the Bible (at least in part).
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- This information was taken from an Internet mailing list. President
Hickley's address can be heard at:
- Twila Van Leer, "Increased faith, charity urged: Pres. Hinckley affirms
role of divine guidance," Deseret News, at:
- Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House,
Minneapolis, MN, (1985), P. 168
- "The Temple Endowments Ceremony," at:
- Book of Abraham 4:3ff
- "Doctrine and Covenants," 132:19-20.
- "Gospel Principles," 1981 edition, Page 290.
- "Gospel Principles," 1995 edition, Page 320.
- "Religious Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination," Barna Research,
- "Preach my Gospel," LDS, Item #36617000 from
http://www.LdsCatalog.com, Page 49.
- "Mormon Polygamy," The Institute for Religious Research, at:
- "Journal of Discourses," II, Page 210.
- Ibid., I, Page 346.
- L.C. Scott, "The Mormon Mirage," Zondervan, (1979), Page 175.
- Wilcox, Linda P. "The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven," An
essay In "Sisters in Spirit," ed. Maureen U. Beecher and Lavina F.
Anderson. Urbana, IL, (1987).
- "Mother in Heaven," at:
- Bob Mims, "LDS try to end unauthorized work for Jews," The Salt
Lake Tribune, 2001-MAY-2, at:
- "Atonement," LDS Church, at:
- Bruce McConkie, "Mormon Doctrine," Page 237.
- Bill McKeever, "As God is, man may become?" Mormonism Research Ministry, at:
- Brigham Young, sermon, 1852-AUG-08, Journal of Discourses, 3:93.
- James A. Beverley, "The Mormon-Evangelical Divide: Beliefs that set Mormons
apart, and evangelicals' response," Christianity Today, 2000-FEB-01, at:
- Sandra Tanner, "Mormons Hope to Become Gods of Their Own Worlds Procreating
Endless Numbers of Children: Quotes from LDS Leaders," Utah LIghthouse Ministry,
- "Kingdoms of Glory," LDS Church, at:
- "Exaltation (LDS Church), Wikipedia, at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/ Search for "Exaltation"
Copyright © 1995 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2012-MAY-17
Author: B.A. Robinson