I get asked all the time what Mormons believe. I think the best way to address this is to go through the Mormon’s “13 Articles of Faith” one by one. I will begin with the first five in this post and continue in later posts.
The first Article of Faith:
“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
This may not sound so different than what many other churches believe, so what’s the big deal? First of all, they believe that they are separate individuals and are flesh and bones.
“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holly Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of sprit. Were it not so, the Holly Ghost could not dwell in us.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)
One of the controversial teachings of the early Mormon Church was the “Adam God theory”. Below is a statement made by Brigham Young who at that time was the Prophet of the Mormon Church.
“Our Father in Heaven begat all the spirits that ever were, or ever will be, upon this earth; and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by His power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man. We were made first spiritual, and afterwards temporal. Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material... When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness.” Source: Journal of Discourses 1:50. (April 9, 1852)
Even though the modern Mormon Church (i.e. the church today, as opposed to many years ago) does not teach this, they do teach that when a prophet speaks it is as if God himself is speaking. If Brigham Young was a prophet, then this is Mormon Church doctrine.
The second Article of Faith:
"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."
Look at the “Adam God theory” above. Does this mean that God could sin? Does this mean that God would sin? I think not. Also, I would like to mention the Grace of God, but more on this in the next Article of Faith.
The third 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."
As a Mormon I was taught that Jesus died on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins only as we confess them. Their goal is to live a perfect life and to gain their place in the Celestial Kingdom (the highest degree of heaven in Mormon Theology). This was not the gift that it talks about in the Bible. This takes lots of work; a goal to be perfect, and is not humanly possible. I will talk about this more in a future post as I could go on hours on this aspect alone.
The fourth 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."
This only the start. You are also required to give 10% of your income (and they want it before taxes are even taken out) to the Church in Tithing, then they ask you to pay Fast Offerings once a month (what it would cost you to take your family to a restaurant as you forgo meals for 24 hours). For young men, going on a mission is a must, as well as holding church callings and other various service. Going to the temple and doing temple work is also a requirement. You are expected to attend all church meetings. Basically, if you want to be a good Mormon you must do everything that you are asked to do. I remember right after my Mission I was called into the bishop’s office and told that they were inspired to call me to work in the nursery. I was shocked as I did not have children and did not feel that this is where I would be the most effective in my service. I told the Bishop that I did not feel “called” to this calling. The look on the Bishop’s face was priceless; he did not know what to say and looked at me as if I had snakes coming out of my ears. A few weeks later I was called to work with the young men. I guess what I am trying to say here is don’t let the simplicity of the Fourth Article of faith fool you, this is just the start of what you will be expected to do in order to gain salvation the Mormon way. There is a long list of do’s and don’ts and I’ve only scratched the surface with some of them.
The fifth Article of Faith:
"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."
The important thing to think about here is the fact that the Mormon Church has what they believe is a modern day Prophet. They also believe that when this modern day Prophet speaks, it is as if God himself is speaking. Oh and we are not to question his words. I will more talk later about the modern day prophecies that have already been changed or proven incorrect as I did with the Adam God Prophecy above.