What are the basics of Mormonism?

Understanding some basic things about Mormons

Most people who have questions about Mormonism just want to know a few basics: what do Mormons believe? How do they live their lives? What makes Mormons different? Answers to these simple questions can give people who are curious a better understand of what being Mormon is all about- and where better to get answers than from an actual Mormon!

I’ll do my best- below are the answers to some of the most common questions people have when they think of Mormons or Mormonism:

What is the basis of Mormon beliefs?

First and foremost, we believe in God, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. We are Christians, and strive to follow the examples and teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.

Beyond that, we believe that our Heavenly Father provides direction for us in our lives today, that He loves us as his sons and daughters on earth, and that He has a plan for us while we’re here. We believe that we came to earth from our Heavenly Father’s presence, that we are here to learn and grow and to experience mortality with a physical body, and that when we die we will return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

What is the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon is a volume of ancient text, spanning about 1000 years of history, and written by the people that inhabited the American continent from about 600BC to about 400AD. It is a spiritual history, much like the Bible. It was translated into English in the mid 1800’s by a young boy named Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God. Because of his faith, Joseph Smith was chosen to restore the organization of Jesus Christ’s church on the earth, with prophets, apostles, teachers, and every other member just as the Lord himself organized while He was on earth.

What does being Mormon mean in the way you live your life every day?

For the most part, Mormons live like anyone else! Many people have noticed that Mormons don’t drink coffee or tea. We follow a code of health, called the “Word of Wisdom,” which dates back to the 1800’s, which tells us that coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol are not good for us (it sounds like common sense now, but it was news back then!) and that we should eat wholesome and health foods, which the Lord is happy to provide for us on the earth.

People often also notice that we don’t shop on Sunday. We believe that to honor the Sabbath day, we should refrain from working, or from making others work for us. It is a day of rest, and by avoiding shopping and other activities, we try to give ourselves more time to focus, rest and relax. We hope to give that opportunity to everyone around us as well.

Why are you called “Mormons?”

The name “Mormons” is a nick-name, based on the Book of Mormon. Mormon was actually an ancient prophet, who compiled the records of his people into one volume. The full name of the church itself is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” We are also called “LDS” sometimes. Most “Mormons” don’t mind either of the nicknames.

How is Mormonism different from other religions?

In my experience in talking with other religious people, we have more in common with other religions than we have differences. One of the biggest differences you will find is that in the Mormon church, we have the restored priesthood, and the complete organization and authority as Jesus Christ himself setup while he was on the earth. The restoration of that organization and authority is a wonderful thing to study and learn more about if you are curious about mormonism.

How does a person learn a little more about Mormons?

For those who really want to know a little more, there are a few great ways to do it. You can invite the missionaries over for a chat- they are friendly and always willing to answer questions. You can attend a church meeting, where you can see first-hand what it is like in a Mormon church-visitors are always welcome. You can read on LDS.org, the official website of the LDS church. It has an exceptional search engine, and volumes of information and answers to questions. And of course, always feel free to ask any other questions you may have right here on this website!

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How do Mormons view capital punishment?

Even with the avalanche of crime that we hear about daily, it is still a big ticket news item when a person comes through the years-long appeals process as guilty and sentenced to death. It touches on the core of human emotion, to see a person receive an irreversible and final earthly punishment.

The most recent news event surrounds a death by firing squad, in Utah, a place that many consider the heartland of Mormonism. Naturally, the question arises, how to Mormons view capital punishment?

For the absolute best answer to this question, it might  be best to simply refer to the LDS church’s official stance on the issue of the death penalty, available on the official website of the LDS church:

LDS.org article on Capital Punishment

Essentially, the Mormon church believes that capital punishment is really an issue of government, to be decided by civil. The Mormon church neither promotes nor opposes capital punishment. This is in line with an article of our faith, which reads:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

If you spoke to one hundred members of the Mormon church, you would likely get 100 different feelings and opinions on the matter of capital punishment, some strongly for, some strongly against, and some neutral. As a church, however, we believe simply in the rule of law, which is best established by the voice of the people.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic relating to mormonism, please feel free to ask it confidentially here.