With all of the media buzzing around well known Mormon’s like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, a lot of people are asking “who are those Mormon’s anyway, and what do they believe?” The LDS, or “Mormon” church has a long history of being misunderstood and misrepresented by the media. Luckily, in our well-connected and information-driven world, you can get the real story on what Mormon’s are, what we believe, and what we stand for, with just a little searching.
In this post, I’ll try to cover some of the basics, while providing some links for additional information and answers.
Tell me about this “Mormon” thing? Why is it called the “Mormon Church”
Let’s get this one cleared up first thing. Our church isn’t really called the “Mormon” church. In fact, that was a derogatory title that detractors of our church gave us early on, though today the term Mormon isn’t an insult at all, it’s just a friendly nickname that even members of our church use! The real name of the church has always been “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” It is the church of Jesus Christ, and the latter day saints part simply distinguishes the church today from the church in ancient times.
“Mormon” is actually the name of a man, a prophet and historian, who lived about 311-385 A.D. This man took a collection of ancient religious records and compiled them into a single volume, which we today call “The Book of Mormon.” We appreciate and respect his work, but we don’t worship Mormon, we don’t pray to Mormon, etc.
Well, what do “Mormons” believe?
This is a question that the world has asked since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was restored (the LDS church is organized the same way Christ organized the church in ancient times, this organization and the authority was “restored” in our time). Luckily, there are plenty of authoritative answers to this question already out there. I’ll quote one, and then I’ll post my own understanding:
Some of our “Articles of Faith”
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- 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.
- 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.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
For my part, I believe that Jesus Christ lived and died for all of us, so that every human that ever walked the earth would have the opportunity to return to live with God one day. I believe the gift of living again is a free gift to all, and that we each will also have the opportunity to choose to live God’s commandments, receive the ordinances (like Baptism) of the Gospel, and become perfect. I believe that Jesus Christ set the perfect example through his life and actions, and that we should try our best to emulate that example. I believe that only through Jesus Christ can mankind be saved.
How do you know all of this is true?
In all honesty, this is one of my favorite questions to answer. When people ask me about the core of my beliefs, how I really know that this, or anything, is true, I light up. Why? Because of the simple fact that no one inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has ever, ever, asked me to “take their word for it” or to “just believe.” Never. In my mind and heart, this would be contrary to what God wants, which is to put our trust in Him. There is a scripture in the Bible, from James, chapter 1 verse 5, with emphasis added (KJV quoted):
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.
Notice that we’re not told here that we should ask a pastor, that we should consult a book, or that we should consult the creeds of men or any other thing. We’re told that we should ask of God. We can hear the truth from a pastor, we can read the truth in the Bible, we can learn the truth from a friend, but we can’t know the truth until we ask of God, who will verify the truth of all things through the testimony of the Holy Ghost that will burn within our hearts. God did not leave us alone to figure it out for ourselves blindly. He left us with another comforter, to testify of the truth and lead us in all that is good and right.
There is another scripture, this time in the Book of Mormon, that really sums up how Mormon’s feel you can find the truth. It is at the end of the Book of Mormon, and was written by the son of Mormon, named Moroni. From Moroni, chapter 10 versus 3-5 (emphasis added):
3. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
Quite simply, no man on earth can speak truth to your heart. When you hear, read or understand truth, if you ask God with a sincere heart, the Holy Ghost will witness of that truth.
What else is there to know about the Mormons?
There is a lot to know about us, just like there would be a lot to know about anyone! We’re a diverse, global group of individuals, all bound by the bond of charity in Christ, and love for our fellow man. We try to do what we can to help in our communities, where we are. We want to be good neighbors, good friends, and good Christians. We reach out and share our beliefs, but we don’t want to be pushy or overbearing. We love answering questions. We’re excited about the Gospel of Repentance and Hope.
An exceptional way to learn more about us as a people is through Mormon.org. We’ve created a website where Mormon’s from around the world can share their own personal stories, thoughts, ideas, and feelings. You can read answers from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. You can find people who might have similar life experiences with yourself, and see how they view things.
Mormon.org also has live chat, where you can discuss questions you might have about us and our faith. There are links to videos, and reference material on our beliefs. I can’t stress enough:
Want to ask a question here?
If you want to ask a question here, feel free to use the links at the top and on the right to send your questions to me. Your questions/comments won’t go live on the website, but rather they’ll go to my email, where I can respond to you personally. I look forward to providing any information I can!