What Mormons Believe In
In 1842, the editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, John Wentworth, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and asked concerning the history of the church and what Mormons believe in. Joseph replied with a letter known in the church as the “Wentworth Letter”. The reason this letter is so well known is that part of it contained a list of statements which the church later canonized and put into the printed scriptures as core tenets of our beliefs. Today we call these the Articles of Faith and starting in Primary our children work on memorizing them.
The Articles of Faith
1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 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.
5 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.
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 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.
9 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.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 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.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
What Mormons Believe In: Jesus Christ
One of the things that always surprises me in conversations with people is how our nickname, “Mormons,” has prevented people from understanding our deep belief in Jesus Christ. The actual name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” so written as to distinguish the church from that in former-days when Christ Himself organized the church when he walked the earth.
As shown above in the Articles of Faith (AOF), we believe in Jesus Christ (AOF 1) and that it is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved (AOF 3) and that the first principle of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ (AOF 4). We also believe he is coming again to reign personally on the earth as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (AOF 10). These points are fundamental to what Mormons believe in.
What Mormons Believe In: Scriptures
Aside from these core principles of belief, there are many other things that members of the church believe in. We have 4 different books of scripture that we use:
Bible: Old and New Testaments provide God’s word as delivered to the ancient people of the Bible through Christ’s ministry around Israel.
Book of Mormon: Contains records of two groups of people that were:
- led away from the Tower of Babel (around 2600 BC) to the America’s and were known as the Jaredites
- led away from Jerusalem to the America’s around 600 BC and were known as the Nephites and Lamanites
The book contains the writings of the prophets that were among these people and includes the visit of Christ to the ancient America’s. The book ends in 421 AD with the prophet Moroni (son of the prophet Mormon who compiled the record) burying the plates until they were revealed to Joseph Smith in 1827. He then translated the plates by use of an ancient holy device called the Urim and Thummim (translated as “lights” and “perfections” respectively and was worn as an emblem of complete truth. See Exodus 28:30, Ezra 2:63, 1 Sam. 28:6).
Doctrine and Covenants: This book contains modern day scripture as revealed to Joseph Smith and other prophets just as we regard the writings of ancient prophets as scripture such as Moses, Isaiah, Peter, etc…
Pearl of Great Price: The smallest book of the 4 which contains a prophetic inspired translation and revelation of the books of Moses and Abraham, an inspired revision of Matthew 24, Joseph Smith’s history, and the Articles of Faith as listed above.
Click this link if you would like to better understand why we use the Book of Mormon and not just the Bible.
If you would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon to see what it says for yourself, you can read it online for free (Book of Mormon online) or request a paperback book to be sent to you for free. You can also read the other scriptures online at the LDS church’s website. This website contains a number of questions and answers, but this post just addresses some of the core things people wonder about when they ask what Mormons believe in.