Mormonism: A Snapshot of Its Beliefs
(This is the third installment in a series of studies on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or Mormons, often use the same terms as orthodox Christians, but they have a different meaning. “Saved by grace” to a Mormon refers to being raised in the afterlife. “Exaltation” is the term Mormons use that is nearer to what Christians mean by “salvation.” The “gospel” is used by Mormons to mean the Mormon system of belief and practice, and “Israel” or “Zion” is often used to refer to Utah. Although Mormons are famous for polygamy, the main branch of Mormonism discontinued this practice in 1890. With this in mind, let us look at three key doctrines of the LDS church:
1) The doctrine of God. Mormons believe in the existence of many gods (Book of Abraham chapters 4 & 5). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate gods, and the Father and Son each have bodies of flesh and bone today. The illustration above of the Father and Son as separate bodies comes from Mormon literature. (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22). They believe that God was once a man and progressed to become God, and that men can also progress to become gods. Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the LDS church, said, “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.”
2) The doctrine of humanity. Mormons believe that all humans pre-existed in the spirit world, the result of a sexual relationship between our Heaven Father and a Heavenly Mother. (Doctrine & Covenants 93:23, 29-33; Gospel Principles, p. 351). They believe that men can progress to “exaltation” and become gods (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19-20). However, keep in mind that the Book of Mormon teaches that dark skin is a curse (2 Nephi 5:21).
3) Doctrine of exaltation. Joseph Smith taught that there are three levels of heaven. The highest heaven is the “celestial kingdom,” the second level is the “terrestrial kingdom,” and the lowest level is the “telestial kingdom.” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:43, 70-112). Faithful Mormons who repent, are baptized, ordained into the priesthood, go through the Mormon temple ceremonies, get married in the temple, and observe the “Word of Wisdom” (Doctrine & Covenants 89) to abstain from tobacco and strong drinks, tithe, attend weekly worship services, and are obedient, can get into the celestial kingdom and can progress in their exaltation to become gods. Only about 20% of Mormons get a “temple recommend” through faithful service, so the majority of Mormons do not attain this level, and will go to the “terrestrial kingdom,” where they also expect to see most Christians and other good moral people. Wicked people may have to endure a temporary hell (Doctrine & Covenants 19:16-18), and then will go to the “telestial kingdom.” Those who become Mormons and then leave (“denied the Holy Spirit after having received it”) will go to an eternal hell (Gospel Principles, p. 298; Doctrine & Covenants 76:28-45). See the chart below that illustrates this system of heavens.
There are many other beliefs and practices of Mormonism, including baptism by proxy for the dead, two levels of priesthood, etc., but the three major doctrines above are enough to reveal that Mormonism is a completely different religion from orthodox Christianity. The fourth and final installment of this series of studies will include a Christian reply to Mormon belief and questions for Mormons to consider.
Posted on April 1, 2012, in Apologetics and tagged belief, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, doctrine, faith, Joseph Smith, LDS, Mormonism, Mormons, religion. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
It’s interesting to learn that there are three levels to heaven in the LDS church. My wife is thinking about joining the LDS church. I’ll be sure to tell her about the different levels in the church.