What is Mormonism?

by Matt Slick
9/15/14

Mormonism is the short-hand name given to the religious organization officially called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," commonly known by the abbreviation LDS, for Latter-day Saints.  It claims to be the restored church and teaches that shortly after the apostles died, there was a great apostasy.  Mormonism  is the restoration of the "true church" is the most correct of any on earth. 

Mormonism was started by Joseph Smith who was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. As a young boy, he said he was bothered by the different denominations of Christianity and went into the woods to pray.  It was there that he received a visit from God the Father and Jesus who told him that all churches were false.  When he was 17 he said that an angel named Moroni, the son of Mormon, appeared to him on Sept. 21, 1823, where he was told about golden plates that described the Nephites, the people who lived in the Americas hundreds of years earlier.  But he was not to receive these plates until later.  Finally, in 1827 he obtained them and was also given the supernatural ability to translate the golden plates and into what is called the Book of Mormon  witch was published in 1830, thus reestablishing the true church.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is allegedly the account of descendants of Israelites who came from the Middle-East to the Americas before the time of Christ. It covers the period of about 600 B.C. to A.D. 400 and tells the stories of the Jaredites, the people from the Tower of Babel who came to central America but perished because of their own immorality. It also describes some different Jews who fled Israel and came to America.  They were led by a man called Nephi.  They divided into two groups, the Nephites and Lamanites who warred against each other.  The Nephites were victorious in 428 A.D.

In addition to the Book of Mormon, the church also includes the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price as scripture along with the Book of Mormon and the King James Bible.

The LDS Church

Joseph Smith formed "The Church of Christ" in 1830 and in 1834 he changed the name to "The Church of Latter-day Saints."  Finally, in 1838 he changed it to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He had well over 20 wives and taught that people could become gods, that samples needed to be built in which various ordinances were practiced such as baptism for the dead, and the Mormon temple ceremony. Persecution  for some Mormons West and after being arrested for destroying a printing press Joseph Smith was murdered by an angry mob in 1844.  Following his death, Brigham Young took over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which then consisted of several thousand members. They traveled west and in 1847 arrived in the Utah territory where they established their settlement in the area that is now known as Salt Lake City.

Doctrines of Mormonism

The doctrines of Mormonism deviate from those of traditional, biblical Christianity. Following is a list of teachings of Mormonism documented from Mormon sources.  see also What Does Mormonism Teach?

  1. There is a plurality of gods, "And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light," (Book of Abraham 4:3).
  2. God the father used to be a man, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see," (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
  3. God is in the form of a man, "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones," (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).  "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s..." (D&C 130:22).
  4. God the Father had a father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).
  5. There is a mother goddess, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
  6. People can become gods, "After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354.)  "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them," (D&C 132:20).
  7. The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man," (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).
  8. We were first begotten as spirit children in heaven and then born naturally on earth, (Journal of Discourse, vol. 4, p. 218).
  9. Salvation is by faith and works, not faith alone in Christ alone." One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation," (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206).
  10. "Jesus paid for all our sins when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane," (Laurel Rohlfing, “Sharing Time: The Atonement,” Friend, Mar. 1989, p. 39).
  11. There are three levels of heaven: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 348). The highest level of heaven, the celestial, is where Mormons have the potential becoming gods and goddesses.
  12. Scriptures consist of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Mormonism is not Christian

Mormonism contradicts Christianity in several essential ways. Where Mormonism is polytheistic, Christianity is monotheistic (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5).  Mormonism says God is in the form of a man (D&C 130:22), where Christianity teaches that God is not a man (John 4:24; Luke 24:39).  Mormonism says that the forgiveness of sins is by faith and obedience to the Law (2 Nephi 25:23; Moroni 10:32).  Christianity says that it is by faith alone in Christ alone apart from the Law (Romans 10:9-10; Romans 3:28; 4:1-5).  Because of these differences in the essentials, Mormonism cannot be considered to be a Christian religion. It uses Christian terms but it redefines them. The Trinity, for example, in Mormonism is three separate gods, not one God in three distinct persons. Salvation is universal resurrection, not deliverance from the righteous judgment of God.

As you can see the doctrines of Mormonism are radically different than Christianity and to justify those doctrines they appeal to modern-day revelation, new scriptures, and radically different interpretations of the Bible.  It does not matter what a Christian might tell them because they submit the Bible to the ruling authority of the prophets of the Mormon church and what they consider "latter-day" revelation in the form of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.

Mormonism is not Christian. It is an imitation of Christianity and should be avoided.  See also, Is Mormonism Christian?

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.