Hey y’all, Tiffany here! I am always asked, “What do you Mormons believe?” I thought I’d take the time to answer that question for y’all on the blog!
As y’all know, we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people know us as “Mormons” or even the “LDS Church,” but those are nicknames we prefer to not use. The problem is they leave out the most important part – the name of Jesus Christ!
We’ll be using the term “Mormon” in this post, but just know we prefer be called “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Hopefully the name of our church will finally catch on (after over 150 years), and people will stop asking the question, “Are Mormons Christian?”
Today, however, I want to focus on what we believe. I’ve found that very few people have any idea what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and I want to explain my beliefs in a clear, simply way.
What do Mormons believe about the Trinity? Are Mormons Christian?
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians! But we are “non-Trinitarian” Christians.
We have a whole blog post dedicated to explaning the answer to the question, “Are Mormons Christian?” But in a nutshell, we do believe in God (Heavenly Father), His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
The difference is that we believe that they are three separate Beings, not the three-in-one that the Nicene Creed defines. God has His own body of flesh and bone, and Jesus has His own. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, as we call Him), does not have a body, but He is His own Person.
Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?
No, absolutely not!
We believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, just like Noah or Moses. But he is NOT our God. That title belongs to our Father in Heaven.
We respect Joseph, and we are grateful for him. We believe he was called to proclaim God’s messages for our day. But we absolutely, 100% do NOT worship him.
Let’s talk a little bit about how Joseph Smith came to be a prophet.
The reason we believe the way we do about the Godhead (our name for the Trinity) is because of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith was born in 1805. When he was 14 years old, he lived in Palmyra, New York, with his large farming family.
At the time, the country was going through a spiritual revival of sorts. There were Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and more. All of these different churches had strongly different beliefs about key points of doctrine.
And they all said if you were baptized in a religion other than their own – or if you weren’t baptized at all – you were doomed to hell.
Different members of Joseph’s family joined different churches. For young Joseph, he was very concerned about doing the right thing.
One day, he read in the Bible in James 1:5, which gave him the courage to ask God for himself which of all the churches he should join. “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.”
In My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join., this is what happened:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
You can watch a video about Joseph Smith’s experience in his own words.
Why do Mormons say they are the only true church?
You just read about Joseph Smith and his experience. Do you remember what his question was? He wanted to know which of all the churches was right, so he could join it. Here’s what Joseph said happened:
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong.
You see, after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the apostles were all martyred. This meant there were few people left who really knew what Christ had taught.
Similar to a child’s game of Telephone, teachings were changed and misinterpreted.
This caused quite a bit of contention, so about 300 years after Christ, the Nicene Creed was developed by all of the local Christian leaders voting on what they thought was correct.
That led to the Catholic church, which then led to the many reformist churches.
But none of them had the fillnes of the truth. And none of them had true Priesthood authority from Christ, to baptize in His name and receive revelation from Him for the entire world.
But Joseph Smith brought all that back.
Here’s a simple explanation:
This is why we say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth.
Other churches teach some truths, but none of them have the fulness of that truth. And none of them have the Priesthood power that Christ Himself gave to His apostles.
Even though Joseph Smith died in the 1800s, God has continued to call a prophet and 12 apostles. There is one today, and he speaks for God, just like Noah and Moses!
Do Mormons believe in the Bible? Or is the Book of Mormon their Bible?
The Book of Mormon is NOT our Bible! It doesn’t replace the Bible AT ALL!
We actually DO believe in the Bible as scripture and containing God’s word.
The only difference is, we recognize that having gone through dozens of translations, some of God’s truths were lost over the centuries. No one sat down and wrote out the Bible. It’s a collection of different letters (epistles) and stories written about and by prophets and apostles of the Ancient World: Egypt, Jerusalem, etc.
After Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet, an angel showed him were there were ancient writings buried in the ground. These writings were etched on plates of gold, and they contained a record similar to the Bible.
You see, here in North and South America, there were people living as well. And God loved them, too. So He called prophets to teach the people here about Christ.
The prophets wrote down those teachings, and THAT’S what the Book of Mormon is. Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God into English, and it’s another testament of Jesus Christ and His divine identity.
One of the best parts of the Book of Mormon is when, after His ascension into heaven, Jesus came to the visit the people in the Americas!
And you don’t have to take our word for it. You can know the Book of Mormon truly contains the word of God, just as the Bible, by praying to God and asking Him for yourself if it’s scripture or not.
What do Mormons believe about life and death?
One of the biggest questions in life is, “What’s the point? What is the purpose of our existence? Why am I here?”
Well, I have an answer for you! It’s called God’s Plan of Salvation.
Before we were born
We believe that we lived with God as His spirit children before we were born. We’ve come to earth to gain a body and to be tested. And hopefully, we will return to live with Him again one day.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
Before we were born, before the world was even created, we lived with God (our Heavenly Father). We were spirits (so kind of like ghosts) without a body. He taught us and helped us progress as far as we could. It was His plan to one day help us become like Him.
The oldest of God’s spirit children was Jesus Christ. We do not believe in the Trinity as defined as “three-in-one.” You can learn more about our non-trinitarian Christian believes in my post Are Mormons Christians? The REAL Answer.
Jesus, as our eldest Brother, progressed far beyond the rest of us, and He attained Godhood status. The rest of us, however, needed something more. We all needed to gain a body and to learn to control that body and ourselves.
You see, God can’t just give His power to just anyone. He needs to be able to trust us to do the right thing with it. So He created a plan. He would create an earth, where we could go away from His presence (just like sending a child to college!), gain a body, and learn and grow.
He wanted to see what we could do on our own.
Time on Earth
So that’s the purpose of life – to prove to God that He can trust us to live His ways.
We will all fall short – we all sin. That’s why Jesus, the only perfect Son of God, came to earth. He came to pay the punishment for our sins. He then asks us, in return, to be baptized and keep His commandments, continually repenting.
After We Die
After we die, our spirits leave our bodies and go to a place called the Spirit World, where those who never knew about Jesus and His gospel can have the chance to learn.
After all, how many billions of people have been born, lived, and died without even hearing Christ’s name?
You can learn more about it in this video:
What do Mormons believe about baptizing dead people?
Christ taught that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
In the Spirit World, there are people learning about Christ for the first time. But they don’t have bodies, so how can they be baptized?
In the Mormon temples (not our chapels where we worship on Sundays that are open to everyone, but holy temples that are kept sacred), we perform baptisms on behalf of our deceased ancestors.
Our ancestors will then have the choice on whether or not they want to accept the baptism performed on their behalf.
That’s one reason why geneaology is so important to us!
Why can’t Mormons drink coffee or tea? What about alcohol? Can Mormons drink caffeine?
In Joseph’s Smith time the 1800s, smoking and tobacco were considered good for you.
Not too long ago, scientists were saying that a glass of wine before bed had health benefits. But now they’re saying they’ve realized it isn’t true!
Scientists and doctors don’t know everything – but God does. He’s the one who made our bodies, after all!
God revealed to Joseph Smith a commandment we call the “Word of Wisdom.” It’s basically God’s instruction manual for our bodies.
The Word of Wisdom tells us that we should eat healthy and be active.
It also tells us what we should avoid, and that includes “hot drinks.”
Now that’s pretty vague, right? Thankfully, we always have a prophet and apostle to give us clarification from God as needed.
Modern prophets have explained that there are five things we need to strictly avoid:
- illegal drugs
- tobacco in all forms
- anything from the coffee bean
- anything from tea leaves
So herbal tea is okay, but iced tea isn’t.
Decaf coffee isn’t okay, because it’s not about the caffeine.
Now, some people have wondered about caffeine because the prophet in the 1990s did an interview with Larry King, and he said that no, Mormons don’t drink caffeine.
The Word of Wisdom is about avoiding things that create addictions and remove your agency – your ability to make choices.
Caffeine can be an addiction. How many people do you know rely on their energy drink or coffee to get through the day?
It’s all about moderation.
Some Mormons choose to not have caffeine at all, and that’s okay. Others might, and that’s okay, too; it’s not on the list of “hard no’s.”
Have more questions?
Do you have any more questions about the beliefs of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Please ask them in the comments!