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Mormon Belief: The Doctrine of the LDS Church

Mormon Belief: The Doctrine of the LDS Church

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What do Mormons believe? How different are their beliefs from those of the mainstream of Christianity? Although the beliefs of individual Mormons vary (just as they do in any other religion), we can say something about what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a whole teaches. Identifying the major teachings of the LDS Church is especially pertinent given its insistence that it is the only true Christian church on the earth today. Furthermore, there is much confusion about what Mormons believe because the LDS Church uses Christian language (God, Christ, salvation, etc.) but with meanings that differ from traditional Christian understanding. In this brief article we will summarize thirteen basic points of Mormon doctrine with some pertinent quotations from its scriptures, current curriculum manuals, and other recent authoritative statements. All quotations can be found at the LDS Church’s official website, lds.org. The list of thirteen points below includes links to each part of the article where the point is explained and documented from LDS publications.

 

  1. The Bible has many errors, changes, and omissions and must be understood using the Mormon scriptures as explained by the LDS Church’s prophets.

  2. God the Father was once a man like us but is now God, our Heavenly Father.

  3. We are all eternal, uncreated spirits who became the literal offspring of our Heavenly Father and Mother.

  4. Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit son of our heavenly parents and is the literal elder spirit brother of all of their other spirit children, including Lucifer (Satan). He became a God in heaven before becoming a mortal man.

  5. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods with three separate bodies (the first two of flesh and bone, the third of spirit).

  6. Jesus Christ organized this world with the help of others, under the direction of Heavenly Father and the Council of the Gods; his helpers included Adam and perhaps Joseph Smith.

  7. Adam and Eve’s act of eating the forbidden fruit was not a sin, but was a noble deed that was necessary for the blessing of the human race.

  8. Heavenly Father, himself an immortal, physical man, “sired” the physical body of Jesus Christ through his mortal mother Mary so that Jesus became his literal, only-begotten Son in the flesh when he was born on earth.

  9. Salvation in the sense of immortal, glorified physical life is guaranteed for virtually all people, including those who reject Jesus Christ in this life, by Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.

  10. Only those who accept the LDS faith and obey its requirements will be saved to live in the presence of Heavenly Father.

  11. Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration, who did more for mankind’s salvation than anyone besides Jesus Christ.
  12. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church, and its priesthood and ordinances are necessary for entrance into God’s presence in the celestial kingdom.

  13. Faithful Mormons may become Gods, meaning that they can become all-powerful beings that make and rule their own worlds.

 


 

1. The Bible has many errors, changes, and omissions and must be understood using the Mormon scriptures as explained by the LDS Church’s prophets.

According to Mormon belief as taught originally by founder Joseph Smith, the Bible is unreliable and incomplete, so that the Bible must be supplemented and corrected by the LDS scriptures. These include the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price (including the Book of Abraham), Joseph Smith’s revisions to the Bible, and continuing revelation in the teachings of the living prophets of the LDS Church.

“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” (Articles of Faith 8).

“Wherefore, thou seest that after the book [i.e., the Bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God” (Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 13:28).

“I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 206).

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts four books as scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These books are called the standard works of the Church. The inspired words of our living prophets are also accepted as scripture…. The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph to restore truths to the Bible that had been lost or changed since the original words were written. These inspired corrections are called the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible” (Gospel Principles [2009], 45, 46).

“Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, quoted in Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual [2004], 20).

2. God the Father was once a man like us but is now God, our Heavenly Father.

In Mormon doctrine, God the Father was once a man like us—a mortal being—and became God by going through a process or progression that culminated in his becoming exalted to Godhood. He has a physical body and cannot in his own person be omnipresent (everywhere present). However, as God, he is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful).

“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be” (Lorenzo Snow, quoted in Presidents of the Church Student Manual [2003], 89; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith [2011], 71).

“When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our progression. We could become like Him, an exalted being…. Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom…. Joseph Smith taught: ‘It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God…. He was once a man like us…. God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ did’” (Gospel Principles [2009], 275, 279).

“In the beginning (but not really the beginning—only a moment in the span of existence that is always), I learned of a plan of my Heavenly Father for me and my spirit brothers and sisters. Himself exalted and perfected and holy, our beloved Father wanted us to have a chance to follow his path” (Young Women Manual 1 [2002], Lesson 6).

3. We are all eternal, uncreated spirits who became the literal offspring of our Heavenly Father and Mother.

In LDS belief, all human beings, all angels, and all demons are in some sense uncreated beings. They existed in the beginning with God as “spirit” or “intelligence” and are in some way co-eternal with him. However, they are also as spirits the literal sons and daughters of heavenly parents: our Heavenly Father and a heavenly mother. (Mormons are told almost nothing about this mother in heaven except that she exists and that they are not to worship or pray to her.) The physical bodies of men and women are made in the image of our heavenly Father and Mother.

“Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth…. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be…. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:23, 29, 33).

“All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. ‘Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporary [physical] body.’ …We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females” (Gospel Principles, 9, 10, brackets in original).

“President Spencer W. Kimball, speaking to Latter-day Saint girls in Mexico City, said: ‘You are daughters of God.… You are made in the image of our heavenly mother” (The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A [2000], 65).

4. Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit son of our heavenly parents and is the literal elder spirit brother of all of their other spirit children, including Lucifer (Satan). He became a God in heaven before becoming a mortal man.

According to Mormon doctrine Jesus, all human beings, all angels, and Lucifer (Satan) and the demons were all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and heavenly mother. The relation of the Holy Ghost (their preferred term for the Holy Spirit) to this heavenly family is generally unstated. Jesus Christ was, before becoming a mortal on earth, Heavenly Father’s firstborn spirit son and was known as Jehovah, while Heavenly Father was known as Elohim.

“1. In the premortal life we were spirit children and lived with our heavenly parents (Hebrews 12:9). 2. Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of Heavenly Father (D&C 93:21) and is the older brother of our spirits. 3. Lucifer, who became Satan, was also a spirit child of Heavenly Father. 10. One-third of Heavenly Father’s spirit children chose to follow Lucifer, and they were all cast out of heaven. Lucifer became Satan, and the spirits who followed him became evil spirits, who try to get us to do wrong things” (Primary 7: New Testament [1997], 6).

“The firstborn spirit son of our Father was Jesus Christ. He was our Elder Brother. He became a member of the Godhead while he was in heaven, before he came to this earth” (Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual [1996], lesson 1).

“Among the spirit children of Elohim, the first-born was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 355).

“Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers” (“I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1986).

5. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods with three separate bodies (the first two of flesh and bone, the third of spirit).

Mormon doctrine rejects the classic Christian doctrine of the Trinity, according to which there is one God who exists eternally as three inseparable yet distinct persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead, Mormon doctrine teaches that the three are separate personages who became Gods at different times and have separate bodies.

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22).

“I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods” (Joseph Smith, 16 June 1844, quoted in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 41-42).

“Joseph knew, as no other soul living, these absolutes: He knew that God lives, that He is a [glorified] person with flesh and bones and personality, like us or we like Him, in His image. He knew that the long-heralded trinity of three Gods in one was a myth, a deception. He knew that the Father and the Son were two distinct beings with form, voices, and … personalities. He knew that the gospel was not on the earth, for by the Deities he had learned it, and the true Church was absent from the earth, for the God of heaven and earth had so informed him” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 230). [Note: The doctrine of the Trinity does not teach “three Gods in one”; it teaches one God in three persons.]

6. Jesus Christ organized this world with the help of others, under the direction of Heavenly Father and the Council of the Gods; his helpers included Adam and perhaps Joseph Smith.

The Mormon doctrine of creation is that a plurality of Gods organized the world. Specifically, the Father directed Jesus Christ (called Jehovah) to organize the world from preexisting material, with the help of some of his spirit brothers.

“And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth” (Abraham 4:1; see all of Abraham 4-5).

“God created the earth as an organized sphere; but He certainly did not create, in the sense of bringing into primal existence, the ultimate elements of the materials of which the earth consists, for ‘the elements are eternal’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998] , 355, quoting Doctrine and Covenants 93:33).

“Although it was the council of the Gods that supervised the Creation, numerous scriptures indicate that Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ, was actually given the responsibility for carrying out the work of the Creation, not for this earth alone but also for innumerable others…. ‘Our great prince, Michael, known in mortality as Adam, stands next to Christ in the eternal plan of salvation and progression…. In the creation of the earth, Michael played a part second only to that of Christ.’ … ‘It is true that Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong view or conviction that there were others also who assisted them. Perhaps Noah and Enoch; and why not Joseph Smith, and those who were appointed to be rulers before the earth was formed?’” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis—2 Samuel [1980], 29, quoting Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., 491, and Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:74-75).

7. Adam and Eve’s act of eating the forbidden fruit was not a sin, but was a noble deed that was necessary for the blessing of the human race.

In LDS doctrine the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a transgression of God’s command but one that was necessary so that human beings could be mortal and reproduce, live through a time of testing, and emerge spiritually stronger with the potential to become like Heavenly Father. Thus, Adam and Eve were faced with two conflicting directives from God and chose the noble path that led to sin, suffering, and death for the eventual betterment and potential exaltation of the human race.

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:22-25).

“The decision of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was not a sin, as it is sometimes considered by other Christian churches. It was a transgression—an act that was formally prohibited but not inherently wrong…. Adam and Eve could not keep both these commandments. If they chose to eat the fruit, they would be cast out of the Garden of Eden. But if they did not eat the fruit and remained in the garden, they would not be able to have children (to ‘multiply and replenish the earth’). Because the Garden of Eden was a place of innocence, while Adam and Eve lived there they could not change or progress in any way, including having children” (Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual[1998], 13, 14, emphasis in original).

“The Fall was not a disaster. It wasn’t a mistake or an accident. It was a deliber¬ate part of the Lord’s plan of salvation. As a result of the Fall, we are subject to temptation and misery as a price to comprehend authentic joy. Without tasting the bitter, we would never be able to understand the sweet (see 2 Nephi 2:15). We required mortality’s discipline and refinement for the next step of our development to become more like our Father” (L. Tom Perry, “The Great Plan of Our God,” Ensign, February 2009, 64).

8. Heavenly Father, himself an immortal, physical man, “sired” the physical body of Jesus Christ through his mortal mother Mary so that Jesus became his literal, only-begotten Son in the flesh when he was born on earth.

It is Mormon belief that Jesus Christ is God’s “son” in two distinct senses. First, he was the firstborn of Heavenly Father’s billions of spirit sons in the preexistence. All human beings are sons of God in this sense, though of course there can only be one firstborn. Second, Jesus was the only physical son of Heavenly Father on earth. Jesus in his earthly life and body has two literal, physical parents: the immortal Heavenly Father (who is a glorified, exalted Man with a physical body) and the mortal woman Mary.

“Jesus was the only person to be born of a mortal mother, Mary, and an immortal father, God the Father. That is why Jesus is called the Only Begotten Son of God. From His Father, He inherited divine powers (see John 10:17–18). From His mother, He inherited mortality and became subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death” (“Jesus Christ Is the Only Begotten Son of God,” What We Believe series, Ensign, Dec. 2010, 8).

“I know Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, and the Savior of the world” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Keeping Covenants,” New Era, Jan. 2012).

“Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. That is why He is called the Only Begotten Son. He inherited divine powers from His Father. From His mother He inherited mortality and was subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death” (Gospel Principles [2009], 53).

“With this understanding provided by modern revelation, it is possible to grasp the truth that God the Father is indeed the Father of Jesus Christ’s mortal body…. Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: ‘That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the “Son of the Highest.” In His nature would be combined the powers of Godhood with the capacity and possibilities of mortality; and this through the ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity, declared of God, demonstrated by science, and admitted by philosophy, that living beings shall propagate—after their kind. The Child Jesus was to inherit the physical, mental, and spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that characterized His parents—one immortal and glorified—God, the other human—woman’” (Larry E. Dahl, “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee,” Ensign, April 1997).

“I am bold to say to you, … Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. He was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001).

9. Salvation in the sense of immortal, glorified physical life is guaranteed for virtually all people, including those who reject Jesus Christ in this life, by Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.

Mormon doctrine affirms that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose bodily from the grave, two important truths of Christianity. However, it teaches that all human beings, including those who reject Jesus Christ in this life, will be raised from the dead with immortal physical bodies. They will then live in one of three glorious kingdoms forever. This is known as general salvation and applies to all people regardless of what they believe or how they behave. Only an extremely small number of persons, those who knew and accepted that the LDS religion is true and then deliberately rejected it, will forfeit this otherwise automatic salvation and face endless torment.

“Because of His Atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected…. This condition is called immortality” (Gospel Principles [2009], 62).

“Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will be redeemed from the effects of the Fall” (“Fall of Adam,” in True to the Faith [2004] , 58).

“All mankind will thus receive general salvation, excepting the sons of perdition…. These sons of perdition (perhaps only few in number) will be resurrected but will not be redeemed from the power of Satan…. All other persons will be saved by the grace of God from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment” (Theodore M. Burton, “Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign, July 1972).

10. Although virtually everyone will be saved with immortality, only those who accept the LDS faith and obey its requirements will be saved to “eternal life” in the presence of Heavenly Father.

According to Mormon belief, there is a difference between immortality, which virtually all people receive whether they are good or bad, and eternal life, which only good people who accept the LDS gospel and keep all of its requirements can obtain. A person must accept the “restored” gospel (either in this life or, for those who did not have a good opportunity here, in the next), fully repent of their sins, and obey the LDS Church’s laws or commandments, such as tithing, in order to qualify for life in the highest of the three eternal kingdoms, known as the “celestial kingdom.” To live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, one must also be married in a Mormon temple.

“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 3).

“Besides repentance, our works also include receiving ordinances, keeping covenants, and serving others. While these works are necessary for salvation, they aren’t sufficient. They are not enough because we can’t live perfect lives, but we can do our best to live righteously. By doing so, we invite the Lord’s grace into our lives and qualify for the gift of salvation” (“Tough Topics: Are You Saved by Grace or Works?” New Era, March 2005).

“God’s purpose in giving us commandments is to bless us. He wants to give us eternal life, the greatest of all His gifts (see D&C 14:7). To receive the gift of living with Him forever in families in the celestial kingdom, we must be able to live the laws of that kingdom (see D&C 88:22). He has given us commandments in this life to help us develop that capacity. The law of tithing is one of those preparatory commandments…” (Henry B. Eyring, “The Blessings of Tithing,” Ensign, June 2011).

“Eternal life is to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and dwell with Them forever—to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see John 17:3; D&C 131:1–4; 132:21–24). To receive this great gift, we must do more than repent of our sins and be baptized and confirmed by appropriate priesthood authority. Men must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and all Church members must make and keep sacred covenants in the temple, including eternal marriage” (True to the Faith [2004], 153).

11. Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration, who did more for mankind’s salvation than anyone besides Jesus Christ.

In Mormon belief, Joseph Smith is highly esteemed, honored, and praised as the man through whom God restored true Christianity to the earth. Although Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith, he is adulated in LDS art and music (including LDS hymns) and has a place in LDS religion comparable to that of Muhammad in Islam. Joseph dictated or wrote nearly all of the LDS scriptures. In one of the few LDS scriptural passages not written by Joseph Smith, he is described as having done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone else in history with the sole exception of Jesus Christ.

“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (Doctrine & Covenants 135:3).

“Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere” (Hymns, no. 27).

“The day will come—and it is not far distant, either—when the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith will be coupled with the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, as his representative, as his agent whom he chose, ordained and set apart to lay anew the foundations of the Church of God in the world, which is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, possessing all the powers of the gospel, all the rites and privileges, the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and every principle necessary to fit and qualify both the living and the dead to inherit eternal life, and to attain to exaltation in the kingdom of God” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 134, quoted in “Joseph Smith, Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, Dec. 2003).

“No man can accept Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, no man can accept this as His church, the Church of Jesus Christ, unless he can accept Joseph Smith as God’s mouthpiece and the restorer of His work in these latter days” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996] , 371, quoted in “Joseph Smith, Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, Dec. 2003).

“How great indeed is our debt to him…. We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands at the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revelator, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (“A Season for Gratitude,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 2, quoted in “Joseph Smith, Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, Dec. 2003).

12. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church, and its priesthood and ordinances are necessary for entrance into God’s presence in the celestial kingdom.

According to LDS doctrine, the LDS Church is the only true church on the earth today. Christianity was “apostate” (fallen away) between about the second century and 1830, the year that Joseph Smith organized the LDS Church. Mormons thus often refer to the LDS movement as the Restoration. Mormon doctrine maintains that baptism, to be valid, must be performed by a man holding the LDS priesthood authority; thus, all non-Mormon baptisms are invalid. Since baptism is prerequisite to receiving the “gift of the Holy Ghost,” this means that non-Mormons cannot receive this gift and consequently cannot receive spiritual gifts. Non-Mormons also lack the true, full, or restored gospel and are not authorized to preach the gospel. Despite these claims about non-Mormon believers in Jesus, Mormons today acknowledge that such non-Mormon believers are Christians—and take offense when non-Mormons refuse to acknowledge them as Christians.

“One by one, the Apostles were killed or otherwise taken from the earth. Because of wickedness and apostasy, the apostolic authority and priesthood keys were also taken from the earth. The organization that Jesus Christ had established no longer existed, and confusion resulted. More and more error crept into Church doctrine, and soon the dissolution of the Church was complete. The period of time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called the Great Apostasy. Soon pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of those called Christians. The Roman emperor adopted this false Christianity as the state religion. This church was very different from the church Jesus organized. It taught that God was a being without form or substance. These people lost the understanding of God’s love for us. They did not know that we are His children. They did not understand the purpose of life. Many of the ordinances were changed because the priesthood and revelation were no longer on the earth” (Gospel Principles [2009], 92).

“And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon. And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:29-30).

“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” (Articles of Faith 4-5).

“We must have priesthood authority to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriage. If a man does not have the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs (see Matthew 7:21–23). These important ordinances must be performed on the earth by men holding the priesthood” (Gospel Principles [2009], 67).

13. Faithful Mormons may become Gods, meaning that they can become all-powerful beings that make and rule their own worlds.

Mormon belief holds out the ideal that human beings, who were God’s literal spirit children in heaven, may become like their Heavenly Father in every way—that is, that they may become Gods. This transformation, called exaltation, means becoming all-powerful beings who can make and rule their own worlds just as Heavenly Father made and rules this world. Only faithful Mormons who are married for eternity in a Mormon temple and fulfill all of their covenants, living obediently and faithfully, may reach this ideal in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

“To live in the highest part of the celestial kingdom is called exaltation or eternal life. To be able to live in this part of the celestial kingdom, people must have been married in the temple and must have kept the sacred promises they made in the temple. They will receive everything our Father in Heaven has and will become like Him. They will even be able to have spirit children and make new worlds for them to live on, and do all the things our Father in Heaven has done. People who are not married in the temple may live in other parts of the celestial kingdom, but they will not be exalted” (Gospel Fundamentals [2001], 201).

“As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be” (Lorenzo Snow, often quoted, e.g., Presidents of the Church: Student Manual [2004], 88).

“Eternal life is to us the sum of pre-existence, present existence, and the continu¬ation of life in immortality, holding out to us the power of endless progression and increase. With that feeling and that assurance, we believe that ‘As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.’ [See Lorenzo Snow, ‘The Grand Destiny of Man,’ Deseret Evening News, July 20, 1901, 22.] Being created in the image of God, we believe that it is not improper, that it is not unrighteous, for us to hope that we may be permitted to partake of the attributes of deity and, if we are faithful, to become like unto God…” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith [2011], 71).

“‘President Brimhall, these children are now at play, making mud worlds, the time will come when some of these boys, through their faithfulness to the gospel, will progress and develop in knowledge, intelligence and power, in future eternities, until they shall be able to go out into space where there is unorganized matter and call together the necessary elements, and through their knowledge of and control over the laws and powers of nature, to organize matter into worlds on which their posterity may dwell, and over which they shall rule as gods’” (Lorenzo Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, 658–59, quoted in Presidents of the Church: Student Manual [2004], 90).



For Further Information and Analysis

Gospel Principles Scripture Study Guide. A comprehensive analysis and fair-minded critique of LDS doctrine based on the LDS curriculum manual Gospel Principles.

Is Mormonism Christian? A comparison of Mormon belief with the teachings of the Bible and historic, orthodox Christianity.

LDS Doctrine and the Bible Page. Collection of articles examining various elements of Mormon belief in the light of the Bible.