This is the introduction to a series on the doctrine and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The fact that we are referring to ‘Mormons’ and the ‘Mormon Church’ in this series comes against the request of their leader in 2018 not to use that name anymore and to use the full name of their church rather than calling it ‘The Mormon Church.’ Nevertheless for identity, culturally and historically they have always been called ‘Mormons’ and probably always will be by those who aren’t part of the organization.
It is my goal to present short, readable articles on the current doctrine, beliefs, and practices of the Mormon Church and compare to them with the prevailing beliefs and theology of Evangelical Christianity. I will be using sources printed by the LDS in the process. I hope to fairly and accurately represent Mormon teaching in the process. However, I am an Evangelical Christian and I will unapologetically assert that there are many beliefs and doctrines of the LDS which I consider to be false.
I have LDS friends who constantly tell me that most of the books and tracts about them do not fairly represent the current beliefs and teachings of their church. One of the more frustrating things in writing about Mormon beliefs is that they really are a ‘moving target.’ What I mean is; what was declared and taught by Mormon leaders in the past may no longer represent current ‘official’ Mormon beliefs and teaching. This is where many ‘anti-Mormon’ books and tracts have gone astray and ‘missed the mark’ in the past. The ‘official’ Mormon beliefs and teaching are defined in any generation by the current ‘General Authorities’ (top leaders) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The teaching of the current authorities trump anything that was taught in the past, even that by their revered ‘prophets’ and general leaders in former generations. Polygamy (Plural Marriage) was publicly practiced (and privately even before) among the Mormons from 1852-1890 until it was outlawed by their President Wilford Woodruff. Even interpretations of their own scriptures can change over time. For example: The Book of Abraham (in the Pearl of Great Price) taught that there was a curse upon the black race, therefore those of that race could not hold priesthood or participate in Temple services. In 1978, a new ‘revelation’ was given that lifted that curse and now black folks can fully participate in Mormon offices and rituals.
I extend an invitation to LDS readers to make comments and to set the record straight in those areas where I fall short from their perspective. To Evangelicals, I believe that it would serve us better, in presenting the Gospel to Mormons, if we really understood the actual prevailing differences (which are many) and did not dwell upon sensational quotes and reports from the 19th century.
Also, we all should recognize that we do share many common beliefs and values, and it is the goal of both movements to bring change for the better, into the lives of people and society as a whole.
-“Mormon Doctrine“, by Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1979, 856 pgs) An important work, but not an official statement of LDS Church doctrine.
-(D. & C.)”Doctrine and Covenants” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of scripture.
-“Book of Mormon” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of Scripture.
-“Pearl of Great Price” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of Scripture.
-“Inspired Version” ( Independence, Mo.: Herald House) Printed by the Community of Christ (RLDS Church).
-“Systematic Theology“, by Wayne Grudem (Leicester, Eng.:Zondervan Pub., 1994, 1264 pgs.)