In 1842, John Wentworth asked Joseph Smith to write about the Mormons. Wentworth was the editor of the Chicago Democrat and Joseph Smith was the president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The members of this church are sometimes referred to as Mormons. Included in Joseph’s response were thirteen beliefs now called the Articles of Faith. They provide a solid introduction to authentic Mormon beliefs.
1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Mormons do not accept the trinity. They believe that each member of the Godhead is a separate being completely one in everything but person. This is demonstrated in the Bible in John 17:11, when Jesus prayed that His followers would be one even as God and Jesus were one—in other words, unified spiritually. Mormons believe that when Genesis says we are created in God’s image, that is a literal translation, and so Mormons teach that God has a body like ours, although perfected and glorified. God is literally our Father in Heaven, loving, but not permissive. He is a just God.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. His Father is God and His mother is Mary. Mormons believe Jesus Christ voluntarily took our sins on Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane and then died for us. They believe He was resurrected three days later, breaking the bonds of death and making it possible for all of us to live again and to be forgiven of our sins if we repent.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
Mormons do not teach the doctrine of original sin. Mormon beliefs teach that children are born pure and innocent and that if they die before they reach the age of accountability, they return directly to God. They believe a loving and just God would not punish a child for something he could not control. Each of us is accountable for our own choices. While certain life conditions are in place due to the choices made by Adam and Eve, these choices have provided blessings as well as challenges. Baptism removes the sins we ourselves performed, not the sins of others. Only Jesus could atone for someone else’s sins.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Mormon beliefs teach that the atonement allowed everyone to be saved. Everyone who lives on earth at any time will be resurrected and live forever. In addition, everyone has the ability to repent. The Bible teaches that there are certain requirements for returning to live with God for eternity, including accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, being baptized (Mark 16:16), and keeping the commandments (Matthew 7:21). For that reason, while everyone receives portions of the blessings of the atonement regardless of their actions and choices, and the right to the other blessings if they choose to accept them, some blessins require us to demonstrate our faith through our actions. Actions don’t save us—they are a measure of our love for God and our willingness to be obedient and must be done in a spirit of love, not in hopes of a reward.
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.
These principles are outlined in the Bible as being essential to God’s plan. Faith (Mark 11:22) allows us to believe in God and Jesus Christ even though we don’t have physical proof. When we have a desire to know if Jesus Christ is our Savior, the Spirit of Christ will testify of that truth to us. Acts 2:38 outlines what we are expected to do after we have faith: 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Mormons are baptized by immersion, following the example of Jesus Christ. The “laying on of hands” (Hebrews 6:2) is done by priesthood holders who have the authority to confirm someone a member of God’s church and to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.
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.
Mormons believe that the right to hold the priesthood comes directly from God, as explained in Hebrews 5:4:
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
A person who receives this authority must be “set apart” to the work by someone who holds the appropriate priesthood authority to do so.
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
This is taken from Ephesians 4:11 and demonstrates how God wants His church to be organized. As the verse that follows this one states, this manner of organization helps to perfect the saints and edify the body of Christ.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
Each of these is a spiritual gift given to us by God. We don’t all have the same gifts, but everyone who chooses to follow God has a spiritual gift of some kind. (See 1 Corinthians 12:30.) These gifts are to be used to serve God.
8 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.
Mormons use both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as scripture. The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ and also validates the truthfulness of the Bible, since it testifies of Jesus Christ and refers often to the earlier prophets.
The mention of translation as a consideration refers to the fact that the Bible was perfect as it came from the original writers. However, it has been translated many times and in many ways, often translations conflicting or being chosen for worldly reasons (such as to support the notion of strong royalty). The Bible is true; the translations are not always accurate. Translation is not an exact art.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Mormons do not believe that when Jesus died, God retreated and refused to speak to His children further. It is clear that people are very confused about what is true and that a prophet is essential to prepare us for the second coming. God promised to reveal all things through His prophets, and nowhere does the Bible say there would be no prophets after Jesus. In fact, the Bible specifically mentions two prophets who taught after Jesus died. They are Judas and Silas. Ephesians 2:20 reminds us that God’s church is always built on a foundation of prophets and apostles.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
The gathering of Israel is a missionary effort, an effort to bring all of God’s children to a knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ.
“Our tenth Article of Faith says, ‘We believe in the literal gathering of Israel.’ This gathering occurs when the lost sheep of Israel come into the Church. It occurs when their sins are washed away in the waters of baptism, so that once again they have power to become pure in heart; and Zion is the pure in heart.
“Our Article of Faith says that ‘We believe … in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.’ This is in the future. It will occur when the Lord brings again Zion, according to the promises.
“Our Article of Faith says ‘that Zion (the new Jerusalem) will be built upon this [the American] continent.’ This also is future and will occur after the Lord’s people have gained strength and influence and power in all the nations whither he hath scattered them.
“Our Article of Faith says ‘that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.’ This is also future, a day which we devoutly desire and seek. (A of F 1:10.)” (Ensign, May 1977, pp. 115–116, 118.)
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Freedom of religion is critical to the work of God’s kingdom. Many have died fighting for this right in the past and the work to protect it is ongoing. Without it, God’s work can’t be done effectively, and so, all who love God must fight for it worldwide. We must protect all religions in order to protect our own.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
Mormon beliefs teach members to honor the law of their country and to be active participants in creating a moral and effective government.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
The final Article of Faith is a basic summary of how Mormons are expected to try to live their lives. It reassures us that while life is not always easy, God is on our side when we are living according to His plan.
Learn some basic Mormon Beliefs.
Learn about Jesus Christ in Mormonism.
See also, Mormon News for current perspectives on Mormon beliefs, particularly as they relate to current events.