Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be found at every level of society — in business and charity, education and the sciences, political parties and government, the entertainment industry and news media.
Describing the character of Latter-day Saints, Newsweek magazine wrote: “No matter where Mormons live, they find themselves part of a network of mutual concern; in Mormon theology everyone is a minister of a kind, everyone is empowered in some way to do good to others, and to have good done unto them: it is a 21st century covenant of caring. This caring is not limited to Church members alone, but extends far beyond.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest Christian church in America. More than half of its 14 million members live outside the United States. Yet despite the faith’s growth and presence, survey results continue to show that relatively few people are familiar with Mormon beliefs.
As an institution, the Church has the responsibility to publicly and clearly articulate its official teachings. In turn, reporters can help inform the public by accurately reporting on these doctrines. But in doing so journalists should be aware of some common pitfalls. For instance, reporters pressed for time tend to take peripheral aspects of the faith and place them front and center as if they were vital tenets of belief. Additionally, sincere commentators often overemphasize what others see as “different” about Latter-day Saints at the expense of highlighting the Church’s most fundamental doctrines in their reporting. Unfortunately, as many members attest, this kind of journalism paints a distorted picture of the Church and continues to confuse the public.
Despite these complications, the Church welcomes honest inquiry from all types of media outlets. The Church expects journalists to be accurate and honest and to focus on the faith as it is lived and believed by its members. The Church discourages sensationalized and misleading journalism that accentuates abstract ideas that do not reflect the beliefs, teachings and practices of the Church’s global membership.
What Are the Core Beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
The founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, wrote, “The fundamental principles of our religion are … concerning Jesus Christ that He died was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
In addition to the above, Latter-day Saints believe unequivocally that:
1. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of our loving Heavenly Father.
2. Christ’s Atonement allows mankind to be saved from their sins and return to live with God and their families forever.
3. Christ’s original Church as described in the New Testament has been restored in modern times.
1. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of our loving Heavenly Father
Latter-day Saints believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all mankind from their sins (see John 3:16). God is a loving Heavenly Father who knows His children individually, hears and answers their prayers, and feels compassion toward them. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate beings but along with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) are one in will, purpose and love.
Latter-day Saints worship Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. He is central to the lives of Church members. They accept His grace and mercy; they seek to follow His example by being baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17), praying in His holy name (see Matthew 6:9-13), partaking of the sacrament (communion) (see Luke 22:19-20), doing good to others (see Acts 10:38) and bearing witness of Him through both word and deed (see James 2:26).
2. Christ’s Atonement allows mankind to be saved from their sins and return to live with God and their families forever.Latter-day Saints believe that God has a plan for His children to return to live with Him and become “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). For members of the Church, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is central to God’s plan for our happiness. Although humans make mistakes and sin, Mormons view this mortal life as an opportunity to progress and learn. By following Christ’s teachings, embracing His mercy and accepting baptism and other sacraments, Mormons believe they are cleansed from sin through Christ’s grace and can return to live with God and their families forever.
3. Christ’s original Church as described in the New Testament has been restored in modern times.Members believe that Christ established His Church anciently on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20; see also Ephesians 4:11-14) with “one faith, [and] one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). They believe this foundation of “one faith” was gradually undermined after the death of Christ’s apostles. As a result, the original foundation of authority to lead the Church was lost and needed to be restored (see Acts 3:21). Today, members preach that the Lord has indeed restored His Church with living apostles and prophets, starting with the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith.
Church members understand that families are the most important unit of society. Accordingly, those who follow Christ and keep His commandments are promised to live with their families forever in divinely instituted eternal relationships.
Are Mormons Christian?
Yes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ as originally established by the Savior in the New Testament of the Bible. The Church does not embrace the creeds that developed in the third and fourth centuries that are now central to many other Christian churches.
Latter-day Saints believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all mankind from death and their individual sins. Jesus Christ is central to the lives of Church members. They seek to follow His example by being baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17), praying in His holy name (see Matthew 6:9-13), partaking of the sacrament (see Luke 22:19-20), doing good to others (see Acts 10:38) and bearing witness of Him through both word and deed (see James 2:26). The only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Do Mormons believe in the Bible?
Yes. The Church reveres the Bible as the word of God, a sacred volume of scripture. Latter-day Saints cherish its teachings and engage in a lifelong study of its divine wisdom. Moreover, during worship services the Bible is pondered and discussed. Additional books of scripture — including the Book of Mormon— strengthen and reinforce God’s teachings through additional witnesses and provide moving accounts of the personal experiences many individuals had with Jesus Christ. According to Church apostle M. Russell Ballard, “The Book of Mormon does not dilute nor diminish nor deemphasize the Bible. On the contrary, it expands, extends, and exalts it.”