Understanding Mormonism

A former faithful Mormon and BYU professor explains

Since Mitt Romney ran for president, many are curious about his Mormon faith, with good reason. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormons tend to be friendly, hard-working, conservative, moral people—model citizens who want to be accepted as part of the body of Christ. Their church culture is close-knit and family-oriented. But as one who spent more than 30 years as a "good Mormon," I got to see the inner workings of the Mormon Church.

Like many denominations, Mormons have their own religious vocabulary, dress code, grooming standards, health code, and expected behaviors. But many of the Mormon sacred beliefs, such as temple ordinances and covenants, are required to be secret, known only to those baptized in the Mormon Church.

For many Mormon families there is great pressure to have everything look great on the outside, and to do everything well, and this pressure is particularly acute for Mormon women. In my church work, I met many hurting and discouraged women. One struggled to get seven small children to church on time. Others worried that their homes were not clean enough or their children not faithful enough, smart enough, or talented enough to stand out in the outside world. Some were anxious because they did not hold temple recommends or did not have husbands to get them to the top of the celestial kingdom or were not spreading the Mormon gospel or did not have time for their callings. Some were eager to save their dead family members through genealogy and temple work. If others were going to look to us for answers and want to join Mormonism, we needed to have it all together.

Due to a determined media campaign from the Mormon Church, some Christians have decided Mormons are Christians, too. But in reality, Mormonism does not represent a biblically compatible religion to be welcomed into the body of Christ. I think it is helpful to discuss just a few of the differences.

Substantial or Trifling Differences?

What are some of the basic teachings of Mormonism? First, Mormons believe the most correct book on the face of the earth is the Book of Mormon. They teach that the Bible is often mistranslated and unreliable. According to Mormonism, Jesus couldn't keep his Word or his church together—there was a great apostasy after his apostles died—and Joseph Smith needed to restore the true church in 1830 with the true doctrine, including three extra-biblical books of scripture from Mormon prophets. In order to be baptized into the Mormon Church—which Mormons believe is the only church that can lead one to live with the Father and the Son after this life—one must accept the founding prophet, Joseph Smith, and the current prophet, Thomas S. Monson, as a prophet, seer, and revelator and the only man who speaks for God on earth.

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September 26, 2013 at 8:27 AM

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