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Beliefs of the LDS Church

Introduction; public opinion poll;
LDS beliefs similar to Evangelicals

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Describing beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a difficult task:

bulletWe can describe the teachings found in some of the Church's Standard Works -- including the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price -- which are considered to be divinely inspired and authoritative. However, some of these teachings are ambiguous and contradictory. Others have not been formally accepted by the LDS Church.
bulletWe can follow the official teachings of the LDS Church. But some of these change over time.
bulletWe can study the beliefs of individual members. However, they often deviate from Church teachings in non-critical areas. The Church gives members considerable latitude in such areas.

The problem is made more difficult by the church's belief in continuing revelation: the concept that God occasionally transmits new beliefs to the church.

The Articles of Faith were written by Joseph Smith as a brief description of the Mormon faith. He is considered the founder of the faith, and was the first major prophet. Mormons consider him to be on the same scale as Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Isaiah, etc. The Articles are general in nature; most are acceptable to a broad range of Christians, conservative Protestant, mainline Protestant, even Roman Catholic.

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Results of a public opinion poll:

A U.S. public opinion poll by Barna Research in 2001 showed that in many cases, the beliefs of LDS members were quite different from those of other Christian groups.

bulletImportance of religion: 90% of the Mormons sampled regard religious faith as an important factor in their life. This is the second highest percentage of any denomination; only Pentecostal/Four square members are higher at 94%. Members of the Assemblies of God and of non-denominational --mostly Fundamentalist -- Christian churches were next at 86%. The average for all adults was 68%.
bulletBeing "born again:" 34% of adults who attend a Mormon church regard themselves as having been "born again." i.e. they have made a personal commitment to Jesus that is still important in their life today and believe that when they die they will go to Heaven solely because they have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior. This compares with 30% of Episcopalians and 25% of Roman Catholics.
bulletSatan: 59% of Mormons believe Satan to be a living entity. This is the highest of any Christian denomination in the U.S. Only about 20% of Episcopalians, 18% of Methodists and 17% of Roman Catholics regard Satan in this way. The national average is 27%. Most Americans view Satan as a symbol of evil without having an actual personality or corporal existence.
bulletBible: Only 29% believe that the bible is "totally accurate." This is the third lowest figure of any Christian denomination. Only the Roman Catholic Church at 26% and the Episcopal Church, USA at 22% were lower. The national average was 41%.
bulletSalvation: Only 15% of LDS members accept the belief that works don't earn a person a place in Heaven. Only Roman Catholics were lower at 9%. The national average was 30%.
bulletWas Jesus sinless: 70% of Mormons believe that Jesus led a sinless life while on Earth. This is exceeded only by Pentecostal Churches at 73%. The national average was 40%. 1,2

Mormons feel that the Holy Spirit will reliably guide them towards truth. If they are on a path towards determining the right course of action or discerning what is true on a certain topic, the Holy Spirit will make them feel confident about their decision. As one example, a Mormon member was teaching a lady who was blind and nearly deaf. She wanted to know if the Book of Mormon was true. She was asked to hold the Book in her hand and very slowly turn its pages. Although she could not read the words, the Holy Spirit guided her to an understanding that it was true.

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Some LDS Church beliefs are the same or similar to those of evangelicals:

Many LDS Church beliefs are similar to those of Evangelical Christianity. These include the importance of their faith, salvation by being born again, atonement, resurrection, tithing, the widespread influence of angels and of Satan and his demons.

Mormon faith groups oppose both equal rights for homosexuals. They have played a major role in preventing the Boy Scouts of America from accepting gay members.

The LDS Church, along with many other conservative Christian faith groups, remains sexist. Women are expected to fill specified roles within families, in the church and in society. in an usually frank admission, president Gordon B. Hinkley referred to wives as possessions of their husbands. He said at the LDS biannual conference on 2007-APR-01:

"Husbands, love and treasure your wives. They are your most precious possessions. Wives, encourage and pray for your husbands. They need all the help they can get. Parents, treat your children with great kindness. They are the coming generation who will bring honor to your name." 3

The LDS church excludes all women from the priesthood. This compares with fundamentalist and other evangelical denominations which express a range of views on this topic. They took a major role in defeating the Equal Right's Amendment (ERA). The LDS church also opposes women's access to abortion (except in rare circumstances, like incest, rape or a life-threatening pregnancy). Their position appears to be moving in a more liberal direction.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Religious Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination," Barna Research, 2001-JUN-25, at: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/
  2. "Barna Poll on U.S. religious belief - 2001," 2001-JUN-25, at: http://www.adherents.com/
  3. "Church president defends Mormon faith, validity of Book of Mormon," Deseretnews.com, 2007-APR-02, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/

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Copyright 1995 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JUN-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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