Mormonism: Introduction

Mormonism is the largest and most influential branch of the Christian faith in the United States. Founded in the 19th century by Joseph Smith, it claims to be the restored church of Jesus Christ and believes that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Latter Day Saints: Beliefs and Practices

Many Latter Day Saints say that they feel that it is important to believe in the Bible and follow its teachings, and they rely on divine revelation to guide their lives. They also regularly read and ponder the Book of Mormon, which is considered a sacred volume of scripture.

Christianity and Mormonism: A Comparison

According to the Bible, humans are fallen, sinful beings who need to be forgiven by the Savior. They are in need of forgiveness because they have inherited "original sin" from Adam. Christians, however, are saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ and are therefore righteous and can be assured of eternal life with God.

The Articles of Faith

Members of the Mormon Church, the largest and most influential branch of the Mormon movement, are guided by the beliefs set forth in a series of thirteen articles, collectively known as "the Articles of Faith." These documents, which were written by Joseph Smith in 1842, describe the basic doctrines of Mormonism. The Articles are viewed as authoritative by most denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement.

Core Doctrines of Mormonism

The first four articles state the basic doctrines of Mormonism: That there is one God, that he is the Creator and Redeemer of the world; that man has inherited "original sin"; that the atonement of Jesus Christ takes effect for potentially all individuals; and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the principles and ordinances of the law (faith, repentance, baptism and confirmation). They also teach that Christ's atonement secures immortality for virtually all people. While Christians may be resurrected to new and better bodies in eternity, they will not become gods.

Worship and Practice

Most members of the Church attend official worship services on Sunday, where they are taught by their leaders. They also rely on prayer, scripture study and religious teachings in the home. They participate in seminary classes and other study sessions throughout the week.

Challenges and Perspectives

Although some Mormons have reservations about some of the beliefs of the Church, most are able to accept them with little difficulty. About one-in-five members of the Mormon Church (22%) say that some of their beliefs are hard to accept and almost one-in-ten (8%) say they rarely or never attend church. Some members are unsure whether the Book of Mormon is true. They are concerned that it is full of errors, such as errors in the translation of texts and a lack of historical evidence to support the stories told in it.

Controversies and Beliefs

In a recent interview, an LDS patriarch said that the Mormon narrative is not true. He also says that Mormonism is on "shaky grounds," and implies that if they don't change their way of doing things, they will experience significant problems. While there are many issues with the Book of Mormon and its translation, Mormons still view it as a trustworthy source of information about Jesus and the life he led. Nonetheless, more than half of Mormons (57%) say it is essential for them to believe that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say it is essential for them to help the poor and needy.

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