Research: Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church, was established by Joseph Smith on 6 April 1830. Mormons believe that, until this time, the true gospel had been perverted and lost. Consequently, Joseph Smith was called upon by God to restore the true church.

At a glance

Mormonism Christianity
Trinity Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate gods. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370

“As with any man, there was a time when God the Father was childless, when he had not yet begun the procreation of his spirit family. Consequently, the Godhead as we know it did not exist; there was no Son of God and no Holy Ghost.” Rodney Turner, “The Doctrine of the Firstborn and Only Begotten,” in The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God

There is only one God. Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5

He has eternally existed. Ps. 90:2

He exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matt. 28:19

In the unity of the Godhead, there are three persons of one substance, power and eternity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Monotheism “Mormonism is simultaneously monotheistic, tritheistic, and polytheistic. There is but one God, yet there is a Godhead of three, and beyond them, ‘gods many, and lords many’ (1 Cor. 8:5). But regardless of the multiplicity of personages bearing divine titles, they are one in that priesthood which governs throughout the eternities. Unlike the carnal gods of mythical Olympus, they are not competing against one another for status and dominion.” Rodney Turner, “The Doctrine of the Firstborn and Only Begotten,” in The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God

There is only one God. No god existed before the One True God, and none shall exist after Him. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10, 44:6; 45:5, 18, 21-22; 46:9; John 17:3

God the Father God the Father was once a man with a physical body.

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345

God the Father resides near the planet Kolob. Abr. 3:2–18

“He [Eternal Father] revealed to Abraham that his throne is near Kolob, the great governing star of our universe.” Joseph Fielding Smith, Man: His Origin and Destiny, p. 537

The first person of the Trinity, God the Father was never a man. Num. 23:19, John 4:24

God the Father has eternally existed (Ps. 90:2) and is immutable in His nature. Mal. 3:6; Jas. 3:6

Jesus A created being and the spirit-brother of Lucifer. The Gospel Through the Ages, 15

As a created being and fellow spirit child of God, Jesus is the elder brother of all men. Gospel Principles, 11, 17, 18

The second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, was not created and has eternally existed. John 8:58; Heb. 13:8

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, God in human flesh. John 1:1-4, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16

Jesus Christ is also the Creator of the universe. Col. 1:15-17

Holy Spirit The third member of the Mormon godhead. The LDS Bible Dictionary equates the terms, “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost,” yet other sources describe the two as distinct from one another.

“The gift [of the Holy Ghost] can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and is conferred by the laying on of hands, as in Acts 8:12–25 and Moroni 2:1–3. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost.” LDS Bible Dictionary

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and thus He has eternally existed and is fully God. Heb. 9:14

The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus Christ. John 15:26

He convicts the world of sin. John 16:7-9

The Holy Spirit indwells believers at conversion. Rom. 8:9-14

Speaking with the authority of the Father, the Holy Spirit guides believers in truth. John 16:13-14

Satan The second born, literal son of Heavenly Father (Elohim) and Heavenly Mother, Lucifer (Satan) is the spirit brother of Jesus Christ.

When the head of the gods called a council, it is said that Jesus came up with a better plan of salvation than did his brother, Lucifer. Gospel Principles, Chapter 3

A created being, a fallen angel, who rebelled against God, incurring His judgment. Being cast out of Heaven, Satan took many angels with him. Luke 10:18; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:3–4

Satan is the “father of lies.” John 8:44

He first introduced sin to humanity with the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Gen. 3:1-15

Satan is the enemy of both God and man. Isa. 14:13, 14; Matt. 4:1-11; Rev. 12:9, 10

Satan has been defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and at the final judgment, he will be cast for eternity into the lake of fire. Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:10

Scripture Four books are recognized as scripture: the King James Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Gospel Principles, Chapter 10 The Bible alone is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God. 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Man All men “were sons and daughters of heavenly parents,” existing as spirit children of the Father. As “spirit children of God,” men may work on earth to “develop His divine qualities.” Gospel Principles, Chapter 2

Men and women may become heavenly parents and create spirit children just like the Father. Doctrines and Covenants 132:19-20

Mormons will one day become gods:

“As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow

“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” Doctrines and Covenants 132:20

Man was created by God on the sixth day. Gen. 1:26–27

Due to man’s disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden, every man is born dead in sin. Every man, unless redeemed by Jesus Christ, lives in rebellion to God. Rom. 3:11-18

Atonement In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat great drops of blood for the sins of men, and on the cross, his work was finished. This work allows for all persons on earth to be resurrected. The blood of Jesus, however, was not sufficient to cover all of man’s sins.

“man may commit certain grievous sins–according to his light and knowledge–that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved, he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone–so far as in his power lies–for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail…. Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that men may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent.” Doctrines of Salvation 1:134, 135

Man, being born dead in trespasses and sins, cannot atone for himself. Eph. 2:1; Rom. 5:8, 3:10-11

God in his infinite love sent Jesus to suffer and die as a substitute to bear the wrath and punishment of God in the place of those who believe. 1 John 4:10; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Pet 2:24

The blood of Christ was the perfect and acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of all who will believe. Rom. 5:9; Heb. 10:14

With the resurrection of Christ, God demonstrated that He accepted this sacrifice. It is through the atonement that man is reconciled to God. Rom. 5:10

Salvation The death and resurrection of Christ allows for universal resurrection. To attain heaven, man must earn his own way.

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 2 Nephi 25:23

As the perfect sacrifice for the sins of men, Christ’s death and resurrection provided salvation for all who would believe.

Through repentance and faith in Christ, man may be forgiven of his sins and saved from the righteous wrath and condemnation of God. Both repentance and faith are good gifts from God. Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8-9

Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Eph. 2:8-9

Salvation is a free gift from God to those who believe in Him. Rom. 1:16; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9

Salvation cannot be earned. Rom. 11:6

Heaven & Hell Most people will attain to one of three kingdoms of heaven: Celestial, Terrestrial or Telestial. Doctrines and Covenants 88:16-24

Those cast into Hell are there for a time. Most will eventually enter into the Telestial Kingdom. Mormon Doctrine, 349-350

Eternal life is synonymous with godhood and populating other worlds.

“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this.” Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation

Those who are saved by Jesus Christ will be resurrected to eternal life. Those who are not saved by faith in Christ will be raised to eternal punishment. Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10

Further reading

On the scriptures

On Jesus Christ

On basic doctrine

General resources

CRN articles about Mormonism