Back in the beginnings of the Mormon faith there was a lot of buzz about what we actually believed. There were some good rumors, but mostly bad. In 1842 John Wentworth then editor of the Chicago Democrat wanted to know what the LDS church believed in. Instead of going to the man on the street, a baptist minister or a reporter down the hall he did something which would be considered unorthodox in today's journalism: He asked the leader of the Church, Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith was also of a mind to let anyone know who asked what we believe. He was cool like that. In writing his response he created probably the clearest list of what we actually believe. It compares well with the beliefs of other churches and doesn't split hairs. So complete and concise was this definititon that the church leaders have included them in the standard set of LDS scriptures.
Enough fanfare, here's the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
- We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Over the next several months I will be expounding on the information held in these Articles. I hope to further inform and enlighten those interested in what we believe. You can also see LDS beliefs at their website.