What Do Mormons Believe?

Many times people are ignorant concerning what the Mormons believe. Mormons are a very peculiar people, but they claim to be Christians. We will examine Mormon doctrine with the help of two books, Is Mormonism Christian? by Gordon H. Frazier, and Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, by Gerald and Sandra Tanner. (For a book review of The God Makers, by Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, please see What Do Mormons Believe (The God Makers)?)


The Mormon doctrine of salvation differs from the Biblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone. The Mormons believe in salvation by faith and works. They put most of the emphasis upon living a good and moral life. They believe that this life is a period of probation for us, in which God measures us through a system of merits and demerits. The Mormons believe that they themselves will become gods someday when they have accumulated enough merit points to pass their probation period.

Mormons believe that a series of four steps must be followed in order to get to Heaven. The first step is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second is repentance by which they mean cleaning up one's life; third is water baptism, which is often perform by proxy or in the place of someone else; and the fourth is the laying on of hands from an Aaronic priest in order to receive the Holy Ghost.


Mormons also believe in self-atonement. They insist that death be accompanied by the shedding of one's blood for his own sins. This is to say that Christ's death on the cross was not sufficient. This belief is the reason that capital punishment was carried out by firing squad in Nevada for so many years. It yields the necessary shedding of blood that electrocution or the gas chamber would not.

This belief went so far in the 19th century that there was a group of Mormons called the Danites who systematically murdered those who had committed particularly vile sins, or who had abandoned the church or denied their prophet. They did these sinners a favor by murdering them in a way in which their blood was spilled, so that they would achieve self-atonement.


Though Mormons may deny their belief in universalism, they believe that everyone, or almost everyone, will eventually be saved. They believe that very few will go to Hell. They do allow for a prison of the dead, but it seems to only apply to this life only. Mormon doctrine on this subject is not well defined and even most Mormons don't know what they believe about it.

The Mormons base their universal beliefs on Romans 5:12-19. They interpret the word "all" to mean unbelievers as well as believers, when what the passage is referencing is all who have received Christ as savior. Universalism is refuted by the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Progressive Revelation

Mormons believe in progressive revelation from God. They believe that an angel named Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823, telling him where to find a set of tablets in a box, along with the Old Testament Urim and Thummin. Smith then translated the plates into the Book of Mormon and published in 1830. Smith's cohorts included Sidney Rigdon and Brigham Young.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is the primary source of Mormon revelation. They uphold the Bible also, but they believe that the Book of Mormon is a necessary addition to the scriptures. In reality, this book was simply made up by Smith. It was written by him in King James style Elizabethan English. It has had to be changed thousands of times in order to correct errors. For example, it was supposedly originally written in 600 BC, and yet it quotes the New Testament which was not written for another 650 years!
Other divine revelations include the Doctrine of Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and The Book of Abraham. The Book of Abraham was supposedly translated in the 19th century from some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. This was said to be a book written by the Abraham of the Old Testament. During the Chicago fire, the hieroglyphics were thought to have been destroyed. However, they had not been destroyed, and they were found again in the 1960's. They were given to the Mormon Church, and the Mormons asked one of the own members, D. J. Nelson, an Egyptologist, to translate them. Nelson reported that this was no Book of Abraham at all, but an ancient Egyptian book of grieving. It was a pagan funeral order, a praise to the sun god. Nelson was so upset at the attempt of deception by the Mormons that he called them liars, and he left the Mormon Church.


One of the tests of a true prophet in the Old Testament was that his prophecies were always 100% fulfilled. By this standard the Mormon prophets fail miserably in light of such predictions as Christ returning in the year 1891.

The Pre-existence of Souls

Mormons believe that man was in the beginning with God, instead of being created by God like the Bible says. They believe that God is just the offspring of a greater God. He was once just a man like us, who passed his earthly probation, so he got to become a god. Thus, they believe in a plurality of gods, since each of them will someday become a god.


The Mormons have serious problems when it comes to doctrines affected by the dispensations. For example, they believe that John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and ordained him into the Aaronic priesthood. First of all, this scenario denies the priesthood of the believer. Secondly, though John the Baptist was of the priestly tribe, he was not a priest, and certainly not a high priest who had the authority to pass on the Aaronic priesthood. Thirdly, Joseph Smith was not of the family of Aaron, which was a prerequisite for the Aaronic priesthood. Also, God no longer appears to men in visions.


Mormons place a great emphasis on the family, even to the extent of practicing polygamy. The early Mormon leaders each had dozens of wives. They thought that this would help them reach the highest heaven, and they would have many wives in heaven. Due to complaints of fellow citizens, polygamy has been outlawed. The Mormons now simply try to have as many children as possible. Originally this was viewed as an effective way to quickly expand the Mormon movement. They also believe that these children are their contribution to the effort of supplying desperately needed bodies for the wandering spirits (pre-existence of souls). These beliefs are refuted by Mark 10:2-6 and Matthew 19:2-5.


Mormonism also includes many secret services, rituals, and ceremonies, carried over directly from Masonry, to which Joseph Smith belonged as a member. This reminds us again of the ancient mystery religions which used secrecy in their religions. On the contrary, there is nothing secretive about Christianity.


Another non-Christian trait of Mormonism is the way they have oppressed African-Americans. Not until the 1970's were blacks even allowed to become priests. When they were finally admitted to the priesthood, Brigham Young's words were recalled, where he said that the day a black became a priest, the Church would be accursed.

Owen Weber 2009