Core Beliefs and Doctrines
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. The three make up the Godhead-one in purpose but separate in being.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ.
Divine Priesthood Authority
The priesthood is the authority to act in God's name. The Church emphasizes that authority to act for God cannot simply be assumed by a person because he or she feels a sense of "call." Joseph Smith, first prophet and president of the Church, taught: "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".
Principles and Ordinances
As taught by the Church, the first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ 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". As in biblical times, baptism is by complete immersion and symbolizes the cleansing of a person from sin. Since young children are incapable of sin, they are not baptized until the age of eight, when they become accountable for their actions.
Church members believe literally in the principle of revelation from God to His children. Individuals are entitled to divine revelation for meeting personal challenges. Parents are entitled to revelation for raising their families. Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the President of the Church, who is viewed by Latter-day Saints as a prophet in the same sense as are Abraham, Moses, Peter, and other biblical leaders.
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The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is regarded as divinely inspired scripture, as is the Holy Bible. Both volumes are used by Latter-day Saints side by side. Other writings accepted as scripture are the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations and writings given since the restoration of the Church began, and The Pearl of Great Price, a selection from the revelations, translations, and writings of Joseph Smith.
Purpose of Life
All people on earth have a physical body and a spirit that together make up the soul of each person. As spirit children of God, all lived with Him in a premortal existence. Through God's plan, all also come to earth to receive a physical body, gain experience, and prove themselves worthy to return to live with God forever. To Latter-day Saints, life on earth is a probationary state in which men and women are tried and tested, and where they gain experiences obtainable nowhere else.
Family and Marriage
Many churches teach the importance of family as the bedrock of our civilization. Distinctively, the concept of a united family which lives and progresses forever is at the core of Latter-day Saint doctrine. Marriages performed in the Church's temples do not dissolve at death. Rather, marriage and family relationships "sealed" in this way may continue through eternity, contingent upon faithful observance of the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1995, Church leaders emphasized the importance of marriage and family in an official declaration entitled The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
The Church embraces the moral standards taught by Jesus Christ, including personal honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage. The Church opposes abortion, pornography, gambling, and other immoral behavior.
A health code revealed by God to Joseph Smith in 1833 cautions against using tobacco, consuming alcohol, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the positive benefits of wise eating habits and physical and spiritual fitness. The Church interprets the misuse of drugs-illegal, legal, prescription, or controlled-as a violation of the health code known in Latter-day Saint scripture as the "Word of Wisdom."
Tithing and Fast Offerings
The Church and its faithful members embrace the biblical principle of tithing, which is contributing one-tenth of one's income for the work of the Church. Faithful members also fast for two meals one day a month and donate the money they would have spent on those meals, or more, to a fund to help the needy. The generous offerings of its members enable the Church to finance the construction, education, welfare, missionary, curriculum, humanitarian, and other programs that benefit people worldwide.
The responsibility for one's spiritual and temporal well-being rests upon the individual first, then the family, and finally the Church. Church members are expected to be self-reliant and independent to the extent of their ability.
Missionaries working in pairs can be seen in most major cities of the world and have become one of the most readily identifiable characteristics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has some 60,000 full-time missionaries serving throughout the world. Most are university-age men and women, but many are retired couples. All have been assigned by Church headquarters to their area of work, which can be in any part of the world where governments allow them to preach. They contribute to their own support for up to two years, frequently learning another language.
The Church has no general salaried ministry. Thousands of Latter-day Saint bishops around the world lead their congregations in their spare time for a period of a few years, while they continue their normal employment. Most members of a congregation share the bishop's weight of responsibility by serving as unpaid teachers, counselors, administrators, youth leaders, and clerks. In addition, Church members often serve beyond their Church affiliation in their own communities and charitable causes.
© 2000 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2000 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All Rights Reserved.