Five Uniquely Mormon Doctrines

This statue of the resurrected Christ stands in the visitor’s center of the Salt Lake Temple. picture by More Good Foundation

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been known for its unique doctrines and teachings.  During my own conversion, there were things that I personally had trouble with and found very different from my own Catholic background. It took a lot of prayer and research to learn these things for myself and in the end, a lot of trust in God.

So, here are a list of five uniquely Mormon doctrines.

5. Temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is well known for building temples world wide. There are currently 141 temples around the world, including one in Chicago, and 15 under construction. But what are temples? Temples are the house of God. They are places where faithful and worthy Latter-Day Saints go to perform ordinances and to make covenants with God. Some of these ordinances (such as endowment and sealing) are required for salvation. According to the current President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson,

“The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God…’”

4. The Pre-Existence

An extremely unique LDS teaching, one that I have never heard of before learning of the Church, is the doctrine of the pre-existence (or the pre-earth life). According to LDS doctrine, everyone who has ever lived on earth is a literal son or daughter of God. We lived with God in the pre-existence. The scriptures say that “Man was also in the beginning with God” (D&C93:29).

In this pre-earth life we lived with God as his spirit children, however, there was no possibility for us to advance. Out of love for His Children, God decided to send us to Earth. While on Earth we would receive bodies and be put through trials. If we navigate through this life successfully using our free will, following God’s plan and commandments, we would be able to return to Him and receive the fullness of joy. This is known as the plan of salvation.

3. The Restoration

The LDS Church is known as a restorationist church. Meaning that through its founding, something was restored. But what exactly was restored?

Latter-Day Saints believe that God and Jesus Christ came to Joseph Smith and told him that none of the churches on earth were right. Instead, Joseph Smith would be in charge of bringing back God’s Church on Earth.

Through the founding of the Church, Joseph Smith was restoring the original Church of Jesus Christ.

Latter-Day Saints believe that the keys of authority were given to Joseph Smith when he received the priesthood. From then on, the priesthood authority, which had been lost since the early Church, were brought back to earth.

2. Living Prophets

We thank thee, O God, for a prophet,
To Guide us in these latter days.
When the restoration occurred, God continued a pattern from the scriptures: He called a prophet. Joseph Smith became a prophet called by God to lead the Church in modern days. This began the practice of calling modern day prophets. The LDS Church is unique in that they have living prophets who preach the word of God and give counsel to people in modern days.
All Presidents of the Church, as well as all of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” Although there is only one prophet on Earth at a time. The prophet is also the President of the Church. The current prophet is President Thomas S. Monson.
When I went through my baptismal interview, one of the questions was, “What does it mean to you to have a living prophet?” I think most Latter-Day Saints, myself included, would say that having a living prophet is a great blessing because they can give counsel to the Church as it applies to today.
1. The Book of Mormon
According to the prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon is the “keystone of our religion.” Apologist Daniel Peterson puts it best:
“If the Book of Mormon were false, little or nothing that is distinctive to our faith would stand. Joseph Smith’s prophetic mission and all of the other revelations that came through him would be called into question….the Book of Mormon, if true, stands as a witness that God lives, that he is active in the issues of human life and history, and that Jesus is the redeeming Christ, the Son of God. Nothing, no fact or conclusion, could conceivably be more important.”
The Book of Mormon is a book of ancient scripture that was translated by Joseph Smith from golden plates that he found on a hill near his home in Palmyra, New York.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of a the Nephites and the Lamanites, Israelites who left Israel right before the Babylonian captivity and land on the American continent (most LDS scholars place this in Mesoamerica). There God called prophets who led his people and preached to them. Eventually, Jesus visited the Nephites and Lamanites and had a ministry in the Americas. This is why the Book of Mormon is subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
The name of the book comes from the prophet-historian Mormon who collected the writings of the prophets and abridged them into what would eventually be the record translated by Joseph Smith.
The Book of Mormon is used by missionaries around the world as a powerful tool in converting people to join the LDS Church.
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