What Do Mormons Believe: The Primary Differences Between Mormonism & Christianity
What Do Mormons Believe: Divine Authority
The Mormon church uses two sources as its primary authorities: the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price are also viewed as divinely authoritative.
In contrast, the Christian church (also called biblical Christianity) uses the Holy Bible alone as its authority from God (2 Timothy 3:16). Joseph Smith is not recognized as a prophet.
What Do Mormons Believe: The Nature of God
The Mormon church sees God as the Supreme Being of the universe. However, He gradually acquired that position over a long period of time by living a perfect and righteous life. God the Father has a body (flesh and bones). 1
In contrast, the biblical Christianity proclaims God as eternally and infinitely supreme (Isaiah 44:6; Psalm 90:2). He is the same today as always (James 1:17). He is a spirit Being (John 4:24).
What Do Mormons Believe: The Nature of Man
The Mormon church teaches that humans exist as spirit beings before their birth.2 At physical birth, bodies are given to these spirits. They are also given an opportunity for free-will choice. The physical world represents a period of probation. The status of a person in the afterlife is determined by the way that person lived his/her life on Earth. If the person lived by a satisfactory standard, (including the fulfillment of Mormon temple obligations) that person has the potential to become a god in the after-life.3 The person can also produce "spirit children" to populate a world of his own (like God did with the earth). 4
In contrast, the Christian church holds that humans do not exist as spirits prior to being born into the world. Humans cannot attain godhood or populate other worlds with "spirit children."
What Do Mormons Believe: The Nature of Jesus Christ
The Mormon church views Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers and sons of God.5 God put forth His plan of salvation for the world, and Satan proposed his own plan. Jesus accepted the Father's plan and offered to implement it as the Savior.6 The Father chose Jesus, and the spirit of Jesus was given a body through the virgin Mary.7 He was crucified on a Roman cross, and rose from the dead three days later to establish His deity. The character and life of Jesus is attainable by anyone who performs at such a righteous level.
In contrast, biblical Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ has existed eternally as the Son of God, the second "person" of the Trinity (Colossians 1:15-18; John 1:1, 3). Jesus took on human flesh about 2000 years ago and was born into the world through the virgin Mary (Luke 2). He was crucified on a Roman cross for our sins (Romans 5:8), and rose from the dead three days later to establish His deity (Mark 16; 1 Corinthians 15:13-17).
What Do Mormons Believe: How do we Achieve Salvation
The Mormon church holds that Jesus Christ overcame physical death and guaranteed physical resurrection to all mankind. However, spiritual death can only be avoided through personal obedience of God's commandments.8 Forgiveness of sins requires faith, repentance and baptism by an approved Mormon priest. The practice of baptism for the dead is an extension of this belief, in which Mormons are baptized in proxy for those who have died without proper baptism.9
In contrast, the Christian church teaches that we are unable to live a life righteous enough to meet God's perfectly holy standard (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Therefore, we establish a relationship with God by faith in the work of Christ on the cross, not by our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Baptism and good deeds are acts of obedience to God, but not the means for gaining eternal salvation.
What Do Mormons Believe: Life After Death
The Mormon church maintains that although there is temporary punishment for those that are most wicked, Jesus Christ will establish a new kingdom that will consist of three levels: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom.
In contrast, biblical Christianity holds that there are only two possible fates after death, heaven or hell. These locations are final, both physically and spiritually (Matthew 25:46).