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LDS Question 13: What, in a brief summation, are the basic differences between the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the other Christian religions of today?
NOTE: FYI: As I respond to this question, I will be using such pronouns as we, us, our, and ours, etc. when referring to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or the Mormons or LDS faith) . . . since I am a member, and a part of that body of people. There are MANY differences between the LDS faith and orthodox Christian beliefs; therefore, I will only discuss four major differences here, and I will try to keep my answers succinct.
Mostly, the differences between the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and all other Christian religions of today are mainly vast in depth and number . . . yet, similar in a few areas. I will start with the similarities . . .
All Christians believe in Jesus Christ . . . hence, that is how we acquire the name ““Christians.””
All Christians believe that He was born in Bethlehem in a manger to his mother Mary.
Most of the Orthodox Christians believe that He, Jesus Christ, is the Son of God, born to this earth to take upon Him the sins of the world; and therefore, by taking our sins upon him, he, then, becomes our Savior and our Redeemer to atone for our sins; thus, making it possible for all mankind to be able to feel sorrow for our sins, repent (confess our sins and forsake them, and make every effort to not do them any more) and be forgiven for our sins and be purified. This is all made possible because of——and through—Jesus Christ’’s atonement. We, of the LDS faith, believe this completely and whole heartedly.
All Christians study the Holy Bible to learn more about Jesus Christ and His teachings. The Mormons also study the Bible, however, we only study the King James Version of the Holy Bible, as we believe it to be the most accurately translated version of the modern forms of the Bible. The Bible is a record of Jesus Christ and his life and teachings in Israel. In addition to this, the LDS People study the Book of Mormon; the Book of Mormon is a record of the Ancient Inhabitants of these Americas and tells of the lives of this people and about Jesus Christ's visit here (as He came here to this land, after His resurrection and called 12 disciples and organized His church anciently here on this land, as He did in Israel). So, scripturally, there are two witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world . . . the Holy Bible . . . AND . . . the Book of Mormon.
LDS and ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN DIFFERENCES:
I. THE GODHEAD:
Where as——from my studies, research and knowledge——ALL modern orthodox Christian religions now believe in the TRINITY (or, as defined by Webster; ““Also called Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinity. the union of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the threefold personality of the one Divine Being.””) This belief was firmly established in 325 A.D. at the First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the orthodox church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.
Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father; i.e., the establishment of the ““trinity”” belief.
THE LDS FAITH:
We members of the LDS faith do not believe in the trinity. We believe that God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings; with the Father and the Son possessing bodies of flesh and bones in the direct similarity and appearance, and as tangible as man’’s.
The Trinity belief was establish through the meeting of opinions of a group of mortal Christian Bishop’’s in 325 A.D.; the belief of the LDS faith was established by a literal appearance of both the Father and the Son to a 14 year old boy Prophet on a Spring day in 1820.
II. CHRIST’’S CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AND DURATION:
The Orthodox Christian churches of the day believe that Christ established His church while He was upon the earth in his day . . . and that it has remained on earth until this day . . . in some degree or another.
THE LDS FAITH:
The LDS faith believes that the ““authority”” of the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ during His lifetime was taken from the earth at the death of the 12 Apostles, but was again restored in 1820 through a 14 year old Prophet named Joseph Smith. We believe that the quorum of the 12 Apostles, as a whole, was needed to be intact in order to implement the business and Priesthood affairs of Christ’’s church. For example, as soon as Judas——who betrayed Christ——took his own life, the Apostles immediately gathered together as a quorum to cast lots to call another Apostle to take Judas’’s place . . . i.e., Mathias was then the new Apostle . . . to maintain the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).
However, because of some of Apostles being taken and thrown into prison and put to death, and their number scattered and unable to unite again as a quorum, the authority——and therefore the existence——of the true church Jesus Christ established personally ceased to exist. And, because of this, from that time until 1820 (for about 1700 years) the truths of Christ’’s church (i.e., the Apostleship, a Prophet’’s guidance, etc.) have not existed upon the earth.
III. PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY:
After the death of the Twelve Apostles, orthodox Christian beliefs hold that——at first——Jesus Christ gave his authority to Peter (viewed as the first Pope) and that other Christian religions broke off from that line of authority . . . and that, today, Christian beliefs hold that one can be given the rights and authority to administer the priesthood of God by attending a religious training school of some sort to receive his/her ministry rights.
THE LDS FAITH:
The LDS faith believes that only God can give the authority of the priesthood to man. When Joseph Smith Jr. . . . the young 14 year old lad mentioned earlier . . . prayed unto God to learn “Which of all the churches he should join,” he was AMAZED and OVERWHELMED when there, in the grove of trees where he prayed, appeared before him both God the Father and God the Son. And, God the Father said unto Joseph, “This is my Beloved Son . . . hear ye Him.” To make a long story short, Joseph was told to join none of the religions of the day, that they were all wrong. He followed the instruction he received from various heavenly messengers; as God proceeded to prepare for the organization of His true church and Gospel to be established in these the last days . . . and, eventually, John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood (the lesser Priesthood). . . and later, Peter, James and John (of the Apostleship of ancient times) appeared to Joseph Smith and ordained him to the Melchizedek Priesthood (the higher Priesthood) . . . giving him, Joseph, the authority to administer the Gospel in these the last days.
The Christian Churches of today believe that anyone who is given a certificate of authority from a religious institution has the right to baptize anyone they choose into their church, and that it will be recognized by God, the creator of all.
Also, many Christian faiths believe that they have a need to baptize babies (or they will be dammed if they die before baptism); and that they may baptize by sprinkling water on their heads.
THE LDS FAITH:
The same as with the authority of the Priesthood which can only be given by God Himself to those whom He will choose; so, too, is the authority to baptize, this authority can only be given by God, not by an institution created by man. After Joseph Smith was forbidden to join any of the other churches of his day, he was instructed and educated in the plan for the restoration of the true Gospel in this the Last Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. Through a long process where he was instructed by various heavenly beings, it was revealed to Joseph where golden plates were buried on a mountain not too far from his home. These plates contained the record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contained the fullness of the Gospel. It was while interpreting these plates that Joseph was inspired to inquire of the Lord regarding baptism. While he and another man named Oliver Cowdery were in prayer about baptism, there appeared before them a messenger of a man who identified himself as John, the same who was called John the Baptist in biblical times. John then——as mentioned earlier——ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood (an authority and priesthood required to be able to baptize), after which Joseph and Oliver baptized each other in the Susquehanna River. One has to have the right authority and the right priesthood to baptize in a way that will be identified and recognized by God and His Church.
INFANTS and CHILDREN . . . and METHOD OF BAPTIZING:
Also regarding the baptism of infants . . . in latter-day revelation, the Lord has revealed that this practice of baptizing infants is an abomination in His sight . . . that little babies cannot sin; therefore how could they be guilty of sin. The LDS faith baptizes children at the age of accountability which the Lord has revealed to be the age of 8 years old. Also, baptism must be done by immersion into the water . . . not one hair can be above the waterline during the baptismal process.
And these are a few differences between the LDS faith and the rest of the world’’s orthodox religions. Thanks for asking questions . . . I love to write and answer them.