“If you want to know what a Mormon believes, you should ask a Mormon, not a critic or a book or anything else.” -Every Mormon ever
“Don’t tell me what I believe.” -Also every Mormon ever
I want to make it clear, with no uncertainty, what Mormons believe with respect to “the true church.” Fortunately for Mormons, I am one and have been for many years, so not only am I qualified to answer questions on Mormon belief, but I can also tell Mormons what they believe with respect to their core doctrines.
I’ve been a part of a number of debates recently with some Mormons online who express a more liberal belief, wherein they insist that it’s acceptable in God’s eyes for a person to follow whatever they feel God tells them. That sounds great to most religious people in general, but that is not what Mormons believe.
I can just hear some Mormons shouting right now, “Oh yes it is! You are a liar!” Dear Mormon, allow me to remind you of what you actually believe.
Say I’m investigating your church and the Baptist church at the same time. I read the Bible and Book of Mormon both in their entirety. I reach the point where I need to ask God which church I should join. I ask sincerely, with real intent, having faith that God will answer, and he does. And he tells me I need to be a Baptist.
Now, more and more “Internet Mormons” when they hear stories like that are responding, “That’s great! You need to follow that path!” And I agree with them, personally. If you have an experience in which you feel very strongly that you should follow a particular spiritual path, and it’s not harming you or anyone else, then you should follow it if you feel so inclined. But that is not what the Mormon church teaches. The Mormon church teaches:
“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, … the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased…” -God Himself 1
They also believe that the LDS church is the only church with authority from God to perform essential saving ordinances that allow one to live in God’s presence. 2 They teach that you absolutely cannot live in God’s presence if you live your life as a Baptist doing good your entire life, but refusing to ever be a Mormon (now or in the eternities) because you feel you’re following what God has told you. They also believe that God would never tell someone to join another church and stay there forever if they met with the Mormon missionaries, read the Mormon scriptures, and sincerely wanted to know which church is God’s true church, but yet that has happened to many, many people in this world. To make sure I wasn’t insane and that the church didn’t change its doctrines to agree with what Internet Mormons are claiming, I chatted with a few missionaries to get the truth:
This LDS doctrine that God has only one truth and only one church has become a point of dissonance for many Internet Mormons because they want so dearly for the idea that people can follow any spiritual path they want to be true. They want it to be true because that’s what a loving compassionate person would believe. That’s what mainstream religions teach. But Mormonism is not a mainstream religion – it does not teach that. If it did, there would be little need for temples (specifically proxy ordinances for the dead). Mormon missionaries’ instructions would be completely different. Many of the church’s other required teachings would of necessity be different as well, such as tithing, the Word of Wisdom, Sabbath observance, etc., because once you allow people to believe in whatever god or religion they want, you have to allow them to believe in whatever religious teachings they want across the board.
Mormonism is a very rigid dogmatic religion at its core today. You are expected to follow what the prophet says and maintain a current temple recommend, which requires you to follow a strict set of rules and beliefs that other religions would not require. 3 And if you don’t follow them, you are risking your eternal salvation.
For any Mormons out there that disagree with me, I suggest you try this: leave the church. Live your life in service to others doing more good than you ever have, but without Mormonism. If you did that, how would your family react? How would your ward friends react? How would your bishop and stake president react? You know exactly how they’d react. They would not be ok with you following that path, even if you felt God specifically told you to follow it, and you know it.
To be clear, I think it is wonderful that so many Mormons are accepting of other viewpoints and spiritual paths these days. But when they proclaim to non-Mormons that they believe their spiritual path is good as long as they follow what God tells them, they are contradicting their own missionaries. You will never hear Mormon missionaries tell their investigators to not join the Mormon church in favor of another church. So if you’re a Mormon and think people should follow whatever path God tells them to follow, you need to either get in line with what your prophet says or you need to start believing and proclaiming that the LDS church is not the one true church, and that “cafeteria Mormonism” is acceptable at all levels of church leadership and belief. It’s time Mormons own up to what they believe about their own church. The Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“the Church … will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.” 4
I don’t care if you’re an uptight chapel Mormon or the most liberal Internet Mormon. Own your religion. According to church leaders you can’t be lukewarm. In the same talk referenced above the prophet of the church said:
“They who are not for me are against me” (2 Ne. 10:16)“
“Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.”
Bear in mind, I’m not the one telling you this – it’s your leaders that are saying it. If you disagree with your leaders you are essentially a Korihor like the rest of us. If you believe these guys are called of God then you’d better fall in line and be loyal. Because according to your own religion’s holy books and leaders you can’t have it both ways.
- See D&C 1:30 ↩
- See Handbook 2: Administering the Church ↩
- To my knowledge, the church does not publicly publish its temple recommend questions, but they can be found over at MormonThink.com ↩
- See President Hinckley’s talk entitled Loyalty ↩
It’s amazing to me how many mormons will say that they don’t believe other religions are an abomination, but then you can read them JSH 1:19 & 1 Ne 14:10, and they will say they both believe those scripture and believe other churches are not abominations and are not of the devil.
That has to cause them headaches.
I have lost count of how many times I have had to say to people, “That may very well be what you believe. But that is not what the church of which you are a member teaches.”
I take comfort in the 11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. I quote it a lot at church when conversations lean toward “You must be mormon or you suck.” It doesn’t always get me very far, but I feel it plants a bit of a ‘liberal mormon’ seed. 🙂
It is a great article of faith, but isn’t there really a smug undertone of feeling sorry for your lost ways if you don’t chose the church?
I don’t get that from the verse itself, I feel it’s just a sincere plea to let us believe what we want. However, culturally, the church is full of that sentiment. “No one can be truly happy if they’re not Mormon.” Which is ridiculous.
I think that is a good AoF.
I just think it is dwarfed by the copious scriptures and conference talks about mormonism being the only path.
Just recently I read a FB post from a friend quoting Elder Corbridge saying “any other way, whatever other way, is madness.”
AoF 11, like most liberals in the church, is in the vast minority.
you lost me at the “-god himself” part
I suppose that only applies if you believe God himself actually talked to Joseph Smith.
It’s funny how many Mormons try to bend their beliefs when you show them quotes from their own prophets. ‘Live and let live, let everyone follow their own conscience.’ These are great ideas, but that’s not what Mormons believe. If you are’t obeying and conforming, then you must be wrong.
Boy isn’t that true, one time I posted that I believed if there was a God he would love us unconditionally, I was assured that he does, when I produced the article where from the ensign that declares unequivocally that to not by the case, there was great scrambling as they adjusted their assertions to fit in this new piece of information.
All in all what we are seeing with the Internet mormons is a new breed of believer, one closer to the idea that there are many ways back to heaven and not just one authorized one. A damping down of the black and white doctrine with lots more grey allowed and even encouraged. Heck the Church itself has disavowed scripture, if they are leading by example, that means we are free to disavow things that are no longer pertinent right?
But yet they still believe they’re the one true church. How can they escape their own scriptures?
By discrete and subtle disavowing of older doctrines, just pretend that didn’t happen, nothing to see here …