So, you’ve probably heard the term “Mormons” before, but have you ever wondered how they differ from Christians? Well, in this article, we’ll uncover the contrasts between these two belief systems, shedding light on their unique perspectives, practices, and principles that set them apart. From their distinctive religious texts to their views on the nature of God, you’ll get a comprehensive understanding of what sets Mormons apart from mainstream Christian faiths. So, grab a cup of tea and get ready to explore the fascinating world of Mormonism!
Beliefs about God and Jesus
Mormon Beliefs about God
In Mormonism, God is seen as an eternal being who created and governs the universe. Mormons believe in the doctrine of “eternal progression,” which teaches that humans have the potential to become like God and progress to godhood themselves. They believe that God the Father has a glorified, physical body and that He and Jesus Christ are separate beings.
Mormon Beliefs about Jesus
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God and the Savior of the world. They view Him as the central figure in their faith and acknowledge His importance in the plan of salvation. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is distinct from God the Father but is divine and possesses all the attributes of deity. They also believe in His Atonement, which is central to their understanding of salvation and forgiveness of sins.
Christian Beliefs about God
In Christianity, God is believed to be the perfect, all-powerful, and eternal Creator of the universe. Christians believe in the Holy Trinity, which consists of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. Unlike Mormons, Christians generally do not believe in the concept of humans becoming gods themselves. They see God as being transcendent, beyond physical boundaries, and not limited by time or space.
Christian Beliefs about Jesus
Christians, across various denominations, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth in human form. They believe that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, having both a divine nature and a human nature. Christians affirm that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior sent by God to redeem humanity from sin. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are pivotal events in Christian theology, as they are seen as the means through which salvation and eternal life are made possible.
Authority and Scriptures
Mormon Authority and Scriptures
Mormons believe that their church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), is led by living prophets, who receive ongoing revelation from God. They believe in the divine authority of these prophets to guide the church and its members. Mormons place great importance on the Book of Mormon, which they believe to be an additional testament of Jesus Christ, alongside the Bible. They also regard other modern revelations, such as the Doctrine and Covenants, as scripture.
Christian Authority and Scriptures
Christians, in general, hold the Bible as their ultimate authority for matters of faith and practice. They believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and contains all that is necessary for salvation. While different Christian denominations may interpret certain passages differently, the Bible serves as a unifying source of authority for Christians worldwide. Some denominations also recognize the authority of church tradition and the teachings of early church fathers.
Nature of Salvation and Atonement
Mormon Beliefs about Salvation and Atonement
Mormons believe that salvation involves a combination of grace and works. They teach that individuals can be saved through repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faithfulness. Mormons also believe in the concept of the Atonement, which refers to the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of humanity. They believe that the Atonement enables individuals to repent, be forgiven, and ultimately achieve exaltation in the highest level of heaven.
Christian Beliefs about Salvation and Atonement
Christians, across denominations, believe in the concept of salvation by grace through faith. They emphasize that salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned through good works alone. Christians believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, which provides forgiveness for sins and reconciliation with God. They hold that acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, along with repentance and faith, are essential for salvation. Christians focus on building a personal relationship with God and living a life of obedience to His teachings.
The Church and Organization
Mormon Church and Organization
The Mormon Church, officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), is organized hierarchically, with a prophet and apostles leading the church. Mormons believe in a lay ministry, where members are called to serve in various leadership positions. The church is organized into geographical units called wards or branches, led by local bishops or branch presidents. The LDS Church places significant emphasis on family and community involvement, with members actively participating in various church programs and activities.
Christian Church and Organization
Christianity encompasses a wide range of denominations and organizational structures, each with its own unique hierarchy and practices. While some Christian traditions have a hierarchical structure similar to the Mormon Church, others have a more congregational or democratic approach to church governance. The organizational structure of Christian churches often includes ordained clergy, such as pastors or priests, who are responsible for pastoral care, teaching, and administering sacraments. Various committees and boards may assist in decision-making and coordinating church activities.
Worship and Practices
Mormon Worship and Practices
Mormon worship centers around the weekly gathering called the sacrament meeting, where members partake of the sacrament (similar to Communion) and participate in worship and teaching. Additional meetings, such as Sunday School and Relief Society (for women), provide opportunities for further spiritual instruction and study. Mormons also engage in personal and family worship through daily prayer, scripture study, and regular family home evening, where families gather for spiritual instruction and activities.
Christian Worship and Practices
Christian worship practices can vary significantly depending on denominational traditions. Common elements include congregational singing, prayers, Scripture readings, sermons, and the celebration of sacraments or ordinances, such as baptism and Communion. Christians may also engage in personal devotional practices, such as prayer and Bible study. Worship styles, such as traditional liturgical services, contemporary worship music, or informal gatherings, differ among different Christian traditions.
Sacraments and Rituals
Mormon Sacraments and Rituals
Mormons observe several important sacraments and rituals. Baptism by immersion is practiced as a symbol of cleansing and initiation into the church. Confirmation follows baptism, where members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. Other sacred ceremonies include temple ordinances, such as celestial marriage (sealing) and vicarious baptism for the deceased. Mormons also place great importance on the practice of regular temple worship and participate in ordinances necessary for eternal exaltation.
Christian Sacraments and Rituals
Christian traditions typically recognize two sacraments as essential to the faith: baptism and Communion (also known as the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper). Baptism is seen as an outward sign of inward spiritual transformation and initiation into the Christian community. Communion commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and is viewed as a remembrance of His sacrificial death and Resurrection. Additional sacraments, such as confirmation, confession, anointing of the sick, and marriage, vary among different Christian denominations.
Authority of the Priesthood
Mormon Authority of the Priesthood
Mormons believe in a restored priesthood authority, which they view as essential for the administration of sacred ordinances and the governance of the church. They believe that the priesthood was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that it is the power and authority to act in God’s name. The priesthood is hierarchical and includes various levels, such as the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. Men and boys within the LDS Church can receive and exercise this authority.
Christian Authority of the Priesthood
Various Christian denominations have different understandings of the priesthood and its authority. In some traditions, ordained clergy, such as pastors or priests, are believed to inherit a special spiritual authority to perform sacraments and lead the church. Other Christian traditions emphasize the “priesthood of all believers,” viewing all believers as having equal access to God and the ability to serve and minister to others. The authority of the priesthood, if recognized, is typically seen as a gift from God for the service of His people.
Hierarchy and Leadership
Mormon Hierarchy and Leadership
The leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) follows a hierarchical structure. At the head of the church is the President, who is considered the prophet, seer, and revelator. The President is assisted by two counselors and a council of twelve apostles, who are viewed as special witnesses of Jesus Christ. Below the apostles are other general authorities, such as seventies and area authorities. Local congregations, called wards or branches, are led by bishops or branch presidents, who are responsible for the spiritual welfare of their members.
Christian Hierarchy and Leadership
Christian denominations vary in their hierarchical structures and leadership roles. Some denominations have a single leader, such as a bishop or a pope, who holds authority over the entire church. Others have a more decentralized structure, where decisions are made by councils, boards, or synods. In denominations with a congregational governance model, decisions are often made collectively by the members of the local congregation. Leadership roles in Christian churches can include pastors, elders, deacons, and various administrative positions.
Views on Afterlife
Mormon Views on Afterlife
Mormons believe in a concept called “the Plan of Salvation,” which outlines their beliefs about the afterlife. They teach that after death, individuals will be assigned to different kingdoms of glory, including the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms. The highest kingdom, the celestial kingdom, is where exalted individuals can enjoy eternal life with God and their families. Mormons also believe in the possibility of posthumous salvation through vicarious ordinances performed on their behalf in LDS temples.
Christian Views on Afterlife
Christian views on the afterlife vary, but common beliefs include the concepts of heaven, hell, and the resurrection of the dead. Most Christians believe in the idea of a final judgment, where each individual will be accountable for their actions and faith during their earthly life. Heaven is generally regarded as a place of eternal joy and communion with God, while hell is considered a state of separation from God and eternal punishment for those who have rejected Him. Christians also anticipate the ultimate resurrection of the body and the restoration of all things in God’s eternal kingdom.
Social and Cultural Differences
Mormon Social and Cultural Differences
Mormons have a distinct social and cultural identity that sets them apart from mainstream Christian society. The emphasis on family and community is central to Mormon culture, with strong emphasis placed on marriage, parenting, and church involvement. Mormons are known for their adherence to high moral standards, including abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and premarital sex. They also place importance on education and celebrate their pioneer heritage. Additionally, Mormons have their unique dietary restrictions and traditions, such as abstaining from caffeine and observing a health code known as the Word of Wisdom.
Christian Social and Cultural Differences
As Christianity encompasses a diverse range of denominations and cultural expressions, social and cultural differences among Christians can be significant. Christian practices and beliefs can vary regarding lifestyle choices, daily practices, and traditions. These differences can include variations in worship styles, liturgy, dress code, music preferences, and social norms. While there may be cultural similarities within certain Christian denominations or regions, the broad spectrum of Christianity ensures that there is no singular social or cultural identity that encompasses all Christians.