How Do Latter-day Saints Differ From Christianity?

In this article, we will explore the fascinating distinctions between Latter-day Saints and Christianity. We’ll delve into their principles, practices, and beliefs, highlighting the unique aspects that set Latter-day Saints apart. Discover the captivating world of Latter-day Saints as we unravel their differences from mainstream Christianity.

Table of Contents

Beliefs of Latter-day Saints

The Book of Mormon

Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons, believe in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ. They believe that the Book of Mormon was translated by the prophet Joseph Smith from ancient records written on gold plates. The Book of Mormon supplements and supports the teachings found in the Bible and is considered scripture by the Latter-day Saints.

Latter-day Prophets

Latter-day Saints believe in the ongoing guidance of prophets on the earth. They believe that just as in ancient times, God continues to call prophets to receive revelation and guide His children. These prophets are believed to have the authority to receive divine guidance and provide guidance to the members of the church. Examples of modern-day prophets include Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and current President Russell M. Nelson.

Priesthood Authority

Latter-day Saints believe in the restoration of the priesthood authority. They believe that the authority to act in the name of God was lost after the death of the apostles in the ancient Church and was restored through Joseph Smith. This priesthood authority is believed to be necessary for performing sacred ordinances such as baptism, blessing the sacrament, and conducting temple ceremonies.

Eternal Progression

Latter-day Saints believe in the concept of eternal progression, which means that human beings have the potential to become like God. They believe that through living according to God’s commandments and participating in sacred ordinances, individuals can progress towards godhood and inherit eternal life. This belief sets the Latter-day Saints apart from traditional Christian beliefs that emphasize a more distinct separation between God and humanity.

Pre-existence and the Plan of Salvation

Latter-day Saints believe in the pre-existence of spirits. They believe that before we were born on earth, we lived as spirits in the presence of God. The purpose of mortal life is seen as a test to determine our readiness for eternal life. Through the Plan of Salvation, which includes faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, obedience to God’s commandments, and receiving necessary ordinances, individuals can return to God’s presence and continue their eternal progression.

Temples and Ordinances

Latter-day Saints place great importance on temples and the ordinances performed therein. Temples are seen as sacred spaces where individuals can make covenants with God and perform ordinances such as baptism for the dead, sealing families together for eternity, and receiving personal revelation. Temple worship is considered a vital aspect of the Latter-day Saint faith, serving as a bridge between mortality and eternity.

Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom is a health code that Latter-day Saints strive to follow. It prohibits the use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and illegal drugs. It also encourages moderation in the consumption of meat and promotes a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Living the Word of Wisdom is seen as a way to maintain physical and spiritual health.

Family and Marriage

Latter-day Saints place a strong emphasis on the importance of family and marriage. They believe in the eternal nature of families and that marriages performed in temples can be binding beyond death. The family unit is considered central to God’s plan, and strengthening families is seen as a key responsibility of Latter-day Saints. Marriage is viewed as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and is intended to be monogamous and lifelong.

Apostasy and Restoration

Latter-day Saints believe that after the death of the apostles in the ancient Church, there was a period of apostasy or a falling away from true teachings. They believe that through the efforts of Joseph Smith, the true gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ were restored in the early 19th century. This restoration is considered a significant event in the Latter-day Saint faith and distinguishes them from traditional Christian denominations.

Continuing Revelation

Latter-day Saints believe in the principle of continuing revelation. They believe that God speaks to His children today through modern-day prophets and apostles. This ongoing revelation allows for the adaptation of the Church’s teachings and practices to meet the needs of a changing world. It also allows for the guidance of individual members as they seek personal revelation for their lives.

Practices and Customs

Church Organization

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a hierarchical organizational structure. At the local level, members worship in congregations called wards or branches, led by a bishop or branch president. Several wards or branches form a stake, which is led by a stake president. The worldwide church is governed by a First Presidency, composed of the prophet and his counselors, and a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Worship Services

Latter-day Saints gather for worship services every Sunday. The main meeting for all members is called Sacrament Meeting, where they partake of the sacrament (similar to communion) and listen to talks and sermons. Other meetings include Sunday School, where members study the scriptures, and various auxiliary meetings for men, women, youth, and children.

Sabbath Observance

Latter-day Saints strive to keep the Sabbath holy by refraining from shopping, leisure activities, and other secular pursuits. Sundays are considered a day of rest, family time, and spiritual worship. Church attendance is a central aspect of Sabbath observance, as members come together to worship, learn, and strengthen their testimonies.


Latter-day Saints are encouraged to pay tithing, which is defined as donating one-tenth of their income to the Church. Tithing funds are used to support the worldwide Church infrastructure, construct temples and meetinghouses, provide welfare assistance, and fund educational programs. Paying tithing is seen as a way to show gratitude to God and support the work of the Church.

Missionary Work

Latter-day Saints are known for their missionary efforts. Young men and women, typically between the ages of 18 and 25, are encouraged to serve as full-time missionaries for a period of 18 to 24 months. Missionaries share the gospel of Jesus Christ, invite others to come unto Him, and teach individuals about the principles and doctrines of the Church. Missionary work is seen as a way to spread the message of the Restoration and bring others to Christ.

Genealogy and Family History

Latter-day Saints place an emphasis on genealogy and family history. They believe in the importance of connecting generations and strengthening family bonds. The Church provides resources and encourages members to research their family history and perform sacred ordinances on behalf of deceased ancestors in the temple. This practice is seen as a way to unite families across generations and fulfill the hearts of the children turning to their fathers.

The Law of Chastity

Latter-day Saints believe in the law of chastity, which prohibits sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman. This includes abstaining from pornography, premarital sex, extramarital affairs, and homosexual relationships. The law of chastity is viewed as a way to maintain individual purity and deepens the commitment to moral values and personal integrity.


Latter-day Saints who have received certain sacred temple ordinances wear special undergarments called temple garments. These garments are a reminder of the covenants made with God and provide a sense of spiritual protection and identity. Wearing the temple garments is seen as an outward expression of faith and commitment to the principles and doctrines of the Church.

Word of Wisdom Observance

Observing the Word of Wisdom, mentioned earlier, is a common practice among Latter-day Saints. They strive to live healthy and balanced lives by abstaining from harmful substances and following the guidelines outlined in the Word of Wisdom. This includes avoiding coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

Modesty and Appearance

Latter-day Saints place importance on modesty and appearance. They believe in dressing modestly and avoiding clothing that may be immodest or promote inappropriate behavior. Modesty is considered a virtue that fosters respect for oneself and others. Dressing in a way that reflects their values and beliefs is seen as a way to create a positive influence and maintain personal standards.

Differences in Doctrines and Teachings

The Nature of God

Latter-day Saints have a unique perspective on the nature of God. They believe in the doctrine of the Godhead, which teaches that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings with distinct roles. Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ have resurrected physical bodies of flesh and bone and that all human beings are created in the image of God.

Jesus Christ

Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their Savior and Redeemer. They believe that Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice makes it possible for individuals to be forgiven of their sins and return to God’s presence. They also believe in His role as the Light and Life of the World and the source of eternal truth and salvation.

The Holy Trinity

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as traditionally understood in Christianity, differs from Latter-day Saint beliefs. Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct beings with a unified purpose. They view the Holy Trinity as separate entities working in perfect harmony to accomplish the divine plan.

The Salvation Process

Latter-day Saints believe in the process of salvation, which includes faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. They believe that all individuals will receive salvation to some degree, regardless of their beliefs or religious affiliation. However, they also believe in various degrees of glory or heavenly realms based on one’s faithfulness and adherence to God’s commandments.

Grace and Works

Latter-day Saints believe in the importance of both grace and works in the salvation process. They believe that salvation is made possible through the grace of Jesus Christ, which is freely given, but that individuals must also actively participate in the process through faith, repentance, and obedience to God’s commandments. They believe that through their actions, they can demonstrate their commitment to following Christ and receiving His grace.

Original Sin

Latter-day Saints do not believe in the concept of original sin as traditionally understood in Christianity. They believe that while all individuals are born into a fallen world and are subject to the effects of the Fall, they are not held accountable for the sins of Adam and Eve. Each individual is responsible for their own actions and is born with agency, the ability to choose right from wrong.

The Virgin Birth

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They accept the biblical account that Mary, the mother of Jesus, conceived Him by the power of the Holy Ghost while still being a virgin. The virgin birth is considered a miraculous event and a testament to the divinity of Jesus Christ.


Latter-day Saints believe in the importance of baptism by immersion as a necessary ordinance for salvation. They believe that baptism is a symbolic representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and serves as a commitment to follow Him. Baptism is typically performed at the age of eight or when an individual is ready to make a conscious and informed decision to follow Christ.

The Atonement

Latter-day Saints believe in the infinite and eternal atonement of Jesus Christ. They believe that through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ achieved the redemption of all individuals. His atonement makes it possible for individuals to be forgiven of their sins, inherit eternal life, and receive the necessary grace to overcome spiritual death.

Views on Scriptures

The Bible

Latter-day Saints revere the Bible as sacred scripture. They believe it to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. They view it as a record of God’s dealings with His children and a witness of Jesus Christ. The Bible is used by Latter-day Saints alongside the Book of Mormon and other Latter-day Saint scripture to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon

Latter-day Saints believe in the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. They view it as another testament of Jesus Christ and an additional witness of His divinity. The Book of Mormon is seen as a companion to the Bible, providing additional doctrine, history, and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is considered scripture and is used alongside the Bible in the study and worship of Latter-day Saints.

Other Latter-day Scripture

In addition to the Bible and the Book of Mormon, Latter-day Saints accept other books of scripture and writings considered divinely inspired. These include the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains modern revelations and the teachings of latter-day prophets, and the Pearl of Great Price, which includes additional scripture and writings of Joseph Smith. These texts provide guidance and teachings for Latter-day Saints and are considered authoritative in matters of faith and doctrine.

Scriptural Authority

Latter-day Saints believe that authority to interpret and receive revelation from scripture is not limited to the biblical authors. They believe in the principle of continuing revelation, which allows for ongoing understanding and guidance through the Holy Ghost. While they value the scriptures as foundational texts, they also believe in the importance of personal revelation and the guidance of living prophets and apostles.

Interpretation of Scripture

Latter-day Saints believe in the importance of studying and understanding scripture in its proper context. They believe that scripture can have multiple levels of meaning, and studying its historical, cultural, and linguistic context is crucial to understanding the intended message. They also rely on the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help them interpret and apply scripture in their personal lives.

Relations with other Christian Denominations

Recognition as Christian

Latter-day Saints consider themselves to be Christians and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. However, their beliefs and practices differ from traditional Christian denominations, which has led to some debate and disagreement regarding their status as Christians. While they share common ground with many Christian beliefs, certain unique aspects of their faith and their understanding of God have led to differing views within the larger Christian community.

Baptism and Sacraments

Latter-day Saints differ in their understanding and practice of baptism and sacraments compared to many traditional Christian denominations. They believe that baptism by immersion is necessary for the remission of sins and the initiation into the Church. They also perform other ordinances, such as the sacrament, in which bread and water are blessed and taken as a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Worship Practices

Latter-day Saint worship practices differ from traditional Christian denominations. In addition to attending Sunday worship services, they also participate in additional rituals and rites performed in temples, such as proxy baptisms for the dead, endowment ceremonies, and sealings. These practices, along with the use of sacred clothing, are unique to the Latter-day Saint faith and may differ in scope and purpose from the worship practices of other Christian denominations.

Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation

Latter-day Saints strive to engage in interfaith dialogue and cooperation with other Christian denominations and religious groups. They seek to build bridges of understanding and work together on common goals, such as charitable endeavors and promoting moral and ethical values in society. While there may be theological differences, they believe in finding common ground and fostering respect and understanding among different faith traditions.

Evangelism and Proselytizing

Latter-day Saints are known for their active and widespread missionary efforts. They believe in sharing their beliefs and inviting others to come unto Christ. While some may view their missionary activities as aggressive or intrusive, Latter-day Saints see it as an expression of love and a desire to share the blessings they have found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe that all individuals should have the opportunity to hear and accept the restored gospel if they so choose.

Latter-day Saint Leadership

General Authorities

Latter-day Saints sustain a group of leaders known as General Authorities. These leaders are seen as called by God to lead and guide the worldwide Church. The General Authorities include the prophet and his counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other leaders who oversee various aspects of the Church’s operation. They are sustained by the membership and are seen as a source of inspiration and guidance.

Stake Presidents and Bishops

At the local level, Latter-day Saints are led by stake presidents and bishops. Stake presidents oversee a group of wards or branches within a geographical area, and bishops lead individual wards or branches. These leaders are not paid and are selected from within the membership of the Church. They serve as spiritual leaders and counselors, providing guidance and support to the members of their respective congregations.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a group of twelve men who hold the highest leadership positions in the Church. They are considered special witnesses of Jesus Christ and hold the keys of the priesthood. They travel throughout the world to teach and provide leadership to the Church. They are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators and are responsible for guiding the Church under the direction of the prophet.

Lay Ministry

Latter-day Saints primarily have a lay ministry, meaning that members serve in various leadership and teaching roles without being paid. This practice is seen as a way to foster an environment of service, volunteerism, and personal growth. Members are called to serve in roles such as bishops, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and many others. This lay ministry ensures that leadership and responsibilities are shared among the membership.

Succession and Leadership Transitions

Latter-day Saints have a defined process for leadership succession and transitions. When the prophet passes away, the First Presidency is dissolved, and the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles becomes the new prophet and president of the Church. This process ensures continuity in leadership and provides stability and direction for the worldwide Church.

Latter-day Saints and Christ’s Second Coming

Beliefs about the Second Coming

Like many other Christian denominations, Latter-day Saints believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They believe that Christ will return to the earth in power and glory to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They view this event as literal and eagerly anticipate Christ’s return, believing it will usher in a millennial reign of peace and righteousness.

Millennial Reign of Christ

Latter-day Saints believe in the concept of a millennial reign of Christ, often referred to as the Millennium. They anticipate a time when Jesus Christ will reign on the earth for a thousand years, during which peace and righteousness will prevail. During this time, the earth will experience a state of renewal and restoration, and the faithful will be rewarded for their righteousness.

Signs of the Times

Latter-day Saints study the signs of the times and believe that certain events and circumstances are indicative of the approaching Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They view the fulfillment of prophecies, global unrest, natural disasters, and moral decline as signs that the world is moving closer to Christ’s return. They are encouraged to live virtuous and prepared lives in anticipation of this event.

Latter-day Saints and Bible Prophecies

Latter-day Saints, as part of their study of scripture, examine and interpret biblical prophecies, including those related to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They believe that additional prophecies and revelations given through modern prophets provide further insight into the future events preceding Christ’s return. These prophecies and revelations inform their beliefs and understanding of the last days and the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Views on Other Religions

Pluralism and Religious Tolerance

Latter-day Saints believe in religious pluralism and espouse religious tolerance. They recognize the value and truth found in various religious traditions and respect the beliefs and practices of others. They believe that individuals have the freedom to choose their faith and that each person should be free to worship according to their conscience.

Interpretation of Other Religious Texts

Latter-day Saints approach the interpretation of other religious texts with an open mind and a desire for understanding. While they may not accept these texts as scripture or divinely inspired, they acknowledge their historical and cultural significance and seek to learn from them. They often draw upon the wisdom and insights found in other religious traditions as they seek to deepen their own faith and understanding.

Comparative Theology

Latter-day Saints engage in comparative theology, which involves studying and comparing the beliefs, practices, and doctrines of different religious traditions. They believe in seeking common ground and understanding different perspectives in an effort to foster greater unity and cooperation among people of different faiths. Comparative theology allows Latter-day Saints to appreciate the diversity and richness of the religious landscape and encourages dialogue and mutual respect.

Gender Roles and Equality

Role of Women

Latter-day Saints believe in the importance and divine roles of women. They affirm the intrinsic worth and value of women as daughters of God and view them as equal partners with men in the family and in the Church. Women are seen as having unique gifts, talents, and responsibilities, and their contributions are highly valued and respected.

Priesthood and Leadership

The priesthood is held by worthy male members of the Church, but this does not diminish the role of women in the Church. While women do not hold the priesthood, they actively participate in leadership positions and serve in various capacities. Women contribute to the decision-making process, provide guidance and support, and hold important roles in areas such as education, welfare, and humanitarian efforts.

Gender in the Family

Latter-day Saints believe in the importance of gender roles and responsibilities within the family unit. They view the family as central to God’s plan and emphasize the complementary roles of husbands and wives. Men are encouraged to lead with love and responsibility, while women are taught to nurture, support, and care for their families. Both men and women are seen as essential to the success and happiness of the family.

Equality and Feminism

Latter-day Saints believe in the inherent equality of men and women and their joint responsibility to build strong families and communities. While they may not identify with certain aspects of modern feminism, they support efforts to promote equality and advocate for the well-being and empowerment of women. They acknowledge the need for continued dialogue and understanding to address and resolve gender-related issues within society and the Church.

Social and Cultural Aspects

Dress and Appearance Standards

Latter-day Saints believe in dressing modestly and maintaining high standards of appearance. They strive to dress in a way that reflects their values and is respectful of themselves and others. Modesty is seen as an expression of personal integrity and a way to create an uplifting and respectful environment.

Education and Career

Latter-day Saints place a high value on education and personal development. They encourage individuals to pursue education and career goals that align with their talents and passions. Education is seen as a means to gain knowledge, skills, and the ability to serve others more effectively. The Church also supports educational programs and provides opportunities for spiritual and secular learning.

Media and Entertainment

Latter-day Saints are encouraged to be discerning consumers of media and entertainment. They strive to seek out and support content that aligns with their values and helps them grow spiritually. They avoid media that is violent, degrading, or harmful in nature. They also seek to promote positive and uplifting content that can inspire and edify individuals and families.

Mormon Culture and Subculture

Latter-day Saints have developed a distinct cultural identity known as Mormon culture or Latter-day Saint culture. This culture includes various traditions, customs, and practices that have evolved within the community. These may include cultural celebrations, social norms, and cultural expressions such as music, art, and literature. While not strictly tied to the doctrines of the Church, these cultural elements contribute to a sense of shared identity among members.

Scouting and Young Men’s Program

Latter-day Saints have historically been involved in Scouting programs, particularly within the United States. The Church has used Scouting as a means to teach young men important values such as leadership, self-sufficiency, and service. However, the Church announced in 2018 that it would be discontinuing its affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America and would be developing its own program for youth worldwide. This change reflects the desire to provide a program that is more closely aligned with the Church’s global needs and values.

In conclusion, Latter-day Saints hold unique beliefs and practices that distinguish them from traditional Christianity. They believe in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ and in the ongoing guidance of latter-day prophets. They emphasize the importance of priesthood authority, eternal progression, and the plan of salvation. They value temples and sacred ordinances, strive to live the Word of Wisdom, and place a strong emphasis on family and marriage. Latter-day Saints have different views on doctrines and teachings such as the nature of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, the salvation process, grace and works, original sin, the virgin birth, baptism, and the Atonement. They have their own perspectives on scriptures, including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other Latter-day Saint scripture. Relations with other Christian denominations involve recognition as Christians, baptism and sacraments, worship practices, interfaith dialogue and cooperation, and evangelism and proselytizing. Latter-day Saint leadership involves General Authorities, stake presidents and bishops, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a lay ministry, and succession and leadership transitions. Latter-day Saints have specific beliefs about Christ’s Second Coming, the millennial reign of Christ, signs of the times, and the relationship between Latter-day Saints and Bible prophecies. They have distinct views on other religions, including pluralism and religious tolerance, interpretation of other religious texts, and comparative theology. Gender roles and equality within the faith involve the role of women, priesthood and leadership, gender in the family, and equality and feminism. Social and cultural aspects encompass dress and appearance standards, education and career, media and entertainment, Mormon culture and subculture, and the transition from Scouting to a youth program developed by the Church. Overall, the beliefs and practices of Latter-day Saints are distinct and shape their individual and collective identity as a faith community.