How Is Latter-day Saints Different From Other Religions?

Are you curious about how Latter-day Saints stand out from other religions? Well, you’re in luck because this article is here to provide you with all the answers you’re looking for! Whether it’s their unique doctrines, practices, or way of life, the Latter-day Saints have a distinctive approach to spirituality that sets them apart from other religious groups. So, get ready to embark on a fascinating journey as we explore the ways in which the Latter-day Saints forge their own path in the realm of faith.

Beliefs and Doctrines

Unique Scripture

One of the key distinctions of the Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, is their belief in unique scripture. In addition to the Bible, they consider the Book of Mormon to be a sacred record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The Book of Mormon is believed to have been translated by the prophet Joseph Smith and offers additional insights and teachings on Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. This additional scripture adds depth and understanding to their religious beliefs.

Plan of Salvation

Central to the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints is the concept of the plan of salvation. They believe that before we were born on earth, we lived as spiritual beings in the presence of God. This pre-mortal existence was a time when we had the opportunity to make choices and progress. The plan of salvation outlines the purpose of mortal life, which is seen as a test to determine our faithfulness and willingness to follow God’s commandments. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, they believe that all people will have the opportunity to be resurrected and receive eternal life.

Eternal Families

The belief in the eternal nature of families is another distinctive aspect of the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe that families can be sealed together for eternity through sacred ordinances performed in their temples. This means that their relationships will continue beyond this life and into the eternities. The focus on family and the eternal bond between spouses and children is central to their religious teachings and practices.


The concept of restoration is a fundamental belief of the Latter-day Saints. They believe that there was a great apostasy after the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, where the fullness of His gospel was lost from the earth. They believe that in the early 19th century, God called Joseph Smith as a prophet to restore the true church and priesthood authority. This restoration included the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the reestablishment of ancient ordinances and practices. The belief in this restoration sets them apart from many other Christian denominations and emphasizes their unique religious heritage.

Church Structure

Apostles and Prophets

The Latter-day Saints believe in modern-day apostles and prophets who hold the same authority as the biblical apostles and prophets. These leaders are considered to be the mouthpieces of God on earth, receiving revelation and guidance for the Church. The President of the Church is believed to be the prophet, seer, and revelator, and serves as the highest authority in the Church. The apostles and prophets provide spiritual guidance, lead the Church, and share teachings based on their divine inspiration.

Lay Clergy

Another distinctive feature of the Latter-day Saints is their lay clergy. Unlike many other religious organizations, where clergy members are professional religious leaders, the leaders of the local congregations, called wards, are made up of everyday members who have been called and set apart for specific roles. This ensures that there is no paid ministry and allows for participation and service from all members of the community. The emphasis on lay leadership creates a sense of unity, shared responsibility, and reliance on personal commitment to the gospel.

Ward and Stake System

The Latter-day Saints have a unique organizational structure with a ward and stake system. A ward is a local congregation, usually consisting of several hundred members, led by a bishop who is supported by two counselors and various other leaders. Multiple wards are organized into a stake, overseen by a stake president and his counselors. This hierarchical system provides leadership and support to the local congregations, enabling the efficient administration of the Church and fostering a sense of community and connection among the members.

Temple Worship

Temples hold significant importance in the faith of Latter-day Saints. They are considered to be houses of God and are distinct from regular meetinghouses. In the temples, sacred ordinances and ceremonies are performed, such as baptisms for the dead, endowment ceremonies, and sealings for eternal families. Temple worship is seen as a deeply spiritual and personal experience, and membership in the Church allows individuals to enter the temple and participate in these sacred rites. The reverence given to temple worship sets them apart from other religious groups and highlights their belief in the sanctity of these ordinances.

Missionary Work

Emphasis on Missionary Service

Missionary work is a prominent aspect of the Latter-day Saints’ beliefs and practices. They see it as a sacred duty to share their faith and teachings with others, believing that all people should have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. This emphasis on missionary service reflects their desire to bring people closer to God and invite them to experience the blessings of the restored gospel.

Full-time Missionaries

The Latter-day Saints have a unique approach to missionary work, with young men and women being encouraged to serve as full-time missionaries for a period of approximately 18 to 24 months. These missionaries dedicate their time and efforts to proclaiming the message of the Church, often serving in countries far from their homes. They focus on teaching individuals and families about the restoration of the gospel and inviting them to make commitments to God.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon plays a central role in the missionary efforts of the Latter-day Saints. Missionaries often share copies of this sacred scripture and use it as a tool to testify of Jesus Christ. They believe that reading and studying the Book of Mormon can bring individuals closer to God and help them gain a testimony of its truthfulness.

Conversion Process

The process of conversion in the Latter-day Saints’ faith involves a combination of personal study, reflection, prayer, and faith in Jesus Christ. Individuals who are interested in learning more about the Church are typically introduced to basic gospel principles and teachings through meetings with missionaries or attending church services. As individuals progress in their understanding and faith, they are encouraged to be baptized and make specific commitments to live according to the principles of the gospel.

Priesthood Authority

Restored Priesthood

The Latter-day Saints believe in the restoration of the priesthood authority, which they see as the power and authority given by God to act in His name. They believe that the priesthood was lost after the death of the original apostles and that it was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith. This restored priesthood is considered vital for the performance of sacred ordinances, the administration of the Church, and the blessings and guidance of individuals and families.

Eternal Nature of the Priesthood

In addition to the restoration of priesthood authority, the Latter-day Saints believe in the eternal nature of the priesthood. They believe that the priesthood is not only a temporal power for this life but something that will continue throughout the eternities. This understanding underscores the significance and eternal blessings associated with the priesthood.

Hierarchy and Roles

Within the priesthood, there is a hierarchy of offices and roles. The highest of these is the office of the President of the Church, who holds all priesthood keys and has the ultimate authority within the Church. Other offices include apostles, seventies, high priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, each with specific responsibilities and duties. This hierarchical structure ensures proper governance and enables the priesthood to be effectively utilized for the benefit of individuals and the Church as a whole.

Ordinances and Blessings

Through the priesthood, sacred ordinances and blessings are performed in the Church. These ordinances include baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (similar to communion), and various temple ordinances such as sealing families together. The priesthood authority allows for the bestowal of spiritual blessings, healing, guidance, and divine intervention. The administration of these ordinances and blessings reflects the belief in the power of the priesthood and its role in individual and familial salvation.

Sacred Temple Rites

Endowment Ceremony

An integral part of temple worship for Latter-day Saints is the endowment ceremony. This sacred and symbolic ceremony provides instruction, blessings, and covenants related to the plan of salvation and the individual’s journey towards exaltation. It involves receiving sacred garments, making specific promises to God, and learning about the purpose and significance of mortal life. The endowment ceremony is deeply personal and emblematic of the Latter-day Saints’ commitment to their faith and understanding of their eternal purpose.

Celestial Marriage

The concept of celestial marriage, also known as eternal marriage, is a distinctive belief and practice of the Latter-day Saints. They believe that through temple sealing ceremonies, couples can be sealed together for eternity, meaning their marriage relationship will extend beyond this life and continue throughout eternity. The sealing ceremony emphasizes the importance of family, fidelity, and eternal commitment. This belief in eternal marriage sets them apart from many other religious groups and underscores their focus on the eternal nature of families.

Proxy Work for the Dead

Another unique aspect of temple worship for Latter-day Saints is the practice of proxy work for the dead. They believe in the opportunity for individuals who have died without receiving the necessary ordinances to have those ordinances performed vicariously on their behalf. This proxy work includes baptism, confirmation, and other essential ordinances. Through this practice, they believe that those who have passed away can have the opportunity to accept or reject these ordinances in the spirit world.

Sealing Power

The sealing power is a significant belief within the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe that certain ordinances performed in the temple, including temple sealings, are bound both on earth and in heaven. This means that these sacred ordinances have eternal significance and can impact the eternal destiny of individuals and families. The sealing power represents the connection between heaven and earth and highlights the belief in the authority and blessings associated with temple worship.

Health Code and Practices

Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom is a unique health code followed by the Latter-day Saints. It was revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833 and is considered a commandment from God. The Word of Wisdom teaches principles of good health and encourages the abstention from harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. It also promotes the consumption of wholesome foods and a balanced diet. Following the Word of Wisdom is seen as an expression of faith and a way to maintain physical and spiritual well-being.

Abstinence from Harmful Substances

In adherence to the Word of Wisdom, Latter-day Saints refrain from using harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. This practice reflects their belief in the importance of keeping their bodies clean and free from harmful influences. By abstaining from these substances, they strive to maintain physical health and spiritual clarity, believing that this self-discipline brings them closer to God and strengthens their commitment to their faith.

Modesty and Chastity

Modesty and chastity are highly valued virtues within the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe in the importance of dressing modestly, respecting one’s body, and maintaining sexual purity. This emphasis on modesty and chastity reflects their commitment to live in harmony with God’s commandments and promotes a culture of respect and dignity in personal relationships. The focus on modesty and chastity helps to create a sacred and reverent environment within the Church and underscores their commitment to living honorable and virtuous lives.

Emphasis on Physical and Mental Well-being

The Latter-day Saints place a significant emphasis on physical and mental well-being. They believe that the body is a temple and should be treated with care and respect. This includes maintaining good physical health through regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and proper rest. Furthermore, they recognize the importance of mental well-being and strive to cultivate positive attitudes, emotional resilience, and a balanced approach to life’s challenges. The emphasis on physical and mental well-being supports their belief in the divine nature of each individual and their commitment to living a fulfilling and purposeful life.

Family Emphasis

Importance of Marriage and Family

The Latter-day Saints place a strong emphasis on the importance of marriage and family. They believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and essential for eternal progression. They see the family as the fundamental unit of society and as a place where individuals can develop and grow in love, unity, and righteousness. The unique and eternal nature of family relationships is seen as a sacred responsibility, deserving of their utmost attention and commitment.

Eternal Nature of Family Relationships

Based on their belief in eternal families, the Latter-day Saints consider family relationships to be everlasting. They believe that through temple ordinances, families can be sealed together for eternity, allowing them to continue their relationships in the eternities. This concept brings comfort and hope, especially in times of loss, and reinforces the sense of unity and purpose within families. The eternal nature of family relationships strengthens their commitment to nurturing and supporting one another both in this life and in the life to come.

Family Home Evening

Family Home Evening is a regular practice within the Latter-day Saints’ faith, where families set aside one evening a week to gather together for spiritual instruction, family activities, and bonding. It provides an opportunity for parents to teach their children about gospel principles, engage in meaningful conversations, and strengthen family ties. Family Home Evening serves as a foundation for fostering strong and loving family connections and emphasizes the importance of nurturing and teaching within the home.

Focus on Parenting and Education

Latter-day Saints place significant importance on parenting and education within the family setting. They believe that parents have the primary responsibility to teach their children and provide a nurturing and loving environment. They view education as a lifelong pursuit and encourage both formal and informal learning. The focus on parenting and education reflects their commitment to raising children in the principles of the gospel and preparing them to become self-reliant, responsible individuals within their families and communities.

Pre-Mortal Existence

Belief in Pre-Mortal Life

One of the unique beliefs of the Latter-day Saints is their belief in a pre-mortal existence. They believe that before coming to earth, all individuals lived as spirits in the presence of God. This pre-mortal life was a time of learning and preparation, where individuals developed their character and made choices that influenced their mortal journey. The belief in pre-mortal life adds depth and understanding to their understanding of God’s plan for His children and their purpose on earth.

Individual Spirituality and Agency

The belief in pre-mortal life underscores the Latter-day Saints’ understanding of individual spirituality and agency. They believe that each person is a unique and eternal being with the capacity to make choices and progress. This understanding fosters a sense of personal responsibility and accountability for one’s actions and choices. The belief in individual spirituality and agency affirms their commitment to personal growth, self-improvement, and the pursuit of righteousness.

The Council in Heaven

According to the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints, there was a council in heaven before this earth was created. In this council, individuals had the opportunity to learn and discuss God’s plan for His children. It was during this council that the plan of salvation was presented, and each individual had the opportunity to accept or reject it. The concept of the council in heaven emphasizes the belief in the divine origin of God’s plan and the agency given to individuals to choose and participate in this mortal experience.

Purpose of Mortality

The belief in pre-mortal life and the council in heaven gives context to the purpose of mortality according to the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe that mortal life is a time of testing, where individuals are given the opportunity to use their agency, make choices, and progress in their eternal journey. Mortality offers the chance to learn and grow, to experience joy and sorrow, and to develop attributes that will shape our eternal character. This understanding of mortality reinforces their commitment to living purposeful and righteous lives and striving for personal and spiritual growth.

Afterlife and Salvation

Three Degrees of Glory

The Latter-day Saints believe in the concept of the afterlife, which they understand to consist of three degrees of glory: the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms. They believe that all individuals will be assigned to one of these degrees based on their faith in Jesus Christ and their obedience to His commandments. The celestial kingdom is the highest degree of glory and represents the ultimate goal of exaltation, where individuals can dwell in the presence of God.

Exaltation and Eternal Life

Exaltation is a central belief within the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe that through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and adherence to His teachings, individuals can become like God and inherit all that He has. This exaltation represents the highest degree of glorification and eternal life. The belief in exaltation emphasizes the eternal potential of individuals and the divine destiny that awaits those who faithfully follow the teachings of the restored gospel.

Atonement of Jesus Christ

The atonement of Jesus Christ is a fundamental belief within the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They believe that through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all individuals have the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and receive eternal life. The atonement is seen as the ultimate act of love and sacrifice, providing a way for individuals to be reconciled with God and to overcome the effects of sin and mortality. The belief in the atonement underscores their reliance on Jesus Christ as their Savior and the central role He plays in their salvation.

Salvation for the Dead

The belief in salvation for the dead is a unique aspect of Latter-day Saints’ theology. They believe that all individuals, regardless of whether they had the opportunity to accept the gospel in mortality, will have the opportunity to hear and accept it in the spirit world. As a result, they perform proxy ordinances, such as baptism and temple sealings, on behalf of those who have passed on without having received them. This practice reflects their belief in God’s mercy and the opportunity for all individuals to receive the blessings of the restored gospel.

Community Involvement

Welfare and Humanitarian Work

The Latter-day Saints place a strong emphasis on welfare and humanitarian work. They see it as their responsibility to care for the temporal and spiritual welfare of those in need. The Church has established various welfare programs, such as employment assistance, emergency food supplies, and counseling services, to support individuals and families in times of hardship. Furthermore, they coordinate humanitarian efforts worldwide, providing disaster relief, clean water initiatives, and other aid to those in need. The commitment to welfare and humanitarian work reflects their belief in loving and serving their fellow brothers and sisters.

Self-Reliance and Financial Management

The Latter-day Saints believe in the importance of self-reliance, both individually and as a community. They teach principles of financial literacy and encourage responsible management of resources. The Church provides education and resources to help individuals and families become financially independent, teaching principles of budgeting, debt management, and thoughtful financial planning. The emphasis on self-reliance creates a sense of dignity and encourages individuals to exercise agency and work towards their goals in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Service Opportunities

Service is a key component of the Latter-day Saints’ faith. They actively seek opportunities to serve within their local communities, providing acts of kindness, support, and assistance to those in need. Service projects are organized at the local level and often include activities such as community clean-ups, food drives, clothing donations, and volunteer work. Participation in service opportunities fosters a sense of unity, compassion, and connection within the community and allows individuals to live their faith in practical and tangible ways.

Strong Sense of Community

The Latter-day Saints place great value on building a strong sense of community within their congregations and neighborhoods. They foster a culture of inclusion, support, and camaraderie, where individuals are encouraged to develop meaningful relationships, provide support and assistance to one another, and create a welcoming environment for all. The sense of community is reinforced through regular worship services, local activities, and a shared commitment to the teachings and principles of the Church. The strong sense of community within the Latter-day Saints sets them apart and provides a supportive and uplifting environment for their members.