On the newly revamped LDS web site there is a section titled Core Beliefs: Why and How Are Mormons Different? I really appreciate the effort of the LDS Church to acknowledge its doctrinal differences with historic Christianity, though I believe much of the information provided is severely lacking in clarity. I think this is due to an effort on the Church’s part to acknowledge but minimize the significance of these differences.
At any rate, the web site says,
Representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often asked whether the Church is becoming more “mainstream” over time.If the term “mainstream” means that Latter-day Saints are increasingly viewed as a contributing, relevant and significant part of society — particularly in the United States, where there are now some six million members — then, of course, the answer is “yes.”
…If being described as “mainstream” means the Church loses the very distinctiveness of the beliefs that are at the heart of its message, the answer is different. While respecting the divergent views of other people of faith, Church leaders want to be clear about the beliefs that help define Latter-day Saints.
The following are some of the more important differences in belief and practice between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian churches.
One of the eight topics listed is this:
Plan of salvationLatter-day Saint theology embraces what Mormons refer to as the “plan of salvation.” The topic covers the pre-mortal state of all mankind, the reasons why God created the world, the nature and purpose of our life here and what future awaits us in the next life.
Another way to state what the LDS Plan of Salvation encompasses might be this: “Where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going?”
These are some pretty significant doctrinal issues.
- The nature of man
- God’s purpose in creation
- God’s requirements for reconciliation with Him
- The nature of eternal life
Mormonism’s disparity from “other Christian churches” on just this short list of core beliefs, not even taking into account the other seven listed topics, must be distressing to those who say members of the LDS Church believe the same things “other Christians” believe. The lion’s share of the Christian worldview is represented within this short list. Even if we could find other areas of doctrinal agreement, Mormonism and Christianity are literally worlds apart.