A paramount doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a belief in God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The three make up the Godhead. They are one in purpose but separate in being.
The Church is Christian but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ as originally established by the Savior.
Divine Priesthood Authority
The authority to act in God's name is called the priesthood. The Church emphasizes the need for divine authority. As Joseph Smith, first prophet and President of the Church, taught, "A man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof" (Articles of Faith 1:5).
Principles and Ordinances
As stated by Joseph Smith, the first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are, "first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Articles of Faith 1:4), which constitutes confirmation into the Church. Baptism follows the biblical example of immersion and is for the remission of one's sins. Since young children are incapable of sin, they are not baptized until the age of eight, the age when they become accountable for their actions.
Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the President of the Church. The Presidents of the Church down through the years since it was restored in 1830 have been and are viewed by Latter-day Saints as prophets in the same sense as are Abraham, Moses, Peter, and other such biblical leaders. Parents are entitled to revelation for raising their families, and individuals are entitled to divine revelation for meeting personal challenges.
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is divinely inspired scripture, as is the Holy Bible. They are used side by side in Church curriculum with other approved scriptures: the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations and writings given since the Restoration began, and the Pearl of Great Price, a selection from the revelations, translations, and writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Purpose of Life
A prophet in the Book of Mormon said, "Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). Joseph Smith said, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255). All people on earth have a physical body and a spirit body that make up the soul of each person. Spirits are literally children of heavenly parents, and they lived with them in a premortal existence. Through God's divine plan, all come to earth to receive a physical body, gain experience, and prove themselves worthy to return to live with God forever. Through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all will be resurrected, and through his Atonement, all may partake of his love, mercy, and forgiveness. All have the potential of eternal life, conditional upon individual worthiness and obedience to the Savior's ordinances and teachings.
Family and Marriage
Family unity in this life and the potential for eternal family relationships
are at the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriages performed in
the Church's temples do not dissolve at death. Rather, marriage and family
relationships may continue through eternity, contingent upon individual
worthiness. In 1995, Church leaders emphasized the importance of marriage
and family in an official declaration entitled, The
Family: A Proclamation to the World.
The Church teaches and follows the Savior's law of strict morality. The Church teaches honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage. It opposes abortion, pornography, gambling, and other evils.
"The Word of Wisdom," a health code revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833, cautions against using tobacco, alcoholic beverages, tea, and coffee and emphasizes the positive benefits of wise eating habits and physical and spiritual fitness. The Church interprets the misuse and abuse of all drugs--illegal, legal, prescription, or controlled--as a violation of the Word of Wisdom.
Tithing and Fast Offerings
The Church and its faithful members embrace the biblical principle of tithing, which is contributing one-tenth of one's income. Faithful members also fast for two meals one day a month and donate the money they would have spent on those meals, or more, to a fund to help the needy. The generous offerings of the members enable the Church to finance the construction, education, welfare, missionary, curriculum, humanitarian, and other programs that benefit members and others.
The Church teaches that the responsibility for one's spiritual and temporal well-being rests upon the individual first, then the family, and finally the Church. Church members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent to the extent of their ability.
The Church accepts the charge the Savior gives in Matthew to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" (28:19) and share the blessings of the gospel. Consequently, the Church has some 60,000 full-time missionaries serving throughout the world. Most are college-age men and women, but many are retired couples. All have accepted a call from Church leaders and contribute to their own support for a year and a half to two years.
Prophets have taught that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). Millions of faithful members of the Church serve in a wide variety of unpaid "callings," or assignments, in local units, missions, temples, family history research centers, and other Church programs.