What do Good Mormons Have to Believe and Do?

by Daniel Rios -

Introduction

In every religion, beliefs and practices can be categorized as essential or peripheral. “Essential” in this context means “fundamentally important to the religion.” Every good member should either possess essential beliefs or be working in good faith towards possessing them; additionally, every good member should try his best to perform all essential practices.

In contrast, peripheral beliefs and practices, while often commonly accepted and frequently performed, are not necessarily fundamental. One can hold unorthodox views of peripheral beliefs, for example, and still remain a “good” member. Peripheral beliefs and practices are important and can strengthen faith, but they are not fundamental.

In many religions, essential beliefs and practices are defined in “creeds”. Mormonism is challenging in this respect because we reject formal creeds in favor of continuing, modern revelation from God. Nevertheless, many investigating our church want to know what exactly someone needs to believe and do to be a “good Mormon.” Complicating things further, many anti-Mormons publish lists of “Mormon beliefs” that are misrepresentations or fabrications at worst, and poor descriptions of beliefs that are trivial or peripheral to our faith at best.

There are two important occasions when Mormons make formal declarations of their faith. In the baptismal and temple-recommend interviews, Mormons formally accept certain beliefs and practices that demonstrate they are prepared to join the church or to worship in a Mormon temple, respectively. If we assert that someone who has joined the church and prepared themselves for temple worship is a “good Mormon,” the statements of faith made in these interviews are, by definition, all that is “essential.”

Essential Beliefs

  1. God is our Eternal Father. Jesus Christ is God’s son, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The Holy Ghost is likewise part of the Godhead (~”Trinity”). Mormons must have faith in these three.
  2. For members of the church, Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer through whom salvation is made possible. (Reflections of Christ)

    Through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we can overcome death and sin. That’s what “Savior” and “Redeemer” mean.
         Commentary: Mormons do consider Christ to be divine, and Mormons do believe salvation comes through Him.
  3. Jesus Christ’s ancient church and gospel have been established again in our days. God used a man, Joseph Smith, to help restore the ancient church.
         Commentary: Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith. We see him only as a prophet, like Moses or Peter from the Bible.
  4. The current worldwide leader (i.e., president) of the Church is also a prophet of God. God has authorized him, and him alone, to preside over the church as Christ’s imperfect, human representative. The top governing bodies of the Church (the “First Presidency” and the “Quorum of the Twelve”) are also prophets. While it’s not necessary to agree with every policy or idea expressed over the pulpit, Mormons should support these and other leaders in a spirit of good will (i.e., they should be “sustained”).
         Commentary: Again, no leader in the church should ever be worshipped.
         Commentary: Mormons do not believe prophets are perfect or infallible.
  5. Essential Practices

  6. many gay Mormonsimportant spiritual contributions
  7. Conclusion

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