Please also see our follow-up post "Dispelling 5 More Myths about Mormons."
Myth #1: Mormons are not Christians.Over the years, I have had many friends from other faiths sincerely question whether Mormons are Christians. In reality, Jesus Christ is the center of our faith, a truth made clear by the official name of our church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our first Article of Faith states “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” We love and worship the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world and believe that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We believe Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and that “through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved" (Articles of Faith 1:3). Like other Christians, Mormons believe the gift of eternal life is possible only because Jesus willingly suffered in Gethsemane and died on the cross at Calvary to offer Himself a ransom for all of God’s children. We are united with all Christians in our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and our conviction that the Gospel He taught provides the pathway to lasting peace and happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Myth #2: Mormons reject the Bible and believe instead in the Book of Mormon.Because Mormons believe in additional scripture beyond the Bible, some people mistakenly believe that Mormons reject the Bible or esteem it less than other Christians. In reality, we love and accept the Bible as the word of God. We regularly study both the Old and New Testaments in our church meetings. The Bible is always identified first in our canon of scripture. Our belief in the Book of Mormon as an additional witness of Jesus Christ takes nothing away from the Bible and is not associated with any perceived inadequacies in the Bible. Instead, the Book of Mormon is an additional witness of Christ that complements the Bible and supports everything the Bible teaches. For an excellent explanation of what Mormons believe about the Bible and why we believe in additional scripture, please refer to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s brief talk titled “My Words Never Cease.”
Myth #3: Mormons believe they can “earn” salvation through their good works.Another myth about Mormons is that we believe we can “earn” our own salvation through good works. In reality, like all Christians, we recognize that salvation is possible only through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Book of Mormon teaches that, “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14); thus, we should rely “wholly” (2 Nephi 31:19) or rely “alone” (Moroni 6:4) upon the merits of Christ. Nevertheless, we also accept what James taught powerfully in the New Testament in James chapter 2: faith is a principle of action and our efforts to follow Jesus Christ and emulate the kind of life He lived will make our faith come alive! Jesus Himself taught that “he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21); so Latter-day Saints strive to follow the Savior’s teachings and live His commandments out of our love for Him—not because we are trying to earn our way to heaven. An excellent talk concerning Mormons’ belief in salvation by grace is titled “His Grace Is Sufficient” by Brad Wilcox.
Myth #4: Mormons’ faith is centered on Joseph Smith, not Jesus Christ.Probably because Joseph Smith, Jr. was the first prophet and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some people have mistakenly assumed that Mormons worship Joseph Smith or that he is the center our faith. In truth, we do not worship Joseph Smith; we worship God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We revere Joseph Smith as a divinely called prophet and apostle, similar to our acceptance of other prophets and apostles from Old Testament and New Testament times, such as Moses, Isaiah, Peter, or Paul. Through Joseph Smith, God restored the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in modern times. While we do not worship Joseph Smith, we honor him for his witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and for his role in teaching and leading people to come unto Christ.
Myth #5: People of other faiths are not allowed to attend Mormons’ Sunday worship services.Lastly, unfortunately, some people have the false impression that people of other faiths are not allowed to attend Mormons’ Sunday worship services. To the contrary, we invite all people everywhere to join us in worshipping Jesus Christ in our weekly Sunday meetings. I have always felt that the best way a person can come to a personal understanding of what Mormons believe is to visit our Sunday meetings. To find a Mormon meetinghouse near you, please search here.
Nate Sharp is an assistant professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and currently serves as bishop of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Holladay, Utah, served a full-time mission for the Church in the Korea Seoul West mission from 1996-1998, and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He married Holly Carroll in 2003, and they are the proud parents of five beautiful children.