Questions about my religion typically come in the form “What do Mormons believe about….?” Occasionally they are framed like, “I heard that Mormons believe….”
These questions bring us to the fundamental question: what defines Mormon doctrine?
One of the best sources to get answers to your questions about Mormon doctrine is to ask a Mormon that you know. Members will answer your question to the best of their knowledge and I would always recommend talking to Mormons you know. However, it’s important to remember that even Mormons may not know everything about their religion! So while a tremendous source, Mormon members should be just one of the resources to learn about Mormon doctrine.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), there are a few places where you can find official Mormon doctrine. These include:
- The Holy Bible
- The Book of Mormon
- The Doctrine & Covenants
- The Pearl of Great Price
1. The Holy Bible
As in other Christian religions, the Bible is central to the Mormon faith. Because it contains the words and teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ, as well as writings from apostles and prophets, it is a wonderful source for Mormon doctrine! The King James Version is the standard edition used in the Mormon Church.
2. The Book of Mormon
We believe that the Book of Mormon is a companion volume of scripture to the Bible. Just as the Bible records the Lord’s interactions with the people in ancient Israel, so the Book of Mormon is the record of the Lord’s interactions with the people in the ancient Americas.
The Book of Mormon strengthens and upholds the doctrine taught in the Bible. Why is there need for the Book of Mormon? First, I don’t know why anyone would want to deny themselves more of the Word of God! Second, consider that even though every Christian religion uses the Bible, all tend to interpret it differently and hence there are literally thousands of Christian sects today. With the Book of Mormon, there is additional scripture to understand the teachings in the Bible. While it may be possible to misinterpret a lone scripture in the Bible, if you also add related scriptures in the Book of Mormon, the meaning always becomes more clear.
3. The Doctrine and Covenants
Continuing revelation is a foundational belief of the Mormon Church. We believe that as it says in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth hissecret unto his servants the prophets.”
Just as the Lord has followed a pattern of prophets throughout the history of mankind, we believe that he continues to call prophets in our day. These prophets can receive revelations from God in order to further God’s work and lead the Church. Joseph Smith, the first prophet in this dispensation, received many revelations that are recorded in the book called the Doctrine and Covenants. Similarly, prophets since Joseph Smith have continued to receive revelations. These revelations have been canonized and are now included as part of the official canon of the Mormon Church.
4. The Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price is described as “A Selection of Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith–First Prophet, Seer and Revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Together, these four volumes make up what Mormons call the “standard works.” They are considered scripture, and as such, are the absolute best source to find and understand Mormon doctrine.
Below is a video made by another member of the Mormon Church describing the position on Mormon doctrine.