How do we explain Church doctrine and gospel principles to our friends and neighbors who are not Latter-day Saints? If you’re having trouble knowing how to clarify certain concepts, here are some ideas.
1. Question: What is the plan of salvation?
Answer: The plan of salvation tells us who we are, where we came from, and where we can go. It starts with our life before we came to earth and ends with what happens to us after we die, showing us the way to be saved through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Plan of Salvation” on lds.org.
2. Question: Do you believe in the Trinity?
Answer: We believe in a Godhead made of three distinct and separate beings—God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost—who each fulfill different responsibilities with the united purpose of helping us return to live with Them someday.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Godhead” on lds.org.
3. Question: What do you mean when you’re talking about the First Vision?
Answer: That is what we call the vision that 14-year-old Joseph Smith had in 1820 after he prayed to know which church to join. He went to a grove of trees to pray, and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. This was the first of many visions leading up to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in modern days.
4. Question: What is apostasy? What do you mean when you’re talking about the Great Apostasy?
Answer: An apostasy refers to any period of time where a person or group of people rejects the prophets and the gospel. The Great Apostasy references the time period after Christ and His apostles were killed when the power and authority to act in the name of God were removed from the earth. This period ended in 1820 with the calling of a new prophet: Joseph Smith Jr.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Apostasy” on lds.org.
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5. Question: What is the priesthood?
Answer: In the Church, the term “priesthood” describes both the literal power of God and the divine authority to use it in His name. This is the same power that created the Earth, parted the Red Sea, and raised Lazarus from the dead.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Priesthood” on lds.org.
6. Question: What’s so important about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World?”
Answer: This document was published by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1995 and outlines the Church’s beliefs about the roles of men and women while validating and establishing doctrines concerning gender, marriage, and other topics related to the family.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Family Proclamation” on lds.org.
7. Question: Is the Book of Mormon another Bible?
Answer: The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ and is used alongside other holy scripture, such as the Old and New Testaments, by Latter-day Saints. The narrative was translated from gold plates by the Prophet Joseph Smith and tells the story of the peoples of ancient America, including their prophecies of, belief in, and interaction with Jesus Christ.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Book of Mormon” on lds.org.
8. Question: What's so important about keeping the commandments?
Answer: Commandments are instructions from God to help us live happy and fulfilling lives. Like directions on a GPS, they show us the way back to heaven. When we choose not to follow God’s commandments, we miss opportunities to receive spiritual and temporal blessings.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Obedience” on lds.org.
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9. Question: What’s the difference between standards and commandments?
Answer: A commandment is a divine rule while a standard is a guideline specific to our day that helps us keep commandments.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “For the Strength of Youth” on lds.org.
10. Question: Why does your church build big white castles?
Answer: These “castles” are called temples. Temples act as literal houses of God on earth and are places that Latter-day Saints who live the standards of the Church and who keep the commandments—and have received a temple recommend from their local leaders—go to make covenants with God and learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Temples” on lds.org.
11. Question: What is a prophet?
Answer: A prophet is a man who has been called by God to speak for Him on earth. While we have only one head of the Church who can exercise all priesthood keys, usually referred to as “the prophet,” the other leaders of the Church, known as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are also considered to be prophets. These men are the only ones authorized to receive revelation for the Church of Jesus Christ. They testify of Christ, teach His gospel, and prophesy.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Prophets” on lds.org.
12. Question: Why can’t I call you a “Mormon?”
Answer: “Mormon” is a nickname given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based on belief in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. However, members of the Church should be referred to as Latter-day Saints because we strive to clarify that we are followers of Jesus Christ, not followers of Mormon.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Mormons” on lds.org.
13. Question: Why do you need to be baptized?
Answer: Baptism is the first promise, or covenant, made with God that is required to enter heaven. The act of being baptized cleanses you from all of your past sins. Those who are baptized are fully submerged in a body of water after a special prayer and are then brought back up, symbolizing their new life devoted to washing away sin and serving Jesus Christ.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out “Baptism” on lds.org.
14. Question: What do you mean when you say someone is “serving a mission?”
Answer: A mission is a program within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that sends 18-year-old boys and 19-year-old girls across the globe, usually for 18–24 months, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation. While it is optional for young women, serving a mission is considered a responsibility for worthy and able Latter-day Saint young men. In addition, older couples who are no longer working full-time can volunteer for this service as well.
For more detailed descriptions and resources on this topic, check out lds.org.