What Are Mormonism’s Core Beliefs?

In a recent article in the SLTrib (10 May 2012), Peggy Fletcher Stack writes:

In his book [Talking with Mormons:  An Invitation to Evangelicals],  [Richard] Mouw [president of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.] argues that understanding Mormonism isn’t about being nice, it’s a Christian mandate.

Too often, Evangelicals pick up little-taught LDS beliefs–such as human becoming gods or having their own planets–and put them at the center of Mormon theology, rather than at the periphery.

I would personally argue that the belief in “humans becoming gods” is central to Mormonism.  It helps define why we are here on Earth; it describes where we are going.  It is not–and I repeat–a peripheral doctrine.  It is central to our view of the universe.

On the same subject, Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University and a Bloomberg View columnist writes (reprinted in the SLTrib on 22 May 2012):

The consequences of turning Mormonism into just another denomination are epochal for Mormons.  The doctrine of “be careful what you wish for” certainly applies. . .

Entering the mainstream poses major risks.  If Mormons think of themselves as another Christian denomination, the risk of defection rises.  The distinctive Mormon beliefs in a new scripture and in the possibility of joining the supernal realm for eternal life is in jeopardy precisely because they mark the differences with the Protestant mainstream.  If you believe you are not that different from others, there will be a tendency to downplay those practices and beliefs that suggest otherwise.

Mormons need to think long and hard before they place beliefs like human deificiation (or theosis) into the category of “periphery.”

Sorry Richard Mouw, but for me theosis is not a peripheral belief and I don’t plan on downplaying it just to get along with Evangelicals.  Mormonism IS different.

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4 Responses to What Are Mormonism’s Core Beliefs?

  1. cunninjt says:

    Roger, I concur with your perspective. To paraphrase Richard Bushman, via the Plan of Salvation the Gods are inviting us, their children, to become part of their group and to live eternal exalted lives of the greatest purpose. This concept informs the Mormon worldview and is both indispensable and ever-present. If we ever reduce or drop it, we will become just another bunch of Protestants. Regards, John in Stuttgart

  2. Lincoln Cannon says:

    I heartily agree, Roger. The heart and strength of Mormonism is that the Gospel of Christ is not just about human consolation, but also about human flourishing: being Christ and becoming God.

  3. susan says:

    During my Mormon upbringing, we were continually taught that we all had the chance to become Gods and/or Goddesses. And now, that has changed. I agree that it is still a part of the doctrine, but less emphasis has been placed on this promise, because too many outsiders have questioned this belief. But to say it is the center of Mormonism is, in my opinion, erroneous because the church has “distanced” itself from the concept.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      My point would be that a principal function of religion is to explain our earthly sojourn and our eternal journey, if there is one. For Mormons to leave out their proposed goal for the hereafter, for me, doesn’t make sense. What’s the point of having a Plan of Salvation if we don’t know the end goal?

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