The following 13 statements are the basic beliefs of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote these statements in request of John Wentworth, editor of the ‘Chicago Democrat.’ In 1880, these 13 statements, known as the Articles of Faith, were voted to become scripture and became official doctrine. The Articles of Faith are included in the volume of scriptures, the Pearl of Great Price. Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught in his General Conference address from October 2013, that the Articles of Faith could be separated into five sections, based on what they teach.
Articles of Faith About The GodHead and the Basic Doctrine of Christ
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
The first article of faith states a couple of things:
First, as Perry in his General Conference address from April 1998, stated, “The first article anchors our belief in God, our Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
The second thing the first article of faith teaches us is also clarified by Perry:
Three personages comprise this great presiding council of the universe and have revealed themselves [to Joseph Smith] as three separate beings, physically distinct from each other.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
The second article of faith is referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Because of the Atonement, Jesus Christ has cleared the way and paid the price for this disobedience. This is why members of the Church do not baptize infants, as members believe that children are born innocent and pure.
Many members and non-members alike have incorrectly devolved the second article of faith to mean that mankind is not to be punished for the sins of others in general. But that’s not what the second article of faith is talking about. The second article of faith is talking about, and only about, the concept of original sin.
Because of this misconception, however, when the Church made changes to their handbook of Church policy in regards to the children of homosexual parents in 2015, many were upset. They mistakenly believed that the Church leaders violated the second article of faith. However, the second article of faith is strictly referring to the concept of original sin and has nothing to do with those changes to the handbook.
I don’t want to get too much into this discussion, as it’s somewhat off topic, but if you’re interested, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, did an interview to help people understand why the changes were made.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
The third article of faith is a clear statement of our belief in the Atonement of Christ. However, to be saved and blessed with eternal life, we must be obedient and follow God’s commandments. We must accept Jesus Christ as our Savoir and Redeemer.
- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The fourth article of faith talks about, as stated, the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Basically, some of the basic truths members of the Church believe in, and the steps members take to make one of their first promises to God, which is through baptism.
To join the Church, you will need to be baptized by immersion. The earliest a person can be baptized is eight years old. After being baptized, the person baptized will be given a blessing (a prayer) to always have the Holy Ghost with them. This confirmation blessing is performed by a member of the Church who has the priesthood. The term, the ‘Laying on of hands‘ physically refers to the priesthood member placing their hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing (as they are giving the blessing), like in the picture.
Articles of Faith About the Organization of the Church and the Priesthood
- We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
Local leaders of the Church will pray for guidance as they choose callings for the members they are leaders over. As leaders choose callings for members, they will pay close attention to their feelings, and listen for spiritual inspiration.
In the Church, to formally teach the gospel to others, members must be set apart with a blessing. This includes everyone who has a teaching position within the Church, whether they’re teaching little children, adults, or being sent on missions to teach non-members.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
The sixth article of faith is referring to Jesus Christ’s ancient Church and the organizational foundation that existed within it. Joseph Smith, under the guidance of Jesus Christ through revelation, restored that primitive church (being The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in 1830.
Articles of Faith About Our Eternal Resources in this Mortal Journey
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation,
visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
The seventh article of faith is referring to what members of the Church call spiritual gifts. These gifts are from God and are given through the Holy Ghost. A volume of scripture that members believe in, called the Doctrine and Covenants, details these gifts in chapter 46, verses 9 through 33 (D&C 46:9-33)
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are both testaments of Christ. There is some criticism of this article of faith that is directed towards the statement about the Bible, “as far as it is translated correctly.” Some feel that this is a copout. However, in 1992, the first presidency of the Church made a statement about which edition of the Bible the Church uses and why:
The Bible, as it has been transmitted over the centuries, has suffered the loss of many plain and precious parts… Unfortunately, no original manuscripts of any portion of the Bible are available for comparison to determine the most accurate version. However, the Lord has revealed clearly the doctrines of the gospel in these latter-days. The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations… In doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations. All of the Presidents of the Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, have supported the King James Version by encouraging its continued use in the Church.
- We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
The ninth article of faith states that members of the Church believe that the heavens are still open. God still sends revelation to man, and He will continue to do so.
Articles of Faith About Missionary Work
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
Elder L. Tom Perry explains this article of faith in his General Conference address from April 1998:
[We believe] “in the literal gathering of Israel,” that Zion will be built again and Christ will return and “reign personally upon the earth.” It was in June of 1830 that Samuel Smith, the brother of the Prophet, embarked on the first missionary journey to proclaim the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Thus began the gathering of Zion.
The gathering of Israel is done through missionary work. When people accept the gospel taught by members of the Church of Jesus Christ, they are “gathered” into the Church.
Jerusalem, in Israel, will become a holy city, and the two Jerusalems will be centers of government during the millennium.
Jesus Christ will return to the earth to rule, and the earth will become a place of great beauty and happiness; it will be paradise.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
The 11th article of faith is fairly clear. It states that members claim their constitutional right to freedom of religion. They claim it for themselves, and for everyone.
This article of faith also proclaims tolerance towards other religions and beliefs, regardless of what, where, or how they worship (as long as that worship obeys the law of the land, which is addressed in the next article of faith).
- We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
This article of faith is also quite clear. Members will be subject to various forms of governments, and will obey, honor, and sustain the law.
Article of Faith About Aspirational Attributes
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
The 13th article of faith teaches members how they should live their lives. Members should be “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.”
The next part talks about the admonition of Paul, which you can find in the Bible, in Philippians chapter 4, verse 8 (Philippians 8:4). However, I will state it here for you:
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Members of the Church think, believe, and have hope in all things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Members look for things (whether it’s friends, a career, entertainment, etc.) in their life that have these qualities.