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I am pretty unfamiliar with LDS doctrine so please keep all answers at a novice level.

What doctrine(s) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints contradict the doctrine that a person is justified and brought near to God only by the grace of God through placing their faith in Jesus Christ (and not their own "goodness"). The best kind of answer would be a list! :)

Here's what I'm not asking: I am not asking what all the differences are between Protestant doctrine and LDS doctrine. I'm asking specifically which LDS doctrines contradict the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. So things like holy underwear, wearing suits on missions, spirit children, polygamy, etc... I consider fringe beliefs and not really in scope.

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Unfortunately, I must agree with @bruisedreed that the question is unclear and shows little effort to do research; in addition, some (but not all) of what you want to know might be found in the answers to this question:… – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '14 at 15:32
@MattGutting I'm sorry to say I don't know what's unclear about it. There's not a question on this site that lists out LDS doctrine, your link included. I know protestant doctrine but not LDS enough to know what the important differences are. I'm not interested in knowing all the differences either, just the ones that make Protestants view Mormons as a cult. What exactly is unclear? – LCIII Jul 1 '14 at 15:41
Well, I think the question is fine, but you asked it in a funny way. Brief overviews of specific denominations have been allowed before. I think this one is really no different than that. This is almost the same, I would say. @bruisedreed – fredsbend Jul 1 '14 at 16:46
@MattGutting see above comment please – fredsbend Jul 1 '14 at 16:46
Why the down-votes? It is a good question. – gideon marx Jul 2 '14 at 8:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The core difference between LDS doctrine and Protestantism really is the core of Mormonism. Protestants believe that the Church as established by Christ fell into apostasy and needed to be reformed, requiring a return to the true doctrine of Jesus Christ by adhering closely to the doctrines described in the Bible.

Latter-Day Saints, on the other hand, fundamentally reject the idea that it is possible for such a reformation to be successful, believing instead that that which was established directly by the hand of God can only be restored the same way, not by the understanding of men, however sincere and honest they may be. More than anything else, the doctrine of the Restoration sets Mormonism apart from Protestantism.

EDIT: With regard to the question posed in comments, another pillar of Protestant doctrine is known as sola fide, Latin for "only faith." This doctrine takes a very literal reading of Paul's statement that salvation comes by faith as a gift from God and not by works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2: 8-9), using it to support the claim that a person's actions, both sinful and virtuous, do not matter to salvation; what matters is accepting Christ and having faith in his atonement.

Latter-Day Saints accept the fide but not the sola, claiming that this is taken out of context, as Jesus (Matthew 7:21), James (James 2: 14-26), and John (Revelation 20: 12-13) all appear to flatly contradict this doctrine, as does modern revelation accepted by Latter-Day Saints as canonical. (See sections 76 and 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants.) Latter-Day Saints do believe that sincere faith is required for salvation, but also that this faith is invalid and useless if it is not what the Book of Mormon terms "faith unto repentance," a faith that motivates a person to actually work to improve and transform their life, to renounce sin and live in a more Christlike manner.

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Thanks for the answer! I was more interested though, in what Mormon doctrines contradict salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus, as that is how I am defining Protestantism in this question :) – LCIII Jul 1 '14 at 18:04
@LCIII That's way more specific than your original answer is. – fredsbend Jul 1 '14 at 19:12
@LCIII: Edited to reflect your comment, but as Caleb and fredsbend pointed out, this really does change your question. You might want to consider editing your question to make it more specific and provide a better explanation of what you're asking. – Mason Wheeler Jul 1 '14 at 19:24
@MasonWheeler Your edit answered my question. I think the discrepancy was that I was considering sola fide and Protestantism as equivalent and so I phrased my question as believing in one makes you a part of the other when I should have just stuck to doctrine and left out denomination. – LCIII Jul 1 '14 at 19:44
@LCIII: Glad I could clear that up. Caleb's right, though; the LDS and Protestant traditions fundamentally incompatible at several very basic points, and can't be easily reconciled by grafting in a few doctrines. – Mason Wheeler Jul 1 '14 at 20:39

From the other side of the coin, the most salient problem with labeling the LDS church as "Protestant" is that the LDS Church itself explicitly rejects the Nicene Creed.

According to the Scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith -- History; I quote the following from verse 19 in answer to Joseph's question of which church he should join: "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight:"

At its very core, the Creed makes a series of statements that define what it means to be "Orthodox" as opposed to Restorian or Heterodox. Some key features, for example, that Mormons would thus reject:

  • The Trinity
  • The Eternality of the Son
  • The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

This doesn't mean they are "bad," it just means, they aren't orthodox. Catholics and Protestants may disagree on Church Governance, what is happening during the Eucharist, and the role of Mary, but we actually are pretty well agreed on the Creed.

Mormons, rightly or wrongly, don't accept these things. As such, they are out of the scope of Orthodox Christianity, in the same way Gnostics, Jehovah's Witness, and Muslims are. Theologically, their understanding of God is much closer to Islam than it is to what the Catholic (and hence the Protestant Reformers) would subscribe to. This isn't to say they aren't "Christians" in their definition, but no Orthodox theologian - be they Eastern, Roman, or Protestant, would lump together with the present church

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I believe you are taking that quote out of context. We do reject the creeds as a whole. We feel they add certain aspects to the relationship between the Godhead that does not exist within the Bible.That does not mean that every doctrine that is contained within them is untrue. We unequivocally accept the divinity of all three personages of the Trinity. God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. We just hold to the interpretation that the Bible describes them to have separate and distinct beings. A unified triune Godhead with each member having their own personage. – Nelson Jul 2 '14 at 4:03

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes in the doctrine of grace. In fact, since it's part of the Bible, Latter-Day Saints believe in Eph 2:8-10, which says:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Usually, the LDS Church focuses more on the good works part, since their teaching is focused on living their faith practically, but they fully acknowledge their complete reliance on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Without it they would be lost forever. In fact, the Book of Mormon supports the doctrine of grace in many places. Here is 2 Nephi 2:4,6-8:

4 [...] And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

However, Latter-Day Saints believe that there is no such thing as cheap grace. Faith in the sense of merely believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God without a change of heart (that usually is manifested in good works) does not lead to salvation. Latter-Day Saints believe that the following things are necessary to be saved:

  • faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
  • repentance (meaning a change of heart and turning towards God),
  • making a covenant with God to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ through baptism,
  • receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17; 19:6),
  • keeping the baptismal covenant by pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ and enduring to the end.

The need for baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is often explained by John 3:5:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

One might argue, that it is not really grace, if you have to do something for it. But continuing to live in sin after having received the truth is like making the Son of God the servant of sin. Speaking of grace, Paul wrote the following in Romans 6:1-4:

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

If you want to study the teaching and understanding of grace in the LDS Church better, then I can recommend this talk by Brad Wilcox as well as this article by Bruce C. Hafen.

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