What are the essential similarities and differences between Protestantism and Mormonism?

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Since the time of Martin Luther, Protestants are generally considered those Christians who are neither Roman Catholics nor Eastern Orthodox. Although Protestant theology is varied today, it can be characterized by four basic beliefs:

(1) the Bible is the Word of God and all authority resides within its pages;
(2) the Bible should be in the language of the people, who, by the power of the Holy Ghost, can gain their own understanding of God's will;
(3) all church members hold the priesthood, meaning no mediatorial priesthood is necessary; and
(4) people are saved by faith, through the grace of God, and not by any works they may do.

Latter-day Saints share with Protestants a conviction of the importance of the scriptures, an extensive lay priesthood, and the primacy of faith in Jesus Christ. But they differ from Protestants by affirming a centralized authority headed by a latter-day prophet, by performing temple ordinances for the living and dead, and by asserting the eternal nature of the marriage covenant. While they share much in doctrine and heritage with Protestants, Latter-day Saints see themselves as embodying an independent Christian tradition. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a reformation of a previously existing ecclesiastical body but is a restoration through heavenly ministrations of authority, truths, and scriptures that God returned to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.

Written By:
John Dillenberger - The author has been a Professor Emeritus in the Graduate Theological Union at Berkley.
Roger Keller - Roger Keller has been a professor of religion at Brigham Young University.


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