#2: Comparison of Lutheran – Mormon Articles of Faith

Mormon Article of Faith #2

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

Augsburg Confession Chief Article of Faith #2 – Original Sin

Likewise, [the churches among us] teach that since the fall of Adam all human beings who are propagated according to nature are born with sin, that is, without fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence. And [the churches among us] teach that this disease or original fault is truly sin, which even now damns and brings eternal death to those who are not born again through baptism and the Holy Spirit. [The churches among us] condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that the original fault is sin and who, in order to diminish the glory of Christ’s merits and benefits, argue that human beings can be justified before God by their own powers of reason (free will).


Certainly, the concept of original sin is not popular today, and I find myself in frequent discussions about it. In some ways, these two articles of faith agree. Nowhere does the Augsburg Confession suggest that we are punished for the sins of others, but rather says that human beings are in a “fallen state”. We are contaminated by sin. Part of one of our liturgies reads “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” The problem with the Mormon Article of Faith above is that it invites the possibility that human beings can act their ways into God’s favor through their decisions and actions. Unstained by “original sin”, we have the ability, they say, to obey God. We will even see that in some of the other Articles of Faith.

Part of the problem ignored by the Mormon Article of Faith is that scripture says something different than they do. Consider, for instance, Exodus 20:5-6 (which is part of the 10 Commandments). “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Likewise, 1 Samuel 3:13: “For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” Granted, this is not “Adam’s Transgression” but likewise it is not punishment only for one’s own sins.

Concupiscence? From the dictionary: 1. sexual desire; lust. 2. ardent, usually sensuous longing. Remember, the church in the middle ages (and certainly at other times) had some trouble with human sexuality, especially sexual desire. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is presently discussing a draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality which in part states “We are all sexual creatures. The Bible makes clear that our sexual nature is both a blessing and a source of vulnerability.)

One of the important elements of classic Christian teaching (witnessed in the Augsburg Confession) about original sin is that if we are so thoroughly stained by sin, then we cannot accomplish our own “cleansing”. Even our good efforts are “contaminated”. We will see that the Mormon teaching lacks this significant element.

Pondering Pastor

Click here for Part 1 of this series


15 responses to “#2: Comparison of Lutheran – Mormon Articles of Faith

  1. Pingback: Comparison of Lutheran - Mormon Articles of Faith - 2

  2. I don’t think your assessment of LDS thought is completely accurate.

    You say: “One of the important elements of classic Christian teaching (witnessed in the Augsburg Confession) about original sin is that if we are so thoroughly stained by sin, then we cannot accomplish our own “cleansing”. Even our good efforts are “contaminated”. We will see that the Mormon teaching lacks this significant element.”

    In fact Mormons know that, “we cannot accomplish our own “cleansing””.

    Our rejection of Original Sin largely amounts to the belief that little children are innocent in Christ.
    “8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me… 10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.” Moroni 8: 8, 10

    However, we know that as we come to an accountable age that we do suffer that same curse and vulnerabilities that Adam suffered as a fallen man…we are all in a fallen state and cannot overcome the effects of spiritual and physical deal on our own merits.
    ” 9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.” Alma 34: 9

    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.” 2 Nephi 2: 8

    One More:
    “14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…” Alma 22: 14

    There are more…but I think these show my point.

  3. ponderingpastor


    I’m not delving deeply into Mormon theology, but taking the Articles of Faith at face value. Granted, that is not fair, because I have more depth of knowledge about Lutheran Confessions. I also don’t accept the Book of Mormon as scripture.

    The innocence you grant to children “in Christ” really has nothing to do with Christ, but rather the belief that they have not yet reached the age of accountability and therefore have no capacity to commit sin. Lutheran theology doesn’t make this distinction with regard to “age of accountability”. That’s one reason for the baptism of infants.

    It’s too bad that the Mormon Articles of Faith don’t recognize those passages from The Book of Mormon as carrying much weight. Salvation in Mormonism, according to those Articles of Faith is not accomplished by Christ at all. Christ is necessary only to “open a door”. Mormons teach 0bedience is required for salvation

    So my assessment stands, and you have proven my point. We are so thoroughly stained by sin that we can’t accomplish our own cleansing. Watch for the next post about Article 3 for more critique of the Mormon understanding of “atonement”. I’ll maintain that from the Articles of Faith, Christ is not necessary for Mormons.

  4. I’ll just have to disagree with your assessment of Mormonism and the Articles of Faith.

    I (and Mormonism) agree with your stance that “We are so thoroughly stained by sin (or you could say or fallen nature) that we can’t accomplish our own cleansing.” Any man who presumes that he can be justified to God on his own merits is foolish. It is not possible…this is the reason we have been given the gift of the gospel and a covenant relationship with Christ.

    Being effected by the same Fallen State as Adam is not the same thing as being punished for Adam’s particular transgression.

    Your statement that, “from the Articles of Faith Christ is not necessary for Mormons” is blatantly false and shows a lack of understanding on your part.

    I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but to me your statement sound overtly harsh…I am willing to help you understand a Latter-day Saint perspective…as I would also enjoy understanding your’s.

  5. ponderingpastor


    You will want to tune into the next installment.

    Pondering Pastor

  6. You say: “Mormons teach 0bedience is required for salvation”.

    This depends on what you mean by “obedience”…if you mean perfect performance to all of God’s commandments 100% of the time without fail….your statement is false. This was the way of the old law/covenant of Moses or “Justification by Law”. The terms of the old covenant were essentially that if the children of Israel “kept the commandments”, or, observed all 613 commands and prohibitions of the law of Moses God would save them from their enemies and grant them the promised land and a posterity. Practically this is just not possible (because of our fallen natures) and the Children of Israel failed to “keep the commandments”. Paul wrote, “For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. . .Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:9-10, 20

    Since everyone has broken the law, no one can claim to be righteous by virtue of having kept the law.

    The only other way of being justified, is to admit our own imperfections, and have faith in Christ our Saviour. We must accept his offer of help by entering into a completely new covenant in which His perfect efforts cover our fallen natures and make up for our deficiencies.

    I know that you don’t believe that the Doctrine & Covenants (or the Book of Mormon) are scripture, but that’s not the point of using them here,I do, and so they are useful in showing others what I believe.

    “We know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true.” D&C 20:29-30

    Now if by “obedience” you mean entering into this new covenant and enduring in the Faith of Christ. Then I would say your statement is accurate.

  7. I’ll stick around…I like these type of discussions as long as we stay civil and reasonable.

  8. The quoted passage from Exodus certainly puts Him in a bad light. Jealousy is itself a child-like quality – not worthy of an omnipotent being. Is the attribution to God is correct?

    • Yes, idolatry leads away from God and denying your Maker leads to hell.

      No, Graciously offering his only Son to die on your behalf isn’t childish, but a martyr for your salvation.

  9. What about Eve and the pains of childbirth? So, why not the pains of man by way of Adam?

  10. Circumcision is fulfilled because of Christ Jesus’ fulfillment of the law as perfect man through conception via the Holy Spirit.

    It didn’t completely go away in that baptized into Christ is a circumcision of the heart.

  11. Law=Death

    If an infant is beyond the reach of law (acknowledgement of sin) then they’ll likewise be incapable of death as well.

    This goes against the Passover. Christ Jesus is the Passover Lamb slain on the cross for our sins.

  12. Adam & Eve where created innocent of son, but sinned before partaking of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. Godliness is the only state of existence free of committing sin. Infants aren’t God, nor are the spirit babies that Mormon followers believe are connected to them.

  13. Lutherans aren’t capable of choosing God, we are predestined in our calling to slavery into the Word of God. We can only deny our maker and deny our salvation with hardened hearts against Grace. Works in Christ’s are opportunities granted to us via God and not of free will.

  14. Christ Jesus tells us to be apostles in at least pairs so that one may rebuke the other if heresy is spoken, Joseph Smith is solo.

    The Holy Spirit enabled speaking in tongues to the masses, Joseph Smith is an only translater/witness to those American plates.

    Anti-Christ doctrine couldn’t be more obvious. Book of Mormon & Qur’an both acknowledge the virgin birth of Jesus as a son of God (not the Son of God) but as a key profit.

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