Discussing “17 Points of the True Church” with Mormons

If you’ve ever spent time speaking with a Mormon missionary before, you may have been handed a card listing the “17 Points of the True Church.” Here are the points many Mormons think ought to determine for us which church is the true one:

  1. Christ organized the Church. (Eph 4:11–14)
  2. The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ. (Eph 5:23)
  3. The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets. (Eph 2:19–20)
  4. The true church must have the same organization as Christ’s Church. (Eph 4:11–14)
  5. The true church must claim divine authority. (Heb 5:4–10)
  6. The true church must have no paid ministry. (Acts 20:33–34, John 10:11–13)
  7. The true church must baptize by immersion. (Matt 3:13–16)
  8. The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. (Acts 8:14–17)
  9. The true church must practice divine healing. (Mark 3:14–15)
  10. The true church must teach that God and Jesus are separate and distinct individuals. (John 17:11, 20:17)
  11. The true church must teach that God and Jesus have bodies of flesh and bone. (Luke 23:36–39, Acts 1:9–11, Heb 1:1–3)
  12. The officers must be called by God. (Heb 5:4, Ex 28:1, 40:13–16)
  13. The true church must claim revelation from God. (Amos 3:7)
  14. The true church must be a missionary church. (Matt 28:19–20)
  15. The true church must be a restored church. (Acts 3:19–20)
  16. The true church must practice baptism for the dead. (1Cor 15:16, 29)
  17. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt 7:20)

To help people use this LDS list as a starting point for discussions, I created a second list of 17 points. Some of the points are direct responses to their numerical counterparts on the LDS list, and some bring in ideas not mentioned on the LDS list that are unique to Christianity and not shared by Mormons. Since each list includes aspects of the unique theology of its group, by going through their list and ours and examining the context of the verses cited, you can quickly move into deep and meaningful conversations with your LDS friends. (Download a card-sized version to print and cut out here.)

  1. The true church must base its doctrine on what the Bible teaches. (2 Tim 3:16–17, 2 Pet 1:21, Ps 12:6)
  2. The true church must teach there is only one God. (Isa 43:10, Isa 44:6, Isa 44:8)
  3. The true church must teach that God has been God from all eternity. (Ps 90:2, Mal 3:6, Jas 1:17)
  4. The true church must worship only one God (the LORD, Jehovah). (Ex 34:14)
  5. The true church must teach that God does not have a physical body. (John 4:24, Luke 24:39, 1 Kings 8:27, John 1:18, 1 Tim 1:17)
  6. The church must teach that within the one being of God there are three Persons. (Matt 3:16–17, Matt 28:19–20)
  7. The true church must teach that the eternal, fully divine person of Jesus took on a human nature when He came to Earth. (Phil 2:5–8, John 1:14)
  8. The true church must worship Jesus. (Matt 28:9, Matt 2:11)
  9. The true church teaches that the Gospel is: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. (1 Cor 15:1–4)
  10. The true church teaches that when you believe the Gospel, you receive the Holy Spirit, you are born again, and He makes you into a new creation. (Acts 10:36–45, John 3:1–8, 2 Cor 5:17)
  11. The true church teaches that a trusting belief in Christ is all one needs to be saved to eternal life with God. (Acts 16:30–31, John 6:28–29, 1 John 5:11–12)
  12. The true church must not teach that eternal life with the Father can be reached only after doing certain works. (Eph 2:8–9, Rom 11:6, Gal 3:2–3)
  13. The true church must not make the issue of what we eat or drink a requirement of the Gospel. (Mark 7:18–20, Rom 14:14–18, Col 2:13–17)
  14. The true chruch must teach that we are forgiven of our sins when we confess them. (1 John 1:9, Heb 10:10, 14–18)
  15. The LORD commands his people to financially support those devoted to ministry. (Num 18:8–24, Luke 10:2–7, 1 Cor 9:7–14, 1 Tim 5:17–18)
  16. The true Church was established by Jesus, has never been overcome, but has existed on the earth throughout all generations since Jesus. (Matt 16:18, Eph 3:21)
  17. The true church must compare all new revelation with the Bible and reject whatever disagrees. (Deut 13:1–3, Gal 1:8, Isa 8:19–20, 1 Thes 5:21, Acts 17:11)

For more discussion of the LDS 17 points, see Alpha and Omega Ministries and Mormonism Research Ministry. See also these related articles on the differences between LDS and Christian doctrine:

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Amy K. Hall

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