What do Mormons think about the various Christian creeds?

Frankly the answer is probably, "Mormons don't really think about them at all".

But, to take a closer look, much of the creeds would be agreed with, without hesitation.

1. For example, let's look at the Apostles' creed:

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

"And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

"I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN."

I agree with nearly everything. The notabole exception may be the "holy catholic Church" phrase. I'm not sure precisely what that means, but I suspect the Mormon teaching of an apostacy occuring sometime shortly after the apostle's death (in which the god-given authority was lost) is probably at odds with that part. Anyway, I will also point out that most Christian churches do not call their members saints, which the creed (as well as the Bible) obviously does, so I'll claim the LDS church scores "brownie points" on the "communion of saints" section. ;-)

Let me go a little more in depth with this creed, since it's my favorite (and it's the shortest). To what would an LDS member object?

Creed lines marked with a "*"

*I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

Slight nitpick, we believe that Jesus was the Creator, under the direction of the Father. But no big problem.

* And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;

Slight nitpick-- we would say "his only begotten Son", since we believe all of us are sons/daughters of God.

*who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

We believe that, as per the Biblical account

*born of the Virgin Mary,

We believe that (although unlike the Catholics we do not necessarily believe Mary was virgin all her life).

*suffered under Pontius Pilate,

We believe that.

*was crucified, dead, and buried;

We certainly believe that.

*he descended into hell;

Or, as we might say (as mentioned in 1 Peter) "the spirit prison"

*the third day he rose again from the dead;

We certainly believe that.

*he ascended into heaven,

We certainly beleive that.

*and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

We certainly believe that.

*from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

We certainly believe that.

*I believe in the Holy Ghost;

We certainly believe in the Holy Ghost.

*the holy catholic Church;

possible disagreement here, as discussed above.

*the communion of saints;

We certainly believe that.

*the forgiveness of sins;

We certainly believe that.

*the resurrection of the body;

We certainly believe that.

*and the life everlasting. AMEN.

We certainly believe in that.

So, if I've counted correctly, out of the 17 parts of this creed, 1 has a disagreement, 2 have small qualifiers, and 14 Mormons would agree with without any qualifications at all. I doubt other LDS members would see it any differently.

 

2. Let me move on to the Nicene Creed (not quoted here, due to its length, but easily accesible via web search).

Again, I agree with practically everything it says, but subject to interpretation (for example "one substance with the Father" might mean (in my opinion) "a God like the Father is a God", rather than "the Father and the Son are identical beings" (the opinions of some other Chrisitian faiths)-- and actually I think my view here is what the original creed writers meant since later they claim Jesus "sitteth on the right hand of the Father"). The only major exception is as before, the phrase "one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church".

 

3. The Athanasian Creed, however, seems to be rather different from the two previously mentioned. For some reason, this seems to be the only "creed" familiar to most Mormons, perhaps because it is the one which Mormonism has the most problems with.

Among other lines, it contains this passage:

"And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensible but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible."

Not to get cute, but the One Incomprehensible seems to be the creed's description of the Trinity.

I'm not sure exactly what the creed is saying, but whatever it is, it seems to be incompatible with the Mormon doctrine of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost being separate individuals.

 

Actually, when one asks Mormons about creeds, almost invariably a negative reaction is seen. Part of this is due to the familiarity with only the Athanasian Creed. The other part is based on Joseph Smith's description of his First Vision, where he says "the Personage [Christ] who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.""

Most Mormons get stuck on the "creeds are an abomination" part, and fail to notice that the reason for that was because, "they draw near to [Christ] with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." I, personally, interpret this to mean the creeds were an abomination *because* their hearts were far from Christ. If the words themselves were too far off the mark, why would He have said "They draw near to me with their lips"?