Like the other churches within the Latter Day Saint movement, the LDS Church considers itself to be a restoration of the early Christian Church started by Jesus Christ, which was later lost in the centuries after Christ in a Great Apostasy. Adherents, referred to as Latter-day Saints or, more informally, Mormons, view faith in Jesus Christ and the atonement as the central tenet of their religion. LDS theology includes the Christian doctrine of salvation only through Jesus Christ, though LDS doctrines regarding the nature of God and the potential of mankind differ significantly from mainstream Christianity. The church has an open canon which includes four scriptural texts: the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Other than the Bible, the majority of the LDS canon constitutes revelation dictated by Joseph Smith and includes commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by ancient prophets.
Under the doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus, under the direction of Heavenly Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president, whom adherents regard as a modern-day "prophet, seer, and revelator." The current president is Thomas S. Monson. Individual members believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives. The President heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations. Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead local congregations. Worthy male members, after reaching age 12, may be ordained to the priesthood. Women do not hold positions within the priesthood but serve in an array of other leadership roles. Both men and women may serve as missionaries, and the church maintains a large missionary program which proselytizes and conducts humanitarian services worldwide. Faithful members adhere to laws regarding sexual purity, health, fasting, and Sabbath observance, and contribute 10 percent of their income to the church as a tithe. In addition, the church teaches sacred ordinances through which adherents make covenants with God, including baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (holy communion), and celestial marriage (marriage blessings which extend beyond mortality), which are of great significance to church members.