Friday, July 4, 2008

The Fourth of July - Independence Day

The following is from a talk I gave recently.

In Ether Chapter 2 we read:
And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop…, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.
For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off…
… and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
(Selections from verses 7, 10 & 12)

My wife was recently typing up family histories and she told me how impressed she was by the sacrifices that one of her ancestors made in coming to America. Here is a portion of his story.

Robert Gardner was born March 12th, 1781, [in] Scotland… To quote from Archibald Gardner’s journal, “My father came of goodly parents, the youngest of 13 children... Father had a farm which netted him a fair profit. He was a good scholar. Times were poor, business dull, and people became dissatisfied with the government. Meetings were held by agitators even privately in our own tavern. Skirmish after skirmish took place. In a pitched battle that followed, the radicals were defeated. The English government took active measures to up root the insurrection. Jails and castles were crowded with prisoners, and many honest folk were carried away to prison who had no hand in the affair. This was the case with father. [The] factor of the town, whose great pride was hurt at being defeated in a lawsuit by my father, worked out his vengeance by reporting him a rebel. Father was taken from his business and imprisoned in Sterling Castle until the judges should arrive to try him. They came in 9 weeks. Some were tried, hanged and beheaded. Father was released, as no one appeared to testify against him. Father had often talked of going to America, and after this experience, he, wrathful and indignant, told mother he would go if he had to turn sailor and work his passage across. Before being dragged again from his home and business out of spite, with no chance of redress, he would go where he could enjoy liberty and justice. And so he left the land of his forefathers, and the hand of the Lord was over him as we have seen since.

A few days after my wife showed me this, I found a quote in a book I had been reading on John Adams that fit so well with Robert Gardner’s story. It reads:

“Let us read and recollect and impress upon our souls the views and ends of our more immediate forefathers, in exchanging their native country for a dreary, inhospitable wilderness…. Recollect their amazing fortitude, their bitter sufferings – the hunger, the nakedness, the cold, which they patiently endured – the severe labors of clearing their grounds, building their houses, raising their provisions, amidst dangers from wild beasts and savage men, before they had time or money or materials for commerce. Recollect the civil and religious principles and hopes and expectations which constantly supported and carried them through hardships with patience and resignation. Let us recollect it was liberty, the hope of liberty, for themselves and us and ours, which conquered all discouragements, dangers and trials.”

As we approach the 4th of July and the upcoming celebrations, I think another quote from John Adams is fitting. Here he is referring to the day they voted to declare independence, two days before the actual document was completed and agreed upon.

“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

When the Bishop asked us to prepare talks based around Patriotism, I was somewhat at a loss of where to begin. When you are assigned a talk on tithing or charity or any number of gospel topics, you can find talk after talk and lesson after lesson to draw from. With this I had to think and search a bit.

Quoting from Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage, we read regarding the eleventh article of faith, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. In this article of [faith, we] declare unqualified allegiance to the principles of religious liberty and religious toleration. Freedom to worship Almighty God as the conscience may dictate, [we] claim as one of the inherent and inalienable rights of humanity. The inspired framers of our charter of national independence proclaimed to the world, as a self-evident truth, that the common birthright of humanity gives to every man a claim to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is foreign, liberty but a name, and life a disappointment, to him who is denied the freedom to worship as he may desire.

I would like to read a portion of the The Declaration of Independence that Elder Talmage just referenced. It reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; …But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…— And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

I am amazed by the inspired men that put so much on the line and did so much to do God’s will and establish this wonderful country.

So as I worked on this talk, I saw more and more how the restoration of the Church and the formation of the United States are deeply intertwined.

From The Great Prologue by Mark E. Petersen under the heading “Preparing the Earth for the Restoration” we read:

There was the great apostasy, then the preservation of the Western Hemisphere, next Columbus and the colonization movement, the Revolutionary War to set the colonists free, and then a constitutional form of government which guaranteed free speech and free religion, free assembly and free press.

All of these events were acts of God leading up to one thing--the restoration of the gospel.

Joseph Smith was given this great and mighty mission. What a wonderful thing it was! It was under the umbrella of a marvelous, inspired constitution that this Church was restored.

Now let’s turn to the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual to go more in depth on the necessity and importance of the constitution.

Mark E. Petersen said “Let us recall again the words of the Lord to the Nephites. Said he, in speaking of this mighty nation of the Gentiles that he said would be established on this land in latter days: ‘For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father. . . .’ (3 Nephi 21:4. Italics added.) “Without the Constitution there would be no government such as the Lord had in mind. The Lord gave us that government by providing the Constitution …. It was an act of God. It was another step in establishing the free conditions under which the gospel could be restored and then taken by the believing Gentiles to all other nations… “The Constitution provided freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. Therefore, under the Constitution the Lord could restore the gospel and reestablish his church. The preparation of the Constitution was the work of his own hand. The restoration of the gospel was likewise his work. Both were part of a greater whole. Both fit into his pattern for the latter days. “There would be no state church in America to interfere. All men in this land now were given the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and that included Joseph Smith and his followers. “May we never forget the underlying reasons for it all: to provide a proper place for the restoration of the gospel and to allow for the worldwide preaching of that sacred word.” (Great Prologue, pp. 74–75, 78.)

Charles W. Penrose explained how the Constitution benefits all people: “In section 101 the Lord speaks about the constitution of this land. He says it was framed by wise men whom he raised up for that very purpose. What for? To maintain the rights and privileges ‘of all flesh.’ Not alone the people of this land. The principles of that great instrument are to go forth to the nations.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1917, p. 20)

I pray that we may strive to live righteously and uphold and support the constitution and the wonderful freedoms that our Father-in-Heaven has blessed us with in this wonderful land. And may we take advantage of the religious freedoms that we enjoy to live and to share this wonderful gospel we have been blessed with.

The Book of Mormon, Why?

Jeremiah asked,

"First I would like to say, I know nearly nothing about the mormon belief system. With that in mind, I would like to honestly ask, why would God have the book of mormon written, when His word was already completed with the Bible?
I hope you do not find my question offensive because I am asking out of ignorance. But what does the mormonism provide that Jesus has not already fulfilled?"

Thanks, it's a great question.

When you ask, “Why would God have a Book of Mormon written” the question that comes to my mind is, Why would God have Malachi write when Zechariah had already written, why Zechariah when Amos had written, why Ezekiel when Isaiah, Abraham and Moses had written and all the others that came before? I think part of the answer is found in Amos 3:7

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Another good question is, What is the Bible? We believe that the Bible is the Word of God revealed to ancient prophets and recorded by them.

So, Why the Book of Mormon? The first answer is, because God had other prophets and they also received His Word and recorded it.

John 10:16

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

We have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon, Another Testament. A testament or a witness in this sense serves to testify and witness of the Savior Jesus Christ and His teachings and gospel.

With the Bible, many have interpreted its contents differently and as a result we had many Christian religions formed because of doctrinal disagreements while still claiming authority and guidance from the self-same Bible. So another answer to the question, Why the Book of Mormon, is to serve as an additional witness of Christ and His teachings.

In the Book of Mormon, we read:

2 Nephi 29: 7-11

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

Also in Ezekiel 37: 16-17

Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

The Bible is the record of Judah or the Jews while the Book of Mormon is the record of Ephraim and Joseph. The Book of Mormon contains the record of the descendents of Lehi and his son Nephi, who were descendents of Joseph.

So the Book of Mormon serves not to replace the Bible, but to support, confirm and clarify all that is found in the Bible.

2 Nephi 3:12

Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

Another answer to, Why the Book of Mormon? brings us to a discussion of Joseph Smith, the translator of the Book of Mormon.

The Lord gave the Book of Mormon as evidence of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Here is a document that people can hold in their hands, study, question and pray about to: One, come to know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet of God, and Two, to know that the Lord’s Church had been reestablished upon the earth.

Moroni 10: 2-6

2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

With so many different religions all based on and using the Bible, the Lord saw fit to bring forth another testament of His Gospel in conjunction with the Restoration of His Church.

Let me know if you have more questions or if I can clarify anything that I said.


I would also refer you to two previous posts on this blog, “My Words Never Cease” and “The Council of Carthage…” The first is more discussion on the Book of Mormon, the second delves into the Apostasy and the Restoration.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


LDS Newsroom Article

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) is a break-off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). They both; therefore, have similar origins, practices and beliefs. This does not mean they are one in the same. Many people jump to conclusions about which beliefs and practices are the same and end up causing a great deal of confusion. It is probably best to view them as wholly separate religions rather than different versions of the same religion so as to avoid ascribing beliefs and practices to one or the other mistakenly.

Let me know if you have any questions I can try to answer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"My Words ... Never Cease"

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.

In general conference last October, I said there were two principal reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused, erroneously, of not being Christian. At that time I addressed one of those doctrinal issues—our scripturally based view of the Godhead. Today I would like to address the other major doctrine which characterizes our faith but which causes concern to some, namely the bold assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture.

Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles. Imputing no ill will to those who take such a position, nevertheless we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity.

One of the arguments often used in any defense of a closed canon is the New Testament passage recorded in Revelation 22:18: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of . . . this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” However, there is now overwhelming consensus among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Those scholars of our day acknowledge a number of New Testament “books” that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself.1 Perhaps there are even more than these.

But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it—one collection of texts bound in a single volume—did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000.2

The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be,3 then why, for example, the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah or of Jeremiah, who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and all the rest. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and . . . my words . . . never cease.”4

One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes: “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? . . . If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”5 We humbly ask those same questions.

Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written)—were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.

Please do not misunderstand. We love and revere the Bible, as Elder M. Russell Ballard taught so clearly from this pulpit just one year ago.6 The Bible is the word of God. It is always identified first in our canon, our “standard works.” Indeed, it was a divinely ordained encounter with the fifth verse of the first chapter of the book of James that led Joseph Smith to his vision of the Father and the Son, which gave birth to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our time. But even then, Joseph knew the Bible alone could not be the answer to all of the religious questions he and others like him had. As he said in his own words, the ministers of his community were contending—sometimes angrily—over their doctrines. “Priest [was] contending against priest, and convert [was contending] against convert . . . in a strife of words and a contest about opinions,” he said. About the only thing these contending religions had in common was, ironically, a belief in the Bible, but, as Joseph wrote, “the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question [regarding which church was true] by an appeal to the Bible.”7 Clearly the Bible, so frequently described at that time as “common ground,” was nothing of the kind—unfortunately it was a battleground.

Thus one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. “This is written,” an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “for the intent that ye may believe that,” speaking of the Bible.8 In one of the earliest revelations received by Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “Behold, I do not bring [the Book of Mormon forth] to destroy [the Bible] but to build it up.”9

One other point needs to be made. Since it is clear there were Christians long before there was a New Testament or even an accumulation of the sayings of Jesus, it cannot therefore be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. In the words of esteemed New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, “The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’ “10 In other words, “Scripture itself points . . . away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself.”11 So the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. The communication of those gifts comes from God as living, vibrant, divine revelation.12

This doctrine lies at the very heart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our message to the world. It dramatizes the significance of a solemn assembly yesterday, in which we sustained Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, a seer, and a revelator. We believe in a God who is engaged in our lives, who is not silent, not absent, nor, as Elijah said of the god of the priests of Baal, is He “[on] a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be [awakened].”13 In this Church, even our young Primary children recite, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”14

In declaring new scripture and continuing revelation, we pray we will never be arrogant or insensitive. But after a sacred vision in a now sacred grove answered in the affirmative the question “Does God exist?” what Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints force us to face is the next interrogative, which necessarily follows: “Does He speak?” We bring the good news that He does and that He has. With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.

In a sense Joseph Smith and his prophetic successors in this Church answer the challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson put to the students of the Harvard Divinity School 170 years ago this coming summer. To that group of the Protestant best and brightest, the great sage of Concord pled that they teach “that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”15

I testify that the heavens are open. I testify that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ, that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, a modern apostle with the keys of the kingdom in his hands, a man upon whom I personally have seen the mantle fall. I testify that the presence of such authorized, prophetic voices and ongoing canonized revelations have been at the heart of the Christian message whenever the authorized ministry of Christ has been on the earth. I testify that such a ministry is on the earth again, and it is found in this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In our heartfelt devotion to Jesus of Nazareth as the very Son of God, the Savior of the world, we invite all to examine what we have received of Him, to join with us, drinking deeply at the “well of water springing up into everlasting life,”16 these constantly flowing reminders that God lives, that He loves us, and that He speaks. I express the deepest personal thanks that His works never end and His “words . . . never cease.” I bear witness of such divine loving attention and the recording of it, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. See Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (1991), 46. The issue of canon is discussed on pages 45–56.
2. See Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Paleography (1981), 54–55; see also Are Mormons Christians? 46.
3. See Deuteronomy 4:2, for example.
4. Moses 1:4.
5. Lee M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, rev. ed. (1995), 255–56.
6. See “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2007, 80–82.
7. Joseph Smith—History 1:6, 12.
8. Mormon 7:9; emphasis added.
9. D&C 10:52; see also D&C 20:11.
10. N. T. Wright, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (2005), xi.
11. Wright, The Last Word, 24.
12. For a full essay on this subject, see Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 6–9.
13. 1 Kings 18:27.
14. Articles of Faith 1:9.
15. “An Address,” The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1929), 45.
16. John 4:14.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Council of Carthage and the Formation of the New Testament

“What is the LDS Opinion on the Council of Carthage, 397 AD, which is reputed to have selected the books of the New Testament as well as the discarding of Gnostic Scriptures from the New Testament?”

“Did this Church Council act legally, and by what authority?”

I’ll try to give you some short answers. They will most likely cause more questions, but that’s a good thing.

We accept the Bible in its current state. We believe it to be the word of God. In English, we use the King James Version. We also believe that the word of God can be found outside what is today included in the current version of the Bible. We have the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price that we consider to be the Word of God. There are certainly ancient books that have been left out of both the Old and New Testament (see Lost Books) that could be considered true scripture or the word of God. As far as defining specifically what those books are, we haven’t really, otherwise we would include them in what we call our “standard works” (The Bible and the three others I mentioned before)

As far as what the Church Council did, that gets into a discussion of the Apostasy and Priesthood Authority. When Christ died, the apostles, with Peter at the head, were left in charge of the affairs of the church. They took action to replace Judas (Acts 1:21-26), and really, the New Testament after the four gospels is a record of their council and instruction to the church (or the saints) as its leaders. Therefore, with a loss of the apostles, the church lost its authority and leadership and fell into what we call the apostasy. It should be said, that inspiration and divine guidance were not necessarily lost, but direct revelation and priesthood authority were. So, my answer to your question would be, that the work they did to form the New Testament was certainly inspired and that they had the earthly authority (so far as the church stood in that state) to make the decisions they did. We are very grateful for the inspired and faithful men who preserved those ancient scriptures that we may have them in our day.

Did that answer your question? Where there underlying questions that led you to ask this question? What questions did my answer bring up for you?

Thanks for the question!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Articles of Faith


History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535—541

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Joseph Smith

Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits

From a talk by Elder M. Russel Ballard

First, “Mormon” is a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members are often referred to as “Mormons,” “Latter-day Saints,” or “LDS.” The term “Saint” means “member.”

Second, the Church was restored in 1830 in upstate New York with Joseph Smith as its first prophet and president. Today it is headquartered in Salt Lake City, with President Gordon B. Hinckley as the present prophet.

Third, there are now over 13 million members in 176 countries and territories. About 6 million of these are in the United States, making us the fourth largest Christian denomination in America. As one of the fastest growing Christian faiths in the world, we complete a new chapel every working day. Members pay a tithe, which is 10 percent of their income, making this and other programs possible.

Fourth, local congregations are led by volunteer, unpaid members. Both men and women serve in assigned leadership positions.

And fifth, Mormons are well represented in politics and government. (In the United States, for example, there are 16 members in Congress, from both political parties.) Members also serve in high and trusted positions throughout the world in business, medicine, law, education, media, sports, and entertainment.

We believe in the eternity of the soul, that God is the Father of our spirits, and that we can return to Him after death.

We believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, and we try to model our lives after Him and His teachings. We commemorate Christ’s atoning sacrifice in our Sunday worship services, similar to taking communion in other churches. We accept as fellow Christians all who believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind. Many Christians do not understand that we have much common ground with them. Joseph Smith taught that Jesus Christ is the core of our belief, and everything else is an appendage to it (see Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 44). The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We believe the original church that Jesus established was lost and has been restored again in our day. The priesthood, the authority given to man to act in the name of God, with apostles and a prophet to lead us, has been restored as have all necessary ordinances of salvation.

We believe in and we use the Holy Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

And we believe in the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture which support and authenticate the Bible and testify of the ministry and divinity of Christ and of God’s ongoing revelation to man. Indeed, the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

Mormons place particularly strong emphasis on family as the basic unit of the Church and of society. We have a deep commitment to marriage (defined as a union between one man and one woman). Polygamy, a limited practice in the early pioneer days of the Church, was discontinued in 1890, some 117 years ago.

Families and individuals, whether members of our faith or not, can attend Sunday services in our chapels. Here we worship together, instructing one another from the scriptures.

Latter-day Saint families are encouraged to hold family home evenings weekly, usually on Monday nights. This provides a regular and predictable time for parents to teach values to their children and to have fun together. We invite those not of our faith to adopt this practice with their own families.

The Church has auxiliary programs for women, youth, and children as a support to the family. These programs provide such things as religious instruction, opportunities for Christian service, sports, drama, music, and Scouting.

And there is also much focus on extended family, genealogy, and personal family history, providing young and old with a stronger sense of roots, identity, and belonging. The highest and most sacred ordinances of our faith relate to our families, both living and dead, and some of these ordinances take place in our temples.

One of the fruits is a longer life. Studies show that practicing Mormons are healthier and therefore live longer than the national average. In 1833 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the Word of Wisdom, which is the way to live in order to enjoy a long and healthy life.

Second, those who are married in and attend the temple regularly have a divorce rate far below the national and world average.

Third, we achieve an educational level that is higher than the national average.

Fourth, over 70,000 members volunteer at their own expense to serve for 18 to 24 months in humanitarian efforts, Church service assignments, and full-time missionary service throughout the world.

And fifth, we place strong emphasis on self-reliance and a solid work ethic. We encourage active involvement in our communities and in providing service to others. The Church continues to donate substantial money, goods, and services to humanitarian causes around the globe, including untold hours of labor donated by members to assist in disaster cleanup and relief

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rober Millet and Greg Johnson Dialogues

Are you familiar with the Robert Millet and Greg Johnson dialogues? If so, what is your opinion?

Thank you,

I was not familiar with this. I looked into it briefly. I think it is great to have the kind of dialogue that they seem to be having.

I did not come across anything that described things they have specifically discussed.

Bud, did you have a specific question about what they have discussed or one or the other of them has said about LDS Belieifs?

Thanks for the Question.