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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mormon Facts

Information is power. Misinformation is someone else’s power. Knowledge is information understood. Wisdom is knowledge applied for the best. Mormons believe that Heavenly Father encourages us to grow in knowledge toward wisdom shared.  As such, I detest misinformation. So, here are some facts about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These are our Articles of Faith as written by our first prophet, Joseph Smith.

  • We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  • We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
  • We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  • We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:
  • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Repentance.
  • Baptism by immersion for the remission of sin.
  • Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • 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.
  • We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
  • We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 paradisaical glory
  • We claim the privilege of worshipping 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.
  • We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  • 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.

These are what Mormons are supposed to believe and exemplify, as priests and those who may one day become such. But, like the rest of the planet we are human. The faults and obsessions of the Church stem from this fact, not the Church itself. Personally, I presently do pretty poorly as a representative and try not to act as such unless it seems required.  But these are guiding principles to be striven for, and repentance with forgiveness is there for a good reason.

In typical commandment fashion, our Word of Wisdom, our well-known dietary law, began as a revelation to encourage good health through exercise and moderation, until our bad behaviour reached a point where it needed to become a commandment.

It says the following:
  1. A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirkland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion --
  2. To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days --
  3. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
  4. Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs who do and will in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation --
  5. That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
  6. And, behold, this shoulder be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
  7. And again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for washing of your bodies.
  8. And, again tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
  9. And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
  10. And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man --
  11. Every herb in the season of, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
  12. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
  13. And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or cold, or famine.
  14. All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
  15. And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine or excess hunger.
  16. All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine ; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground --
  17. Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oaats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
  18. And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandment, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
  19. And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
  20. And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
  21. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

That’s it, straight from the Doctrine and Covenants, a promise that if you live a healthy lifestyle, you’ll resist diseases and other illnesses.

Some say that we have to blindly follow what our leaders say and are unable to speak against it. This is true only in the sense that we are supposed to be official representatives of the Church and aren’t supposed to represent our own takes on things as doctrine. Doctrine can change with revelation, but it is not to be misrepresented. However, the Church is based on the idea of personal revelation and testimony. Upon receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism, we can ask through prayer about the truth or falsehood, benefit or danger, of anything to which such an answer applies. You can get a yes or no that can be clearly felt if you are in harmony with the Spirit. We trust that, not the mere words of old men. Of course, that leads to trusting the old men’s words, but that’s not blind faith.

In fact, the only person we confess to, unless we done something major like spousal abuse, is the Lord. It is to him that we offer repentance for forgiveness, and it is to any victims of our actions that we try to make amends. He forgives all who honestly seek him and we are to do the same, including forgiving ourselves. Guilt is not one of God’s tools, but a product of the enemy.

Our faith is willing to be tested through prayer, personal testimony, and an open promise. At the end of the Book of Mormon it says:

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 thing, and ponder it in your hearts.
4.       And when ye shall receive these things, I 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.”

I can only say that without much “faith in Christ”, perhaps the proverbial “mustard seed”, I tested the promise and got an answer. That’s why I eventually joined the Church.

And those are the facts.