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Are Mormons a Cult? Are Mormons Christian?

Are Mormons a Cult? Are Mormons Christian?

Are Mormons a Cult? Are Mormons Christian?I’m a Mormon.  Am I a Christian?  That depends on who you ask.  Let me explain:

1 – A different understanding of the attributes of Jesus Christ

Mormons believe that Christ’s body was eternally joined with his spirit as part of his resurrection.  This means that he didn’t leave his body on earth when he ascended into heaven.  To be clear, the Christ I believe in has a resurrected body of flesh and bone.

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Non-LDS/Mormon Christianity essentially teaches that God is a spirit, Jesus is God, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one and the same.  So when a Christian Pastor teaches about Christ, or the body of Christ, he is referring to a spiritual essence, not to the resurrected Lord; maybe he’s referring to both, but context is important.  This is a tradition that finds its roots in early Christian history. (For more on the LDS view of the Trinity see the post “Who is God?“)

I have had several discussions with Pastors of different Born-Again Christian faiths and they cannot answer what Christ did with his resurrected body when he ascended into heaven.  Rather, they refer to other passages in scripture that support their view.  For my part, I think Christ made a point of allowing his disciples to handle his body as a testimony of his resurrection.  Someday, I hope to have that privilege for myself.

2 – A different understanding of ordinances and authority

Mormons believe ordinances are critical to salvation and are performed after someone has experienced personal conversion.  For instance, baptism is a required ordinance to “be saved”.  There are other sacred and important ordinances required for salvation.  Ordinances must be performed by someone who has authority directly from God; we call this “priesthood authority” and we believe that this authority was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Traditional Christianity is not unified on this point.  Catholics believe similarly to what Mormons believe and claim to have that authority handed down through the Pope. Protestants and other Born-Again Christian Pastors feel “called” by God into their authority.  Born-Again faiths generally do not view ordinances as essential for salvation but merely an acknowledgement of Christ as their personal Savior. Rather, these acts are done to evidence an inward conversion to Christ.

Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

How was Aaron called? By a prophet of God (Moses) who literally called him to the work. No one can decide they want God’s authority and go acquire it by purchasing a diploma.

Acts 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

3 – A different understanding of revelation

Mormons believe in ongoing revelation.  Hence, Joseph Smith is considered a Prophet of God who translated the Book of Mormon and received modern day revelation to establish Christ’s church on the earth again.  If this seems strange and you believe in Christ, you might consider how John received the Book of Revelation…

Traditional Christianity treats the Bible as the only scripture and rejects the idea of modern Prophets in spite of the fact that many other scriptural writings are mentioned in the Bible for which we have no record (see “What about Jesus?” for examples) .

In contrast, God said to the prophet Amos:

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

So, by differing with traditional Christianity on the above points, Mormons are labeled a “cult” and “non-Christian” by Pastors of different Christian faiths.  Other than the fact that these labels sound evil and horrible, I agree that Mormons have our differences with traditional Christianity.  If you look at the above issues and Mormon beliefs seem strange to you, you are among the majority; be thankful for that.  However, you might consider where you stand on each of the above issues.  For instance, have you ever asked God for personal revelation?  Who knows?  Maybe you’re not a Christian either. 😉

Want to learn more?

Would you like to learn more about the Mormon faith? You can get a free copy of the Book of Mormon sent to your home by clicking the link on the right of this page. You can also request missionaries to stop by and explain other Mormon beliefs to you and then prayerfully consider if Mormons are Christian. You might just consider that a Christian church ought to have Christ’s name in it, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA, the “Mormons“).

What Bible do Mormons Use?

What Bible do Mormons Use?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints revere and love the Holy Bible as a record of scripture inspired by God and written by his prophets on earth. This short video set to the recent words of one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles on earth today, tells a short story about William Tyndale and his efforts to bring the Bible to the world.

What is a Bible?

The word bible derives from the Greek word “biblia” which translates as “books.” Literally, the Bible is a collection of books, individually written by inspired men of God, and brought together into a collection of writings.

Why do Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible?

What Bible do Mormons use?What Bible do Mormons use? The church views the King James version of the Bible as doctrinally more accurate than other more recent versions of the Bible. It also uses a powerful prose, which in some cases can make it harder to read, but because of its doctrinal strength, this version of the Bible is used by the LDS church.

Do Mormons regard the Bible as the Word of God?

When Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, penned the Articles of Faith, the eighth article reads, “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.”

Why did he write this? From the History of the Church (vol 1:245; 6:57), Joseph Smith taught that “many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” He also said that the Bible was correct as “it came from the pen of the original writers,” but that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”

For example, there are many lost books of the Bible as show in this post (What about Jesus?). There are also mistakes within the text such as this clear example from Acts on the experience of Saul on the road to Damascus. In the first instance we read:

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Then later when recounting his experience he said this:

Acts 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

Which is it? Did the men with Saul/Paul see the light or hear the voice? Joseph Smith authoritatively declared that Acts 22:9 was correct and that the first instance was incorrect.

The use of extra-Biblical records

Two questions often arise about the LDS use of other records and calling them scripture. The first deals with the scripture in the book of Revelation that says one can’t take from or add to this record. As noted above, the Bible is a collection of books and this verse was written hundreds of years before the Bible came together. If you want more of an explanation, see this other post entitled “Why do Mormons use the Book of Mormon instead of just the Bible?

The second question that arises is what evidence within the Bible is there that there are other authoritative records such as the Book of Mormon? I linked above to an article pointing out the records of prophets recorded within the Bible, but that we do not have. In this article “what is a Morman?” I discuss some specific scriptures that link the Bible and the Book of Mormon together.

In the LDS church we also believe in modern day prophets who receive revelation and record inspired writings. We have canonized many revelations Joseph Smith received in a book called the “Doctrine and Covenants” (D&C). Twice a year we have a general conference of the church which we also regard as scripture per this verse from the D&C.

D&C 68:4 “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

We also have a small book entitled “The Pearl of Great Price” which is a short collection of inspired writings including the book of Moses, Abraham, the Joseph Smith history, an inspired version of Matthew 24, and the 13 Articles of Faith.

Learning More than What Bible do Mormons use

Would you like to learn more than just what Bible do Mormons use? You can request a free copy of the Book of Mormon or have the missionaries stop by if you’d like by following the links above and to the right. My testimony of the Bible has grown so much by coupling it with the Book of Mormon and modern day scripture. All of these records testify of the mission of Jesus Christ and help us draw near to him.

Who is God?

Who is God?

Who is God?In 1820 an event took place that forever changed the modern-day understanding of who God is. The darkness and confusion of centuries of unenlightened thinking in the absence of a prophet of God dissolved when God again chose a prophet on earth to begin a latter-day restoration of His gospel.

A young boy of 14 by the name of Joseph Smith was confused at the many religions who were vying for converts. Living in Palmyra, New York, he had attended many meetings and wondered which of all the churches was true. His family was religious and regularly read from the Bible so he knew that “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor 14:33).

In his history he records one day reading in the book of James and having a powerful experience that these words were true. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

He went into a nearby wooded area where he could be alone and prayed to God seeking an answer as to which church he should join. His question wasn’t how to create a new church, it was just to get an answer as to which of the existing churches was true so that he could join the right one. He knew from the Bible that there was “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5), so he knew that all the churches couldn’t be true, especially with core conflicting doctrines.

In answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him to be a prophet in these last days so that God again could do a work on earth the same as he had done in ages past. We read in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” From this event and later revelation, Joseph learned the true nature of the Godhead just as prophets in ages past who saw heavenly visions and spoke with God face to face. God Himself answered the question “who is God?” by appearing to young Joseph and calling him to a great work.

Have others seen God?

Yes. Stephen when being stoned to death declared this in Acts 7:

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

How could Stephen see Jesus standing to the right of God unless they were two separate beings? We are created in their image after all. In fact, God specifically states in Genesis 1:26-27, “let US make man in OUR image.” Why the plural use? The word God in the Old Testament and specifically in Genesis 1 comes from the Hebrew word “Elohim” which is a plural word. Today’s current belief in the “Trinity” concept of 3 Gods in 1 being is both confusing and unfounded in scripture. God is not confusing but reveals Himself to prophets who then declare the truth about the nature of God.

Moses had a similar experience seeing God:

Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Obviously the disciples all saw the resurrected Lord after his death as well as did others as the scriptures record, so it is odd that some argue no one can see God when the scriptures themselves bear witness of this fact.

So who is God and what is the true Trinity?

When the Psalmist posed the question “For who is God save the LORD?” (Psalms 18:31) what was he asking? Who is God and why is there so much confusion over this in the world?

Who is God the Father?

God the Father is called such because he is the father of our spirits that live within our bodies. He is an exalted being who possesses a glorified body of flesh and bones. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to show us the way, the truth, and the life, that would allow us to return and live with Him again someday. He possesses an infinite love for each one of us and desires our true happiness and joy. He is the one God we worship in and through the name of His Son Jesus Christ.

Who is God the Son?

Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. As a premortal Son of God, he became the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) when he took on the mission to perform an atoning sacrifice for all mankind and pay the price of sin. When he did this, we the spirit sons and daughters of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). His sacrifice allows us to both repent of our sins that we may be clean before God, and to receive a resurrected body and thus return into God the Father’s presence when we accept Jesus as our Savior and keep the commandments.

When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit and fell from their celestial state in the garden of Eden, a separation from God occurred and Jesus became the mediator of all mankind between God the Father and His children on earth because as soon as we became sinful, we became unworthy to return to God the Father’s presence and needed someone to overcome this barrier for us. He is Jehovah of the Old Testament. Three days after his crucifixion, he rose again and obtained a resurrected immortal body of flesh and bones, the same as the Father.

Who is God the Holy Ghost?

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit which allows Him to dwell within us and touch our spirits to recognize truth when we are sincerely seeking to know it from God. When one prays with real intent, asking God to reveal the truth of a matter to us, and God knows we intend to believe the answer He gives us without denying the answer, the power of the Holy Ghost witnesses to us the truth of all things.

Why do the scriptures say there is one God?

Despite the fact that the scriptures talk about three separate beings and yet refer to just one God, there is much unneeded confusion over this point. Jesus prayed to the Father and told us to worship the Father. Paul also taught there was a difference between the two:

Ephesians 4:5-6
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

1 Timothy 1:2

2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are many verses which make it clear these three members of the Godhead are separate and distinct individuals, but they are ONE IN PURPOSE. They are completely unified and would do exactly what another member of the Godhead would do in any given situation. Jesus came to do exactly what the Father would do if he were here. The Father couldn’t come down and be born among men because he already had an immortal perfect body. The Son had to come down because he was a spirit who had yet to obtain a body. The Holy Ghost we believe will someday receive a glorified body when the work of the Father is done and His role as the Holy Ghost during this mortal experience for God’s children is complete. These three beings function in total unity.

The Savior himself taught this while praying for the 12 disciples:

John 17
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, [block]11[/block]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

How could the 12 separate disciples be “one” as the Father and the Son are one, unless it’s one in purpose and not physically one being? It wouldn’t make any sense as they would have to somehow morph into one physical being. This is the true nature of God that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings working together for a common purpose from a common framework such that they would each make the same decision in the same situation. This is our goal as well that we may become one with God and be his hands and feet on earth and perform the works he would do if he were here.

Learn more about who God is

If you would like to learn more about who God is and his dealings with modern and ancient prophets, click here to request a visit from the missionaries. Having served a mission myself, I know we’re not pushy people, we’re just looking for opportunities to share what we believe in the hope that you might consider these ideas and sincerely ask God if they are true. If you choose not to join us, we still love you and consider it time well spent sharing a conversation about God’s teachings with you. Knowing answers to the purpose of life and questions like “who is God?” can make a tremendous difference in our lives.

Here is what one modern day Apostle of Jesus Christ had to say about this doctrine.

What Mormons Believe In

What Mormons Believe In

In 1842, the editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, John Wentworth, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and asked concerning the history of the church and what Mormons believe in.  Joseph replied with a letter known in the church as the “Wentworth Letter”. The reason this letter is so well known is that part of it contained a list of statements which the church later canonized and put into the printed scriptures as core tenets of our beliefs. Today we call these the Articles of Faith and starting in Primary our children work on memorizing them.

The Articles of Faith

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.

What Mormons Believe In: Jesus Christ

One of the things that always surprises me in conversations with people is how our nickname, “Mormons,” has prevented people from understanding our deep belief in Jesus Christ. The actual name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” so written as to distinguish the church from that in former-days when Christ Himself organized the church when he walked the earth.

As shown above in the Articles of Faith (AOF), we believe in Jesus Christ (AOF 1) and that it is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved (AOF 3) and that the first principle of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ (AOF 4). We also believe he is coming again to reign personally on the earth as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (AOF 10). These points are fundamental to what Mormons believe in.

What Mormons Believe In: Scriptures

Aside from these core principles of belief, there are many other things that members of the church believe in. We have 4 different books of scripture that we use:

Bible: Old and New Testaments provide God’s word as delivered to the ancient people of the Bible through Christ’s ministry around Israel.

Book of Mormon: Contains records of two groups of people that were:

  1. led away from the Tower of Babel (around 2600 BC) to the America’s and were known as the Jaredites
  2. led away from Jerusalem to the America’s around 600 BC and were known as the Nephites and Lamanites

The book contains the writings of the prophets that were among these people and includes the visit of Christ to the ancient America’s. The book ends in 421 AD with the prophet Moroni (son of the prophet Mormon who compiled the record) burying the plates until they were revealed to Joseph Smith in 1827. He then translated the plates by use of an ancient holy device called the Urim and Thummim (translated as “lights” and “perfections” respectively and was worn as an emblem of complete truth. See Exodus 28:30, Ezra 2:63, 1 Sam. 28:6).

Doctrine and Covenants: This book contains modern day scripture as revealed to Joseph Smith and other prophets just as we regard the writings of ancient prophets as scripture such as Moses, Isaiah, Peter, etc…

Pearl of Great Price: The smallest book of the 4 which contains a prophetic inspired translation and revelation of the books of Moses and Abraham, an inspired revision of Matthew 24, Joseph Smith’s history, and the Articles of Faith as listed above.

Click this link if you would like to better understand why we use the Book of Mormon and not just the Bible.

If you would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon to see what it says for yourself, you can read it online for free (Book of Mormon online) or request a paperback book to be sent to you for free. You can also read the other scriptures online at the LDS church’s website. This website contains a number of questions and answers, but this post just addresses some of the core things people wonder about when they ask what Mormons believe in.

Do Mormons Believe God was Once a Man?

Do Mormons Believe God was Once a Man?

Among the questions that have rarely been addressed by the professors of religion, but which we hunger for answers, are these:

  • Where did God come from?
  • If God has always existed, but we only just came into existence a few thousand years ago as a race, what did He do before creating us?
  • What will God do after His work with us on earth is complete?
  • What does He do today?
  • Does he just create beings to worship him? Or is there a loftier purpose?

Many people in the Christian faith’s reject the idea that God was once a man because they largely believe in a trinity concept wherein Jesus and the Father are the same being. Yet they believe Jesus was born into this world so obviously He was a man. All of Christianity believes God was once a man! The difference with the LDS faith is we do not believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be the same being, but separate beings who are one in purpose. That is what the Bible teaches. This article will explain our beliefs about the origin of God the Father. Follow this link for more information on the Godhead being separate beings.

God’s Purpose

To begin, we first need to understand God’s purpose in what his work is all about. What motivates Him? Among the scriptures that members of the LDS faith quote most is this passage in the book of Moses. Specifically verse 39. In this experience as Moses converses with the Lord, the Lord has just told him about the vastness of creation and Moses asks to see it all. The Lord answers with a declaration of why he does what he does.

Moses 1:36-39

36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

It is God’s purpose to create and exalt his creations. He wants them to have immortal bodies and enjoy the blessings of eternal life in His presence. He created us for this purpose and he labors to achieve this objective, within the bounds of eternal law.

Premortal Life

In order to better understand why we are here on earth, we need to understand that we were created by God prior to life in this mortal realm, and there existed as his spirit children. There are a number of scriptures which illustrate this.

God is the father of our spirits.

Heb 12:9
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

In Job 38:1-7 the Lord asks Job where he was when the foundations of the earth were laid “and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” We were there. We are the children of God as Paul explained in Romans 8:16-17.

The disciples understood the doctrine of a pre-mortal life and here asked Jesus if one individual had done something there to warrant being born blind. The Savior doesn’t correct any false understanding of the notion of living before mortal birth, but instead declares the man innocent of sin before being born.

John 9:1-3

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

This one very clearly illustrates that Jeremiah lived prior to this life and was in God’s presence.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Purpose of Life

If you will look back up at verses 24 and 25, you will see that the purpose of this life is to be tested to see if we will keep the commandments. In our pre-mortal state, we did not have a physical body, but our Heavenly Father did (Jesus did not until he came to earth to be born and then resurrected). We wanted to be like our Heavenly Father and enjoy the blessings that a perfect immortal body would afford us. We, as children of God, wanted to be like our loving Father (and naturally a Mother as well though she is not discussed openly in scripture).

Paul taught in Hebrews 9:23 that things on Earth are created after the pattern of heavenly things. We also know that the word “God” as used in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew word Elohim and the -im on the end makes it a plural word. There are a couple ways to comprehend what this means, but one is that we don’t just have a Father in Heaven. Whenever did a child exist who had a father but not a mother? God has declared us His children and we are. In Genesis 1:26-27 we see this borne out when the Lord declares, “let US make man in OUR image…after our likeness…male and female created he them.” Who is the “us” and “our” if not a Heavenly Mother to pattern Eve after?

Our purpose in coming to earth was two-fold.

First to gain a body so that it would someday be resurrected and glorified and we would physically become like our Heavenly Parents.

Second, to be tested to see if we would obey the Lord’s commandments and be able to return to His presence.

Successfully passing the test of life does not mean one is saved by works. The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon said it best when he declared:

2 Nephi 25:23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

We know that it is only through the grace and mercy of God, wrought by the blood of Christ through his atonement, that we can have hope to be saved in the kingdom of God. We also know that declaring a belief in God without actually keeping the commandments, will not be sufficient to bring us into heaven. As Jesus declared,

Matt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Post-Mortal Life

There is much that could be said here about the spirit world and preparation for judgment. To save space in this post, I will direct the reader to another article I recently posted which explains our beliefs in the kingdoms of glory that await us (Do Mormons believe everyone else is going to hell?). As Jesus said,

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

If you will read the article just referenced, you will see the scriptural case for what we term “degrees of glory.” In short, Paul makes the case that in the resurrection there are varying degrees of resurrected bodies, some as glorious as the sun, some likened to the moon, and others like the stars “for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:40-42). He also speaks of being caught up to the third heaven in 2 Cor. 12:2. We believe these kingdoms of glory are what Jesus referred to as the “many mansions,” or places where we would be comfortable living for eternity, according to the light and truth we were willing to follow in this life.  The highest degree of glory is termed the Celestial kingdom and it is the place where God dwells.

Are we God’s Children?

So now to get to the heart of the matter. Does the reader accept that we are God’s children and that we have Heavenly Parents? If not, why do we call God our Heavenly Father? How can we have a Father without a Mother? What do children do but learn and grow and move toward becoming parents? What greater joy is there for a parent in seeing their children succeed in life, marry, and produce grandchildren for them to love and nurture as part of their family. Does it diminish the parent or grandparent to see the child or grandchild attain the title of “adult”? No. Parents build an inheritance for their children and try to prepare a better world for them to inhabit. This was taught by Paul in Romans 8:16-17.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What does it mean to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ? What does it mean that glory will be revealed in us? Again Paul responds in Philippians 3:13-14.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

What is Paul saying? Put the past behind you and push on toward our final objective. The prize to which we seek is to become perfect through Christ and arrive at the stature of a spiritual adult and attain the calling of God. To be an heir of God and inherit all things. To acquire the power of creation. This does not diminish God, it exalts Him. Recall that his work and his glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Immortality is living forever with a resurrected body. Eternal life is God’s life. It is to become “like” God, but never replace Him. He experiences joy in watching his children create, just as kindly parents experience joy watching their children create. He wants us to have what he has. This is what John the Revelator taught when he said in Revelation 1:5-6:

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

What does it mean to be a king and priest unto God through Christ? It means to have our sins washed away through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, grow from grace to grace, line upon line, in this life and the next, until we become as perfect in our attributes as God himself, and he is then comfortable bestowing upon us powers and kingdoms to rule over in the same way He Himself would, with love and perfection.

When the Psalmist wrote “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6), the Lord later confirmed in John 10 when the Jews took up stones to kill him.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

In other words, “if the word of God calls you gods and children of the most High, why would you call me a blasphemer for saying I am the Son of God?”

To me, this is a comforting doctrine. It explains our grand purpose in life, the reason for which God created us, and gives us hope that by living by God’s word, we may in fact become like God, not to diminish Him, but to further exalt and honor Him. To reject this concept wholesale means that one would have to provide an alternate set of explanations to all the questions that could be asked. Where did God come from? What did he do before creating us? What will he do after the millennium? What did Paul mean by explaining there are 3 different types of bodies in the resurrection? How was Jeremiah ordained a prophet before he was born unless he lived prior to birth? And what does it really mean to be a child of God?

God the Father was Once a Man

With this foundation laid, the LDS doctrine is that God the Father was also once a spirit child of loving Heavenly parents who placed him in a mortal realm to be tested and tried and eventually exalted. He lived a mortal life on an earth just like this experience we are having. He was exalted to be a God and our Father is the only God whom we worship. It doesn’t take away from God that there are other Gods throughout the eternities. God the Father is the object of our adoration and love and we worship none other. We desire to be like Him. Jesus said:

John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

What did Jesus do? He came down to earth, took upon himself a body, experienced death, was resurrected, and has received eternal glory.”

Don’t take my word for it

In my life I have heard no compelling argument to explain these scriptures away in any logical fashion contrary to what I have expressed here. On the other hand, I have a witness by the Holy Ghost that these things are true and I know that anyone who opens their heart and asks God with sincerity and real intent, can come to know these things are true as well. The key is, asking God with sincerity and intent to act on the knowledge. Let God tell you if it’s true. You don’t need my testimony or someone trying to explain these things away. Joseph Smith received his call to be prophet simply because he followed the counsel given in James 1:4-5.

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

I do know these things are true and that anyone who asks God with an open heart to know if these things are true, can in fact come to the same knowledge that you are a literal child of God, he loves you, he created you in his image, he created this world for you, he sent his Son to die for you, that you might return and live with him forever. I will love and praise my Heavenly Father and his Son forever for what they have done for me.


Miscellaneous Quotes from LDS Prophets

“We are destined and foreordained to become like God, and unless we do become like Him we will never be permitted to dwell with Him. When we become like Him you will find that we will be presented before Him in the form in which we were created, male and female.”
Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 276, June 12, 1898

“The fact that we receive the Holy Ghost is proof that the Spirit in warring with the flesh has overcome, and by continuing in this state of victory over our sinful bodies we become the sons and daughters of God, Christ having made us free, and whoever the Son makes free is free indeed. Having fought the good fight we then shall be prepared to lay our bodies down to rest to await the morning of the resurrection when they will come forth and be reunited with the spirits, the faithful, as it is said, receiving crowns, glory, immortality and eternal lives, even a fullness with the Father, when Jesus shall present His work to the Father, saying, “Father, here is the work thou gavest me to do.” Then will they become gods, even the sons of God; then will they become eternal fathers, eternal mothers, eternal sons and eternal daughters; being eternal in their organization, they go from glory to glory, from power to power; they will never cease to increase and to multiply, worlds without end. When they receive their crowns, their dominions, they then will be prepared to frame earths like unto ours and to people them in the same manner as we have been brought forth by our parents, by our Father and God.”
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:259

“As man now is, God once was-even the babe of Bethlehem, advancing to childhood-thence to boyhood, manhood, then to the Godhead. This, then, is the “mark of the prize of mans high calling in Christ Jesus.” We are the offspring of God, begotten by Him in the spirit world, where we partook of His nature as children here partake of the likeness of their parents. Our trials and sufferings give us experience, and establish within us principles of godliness.”
-Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses 26:368, January 10, 1886

“It is for the exaltation of man to a state of superior intelligence and Godhead that the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ is instituted; and that noble being, man, made in the image of God, is rendered capable not only of being a son of man, but also a son of God, through adoption, and is rendered capable of becoming a God, possessing the power, the majesty, the exaltation and the position of a God.”
-John Taylor, The Mediation and the Atonement-John Taylor, p. 140-141

“If I improve upon what the Lord has given me, and continue to improve, I shall become like those who have gone before me; I shall be exalted in the celestial kingdom and be filled to overflowing with all the power I can wield; and all the keys of knowledge I can manage will be committed unto me. What do we want more? I shall be just like every other man-have all that I can, in my capacity, comprehend and manage.”
-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:276, August 28, 1852

“You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation.”
Joseph Smith, Jr., Times and Seasons August 15, 1844

Joseph Smith’s Last Dream

Most people don’t know much about LDS church founder Joseph Smith. He had an incredible life of persecution from the time he was 14 and had what we call the “First Vision” to the time he was murdered by a mob in Carthadge, IL.

For the unfamiliar reader, the First Vision was the experience Joseph had during his time of religious confusion (you may read Joseph’s account here). There was a time when many religions were vying for converts and it created much confusion to young Joseph. He came across the scripture in James 1:5 which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Joseph was moved upon by this scripture and decided to take God up on his promise. He went into the woods near his home and while he prayed to inquire of God which of all the churches he should join, God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph in a vision and instructed him that he should join none of the churches of that day saying “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.” Joseph was told he would do a great work on the earth to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ in it’s purity. He was called to be God’s chosen prophet on earth just as Moses and other ancient prophets had been called and spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exo. 33:11).

Just weeks before Joseph’s death, the well respected Josiah Quincy traveled from Boston to pay him a visit in Nauvoo, IL. Of that trip, Mr. Quincy wrote this:

“It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who established a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High,–such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets.”

In Joseph’s last days before the martyrdom, he evidently had this dream which I had never heard of till I saw this touching video someone produced. Joseph Smith was an amazing man, called of God to serve as his mouthpiece on earth. He sealed his testimony with his blood, living true to the end in that faith that God revealed to him.

Why do Mormons use the Book of Mormon instead of just the Bible?

The really fast answer is, we don’t. However, this is a big question for a lot of people who have read these verses at the end of the Bible.

Revelation 22:18-19

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The part people don’t understand and misinterpret about these verses is that John, the author of the book of Revelation, was alone on the isle of Patmos when he wrote and completed this visionary work. The Bible as we know it today with 66 books wasn’t put together for hundreds of years. Those verses aren’t referring to the Bible, that it cannot have words added or taken from it, but that nothing should be added to John’s revelation or taken from it. It was meant by God to survive intact without change so that those in the last days would have the benefit of studying and knowing what had been prophesied.

Further evidence of this understanding comes from the writings of Moses in Deuteronomy 4:2 which says:

2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

If the interpretation of Revelation was as some in the world declare it, they would seal the heavens and prevent any further words from God from being given to us. However, if that interpretation were correct, then Moses’ words would have shut off all communication from the heavens as well. Where would Isaiah have fit in or Ezekiel and all the other prophets? Such is not the case. God calls prophets and speaks to them, using them as his mouthpiece on earth to guide his wayward children.

From the Book of Mormon, one ancient prophet was commanded to write these words from the Lord.:

2 Nephi 29:3-11

3 And because my words shall hiss forth-many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?

5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 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?

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.

As further evidence of this, consider that at the time the 10 tribes of Israel were taken captive by the Assyrians and then later escaped and were lost to our knowledge, it was during a time when there were many prophets among the Israelites. Who would dare say the words of the prophets that were with the 10 tribes were invalid just because they are not in the Bible we hold today? There are even several writings of prophets mentioned by name in the Bible which we do not have today (ex. 1 Chron 29:29).

Lastly, in the Book of Revelation it speaks of 2 witnesses that God will give power to, to prophesy at the battle of Armageddon. Are these not prophets who will utter the word of God in great power? Will they not declare the word of the Lord just as surely as Moses or Isaiah or Peter or Paul? When their writings are written will not people regard it as modern day revelation worthy of canonization? I think so.

Mormons don’t exclusively use the Book of Mormon. We use the Bible for its testament of God’s dealings in the ancient world and the Book of Mormon for its testament of God’s dealings in the ancient Americas, the Doctrine and Covenants as modern day revelation, and the Pearl of Great Price which was revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith. We regard all scripture as valuable for our profit and learning.

In the LDS church, we believe in modern revelation. We believe that God wants to speak with us today and has called a prophet again on the earth to show that he loves all of his children, the same today as he did anciently. If there were times in the past when God’s children needed inspiration from God, we certainly can’t argue we don’t need that today. From Joseph Smith’s first vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, to Thomas S. Monson today, God has called prophets to guide and direct his affairs on earth.

Metal Plates Found

A few years ago in a cave in Jordan, 70 metal books were found that contains writings and hieroglyphs that date to the 1st century A.D. Not only is this a wonderful find for the world, but also negates one of the criticisms of the Book of Mormon where some scholars have said the book couldn’t be true because nobody was writing on metal plates anciently. Joseph Smith also claims to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient plates as delivered to him by the prophet Moroni who lived on this continent around 400 A.D. Moroni appeared to him and showed him where they were buried near Joseph’s home in Palmyra, New York, and Joseph translated them by the power of God into the Book of Mormon. Part of those plates were sealed and Joseph was instructed not to translate them yet.

These images come from the article linked to above at the Daily Mail. There is more about them and an image of the cave they were found in at the Daily Mail website.

One of 70 ring-bound books (codices) made of lead and copper
One of 70 ring-bound books (codices) made of lead and copper

Who is Joseph Smith?

Joseph Smith was the founder of the Mormon church. Born in Vermont, December 23, 1805, his family later moved to rural New York. This video is an overview of his life and was produced by the LDS church. In it, you will see a glimpse of the boy who became a prophet of God just like the ancient prophets God called such as Samuel, Moses, and Malachi. God does speak to his children and he does call men to be His prophets today, just as in ancient times. I hope you enjoy this movie. Grab some popcorn and Kleenex.