Category Archives: Basic Beliefs and Practices

Answering questions about beliefs and practices within the church.

Why are Mormons baptizing the dead?

Mormon temple font for baptizing the deadOne of the questions Mormons are asked about is why we make a practice of baptizing the dead in our temples. Some have the misconception that we’re actually baptizing dead people, which is not the case, but we practice proxy baptisms where someone living is baptized for and in behalf of someone who has passed away that never had the chance to receive baptism from an authorized priesthood holder in this life.

To understand this Biblical doctrine, one needs to turn to the New Testament. In the writings of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, in the 15th chapter we find Paul explaining the doctrine of the resurrection and how Christ’s atonement paved the way for our receiving a body again.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

He then makes a strange argument. The Corinthian saints were baptizing people for their dead relatives and friends, but they had issues believing in the resurrection. He asks them why they are baptizing for the dead if the dead aren’t going to rise from the dead? It would be pointless.

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Paul didn’t condemn them for the practice, he used the practice to show them that there was an ultimate reason why they were doing it. That the resurrection (was real and they were helping their ancestors).

Peter taught that there are many people who died without knowing Christ, but God being someone that loves all of His children, provided means for them to be taught the gospel even after death so that they could accept and have faith in Christ and move toward returning to God’s presence. In this passage we see the example of some of these people being those that rejected Noah’s teachings and died in the flood. The same applies to all others who never had an opportunity in this life to accept the gospel teachings.

1 Peter 3

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

And 1 Peter 4:6

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

So in the LDS faith today, we do genealogy work to research our ancestors that never had a chance to hear the gospel in this life and then participate in the Biblical practice of being baptized on their behalf. This is not something forced upon them. In a revelation to a modern day prophet, he saw that those who had the gospel taught to them in the spirit world:

Doctrine & Covenants 138

33 …were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,

34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

35 And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.

Then those in the spirit prison, having been taught the doctrine of vicarious baptism (someone else being baptized for them as a proxy) for the remission of their sins and that Christ had wrought redemption for them, if they then accept the proxy baptism performed for them on earth by a mortal in one of God’s holy temples, they are able to then leave the spirit prison and enter into paradise to await the judgment and resurrection, as if they had been baptized on earth. They will still be judged according to the light and knowledge they had and used on earth, but they are able to ultimately progress forward on their eternal journey.

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What does the Book of Mormon teach about Christ?

Book of Mormon Teachings on ChristOne of the biggest misconceptions I have encountered in my life is when people who are unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon tell me that the book doesn’t teach people about Christ. To everyone that’s actually read the book, we know that almost every page in this 531 page work contains references to Christ, his teachings, his atoning sacrifice to deliver us from sin and death, and his tender mercies over the children of men. One of the stated purposes of the Book of Mormon in the title page was to convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Here is a sampling of some of the beautiful teachings of Christ from the book, but I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t read the book to actually get a copy and read it and then ask God with a sincere heart if it’s true. I know he will give you a witness that it is a true record of ancient scripture. God did provide a group of righteous people on the ancient American continent with prophets who communed with God just like the ancient prophets in Jerusalem.

From the writings of the prophet Nephi who left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and came to the Americas:

2 Nephi 2:5-9

5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

2 Nephi 25:23-29

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.

24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

28 And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.

29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

From the teachings of King Benjamin, a righteous prophet/king:

Mosiah 3:5-11

5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.

11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.

From the writings of Moroni, the last prophet and son of Mormon:

Moroni 10:32-34

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

If you would like to receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon and learn about the exciting dealings God had with the ancient people in the Americas, and more about the teachings of Christ, click here to receive a free copy. There is no obligation.

Do Mormons believe in a Plurality of Gods?

Do Mormons believe in a plurality of Gods?Among the doctrines taught in the realm of Christianity, none seem to divide “mainstream” Christianity from the LDS faith more than the doctrine of the Godhead, or “Trinity.” No doctrine of mainstream Christianity is more confusing than the Nicene Creed which makes the statement that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father.” This is a concept which is not only difficult to wrap your head around, but it is not supported by the Bible.

The most confusing part of this doctrine for most of the Christian world, comes as Jesus repeatedly tells us that He and His Father are “one.” What does that mean? To the Christian world at-large, it means they are the same being, able to break the laws of physics and occupy different areas of space simultaneously, in different states of matter (spirit (gas?) and solid (mortal body)). The Bible does not agree with this concept and it is easy to understand what Jesus was really talking about by an examination of a few scriptures. This is only a sampling. There are many that could be used.

Jesus denied being the Father

Matthew 20
23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Mark 10
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Luke 10
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

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.

John 14
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Even as a resurrected, glorified being, Jesus told Mary that he was not God or the Father. He worshiped the Father just as He instructed us to do.

John 20
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Paul the apostle wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:28, clearly identifying that the Son would be subject to the Father. A person cannot be subject to himself…

28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Paul also wrote to the Philippians that Christ was not God.

Philip. 2:5-6

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Manifestations that members of the Godhead are separate beings

Matthew 3
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 16
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them [Peter, James, John, and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration]: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

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.

But Jesus said, “I and my Father are one”?

One charge from those who believe in the Trinity concept is that Jesus told Philip the following, indicating that he was the Father.

John 14
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Paul specifically addresses this by pointing out that the Father and the Son are in the express image of each other. They look alike, just as Adam and Seth his son looked alike (Genesis 5:3).

Hebrews 1:3
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Another charge is that Jesus said He and His Father were one.

John 10:29-30
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.

This is easily understood by Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and those they would teach, that they might see eye-to-eye, have a common purpose and vision, and ultimately function as a whole.

John 17:20-23
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
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, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Which is the more Biblically sound concept? That God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings with a common purpose? Or that these three beings are actually the same being? Clearly, the Bible teaches that they are separate beings, united in purpose, with a desire for us to be united with them. Not to become some amalgamation of metaphysical substance, but to have the same desires to serve and love our fellow man. This was the reason Jesus came down to show us by his life what the Father would do if he were here. We have to be like the Father to go where he is. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life to lead us back home.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a modern day apostle, explains further here:

If there is a God, why is there such suffering in the world?

If there is a God, why is there such suffering in the world?

If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the world?Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why should there not be? What would the world be like without suffering?

If we are to believe that God should prevent suffering, at what arbitrary and subjective point should he prevent it?

What suffering should God prevent?

Should he prevent starvation which is an obvious target? How would he do so? By forcing the ground to produce crops spontaneously so that those starving individuals could just go out and harvest wheat or pick up manna from the ground? By forcing the rest of the world to somehow provide food for them?

Should he prevent murder, genocide, and all wars by either killing the murderers before they act or shocking them in such a way that they know they are displeasing God? Just think of the good God could have done and the suffering he could have prevented by killing Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and a host of other mass murderers before they acted.

Should he prevent adultery which harms the relationships of innocent spouses and causes hurtful grief and suffering?

Should he prevent theft, profanity that offends, liars that deceive people into giving up their wealth to help some “poor soul” (scam artist) that just needs to move $10 million out of Nigeria?

How should he prevent these things? By striking down the offender in the act, prior to the act when the thought is fully developed, or when the thought first occurs in their mind?

If one rationally thinks about these things, we would soon come to the conclusion that God would be hated by mankind for taking away the choices of any who might infringe on the rights of others, and thus God would be guilty of the same sin he is acting to prevent. We would soon worship the devil who would tell us we are free to do everything we want and our love for God would be extinguished in the moment our free will was taken from us.

It must become obvious that if there is a God, he must provide a level playing field for the souls of men to be able to, of their own free will and choice, follow God and find peace and joy through choosing to live his commandments, or else misery and pain by causing the suffering of others by their own actions. God’s laws are designed to give us choice with consequences that bring about one of these two ends.

God’s law of agency

In the LDS faith we call this principle, agency, or the ability to have free will to choose to serve God out of love and not by force. In the book of Revelation we read of a war in heaven in which Satan was cast out.

Revelation 12:7-9

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Why was Satan cast out in this war? From another book of scripture that we use in the LDS faith, we read two reasons:

Moses 4:3  Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;

First, Satan wanted to destroy our choice by creating a utopia where everyone would be forced to choose the right and everyone would wind up back in heaven because their agency would be suspended during this mortal testing period.

Second, because he was going to do this supposedly great work of ensuring that all of God’s children would return to heaven (albeit by means of force), he wanted God’s power for himself.

The resulting war in heaven had him forcibly removed and cast down to earth to tempt God’s children to sin by attempting to get them to violate others’ agency and establish his plan for forced righteousness on earth. We can see this in the actions of the communist philosophy which is forced equalization by those in power trying to create a perfectly organized society where nobody suffers (and yet everyone suffers). Misery abounds when agency is cut off.

Our Heavenly Father is a loving being that doesn’t operate under force. In a section of modern day scripture unique to the LDS church, we read God’s specific instruction to his priesthood holders about how they must act in order to please God.

Doctrine & Covenants 121:34-37

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson-
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Why does God allow for suffering?

God allows for suffering in this world because this world is a temporary proving ground, and for God to remove suffering would violate God’s laws and his honor and respect throughout the universe would cease. In essence, God would cease to be God. In order for God’s eternal plan for mankind to succeed, we must have our agency to choose eternal life with God. As for the suffering in the world, the true followers of Christ covenant with God to use their agency to do what God himself would do if he were here.

Mosiah 18

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

Do Mormons Celebrate Easter?

Do Mormons Celebrate EasterOf the Christian related Holidays, my favorite has to be Easter. There’s still the secular and fun element of my little children running around to find Easter eggs the Easter Bunny hid, but there’s not the amount of attention to shopping, wrapping presents, and avoiding the true meaning of the holiday that we see at Christmas. Easter is an easier day to celebrate and remember the real message of the season. It’s more of a sacred day since children aren’t running around playing with presents. We can be more contemplative of the sacrifice of the Son of God.

From the Book of Mormon, we read accounts of ancient prophets who also testified of Christ. When brought together with the accounts in the Bible we have two witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he died for us to pay the price of sin and provide a glorious resurrection. This is the most fundamental core point of our doctrine.

Alma 22:14 (speaking of the Atonement of Christ)

14 And since man had afallen he could not bmerit anything of himself; but the sufferings and cdeath of Christ datone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the egrave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

Alma 40:23-26 (speaking on the resurrection)

23 The asoul shall be brestored to the cbody, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a dhair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and eperfect frame.

24 And now, my son, this is the restoration of which has been aspoken by the mouths of the prophets—

25 And then shall the arighteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.

26 But behold, an awful adeath cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and bno unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter ccup.

Here is a video the LDS church recently released about the real message of Easter. Yes, Mormons celebrate Easter for all the right reasons.

How did God Create the World?

How did God Create the World?

The debate rages on between scientists and religionists over the creation timeline, but it can all be easily explained when we understand LDS theology and how creation was a 2-step process.

Spiritual vs. Physical Creation

In Hebrews 11:3 we read:

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

What does that mean? In the LDS book of scripture known as the Doctrine & Covenants, there are a few verses which help expand this concept.

31 For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal-
32 First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work-

How did God create the worldThe Lord declares here that there are two different types of creation at work. One was spiritual, and the other was temporal. In the beginning of God’s work, he created all things spiritually before they were created physically. At the end of the world, he will transform the temporal or physical things into spiritually perfected creations to endure through eternity (ie. resurrected, immortal joining of spirit and physical matter)

Genesis 2:4-5 expresses the creation concept in this way:

4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

So was it 7 days or millions of years for the earth to be created?

In the LDS faith, we have another book of scripture we use called the Pearl of Great Price, and in it there are two accounts of the creation story. The first one is in the book of Moses and gives us an account of the spiritual creation, while the second account from the book of Abraham is an account of the physical creation.

In the book of Moses, each period of creation is called a “day,” which Peter informs us that God’s days are like 1,000 of our years ( 2 Peter 3:8).

However, in the book of Abraham, it does not identify the creation periods as days, but as “times.” So things happened in the first time, second time, and so on.

Now this part isn’t something I’ve been taught as official church doctrine but it’s a way for me to mesh these concepts in what seems a logical way. God is a being that is not limited by linear time such as we are. Imagine that after planning the creation out during the spiritual creation, God then stepped into our temporal time line and initiated the gathering of star dust to form the earth, or even brings a massive star from another dimension and causes it to explode here in our universe. He then steps back out of the temporal timeline and as a multi-dimensional being, a moment later steps into the temporal timeline millions or billions of years after initiating this action. He observes the gathering of the atoms and particles and gives his next set of instructions from the spiritual creation plan and again steps out of the timeline. He then re-enters millions of years later on that timeline but to him it is just a short moment. Angels and servants of God could step into the work at important points to assist in beautifying and populating the earth by creating rivers, valleys, plants, trees, creatures, and eventually man was placed on the earth to begin the temporal existence of man on the earth. Each object has it’s spiritually created form placed within the physical form to give it life and a connection to God. It becomes a soul.

Now I don’t know that that’s exactly how things worked, but I do know from the scriptures that there was a spiritual and temporal creation and that someday all things will be revealed to us in a way that makes perfect sense. Knowing that all things are before God (D&C 88:41), and that he is not a being constrained by time, it make sense to me that he can influence things in lower dimensions as needed and at will much like we can turn to any page in a book and read or write on that page because we exist outside of that linear book. What makes sense to me is that there was a spiritual blueprint phase of creation, and then a temporal phase of actually making the stuff from the blueprint. God didn’t have to be here babysitting creation for millions or billions of years for the earth and universe to age. His time could have been 6 days of creation to get everything accomplished according to his time.

I realize this is speculative, but it’s sort of how I make sense of things until I get to watch “the movie” on how God created everything.

Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

is baptism necessary for salvationOn Christmas Day, 1977, I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I don’t remember much from it being so long ago and only being 8 years old at the time, but I’ve always appreciated that my parents arranged for me to be baptized on Christmas in honor of the Savior’s birth.

As members of the church, we have several key beliefs that help us understand the importance of baptism.

Jesus was baptized as an example to us

When Jesus began his ministry, the first thing he did was sought out John the Baptist and asked him to baptize him (Matt. 3:13-17). At that event, while Jesus was in the water, the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the sign of a dove, while the Father spoke from heaven his witness of the importance of this event saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

In the Book of Mormon, an American prophet named Nephi explained the reason for Jesus’ baptism in these words (2 Nephi 31:4-7):

4 Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

In other words, Christ was baptized, not because of a need to for Himself, but to fulfill a righteous commandment and to set an example for us.
Nicodemus was one of the ruling Jews, a Pharisee, and he came to Jesus by night asking some questions about the Savior’s teachings. Jesus told him he needed to be born again and this confused Nicodemus who asked how a person could enter the womb a second time. Jesus replied “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). These 2 events, being born of water, and of the Spirit, are baptism (by water) and the receipt of the Holy Ghost (of the Spirit).

At the end of Christ’s ministry, he also instructed his disciples to go into all the world preaching the gospel and “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). This doctrine can seem harsh until one understands the nature of what he means by damned (explained in another article “Do Mormons believe everyone else is going to hell?“)
The word baptism comes from a Greek word meaning to “make whelmed” or fully wet. Jesus was baptized by immersion to symbolize his death, burial (under the water), and resurrection (coming forth from the water) (Romans 6:4). When we are baptized we also signify that we are beginning the process of taking Jesus’ name upon us by doing the things he did.
Not everyone can baptize someone. They must receive their authority from God, not through a certificate of having attended divinity school. The Priesthood of God has been restored to the earth again, and authorized servants again have power to baptize and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost on people who desire to make covenants with God. (John 15:16)
There are some churches that teach that baptism isn’t necessary, and others who believe it so necessary that any who die, including babies that never received baptism, must be going to hell.

This article has addressed the necessity of baptism. In another article I have addressed the topic of people who die without baptism having the ordinance performed for them so they are not held back from their eternal progress. Now I want to briefly relate why infants do not need baptism.

Baptism is a covenant we make with God. It is an action where we promise God to live His commandments in exchange for His blessings such as the opportunity to return and live with Him again someday.

In the Book of Mormon, there was a period of time when some people were of the belief that little children who died without baptism were going to be cast off forever. The prophet Mormon corrected their thinking in this way.

Mormon 8:5-15

5 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
6 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.
7 For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying:
8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.
9 And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.
10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach-repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!
13 Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.
14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.
15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.

So is baptism necessary for salvation? Yes it is, but little children, defined in the church as under the age of 8, are innocent before God and do not need that ordinance for God to save them. Those who die without baptism over the age of 8 also have provisions made by God to receive that required ordinance.


Related Articles:
What does the Book of Mormon teach about Jesus Christ?

Why Do Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God?

Why Do Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God?

Why do Mormons believe the Constitution was Inspired?To a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there are few principles as important as the principle of “agency.” Agency is a gift from God to allow us personal growth through liberty and choice. In life, we choose what to be and how to live. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to free us from the bondage of sin and give us liberty through the gospel, but he also knew that oppressive governments would never allow the gospel to flourish. Totalitarian states create systems of control over their populations such that the right to worship is restricted or controlled.

Consider the case of the early settlers of this country. Many of them fled England because their natural rights were being violated. They had no freedom to worship God as they saw fit. To hold political office and influence laws, one had to be a member of the state church, the Church of England.

The Land of Promise

Ancient prophets on the American continent had great views of latter-day America. They saw things concerning the destiny of this country and how God would use it as a base of freedom, both religiously and politically, and called this country “the land of promise.” These prophesies are recorded in The Book of Mormon, another witness of Jesus Christ, and a companion volume of scripture to the Holy Bible.

One such prophet named Nephi, saw in vision the events that would lead up to the founding of this nation. He recorded in 1 Nephi 13 the following events (red text are my comments): Continue reading Why Do Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God?

Is the United States mentioned in the Bible?

Is the United States mentioned in the Bible?

Is the United States in the Bible?Jacob’s Inspired Blessing to Joseph

In the book of Genesis just prior to the death of Jacob the Patriarch, he called his sons together to bless each of them with prophetic pronouncements. His son Joseph, on whom was the birthright blessing, was given this blessing in Genesis 49.

22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:

23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:

24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

In the LDS faith, we interpret this as being Joseph’s descendents (branches) would be numerous (fruitful). They would travel (run) over an ocean (well of water) which is difficult for a desert people (wall representing the difficulty). They would arrive in a promised land containing everlasting hills and be separated from their brethren in the same way Joseph was separated from his brethren during his life. The American continent is the only one in the world with mountains that run from the top of North America to the bottom of South America. We believe these verses show the promised land given to Joseph was upon this continent.

Interestingly, in the book “The American Covenant” by Timothy Ballard, he references page 28 in “The Freemasons in America” by Paul Jeffers which notes that George Washington took his first oath of office with the Bible opened to Genesis 49 during his swearing in ceremony.

Continue reading Is the United States mentioned in the Bible?

Do Mormons Celebrate New Year’s?

Do Mormons Celebrate New Years?

Do Mormons Celebrate New Years?

As a child I remember on occasion staying up to watch “the Apple” drop in New York city at midnight on December 31st. For me, it soon lost its luster and I have personally found other ways to celebrate and ring in the new year besides an extra effort at incurring sleep deprivation. Now that I have children, that’s harder because they think it’s something fun to stay up till midnight just to do it as if watching the clock turn to midnight will have some type of social impact on their lives.

There is no church doctrine surrounding New Year’s celebrations except the obvious one. Do it sober. 🙂 The LDS church has a doctrine we call the Word of Wisdom which is a revelation Joseph Smith received on taking care of your body. The result of living that law for the past 180 or so years is LDS men and women have a longer lifespan than non-LDS people by several years. I’ve seen numbers that are as high as 11 extra years touted but that link to a study shows about 7 years.

The core of this doctrine is to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea (herbal is OK), and other harmful substances; and to partake of wholesome grains, fruits, and herbs. The revelation ends with a promise of health, mental alertness, and that the “that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” You can read the revelation on the Word of Wisdom in its entirety here. Continue reading Do Mormons Celebrate New Year’s?