Category Archives: Basic Beliefs and Practices

Answering questions about beliefs and practices within the church.

What do Mormons Believe?

What do Mormons Believe?

What do Mormons believe?When thinking about joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) I needed to know what they stood for and their belief in Jesus Christ.  I wanted to know what do Mormons believe in? It was very comforting to discover that they believed in a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally and His Son who saved us from death by overcoming it through the Resurrection.  They also believed we can return to live with God and Jesus by obeying God’s Commandments.

I learned that The Bible testifies of Jesus and so does the  Book of Mormon. I believe that these books are the Word of God.  We can know of their truths by relying on the Holy Ghost to help us recognize them.

I  also found out  that  the gospel of Jesus  Christ was restored to the earth through a prophet of God after a falling away. Prophets are how God reveals His will to men today as He did anciently.

It was very comforting to get answers to questions such as: where did I come from?  Why am I here? Where am I going after this life?

I also learned that families can be together forever.  As we try to be more like Jesus we can become closer to Our Heavenly Father.

These are some of the reasons I joined this church over 33 years ago and have never regretted doing so.  I know this gospel is true because it makes me and my family happy. These are a few things Mormons believe.

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

What is the Mormon concept of the Godhead?

One of the things that intrigued my parents into investigating the LDS church was when they heard that Mormons believed that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, were 3 separate and distinct beings. The modern day belief of many Christian churches regarding the Godhead being one being in 3 separate forms came about at the council of Nicea.

In A.D. 325, a council of Christian bishops met to discuss a consensus on their belief in God. One problem with this council was the church of Christ had ceased to exist and had gone into apostasy, leaving a group of men to reach an uninspired consensus on the nature of God. If you will recall the letters of the disciples to the various churches throughout the New Testament region, they were always trying to correct doctrine and ensure there was a unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13) among the branches of the church. As the disciples were put to death, the church members and even leadership began to lose its bearings. There was nobody to give direction to the false doctrines that permeated a church full of converts with different backgrounds and beliefs. This apostasy, or as some term it a falling away, was well known to the disciples of Christ. When the Thessalonians were getting geared up for the second coming of Christ, Paul warned them in these words that there had to be a full apostasy first.

2 Thess 2:1-3

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

If there was to be a falling away, the only way to restore the church of Christ was by again calling a prophet and apostle to the earth. The prophet Amos said:

Amos 3:7

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

Peter taught this shortly after Christ’s resurrection that the people needed to focus on repentance and not the second coming. He specifically told the people that Christ would remain in the heavens until the time was right for God to again speak by the mouth of holy prophets.

Acts 3:19-21

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

In the Spring of 1820, a young man named Joseph Smith prayed in faith to God asking which church he should join, because he was very confused about the different churches and their contradictory doctrines. Joseph’s prayer was answered by a glorious manifestation of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph. Forevermore, Joseph would know with a perfect knowledge that these two heavenly beings were in fact separate and distinct individuals who were one in purpose, not one in body. He was also given to know that the Holy Ghost was also a separate personage of spirit.

When the Bible says man was created in the image of God, it’s literally true. (Gen 1:26-27)

When Jesus was baptized and the people heard the voice of the Father from the heavens, it’s because the Father is a separate holy being whose magnificent son had just fulfilled a necessary covenant to show us the path home. (Matt 3:13-17)

When Stephen was being stoned and he looked up into the heavens and saw two separate beings standing together acknowledging that his work on earth was complete:

Acts 7:55-56

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.

When Jesus said, “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 5:19), he was being literal.

When Jesus prayed to the Father and asked if there was any way the bitter cup of the crucifixion might be taken from him, it was Him praying to his Father *in* Heaven. (Matt 26:42)

When Jesus said during his ministry, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29), on the cross he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:26). Moments later he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46)

We know these things to be true and the Bible to be understood in this context, because God spoke to a prophet in these latter days and restored that simple truth to the earth. For more specifics on our views of each member of the Godhead, please see this post “Who is God?

Do Mormons believe everyone else is going to hell?

I love this question because it gets to the heart of the unique LDS beliefs about the afterlife. One of the wonderful things about the restored gospel is the understanding of where we came from, why we’re here, and where we are going. The answers to those three questions constitute what Mormons refer to as “the plan of salvation.”  This plan of our Heavenly Father was designed to allow us to leave a pre-mortal world and journey to earth to receive a body and be tested to prove ourselves worthy of returning to Father and inheriting a glorified, resurrected body, and an eternity of possibilities for growth. For a short video explaining this in more depth, please visit this page (plan of salvation).

One of the most satisfying doctrines (to me at least) is the notion that when Christ said, “in my Father’s house there are many mansions” he literally meant it as “there’s a place for just about everyone.” That’s not to say that everyone gets the same reward no matter what they’ve done in life, because actions have consequences in the eternities. However, God’s great love for all of his children will allow them to have a place to dwell in which they will be comfortable.

The notion of “degrees of glory” was first expressed by the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15, he begins by talking about the resurrection of Christ and then discusses how God gave to every creation a body which will someday be “quickened” or resurrected (including the animals which have an eternal home with God as well for fulfilling the measure of their creation). Then Paul describes the human body and how there are differing degrees of glory that are as different as the sun is from the moon and the stars. He says it this way:

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Later in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

What does Paul mean by these things? Obviously he has something very specific in mind about at least 3 heavens and 3 types or classes of resurrected bodies.

If all we had to turn to were these few verses, we would dwell in confusion. Thankfully, in our day God called the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore the gospel and the understanding of these things. Joseph received a revelation now published in a book we refer to as the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains modern day revelation just as ancient revelation and teachings were written and recorded in the Bible and Book of Mormon.

This revelation explains that a loving God established 3 degrees of glorious heavens for his children to inhabit, contrasted by a place of outer darkness which is hell. Those who inhabit these kingdoms of glory and hell differ in the following meaningful ways.

Celestial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the sun. The Father dwells here in everlasting glory but straight is the gate and narrow the way which leads to this kingdom of glory (Matt 7:14). Only the humble followers of Christ may enter here after having made covenants (promise between God and man beginning with baptism) by the proper priesthood authority which God bestows on men he calls (Hebrews 5:4). The reward of the celestial kingdom is that of eternal life, or life as God lives (Philippians 3:14).

Terrestrial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the moon. This kingdom is a place for all the good and noble people of the world who loved the Lord and tried to do their very best to live according to the light they possessed. They failed to attain the celestial kingdom by rejecting the messengers of salvation who legally and lawfully administer God’s covenants. Throughout all eternity they will be damned, or stopped in their upward progression and never attain to the presence of the Father, but they may from time to time enjoy the presence of the Son, whom they loved in life, but not enough to take his name upon them through covenants. This kingdom will also accept of the “heathen” nations those who lived a good and moral life according to the amount of light and truth God saw fit to bestow upon them.

Telestial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the stars. This kingdom is a place where the wretched and wicked of this world will eventually dwell after they pay the price of their sins through torment and suffering and finally accept the atonement of Jesus Christ. This will still be a place of glory, but as Paul declares it differs in glory as the sun does from the stars, which is obviously an incredible difference, yet to those who inhabit this place, they will be grateful and filled with the joy they are able to obtain at this level of glory. These too are damned and may not progress to any higher kingdom. In this, they will not complain but with those in the Terrestrial kingdom, may feel a longing and sorrow over their separation from their Heavenly home and parents. They will never receive the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, but may from time to time receive the presence of the Holy Ghost to comfort them.

Those in a higher kingdom may visit those in a lower kingdom, but there is no way for those in a lower to attain to a higher kingdom.

Outer darkness: This torment is reserved for those miserable souls who were once fully enlightened by the gospel, embraced the covenants of salvation which would lead them to the celestial kingdom, and then so fully rejected the light, they become as Judas, willing to see their Lord crucified and turned to persecuting their Lord and His followers. Those for whom this terrible judgment is pronounced upon will be cast out into a realm devoid of light.

To me, there is no more tolerant concept of heaven available on earth than in the LDS faith. A loving Father in Heaven desired all of his children to return and live with him, yet in order to do so, they must prove themselves willing to make sacred promises and then fulfill them, in preparation for life in a Celestial world. No one in that realm can make a promise and not keep it or they would not be worthy of such a glory. Covenants such as baptism help prove us worthy of inheriting such a place as this. God maintains his status as God because his word is always good. For every law there is an associated blessing, and rejection of the law means there is a consequence of not receiving the blessing.

To read the actual revelation Joseph Smith received on these kingdoms of glory, please visit this link (kingdoms of heaven).

If you have questions, please feel free to ask us a question and we will try to answer it for you.

 

What Role do Women Play in the Mormon Church?

My mother passed away far too young.  She was only 58, and I was in my first semester of college.  It was devastating for our whole family.  It’s so difficult to articulate the impact her death had on my family because her roles were so far-reaching and monumental.  She was a comforter, a teacher, a friend, and a leader.  She was educated and had opinions about the world which shaped our view of things.  She inspired me to do my best.  Although she wasn’t necessarily politically active, she had a positive impact on the community by being a scout leader and by using her skills as a nurse -anesthetist to volunteer where needed.  Here’s the kicker…she wasn’t a member of the Mormon Church.  My purpose in telling you about my non-Mormon mother and the roles she fulfilled is to demonstrate that the roles women fulfill in the Mormon Church are really not much different than the roles women fulfill in society as a whole.

Mormon women teach in the Church.  They teach children in the Primary organization (including Cub Scouts), young women and young men in the youth program and Sunday School organization, respectively, adult men and women in the Sunday School organization, and women in the Relief Society, which is the largest women’s organization in the world with over six million members.  Mormon women also instruct and inspire congregations, or wards, from the pulpit during Sacrament meeting by giving talks on Gospel centered topics and by offering public prayers.

Mormon women are expected to be leaders by fulfilling various leadership roles in the Church at the local level, in wards and stakes, as well as in world-wide Church leadership positions.  As leaders in the Church, women are expected to sit in council with and advise Priesthood leaders, such as Bishops and Stake Presidents, in order to “counsel together for the benefit of individuals and families. Council members also plan the work of the Church pertaining to their assignments. Effective councils invite full expression from council members and unify their efforts in responding to individual, family, and organizational needs” (Church Handbook 2, para 4.1).  The two primary councils women in the Church participate in are the Priesthood Executive Committee and the Ward Council (Church Handbook 2, para 4.3 and 4.4).

Mormon women are commanded to help lead their family as equal partners with their husbands.  In 1995, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which states “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.  Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”  It is within the family that Mormon women and men are expected to focus their time, energies and talents on strengthening the family unit, in all its different makes, models and designs, thereby strengthening the Church and society as a whole.

In 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley gave this council to the Young Women of the Church: “The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.”   He continued, “For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way. You can be first class. There is no need for you to be a scrub. Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you. Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you. He is no better than you. In fact, he has already belittled himself by his actions. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities, and forever and always be loyal to the Church.”

I think my mom would have made a great Mormon.

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.

What do Mormons believe about the purpose of life?

So what do Mormons believe is the purpose of life? This little video does a good job explaining our beliefs. The coolest thing (in my opinion) about LDS beliefs is the knowledge of having lived before coming to earth and agreeing to come here with a veil drawn over our minds so we could learn to walk by faith, tuning in to the light of God to experience growth through personal choices. It was there that Jesus Christ was fore-ordained (or specially chosen and set apart) for his role as Savior. With the knowledge that there would be a Savior to pay the price of our sins, we agreed to come to earth knowing that there was a path home to heaven.

What is the LDS Church’s General Conference?

Each April and October, the LDS Church has a worldwide conference broadcast to buildings and homes throughout the world. At these conferences, the leaders of the church, men and women, address the body of the church with talks they have prepared after fasting and prayer to know what the Lord would have them address to the members of the church. Sometimes in a conference, themes will appear as multiple talks might address a certain subject, however, there are always a wide variety of topics discussed since the conference lasts 12 hours. The presentation begins with a General Young Women’s conference a week before the main general membership conference. On that Saturday night, the broadcast is directed only to the women. A week later, the general conference starts on Saturday morning and afternoon, each with a 2 hour session. That night there is a Priesthood session for only the men making a total of 6 hours that day. On Sunday, another morning and afternoon session are held of 2 hours each.

When I was a child growing up in Pennsylvania, I typically dreaded conference because we would drive to the chapel where they would haul out a radio and set it on a table by the pulpit and we would sit as silently as possible for each session we attended and listen to audio broadcasts of things I didn’t understand. As I got to be a teen, sometime in that time frame we got a satellite dish at our chapel and were able to watch conference broadcasts live on video. That was a big improvement and much more interesting. Today, living in Utah, I can just watch most of conference at home with my family. The church doesn’t broadcast the Saturday night women’s and men’s sessions on TV to provide an opportunity for those groups to get together and feel the companionship of their fellow saints while they gather for conference in a local chapel.

If you would like to browse a General Conference page, check one out here on the LDS church website.
http://lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng

If you would like to just see a “highlight” reel, the church prepared one here which I think is the first time. It’s about 18 minutes long and just shows short clips from talks in conference given by the men we sustain as prophets of God, that is those men called as Apostles of Jesus Christ, the longest serving of which is appointed as the President of the Church on earth and the Lord’s prophet just as a modern day Moses. Today, that man is Thomas S. Monson and I know him to be a prophet of God.

What is going to a Mormon church like?

I stumbled on some great little videos at http://www.mormonsmadesimple.com that explain basic things about the church and thought I’d post them here. This video shows what a typical church service is like in a Ward. We refer to 3 types of “units” in the church which are based on size and geography: Branches, Wards, and Stakes. (See Units on the Jargon page for an explanation)