Disclaimer from Bridget: This is what I believed at one time, however my beliefs have evolved, and I am no longer a member of the Mormon Church.
Basic Background of the LDS CHURCH
1. The actual name of the Mormon Church is the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Mormon is a nick-name given to the church because of a book of scripture they believe in, called The Book of Mormon. The word, Latter-Day is as opposed to former days of Christ, meaning that we are living in the last days before the second coming of Christ. The members in Jesus' early church were called 'saints', which is the reason that LDS members call themselves 'saints'.
2. In the year 1820, a young boy (about 14 yrs. old, named Joseph Smith lived in the area of Palmyra, New York. He was very spiritually-minded and studied the Bible daily with his family. There were many Christian churches in his area and he was trying to decide which one he should join. His mother and siblings had already joined various denominations. He was visiting the different congregations but found they all taught differently about things in the Bible. He didn't think that all the contradictory interpretations could be correct so, he decided to follow the admonition in the book of James that said, "If any of you lack wisdom, let Him ask of God." So, one morning he went into the woods near his house and knelt down and prayed. He had no idea what to expect, but he said that during this prayer a vision opened up to Him and that God, the Father, and His son Jesus Christ appeared to him. When he asked his question about what Church to join, Christ told him to join none of them as His original church, when He was on earth, had become corrupted and was lost. Joseph was told that he would be called as a prophet to restore the church of Jesus Christ as it was when Jesus established it.
3. That restoration of Christ's originally-established church included the "Priesthood" or authority to act in God's name. Just as Jesus had given His apostles authority to baptize, heal the sick, and run the church, Joseph Smith and the early church leaders were restored to that same priesthood. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was officially established on April 6, 1830, with six members, under Joseph Smith's leadership, and it grew to 26,000 while he lived. It has now grown to 14 million on six different continents. When Joseph Smith first established the LDS Church it was not a complete organization. There were only a few members and so the structure of the church evolved gradually into the same type of organization that Jesus Christ established in His day. It started out with Joseph Smith as a prophet (leader of the church), with two counselors, and then evolved into a whole Priesthood organization of twelve apostles, high priests, elders, deacons, teachers etc.
4. Part of this restoration also included further revelation. Unlike the Catholics who believe they have their authority through Peter, the Mormons interpret the scripture "Upon this rock I will build my house" as meaning the "rock of revelation", (not Peter, a man), because when Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?", Peter boldly shot forth with, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus then said that flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but the Holy Spirit. So, the LDS Church claims its authority through revelation, and that God still calls prophets today who receive further scriptures pertinent to the latter days as they have in the LDS Church.
5. The Mormon Church has four standard works they consider scripture.
1) The Bible, as far as it is translated correctly. Joseph Smith said there were errors in the Bible, and through revelation claimed to have cleared up some of these errors.
2. The Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith claims covers a thousand years of history of the American Indian on the American Continents, from the years 400 BC to 600 AD. He said that an angel, named Moroni (an ancient American Indian prophet) appeared to him and showed him some buried gold plates, and that he translated them into what today is known as the Book of Mormon (Mormon being one of the Indian prophets in the Book of Mormon).
3. The Doctrine and Covenants, which are revelations Joseph Smith received from God concerning doctrine and teachings of the church for these latter days.
4. Lastly, the Pearl of Great Price, which is from papyrus Joseph Smith translated that claims to be of the writings of Moses, and Abraham about God's potential for man.
One of the best informational books on the Mormon Church, that I believe is very accurate, is a book called Mormonism For Dummies.
Beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Supported by Scriptures from the King James Version of the Bible
(Beliefs on which critics of the LDS Church disagree)
1. The Holy Trinity - Three Separate Beings
a. Matthew 26:39 "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! Nevertheless, Not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Here we see Christ is not praying to himself but to his Father, and that there are two separate wills.)
b. John 17:23 "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." (Here you see that Christ meant one in purpose, not one and the same being.)
c. John 20:17 "Touch me not for I have not yet ascended unto my Father..." (A son often looks like his father and acts like his Father but they are not one and the same being.)
d. John 17:21 "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... (Jesus told his disciples that he would that they would be one even as the Father and I are one. Does that mean the disciples should all jump in Jesus' body, or be one in purpose.)
There are many other scriptures but I will only give you a few for each point made. Each religion can interpret scripture in various ways. That's why there are so many denominations. That was the problem Joseph Smith had when he was looking for a church, and why he prayed. The reason God puts prophets on the earth is avoid such confusion. God's prophet can say, "Thus saith the Lord." Of course one must determine whether a person is a true prophet or not. Most mainstream Christian religions today say that there are no prophets on the earth today by quoting the New Testament scripture which says, "...there will be false prophets in the last days." But, that denotes there will also be true prophets, otherwise Jesus would have said, there will be NO prophets in the last days.
Before the days of Constantine, Jesus' church taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were three separate beings. Because Constantine in 365 A.D. wanted to unite the kingdoms, he had an ecumenical counsel and they voted on many religious beliefs. They decided to accept the Nicene Creed (a pagan belief) of the three in one theory.
2. Eternal Marriage
a. Mark 12:25 "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage: but are as the angels which are in Heaven."
Most mainstream Christian Faiths use this scripture to say there is no marriage in Heaven, therefore when they wed, ministers say, "Until death do you part." In this scripture the Sadducees were trying to trick Jesus by telling of a woman whose husband had died, and she married her husband's brother. That was a custom in those days. The brother died too, and she went on to have seven other husbands. So, the Sadducees asked, "Whose wife she will be in the resurrection." That's when Jesus gave that scripture. It is important not to take a scripture out of context but to read the whole text and all the cross references. Otherwise you may not get the full meaning of a scripture.
b. Matthew 16:19 "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Jesus gave his disciples the authority to seal marriages and relationships for eternity. The woman in the above story was not sealed to any of the men she married and that is why Jesus said she would not be married in heaven. Think about it for a minute. If God ordained marriage, families, sex, etc. on earth because they would bring us so much joy, why would he take it away in the eternal perspective. For those who do not want marriage or families, they can choose to become ministering angels in the next life. Temple sealings are for binding marriages in heaven (eternity) as well as on earth.
c. 1 Corinthians 11: 11-12 "Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."
3. The Degrees of Glory in Heaven
a. John 14:2 "In my Fathers house are many mansions."
b. 1 Corinthians 15: 4-42 "There is a glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars..."
c. 2 Corinthians 12: 2-5 "I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago....such a one caught up to the third heaven."
d. Revelation 20:12-15 "Telestial (the lowest of the three heavens or heavenly kingdoms) is by those who suffer hell in their spirit state..."
To say that there is only a heaven or hell is like a Principal of a school who says there are only "A" or "F" grades. Most students fall into the "C" grade. Therefore, the scriptures talk about the glory of the sun or the "few there be that make it" into the celestial glory. Those who want to become like the Savior and pursue excellence (Matt. 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect,") go to that degree of glory. In the glory of the Moon, or terrestrial glory, are average good people, but not valiant in their faith in Christ. The glory of the stars, or telestial kingdom, is where those who loved evil and doing wickedly will go. God is a reasonable and just God.
4. Gospel Preached to the Dead and Proxy Baptism for the Dead
a. 1 Peter 3:18-20 "...by which he (Jesus during the 3 days before his resurrection) went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient...in the days of Noah."
b. 1 Peter 4:6 "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh..."
c. 1 Corinthians 15:29 "Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead if the dead rise not at all. Why are they then baptized for the dead."
In these scriptures the members of the church had already lost their faith in the resurrection, and Paul asks them then, why they are baptizing by proxy for the dead if the dead do not rise at all.
When Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise," mainstream Christians interpret that to mean that the thief went straight to heaven that day. This is where some religions came up with the idea of "deathbed" repentance. After the three days that Jesus's body lay in the tomb, Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and said, "I have not yet ascended to my Father in Heaven. So, he did preach to the spirits in paradise (the spirit world and spirit prison) but that is not heaven. People will be assigned to heaven or the three degrees of glory after judgment day.
5. Man, a god in Embryo
a. Psalms 82:6 "Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high."
b. 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6 "As there be gods many and lords many."
We are told in the scriptures that we are "joint heirs with Christ" and as God is our father and creator of our spirits we have the potential to become little "gods." Similarly, as children grow up to be like their parents, they will inherit all they have.
6. Plural Marriage
a. Genesis 16:3-4 "And Sarai, Abraham's wife gave Hagar to her husband..."
b. Genesis 29:23-25 "Jacob married Leah and Rachel."
c. 2 Samuel 12:9-12 "But because of David's sin, the Lord took away his wives and gave them to a neighbor."
The Mormon Church believes that polygamy is only allowed at certain times in history when God commands it. Only 3% of the Mormon men were even allowed to have other wives because you had to be very righteous and be able to support more wives and children. It is a well-known fact that women only produce so many eggs, and by a certain age can no longer bear children. Men, on the other hand, have sperm well into their later years and can impregnant many other women who want children. When polygamy became against the law of the land, God told the prophet that it should no longer be practiced. Those who practice it after that law were excommunicated from the church. When it was practiced, the first wife had to agree to other wives or it was not allowed. Only one wife is necessary to live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of Heaven.
7. "Add to or Take From" Scripture
a. Revelation 22:18-19 "If any man shall add to or take away from these words.."
Deut. 4:2 and Matt.5:19 say the exact same thing. Revelation was not the last book written. It was just placed last in the Bible. These scriptures simply mean not to "add to or take from" those particular words or books, otherwise there should be nothing after the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. The Pharisees were always telling Jesus that he was adding to the Old Testament, and that it was blasphemous.
b. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says that scripture is not of private interpretation but only by holy men chosen of God. Again we see the need for living prophets today.
8. The Book of Mormon
a. Ezekiel 37:15-28 "A stick of Joseph (a stick was a written scroll in the Old Testament) and a stick of Judah will come together as one stick..."
The Bible is the history of the Jews and their descendants. The Book of Mormon is the history of the descendant of Joseph through the lineage of Manassah. Both are witnesses that Jesus is the Christ.
b. 1 Timothy 5:19 says that "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall everything stand." In a court of law, the more eyewitnesses, the better.
c. John 10:16 "Other sheep I have who are not of this fold. Them too I must visit."
The Indians of South America and Mexico have in their history recorded about the great white God who came to visit them after His resurrection. These Indians knew about baptism by immersion, and many other Christian practices which surprised the Catholic settlers who came to Christianize these heathens. The reason the Mormon Church is growing so fast in South America is because they recognize their own history in the Book of Mormon. Archeologists have found places by using the Book of Mormon. Old Rivers in Mexico and South America are named Mormon and Lehi.
a. Jeremiah 1:4-6 "The Lord knew Jeremiah, and he was sanctified and ordained to be a prophet before he was born."
b. John 3:13 "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven."
c. Job 1:6 "Now, there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."
a. Amos 3:7 "Surely, the Lord God will do nothing except he revealeth it first to his servants the prophets."
b. Ephraim 4: 11-14 and 1 Corinthians 12: 28-31 "And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
Jesus' church should be the same today as then and have the same authority.
c. Malachi 4:5-6 "Behold, I will reveal unto you the priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."
d. Matt. 17:10-13 "Elias shall truly come and restore all things." (including the lost priesthood)
a. Revelation 7:15 "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple."
b. Revelation 1: 6 "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; ...." Rev. 3:12 "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God... and I will write upon him my new name."
Throughout the book of Revelation it talks about the temple ceremonies, white garments worn and receiving a new name.
According to the ancient Christian martyr Origen, a true Saint had to have and wear special garments in order to properly offer sacrifices in the temple. According to other ancient Christian scholars who were taught by John the Revelator, and ancient research done by Dr. Mosheim, many temples were destroyed or defiled because of anti-Christian persecution. "This long and cruel persectuon commenced in the month of February or April, A.D. 303...and it was introduced by the destrucion of the spacious Christian temple at Nicomedia, and the burning of the books found in it."
Another ancient Christian writer of that time, Hippolytus, wrote "We have delivered to you briefly these things concerning baptism and the oblation because you have already been instructed concerning the resurrection of the flesh and the rest according to the Scriptures. But if there is any other matter which ought to be told, let the bishop impart it secretly to those who are communicated. He shall not tell this to any but the faithful, and only after they have first been communicated. This is the white stone of which John said there is a new name written upon it which no man knows except him who receives."
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Are all young men (and women) required to go on missions for the church, or is there a lot of pressure in the Mormon church to go?
Answer 1: The youth are prepared early on to want to go on missions for the LDS Church but they do not have to go. Young men are usually called at 19 years old to go on missions but can go at a later age as well. Females cannot go on missions until they are 21 as they are more encouraged for marriage and having children, but if they do not happen to be married by then, they are welcomed to go on missions. But, yes there is somewhat of a status and pressure to fulfill a mission in the LDS Church.
Question 2: Who calls you on this mission and who decides where you go on a mission? How are these missions payed for? What if you can't afford to go on a mission but want to?
Answer 2: When a young man or woman is ready to serve a mission, they fill out forms and paperwork that the pastor/minister of their congregation (who is called a bishop) sends into church headquarters in Salt Lake City. These bishops also hold a worthiness interview with the young man or woman determining their testimony of the church and moral cleanliness. The leaders at church headquarters pray about where the person should be sent. When I served my mission in 1969-71 I received a special letter from the then prophet/president of the church whose name was David O McKay to serve in Austria. On the forms I filled out I was given 3 choices of places I would like to serve. I believe they look at where your ancestors are from and often pick places determined by that. In the LDS Church there is not a paid ministry and so missionaries pay their own way. The parents or young people themselves usually have saved money in a mission fund to go. Having to pay your own way helps determine that your motives for going are not based on money but because you want to serve. If a person, such as myself, at the time cannot afford to go, then our congregation helps. I was thrown a big party with a money tree for my mission. About six months into my mission my father was so blest financially that the congregation no longer needed to help. In fact, my dad used to write me not to come home off my mission as he was being so financially blessed. I believe that God blesses any person in any church that wants to serve him.
Question 3: If marriage in the Mormon Church is for eternity, do they ever allow divorce? Let's say you get married to a person you think is great in the beginning and then they change and become abusive or criminal, are you stuck with them forever?
Answer 3: Even though the LDS Church and Jesus in His day do not want or like divorce, they both recognized that marriages and people can have serious difficulties, so that the answer is, "Yes, under certain circumstances, couples can get a Temple divorce". It happens more than the church would like.
Question 4: I hear that the LDS Church takes care of its own and helps the widows and poor; that they have well-organized welfare farms and help for members out of work, etc. Is that true? Do they have to pay back money for this? It is true that the LDS Church is well-organized as in the article that Tom put in your packet: The Ultimate Organization Men?
Answer 4: Part of this order of things in the LDS Church is that families are told to go to their immediate family or distant relatives for help first, and then come to the church for help last. Going to the government for help should be a last resort. There were several times when my husband was in school and I had been in a serious car accident that the church paid our rent and brought us food. No you do not have to pay money back for this, but paying church tithing is expected.
Question 5: What does 'Tithing' mean in the LDS Church?
Answer 5: Mormons believe that tithing is giving ten percent of your income. They often quote from Malachi to bring your tithes and offerings into the storehouse and the windows of heaven will be opened up to you. Mormons also believe in offerings for building funds, missionary funds, and one of the interesting things they do is hold a Fast and Testimony Meeting once a month at church where members share their personal spiritual experiences, and they fast for two meals. The money they save from those two meals pays for the needy in their congregation.
Question 6: How does the LDS Church treat those who leave the Mormon Church or show any disloyalty or interest in a different church? What is excommunication, and do you have to write a letter to leave the church?
Answer 6: My husband and I left the Mormon church once about fifteen years ago to investigate the Seventh Day Adventist church. We were gone about two years before we came back to the LDS faith. During that time we still had visits from the LDS Church members and they were nothing but kind and polite to us - very welcoming when we returned. They respected that we had doubts and had to do our own searching. Two years ago when we moved from Iowa to Florida we decided not to go back to the LDS Church. We did have the LDS bishop visit us at our home here last year to see where we stood on the church. We explained to him that we did not have a faith in certain teachings of the LDS Church and would no longer be active. He asked us if we knew 100% that the church was false, and we said no. We told him that unless God told us directly to go back to the LDS Church we would not be back. We did tell him that we were investigating and attending the Nazerene Church right now. He said that was fine and he would welcome us back into the church anytime we wanted to come back. He did say if we got baptized and become members of the Nazerene Church that our names would be taken off the church records. They have totally left us alone since then and we have no desire to join any church right now.
So much depends on the bishop of the congregation you are in, I have found. Generally we have had really good caring men as bishops. I know some people have had very bad experiences with church leaders, especially on the issue of homosexuality, but fortunately we didn't.
The only reasons you can be excommunicated from the Mormon Church is for serious sins like adultery, immorality, abuse, murder, serious criminal behavior, or if you join with churches or groups that are antagonistic against the church. If you want your name off the records of the church or are joining another church you do have to write a letter of resignation.
Question 7: You mentioned your standard works; where are these papyrus you talked about that claim to have the writings of Moses and Abraham in this book called "the Pearl of Great Price" and, what language were these papyrus in?.
Answer 7: It is my understanding that fragments of these papyrus are in the New York Metropolitan Museum and LDS Church archives. There has been controversy over whether Joseph Smith translated these papyrus correctly and they were supposed to be in reformed Egyptian I think. The main things I gleaned from this book is the great potential of man and purpose of God, which makes it worth reading.
from a Presentation at New Church Family
Daytona Beach, FL
Sept 20, 2011
Copyright Â©2011 Bridget Night. All rights reserved
To get Bridget's book, Prayers For Jonathan, please Click Here.
Please see Part II of Bridget's Presentation:
Bridget Night - Her Mormon Background, Her Book, and Her Gay Son
Read Bridget's Testimony - her hopes and beliefs