The LDS (Mormon) Church, Part 2: Followup

Well, the conversation going on in the comments section of my LDS post on"God and Jesus" is getting quite...lengthy...to say the least! I'm not complaining. I thoroughly appreciate that people are willing to have this discussion. But it's feeling a bit out of focus for me, so I thought a followup post would be helpful. That...and I have some points I'd like to make without them being lost in the comments (hey, it's my blog ;) ).

Instead of discussing each point I'm going to make at length, I'm going to just list them out. If you'd like background conversation, I encourage you read previous posts.

1. God has always been God. This is an undeniable Biblical teaching. He was not created. He was never a man (in the sense that the LDS church teaches), and he didn't become "a" god.

2. Jesus was not created. He, too, always has been. He is our great God and Savior, just as Titus 2:13 proclaims.

3. There is only one God. There was no god before him, and there will never be another god after him inside or outside of this universe.

4. Although it might not be an area that folks like to dwell on, it is a teaching of the LDS church that God was once a man. It is also a teaching that men can become gods. This is not Biblical.

5. Becoming a god is not the same as sharing in the nature of God. We are promised resurrection, and we are promised perfected bodies like Jesus had after his resurrection. But godhood...completely different.

6. Yes, I've been comparing the LDS faith to the Bible. It's interesting, confusing, and frustrating for me when I get criticized for this. On the one hand, folks like to point out how "flawed" the Bible is...on the other, they are quick to point out that the Bible is considered Holy Scripture by the LDS church. It seems a contradiction to me.

To me, the bottom line is this: What is this all about? Us or Him?

To believe that God was once a man, lived a life worthy of becoming a god, and thus became a god...this belief diminishes who he really is. It changes his character...his very nature. It reduces him to someone to simply emulate.

If God was once a man, and we can become like him...then this entire journey becomes about US. And what if man lives as perfect a life as humanly possible? What then? Does God owe him something? Does he owe him godhood?

So what if it's not about us, but about HIM? How does that change the picture? If we're living in a way that is simply one of love and service to our Almighty God instead of trying to earn our reward...then we're focused on him instead of on us. I humbly and respectfully submit...that is our only proper position before the Lord. A position of gratitude, worship, and humility.

Compare this to a position of, "I can be a god someday too". Very different.

Untypically Jia  – (9/09/2008 12:37:00 PM)  

The only thing I can really think to respond to this (because I have a migraine and I don't want to take up too much time or space) is that you keep saying Biblically this and Biblically that (not trying to be condescending or anything), but we don't JUST believe in the Bible. We have other scripture that we believe in.

Untypically Jia  – (9/09/2008 12:46:00 PM)  

Bah, just ignore my Daiquiri girl . . . LOL I just noticed someone made this same statement in the God and Jesus post comments. It's been one of those days. LOL!

ldsneighbor  – (9/09/2008 01:21:00 PM)  

Daiquiri, I appreciate that you are willing to have this discussion too. Here are some of my thoughts on each of the points:

1) I agree that God has always been God. Six times in The Book of Mormon and modern revelation it refers to God and Jesus Christ as "from all eternity to all eternity". That's a long time. Way longer than my simple mind can comprehend. I think you may be getting hung up on an inaccurate caricature of our beliefs, not what we really believe. Because we don't know alot about what happened before "all eternity".
2) Similar to #1 above, I agree that Jesus was not "created", but has always been, and has always been deity "from all eternity to all eternity", as it says in modern revelation. Please beware of strawman arguments that misrepresent and distort what we believe in order to discredit.
3) I agree that there is only One God. The Book of Mormon makes that clear. Mormons are monotheistic. There is only One Godhead, perfectly unified in purpose, but three in person. John 17:11 makes that very clear, and Mormons believe that. Not everyone, though, believes all of the Bible. But that's okay, I'm not one to bash anyone's beliefs.
4) I disagree with your characterization that "it is a teaching of the LDS church". We don't know much about it. It is not touched on in any of our cannon of scripture. People who bring it up cite a non-cannonized journal in the 1850s. It is a strawman argument to say that "it is a teaching of the LDS church". Maybe we'll know more later about it, when further information is revealed about it. One thing we do know is that you are a child of God, he loves you, and he wants you to return to live with him again.
5) I agree about the resurrection, that we are promised perfected bodies and that Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection. He made the resurrection possible. By the way, not all christians believe in a literal resurrection, and that's okay, I still like them :). On the "godhood" thing, see #4 above again. I don't know why some people focus so much on this topic that isn't even dealt with in any detail in our cannon of scripture. I am sensing that this one strawman of us is what you have been struggling with the most. I hope you can see past that enough to set it aside and dive into The Book of Mormon and feel the spirit as you read with an open mind.
6) I understand that many want to build a construct of LDS Faith vs. Bible. And it can be an effective strawman argument if you aren't aware. But many of those who self-claim to represent "the Bible", only cherry pick a subset of verses that back up their creed (as was done in the Nicean Council of the 4th century), and they disregard the rest of the Bible that doesn't fit their creed. The idea of the Trinity being "one in substance" is an example. That contradicts what Jesus is plainly illustrating in John 17:11. Please don't misunderstand me. I have no intention of bashing trinitarians or nicene creed traditional christians. I respect their beliefs and I appreciate their friendship. I am just illustrating how it is misleading to say LDS Faith vs. Bible. That makes it sound like all christianity is perfectly unified in their complete and full understanding of "The Bible", and those LDS folks on the other hand aren't. There are lots of variants of christianity, and they understand the Bible differently. That was actually what caused the boy Joseph Smith to go to that grove in 1820 and ask God which church he should join, which was the beginning of the Restoration.

On your question "What is this all about? Us or Him?", it is about Him, we worship Him, that is our focus. A humbling thing to me is to realize that God knows and loves us personally. We aren't just incidental creatures on this earth. He created this world because and for us. His work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Man was created in his image. Having said that, even though that is wonderful to consider, we need to avoid pride. Our focus is not on ourselves. The two great commandements are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Pride is a universal sin, though, so we all need to beware of pride. That's one of the reasons why I love The Book of Mormon so much, it softens my heart. Mosiah chapters 3 and 4 are one of my favorite parts for that very reason.

RE what you said about: "If we're living in a way that is simply one of love and service to our Almighty God instead of trying to earn our reward...then we're focused on him instead of on us. I humbly and respectfully submit...that is our only proper position before the Lord. A position of gratitude, worship, and humility." I completely agree with that. Love and service toward our Almighty God and towards our fellow men is what we should be about. I am so grateful for that message found in The Book of Mormon. I wish more people would read The Book of Mormon. I think many misunderstand what it is about, and when they finally do read it they find something wonderful they are not expecting.

Daiquiri, I hope that helped us understand each other a little bit better. I appreciate the greatness and gentleness of your heart.

Seth R.  – (9/09/2008 02:09:00 PM)  

"this belief diminishes who he really is. It changes his character...his very nature. It reduces him to someone to simply emulate."

I don't see why this should be the case. I don't think God is any less worthy of respect and worship, even if He was a man who became God. Why do you assume this?

"God has always been God... He was not created... Jesus was not created."

Mormons never claimed either of them was "created."

You need to be clear on something here. Mormons do not believe in creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing).

The traditional Christian view of the cosmos separates all existence into two kinds of things: Creator (God) and the creation (everything else - including us). All of traditional Christian theology is built upon the foundation of this ontological divide between Creator and creation. Only the Creator is self-existent and eternal. Everything else was created by the Creator ex nihilo - out of nothing.

So when a Protestant or Catholic starts accusing Mormons of having a God who was "created," what they really mean is that there is some time when God the Father and Jesus did not exist.

This is a completely false interpretation of Mormon teachings.

Mormons reject creation ex nihilo and we draw no clear ontological divide between the Creator and creation. In Mormonism nothing ever came to be out of nothing. There was never a moment when anything did not exist. All matter is eternal, you are eternal, I am eternal, and so are the Father and the Son.

The way we read Genesis 1 is that God created ex materia - out of pre-existing matter. What we mean by "create" is to organize, beautify, and such. The same way a painter "creates" a painting. No one claims that a painter caused a painting to appear out of thin air. Rather, she took pre-existing materials and made them into something more. This is also how God "creates" things.

So, it just isn't accurate to call the Mormon Jesus a "created being." Our Jesus is just as eternally pre-existent as yours is. So is our God.

"It reduces him to someone to simply emulate."

No it doesn't. That's not how I feel. I feel so much more than that about God. I love Him. I am in awe of Him. I look to Him for guidance, help and mercy. I worship Him as the way, the truth, and the light.

Name me one emotion that you have about God that I or other Mormons do not have. Otherwise your statement is simply incorrect.

"And what if man lives as perfect a life as humanly possible? What then? Does God owe him something? Does he owe him godhood?"

No. Where did you get that idea? Explain please.

Amy  – (9/09/2008 05:06:00 PM)  

I don't want to cause trouble at all but I'd really like to know where people get the idea that God was once a man - where does this come from? :-)

Seth R.  – (9/09/2008 05:55:00 PM)  

Toward the end of his life, Joseph Smith gave his famous "King Follett discourse" wherein he made the statement:

God himself. was Once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

"These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible."

That's where the teaching got started. Brigham Young repeated it and expanded on it, as did other Church authorities. Prophet Lorenzo Snow coined the famous couplet:

"As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become."

These days, the LDS Church only really emphasizes the "man may become" portion and calls the rest speculative.

I'm not sure I really buy that approach, and certainly a lot of Mormonism's critics don't. But there it is. It's not currently taught much or emphasized, but it is a historical church doctrine.

Laura  – (9/09/2008 07:02:00 PM)  

This has been a fascinating discussion. I have never lived around Mormons, and have always wondered if what I was taught as a teenager was propaganda against the LDS church. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Mormons is that they believe that if a man is good enough, then he will become a god after he dies and will populate a planet similar to how God populated ours. And something about having his earthly wife (wives) help him in that endeavor. I don't think you've covered that fully yet, but you have made many things much clearer to me.

I really commend you Daiquiri for doing so much research, being brave enough to tackle this subject matter, and (as many have already mentioned) doing it in a respectful way. Every day I look forward to reading your posts on this subject - and of course the comments.

Seth R.  – (9/09/2008 08:59:00 PM)  

Wife and husband are exalted together in Mormonism or not at all. Christ's Atonement is available in many ways, and for many people. But exaltation means life in the Celestial Glory. And that is only available to those who are married - whether in this life or at a later date (all are given the opportunity).

Both are considered to be equal partners. My view is that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are One God in the same way that the Father and the Son are (I have no direct LDS statements to this effect, but I think it is implicit in our scriptures). The Mormon view of marriage is supposed to mirror the unity of the Godhead. "One flesh" indeed.

Whether a person has more than one husband or more than one wife in the hereafter is not something I find particularly troublesome.

Think about it, you have a man who marries and loves his wife and she dies young. Then he remarries and lives the rest of his life with the second woman.

Keeping in mind the Mormon view that family relationships are eternal, do you really expect this man to choose between the two women which he loves more?

I believe the human heart has room for more than one person. As a practical matter, as mortals, polygamy is a very bad idea and I don't recommend it to anyone. Human insecurities, jealousies, and selfishness are too strong for most people to practice this without real problems. But do you really think the same insecurities are going to plague us in heaven? I don't.

I think this is a pure case of slapping Hollywood fantasies about romantic love onto heaven. Nothing more. The human capacity for love - even of the highest order - is limitless. And I see no problem with a man having more than one wife, or a woman having more than one husband in the heavens.

This may be "weird" and "unusual" to you. But that does not mean it's wrong.

P.S. saying that each worthy Mormon "gets their own planet" is a really trivializing way to put it. We have LIMITLESS potential for growth and expansion. God promises those who return to Him "all that He has." Worlds without end. To slot everyone into their own solar system is to sell the idea INFINITELY short.

Big Daddy –   – (9/09/2008 10:22:00 PM)  

So many interesting comments, where to start? I can't begin to address them all, so I will try to hit the highlights.
Jia: In my mind, it is impossible to use the bible and LDS scripture and LDS theology together, since they contradict each other...specifically around who God is and was.
LDS neighbor: On this subject, eternity is eternity. By definition, there is no beginning or end. There is no such thing as before eternity. Also, non-canonized scripture or not, LDS leaders have taught on the subject of God coming from somewhere, as in was once a man. The bible is pretty clear that He was not. Tough for me to get past this one.
Poor Daiquiri has plenty of long comments, so I would love to see an LDS blogger explain on their own blog how planets get populated once you earn god-like status. How can you have eternal families, when ideally all your offspring earn their own planet, too.
Lastly, the bible indicates that the world and humans were created for God's pleasure, not the world was created because and for us. I understand this to be a key difference, too. God doesn't need us, but we need God.
Seth: You are obviously well read, intelligent and articulate. You raise many interesting points we should all ponder. However, we do not have unlimited potential, as you state. We cannot become God, there is only one, the great I AM.
Thanks to all for the great discussion. I appreciate the ability to have this frank discussion about a topic that before has seemed so 'mysterious'.

Daiquiri  – (9/09/2008 11:07:00 PM)  

I think "Heaven" and "Salvation" are going to be future posts of their own, but I just coulnd't NOT comment on your comment, Seth.

Jesus plainly said "people will neigher marry nor be given in marriage" after they're resurrected (the Sadducees were asking Jesus whose wife a woman would be in Heaven because she'd been married to several different men on earth). (Matthew 22:29-32, Mark 12:18-31, Luke 20:27-40)

The only "wedding" referenced is the union of Christ and his "bride", the church...the believers.

That's not to say that we will not see or be with our spouses in Heaven. If they are a believer, they will be there and we will celebrate with them, I'm sure. But our existence will not be relative to our earthly needs or desires or history. It will be all about being with the One we were created for.

Normally, I'd say that this discussion about Heaven is irrelevant. Really...it's impossible to fully grasp what Heaven will be like. I don't want to get bogged down in "foolish" or "petty" controversy. But really, this all comes back around to God's nature and who we are relative to Him, so it's worth discussing.

BTW, you said "This may be "weird" and "unusual" to you. But that does not mean it's wrong." Very true. I agree...we can not always depend on how we feel about something to determine Truth. On the same note, just because it seems "logical" or "normal" to you doesn't make it right. We have to compare all we're taught, all we read, and all we hear to the Truth of God's Word.

ldsneighbor  – (9/09/2008 11:22:00 PM)  

Mormons also believe that "people will neither marry nor be given in marriage in heaven". Marriages and sealings for eternity occur on earth. Even for those who have died and are awaiting resurrection, the sealing is performed by proxy in a Temple on earth.

Mormon Soprano  – (9/09/2008 11:54:00 PM)  

I have enjoyed reading through a lot of your blog, Daiquiri.

Seth has given you a truckload of wonderful thoughts and clarifications to ponder on the past post and on this one, and ldsneighbor has also given some very great and important points and some excellent links. I recommend their information to you and second what they have offered.

Much of Seth’s information is extremely scholarly in nature (on past post), which is lovely, but perhaps I can offer you a simpler LDS approach to all of these huge questions. Because scholarly knowledge is good, but it is not what brings us to truth. It is only through the Holy Spirit we can know truth.

When discussing the LDS belief of the nature of the Godhead then it is imperative that one does not exclude the most important event in LDS Church history which stands as a foundation for our understanding of the Godhead and a foundation upon which you can build all of our doctrines. This is the personal witness from Joseph Smith himself, which we call The First Vision.

All sincere study of Latter-day Saint belief must include a careful reading of Joseph Smith’s entire account in his own words:

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

Much can be clarified of LDS belief by just reading and studying this one history. Here is a summary of important points – but please read the entire history for yourself:

1. Joseph was raised in a good Christian home. They read the Holy Bible each day and prayed together as a family. They were a humble hard working family. [side note: His mother Lucy Mack Smith was a stalwart in her community of Christian service and was also an educated woman who was raised in a wealthier family. She was an important teacher and influence in her home of reading, writing, seeking truth and living a Christ-like life. Joseph's father was a humble working man who was very close to God and the Holy Spirit]

2. Joseph's family experienced a religious revival in their home town and region which was common throughout America at that time period. There was a great fervor between the different ministers competing to have people join their congregations, and preaching rousing sermons condemning the others beliefs as false, and preaching different versions of heaven and hell and Jesus and salvation. Joseph’s history tells us that he attended all the meetings that he could. He was interested, and he sincerely wanted to know what was right and true. He got very discouraged because each minister could read the very same passage of scripture in the Bible, and then interpret it completely different (as you know, this problem continues today).

3. Joseph's mother and sister joined with the Methodists, and Joseph was seriously considering doing so, however he was not 100% comfortable with the decision. He sincerely wanted a confirmation of which church was correct.

4. Joseph went to the Holy Bible seeking an answer, and studied its pages for guidance. [Latter-day Saints love the Holy Bible. We revere its teachings. We follow it. We read it. We study it. Our church was founded upon it, and because of it] In James 1:5 Joseph read a powerful bible scripture which became the catalyst for change in his life. Summary of scripture:
If any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask God in faith, and He will answer us.

5. So here was a humble 14 year old farm boy with small amount of formal schooling, but a bright and inquisitive mind and a sincere soul. He was a good honest boy, who believed in the teachings of his Christian mother and father, and he believed the words of the Holy Bible. He reasoned that he needed wisdom - and he decided he would just simply put the scripture to the test and ask God which church to join. He chose to go into the woods near his home so he could have privacy (there were 9 or 10 family members living in his 2 room cabin home at the time). He states that he had never formally prayed to God regarding a specific personal question before. So this was his first personal prayer.

6. What happened next was not what Joseph was seeking or expecting. What happened in that grove of trees is what it all comes down to:

When Joseph knelt to pray and tried to speak to God in prayer he was gripped with a terrible darkness and evil power around him. It is significant that the power of Satan was aware of this young boy of no consequence, and Satan tried to attack him and prevent him from praying. Because Satan knew the significance of this prayer. However, Joseph cried out to God for help - and here is his account:

"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

From this experience, we have a first hand confirmation account that God the Father and God the Son exist, they are glorious and defy description, and they are two separate beings (as referenced in the Bible many separate occasions – such as the baptism of Jesus Christ) They appeared to Joseph as with glorified male bodies. It is LDS doctrine that the power of the Holy Ghost was also present at that vision - to bear witness to Joseph of the truth of what he was seeing, and also to provide the physical ability of Joseph's mortal eyes to behold God and Jesus Christ in vision.

7. When Joseph Smith told people about this glorious experience, he was immediately shunned, hated, slandered, persecuted, tortured, violently attacked, and eventually killed. He would still never deny it. This boy had no reason to fabricate such a story. He had no reason to continue to tell it for the next 20 years of his life when so many hateful things happened not only to him, but also to his family and wife and children and friends and everyone he loved and who believed him. It would have been easily retracted if it were not true.

”However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

Joseph Smith's vision clarifies to the entire world the true nature of the Godhead! Any questions, mis-interpretations, dissent, or differing interpretations and opinions of the Biblical scriptures regarding the Godhead can all be easily clarified, laid to rest and resolved by one eye witness account.

At this point it is important to note that Joseph Smith was not claiming to be a prophet, there was no church he was organizing, The Book of Mormon had not been translated. This was just an common 14 year old farm boy, kneeling in some trees, praying to God and having a tremendously awe inspiring and divine experience. He had gone to ask God in prayer what church he should join. when he eventually asked his question he was told not to join any of the churches. He was told more instruction would come later. At the end of the vision, he went home to his cabin. All the many other things this boy would accomplish and be asked by God to do were in the far future at that point, and he did not know what his destiny was or what was coming.

When Joseph related the experience to his family it is significant to note that every single member of his family believed him. Not one sibling nor parent ever thought he was confused or crazy or fabricating something. Why is that? Because these are the people who knew Joseph intimately. They knew his heart. They knew his personality. They knew this son and brother and lived with him and had known him for 14 years. They knew that he could not make up this story and would not lie about this. They knew he was a humble, good simple boy, and they accepted his account. They also accepted this story because the power of the Holy Spirit was present in their home witnessing to their souls that Joseph's words were true, just as it did witness to my own soul when I heard this story, and just as it has witnessed to millions of people who have heard this story and prayerfully considered it.

We read remarkable stories such as this in the bible continually. Those who believe in the Bible as holy scripture, believe these kinds of miraculous experiences happened. God is a God of miracles in the Bible times...why would that change? I submit that God has not changed. His ways have not changed. Miracles are real. The way he chooses to speak to the earth - through chosen representatives as a mouthpiece and servant has not changed.

There are many other points we could go through line by line on the biblical scriptures you have quoted above. However, it is the interpretation of scripture which comes into play there. Obviously they will differ, because our perspective and interpretation is based upon new information and additional revelation from God through modern prophets. If you believe in these prophets and that God is speaking through them to the church, then it is easy to accept.

The interpretation you believe in right now of those particular Bible scriptures has been taught to you by ministers or religious scholars or priests or parents or friends... some good people throughout your life who have done their very best to understand the words contained in the Holy Bible and make an accurate interpretation, after the text has been undergoing centuries of translation and edits, and cuts and after centuries of no person upon the earth with the authority of God to speak as His witness.

As far as the bible scholars and ministers are concerned, the heavens are closed. God does not speak to us anymore, and the only resource any of us have in order to know God and Jesus Christ is in the pages of the Holy Bible.

But there are hundreds and thousands of interpretations of what is in those pages. So, who are you going to choose to interpret those scriptures to you and tell you what they mean? Which source are you going to trust? Which person or group are you going to choose to place your trust in that they have authority to interpret God's words? You are faced with the same exact dilemma today as the boy Joseph Smith. That confusion has continued for millions.

Our message to the world is that God is giving current instruction to the earth! Joseph Smith received the answer that can change the world! Jesus Christ's church is restored upon the earth today with the correct authority and the same organization that Jesus instituted in ancient times. The heavens are open. A divine experience just like so many stories contained in the Holy Bible happened in 1820, and more divine and marvelous and exciting experiences followed afterwards. Angels, and revelations and miracles. Events which happened anciently can and are happening in modern times, too! The authority to represent God and interpret, guide and instruct in Christ's name is restored to earth. Additional scripture is also here from God to clarify and confirm and guide and back up the Bible.

This is the most important thing we should be discussing and focusing upon. It is the most important thing each person needs to get a personal witness of. The first vision of Joseph Smith, and acceptance that he was a chosen prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is another book of divine scripture brought forth for our generation to add another witness of Jesus Christ and another witness of the truths of the Bible and another witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

If you believe this is God's church and God's prophets and God's work, then the Man-God revelation or every other revelation or doctrine or teaching is easy to understand and accept as it is, and move forward. God will fill in the details later. He operates on a need-to-know basis. You and I both accept that when our body dies, our soul/spirit lives on. Forever. We have no end. You don't expect to end, right? I sure don't. We will never die again. There are Bible scriptures that confirm that. If there is no end to us, and there is no end to God, then that is certainly a divine similarity right there. Latter-day Saint doctrine of what happens after this life does not specify time periods nor give dates and lengths. There is something very beautiful in knowing that each one of us has divine potential. We have a purpose. There is a reason for our existing. There is a well organized plan. God is our Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer who is our one and only Way back to live with God again through his Atonement. He has redeemed us from death and paid the price for our sins.

What we do need to do in this life is choose what we are going to believe, and seek to know God and understand His will and words and teachings. We each have that right and that responsibility. "Choose ye this day whom ye shall serve" "Who's on the Lord's side, who?" etc. Who are you choosing to follow? We each have the choice. of course we both believe in Jesus Christ and following Him, that is good!

Right now, you are putting your trust in certain religious teachers who I am sure are very good people - however, do they have the authority to speak for God? Do you trust their message that they have all the truth and you don't need to any more?

Did Joseph Smith receive the vision as he testified? Was he chosen by God as a prophet and did he do all that he claimed he did? That is what each person must find out for themselves. I have a witness that he did have the vision. He was chosen. He did serve the Lord all his life and died as a martyr. He sealed the truth with his own blood, and the truth has never left the earth since.

How does one find out for themselves? They study the church and listen to the message (what you are doing now) they read the beautiful Book of Mormon which is another witness of Jesus Christ (something I hope you are sincerely doing and not just taking quotes from other sources). The Book of Mormon is a witness that Joseph Smith was a chosen prophet who could only have translated the book of scripture through the power of God. It is a witness that God loves all of his people, and he spoke through chosen prophets to people who lived in the American continent anciently just as he did the old world. It is a tangible evidence we can hold in our hands and read and place next to the Bible as another witness of God's words and Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, the only way you or anyone else studying the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints will know if what we teach is true is by doing exactly what the 14 year old boy Joseph did. Study it out, and then in a private place sincerely ask God in prayer. It is only by and through the power of the Holy Ghost that we can know the truth. We receive that witness when we ask God sincerely. Everyone's answer comes in different ways. For some, it takes time and many prayers and much work and searching - for others they have an immediate witness. However, all are promised the witness. Once we have that witness there is just nothing to debate or worry about any more regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ and this church any longer. We accept it. If we don't understand something, we study it. If we still don't completely understand we accept that we don't need to right now. We can always learn more, and find out more truth and knowledge. Does that sound simplistic? maybe. But how does a Christian explain to someone who does not know Christ how to know? The same way. They have to seek a spiritual personal witness.

I believe you have already had the witness of the Holy Spirit several times in your life. You have a witness that Jesus is the Savior (there are millions who reject that). You have a witness that the Old Testament and the New Testament are holy scripture. (there are a lot of people who reject it completely, or reject half of it) You have a witness that being a mother is a holy work, and a witness that studying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is needful for you right now. These are all personal witnesses to you from the Holy Spirit. I am sure there are many more personal experiences with the Holy Ghost you have. That is so important, because you already know you are a daughter of God who receives guidance from Him. You can then recognize those spiritual feelings each time they arrive and this will help you to receive your own personal witnesses of truth. God loves you individually. Each one of us is precious, and He guides us each personally.

Be aware that Satan is going to do everything in His power to prevent you from asking these questions and praying about these things, just like he tried with Joseph. He wants you to reject everything outright - that's the easy way out. He wants you to get frustrated and give up. It's so much easier than to think through these things and ask God about them. We each must diligently cast Satan out of our life and mind when he tries to get in, and this is done by seeking the "peaceable things" of the spirit. I believe you have that gift. You have demonstrated it by building your blog and by engaging in calm and respectful discussion with Latter-day Saints, and all of your visitors. You have some good LDS friendships. You have strong personal convictions. You are willing to keep an open mind and ask questions. All of these things are your gifts which you can use to cast Satan out, and seek the truth.

I share all of these things with you as a loving sister. We are all sisters and brothers. All of us are part of God's family. He loves us and He knows us individually. I thank you for your serious investigation of this church and our extremely important message. Be careful not to quickly discount our message because it is different and unfamiliar. The pharisees and the Sadducee's quickly dismissed Jesus Christ because He did not bring the message they wanted to hear, nor was expected Messiah they had decided upon. God's messages and commands are rarely comfortable or expected.

Seek the spirit! Ask God! I did this. I received a personal witness which changed my life and has brought more peace and understanding than I can put into words. I share my witness with all who will listen in hopes that others can share this marvelous joy. There is SO MUCH here for everyone. - thanks for reading

Seth R.  – (9/10/2008 12:19:00 AM)  

You're trying to make Matt 22:29-30 say more than it actually says daquiri.

Look closely at the wording.

Does it say there will be no married people in heaven?

Or does it merely say no one is going to GET MARRIED in heaven?

Jesus never said there would be no marriage in heaven. Just that no one would be getting married there.

Now, that said...

Mormons do not rely only on the Bible for their scripture. We have our own on this issue.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:15-20

15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.
18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.
19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them.


I think that explains Jesus' statement sufficiently for the believing Mormon.

Seth R.  – (9/10/2008 12:20:00 AM)  

I should also be clear.

I am no "scholar." Just a lawyer and family man with a bit of an obsessive nature and an internet connection.

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