The first weekend of April and the first weekend of October are special times for Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often erroneously called the Mormon Church). Every six months a “General Conference” is held in five two-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. General Conference is translated into dozens of languages. In addition to being able to watch on cable TV, internet streaming or watching DVDs later, downloading, or reading from the Ensign or Liahona Magazines one month later, most of the over 14 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ are able to receive the messages delivered at General Conference.
With music traditionally provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and choirs from local Mormon congregations (called “wards”), talks are given by the prophet, apostles, female leaders, and seventies of the Church. They are timely and revelatory, prepared through inspiration from God. In conjunction with Mormon General Conference, a Young Women’s organization meeting or Relief Society (womanhood organization) meeting is presented yearly.
For those who travel to Salt Lake City to be personally present for General Conference, free tickets are available, and the Conference Center seats nearly 30,000 people. Overflow sessions are held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, and in other buildings nearby. Closed circuit television also carries the sessions into stake buildings (stakes are administered groups of wards).
October and April are transitional months in Utah, as far as weather is concerned, and it can be gorgeous—or not. People come from far and wide to attend General Conference. Mormon missionary reunions are held near that time, often nearby. Families, even local families, get together to watch on TV and enjoy meals in between. My daughter’s family calls Conference Sunday “Crepes Sunday.”
A lot of preparation goes into preparing for the influx of visitors to Temple Square. Temple Square Hospitality is fully engaged at this time of year. Dining venues on Temple Square—the Nauvoo Cafe, the Lion House Pantry Restaurant, the Garden Restaurant and the Roof Restaurant (in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building) must prepare early and well. Spence Herzog, vice president of operations for Temple Square Hospitality, explained that over 500 box lunches are made, point-of-sale locations are set up, and stanchions are brought in.
The Nauvoo Café offers a view of Main Street Plaza and Temple Square. On General Conference Saturday the number of customers can top 1,300.
With extended hours, the cafe serves a hot breakfast on conference Saturday from 7-10:45 a.m. It also sets up extra rooms full of tables, orders larger food and beverage inventories, and brings in extra staff. On an average day, the staff consists of approximately 12 employees, whereas on conference Saturday that number nearly triples to 30. 
It’s a 19-hour day for employees at the café. Preparations begin two weeks in advance and desserts and pastries made ahead are triple the usual amount. Three hundred pot pies are made on Friday.
The Lion House Pantry Restaurant is famous for its rolls. On conference Saturday, the staff bakes 30 pans to begin the day, totaling 1,200 rolls. The bakery also makes additional rolls for purchase by the dozen at the Pantry and at Deseret Book stores. The Pantry serves about 1,300 people on conference Saturday. The biggest project is bringing on and training new staff for the event, especially coming off the winter months toward April conference. Winter months are slower, as fewer tourists are in Salt Lake. The Pantry can accommodate around 200 people an hour, and it also offers the same box lunches as the Nauvoo Cafe for conference-goers. The Lion House Pantry is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on conference Saturday, and is the historic home of Brigham Young. 
The Garden Restaurant is located on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It offers pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and other entrees for lunch and dinner, but is famous for its unique fried pickles. On conference Saturday, the restaurant serves as many as 365 people for lunch and 425 for dinner. The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on conference Saturday.
The Roof Restaurant is found directly across from the Garden Restaurant and has an amazing view of the Salt Lake Temple. The restaurant is buffet style and is open for lunch and dinner. “On conference Saturday, the restaurant reaches capacity, serving 300 people for lunch and 500 for dinner, but dinner on conference Saturday is not much different for the restaurant than dinner on a regular weekend. For both, it fills to capacity and runs with a full staff.”  Things change, however, from usual after the Priesthood session of General Conference.
“Priesthood,” according to Mormon belief, is the power and authority to act in the name of God, and all worthy men and boys twelve and over may have some priesthood power. On Saturday night a session of General Conference is held just for them. Anyone, however, may download, stream, or read the transcript of the session. After Priesthood session, the Roof Restaurant is full of men and boys in Sunday best dress. The pianist entertains them with church hymns and jazzy pieces.
For more information about the restaurants on Temple Square, call 801-539-3100 or visit Temple Square Hospitality.com.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about what Mormons believe, and some people outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church,” seem to think they can clearly present Mormon belief and get it right. Others are willing to form their opinions about Mormonism from these, often erroneous, reports. Mormon beliefs are those of the early Christian Church formed by Jesus Christ and His apostles. Most Christian churches today have beliefs that have strayed from the original doctrines and patterns of Christ’s primitive church. Assuming that they have true doctrine, and knowing little about Christ’s original teachings, they weigh the doctrines of “Mormonism” against their own view of the truth and label Mormons as “weird.”
The Gospel is Eternal
The gospel of Jesus Christ imbued with power and authority from God has always existed. As in God’s words to Jeremiah, that He knew Jeremiah and chose him before he was in the womb, we all existed for a long while before we were born on earth into mortality. In pre-mortality, we lived with God as His spirit-children and agreed to His plan of salvation. We knew that Adam would fall, that we would all sin during our mortal lives, and that we needed a Savior to redeem us. We all sustained and supported Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, as He was also the Creator of it. This idea of a pre-existence was fully extant in the early church, commonly understood and commonly taught. That this knowledge has been lost does not make it weird, and that it is referred to in many places in the Bible indicates that it is truth. (See Deut. 32:8; Jer. 1:5; Acts 17:26, 29; Rom. 8:28–30; Eph. 1:3–4; 1 Pet. 1:19–20 (Rev. 13:8); Job 38:4–7; Eccl. 12:7; Heb. 12:9; Jude 1:6; Rev. 12:4, 7–9; also MormonWiki.com.)
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Jesus Christ has a Father
Mormons believe in the Bible and the biblical account that Jesus did the will and work of His Father, prayed to His Father, pleaded with His Father on the Cross, and in Gethsemane. They are now and ever were two separate beings. A belief in the corrupt concept of a trinity does not qualify a person as a Christian, and yet that is the criterion to which Mormons are held. Mormons not only believe in Christ, they believe Christ when He says He came to do the will of the Father:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
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? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not (John 10:36-37).
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him (Luke 11:13)?
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father (John 14:12).
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matthew 12:50).
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23).
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16).
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me (Mark 15:34)??
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).
Jesus Christ was Resurrected and is Still Resurrected
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:39).
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:16).
And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them….And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11).
Every Person Will Have an Opportunity to Hear the Gospel
In an exquisite revelation received by Joseph F. Smith, God revealed how His work goes forth in the spirit world where we go to await resurrection after we die.
While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful; And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.
And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wickedand the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them; But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
Baptism must be Available to All of God’s Children
Paul speaks of baptism for the dead as if it were common practice in his time:
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29)?
Indeed, baptism for the dead was commonly practiced and understood by the Saints led by the original apostles. Baptism for the dead only ceased in 397 A.D. in the orthodox church.
The Central Belief in Mormonism is that Christ is our Savior and Redeemer
Said Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this last dispensation of time before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
“What are the fundamental principles of your religion? …the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and the Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it …” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121).
Jesus Christ bore witness of Himself in the many revelations given to prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Mormon prophets have seen Him on many occasions:
We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. —The Living Christ
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father–That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.~Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24.
The doctrine of grace and works is undoubtedly one of the most debated topics among teachers and masters of religion. Some churches claim that grace alone is sufficient to save a man, disregarding “good works”, and technically rendering obedience to some, if not all, of God’s commandments, unnecessary for salvation. Others argue that works are necessary for salvation; that without works, faith is dead (James 2:17). To those who believe that grace alone is sufficient, the addition of works as a requirement for salvation is deemed as an insult to God’s grace and his power to save.
Salvation and Justification
Justification means being vindicated or made righteous. It means being reconciled with God. When a person commits sin, he distances himself from God and cuts off from the relationship he had with Him. The reason for this is the fact that no unclean thing can dwell in God’s presence. The only way for him to reestablish that relationship is by being made righteous or justified.
Salvation often takes several meanings when used in the scriptures. Sometimes it refers to deliverance from death, which is available to every person, both righteous and wicked, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also means redemption from sin made possible through the atonement, which can be activated through sincere repentance. However, ultimate salvation or exaltation comes only to those who have received the Lord’s saving grace, and have proven themselves worthy to receive eternal life with God and their loved ones through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and obedience to His commandments.
While salvation means being saved from physical death and inheriting a heavenly realm of glory, exaltation means being saved in the highest kingdom of heaven, where God Himself dwells. When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Latter-day Saints, or Mormons) are asked if they are “saved,” they might hesitate, because they might still be striving to be worthy of exaltation to the highest kingdom of glory.
Understanding the doctrines of salvation and justification can help a lot in understanding the relationship between grace and works.
Grace and Works Bring Salvation
Latter-day Saints hold that both grace and works are necessary for the salvation and exaltation of man, and that the grace of God can be accessed only through the exercise of faith, repentance, and following the examples set by the Savior by doing righteous works. This belief is consistent with many scriptural references found in the Bible.
For instance, after hearing Peter’s testimony of Jesus Christ, the people “were pricked in their heart” and asked the chief apostle what they should do to obtain salvation. Peter’s response demanded much more than just verbal confession or lip service. He said:
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (See Acts 2:37-38.)
Peter clearly taught that in order for a person to receive salvation, he must not only believe in Christ; he must also repent and be baptized, which require some degree of personal righteousness. In addition, the Savior’s warning to those who only draw near to Him with their lips is more profound:
“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 “(Matthew 7:21).
Unfortunately, many teachers and masters of religion are using the scriptures self-interestedly, not looking for answers, but instead, twisting the doctrines contained therein to conform to the kind of belief that they embrace. For example, Paul’s statement in Romans 3:28 which talks about “justification by faith without the deeds of the law” has been used by unauthorized teachers of religion to teach their followers that mere confession of belief in Christ avails them a place in heaven.
However, it is worth mentioning that Paul also declared that “not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). While it may appear to some that Paul was contradicting himself in front of the same audience, careful consideration of the words of this great apostle and understanding the context in which those words were spoken can help a lot in understanding the relationship between our works and the grace of God.
The Teachings of Paul
Much of Paul’s teachings about the doctrine of grace were written in his epistle to the saints in Rome. His strong emphasis on the grace of Christ was misinterpreted by some who considered personal righteousness simply as a choice of lifestyle – something with no saving value. Misunderstanding of his statement on justification by faith alone has led the whole sectarian world to believe that men are not required to work out their own salvation. It was the same passage that led Martin Luther to justify his departure from Catholicism and make significant reforms that led to the birth of Protestant churches.
Peter and James, and John, and the rest of the apostles were very explicit in their teachings about the importance of works and personal righteousness to salvation. Peter exhorted the saints to be obedient and holy and to prepare themselves from the judgments of God, who judges every man according to his works (1 Peter 1:13-25). James taught the people to lay apart all filthiness, receive the word of God, and become doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:21-22). John declared that people who have done good shall be resurrected unto life (John 5:29). Even the Savior Himself had repeatedly warned the people to repent or they shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5). Repentance is work.
Considering these and many other scriptural accounts questioning the value of works in salvation, one might say that Paul was teaching a different gospel from that which was taught by Jesus Christ and the rest of His apostles. However, wouldn’t it be utterly inconsistent for a man who, for more than two decades, had devoted his life to good works to say that good works are not a requirement for salvation?
Again, the key to understanding the meaning of Paul’s statement about justification by grace alone is understanding the context in which it was spoken. Before Paul wrote his epistle to the Roman saints, he received reports that members of the Church in Galatia were being ravaged by the Judaizers, teaching that true salvation is in the Law of Moses. In response, Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia and sharply condemned the false teachings (Galatians 3:1). Afterwards, he wrote a similar letter to the saints in Rome in which he impressed upon them the superiority of exercising faith in Christ over the performance of dead works as prescribed by the Law of Moses. Hence the statement: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”, that is, the Law of Moses. (See Romans 3:28.)
Latter-Day Saints’ Perspective on Salvation by Grace
Members of the Mormon Church believe that while the atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save all men, merely relying on grace alone without being justified or made righteous does not lead to ultimate salvation in the God’s kingdom. Man cannot be saved without being righteous, nor can he be justified through his own personal effort only. In order for him to receive eternal life, he must do all he can to follow the examples of Jesus Christ and trust in His saving grace.
Mere confession of belief in God is not enough, for “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). If faith was all enough, the devils would likewise be saved, for they also believe in Christ, and tremble (James 2:19). But salvation comes not by faith alone, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
Some people think that Mormons believe they can work their way to heaven. This is not true. The scripture above does not say that. We cannot do enough to earn heaven. We will ever fall short of the purity necessary to dwell in the presence of God. Only through the saving atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which provides the grace necessary, can we be saved and exalted. Mormons simply believe in repentance, and they believe that faith is an action word.
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.
The Lord has designated Israel as his own people, as the “firstborn” of the world. With Abraham, He entered into a covenant and said: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This everlasting covenant was confirmed upon Isaac and in turn, upon Jacob who was renamed Israel, whose posterity would become a mighty nation.
However, because of their iniquity, Israel was smitten by numerous oppressors, and the twelve tribes were scattered throughout the earth. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in the lands of their inheritance, while the 10 remaining tribes were dispersed and were since called the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Latter-day Saints believe that the blessings the Lord has promised to the people of Israel through Abraham shall all be fulfilled, and that He shall gather once again his covenant people and bestow upon them the blessings which He has promised to their fathers. This glorious promise was declared by the prophet Isaiah:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (See Isaiah 11:11-12.)
The Work of Gathering has Already Commenced
Speaking to the Elders of the Church in the last dispensation, the Lord declares the hour for the gathering of Israel has come:
“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.
Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7-8).
In order to fulfill this declaration from the Lord, the Church continues to send out missionaries to gather the dispersed of Israel from all four corners of the earth. Latter-day Saints believe that the gathering will include not only the original covenant people, but also the gentiles who have taken upon themselves the Abrahamic Covenant through baptism. The Lord promised that “He will gather His elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in Him, and hearken unto His voice” (D&C 33:6).
Christ Shall Reign Personally Upon the Earth
When the people of Israel are prepared to receive Jesus Christ as their King, He will come to reign personally over them. The new kingdom will be established, with Jerusalem as its capital in the east and Zion in the west. Isaiah saw the glory of this kingdom, and rejoiced therein. (See Isaiah 40:9.) When that day comes, the Earth shall die and shall be quickened again (Doctrine and Covenants 88:26). Soon, there will be a “new heaven and a new earth”, and the righteous shall dwell in it (Revelation 21:1).
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.
Freedom of worship is one of the inherent and inalienable rights of every human being. It has been conferred upon man by his maker, thus, no earthly power can take it away from him without violating a divinely instituted law. While God could disapprove of some forms of worship (i.e. idolatry, spiritualism, etc.), He allows everyone to worship according to his conscience in the spirit of love and forbearance.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds that religious intolerance is unscriptural. It violates man’s freedom to choose for himself. While Mormons know what they worship and boldly proclaim that theirs is the only true Church of Jesus Christ with all its authorized doctrines and ordinances, they are taught not to regard other faiths as inferior or unworthy of respect.
Joseph Smith once reproved some members of the Church for intolerance toward the beliefs of others. He told them that even idolaters ought to be protected in their worship; that, while it is a Christian’s duty to lead such darkened minds to the truth, he would not be justified in depriving even the heathen of their freedom to worship. In the official declaration of the Church’s belief regarding governments and laws in general, Joseph Smith gave the following statement which has been included in the Doctrine and Covenants – one of the standard works of the Church:
“We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 134:4.)
Religious tolerance has been demonstrated by the Savior in numerous instances throughout his mortal ministry. Nevertheless, He has also warned the saints on many occasions to beware of antichrists and false teachers (Matthew 16:6, 7:15). His message to those who belong to the Church was to “love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you… And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”(See Luke 6:27-31.)
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
A revelation received by Joseph Smith written in the 58th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants perfectly defines the relationship between the Laws of God and the Laws of the land:
“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.
Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet” (Doctrine and Covenants58:21-22).
As followers of Christ, Latter-day Saints believe that governments were instituted of God for the good and safety of society. It is the government’s duty to enact laws that will secure the interest of the public and provide protection to its citizens. In return, each individual is bound to sustain the government and the laws of the country in which they reside. Disobedience to these laws is tantamount to disobedience to the laws of God.
The apostles of Jesus Christ taught the same principles to Church leaders and members during the early days of the Church. In his letter to Titus who was a bishop of the Church in Crete, Paul encouraged the Church leader to teach the saints to “be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1). Peter exhorted new converts in the Church to do the same (1 Peter 2:12-19). Even the Savior Himself recognized and observed the law of the land by paying taxes (Matthew 22:17-22).
In keeping of the covenants they made pertaining to allegiance to civil laws, Mormons do not participate in anti-government protests and similar activities. For them, obedience to the laws of the land means obedience to the laws of God. Mormons have been counseled through modern revelation to support and promote representative government by righteous men. Sometimes, conscience and the Holy Ghost move them to stand for the right against wicked government. (Read about Helmuth Hubener of Nazi Germany.)
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.
Virtue and good works are among the fruits by which true Christians may be known and distinguished from unbelievers. Latter-day Saints hold that true Christianity is more than the mere profession of beliefs and godliness. Without works inspired by genuine love for God and other people regardless of their social or economic status, profession of religion is but (as Paul said) “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). James, in his epistle to members of the Church described the characteristics of pure religion:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the Mormon Church, once said that the symbol of Mormonism is the lives of its members. True to this statement, Latter-day Saints conduct their lives according to the standards set by the Lord through his servants. Some of these standards may even appear strange or funny to those who are “in the world,” but could also build faith to those who want to draw closer to God. Latter-day Saints who follow the counsel of Paul to be “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity” are a light to a world where the true meaning of pure religion is unclear.
“The Articles of Faith” by James E. Talmage
Church History in the Fulness of Times
LDS Standard Works
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.
One thing that separates the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from other faiths is its claim for an unbroken line of authority that goes back to the Savior Himself. Yes, the Catholic Church claims authority passed down from Peter, but this is not so. After the death of the apostles, the authority was lost. The authority was restored by Peter, James, and John, as angelic messengers to Joseph Smith. By virtue of such authority, members of the Church are given responsibilities or “callings” to serve in the Church. Callings to serve in the Church are voluntary – those who are called to serve receive no financial remuneration for the services they offer.
Callings in the Church come from God. They are given through inspiration and by the laying on of the hands by authorized representatives of the Lord. This pattern of choosing and ordaining disciples to serve in various church positions has been practiced by prophets and apostles in the primitive Church. (See Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-3.)
The same pattern is being used by the Mormon Church in choosing and setting apart members to assist in the work of building the Lord’s kingdom here on the earth. When choosing individuals to fill certain positions in the Church, Church leaders seek the Lord’s inspiration through prayer and fasting. Once inspiration has been received, the leader holds an interview with the person, extends the call, and presents the person to members of the congregation for their sustaining vote. During a sustaining, members raise their hands to signify support or opposition to the person called. After that, the church leader or his authorized representative lays his hands of the person’s head and sets him apart in his appointed office.
Pertaining to the privilege of serving in the Church, Jesus Christ said, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4).
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He established His Church and appointed ministers necessary for the fulfillment of God’s purposes. He chose certain men and gave them authority to preach the gospel and officiate in the ordinances of the gospel. The same organization continued to exist even after the Savior’s ascension, with those who had received authority ordaining others to different offices in the Priesthood. In this way, the Lord has given unto the Church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declare their claim to the same Church organizations mentioned above. In addition, the Church also believes in high priests (Hebrews 5:1-5), seventies (Luke 10:1-11), elders (Acts 14:23), bishops (1Timothy 3:1), priests (Revelations 1:6), teachers (Acts 13:1), and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-12). Many of these organizations were lost during “the apostasy” which happened gradually during the several centuries after the ministry of Jesus Christ and the deaths of His original apostles.
When the gospel was restored (or re-established) through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ was once again established in the last days, with all the offices in the Priesthood necessary “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
One of the essential characteristics of the true Church of Jesus Christ is the existence of spiritual gifts. At any given time when the Priesthood, or the power and authority of God, was operative through an organized Church, the saints were blessed in many ways with the possession of various spiritual gifts. These gifts were present in the numerous miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry, and after His resurrection by the apostles.
According to James E. Talmage, late member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “spiritual gifts are essentially endowments of power and authority through which the purposes of God are accomplished, sometimes with accompanying conditions that may appear to be supernatural”.
By such gifts the sick are healed, evil spirits cast out, God’s humble missionaries speak in tongues while others interpret their words, heavenly visions are received, and revelations are obtained. They are not given as proof of the power of God to the faithless, or to entertain unbelievers. Joseph Smith explained that miracles and spiritual gifts are given “for the benefit of those who love [the Lord] and keep [His] commandments”.
Mormons know that miracles and spiritual gifts are still extant in the Church as opposed to what others believe — that they are merely things of the past. A prophet of God declared that the days of miracles will not pass from the Church as long as there shall be a man upon the earth to be saved. “for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain” (Moroni 7:37).
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.
Like other Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept the Holy Bible as the word of God. For many centuries it has been considered by followers of Christ as an authentic record of the events that transpired in the early history of God’s people. Until this day, it is still considered, even by the Latter-day Saints, as the foremost of the Church’s standard works, and the first among the books which have been proclaimed as her written guide in faith and doctrine. In general, Latter-day Saints hold the same conviction as other faiths as to the sanctity and authenticity of this holy writ. However, the Church declares a reservation in the case of inaccuracies, especially during the process of translation, which is evident in some of the modern versions of the Bible.
Mormons believe the Bible to be word of God as far as it is translated correctly from the original records written by God’s prophets and apostles. Since many of the modern Bible translators enlist bible scholars who often rely on the wisdom of men, errors are frequently admitted during the translation and transcription of text due to human limitations. On the other hand, unadulterated translations of the word of God in another tongue can only be effected through the gift and power of God.
Some have accused Latter-day Saints of believing a “cop-out;” they say Mormons pick and choose what they will believe from the Bible, and chalk their non-acceptance up to mistranslation of what the Lord originally intended. This idea is false. All Christian churches pick and choose their doctrines from the Bible. For instance, Calvinists chose election by pre-destination and ignore the possibility that Christ desires to save all of His children. Evangelicals find much in Paul’s teaching that faith saves us, but many ignore the words of James, who said that faith without works is dead. There are no biblical doctrines that Mormons discard. However, their other scriptures thoroughly elucidate what the epistles merely mention. For example, Paul mentions baptism for the dead, and modern prophets have received more revelation on the subject. There is very little in the Bible regarding resurrection, but the Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, goes to great lengths to explain it.
Aside from the bible, Mormons believe in other scriptures written by men through the gift and power of God. The Book of Mormon, for instance, is a set of sacred records comparable to the Bible, written and compiled by ancient prophets of God. While the Bible contains records of the dealings of God with the inhabitants of the Holy Land and surrounding areas, the Book of Mormon is another witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His mission as written by His prophets (who were a branch of Israel) in the Western Hemisphere.
Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is a collection of books written independently by many prophets. Their writings were compiled and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon (hence the title of the book). Shortly before his death, Mormon delivered the record to his son, Moroni, who hid them up in the earth where it remained for more than a thousand years. In 1823, the ancient record was delivered to Joseph Smith who translated it through the gift and power of God. The Book of Mormon stands as another witness to the world of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and is designed to provide support and further explanation to the doctrines and principles preserved in the Bible.
The Savior’s personal ministry to the inhabitants of the Ancient America shortly after His ascension is the crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon. This was the fulfillment of His earlier declaration to His disciples in Jerusalem pertaining to His “other sheep” which He must also visit, according to the commandments of the Father (John 10:16; 3 Nephi 15:12-17). Aside from the Bible and The Book of Mormon, Latter-day Saints also believe that the words of the living prophets and apostles are also scriptures. (See Doctrine and Covenants 68:4.)
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.
Continuing revelation from Jesus Christ is the rock upon which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands. This is in harmony with the Church’s belief that God continues to speak today through His living prophets, as He had spoken with His children in the ancient times.
God’s pattern of calling prophets to speak on His behalf started at the time of Adam. Adam was the first mortal to commune with and receive revelations from God. By revelation, he understood the plan of salvation and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. After Adam, other prophets were called to warn and teach the children of men the way of salvation. The scriptures are conclusive as to the fact that God has consistently revealed His will to His authorized servants in every dispensation of His work. For “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Modern revelation is necessary for the salvation of man.
John Taylor, the fourth Mormon Prophet, once declared the importance of continuing revelation. He spoke of the need for “a living tree – a living fountain – living intelligence proceeding from the living priesthood in heaven, through the living priesthood on earth. He said that from the time that Adam first received revelation from God to the time that John the Revelator received his communication on the Isle of Patmos, or Joseph Smith had his First Vision, it always required new revelations, adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which the churches or individuals were placed. John Taylor added:
“Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves, and so had Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and Joseph. And so must we, or we shall make a shipwreck.”
Members of the Mormon Church believe that the Lord continues to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom of God today as He did in the ancient days. The current president and prophet of the Church is Thomas S. Monson. Latter-day Saints believe that God communicates with him and gives him revelations that are appropriate for the present needs of the people, in the same way that He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Noah, Isaiah, and the apostles in the day of Jesus Christ.
In March 1842, Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith received a letter from John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat – the first newspaper in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Wentworth asked Joseph Smith to write a brief history of the Mormon Church for his friend, Mr. Barstow, who wanted to include it in the history of New Hampshire which he was writing. Joseph Smith complied by sending Mr. Wentworth a multi-page document containing an account of the First Vision, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and many other important events pertaining to the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Smith included in the letter thirteen doctrinal statements outlining the basic beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. These thirteen statements became known as the Articles of Faith, which were subsequently published in Church periodicals, and included in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price in 1851. Later, during the General Conference of the Church in 1880, Latter-day Saints voted for the Articles of Faith to be canonized as official doctrine of the Mormon Church.
The Articles of Faith were written to provide answers to basic questions about the Church. Thomas S. Monson, current Mormon Prophet, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once explained the significance of these inspired statements:
“Can you think of a more firm foundation, a more basic philosophy to guide any of us than the Articles of Faith?”
The following are the 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Like other Christians, members of the Mormon Church believe in the existence of an Almighty God, His son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. These three constitute what is called the “Godhead” by Latter-day Saints (and the Holy Trinity, by the Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations). However, as opposed to the common belief of other faiths that these three beings are incorporeal and part of one, spiritual entity, Mormons declare that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct entities – the Father and the Son each having separate, glorified bodies of flesh and bones, and the Holy Ghost being a personage of spirit. Latter-day Saints believe that a person should have a clear understanding of these truths about the nature of God before he can exercise faith leading to salvation.
One in Purpose, Not in Substance
The scriptures speak of “oneness” among members of the Godhead, which often confuses many people concerning the physically distinct nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. (See John 30:10.) This “oneness”, however, does not necessarily mean a unity of substance, but rather, of attributes, power, and purpose.
One may consider several instances in the life of the Savior in support of this doctrine. For instance, shortly before His betrayal, Jesus prayed for His disciples and asked the Father to preserve them in unity, “that they all may be one” as He and the Father are one. (See John 17:21.) As can be seen here, the Savior spoke of the kind of unity between Himself and the Father, which could be extended to his disciples. Clearly, the kind of oneness He was referring to could not be in terms of physical attributes.
Other scriptural evidences of the distinct persons of the Godhead can be found in the account of the Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist, where the Lord saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him, and heard the voice of the Father saying, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” See Mark 1:11.) Also, in John 14:28, the Savior declared that the Father is greater than Himself. An equally profound witness of the truth of this doctrine is the account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision where both the Father and the Son appeared to him in 1820 (Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17).
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.
It has become a common practice with people, including other Christian churches, to blame Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the human family, for all the unpleasant experiences they encounter in this life. Influenced by false teachings, they have been made to believe that their lives would have been in a supposedly blessed state were it not for Adam’s transgression.
Mormons, on the other hand, hold a different view of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the consequences of mortality. Latter-day Saints believe that while mankind inherited some of the unpleasant effects of the Fall, such as the ability to feel pain and sorrow and be subject to death, we are no longer accountable for the transgression of our first parents, in the same way that the law does not require a child to recompense for the damages done by his parents.
The doctrine that people are born in sin is simply false doctrine. Jesus Christ declared that “unless man becomes like unto little children, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). If little children are qualified to enter heaven, they must be sinless, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. This passage also explains that no child is lost in sin at birth, and that sin is not something that a man inherits from his first parents.
Along with this doctrine, comes the rejection of infant baptism. Mormon, an ancient prophet who compiled the Book of Mormon prophet, said,
“Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them….wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children” (Moroni 8:8, 9).
The atonement of Jesus Christ provided a full payment for the sins of men, and a way to reverse the negative effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. The Savior’s infinite sacrifice makes all men free from sin, unless they break the laws of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for which they alone will be held accountable. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
God the Father has provided a way for His children to be redeemed from everlasting punishment resulting from the transgression of Adam. That way is the atoning sacrifice of His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ who was chosen and ordained from the beginning to atone for the sins of the world. This infinite sacrifice served as payment for the sins of the mankind, from the time of Adam down to the present and future generations. However, while salvation has been made readily available for everyone, only those who comply with the requirements can obtain eternal life in the presence of God.
Immortality and Eternal Life
Mormons believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has subjugated the two obstacles that prevent man from going back to the presence of God. Through his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and his death on the cross, the Savior redeemed man from the power of sin. He conquered death through the power of His glorious resurrection, giving all men, both good and bad, power to rise from the dead and receive the free gift of immortality.
However, immortality does not guarantee a fullness of joy. It comes only to those who faithfully obey the laws and receive the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These laws and ordinances enable God’s children to walk back to his presence and live with their families in a state of eternal bliss. This state of everlasting happiness is called exaltation or eternal life with God.
Note that Mormons understand the difference between salvation and exaltation. Virtually all people will be saved into a kingdom of glory in heaven (1 Cor. 15:40–41), in which there are three kingdoms and many mansions. Only “Sons of Perdition” will fail to inherit a kingdom of glory. They are those who have had a sure witness of Christ and then denied Him. Even those who refuse to believe in Christ will inherit a kingdom of glory. However, those who refuse the saving power of the atonement will suffer for their own sins in the “Spirit World” before resurrection, and will wait until the last resurrection (which will occur after the millennium). Also in the spirit world, those who have had no opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ on earth will then be taught. Ordinances performed by proxy on earth for them can then become efficacious if they chose to accept them. Thus, no person is condemned because he or she lacks knowledge of Christ’s teachings.
The highest kingdom of glory is where God and Christ dwell, and where families can be united for eternity. It is this kind of exaltation that Mormons seek. When someone asks a Mormon whether he is “saved,” and the Mormon seems to hesitate, it is because he is considering whether he is suited to inherit the highest level of exaltation. In the Evangelical sense of being saved, that is, going to heaven because of one’s belief in Christ, then active Mormons are saved.
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.
Throughout His mortal ministry, the Savior taught and instituted basic principles and ordinances pertaining to the salvation of man. These principles and ordinances are an important part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are necessary for entrance to God’s kingdom. The same principles and ordinances have been set as the standard requirements for membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Principles are doctrines or teachings that are foundational, fundamental, or key. Principles are based on absolute truths that have been tested and proven. Obedience to God, for example, is a principle that brings blessings. Ordinances are sacred rites and ceremonies that have spiritual meanings. The sacrament and baptism are two examples of ordinances which involve making and renewing covenants with God.
The first principles of the gospel are Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance, while the first ordinances are Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ and His apostles taught that man cannot be saved unless he follows the principles He taught and receives the ordinances of the gospel. (See John 3:16; Acts 2:38; 2 Nephi 9:23.)
Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. The scriptures define faith as the hope for things not seen, which are true (Hebrews 11:1; Alma 32:21). In order for faith to lead to salvation, it must be centered on Jesus Christ. Faith enables men to repent of their sins and receive forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of the Savior.
Baptism by Proper Authority and Method is Necessary
Latter-day Saints believe that in order for an ordinance to be acknowledged by God, it must be administered correctly by those who are duly authorized to perform such. Since baptism has been the appointed way by which man can enter into the Kingdom of God, it must be performed according to the authority and guidelines God Himself has instituted.
Immersion is the ordained method of baptism taught and performed by Jesus Christ and His apostles. (See Matthew 3:13-16; Mark1:9-11; Acts 8:36-39.) Any other methods are considered incorrect and unauthorized because the scriptures speak of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). In addition, baptisms performed by unauthorized ministers are considered invalid as evidenced by an account in the Bible where Paul re-baptized true believers who were baptized incorrectly, apparently by persons with no authority. (See Acts 19:1-5.)
Baptism by immersion is not complete without the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. While baptizing in the River Jordan, John the Baptist, addressing the people, declared, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). Joseph Smith taught of the importance of receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost after one is baptized by immersion:
“You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man,” he said, “if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”
Boyd K Packer, President of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once spoke of the importance of baptism, and receiving other ordinances of the gospel:
“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into [God’s] presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality. Once we have received them for ourselves and for our families, we are obligated to provide these ordinances vicariously for our kindred dead, indeed for the whole human family.”
Not many people really know that there are popular singers earning fame and fortune in the world today who are Mormons. Even before David Archuleta won fame on American Idol in 2007, the Osmonds in 1970’s were already popular with their hit songs “Hold Me tight”, “I Can’t Stop”, and “Love Me For A Reason” , which was later popularized by The Boyzone in the 90’s. Although there are just a small percentage of Mormons from the total 14,131,467 members worldwide who sing and become popular for a period of time, it’s still interesting to mention some of them like The Jets in the 90’s, The Brett Family (today), Alex Boye ( a member of a band named Awesome ), Brooke White, Carmen Rasmusen, Nathan Pacheco, Gladys Knight, Brandon Flowers, Neon Trees, SHeDAISY, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
As recorded in one of the Mormonism’s modern scriptures, Doctrine and Covenants 25:12 it states: “… the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” Singing is an important part of Mormon religion whether in the church or outside the church. No wonder, even from a church talent program activity, some members develop their love for singing even without knowing beforehand where it will lead them. This is the case of David Archuleta and a Filipino Singer Lani Misalucha who was dubbed by MTV Asia as “Asia’s Nightingale.” Lani (who was formerly Sister Bayot) was a member of an Institute Choir in Manila Philippines Institute of Religion in the early 1990’s, who then could hardly believe that she would be compared to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and other popular Divas.
Among the many singers from this group of people, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the most renown, and has toured around the world with their angelic voices and spectacular achievements and status in the world of music. As of June of 2010 there were 360 members, who sing at the semi-annual General Conference of the church. According to online reporter Aaron Green “The choir, marked as one of the oldest and largest choirs in the world, has performed for a handful of presidents, recorded and sold millions of albums, broadcasts a 30 minute program over 2,000 radio and TV stations, and regularly tours across the United States and the world. “ He further recalls that “…the choir’s first national tour was in 1893, where it performed at the Chicago World’s Fair. Later, it toured in Europe, Central America, Brazil, Scandinavia, Japan, Australia, Central Europe, Eastern Asia, the former Soviet Union, and Israel. “
In addition to the above singers, there are basically hundreds and thousands of groups of choirs organized in the 28,660 local church wards (congregation) or branches (which are even smaller units of the church) and even down to families when they hold their regular Family activities each week. Indeed, Mormons love to sing.
Mormon hymns display Mormon doctrine, especially their belief in the power of Christ’s atonement. Following are links to some Mormon Hymns:
- Beautiful Savior
- I Know that My Redeemer Lives
- My Shepherd Will Supply my Need (Spanish)
- Be Still my Soul
- As Now We Take the Sacrament
- An Angel from On High
- Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide
- A Mighty Fortress is our God
- A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
- Come Follow Me
- Come, Come, Ye Saints
- Come Unto Jesus
- Christ the Lord is Risen Today
- Behold the Great Redeemer Die
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Father in Heaven, We Do Believe
- Families Can Be Together Forever
- Dearest Children, God is Near You
- God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
- God Be With You Till We Meet Again
- I Am a Child of God
- Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
- Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King
- In Memory of the Crucified
- I Believe in Christ
- Love at Home
Most religions of today have their own obvious identity mark or distinguishing feature such as a unique ceremony, unusual practice or tradition, grand buildings, or the very members of its organization. This is also true of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Mormons. What are Mormons really like? Some people equate Mormons with reclusive polygamous groups who dress in old-fashioned prairie clothing. But those peoples are not Mormons. Mormons are not Amish or Mennonites, either. They dress in modern clothing, live everywhere, work in all professions, believe in doing good, getting an education, and serving in their communities.
Mormons would usually refer Matthew 7:16; 20 which states that “… by their fruits ye shall know them.” They believe that like a good tree which bears good fruits, their church and its members are also doing all they can to seek the poor and the needy, to help, support and rescue those who need to be rescued. Most of those “good works” they do are not necessarily spectacular, or extraordinary service, but they are rendered according to their teachings “with all their might, mind and strength.” One may search their global humanitarian efforts giving aid after the tsunami in Thailand and Aceh, Indonesia, different earthquakes, floods inside (Hurricane Katrina) and outside U.S. territories (Queensland, Australia), and most recently the tsunami that hit Japan. This does not mean that all Mormons are living up to God’s ideal, but as a people, they strive to live the two greatest commandments — to love the Lord with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.
So, what the individual members like? Are they like some weird religious figures with distinguishing haircut or some kind of uniforms? They are actually simple and ordinary individuals who just don’t smoke or drink alcohol, take prohibited drugs or any harmful substances. They call this the Law of Health or “Word of Wisdom”. They also strictly do not go out shopping, go to a beach, or party on Sundays. Most of them have a tendency to be patient during traffic jams. They put great importance on their family unit. Mormon parents gather their family every Monday evening to hold what they call a Family Home Evening, where they enjoy each other’s company with a lesson from scriptures or other good books, games, and showcase family members’ talents, after which a simple refreshment is served. They believe that the best teaching about life starts “within the walls of your own home.” This includes the importance of friendship, loyalty, respect to elderly, self-reliance, thrift, prudence, kindness, love, honesty, unity, and other values that are rarely found in the world today. As a result, they tend to be friendlier outside their family, kind to others, avoid cheating in school, modest in speech and clothing, and usually greet anybody with a smile and a firm handshake.
If one wants to know more about them, this website will bring a closer look of what Mormons really like.
One of the obvious differences that a non-Mormon readily notices about the Mormon Church or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the latter’s belief in additional scriptures other than the Bible. This is where most critics from other faiths argue about Mormons being Christians, yet the Mormons continue to preach the significance of other scriptures than the Bible. Founding prophet Joseph Smith wrote a summary of the doctrines of the Church, called, “The Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” which underlined all the basic doctrines and beliefs of the Mormons. Two of these are the eighth and ninth articles of faith, which state as follows:
Art. 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.”
Art. 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.”
As a result, the LDS Church has three additional sets of scriptures in addition to the Bible, namely; The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. Each of these books are claimed to be inspired of God.
For one to know the truthfulness of these books as scriptures, Mormons admonish anyone to pray and ask God
“…if these things are not true, and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3–5).
Certainly, no man can judge any book by its cover, so it is imperative for the Mormons to encourage someone to accept this challenge of reading, pondering, and praying about these things.
There are other good reasons why a sincere truth-seeker should obtain a copy of The Book of Mormon and read it through. For instance, they could read the awe-inspiring account of Christ’s visit to ancient America even before Christopher Columbus discovered it. This can be found in the Eleventh Chapter of Third Book of Nephi, and happened shortly after Christ’s Resurrection, where He taught the same gospel He preached in the Eastern hemisphere. There are many other important doctrines so that according to t Joseph Smith, “…a man may get nearer to God by abiding to its precepts than by reading any other book.”
Some famous passages are found in Mosiah 2:17 which discusses the meaning of true service, Alama 41:10 which tells of the incompatibility of sin and happiness, Moroni 7:40–48 which elaborates upon the relationship of hope and faith and the true meaning of charity, and lastly the sixteen-chapter account of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Book of Mormon peoples (who were a lost branch of Israel) starting in 3 Nephi, Chapter 11–26.
The Doctrines and Covenants is mostly the record of Joseph Smith’s revelations and those of a few of his successors, meant for the organization of the church and its members, including the Lord’s admonitions, instructions on how to act to certain circumstances and how to overcome trials and afflictions. There are many revelations of doctrines regarding the eternities and even explanations of difficult-to-understand biblical passages.
The Pearl of Great Price is a collection of translations from Genesis (by revelation) and an ancient Egyptian papyrus, which was acquired by the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Genesis translation is called the Book of Moses and gives more detail about the creation. The papyrii contain the words of Abraham and give us revelation concerning fore-ordination, the organization of the universe, and the pre-existence. A most interesting scripture is found in Moses 1:39 which says:
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
These are the unique features of the Mormon scriptures which are difficult for most Christian denominations to accept, yet Mormons maintain that these are comparable to four legs of a desk or table which may not be able to stand firmly if one leg is missing. The Mormons call these the four “standard works” of the church.
Mormons expect more scripture to be revealed. Some scripture reveals so much, that men are not yet worthy to receive it. Thus, they have been kept hidden by the Lord. These include the writings of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, and who recorded “the beginning from the end;” also the writings of John the Baptist; the complete account of the experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration; a part of the Book of Mormon that has been sealed and held back until we are worthy to receive it; and the scriptures kept by the Ten Lost Tribes, which they will bring with them when they return.
Revelation is defined as the direct communication of God to His mouthpiece on earth or His prophet. This means that since the time of Adam, the first man and the first prophet on the earth, God has revealed His will and commandments in this way and none else. No wonder it is easy to follow the pattern of each chosen prophet in a dispensation of time. God gives a particular commandment for the children of men in order to accomplish something for their good. For example, Moses was commanded to lead the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. Noah was commanded to build an Ark to save people from the flood (as many as would believe), and Elijah to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers…” This was also true during New Testament times when Christ built His church, established with the “foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone.” These patterns continue with the Mormons doctrine of Continuing Revelation. Amos, an Old Testament prophet, declared long ago, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reavealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”
In order for prophets to successfully lead, they must have followers who will hearken to them. Many prophets (as recorded in the Bible) were killed for calling people to repentance. After the death of Christ’s apostles, there was a falling away of the church, and doctrines were debated and voted upon, rather than revealed from heaven. The Lord worked over hundreds of years to bring the population of the world to a place of enlightenment and freedom wherein prophets could again teach and lead, this time preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The Prophet Joseph Smith was the first in this, the last dispensation of time before the millennium. After an uninterrupted string of prophets, today the Mormon Church has a living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson through whom God speaks concerning His will for His children.
The Ninth Article of Faith (a brief statement of Mormon doctrine) states: “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.” Because of this, Mormons also believe in an open canon of scripture.
Today, Mormons hold an Annual and Semi-Annual General Conferences every six months to gather and to hear the word, the will, and the mind of God. The talks given during this special occasion will then be recorded in audio, text, and video formats for all to listen, feel, read, and understand as if one receives it from God Himself. Mormons further believe that when these speakers speak by the power of the Holy Ghost or Spirit, it becomes “the word of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the mind of the Lord, the power of God unto salvation.” Consequently, they will do everything in their power to apply and act upon to the new instructions received referred to as the “…many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” as mentioned in their Articles of Faith.
To some this may sound absurd, yet to others this may be enlightening. Whether absurd or enlightening, there is one clear doctrine in the minds of the Mormons, and that is that their church is guided by Continuing Revelation from a living God to their living prophet.