Much has been said of late regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church (probably particularly because of the campaign for the Presideny of Mitt Romney in 2012), and whether or not the Church is "Christian" or not. So, since it is being talked about so much, I though it important to give my own perspective and witness.
Forgive me in advance for the length.
Jesus Christ, miraculously (through the power of the Holy Spirit) born of the Virgin Mary, is my Savior and author of my Salvation. His atonement and redemption in the Garden and on the Cross have saved me, and it is that alone that has saved me. This is the same Christ, written of in the Holy Bible, which I accept as God's word and His scripture, who was born in Bethlehem, raised by the caprenter, Joseph in Nazareth. He taught in the Temple when young, He grew up and taught His gospel, performed great miralces, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, raising the dead. He chose His disciples. He himself said He was the Christ, the Son the Father, of Almighty God. He was unjustly tried by the Jews and the Romans, and was crucified according to Biblical prophesy for the sins of mankind and rose (Was resurrected) the third day. He will return to this Earth and reign in honor and glory through a glorious Millennium. I look forward to the day of His return.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What many call a Mormon. We do have different beliefs about the Godhead. We believe in three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We believe they are seperate and distinct individuals and turn to the Bible itself of that interpretation. Christ indicated indeed that He and the Father are one, but in the great intercessory prayer in the Gospel of John, he explained exactly what that meant when he prayed to the Father and asked that His discplies might be one, even as He and the Father were one. He did not ask that they come together in some form of single coglamaration of them all in body, He prayed that they would be perfectly united. He also prayed to the Father...not to himself. He also said He came to do the will of His Father, not His own will. His Father's voice was heard at His baptism, while the Spirit descended seperately. Hs Father's voice was also heard and on the mount...separate from His own. The martyr Steven saw Christ sitting individually next to the Father. All of these things are very clear regarding the distrinct and seperate nature of the Godhead.
We also believe that we are saved through faith and grace. Our own actions are not sufficient to save us...but we do believe that Christ indicated, very clearly in the Bible that there were certain things that we, as His disciples should do...necessary as a part of our salvation. He said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments...and His apostles taught (notably John) that if we did not keep His commandments, His love was not in us. James taught very clearly that our faith would be accompanied by good works...or that that faith was dead. He sent His disciples forth to baptise and indicated that they who believed and were baptised would be saved, and they who did not would not be saved. So clearly, there are things that was as believers, as a result of our sincere conversion, must do. These are all things that various denominations interpret differently and have differences over...and that is fine.
We believe, as Paul taught, that the Church of Christ is made up of Apostles, and Prohets, evangelists, bishops, etc. We believe that His Church was restored to the earth...not for "Mormons" but for all mankind and we go about teaching people of it. We believe that all mankind, whenever and wherever they have lived throughout history will be brought to a knowledge of Christ in this life, or before the judgement in the life herafter, so they can either accept or deny His salvation. We believe Christ himself set up this great work on the other side after He was cruicified and before he was resurrected when he "taught the spirits in prison," according to Biblical verse in Peter.
We do not worship Jospeh Smith or set him up as an equal in any instance to Jesus Christ. We believe Christ used Him to perform a mission and that mission was the restoration of Christ's full church, also as prophesied in the Bible, with Prophets and Aposles and all that Paul spoke of. Do others believe the time for that is past? Yes. And that is fine as a part of their faith. We also believe in the Book of Mormon, which itself clearly states that it is a second witness of Christ and goes along with the Holy Bible (which we also believe in as Holy Scripture) to witness of Him. It does not replace the Bible...it is not "another Bible," we believe it is a witness of Christ from ancient America. Do others believe we do not need this witness? Yes...and that too is fine according to the dictates of their faith. Joseph Smith ultimately sealed his mission, despite whatever faults he had...and he had them for he was a human and imperfect...with his own blood.
We believe that when Christ said, in Matthew to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect", that he meant it. We believe that is the ultimate aim He and the Father have for us. That our ultimate purpose, through the salvation of Jesus Christ, is to do so. But that would be in the far hereafter. We believe what Paul said, in Romans when he said, "We are the Children of God, and if children, then heirs, and joint heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with Him, that we might also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."
I witness, in all humilty, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. He is my personal Savior and the only one to whom I look for, for salvation. That is a true and sincere statement. It is He who will judge me. By most all Chrsitian standards, that statement of acceptance of Jesus Christ means to most that I am saved. The Bible teaches that it is only through the power of the Holy Ghost that I can make such a witness...and I so witness now.
The other differences notwithstanding...they ar miniscule when compared to the saving grace of Jesus Christ which I freely accept and teach.
It is what my church teaches. It is what I teach my children and grandchildren. In the end...Jesus Christ is the Chief and principle cornerstone of it all. Without Him and His atonement all else is meaningless.
Are there those in the church who lean more heavily on one doctrine or another? Yes. There are in all Chrsitian denominations. Are there bad apples amongst us? Yes...as there are in any large organization. Any Christian church is really a hospital for sinners...all of us. So yes, mistakes are made and sometimers emphasis is misplaced. But the grounding teachings of Jesus Christ and Him crucified are the basis for it all and that is the crucial doctrine.
A Christian is a follower of Christ and His gospel, who accepts Him as their Savior through Christ's atonement and who believes in His Father, and in the Holy Ghost, and who believes He was resurrected with an immortal body and will return in a glorious second coming. I believe all of these things...though my interpretation of some of the doctrines assiocaited with them may be different than yours. Nonetheless, I believe them with all my heart and follow them and try and teach them to others.
I beleive in Christ, I teach of Christ, I look forward to His coming, and I thank God in Heaven for Him and His salvation and for the witness of the Holy Ghost which has born it into my heart and soul.
These are all good things and we should all rejoice in anyone who comes to such knowledge. I do...even if they come to that knowledge outside of the LDS church...I know that their heartfelt testimony and acceptance of Christ will bear them up. Of course, in our faith, I believe they will utlimately also learn about the truths we teach...but that is for the future and for God himself to decide. In the end, if we are true followers of Christ, when He comes and enfolds us in His arms, if we love Him, we will do as he bids...even if it is not altogether what we thought in life. I know I will. I pray all of us will.
Others may seek to discount this, my testimony. But they cannot destroy it because it is between me and my Savior and it He who will judge me. I testify that my witness is sincere, humble and true, irrespective of what others may say about me and my church. I plead with people to get to know members of the Church, ask them what they believe, observe their lives and who they commit themselves to in life and then judge for themselves. The Savior taught that "by their fruits ye shall know them". Get to know them and see their fruit.
I have placed this here with one objective in mind...to provide a witness and testimony contrary to much of what is being said about my faith, that it may stand as a witness...and to do so honestly and humbly. I am not seeking arguement, not trying to "prove" anyone wrong...just giving my own witness and letting people know some of what we believe and why. I will not follow this up with a public bash and arguement of theological princple. The key and core element on which all else hingeds...for any of us IMHO...is the core witness and belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary and crucified on Calvary as our Redeemer and Savior.
Anyone who believe in Jesus Christ and Him crucified...and who knows that His gospel and the fundamental moral principles He taught are the bedrock foundation of our republic and our Liberty is my ally...even if they naysay my faith. I will not naysay their faith in Jesus Christ because that collective faith is what is important if we are to restore this Republic. We are and should be allies in this fight, and I do all I can to reach out and work with others accordingly. Anyone who knows my history and my involvement in numerous activities on behalf of liberty knows this is true.
Again, I thank all who have prayed for and joined their faith with my own and that of my family in my recent health crisis with cancer. The prayers of the faithful...a large portion of which are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were effecive and instrumentaal in my life and I humbly thank all who exerted their prayers and faith on my behalf. We are brothers and sisters and I plead with all to join together and not let the adversary or a spirit of dissention split us apart as we fight for our nation.
God's blessings and speed to you all.
Agains, sorry for the length of this post.
Since posting this on my site and on a conservative forum where the question was raised, I have received multiple responses and emails. It is not my desire to engage in any spirit of arguement or dissention...because I do not believe such a spirit comes from God. However, I had one response which indicated that since I would not respond to them regarding the question of whether Mormons believe they can become like God, or the nature of God in eternities past, that I was somehow a fraud. I felt impressed to include my response to that individual (whose name I will withold) here.
[*** name not shown ***], you do not know me. You have no knowledge of my person, upbringing, family, etc., except what I have honestly shared here. And yet you set yourself up as judge and jury and call me a "fraud."
Shame on you.
I responded to you civilly and wished God's blessings upon you. But, unless you get exactly what you want, you are willing to call people liars, frauds, or whatever other name you can think of in order to label someone who does not meet your rigid degree of inquisition.
As I said from the beginning I am not going to play that game.
In answering your question I used the words of our Savior and told you I could do the same for your other questions...and I can. That is not fraudulent, that is just sincerely trying to answer your question, which I mistakenly believed was sincerely asked. In that vein, it was also a sincere effort to see what the nature of your response would be. Well, you provided that nature in spades.
Such inquisitions miss the mark, and the mark is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The salvation of Christ is your real answer.
If that is true...and it is, the rest should be immaterial to you. But it apparently is not because you are burning with, and more interested in a desire to somehow "prove" me wrong and your own position right.
Like I said, I will not play to that spirit or that game. It is not about whether you are I or "right." It is about what God has in store for His children. You may call this whatever you like, your accusations and condemnations are immaterial. In the end Christ will judge, and I welcome His loving, merciful and rightous judgment.
Having said all that, in regards the question of us believing that we can ultimately become like God.
In a word, yes, we believe we can.
we are created in the express image of God. The Bible tells us so. Jesus Christ told us so. I imagine that if the veil were rent in twain and our mortal eyes could stand to behold God as prophets of old did, we would see His glorified person and recognize His bodily form as being expressely the same as our own...except His is glorified and immortal.
He has said, and his apostles and disciples have said on numerous occasions (notably by Paul in Romans), that He is our Father and we are His Children. That we are His heirs, just like Jesus Christ, and that we can attain the same glory as Christ...and we know that unto Christ will be given "all that the Father hath." In the Bible, in Matthew, Christ himself commanded us to become perfect "even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
We believe He meant that. And that He meant all of these things, just as He and the prophets of old said them...and they said them in the Bible.
The specific couplet you are looking for, expressed by Lorenzo Snow is this, "As man is, God once was, and as God is man may become."
We believe a loving Father, who loves us perfectly, wants His children to have the absolute very best possible available to us if we will but come untto His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact coming unto Him is the ONLY WAY we can attain what He has in store for us. Any loving father inherits this desire from God in Heaven, who is the Father of us all, and wants the same for his children, as does any loving mother.
Remember what Paul taught in Romans 10 and what Christ taught in Matthew (We are God's children and heirs, and that we should become perfect as the Father). Again [*** name not shown ***], we actually believe those things just as they were said and written in the Bible. We believe in fact that God Himself wants us to become like Him because He wants the very best for us. He loves us perfectly and wants us to have the same perfect existence He has. This does not detract from Him or the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the least, rather, the opposite is true. We believe that the whole plan of salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is geared towards this end.
That as He created and brought us forth...His own children...and that He would have become like Him, and do exaclty the same thing HE does ourselves some day in the eternities to come.
Now, Lorenzo Snow, based on a sermon Joseph Smith preached back in the late 1830s or 1840 came up with that couplet I quoted above to describe what he felt Joseph Smith was teaching based on these principles I have just described.
To us, these things are holy. They are divine, special, and glorious and represent the will of a perfectly loving Father in Heaven. We understand how some others, particularly some of those versed in theologian schools of the day, feel about these doctrines. They react to them almost precisely as the Pharisees reacted when Christ proclaimed directly to them that He was God's Son.
We do not care to see these principles that we hold so dear dragged through the mud, scoffed at, and ridiculed as some will undoubtedly do.
It has nothing to do with fraud...it is more akin to you not ever thinking of sharing your most intimate feelings and moments with your beloved wife with people you know will not only scoff at them, but profane them and condemn them.
As it is...a few moments ago, I felt impressed by the Holy Ghost to share them here. I am sure they will be wrested, torn asunder, scoffed at, and profaned and spread abroad in that fashion by some here on the internet.
But, as God in Heaven is my witness, I also know that these truths will also penetrate the hearts and souls of some, and touch and change their hearts. Probably someone lurking who will take heart at these truths and recognizze them and then study it out sincerely for themselves. God grant is be so.
The fact is, if some of the antagonistic theologians would simply be true to what they state are their core beliefs regarding Jesus Christ and Him crucified, whom I worship and accept with all my heart...then what we believe regarding the particulars of this doctrine would not matter one iota. Why? Because according to their own doctrine, I am already saved by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ as a result of the sincere witness I gave above. Therefore such notions (right or wrong) are immaterial to that salvation which is placed in Jesus of Nazareth who was the Son of the living God, just as he said He was.
So, [*** name not shown ***], again, God bless you for your sincere faith in Christ. If what I say is true, and I wintess in Jesus name that it is (even though I know you are not likely to accept it), then your future in Heaven is very glorious indeed, which glory is not taken unto oursleves, and not sought after for our own glory, but only adds to God in Heaven's glory because it is exactly what God in Heaven and His Son wish for us.
In our faith, if you reject such teachings, then you will not be forced to live them, but will live in another Kingdom of Glory in the hereafter suited to what you do desire as a result of your faith, in Christ, for as Jesus himself taught, "in my father's House are many mansions."
Finally, if this teaching is altogether wrong, then all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and His salvation...as I most certainly do...will enjoy whatever it is He and the Father have in store for us in Heaven above. And I am perfectly content in that knowledge.
Whatever that glorious existence turns out being will be directly and precisely because of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and because God in Heaven created the entire plan for the benefit of His children.
Now with that, I am constrained to stop...and will step back and let the conversation go on and let folks decide for themselves what they think of these things.
Such thoughts and doctrine do not in the least condmen me...I know this...Christ has saved me, and He will judge my heart and accceptance of His atonement...like He will all of us.
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