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What do mormons believe – Part 5

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

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.

5th Article of Faith

Core to Mormon Doctrine is the notion of divine authority, the priesthood of God.  For something to be binding in heaven it must be done by the proper authority.  No man can simply declare himself an authority and conduct the eternally binding business of the Lord on the earth.  A man cannot simply aspire to an office, calling, or ministry, or declare any authority of himself or through his education or accomplishments (“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron” Hebrews 5:4)

But rather we believe that a man must be called of God by divine inspiration and revelation by those who are in authority, and then given the keys, or the rights, to administer in specific and limited ways.

So, you might ask, wherein do “those who are in authority” claim their authority?  The answer is the same now as it was in the days of Christ – from the Lord.  For the priesthood and the keys to administer thereof must be passed directly, by the laying on of hands, in an unbroken chain.

When Christ was crucified, there began a great apostasy, where truth diminished, the gospel became polluted with the teachings man, and the rights of the priesthood were removed from the earth, for those who held it were killed, or died.  Because of that great falling away, it became crucial for a complete restoration, not only of truth, but of authority, for the work of God must continue today as it did in Christ’s time (“he is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8). 

So Mormons believe that there was a great restoration, where the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, along with the priesthood authority to administer the gospel and the affairs of the church were brought back to the earth in their totality, through the prophet Joseph Smith.  And that since that time, those keys have been passed in an unbroken chain, by the laying on of hands, down through the generations to our present day, at all times overseen by a prophet of God, just as in times of old (“for surely the Lord God will do nothing except he reveal his secret to his servants, the prophets” Amos 3:7).

What’s even more interesting is that in practice, it creates a dynamic within the church that is indeed very unique.

For since all who serve are called of God, and don’t “graduate” or “earn” a position, you have no idea who might be called, or when.  Consequently, the people that lead the church today, even the very apostles and prophet, all come from different walks of life.  None of them aspired to their position.  And since the general “clergy” of the church are unpaid (very unique indeed), they all continue to work, serving the Lord in their various capacities in an entirely volunteer manner.

None of these are professional “clergymen”, but rather ordinary people, called to do extraordinary things and make extraordinary sacrifices, enabled and empowered by the extraordinary power and priesthood of God.  Because he whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.  Through divine assistance, they’re able to conduct the Lords work on the earth, far beyond what would is befitting their native capacities.

How wonderful it is to know that we are led by men who have been called of God, chosen and called up to do his work, and who are given the authority and rights to function in ways that make the ordinances for our salvation official, binding, and eternal.

Rusty

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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What do Mormons really believe, part 3

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

3rd Article of Faith

Surely one of the most beautiful of beliefs and refreshing of realizations is the reality of the Atonement.  The third Article of Faith is meant to address the efficacy of the Atonement, and the profound role it plays in our lives.

We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved…  ALL mankind!  What more encouraging words could you possibly encounter?

That tells me that no matter where I am in life, no matter how far astray I may have gone, no matter what I’ve done, the atonement of Christ can save me from my sins.

How often Satan – ever our adversary – seeks to engulf us in the belief that we’ve gone too far, or done too much.  Enveloped with despair he tries to overwhelm us with our past, and blind us to the hope to which we are entitled because of the atonement.  But such is not the case.  Hope is ever ours to have.

Through the crucifixion of Christ and his unimaginable suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He took upon himself the sins of the world, the sins of you and me.   All this that we might not have to pay the price for those sins – for indeed a price there must be, for mercy cannot rob justice.

But herein enters an important principle, the second part of this article of faith.  While the resurrection of Christ makes it possible for all mankind to be resurrected, a free gift with no prerequisite price to pay from us, the atonement of Christ is ours to have also, but is conditional.

For us to benefit from the Atonement, for us to “be saved”, we must first acknowledge and accept the Savior and His sacrifice.  He has cast us the lifeline, but we must exert ourselves to grab hold.  Said so simply, it sounds easy, but it requires genuine humility, which proves ever difficult for all.

And it doesn’t stop there… a portion of this principle that creates an unmistakable and compelling distinction between Mormonism and most other Christian beliefs.  The notion that after we have accepted Christ, and been baptized in His name, we must continue in the faith, abounding in good works, keeping the commandments of God, and continually repenting along the way.

But a life so led, where one struggles to stay on the path as he is frequently beset by the inevitable mistakes of mortality, is one that is acceptable in the eyes of God, and is one that leads to salvation.  We must first grab hold, and then endure to the end.

Rusty

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The clensing gift of repentance (ctrl-z, UNDO!)

As an addendum toWhat do Mormons really believe, Part 4

Spending as much time on the computer as we do, there’s a command that we often take for granted.  The wonderful, marvelous, brilliant “ctrl-z” key combo!

I don’t know who originally thought this up, but bless them.

There you are, working away, and suddenly you realize that you’ve made a mistake.  All you have to do is hold down the control key, and hit “z” at the same time, and beautifully, your error disappears as though it never existed, and you can pick up where you last left off, or start from scratch.

A wise and loving Father in Heaven realized that as we progress through life, occasionally we’d make such mistakes.  Some might be inadvertent while others more intentional.  Therefore he gave us the marvelous mechanism of repentance – a process whereby our mistakes in life might be wiped clean from the book of life, allowing us to start over, on a clean slate.

What refreshing doctrine.

This forgiveness is made possible through the everlasting atonement of Christ, who in the Garden of Gethsemane took upon himself the sins of the world, thereby making it possible for us to repent, and invoke the efficacy of his sacrifice.  He paid the price of justice, that we might know mercy.

But how careful we must be to not take repentance flippantly, for an attitude of “sin now, repent later”, is offensive to God.  This is not a “get out of jail free” card that we can just play at will.  Repentance isn’t instantaneous, nor free.

To fully repent, we must confess and forsake of our sins.  Seek restitution from those we have wronged, and promise not to do it again.  That process can be difficult, but it is sure.  And when complete, our sins are forgiven, we are washed clean through blood of our Savior, and made whole – again worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  It’s an incomparable feeling of relief, as though a huge burden has been lifted from your shoulders.  It freshens your vision, fills you with enthusiasm, energizes your soul, and spurs you to do better, and be more.

Every one of us can be free from the shackles of the sins by which we are beset, freed from the burdens that weigh us down and hamper our enjoyment of life.

May each one of us find the strength to repent of our sins, and make that enriching process a never-ending aspect of our daily lives.

Rusty

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What Mormons believe, part 2

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
2nd Article of faith

Herein lies doctrine that I find sweet and compelling, and very personal, but so often taken for granted, or overlooked by many Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

This simple sentence explores the profound depth of difference between consequences and accountability.

Adam fell when he transgressed the law of God by partaking of the forbidden fruit, and by so doing, was cast out of the Garden of Eden, becoming mortal.  Because of that transgression, we too, are mortal, and as such, we live under the consequence of Adam’s decision.  But we are not accountable for it.

This is a profound principle, and one that has a much broader application.

Each of us grows up under the consequence of our parent’s (or ancestor’s) decisions.  Those consequences make up the environment of our past.  Some grew up in another religion, or with no religion.  Some grew up in abusive families.  Some grew up in poverty, and some in wealth.  Some grew up under the staining effect of racism, or with countless other derogatory views.

Those are the blocks with which we build (see my post on building blocks here).   

But that’s not what we’re held accountable for.  Rather we’re held accountable for our own actions.  It’s what we DO with those blocks that matter.  Some are faced with the challenge of overcoming great adversity.  Others, in perhaps an equally difficult manner, are required to hold higher an already high standard.

How often do we find ourselves blaming our parents or our past for our actions today? 

In short, we each have challenges inherent in the heritage we receive from the consequences of our parents actions, for good or for ill, but what matters in the eyes of God, is what we do on our own.

Hence my post “My story, why I think we’re not limited by our past“.

May we all be a little less focused on what we’ve been given, and a little more focused on what constructive things we can do with them.

Rusty

For related posts, see also “It is what you make of it“, “A psalm of life“, “The Builders“, “Life Sculptor“, “The danger of reflection“.

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What do mormons really believe?

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

I’ve decided that over the next several days, I’m going to elaborate a bit on what Mormons believe, using the Articles of Faith as my guide.  This series of posts is meant to both assist in setting the record straight about Mormonism (if you’re not LDS, and have seen the plethora of false information online), and to helping those of us that are LDS appreciate the simple beauty behind our most basic beliefs.

(For context, the Articles of Faith were written by Joseph Smith and published in March of 1842 in an effort to provide a brief view of Mormon teachings… see here).

The first article of faith states: 

 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

Yes, that means we’re Christian.  We believe in Jesus Christ.  We believe that He lives, that He was resurrected after having been crucified on the cross.  We believe that He is our savior, and that through His atoning sacrifice, our sins might be forgiven that we might be made clean through His mercy. 

We believe that he is the literal Son of God, and that God is a real being of flesh and bone, who created the earth, and that we are all His children (see we are of royal birth).  Mormons believe that God is not some vague, cosmic energy, but is a real person that we can see, feel, and speak to.

What a beautiful thing that is, to know that we are made in the image of God.  Knowledge of such a divine heritage should fill us with hope, fortify our confidence, and alter the perspective we have on ourselves, and others.

And how wonderful it is to know that God is a literal, tangible being.  Somehow that makes him approachable, being able to see him as a kind and gentle Father who is concerned at all times for our eternal welfare (see God is Omnicaring).

We also believe in the Holy Ghost, that He is a personage of spirit, and as such, is able to dwell within us.  Think upon that for a moment.  Through living a righteous life, we are able to have the Holy Ghost actually dwell within us.  What a marvelous gift.  A measure of divinity placed within each of us providing a direct conduit straight to our Father in Heaven.

While it’s so easy to take the first article of faith for granted, being so basic, I find it to be of remarkable substance and encouragement.  I am a child of God, who sent His Son to atone for my sins, and provided me the Holy Ghost as a companion to show the way during dark times.  Armed with such knowledge, we should all feel a little bolder, a little more confident, and a little more determined.

Rusty

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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What do Mormons really believe, part 4

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

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 Gost.
4th Article of Faith

I can’t help but think back to one of the many things I’ve had to build in my life, you know, one of those projects that come with a list of instructions… furniture, doll houses, bikes, whatever it may be.  Being a guy, and the sort of person I am – a moron (that’s moron, not Mormon, although I am that too), I’ve often simply set to out trying to put it together… without looking at the instructions.

In truth, usually I glance at them and see how simple they appear, and then, confident in my ability to just figure it out, I often get several steps into the process before I realize that something is wrong.  The pieces just don’t fit together, or it doesn’t look quite right (which usually means I’ve been trying to just compare it to the picture on the box). 

Anyway, my first inclination is to curse the manufacturer.  It’s funny how often I’ve done this; you’d think I’d learn.  Now, forced into a corner, I end up going back and reading the instructions, usually only to find I missed some small, simple (but crucial) step.

So often this is the case with the gospel.  The first principles and ordinances are indeed simple, and because of their simplicity, they’re overwhelmingly overlooked. 

It’s the attitude of “Yeah, yeah, faith… I get it.  Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost – great, now let’s get on with something more interesting…” that’s what dooms us.

These first principles and ordinances are foundational – that’s why they’re first.  They’re the basis upon which ALL other principles and ordinances rely.

When we’re so quick to move past them without the benefit of a thorough understanding, appreciation, and testimony of them, then how often we find ourselves, long after, realizing that something is not fitting.  We come upon a principle or doctrine or an event in life that just doesn’t “look right”, and finding ourselves in a corner, we blame the manufacturer.

When in reality, it was simply that we had failed in the first step, to understand the simplest points of the gospel. 

It’s much like the people of Moses, as they were set upon by serpents.  He raised the serpent staff and told his people that if they’d but look upon it, they’d be saved.  But so simple was the task that alas, many did not, and perished.

So too must we continually remember to focus on the core – faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost, if we want to be saved from the serpents of life.  Let not the simplicity or commonness of these betray our judgment – a foundation is only as valuable as it is solid.

So we should ask ourselves… how well do we understand the immeasurable power of faith, and how often do we implement it in our lives, and in the lives of others?  How often do we find ourselves in the process of sincere repentance, and how clearly do we understand and appreciate how it is even possible?  Have we been baptized and born of God, and if so, how regularly do we renew those covenants and how serious do we take them?  What role does the Holy Ghost play in our daily life?  How sensitive and perceptive are we to its promptings and communication?  How well established is our capacity to recognize His promptings?

These are the things that we must return to regularly, for all the remaining steps of life rely on how firmly we’re able to grasp these few things.

Rusty

P.S.  Because of the tremendous importance of these foundational elements of the gospel, I’m going to dedicate a post to each of them, both because each are worth an individual exploration, and also because there are bound to be numerous responses to each of these.  This organization will better allow us to explore each one independently. If you have comments about one of these in particular, please add them to the specific post to which they apply, and reserve comments on this post to the general direction/commentary about this article of faith.  I’ve gone ahead and added the post skeleton for each of these so you can go ahead and add comments now if you already know what they are (hehe), and I’ll fill in the commentary today and tomorrow.  Thanks, and I hope to enjoy some more healthy discussion on each of these!

Here you’ll find Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost

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