Monday, June 29, 2009


"America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 1

Latter-Day Saints are encouraged to be good citizens in whichever country we are found. "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." 12 Though Latter-Day Saints are encouraged to be politically involved, the LDS church is very careful never to imply support for any particular candidate. We are expected to participate appropriately in government processes and to support and defend our freedoms, "to stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free."Mosiah23:13

We are taught to diligently search for men who are honest wise and good to lead our country; and we are taught to pray for our elected leaders and treat them with dignity and respect (even the ones we didn't vote for).

I am sure we all have considered how blessed we are to live in America, especially as there is so much of war and turmoil about us. Latter-Day Saints believe that America has a special history and destiny. God led Columbus to America. 1 Ne.13 God “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up" and "delivered [the country] by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations." D&C 101:80 1 Ne.13:19 It is a land of liberty where men are free to live the teachings of Jesus Christ and to proclaim his truths, and we are promised that it will remain so. In a time when many fear the future, I take great comfort in the words of the Lord concerning our great nation:

But behold...the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land. And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. It is a choice land... above all other lands. 2 Ne. 10:10-12,19

Around 600 B.C Lehi prophesied regarding America: that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. 2Ne.1:6-7

The Lord told the brother of Jared (who was brought here with his family from the tower of Babel), that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God... and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God.... For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands... And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off. Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. Ether 2:8-10,12

It is no accident that the United States is the great nation that it is, nor that it was founded by people who loved God. America is the bastion of religious freedom. It is here that the New Jerusalem, will be established. God gave us this land and our freedoms in it. We have the duty to live righteously and do what is in our power to protect our country and to create and sustain good laws. We have the assurance that as we do this we will have God on our side.

This is a land that is blessed by God and through which all nations of the earth will be blessed. America should not only be an example of freedom and liberty to the world, but an example of goodness. There are many forces trying to destroy liberty and turn the people away from that which is good, but there is no need to fear, "for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." 2 Kings 6:16 God will be with us. God is the author of our liberty.

We are blessed to live in America!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Book of Mormon

The Lord declared that in the last days, "many of the Gentiles shall say: ... A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible.' Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them." 2 Ne. 29:3,6-11 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John 21:25

From the days of Adam, Christ has taught his gospel to his followers and they have kept records. It is because of these records that we have the Bible, which is a record kept by the Jews up through the time of Christ and his apostles. Many people in many lands have kept records of their dealings with God and their experiences living his gospel; however, outside of the works contained in the Bible, few of these other writings are available to us. One is. It is sometimes called the Stick of Joseph. Ezek 37:16-20

Christ's followers in the ancient Americas kept such a record. In about 400 A. D. the prophet Mormon made an abridgment of these records (hence the name Book of Mormon), engraving it on thin sheets of gold. His son, Moroni, completed the work and was instructed to seal up the record to come forth in the Lord's time.

It is this same Moroni who was sent by God to inform Joseph Smith of the existence and location of the record. (We believe that angels are men, children of God, --either pre-mortal or post-mortal spirits, or resurrected men-- who are sent from the presence of God to to earth to teach and bless mortal men.) Joseph Smith was taught by Moroni and, after a few years, allowed to take and translate the record. Besides Joseph, several other men saw and handled the plates and bore testimony of their existence. Three men were shown the plates by an angel of God and were instructed to bear witness that were translated by the gift and power of God. Though they became disaffected with the church and some never returned, they never denied that an angel showed them the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.

The Bible is a record of Christ's followers in Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon is a record of Christ's followers in America. The Bible is the word of God and testifies that Jesus is the Christ. The Book of Mormon establishes the truth of the Bible and adds another witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ. For behold, [the Book of Mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible]. Mormon 7:9

The Book of Mormon tells the story of a Jewish prophet and his family who were warned to leave Jerusalem before its destruction c.600 B.C. and were brought to the Americas. It describes the religious and secular history of the great civilization they founded here. It contains quotes and references to the scriptures that were brought from Jerusalem, particularly Isaiah, and preserves the teachings of the prophets in the new world. It tells of Christ's visit to these 'other sheep' after his resurrection. The story is also told of a family spared from the curse at the time of the tower of Babel and brought by God to this land, and of another group that was brought here, led by Mulek, the surviving son of the Old Testament king Zedekiah.

The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. It teaches the purposes of the law of Moses, which was observed by the Book of Mormon peoples before the coming of Christ; and it exhorts everyone who reads it to look to Christ for salvation. It agrees with and reinforces Bible teachings and presents the gospel of Jesus Christ with great clarity. The Book of Mormon is full of many wonderful, inspiring, and faith-promoting stories and teachings. There are so many great stories, it is hard to choose a favorite. One of the most touching stories is of Christ's visit to the Nephite people (3 Ne. 11) after his resurrection and following the great destruction that occurred at the time of his death (3Ne. 8). It is a beautiful account of Christ's experiences teaching a people who loved and accepted him. You can feel the great love that He had for them.

Moroni knew that the Book of Mormon would come forth in a time when it would be very difficult for people to believe it. As a prophet of God, he issued this promise: And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, 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 10:4-5

I believe that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God, but you should not believe it because I say it is, nor should you disbelieve it because someone else tells you it isn't. If you really want to know whether or not it is from God, read it, ask God, and know for yourself. God cannot lie and he will not mislead you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Godhead

Latter-Day Saints agree with most other Christians with regard to what the bible says about God. We believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. D&C 20:28 This is what the Bible declares. This is what Mormons believe.

The Bible teaches that the members of the godhead are both distinct and united. Latter-Day Saints believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are embodied individuals and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and that the three are perfectly united in purpose. That the three members of the Godhead are distinct individuals is clearly taught in the Bible, what is not so clearly explained is the way in which they are united, so I fault no one for disagreeing with me. Whether you believe that Jesus Christ is an individual member of a perfectly united Godhead, or part of the 'Triune' God, I accept that we speak of the same person with the same scripturally-defined attributes, and that He has the power to save all who have faith in Him.

God, the Father, is literally the father of the spirits of all men. We believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, that He has an immortal, perfect, glorified body after which our own bodies are patterned. God's perfect body is a necessary part of who He is and he would be limited without one. God's voice has been heard by man and He has been seen on a few occasions. Some of the most compelling understanding that we have for who the Father is comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding his Father as recorded in the New Testament. I cannot read Christ's prayers and doubt for a moment that he was sincerely speaking to another person, his beloved Father.

Jesus Christ is literally the son of God and is perfectly united with Him. He was the firstborn of Heavenly Fathers children in the Spirit World, and is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh, born to a virgin mother. He is in the express image of his Father in both physical appearance and divine attributes and is the only perfect man ever to walk the earth. God...hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Heb1:1-3 He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of the New. Christ was the first to regain his physical body through resurrection and effected the resurrection of all mankind. It is Christ who atoned for the sins of the world and made possible our return to the presence of God. All those who accept his teachings and come to the Father in his name are adopted by Christ. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. Mosiah 5:7 It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved in the kingdom of God.

The Holy Ghost. The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. D&C 130:22 The Holy Ghost testifies of the Father and the Son, he teaches and reveals truth to men, and he sanctifies those who repent and are baptized.

"To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus . . . being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Plillipians 2:6 Holland

When Christ prayed for those who believe in him, he asked, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:20-23 Christ never intended his followers to be absorbed into the essence of God, rather that we should be perfectly united together with him and the Father in the same way that He is perfectly united with His Father. So perfect is their unity that Christ can speak authoritatively as if he were His Father. His purposes are in line with His Father's and his actions are those of His Father. That is the example that Christ set for us and the standard that we are to strive to attain. We learn through the power of the Holy Ghost, to align our thoughts and actions with God's.

"Latter-day Saints do not accept the Christ that emerges from centuries of debates and councils and creeds. Over the years that followed the death and resurrection of the Lord, Christians sought to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We believe that the epistles of Paul, Peter, Jude and John suggest that the apostasy or falling away of the first-century Christian church was well underway by the close of the first century. With the deaths of the apostles and the loss of the priesthood, the institutional power to perform and oversee saving sacrament or ordinances, learn the mind of God and interpret scripture was no longer on earth. To be sure, there were noble men and women throughout the earth during the centuries that followed, religious persons of good will, learned men who sought to hold the church together and to preserve holy writ. But we believe that these acted without prophetic authority." Millet Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].”2

The Latter-Day Saint concept of God is based on scripture and direct revelation from God through Prophets and Apostles. When I read the New Testament, it amazes me how clearly Christ teaches about the godhead. His teachings about who He is are beautiful, clear, and simple--Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world.

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Christ], 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. Joseph Smith

Question--Why does Christ talk to God?

In the Bible, Christ often speaks to His Father. To me these conversations seem very sincere, and Christ's need for support from God seems very real. I do not comprehend it from a triune perspective--It seems confusing that Christ makes a point of talking to His Father if they are part of the same essence. What do you believe we gain by it?

Monday, June 8, 2009


I was with a bunch of stylish LDS women recently and the restaurant 'Bagels and Brew' was brought up as a nice place to eat. One of the women remarked, "Why do they call it Bagels and Brew? It's like," and her voice deepened as she imitated an imaginary customer, "'I'll have a beer with that bagel.' I don't get it." We all paused for just a second to reflect on her comment then had a good laugh as we realized the mistake. I still laugh for joy every time I think about it. It's wonderful to associate with women who are so far removed from the world that they can't even pull of a convincing bluff!

Many people outside the church, though, are puzzled or even bothered by our adherence to the very basic law of health that Latter-Day Saints live by, most of which is outlined in the Word of Wisdom, which was given by revelation to Joseph Smith (again in answer to a question) in 1833, and which, the Lord says, is adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints. D&C 89: 3

God wants us to learn to take care of the body that he gave us, it will be ours for the rest of eternity. It is not only for the blessing of better health, however, that he has given us some guidelines. We learn many other things from following the Word of Wisdom such as wisdom, obedience to God, self control, and the importance of taking care of ourselves. These are lessons that will bless our lives forever.

Some are worried that the laws that Latter-Day Saints live by are not all found in the Bible, after all Christ turned the water into wine. I believe that some of God's instructions are based on what he understands our needs to be in a given time and place. For example, God's people were once required to abstain from pork. The Lord introduced the Word of Wisdom, by stating, "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation." D&C 89: 4

Do's and Don'ts

Eat fruits, veggies, grains, herbs, eat meat sparingly, "all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving... with judgment, not to excess" D&C 89:11 59:20

Use Alcohol, Coffee, Tea, Tobbaco

The promises
Health, wisdom, knowledge, ability to "run and not be weary, and...walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them." D&C 89: 18-21

We are also counseled to cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. D&C 88:124

I think this nearly 200 year old diet sounds quite modern. Long before science understood the physical benefits of such a lifestyle, God revealed to his saints a basic outline of how to care for our bodies. The gospel of Jesus Christ also includes other beliefs and practices that are conducive to good health, such as forgiveness, fasting, chastity, education, hard work, moderation and gratitude. Obedience to God's commandments always bring spiritual blessings, but there are real and often significant physical benefits as well.

These requirements in the Word of Wisdom are very basic and, for the most part, we choose how we will follow them. For example, in the spirit of avoiding harmful and addictive substances, a large percentage of Latter-day Saints avoid caffeinated beverages, though they are not prohibited. There are also those who avoid all infusions (herbal teas) in addition to Teas (Camellia sinensis). This is sometimes confusing to those who don't understand the basic principle of self-government in the church (that we are taught correct principles and are left to govern ourselves with relatively few restrictions). Latter-day Saints believe that we are responsible for the decisions we make in counsel with the Lord through prayer. Different people with different needs and tendencies may come to different conclusions. So, though tobacco and alcohol are clearly prohibited, there is no formula for what a "sparing" amount of meat is and no one tells you what time to go to bed. There is also plenty of room for scientific discoveries within the framework the Lord has provided us.

What happens to you when you drink a cup of coffee or wine? Probably not much more than a little chemical effect. You might become addicted--I know those whose lives have been controlled by coffee and we all know the terrible effects that alcohol can have, but most often little lasting harm is done. What would happen if I drank a little coffee or a sip of wine? I don't think that a little is likely to harm me physically, but I have made a promise to obey God and he has asked me to avoid these substances. For me then, breaking that covenant would be a sin. I would also lose some respect for myself; and my ability to avoid these things in the future would be weakened as well as my ability to make wise decisions about other things. Repentance is always available to cleanse us from sin and Christ helps us to overcome our weaknesses, but we cannot escape the natural consequences of our actions. (Though I can be forgiven for drinking, I still have the hangover.) It is better to avoid mistakes than to fix them.

Obedience to these principles results in greater freedom, not less. By abstaining from smoking, for example, I never risk becoming addicted to tobacco and yet I retain the ability to choose whether I want to take it. If I become addicted to tobacco, it is very hard to escape, even if I really want to--I lose the ability to choose. By refraining from dangerous substances and taking care of my health, I retain the power to make decisions and to choose the attending consequences, whether positive or negative.

I am very grateful that God has given us some guidance with regard to our health. I cannot express how blessed I feel to have been protected from so many of the dangers and diseases that are so common today, and for the peace of mind that I enjoy. God gives us commandments for our benefit, he wants us to be truly happy. I know that obedience to his counsels will bring us true and lasting happiness and peace.

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made... D&C 59:18-20

Question--Justice in Heaven

I'm trying to understand how God's justice works in the 'one heaven one hell' belief structure.

It is my understanding that Trinitarians place in the same place in Heaven all who meet the requirements (accepted Christ, received baptism...I think it varies somewhat among churches) to go to Heaven. Is this correct?

Do you also believe then that the person who devoted his whole heart and everything he had to serving God would receive the same reward as one who met the requirement/s but gave relatively little thought to God or his fellow man? If so, is this just? I believe that mercy makes up for lack of ability when one has righteous desires. Does mercy also make up for the lack of desire thereby making everyone in heaven equal? (We'll talk about works later, I promise.)