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Hi I'm Michael

"I am called [a] Mormon ... I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

About Me

I am the oldest of four, and an uncle to the most adorable nephew and nieces in the world. I grew up in a small city in central California--small by California standards, anyway--and attended a university in but not OF Utah where I earned two degrees in physics, and now live in southern Nevada where I am an adjunct professor at a community college. I enjoy reading spy thriller novels, baking, spending time with friends, taking leisurely walks in the cool of evening, and keeping up with news and world events.  

Why I am a Mormon

I was raised in the Church and have come to believe, even know, that the gospel has truly been restored. The Book of Mormon is true, the holy priesthood has been conferred by angels in these latter days, and the ordinances of the House of the Lord are valid in this life and for all eternities to come. The doctrines are simple, but expansive our view of the Plan of Salvation is at once panoramic and intricately detailed. As Philip said to Nathanael of old, "come and see" what good has come out of Nazareth, and out of Palmyra "come and see" why I, and nearly 14 million others of all walks of life, are Mormon.  

How I live my faith

I am active in my ward, having served most recently as a clerk--basically helped the bishop in the processing of donations, taking notes in meetings, keeping records, etc. Though currently without a "calling" a specific church task, I support the ward by participating in activities and classes. I also try to do my "home teaching," bringing a personal ministry to the homes of those to whom I have been assigned. Furthermore, I assist in our stake's weekly "Smart Night" wherein high school and middle school students come for tutorial help.

Is it true that Jesus appeared in North America after his crucifixion and resurrection according to the Book of Mormon?

Michael
I will quote from the text, and let you judge for yourself. "And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: 'Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.' "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 he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: 'Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.' "And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven. "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.' "And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come" (3 Ne. 11:6-15, found on page 428 of the current printing). He came. They saw. I know. As for the detail of location, however, we don't know exactly; the Book of Mormon is not intended as a geographical textbook. We know that it was somewhere on the mainland of the Western Hemisphere. The best current Mormon scholarship seems to focus on a Mesoamerican setting for these events--southern Mexico, Guatemala, the Yucatan, that general area. So technically yes, it was probably "North America," but just barely. Christ does tell these people, at the end of His first day's visit among them, that He has yet more "other sheep" to go and see. So there may have been other civilizations, even in America, that received a visit from their risen Redeemer, whose records we have not received. Yet. Show more Show less

What is the Law of Chastity?

Michael
It is simple: don't do "it" with anybody you are not married to. Avoid sexual contact or stimulation outside of marriage. Or to put a positive spin on it, reserve yourself fully, so that you may give yourself fully to that one to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded. So many of today's problems would be wiped out in a single stroke if this simple principle were observed. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Michael
Grace, in the Mormon view, is a word for Christ's enabling power. It is the Atonement, and the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Priesthood, and God's tender mercies, all kind of wrapped up in one. We are saved by it, in the eternal sense and in day-to-day living and in world-shaking crises of faith. It is truly, as the classic song says, "Amazing." (Have you ever heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing "Amazing Grace"? It is out of this world.) Yet at the same time the word "grace" is almost a taboo. We believe in it, and it is discussed plainly in the scriptures, but it has been, I think, kind of overexposed in other denominations to the point where we don't really feel comfortable speaking of it too often as such--we typically speak of the specific elements of grace that I listed earlier. Knowing the natural laziness of man, especially in regards to spiritual things, we tend to emphasize our participation in "work[ing] out [our] own salvation" (see Philippians 2:12). The lunch may be free, but work we must. Because, as the Book of Mormon says, at the end of the day "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23, on p. 100). Show more Show less

Can you tell me about Mormon customs: how you dress for church, what holidays you celebrate, etc.?

Michael
While some churches have adopted a "casual Friday" dress custom for worship services, Mormons keep to the old "Sunday best" standard. The idea is to show reverence and respect for the Lord and the tokens of His body and blood, without distracting our fellow worshipers. Dresses and blouses and skirts for the ladies; white shirts, ties, and slacks for the gentlemen. No need to be overly ostentatious in appearance, however--this isn't a day at the races or a black-tie dinner. The standard is within the reach of all regardless of personal wealth. Furthermore, what constitutes "church dress" may vary by national tradition. As for holidays, we are a cheerful, happy people who love each other and thus embrace any reason for a party, gathering, and most of all good food! Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, birthdays, wedding anniversaries...we do them all, typically with gusto. In addition, especially in Utah, "Pioneer Day" (July 24) is a big deal, being the anniversary of the arrival of the first Mormon pioneer company to the Salt Lake valley. Another Mormon custom you might have heard about is called "Family Home Evening" (FHE for short--we have a nice collection of acronyms). Each and every Monday night, we are very strongly encouraged to not schedule any other meetings or activities, as this time is reserved for family togetherness--a structured time of family bonding. Typically this will include singing hymns, offering prayers, conducting family business (my family would plan the weekly dinner menu and calendar at this time), giving some kind of lesson, playing a fun game or such like that, and refreshments. Most families rotate these assignments so that every family member can participate in a different way from week to week. And most FHE's end up being more chaotic than the tranquil ideal portrait I just gave. Just being realistic, ya know. I remember much more clearly, and with more fondness, the FHE's in my youth that disintegrated into puddles of giggling and silliness. But the important thing is that you're together, and you bond, and you make memories for a lifetime. Mormon customs also include daily family prayer, daily family scripture-reading, and daily family meals. Show more Show less

Who is the Mormon prophet today?

Michael
Thomas S. Monson is his name. Now in his ninth decade of life, he was called to be an apostle, or member of the second-highest council of Church "general authorities," in his mid-thirties (which is atypically young). We have known and loved him for a long time. The vast majority of Church members today--probably north of 80% if I had to guess--cannot recall a time when he was not an apostle. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the Bible? Do they regard it as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

Michael
The Bible is a record of God's dealings with people in the Old World--in Canaan, Jerusalem, Babylon, Egypt, and environs. It tells of the creation of the earth, the fall of mankind, and the fulfilled promise of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Bible chronicles the history of the house of Israel, from the ancient patriarchs to the early first century A.D., with particular attention to the tribe of Judah and their associates. It was penned, for the most part, by prophets and apostles, or their faithful scribes. We love and honor and feast upon the Holy Bible. We not only believe it, we live it. We see ourselves in it, and we see it in our own experience. They had prophets and apostles; so do we. They were believers in the midst of an ocean of (sometimes hostile) unbelief; so are we. They received miracles and gifts and the ministering of angels; so have we. They made covenants with God and tried to live faithful lives despite temptation; such is our aim as well. We accept as literal its prophecies of a coming tribulation, the gathering of Israel, and the glorious appearance of the Lord. We believe what the Bible says about the origin of this world and man's dominion thereof (though we accept that nobody quite knows exactly how it meshes with modern scientific arguments). With all of this, we are not blind to the faults of men. We accept the real historical development of the book and are mindful of its impact upon what we read. When it came from the inspired mouth or pen of the prophet, the word was pure. Intervening centuries of transmission, translation, and interpretation have introduced some errors, and caused some things that were once plain and precious to be lost. (Hence another need for our claimed "restoration" of the gospel.) The Bible is not complete, infallible, nor perfect; it is not somehow identical with the Word (meaning Christ); and it makes no such claims for itself. It is acutely lacking in self-awareness. Its authors did not set out to write a "Bible," they only wrote little books or letters of their own testimonies, which later came to be compiled in a single volume. The Holy Bible may just as easily be called "The Holy Library." The Bible is not, and does not set out to be, a sort of cosmic Yellow Pages ("if it's not in here...") or universal Google. Nevertheless, it is indeed Holy Scripture and contains the words of God to His people, insofar as it is received in the same Spirit by which it was originally given. Fortunately that Spirit attends the faithful reader and it becomes easy to not only discern the truth but to find application thereof to our personal lives. The Holy Ghost often speaks in and through the language of scripture. Google the Bible is not, but "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10) and scripture, including the Bible, can be like a web browser for the Spirit. The Bible is precious to us, containing much of the gospel, as well as promises of the Lord to Israel and to the Gentiles. Some of the great revelations of our day were received as latter-day prophets read and pondered its passages, and it continues to be a source of instruction and inspiration in our classes and homes. Show more Show less

Where did Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin?

Michael
The little group that would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was first organized in the Whitmer home at Fayette, New York--what was then (1830) the frontier of the new-born United States of America. In keeping with the state law, six persons were the charter members, although many were in attendance at that first official meeting. Granted, the Church did not pop into existence in a vacuum; in the preceding decade Joseph Smith had been sharing with family and friends the things God had begun to teach him, translating the Book of Mormon, and receiving priesthood authority under the hands of angels (more on these topics may be found elsewhere on this site). The six original members were soon joined by many more. We are now approaching 14 million members in scores of nations across the earth. Show more Show less

How do I become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church)?

Michael
Good question! And I don't mean that in the sarcastic sense of "I wish I knew," but in the sense of "we love it when people ask this!" The process of joining the Church usually involves meeting with the missionaries in your area. These bright young men or women will teach you about the plan of salvation, the restoration of the Church, and what it means to be a Mormon. They will share the basic doctrines and help you to understand and begin to keep the commandments of God, including some with which you might not already be familiar (for example, the Word of Wisdom, tithing, prayer, and so forth). As you keep these commitments and ingest these ideas, the time will shortly come when you will be invited to be baptized. It can take weeks or months, depending on the individual. It is by baptism, and subsequent confirmation, that a person becomes a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Show more Show less

How can I know Mormonism is true?

Michael
Before I address the "how" let's take a moment to be duly impressed with the proposition that you *can* know! Whereas some religions pride themselves on how much they don't know, and never can know--all is mystery, unknowable, inscrutable--that is not the way Mormons look at things. It is not only possible to know, for certain, the truth of any matter pertaining to our salvation, but God *wants* His children to know. He is eager that we learn the doctrine and feel in our souls that it is of Him, is true, and will lead us back to Him. It is true that "unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways," as Book of Mormon author Jacob says; nevertheless, he goes on to give the key: "And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God" (Jacob 4:8, p. 124). This is how we know truth in any ultimate sense. Not argument or calculation or elaborate scientific experimentation, at least not by themselves. It requires revelation! It requires an honest and sincere conversation with the Spirit of God. The Book of Mormon itself is a great conversation-starter with God. Think of it: if it is true, if it is exactly what it claims to be, He would be delighted to testify of its authenticity to the humble seeker of truth. On the other hand, if it is a fraud, its very existence would be so abhorrent to Deity that He would be likewise jumping at the bit to so inform any who bothered to investigate it. And thus the formula is laid out plainly. The veracity of Mormonism stands or falls on the Book of Mormon. So we are obliged to examine that work. Read it. Ponder it, and what it means, and what God has done for mankind from the beginning, through the history of the Bible, throughout the civilization depicted in the alleged American scripture. Then ask God, the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ whether it is true. Then listen--not with the ears but with the heart and mind. The Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of it. And once the Spirit is there testifying of it, you can, like I said earlier, use the Book as a conversation-starter to know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:3-5, p. 529). Ask follow-up questions: Is Jesus the Christ? Did He really atone for me? Is Joseph Smith a prophet? Is there a prophet today? Was the priesthood restored? Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints true? Should I join? Show more Show less

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Michael
Ask this question of anybody affected by the Indonesian tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina, or the Haiti earthquake, or any number of natural disasters and they will give a resounding "no." And it's not just the headline-grabbing calamities where Mormons may be found helping folks without regard to religious affiliation; Jesus said "take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them," so most of our "helping" people includes the simple act of random kindness rendered to neighbor and stranger. Our Model and Master "went about doing good," and who are we to shun His example? If we are to practice and develop charity, growing to be like Him, how can we do so without helping any whom we have power to help? Thus we take seriously the charge of the Good Samaritan--"go, and do thou likewise"--and the Lord's teaching that "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," together with the Book of Mormon's insight that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." One of Joseph Smith's favorite hymns, one he requested be sung twice in a row in those dreadful moments before his assassination at Carthage, Illinois, was "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," which beautifully exhibits this principle. If you are unfamiliar with it, I would encourage you to do an Internet search for the lyrics. You can also find a few musical renditions of it on YouTube. In view of all this, I would say that helping others in need, LDS or not, is deeply ingrained in the Mormon psyche. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Michael
We certainly think we are. We try to live like Christians. We believe the Bible. We believe its testimony that Jesus of Nazareth was in truth the divine Son of God. We rejoice in His Atonement and Resurrection, we pray in His name, we sing His praises. The name of the church, specified by revelation, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We covenant with and through Him by means of sacred ordinances, including baptism "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." We look to Him as the only way back to our Father in Heaven. Those who claim we are not Christian are either grossly underinformed, or patently lying, or speaking only to their own narrow definition of "Christian." But in the end it doesn't matter whether other people accept our claims to be Christian--only that He does. Show more Show less

What are Mormon church services like? Are visitors allowed at church meetings? Can I attend church?

Michael
I will answer these in reverse order Yes, by all means please come! Visitors are not only allowed but welcome. In fact, every Mormon chapel I can think of has the words "visitors welcome" somewhere on the exterior signage. Sunday worship services consist basically of three parts, spread over three hours yes, you read that right!. First there is a 70-minute "Sacrament meeting," where young men priests and deacons bless and distribute bread and water--emblems of the Savior's broken body and shed blood. After this, there are typically a series of two or three prepared sermons given by members, or even shorter extemporaneous testimonies if it's a "Fast and Testimony meeting" usually held on the first Sunday of the month. In addition to the Sacrament and the talks, there are usually three to four congregational hymns and/or special musical numbers, ward business, and announcements. The meetings open and close with prayer the only congregational response expected is an "Amen" at their conclusion. Though it will be offered to you, you are not required to partake of the Sacrament if you do not feel comfortable doing so. Because we are a family-oriented church, do not be surprised if the background noise of little children is a dull roar. Unless you are lucky enough to walk into a Young Single Adult ward. Also, because this first meeting is a time for focused worship, please do not be offended if you feel like the socializing is minimal, i.e., if nobody is paying attention to you. The time for that will come later. However, if after the meeting you seek out a member of the bishopric one of the three men who sit together at the pulpit and introduce yourself, he will make sure you are taken care of for the remainder of the block. Following Sacrament meeting, there are a number of 40-minute Sunday School meetings, partitioned by age and Church experience. For adults there are usually at least two classes--"Gospel Doctrine" and "Gospel Principles." As a visitor you would be best served in the smaller, more basic Gospel Principles class. Ask anybody you see where it is, and they will be happy to steer you in the right direction. Classroom instruction is usually more discussion than lecture. We encourage participation, and teachers love it when people speak up, ask and answer questions, read scriptures aloud, etc. After Sunday School, there are simultaneous 50-minute Priesthood meeting for the men and Relief Society meeting for the women. Again, ask for directions and they will be cheerfully supplied. If it has not already happened in Sunday School, and even if it has, in these meetings any visitors are asked to introduce themselves, and personally welcomed. Again, business is conducted, announcements are made or reiterated, and instruction on some gospel topic is given in the form of a structured discussion. Additionally, during these hours there are classes for youth and children. Things to bring to a Mormon meeting your Bible, a Book of Mormon if you have one, "Sunday best" clothing see other FAQ, perhaps a bag of Cheerios or a coloring book for the kids as applicable, a smile, and an open mind and heart. No plates are passed nor collections taken, so you don't need to bring money.   Show more Show less

Why was a Restoration of the Gospel needed? Haven’t we always had the Bible?

Michael
Because the full understanding of the Gospel has been lost since the Bible was written. The gift of the Holy Ghost, and the priesthood authority required to bestow it, was taken from the earth in consequence of the Apostasy, or the rebellion of the early Church in the waning days of the apostles. Many true doctrines were forgotten or changed, and many false doctrines took root. The ordinances, such as baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's supper, were altered. The sacred covenants were distorted and abandoned. Prophets such as Isaiah (24:5) and Amos (8:11) foresaw this condition and wrote about it. Much of what we have in the New Testament are epistles from Paul and other apostles trying to put out little fires of apostasy in the Church, and warning of worse things to come (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18). Looking at the early brethren's writings in chronological order makes it plain that they felt it was a losing battle against encroaching darkness. Post-apostolic records confirm that radical and unauthorized changes were taking place. Doctrines were fought over and decreed in councils of the learned and powerful. More credence was given to Plato and the philosophies of men than to the apostles and prophets. Eventually there were attempts to "reform" the fallen state of Christendom back to the proper order of things; this was the thrust of the Protestant movement. The reformers, noble and notable as they were, were limited by their own wisdom. The sublime doctrines of God must be revealed by Him or remain unknown. Priesthood must be bestowed through ordination by those already having it and cannot be manufactured. The ordinances and covenants require revelation also--reading about them in a book does the spirit as much as good as reading a menu nourishes a body. The Renaissance and Reformation fostered an environment of religious liberty and tolerance, and so were necessary but not sufficient: what was needed was a Restoration of the doctrines, laws, authority, ordinances, and covenants that lead a man and his family to eternal life. And that is precisely what we have in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No sooner had the United States been established as a free, independent, Constitutionally-governed nation than God was raising up Joseph Smith to be the great prophet of the Restoration. He was so eager, so anxious to give His lost children this blessing that the moment religious liberty had a secure foothold in this world, things began to happen which Isaiah in foresight had called "a marvelous work and a wonder" (Isaiah 29:14). Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Michael
Because scriptural teaching and human experience shows that the practice of preaching for hire is destructive of true faith. The services and ordinances of the priesthood of heaven cannot be purchased or paid for with the money of this world. In the New Testament, Simon the magician made an offer to pay for the power to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, as the apostles were able to do. No doubt he desired the priesthood to profit by it, and Peter instantly rebuked him in the strongest language. (See Acts 8:18-23.) The promised blessings of the priesthood are reserved for those who humbly magnify it, rather than those who magnify themselves by it. Nevertheless, the case for unpaid clergy is not sufficiently obvious from the Bible; otherwise the Mormon model would not stand out as the exception in a Christendom awash with hired preachers. Fortunately, the Book of Mormon clarifies this as it does many other questions left open by the Bible, and muddled by centuries of man’s tradition and philosophy. In the Book of Mormon, mingling money with ministry is condemned outright as “priestcraft.” The prophet Nephi, early in the record, writes that “the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; if they labor for money they shall perish” (2 Nephi 26:31, p. 103). Space and the likely patience of the reader prohibit a full exposition of the examples, both good and contrary, where this truth is demonstrated. If you would like to learn more on this subject from the Book of Mormon, and have a copy handy, you may look up Mosiah 18:24-26 (p. 182); Alma 1:3-6,12 (p. 208); Alma 1:26 (p. 210); and Alma 30:32-35 (pp. 282-283). Show more Show less

What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

Michael
Mormon women take as their model the "virtuous woman" described in Proverbs 31, whose value is "far above rubies." They take as role models the strong and faithful daughters of God in the Bible such as Sarah, Hannah, Esther, Ruth, Elisabeth, and Mary. There are also great examples in our own history, including Emma Smith, Mary Fielding, and Eliza Snow. Mormons have a view of Eve that is much more favorable than you might find in other traditions, and that is reflected in the respect we have for women in general. Eve's choice, though made in the ignorance of right and wrong, is viewed as ultimately wise. We do not heap blame upon our first mother, who was brave enough to choose mortality with all its travails over the paradisiacal, painless and childless existence that would have existed as long as Adam and Eve liked. The Book of Mormon teaches, in harmony with the Bible, that the Lord "denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female...all are alike unto God" (2 Ne. 26:33, p. 103-104). Men and women are equally, infinitely important in the sight of God, just as sons and daughters are or ought to be loved equally by their parents. Equal does not, however, mean "the same." Men and women have different talents, inclinations, and responsibilities in the kingdom of God. The Church encourages and celebrates the distinction between the sexes while honoring the contributions of each. Paul wrote that "neither is man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11). Exaltation in the highest glory of heaven, with all the blessings of eternal priesthood, is achieved only as a married couple. Show more Show less

What is the difference between attending a Mormon Church and a Mormon Temple?

Michael
There are a number of differences. Admittance: Because temples and the ordinances done therein are exceptionally sacred, only members of the Church in good standing may enter. Just past the front door is a desk where patrons must produce a "temple recommend" certifying their worthiness before proceeding further. On the other hand, visitors are welcome in Mormon churches, and no such desk may be found. Activities/service: The structure of temple worship is much more ritualistic than attending church. In church the talks and testimonies and hymns and lessons vary from week to week. Ordinances, teachings, and symbolic representations in the temple are repeated verbatim. Rooms in the temple have specific purposes whereas those in a meetinghouse are more interchangeable in usage. Socializing: Voices in the temple are subdued to maintain a spirit of reverence and reflection, whereas reverence in church is louder; only in the chapel proper is a certain degree of quietude expected. You don't go to the temple to socialize with your friends. Schedule: It may surprise you to learn that temples are closed on Sundays. The Sabbath is for worship in Sacrament and other meetings with your ward. Temple work is for other days of the week. Show more Show less

How can faith in Jesus Christ influence us in our marriages and family relationships? in our friendships?

Michael
Faith in Christ motivates us to become more like Him. And as we become more like Him, we are better partners in familial bonds and better friends. One aspect of the Atonement that is too often neglected is its ability to reconcile us one to another as well as to God it has “horizontal” as well as “vertical” components. That means that the little offences that inevitably occur in relationships can be overcome by faith in Christ and application of the Atonement. If both parties are moving closer to Him, they naturally move closer to each other as well--a spiritual tidal effect, if you will.   Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?

Michael
We believe that God, meaning the Father, the one Jesus taught about and prayed to, is an Individual like ourselves in form and features, but exceeding all description as to the magnitude of glory, honor, power, goodness, and love. By His power the universe, and its many features, were and are created and upheld. As He is a real and distinct Person--even an exalted Man--we must of necessity reject the man-made "three in one" doctrine held by many other Christians. We take as literal Jesus Christ's many statements declaring His Father as a Being distinct from, and superior to Himself. They are agreed, or of one heart and one mind, in all things, and the invitation is to be one with each other and with Father and Son, in the same way they are one with each other (see John 17). We also believe in Jesus Christ, that He is literally "the only begotten Son" of God (John 3:16)--that whereas God is the Father of the spirits of all men, Jesus is the only one in whose spiritual AND physical creation the Father played a direct role. Jesus is the great Jehovah of the Old Testament and as such is Himself a divine, all-powerful, omniscient, loving God, both before His advent in the flesh as well as after His resurrection. We believe, as the scriptures say, that Jesus is the Firstborn and "the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev. 3:14)--that He is, in fact, our eldest Brother in the the family of God. Heavenly Father put Him in charge of discharging the Plan from the beginning, and endowed Him with all the rights, keys, and powers necessary to fulfill that role. Rounding out the grand Presidency called the Godhead is the Holy Ghost. We know Him by titles and functions but His personal name is not known and does not matter as it is the name of Jesus Christ only that brings salvation. Like the Father and the Son, He has all the glory and power incident to divinity. He is a Personage of spirit, as His present role requires that He not be clothed upon with flesh. Show more Show less

How does the Church finance its operations?

Michael
Tithes, offerings, and interest. Any answer more specific than that would depend on the "operations" in question. Day-to-day official Church business comes from tithing. Helping our own poor comes from fast offerings. Humanitarian aid comes from a specific donation fund, as well as perhaps surplus revenue from Church-owned business interests. Educating our disadvantaged so that they may better their situation comes from interest on an account called the Perpetual Education Fund. Church-owned businesses are self-sustaining with, as noted, excess proceeds put towards other Church operations. Show more Show less

What is a “testimony” that Mormons speak of?

Michael
A testimony is what God has revealed to an individual to be true, by the power of the Holy Ghost. When Jesus asked Peter and the apostles, "whom say ye that I am?" and Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Peter was bearing his testimony. Jesus then identified the source of that testimony: "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Later, the two disciples who met the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus observed, "did not our heart burn within us?" as Jesus walked and talked and discussed with them the scriptures concerning Himself. We would say they had a testimony of the reality of the Resurrection, and of the scriptural support for Jesus being the Christ. Yet later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a powerful sermon to a group of people who did not yet belong to the Church. When he was finished, the record says, "they were pricked in their hearts," having received a testimony of Christ, and asked "what shall we do?" A testimony comes by the delicate impressions of the Holy Ghost, which communicates directly with our spirits--thus it is something beyond the physical senses ("flesh and blood hath not revealed it..."), coming more as a conviction in one's heart and in one's mind ("did not our heart burn?"). It moves us to bring our lives into conformity with the commandments of God ("what shall we do?"). It is sought in prayer ("ask and ye shall receive") and usually comes to those who are already trying to live according to truth ("if any man do [God's] will, he shall know of the doctrine"). You can gain a testimony of specific doctrines or practices as you go along the path, which together constitutes your whole testimony. In the latter days, there are certain essential things one must know, by the power of the Holy Ghost: that God lives and is the Father of our spirits; that He loves us; that Jesus is His Son and our Savior; that They appeared, side by side, to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet; that the Book of Mormon really is what it claims to be; that the priesthood, together with all necessary "keys of the kingdom," were truly restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true; and that the President of the Church is truly God's living prophet on earth today. Of all of these, the Book of Mormon is kind of like a lynch-pin or keystone. When you read, ponder, and sincerely pray about the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost tells you it is true. The other points in this archetypical testimony then fall into place as a matter of logic, but may and should be independently confirmed in like manner. Show more Show less

Do Mormons practice polygamy?

Michael
Not if they wish to remain Mormon. Unauthorized plural marriage is grounds for immediate excommunication. The practice was shelved over a century ago. Those who claim to be Mormon "fundamentalists," placing polygamy front and center, are in no way affiliated with the Church. They have no idea what the "fundamental" aspect of our religion is. They misuse or misread the scriptures, and pervert the name of the Church, adding a "fundamentalist" or "true" or some variation. We wish they wouldn't, as it plants in ignorant minds the seed of a false association which we are at pains to uproot. Show more Show less

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

Michael
No. Neither did primitive Christians worship Peter, nor ancient Israel worship Moses. Moses was the man whom the Lord chose to lead His people out of bondage. Peter was the man whom Christ chose to lead His church after His ascension. Joseph Smith happens to be the man through whom Jesus Christ chose to restore His church in the latter days, to prepare a people for His return. Like Peter and Moses, Joseph received revelations of doctrine and practice to guide the Church, and shared the authority he had received from God, as directed by the Holy Ghost. We worship God, the Father of our Lord Christ, as directed by both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We are grateful to God for prophets like Joseph Smith, but we do not pray to Joseph, nor offer prayers or blessings in his name. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Michael
Because they are deathly afraid of their own shadow. In their misplaced fear they cast about for a word to fling at the perceived threat that will inspire the same fear in others. True story: I was once involved in an online discussion with a woman who was hostile to our faith. She posted this list of characteristics that were supposedly red flags that an organization was a "cult," according to whatever author she was quoting. Not surprisingly, it was set up so that Mormonism (or a caricature of Mormonism) qualified under most, but not all, of the points. However, it was interesting to note that the primitive Christian church matched EXACTLY the same criteria, point for point. Was the Church of those days a cult, also? Much chagrined, the woman withdrew her "cult checklist" and apologized. Moral of the story: those who undertake to characterize the latter-day Church of Jesus Christ as a "cult" should take care lest they condemn the very church from which they would fain claim their inheritance. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Michael
Faith is a huge, multi-faceted subject. One thing I recently realized, or was taught by the Spirit, is that "faith is believing what you know, and knowing what you believe." Faith is that of which you are certain; to be of any saving value it must be centered in Jesus Christ. Scripture defines it as hope in unseen truths. It is often associated with trusting in the Lord, His love, His plan, and His timing. When it is sufficiently pure it is a principle of power: by faith, wrote Paul, the worlds were framed. Miracles come of faith, but not the other way around. Show more Show less

Can a husband and wife be together forever? Do Mormons believe that families will live together in heaven?

Michael
Yes, and yes. Marriages and parent-child relations solemnized or "sealed" in the temple are intended to last beyond death and after the resurrection. Family is the order of eternity. Show more Show less

Who wrote the Book of Mormon?

Michael
The Book of Mormon was written by ancient American prophets. Its title comes from the 4th-century prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the preceding millennium of his people's history and sacred writings into a single volume, prior to his nation's tragic extinction. In the Book of Mormon we hear several distinct "voices" belonging to authors Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni. Each bears unique but consistent testimony of Jesus Christ and His eternal gospel. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Michael
"All" and "required" are strong words, so I will say no. There is nothing in the scriptures or teachings of the prophets (as far as I know) that says if you don't serve a mission you don't get to heaven, or anything like that. Faith in Christ, repentance, baptism and other ordinances, and enduring in the faith, are *required.* If one's life circumstances allow for a mission, then it could be part of enduring in the faith. It is strongly encouraged for young men to go sometime shortly after their 19th birthday, and before--I think the cutoff is 26, but don't quote me on that. Young women may go after their 21st birthday, but are not as strongly encouraged. Boys are raised with the expectation that a mission will be part of their life's course, and girls often set as a goal the marrying of a returned missionary--and knowing that, of course, greatly influences the boys. Missions are requested by the God who made and saved you, and required by the kind of girl you want to marry. :) On the other hand, the very nature of being Mormon is itself a kind of mission. "Every member a missionary" is the catch-phrase. Show more Show less

What is the Relief Society?

Michael
Founded in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Relief Society is the Church's organization for, by, and of women ages 18 and up. Joseph said (I believe it was at that first meeting) that the Church was not completely set up until the women were organized. The structure is similar to that of priesthood quorums, in that each ward has a Relief Society headed by a president and two counselors. Its purpose is to aid women in their quest for eternal life for themselves and their families. To that end it operates a "visiting-teaching" program similar to the priesthood's "home-teaching," and holds a number of life-enriching activities and lessons. To learn more...ask a sister. I'm pretty much tapped out on the subject at this point. Sorry. Show more Show less

Do you really believe there is a prophet like Moses alive today?

Michael
Yes. The Holy Spirit has testified to me that President Monson is the prophet of the Lord, who holds all the keys of the priesthood on the earth today. The Bible is not so distant as some think. We not only believe it, we live it. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ? Do Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

Michael
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah ben-Judah, the living Son of the living God Most High. He is the Lord Jehovah who spoke face to face with Moses and Isaiah. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He created this and numberless other worlds under the direction of the Father. He is the Beloved Firstborn of the Father's spirit children. As such He is our exalted eldest Brother. He was chosen from the beginning to be the Atoning One, the Lamb of God whose infinite and eternal sacrifice would open the doors to our immortality and eternal lives. The love shown on that occasion between Father and Son, between Father and the residue of His children, and between the Son and His brethren, echoes through the ages, unexceeded save by the actual event of the Atonement. Ever and always His word to the Father is "thy will be done, and the glory be thine for ever." God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son; and God so trusted His only Begotten that He put Him in charge of executing His plan for our salvation. In mortal life Jesus was the only one born of a virgin, the only one to never sin nor spiritually stumble. He descended below all, He shelved His godhood as it were, and built it up again from scratch, "grace for grace" in the flesh, only to offer His innocent blood as ransom for us all. He healed incessantly and taught parabolically and with authority. He organized a Church and gave it apostles and prophets and seventies and pastors and teachers, with power to give the gift of the Holy Ghost and administer in all the affairs of the kingdom of God. He bled from every pore in Gethsemane, was betrayed, accused, scourged, rejected, and crucified. Though He had power to call down legions of angels at any point, though He would have been within His rights as the Perfect Man to have called it quits at any moment of the ordeal, He subjected the will of the Son to the will of the Father. And so He died--the great Redeemer died of His own accord; no man took His life but He laid it down of himself. Death, having now taken one who need not have died, one who had offended in nothing at all that death should have claim on Him, could not hold Him, and must someday relinquish its claims upon all others. He rose the third day, not to a continuation of the mortal existence but to true immortality. Like the Father before, His body of flesh and bone, now animated by pure spirit, required no more circulation of blood. His death and resurrection ensure that each of us will likewise rise again from the grave, immortal and perfect in form. His suffering enables our repentance and healing. He lived to teach us, He died to save us, and He rose to take us home. In the latter days He has again organized His kingdom on the earth, to prepare the world for His return to reign in glory, and to prepare His people to live and reign with Him in the celestial kingdom of heaven. He speaks by revelation to a living prophet today. This is His Church, which bears His name, teaches His gospel, and acts by His authority. What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ? He is our King, our Deliverer, our Lord, our Savior, our Advocate. He is also--may God grant that we prove worthy of this high designation--our Friend. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

Michael
Because the gospel--restored in all its refulgent glory--must be preached again in all the earth before the coming of the Lord. It must sweep every country and sound in every ear, in fulfillment of ancient and latter-day prophecy. I suppose this question is posed as coming from a mindset of "we're already Christian, why do you knock on my door?" To you we say, bring all the truth you have and see if we can't add something to it--new truths, or new understandings of truths loved and held by tradition. Moreover, the priesthood has been restored, the heavens are opened, God has given more of His word in great abundance, and prophetic apostles walk the earth again. Isn't such a message worth sharing with everybody? Isn't it worth giving it a moment of quiet contemplation? Show more Show less

What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?

Michael
Tithing funds are used to subsidize basic operations of the Church. With tithing the Church builds and maintains chapels, temples, missionary training centers, and Church-owned universities (BYU and its sister campuses in Idaho and Hawaii). Each Church unit (stake, ward, branch, etc.) receives a certain amount annually to fund its internal operations--activities and lesson materials and so forth. Tithing is NEVER used for personal enrichment. Misuse of sacred funds is a serious offense. The example of the "widow's mite" is always kept in mind by those in a position to dispense the money. It is received in trust, and used for building up the kingdom of God. Show more Show less

How can I find someone to talk with, in person, about the Mormon religion?

Michael
"Seek and ye shall find." Ask around. Mormons are everywhere. Look for the tell-tale clues--a BYU license plate frame or window decal. A family that leaves the house all dressed up at the same time every Sunday and returns three hours later. A couple who go out looking dressed for church on a day other than Sunday or Monday, possibly carrying little suitcases. A neighbor who mentions food storage or Scout camp. A co-worker who never drinks coffee. A ring emblazoned with the letters "CTR". One or more of these is usually a pretty strong indicator that you've got a Mormon in your sights. Ask them--I guarantee it would make their day to have somebody say, "hey, are you Mormon? can I talk about your church real quick?" And if you're mistaken, well, most people will take it as a compliment, and perhaps even start investigating the Church for themselves. Let God know you want to have this kind of conversation and you might be surprised at how quickly He can arrange a "chance" meeting. And if His coincidences aren't prompt or obvious enough for you, you can locate a Mormon meetinghouse easily there should be a link on this very website somewhere--go on any given Sunday and you'll have all the Mormons you could wish to talk with lining up to tell you what you want to know.   Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

Michael
"My sheep know my voice ... and they follow me" (John 10:27). Show more Show less

What is the Word of Wisdom that Mormons talk about?

Michael
The Word of Wisdom is an 1833 revelation of principles for the physical and spiritual health of the Latter-day Saints. It prohibits the (internal) use of alcohol, tobacco, and "hot drinks" (tea and coffee). The principle has been expanded by later prophets to include illicit substances and the abuse of prescription medicines, and by segments of Mormon culture to include caffeine in general. It also encourages healthy dieting. The associated promises include health, strength, endurance, and most importantly a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom. Show more Show less

Mormons believe Jesus Christ is their Savior. Why do we need a Savior?

Michael
There is no way that man can resurrect himself after death, nor prepare himself unaided to stand clean in the presence of God, nor bind to his bosom for ever his beloved spouse and family. Jesus Christ does all of the above for us, and much more. Show more Show less

What is the First Vision?

Michael
The First Vision is perhaps the most exciting thing to happen to any person since Jesus rose from the dead. It is where the Mormon story begins in earnest. About 1820, upstate New York was in the throes of the Second Great Awakening, as historians call it. Itinerant preachers held competing camp meetings. Established brick-and-mortar churches stepped up their preaching as well. Converts were made and lost in the melee. Everybody was concerned about saving his or her soul, including a young man from a Bible-loving family living just outside Palmyra. His name was Joseph Smith, Jun., third son of Joseph and Lucy Smith. Seeing the religious uproar and contention in his neighborhood, and witnessing it split his family right down the middle, he became overwhelmingly concerned with the state of his own soul, and intensely desired to find the true church, or the church that taught the truth and had authority to administer the affairs of the kingdom. He soon found that this quest was easier said than done, for of course each denomination claimed to be God's own, yet understood the Bible in mutually contradicting ways, and each could seemingly find therein steady support for its divergent doctrines. As the months stretched on, he became more and more confused, attending as many meetings as he could. One day, one of the preachers cited James 1:5 in a sermon, and it greatly impacted the young seeker of truth. He went home and read it himself. And then read it again, and again. "If any of you lack wisdom," James had written, "let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph said later than never had any passage of scripture come more powerfully to the human heart than this had at this time to his. This was the answer--or a way to find the answer. He certainly felt lacking in wisdom (how can I be saved? which church has it right, or at least right enough?). The promise of the scripture, borne to his heart by the Holy Ghost, was that he might ask God and obtain, not just a pittance of insight, but generously, and without reproach. So at length he determined that he would try it. Having never before prayed aloud, especially in such a personal matter, he sought the privacy afforded by a grove of trees near his home. He had no sooner knelt and begun to offer up the desires of his heart when he was seized upon by something dark, and evil. He couldn't speak and felt soul-crushing despair. Evidently Satan did not want this conversation to happen. But happen it did, for God will not be thwarted. With his last ounce of spiritual reserves, young Joseph cried in his heart for deliverance, and he saw a light. More brilliant than the sun (for this was the morning of a beautiful spring day), a pillar of light descended from the heavens. The darkness that had held him bound was instantly dispelled, and he beheld two glorious Personages standing in the light above him. One of them broke the silence: "Joseph, this is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!" And so Joseph Smith's "First Vision," as it came to be called, was this experience, when he saw and conversed with God the Father, and His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph asked the questions on his mind, and was told that his sins were forgiven, and that there was no church then upon the earth that had God's seal of approval--but that he (Joseph) would be part of restoring such a church if he continued faithful. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

Michael
Because the requirement to be baptized, in the proper manner and by the proper authority, is absolute for our progression to eternal life. Nobody, not even the sinless Son of God, was exempt. Yet it is painfully clear that most of humankind has lived and died without the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel of Christ, let alone to receive His authorized baptism. Fortunately, God's perfect adherence to His laws and ordinances is balanced perfectly by His plan of mercy. Those who go through this life without hearing the gospel pass into the spirit world, where they are taught the truth. Faith in Jesus Christ is cultivated, repentance is declared...but baptism and the other ordinances of the kingdom require a living, physical, mortal body. That is where baptism for the dead comes in. In holy temples dedicated to the performing of sacred ordinances, worthy members of the Church are baptized, not for themselves (that has been done already) but "for and in behalf of" real people with real names and real lives and real spirits. Identifying these names and preparing them to go through the temple is the great purpose for our interest in genealogy. Our belief is that most people accept the gospel and rejoice in the freedom these ordinances provide for them. Nevertheless, baptism for the dead does not force any dead person to become Mormon. It is an offer only, and they are free to accept or reject it as they will. That is all handled on their side of things. "For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6). Other relevant Biblical passages to consider in connection with this seemingly strange practice include Isaiah 61:1-3; Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 16:19; 1 Corinthians 15:29; and 1 Peter 3:18-21. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about “eternal life?”

Michael
Jesus, in His great Intercessory Prayer (see John 17), said that "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." To really know somebody, you need to walk with him, live with him, see things his way, be like him. It is the same with God. Thus eternal life, which Jesus links in an intimate way with knowing God, consists of living with God, and becoming like Him. It is more than mere immortality or living for ever. "Eternal," "Everlasting," and "Endless" being among the names of God, eternal life is God's life. Everlasting life is God's life. Endless life is God's life. Immortality is assured for all: "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Eternal life, however, must be practiced and prepared for by coming to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Show more Show less

What is the priesthood?

Michael
Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. When combined with faith and personal righteousness, it is a source of tremendous power. Ordinances of salvation (baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, etc.) require authorized use of true priesthood to be efficacious in this life and in the world to come. Priesthood is also used in healing the sick, dedicating homes and temples, and giving blessings of comfort and counsel, among other things. Priesthood is essential to the governance of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church itself was not organized, nor could it have been, until after the priesthood and its keys (or directing powers) had been bestowed upon Joseph Smith by those who held them anciently. John the Baptist ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood, which carries the authority to baptize, in May 1829. A few weeks later, the apostles Peter, James, and John ordained him to the higher Melchizedek priesthood. Later, in fulfillment of ancient prophecy (Malachi 4:5), other specific priesthood keys were given by Moses and Elijah in the temple the saints built at Kirtland, Ohio. The priesthood cannot be simply assumed or taken upon oneself, but requires hands-on-head ordination. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in the Bible?

Michael
Because it's true. Because it helps us know Jesus Christ and live better lives. And, not insignificantly, because the Book of Mormon testifies of the Bible. The man for whom it was named, Mormon, pleaded with those who would read his record, "lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record [the Book of Mormon] but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews [the Bible], which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you. "For behold, this [the Book of Mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe that [the Bible]; and if ye believe that [the Bible] ye will believe this [the Book of Mormon] also" (Mormon 7:8-9, page 480, bracketed words added for clarity). Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Michael
Small question for a subject at least as big as the known Universe. Mormonism, according to Brigham Young (successor of Joseph Smith), embraces all that is true, good, and holy. There is not a particle of truth, be it religious, philosophical, scientific, or historical, but what Mormonism claims and finds a place for in the great whole of all that which is, was, and will yet be. The greatest of these truths deal with the reality, identity, character, and plan of the great Creator, and our relationship to Him. It is these religious truths, and Mormons' often-unique view of them, that most people have in mind when speaking of "Mormonism." Mormons themselves, however, prefer to use the term "the restored gospel of Jesus Christ" to describe their religion. It is so panoramic in its scope and intricate in its detail that it is understandable when newcomers sometimes have a hard time wrapping their minds around it all. It's not meant to be understood in one gulp. Grace for grace, line upon line, precept by precept: that is how we "grow unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). I find it helpful to consider the various doctrines to be sorted from the core to the peripheral. The core doctrine of Christ, as set forth by Himself, is simple and indispensable to our salvation. It is that if we have faith in Him, repent, and receive the baptisms of water and Spirit, we shall be saved by His grace; else we are damned. That is the Doctrine with a capital D. There are, in addition to this core Doctrine, ancillary doctrines or eternal truths that help us understand in Whom we must have faith, what exactly we need to repent of, the meaning and mode of baptism(s), and what comes after we enter into the path leading to eternal life. Beyond these are the doctrines of the gospel, which answer the grand questions of our existence and the sweeping plan of our Father. These put the Doctrine and its auxiliary doctrines into context. Nevertheless, the main message is Christ's Atonement; everything must tie back to that or be found useless. And so here is a small sampling of the things Mormons believe: * We are eternal beings; God is not only the Architect of the physical universe but the Father of our spirits. Of all that may be said about who and what you are, the truest statement of identity is that you are a child of God. * Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, took upon Himself our sins and failings and weaknesses, and our sicknesses and victimizations and inequities. We need only accept His sacrifice and receive His ordinances and try our best to live by a certain defined set of laws, and He will take care of all the rest. * God makes and keeps promises. He binds Himself to give generously as we make a good faith effort to hold up our end of the bargain. He delights in blessing those who honor Him, and is aggrieved mostly, if not solely, by our ingratitude of the mercies shown by Jesus Christ. * Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten and Most Beloved Son of God. So trusted and loved by the Father is He that into His pierced hands the entire execution of the plan has been placed. He was the Lord Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the crucified Savior of the New. Father and Son (and Holy Ghost) are separate and distinct persons, united in mind and purpose. The Son can speak for the Father, and the Holy Ghost testifies of both Father and Son. * Priesthood authority is necessary to the operations of the Church, and has been bestowed by angelic ordination of mortal men (Joseph Smith and his associate, Oliver Cowdery). All priesthood in the Church is traceable in a direct path to this ordination. * There are a multitude of kingdoms and glories available, according to our response to His invitation. * Families can be made eternal through sacred ordinances available in temples. This is not only a nice option, but is a vital part of His plan. The earth was created specifically so that our spirits could obtain bodies and that these embodied spirits (or "souls") could be welded together in a great family chain. * God speaks to prophets today as in olden times. Not only that, but God answers the sincere prayer of faith without regard to eloquence or position. We may speak to Him, and He will speak to us. His answers guide our lives, but do not exceed the scope of our stewardship. * The canon of scripture is not closed. He speaks to all nations, commands all to write what He speaks, and brings forth more or less of His word from generation to generation according as they have need and the faith to receive it. * Jesus Christ will return to reign in glory upon the earth long before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follows that well-worn path of apostasy followed by previous dispensations. Indeed, the Church is the stone seen by Daniel, the kingdom of God established in the last days and growing until it has filled the earth. It will never again be taken from the earth or allowed to fall into disrepair and corruption. * Israel will be gathered and God's covenant with them fulfilled. The Book of Mormon, whatever else it may be (and that is much), is the great sign and the primary tool of that gathering. * The American continent has played, and will yet play, a pivotal role in God's plan for this world. Nations that inhabit this "promised land" must serve the God of this land, which is Jesus Christ. If they do not so, but rebel until they are fully ripe, they will be swept off as has happened previously. The Book of Mormon tells of two such calamities and begs us to be wiser. That's enough for now. Like I said, there is a whole lot here to learn and explore; this list barely scratches the surface. I am continually learning new things, and internalizing in new ways the things I already knew. It will be a long time, said the Prophet Joseph (paraphrasing), after you pass through the veil before you learn all there is to know about your salvation. Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Michael
Short answer: He whose prerogative it is to chose, even Jesus Christ, since the timing of life and death is subject to His will. What happens is, when an apostle passes away, the current prophet seeks and receives inspiration to call somebody to fill the vacancy, a call that must then be unanimously ratified by the surviving apostles. If that new apostle then outlives all but one of those who were called to the Twelve prior to himself, he becomes the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Upon the passing of the prophet, the Quorum of the Twelve becomes the governing body, until the President of the Quorum is ordained to be the President of the Church, and a new First Presidency is organized (pending, of course, more prayer to make sure that is truly the will of Him whose church it is). The new prophet then repeats the process of calling an apostle to fill the vacancy left by the passing of his predecessor. Within six months, a General Conference occurs wherein, in solemn assembly, the body of the Church has the opportunity to signify acceptance of the new prophet. Succession in the Church is as smooth as silk. There is no campaigning or politicking or wrangling for office. There isn't any suspense or anxious waiting for a relative stranger to be introduced as the new president. There is only the will of the Lord as expressed through events that only He can control, and confirmed through the manifestation of His Spirit. When President Gordon B. Hinckley passed in 2008, we all knew that Thomas S. Monson would be the next prophet. And when he goes to his rest, there will be no question as to who comes after him. (Because we don't know how long President Monson will serve, I won't hazard a guess right now--but we will know then.) Show more Show less

Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?

Michael
Have you ever had something in your life that you treasured so much, that brought you so much joy, but which you knew most other people would not only not understand but make fun of it, and of you? As much as you wish to share it, and the joy it brings to you, with everybody, for the sake of your own feelings, and to keep alive friendships that have not progressed to that point, you share it only with a select group of those who have proven themselves reliable and steady in their love for you. God has such things, sacred things, things that mean the world to Him. Things that help us understand Him better and become more like Him. Things that the world at large would misuse, to their own injury and to the corruption of God's kingdom. They are not secret. They are sacred. We want everybody to receive them, as soon as they are ready for them. They are ordinances and covenants and teachings. And they are only available in the temples of our God. Doctrinally they are nothing new--they hide in plain sight in the Bible and other places--but in the temple they are presented in an organized, systematic way that ties everything together in a most magnificent way. Not only do we receive these things for ourselves in the temple, but by the astounding inter-veil power of the priesthood and the keys restored by Elijah, we may receive them on behalf of those who have died. As you will read elsewhere on this site, this includes baptism for the dead, which takes place only in temples. Also, we have discussed (or will discuss) eternal marriage and families. The ordinances that make this possible are also restricted to the sacred confines of the temple. What goes on in Mormon temples? A sacred work. An offering of love. We serve. We pray. We listen. We learn. We leave this world behind for an hour or two to better prepare our hearts for the next. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in “eternal life?”

Michael
The same reason we believe everything else we believe: revelation to prophets both ancient and modern; and because of personal testimony from the Holy Ghost. Moses learned from God that it is His "work and glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Our eternal life is the focus of God's work, and the source of His greatest pleasure. Jesus spoke of eternal life on many occasions--as the reason God sent him (John 3:16), as a reward for treating everybody as though they were Himself (Matt. 25:40), as the end result of keeping the Beatitudes and other principles taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:48). I could multiply references but will forebear. Eternal life as we understand it is on firm scriptural footings. and the hope of eternal life is kindled in the hearts of the Saints by the promises of the Spirit. Show more Show less

What is the Book of Mormon?

Michael
The Book of Mormon is the signal miracle of this "dispensation of the fulness of times" (Ephesians 1:10). It is the primary tool for the gathering of Israel and the sign that it is already underway. It is the keystone of the latter-day work. The Book of Mormon is an abridged history of a thousand years' worth of God's dealings with a branch of the house of Israel which had been transplanted from Jerusalem to the western hemisphere. Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon was written by prophets before and after the time of Christ. Those before His coming spoke prophetically of His mission (with a degree of clarity not preserved in the Bible). Those after His time wrote of what He had done. The sacred history begins with a man named Lehi, a contemporary of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, who lived in the greater Jerusalem area some 600 years B.C. In a series of visions, Lehi is given to know of the impending conquest of his nation by Babylon, and is commanded to take his family into the wilderness. At length they cross the Arabian peninsula, build a ship, and set forth into the sea. They find rest in their promised land, which by all accounts is what we now call "somewhere in the Americas," and grow and multiply. The family of Lehi is rent with dissensions, however. Upon the passing of Lehi, the little tribe splits into two groups: Lamanites (who followed the rebellious eldest son Laman) and Nephites (who followed the prophetic successor-son Nephi). Prophets and wars and missions are chronicled. The tides of wickedness and righteousness are on clear display. The high point of the history is visit of Jesus Christ following His resurrection and ascension in the Old World, in keeping with His promise to minister to His "other sheep" (see John 10:16). Following this supernal theophany, the Nephites and Lamanites reconcile for a time, drop their -ite labels, and live in peace for a generation or three. Finally, however, the old problems creep back in to their society and this time they ride the cycle of prosperity, pride, and destruction too far and too fast. Nearly all the people become utterly depraved, and in a great battle those who were once called Nephites are exterminated. Among the last surviving righteous Nephites is a prophet named Mormon. It was he who prepared, under divine direction, this history of his people as a testament of Christ, an invitation to repent, and a warning to future nations of the perils to which his people had fallen. He passes his project on to his son Moroni before perishing in another skirmish with the Lamanites. Moroni then wanders "whithersoever [he] can, for the safety of [his] own life" (Moroni 1:3, p. 518). Around AD 421, he writes his last farewell and buries the plates on the side of a hill in what will one day be called New York state. About fourteen hundred years later, in 1823, this same man Moroni--now a resurrected being--appeared to Joseph Smith as an angel and showed him where the record, engraved on plates or sheets of gold, was concealed. After a few more years of maturation and instruction, Joseph was allowed to take the plates and translate their contents by the gift and power of God. The original plates, after being seen and felt and examined by 11 other men--whose testimonies are included in each copy--were returned to Moroni upon completion of the translation process. Show more Show less

Why do you have 12 Apostles? They were just meant to be around for the time of Jesus Christ, not to be replaced with new apostles.

Michael
We have a Quorum of Twelve Apostles today because that is an indispensable part of the organization of "the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages" (Ephesians 3:21). We have apostles today because God gave them to us. The apostle Paul explains the purpose for having apostles and other leaders: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:11-14). Are these purposes which Paul laid out fulfilled yet? Are we all perfected? Is there a unity of faith? Are none blown about by diverse, faddish doctrines? Are none deceived by men’s machinations? Do we have a perfect knowledge of the Son of God by teaching and by experience? Have we yet grown up to the measure of His fulness? I would submit to you that the answer to each of these questions is in the negative. Which means, according to Paul’s teaching, that there remains a crying need for some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Twelve apostles, to be exact: the number called by Christ. It is interesting to note that the first order of business of the ancient apostles, after spending 40 days in the company of the risen Lord, was to call somebody--Matthias by name--to fill the vacancy left by the apostasy and death of Judas Iscariot. I would suggest that they acted under sacred standing orders. Show more Show less

Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?

Michael
No. The only question is worthiness, as determined by a demonstrated commitment to abiding by the standards of the Church in behavior and belief. This question is prompted, no doubt, by a former policy. The revelation that changed that policy came in 1978, a year after my arrival on the scene, so I don't really know much about the way it was before. I do not know the meaning of all things, but I know that God loves His children of whatever tint and hue. I know that sometimes He sees fit to try our faith, to give us a tiny sample of the bitter cup so that we can appreciate more fully what He did in draining it to the dregs. I know that there are generational things that need to be worked out in all of us. I know that prophets are inspired and that the Lord has His reasons for everything that happens in His Church. I'll be interested in finding out the details of this situation when I get to the other side but it's not an issue now. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe is the purpose of life?

Michael
Gain a body. Get married. Make more bodies. Faithfully learn from mortal experiences. Lose body. Get resurrected in a perfect body, still married, enjoy fulness of love and glory. Make spirits and send them to gain bodies and mortal experience and families of their own. And on it goes for ever. Family is the order of eternity. Show more Show less

What is the Church's position on abortion?

Michael
I realize this is a touchy subject. As I understand it, the official position is that it is included in the commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not ... kill, *nor do anything like unto it*" (D&C 59:6, emphasis added). It is allowed when competent medical counsel determines that the life of the mother or child is in serious danger, and even then confirmation of the Spirit through prayer is sought. Also, pregnancies resulting from rape and incest may be terminated (also following solemn two-way prayer). It seems reasonable to me that the "choice" to invite life into the womb is made in the consummating act, fallible contraceptive measures notwithstanding. The fetus is therefore an invited guest, and ought not be un-invited, just because life, despite all hazards and obstructions placed in its way, dared to answer the clarion call. The exceptions noted above are easily explained with the guest analogy. If he or she is posing a clear and present threat to the host, or if there was no choice in the matter, then there can be justification for forcible removal from the premises. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Michael
A ward is your basic LDS (Mormon) church congregation. It is defined by geographical boundaries and usually consists of a couple hundred persons or so (though in older days wards could be much, much larger--just ask President Monson). It is lead by a bishop and his two counselors and other leaders. A branch is like a small ward, usually set up in areas where the Church does not have sufficient numbers for a ward; however wards and branches can exist side-by-side. Functionally there is not a lot of difference between a ward and a branch. Organizationally it is headed by a branch presidency (president and two counselors) and the same set of clerks, secretaries, and auxiliary presidencies as you'd find in a ward. A stake is a collection of wards and branches lead by a stake presidency and stake analogues of the usual ward leadership structure. Additionally, a stake will have a high council of twelve men, who keep the wards on the "same page" with the stake leadership, and hold disciplinary meetings for especially hard cases. A stake is kind of like the entire Church in microcosm, with the presidency and the twelve and the smaller units and the twice-a-year "stake conferences" and the sending of high councilors to speak to the different units once a month. If you're curious, the term "stake" comes from Isaiah (54:2), who speaks of enlarging the tent of Zion and strengthening her stakes. "Ward" is a borrowed term from municipal districts (think of New Orleans, for example) and also suggestive of the hospital aspect of the Church as a place for healing wounded souls. "Branch" is pretty self-explanatory. Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

Michael
Nope. The Church encourages participation in the political process, but does not align with any particular party or candidate. Occasionally the Church will weigh in when a vital issue is in play, e.g. "Prop 8" in California. These are moral issues, however, not partisan. Show more Show less

Why is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Mormons or Mormonism?

Michael
Because of our belief in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As often happens when a new religion hits the ground running, it was the mocking of unbelievers that forced the nickname upon the Church. People always find some unique and outlandish aspect of the new faith on the block--especially one that seems to pull the rug out from under their old assumptions--and make fun of it, turning it a vituperative label. In our case it was the Book of Mormon, the "golden Bible" translated by an illiterate farm-boy. In the New Testament days it was the idea that the Christ had come in the unlikely person of Jesus, carpenter of Nazareth. Eventually the label loses its invective edge. (Interesting to note, by the way, that the word "Christian" appears exactly three (3) times in the entire New Testament whereas, if I've counted aright, the Lord's people are called "saints" in 61 separate verses. Hence the Biblically correct use of the term "Latter-day SAINTS.") Show more Show less

Why are Mormons asked to donate 10% of their income to their Church?

Michael
We are asked, and choose, to pay tithing in the literal sense, which is 10% because in so doing we build our faith and come to know the Lord, particularly His penchant for keeping promises. "Prove me now herewith," He said through Malachi, "if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room to receive it." This promise has been reiterated in our day, in the Book of Mormon, in the revelations to Joseph Smith, and in the teachings of our living prophets and apostles. I know this is true. Recently my car overheated and it appeared that the repair would be very costly--a blown gasket. Together with the initial diagnostic services this episode threatened to set me back nearly $10,000 US. However, to my surprise and great gratitude, the mechanic called me a couple days later to say the engine block had cracked and that rather than sanding it down and applying sealant, they had elected to replace it, to ensure there would be no repeat problems, and that they would do this for free. Everything--the inspection, the tear-down, the replacement. I am satisfied that this miraculous blessing came because of years of faithful tithe-paying. The Lord keeps His promises! Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe happens to us after we die? What do Mormons believe about life after death?

Michael
Death is simply the separation of the animating spirit from the inert flesh. Your spirit is the real you--all your memories, personality, gender, and so forth. To a certain extent, our spirits even look like our physical appearance (but without the defects incident to age, injury, etc.). Upon death, the spirit, the scriptures say, returns to that God who gave it life. We call the place where spirits dwell between the time of their death to the time of their resurrection the "spirit world." It seems to be on a different plane or dare I say dimension (my word, not scriptural)--we just know the spirits of the departed are not far from us and acquainted with our lives. The spirit world has two or three divisions. Those who have accepted and followed Christ are received into a happy place we call paradise, where they rest from sorrows and help those who have not. These others find themselves in spirit prison, in that they are restricted in their privileges, however pleasant their actual situation may be. If their failure to follow Christ was the result of conscious rebellion their section of prison is more hellish. At some point, all spirits will be resurrected, or united inseparably with perfected, immortal bodies of flesh and bone. At that time, each soul will be subject to a "final judgment" to determine how much of the glory of God they may receive. Broadly speaking there are three main "degrees of glory" spoken of in scripture. We know that the highest of these (the "celestial") has three subdivisions, and we also know there is a diversity of glory in the least (or "telestial") kingdom as "one star differeth from another star in glory." The picture we have therefore suggests a wide spectrum of discrete glories. In the highest of the high, we live as eternal families in the presence of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Show more Show less