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Hi I'm John

I'm a geek, husband, father, software engineer and a very amateur philosopher. And I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I grew up in a home where my Mom went to church and my Dad didn't. But they loved and respected each other, and gave me a great model for what I wanted my family to be. Growing up I always thought I was going to be an astrophysicist or a cosmologist. Then I got to college and realized that there weren't many jobs in those professions. So, I went with my other passion--software engineering. I love figuring out how complex things work and how they can be made to work better. My wife and I met in college, time flew, and we have just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. Our family has brought us both great joy and sadness. One of our children had an accident when he was 18 months old which caused significant brain damage, confining him to a wheel chair with only limited ability to communicate. Nevertheless, he taught us many precious lessons in the next ten years before he returned to his Heavenly Father. We're empty-nesters now, and are looking forward to seeing our two daughters get married and give us a grandchild or two.

Why I am a Mormon

I'm a Mormon because I believe that the Gospel taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints correctly describes our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, my relationship to them, and how my family and I can return and live with them. I believe the Gospel is true because: * I have experienced the Holy Spirit testify to me and work in my life, * It is logically consistent both internally and with known truth about the world, * It can reasonably explain why many otherwise inexplicable things are as they are, * Its explanatory power is greater than that of any other theology or non-theological world-view I have encountered--that is, more things make more sense, * Prophets and members alike, myself included, obtain knowledge of things before they happen or beyond what they could learn through ordinary means, * It makes life better, priesthood blessings work and relieve suffering, people become happier and feel more peaceful as they follow its principles, * When I follow what I feel the Spirit is prompting me to do, things turn out better than they likely would have had I chosen another alternative action, * No other explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon can account for it's remarkable correlation with historical reality as we know it today, or for the other evidences that it truly is ancient scripture, * No other theology matches as well the plain meaning of the text of the Old and New Testaments, * It is more compatible with established scientific knowledge than any other I have encountered, * The theology is simpler and correlates more closely with my everyday experience, and I believe that simpler is more likely to be correct (Occam's Razor), * The actual lives and works of its members (it's fruits) are what Christ predicted His church would have, * The weight of actual personal experiences trump occasional puzzling issues or small potential doubts because I know my knowledge and understanding are incomplete.

How I live my faith

My faith affects every part of my life, from Sunday morning to Saturday night. I try to live my life in accordance with all the principles taught by Jesus Christ. I’m not perfect in this, but over time and with His help I have become a better person. I do overcome weaknesses as I try my best, have patience, and rely on the grace of Jesus Christ. My current assignment in our congregation is one I share with my wife. We teach a class for members who are preparing to go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. The opportunity to worship in our temples is available to those who are worthy, and have been members of the Church for at least one year. Temple worship is separate from our regular Sunday worship. The temple is a place of spiritual learning where God teaches us how to return to live with Him for eternity. In the seven-week preparatory class we teach, my wife and I meet with our students to instruct them in the purposes of temple worship, and help them understand the commitments they will be making to God when they enter into sacred covenants in the temple. We also discuss the blessings that come from temple attendance, and share our own experiences as we have gone to the temple many hundreds of times throughout our lives.

Why do Mormons baptize their new members?

John
God values so highly our right to make choices for ourselves that He will not even give us all the blessings He has for us until we tell Him that we want them. We do that by making a covenant, or promise, that we will obey His commandments. Then He can bless us more abundantly and help us to keep that covenant. This is the way that He has designed to help us gradually change into better people and become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Baptism by immersion, being fully immersed in water, is the first of those covenants that we make with God. Jesus Christ showed us the way by being baptized Himself (Matthew 3:15), and teaching that we must also be baptized (Mark 16:16). Since a covenant is a binding agreement, like a contract, between us and God, it must be administered by an authorized representative of God. This authority to represent God in making covenants is called the priesthood. Though other churches may teach good things and help people learn about Jesus Christ, they do not have this priesthood authority. Thus everyone must be baptized in order to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

John
The only way for us to be saved is through the grace of Jesus Christ. Grace can be described as gifts that God gives to us. They are gifts because we cannot obtain them by our own efforts or merit, only God can give them to us. Some of these gifts are given unconditionally to everyone. These include: a moral conscience that allows us to discern between good and evil; agency, or the ability to make our own choices between good and evil (i.e. the Fall of Adam did not cause total depravity); resurrection and immortality, all will live again and never die; and the love of Christ whereby He blesses our efforts and arranges experiences that teach and lead us to Him. Other gifts are conditional. They are conditional because we cannot receive them until our actions or works demonstrate that we are obedient to God’s commandments. These gifts include: the Atonement of Christ, through which we are justified and forgiven of our sins; baptism and other ordinances by which we enter His kingdom and make covenants with Him; and the gift of the Holy Ghost which sanctifies and teaches us. In theological terms, salvation is the result of synergism. God reaches out to us with grace and we respond by our own free-will choice of obedience. Salvation remains a gift because we alone cannot remove the effect of our sin. To achieve salvation, Christ’s grace and our works are both necessary, but neither are sufficient by themselves. As we work together with Christ we are saved. Show more Show less

What is faith?

John
Faith is the process of testing God to see if what He says is true. God wants us to have a positive confirmation and knowledge of what is true, not just a vague belief or hope. God wants to prove to us that He exists, loves us, and will guide and bless our lives. But He is very careful about when and how He gives us that evidence. God only makes Himself known to us when we show that we truly want to find Him. The process of finding truth can be summarized as: hearing the word, accepting the possibility of its truth, having a desire to know if it is true, exercising or testing the word by obeying its principles, and honestly evaluating its effect on our life and our spiritual feelings. Jesus Christ taught “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). We test God by obeying His commandments, by being faithful to Him, and then examining whether or not we have benefitted. Once we recognize the results of our experiment, either in real improvement in our lives, a changed heart, or specific spiritual experiences, we have actual knowledge that the word comes from God and is true. We then start to believe in other parts of the word we receive from the same sources and perform the experiment of faith upon them. By this method we turn faith into sure knowledge of God. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?

John
God is a personal being and the Father of our spirits. As our literal spiritual Father, He is of the same nature as we are, though infinitely perfected, powerful, knowing, eternal, and complete. This does not lower God to our level. Rather it connects us to His perfection and shows that through His grace we may eventually share part of His glory. As Paul taught, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). Our Heavenly Father loves us because we are His literal children and He wants us to become as much like Himself as we possibly can. We do not accept the post-biblical creeds that introduced Trinitarianism. God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are each individual persons that are one in purpose and plan. God the Father and Jesus Christ are corporeal and have physical bodies of perfected matter, which house their spiritual bodies. The Holy Spirit has only a spiritual body. In theological terms we believe in monarchical monotheism, monolatrism, or that there are many beings that may be called gods but there is only one supreme God that we should worship. Though God created the universe, He is still bound by certain laws. For example, His mercy cannot rob justice. He accomplishes all His purposes in accordance with these eternal laws. Show more Show less