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Members of the Church are feeling the economic pinch of higher taxes and inflation coupled with conditions of continuing recession. Some have come to their bishops seeking assistance to pay for house payments, car loans, and utilities.

Unfortunately, there has been fostered in the minds of some an expectation that when we experience hard times, when we have been unwise and extravagant with our resources and have lived beyond our means, we should look to either the Church or government to bail us out. Forgotten by some of our members is an underlying principle of the Church welfare plan that “no true Latter-day Saint will, while physically able, voluntarily shift from himself the burden of his own support” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 106). (taken from Prepare for the Days of Tribulation)

This quote got me thinking about politics.  Many people in the country have made poor decisions with how they’ve run their business or household financially.  Somehow this gave people in the government the green light to “bail” everyone out of the mess.  Unfortuneately, these bail-outs come with a cost and that is a greater burden for all of us to bear.  With the elections coming up shortly we have a chance to change things in this country.  The bailouts that started with Bush have continued to spiral out of control and we’re heading in a very bad direction.  The new Healthcare reform and finance reform are costing the country trillions of dollars. 

I like this quote because it is pretty clear on the importance of being independant and why that is imporant to our spiritual well-being. 

I recommend reading this talk when considering who to vote for this year.  Do some research on the people you are considering.  Compare what they have voted for, or are in support of with the values in this quote.

Recently we had a very good discussion on whether or not the LDS church believes in Universal Salvation.  One of the key doctrines of the LDS faith is that everyone will have a chance to at least hear about Jesus and accept Him as their Savior whether that be in this life or the next.  This concept is unfamiliar to many Christians, and one of my fellow Christian friends asked where scriptures supporting this can be found in the Bible.  In response to his question, I will provide Biblical scriptures that support this doctrine and also will provide additional LDS doctrines given from moder-day prophets.

Biblical Scriptures Supportind Jesus Preaching to the Dead

There are quite a number of scriptures found in the Bible that discuss Jesus visiting the “dead” spirits and also spirits in prison. Some of the scriptures that discuss Jesus preaching to the “dead” spirits can be viewed in two ways.  The first way I can see people interpreting these scriptures is that the verses are discussing those who are spiritually dead, and not people who have literally died.  This interpretation could be viewed by most of the scriptures I referenced in the link with the exception of those found in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 3:19-20 discusses Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison who had lived during the time of Noah.  This scripture can not be interpreted as merely preaching to those who are spiritually dead because of the reference to Noah. 

LDS Revelation on Jesus Preaching to those who have Died

Joseph F. Smith, the sixth prophet and president of the LDS church, and nephew of the churche’s first prophet, Joseph Smith, received a revelation on Jesus visiting spirits who had died in order to preach the gospel of salvation to them (a complete reading of this is in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, section 138)

In this account, Joseph F Smith explains of how he was “pondering over the scriptures” about Jesus’ great atonement and his mercy for all of humankind.  He writes:

I opened the Bible and read the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of aPeter, and as I read I was greatly bimpressed, more than I had ever been before, with the following passages:

  7 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
  8 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in aprison;
  9 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18—20.)
  10 “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.)
He goes on to write that while he was pondering, he recieved a vision from God.  In this vision, he witnessed that after Jesus’ death, he went and visited those who had died who had been faithful in their testimony of Jesus.  He goes on to write:
28 And I wondered at the words of Peter—wherein he said that the Son of God preached unto the aspirits in prison, who sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—and how it was possible for him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time.
  29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding aquickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the bwicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
  30 But behold, from among the righteous, he aorganized his forces and appointed bmessengers, cclothed with power and authority, and dcommissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in edarkness, even to fall the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
Conclusion
 
When reading the Bible, especially what is written in 1 Peter, it is clear that spirits who had died did receive a chance to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some Christians believe that Jesus personally visited these spirits.  Further revelation on the subject by LDS prophet, Joseph F. Smith clarifies who Jesus visited personally.  Jesus visited the righteous people who had died and he appointed angels to visit the wicked who had died and were waiting to receive the gospel.

Most of you probably heard that the LDS church, especially Elder Packer of the Apostles were petitioned by gay rights activists last week.  Below is the Church’s official response and can also be found at this website.

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign. 

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help.  Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment – to love one another.

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel.  His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgement of our shared human dignity.  We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another. 

We hope and firmly believe that within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail.

I was doing a little research on an ancestor of mine who was a Mormon Apostle.  Just for fun, I thought I’d throw in some trivia.

In a recent discussion someone brought up the fact that my views as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, seemed to be in line with those who hold universal views of salvation.  Since I’m not all that familiar with Universalism, I decided to do a little research on what they believe and compare it to the LDS view of salvation.

Universal Views of Salvation

I really do not know a whole lot about Universalism other than the websites I visited.  From what I gathered in my quick research though was that every human born on earth is going to be saved because God loves us all and wants the best for us. 

The church recognizes God loves all and salvation will come to all and therefore, they accept all beliefs and welcome any belief system into their “fold”.  Therefore, people in a congregation may be athiest, agnostic, or Christian and no matter what they believe in, they are encouraged to seek truth.

LDS Beliefs on Salvation

Many LDS views of salvation can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants in chapter 76.  This chapter includes a vision given to early LDS church leaders, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.  For those who want an in-depth study of the beliefs it is highly recommended to study that chapter.  However, I will try and summarize what beliefs on salvation are.

Outer Darkness

First, it is necessary to state LDS believe in a pre-existant life.  In this life people lived as spirits.  There was a war before the world was created between Satan and God.  Some spirits chose to follow Satan and others chose God.  Those that chose Satan’s plan will be eternally in what is called Outer Darkness.  This is a place where the Lord’s Spirit can not dwell.  No one born into this world will be sent to Outer Darkness.

Telestial Kingdom (Hell)

According to the vision, the people who go to the Telestial Kingdom are those who do not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those sent to this kingdom receive some blessings for the good they have done, but do not receive the blessings of being able to dwell with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ in the eternities.

Terrestrial Kingdom

People who go to the Terrestrial Kingdom are those who accept Jesus in this lifetime, or did not accept the gospel of Jesus in this lifetime, but did afterwards.  It is important to note that the LDS believe that all people will receive a chance to accept the gospel of Jesus either in this life or the next life.  This scripture stems from the verses in the Bible where Jesus visited “those that were in spirit prison from the days of Noah” after he died on the cross.  (see 1 Pet. 3:19 and 1 Pet 4:6).

Celestial Kingdom

The Celestial Kingdom is the kingdom that “excels all things”.  This is the kingdom where God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell.  According to the scripture, those who enter this kingdomThe people who enter this kingdom are those who have been baptized into the church as well as remain faithful throughout their lives.  The scripture says those in this kingdom will receive all the Father has including being equal in power.

Conclusion

While there are some elements similar between Universalism and Mormonism, it is a far stretch to say they are the same.  For example, LDS belief is that not all people are going to Outer Darkness with Satan because they already proved faithful in the pre-existance.  Also, LDS believe that all people will have the chance to hear of Jesus and be saved at least in the Terrestrial Kingdom.  This does not reflect Universal Salvation at all because this belief is that all people have or will have a choice to accept Jesus as their Savior and be saved.  Universal Salvation is that all people are saved regardless of choices they make.

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