You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘LDS’ tag.

Recently I was preparing for a lesson with my Sunday School class of 16-18 year olds.  We’re studying the New Testament this year.  I found it interesting that in the early Christian church, there was continuous revelation.  The example in this lesson is found in the book of Acts chapter 15.

In this example, Paul and Barnabas come across some church members who are still requiring circumcision as in the Law of Moses.  Paul and Barnabas are not certain if that should be a requirement, so they go to Jerusalem and meet with the apostles for guidance on the matter.  After the apostles discuss the matter, they make a decision through guidance by the Holy Spirit (verses 19-28) and then they write an epistle for Paul and Barnabas to bring back to the church members for sustaining (verses 22-31).  They also send an apostle (Judas) back with them to deliver the message.

This process of revelation to the church is similar for the LDS church of Jesus Christ.  From what I understand, apostles contemplate an issue, pray for guidance by the Spirit, come up with a decision, then present it to the church for sustaining.  On occasion, there will be a letter sent out to congregations from the apostles and read by the local bishop, or the apostles or prophet may read it to the whole body of the church in General Conference (or General Relief Society Conference as President Hinckley did with the Family Proclamation). 

Rarely will revelation actually be canonized.  Over the last 150 years, I can only think of a few revelations that were canonized: Official Declaration 1: that announced the disbanding of polygamy in the 1890s, Doctrine and Covenants section 138 that addresses a vision given to President Joseph F. Smith (Joseph Smith’s nephew) regarding where our spirits go after we die, and Official Declaration 2 that announces that the Priesthood can be given to all worthy males (prior to this revelation black men could not hold the Priesthood). 

I have seen Mormon church antagonists take off-the-wall things that a prophet (usually Brigham Young) said or wrote in a book and highlight that as official church doctrine.  LDS apologists will be quick to answer that in that situation, the prophet wasn’t inspired and spoke without the Spirit on that occasion and since it isn’t canonized it is not official revelation.

However, there are many things that Mormon prophets and apostles have officially stated either through a letter to congregations or announced in General Conference that are not necessarily canonized.  Therefore, I can see how it could be hard for members of other faiths to see a distinction between what is revelation and what is opinion.

Personally, I feel that revelation is official as it is outlined in the New Testament example I shared.  If the apostles have gathered together, prayed, and received guidance from the Spirit on a matter, then announced it to the church officially through writing, it is “official”.  If an LDS leader decides to write a book, or say something off the cuff that’s wacky then that is not official revelation.

What are your thoughts?

Advertisements

In the LDS Church men from the ages of 14 on up are assigned as home-teachers. Home teachers are assigned in pairs and are assigned families in the congregation to help both spiritually and with their temporal needs as well. Home teachers are encouraged to share at least once a month a spiritual message with the family.

Last month, I read the message by the LDS church President, Thomas S. Monson called Canaries with Gray on their Wings. The message of the story is basically not to judge a book by it’s cover and treat everyone with respect and dignity, including yourself. Since there were children at two of the families I home teach, I decided to have an object lesson illustrating not to judge things by their appearance.

I made some cookies and dumped tons of salt in them and baked them. Before I baked them, I made sure (actually it was my wife) that the cookies would turn out large and nice-looking. I then made a batch of normal cookies but baked them to look unattractive and small.

You’ve probably guessed the outcome. When I brought the plate of cookies, I included both the large and small ones on the plates. Everyone picked the large ones first. Most of the kids were polite and just stopped eating them. I asked them what was wrong and they said the cookies are salty. I then asked them why they chose that cookie and they said because it looked better. We then would have a discussion about how things aren’t always as they appear and we need to not judge others by their appearance.

I thought it was a good learning tool, but the past few weeks when I go to church and see the kids all they do is point to me and tell their friends not to trust me because I cook salty cookies. I’m not sure the point of the lesson really stuck with them. Maybe I shouldn’t have given them salty cookies…

Recently I had a very nice gentleman stop by and leave the following comment on my blog:

You are a rare person to see common ground between the LDS and non-LDS Christians. I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time. I’d like to know more about what you believe and how our heavenly Father brought you to your current level of revelation.

This message is in response to his inquiry on knowing more about what I believe and how Heavenly Father brought me to my current level of revelation.

I have not always believed in the LDS religion.  In fact, for a time, I was very bitter towards it and filled with hate for Mormons.  I was young when my parents were divorced, but as a result I put blame on my father for splitting up our family.  My father was LDS and my mother was baptized LDS but left the LDS church and became an Evangelical Christian. 

After my parents divorced I lived with my mother and sisters.  We went to the LDS church for a few months after the divorce, but soon started attending other churches.  I started regularly attending the Baptist church and also spent some time in the Presbetyrian and Lutheran churches as well.  As a young man, I learned many great things at these churches and met some very wonderful people who helped me learn of God and Jesus Christ.  Also during this time I was taught many things about the LDS church that made me dislike the church even more.  During this time, my hate towards the LDS church was very strong and also towards my father.  I wouldn’t even go and visit him as a result.  However, after a couple years of avoiding my father, I decided it would be good to at least go and meet my new little brother who my Dad and Step-mother had just had.  I decided to go and visit my father.

I was a very young man at the time I visited my Dad and I clearly remember one of the first things I told him when I saw him was that I was not going to set foot in an LDS church.  However, I ended up seeing the love in my Dad’s heart for the Lord and the way he treated others.  I did end up going to church and witnessed the same thing and my heart was softened towards the LDS people.  It didn’t take me very long to begin to feel the Spirit of the Lord in a way that I never had at any other church.  I soon decided to read the Book of Mormon.  After reading the Book of Mormon, the following passage stood out to me in Moroni chapter 10:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
  6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
  7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

The scripture stood out to me and I received a desire to pray to know if the things found in the Book of Mormon were true.  I remember thinking that if I were to pray and find these things out that many questions would be answered for me including: is there a God, is Jesus our Savior, will God answer prayers, is the LDS church true?

Almost instictually I dropped to my knees and offered a simple prayer asking if it was true.  As I prayed, I felt a warm feeling come over me that filled me with a love and happiness I had never before felt.  I felt a desire come into my heart to share the gospel with people who may not know of God and Jesus.  I felt born again as a new person as the hatred I had been holding onto dissolved into love and a desire to tell people of Jesus Christ and his teachings.

That was the first experience I had with God and being born again as a new creature as the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5 discusses.  Since that time I’ve had many more experiences with God answering prayers through visions, feelings form the Holy Spirit, scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and through listening to prophetic voices.

I’ve shared these experiences because I feel it is the foundation for the answer to both of the questions posed by my evangelical brother who stopped by and I will now answer his questions.

I believe in a God who loves each one of us and who is liberal in His blessings to His children all over the world.  I believe we are created in His image and have potential to become like He is.  I believe in Jesus Christ and that through Him one can be saved both physically and spiritually.  I believe that God will speak to us through many ways including scriptures like the Bible and Book of Mormon, but also other good books as well.  I believe that if we strive daily to stay close to God, he will stay close to us through His Holy Spirit, which will guide us in our daily walk through life.  I believe that when we make mistakes, through repentance made possible from the atonement of Jesus, all of us can be forgiven for any sin we commit and I know that the Lord will help us overcome any weakness we have and help it become a strength.

Since I have family who are both LDS and non-LDS Christians, I have the unique opportunity and blessing to see how God works in many ways.  I have seen that the beliefs that I stated are shared by both my LDS and non-LDS family and friends.  Throughout my life since I decided to be active in the LDS faith, I have seen many amazing miracles as I’ve served others through missionary service, church service, and in my family.   My brother-in-law and sister are missionaries for an Evangelical Church called the Puget Sound Christian Center.  They have blessed the lives of many young people in their ministry and I have seen the Lord bless their lives as a result.  They have genuine hearts and are true Christians. (you can learn more about their ministry on this website: http://ignite-plu.blogspot.com/).

In addition to this, I have been blessed as my mother, who is not an LDS Christian anymore, has shared with me some very inspirational books and messages from Christian preachers and pastors who I would normally not hear from in the LDS church.  As I listen to sermons from the late Adrian Rogers and other pastors, I have felt the same Spirit that I feel when I listen to the LDS General Authorities as they speak in General Conference and elsewhere.  I feel that the Spirit of Christ confirms truth and truth can be found anywhere that people are sharing the gospel of Jesus.

At a young age I was exposed to various Christian denomonations as I have throughout my life.  I can not say that I always have felt a bond towards their faith, especially after I joined the LDS faith.  However, as I have opened my eyes to try and see things how God sees them (a life-long pursuit in all areas!) I have been blessed to see a common ground between our faith in Jesus Christ and also the power of prayer in both of our faiths.  As my fellow Evangelical brother stated in his comments, both faiths are Christian faiths.

Maybe it is a rare thing to find common ground between LDS and non-LDS Christians, but to you LDS people who struggle to find good in Christians of other faiths, and for you Christians you find it difficult to find good in LDS I encourage both parties to let go and pray to see each other as God sees all of us.  I know that as you do you will find that you learn more about yourself, God, and others.

Until I started blogging about 1 1/2 years ago I hadn’t heard of a lot of the stuff that’s out there such as “Adam/God Theory” and “Blood Atonement” that many anti-Mormons spread. The accusation of “earning” one’s salvation was something new to me as well that I had never heard of.

Faith is an interesting thing because it makes up so much of what a person does and how he or she views the world. When that faith is openly attacked the natural instinct is to bristle up and throw back some more punches.

Most “anti-Mormon literature” as we like to call it, is in my opinion ridiculous and pulled from obscure quotes by various prophets and not at all what we teach today. It’s the equivalent of taking some quote from one of the Christian crusaders and using it against all Christians.

However, there are many other of our fellow Christians who are well-intended in their approach with Mormons and who sincerely want to help us. Yesterday I read a great post over at Clean Cut that summarized a speech given by Dr Craig Blomberg. (If you don’t remember who Dr Blomberg is, he co-wrote “How Wide the Divide?“, which is a book on Mormon vs. Evangelical doctrine written by a Mormon and an Evangelical). In his speech, Bloomberg speaks to a large body of Christians in a talk entitled “What would Jesus Say to a Mormon?” I’ll have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about reading it because most people point fingers at us and try to tell us why we’re wrong. Dr Bloomberg did, what I think Jesus would have all of us do. He showed a genuine love for the LDS people and acknowledged their Christian beliefs. To view a summary of the 10 points he feels Jesus would say to Mormons you can also visit this blog.

I feel that although Blomberg doesn’t believe everything Mormons do he does exactly what a good Christian should do in my opinion and he sees the good and the common ground and builds on that rather than attacking the differences.  I also feel he did a great job in his top 10 list of pointing out things we as Mormons can definitely learn from, but he also showed other Christians that in many ways Mormons aren’t so far off from what they believe as well. 

What do you think about Blomberg’s approach?

Also, how to you feel about his top 10 list?  Do you feel it’s accurate?

For us as Mormons, how can we learn from this in our discussions with fellow Christians?

5-23-09

I just read another great post related to this topic that was written last fall.  It shares Dr Blomberg’s feelings of how the Mormon/Evangelical divide is from his perspective 11 years after having written the book.  Check out the site here.

One of the key components to LDS theology is that of scripture being an open canon.  According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bible Dictionary, scripture is defined as follows:

The word scripture means a writing, and is used to denote a writing recognized by the Church as sacred and inspired. It is so applied to the books of the O.T. by the writers of the N.T. (Matt. 22: 29; John 5: 39; 2 Tim. 3: 15). For an account of the process by which the books of the O.T. and N.T. came to be recognized as scripture, see Canon. Latter-day revelation identifies scripture as that which is spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost (D&C 68: 1-4).
According to this definition, this leaves things pretty wide-open as to what scripture really is and can be difficult for many people, especially those from other faiths to comprehend.  Basically anything that is spoken by someone under the influence of the Spirit can be interpreted as scripture.  However, this also places great responsibility on everyone to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so they can interpret by the spirit and know if things spoken are essentially the word of God. 
As I pondered this, I thought about the scriptures that the LDS currently use commonly called the “Standard Works.”  These scriptures include the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Most Christians claim that the Bible is infallible and that every single word written therein is exactly what God wants us to have and there can be no more scripture.  This is very hard for LDS people to fathom because they believe otherwise.  Why are such scriptures as the Song of Solomon considered to be considered infallible scripture? Who was it that had the authority to declare that the Bible should be the only scripture?  If the experiences and prophecies in the Bible are the only authorized scripture, what scriptures were the apostles and prophets of the Bible using at the time?
On the other hand, Christians firmly believe that it is heretical to have any additional scripture other than what is in the Bible.  They may have questions and concerns about anyone else who claims to add scripture is a false prophet and therefore their writings and words should be avoided.
Athiests and Agnostics choose to avoid the scriptures altogether because of flaws and condradictions found within the scriptures.
As I contemplate these issues and questions, I’m very grateful for the following scriptures about the Holy Ghost:
Moroni 10:2-5
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
  3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
John 16: 7;13
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
In the first scripture, there is a promise given that one can know if the things written in the Book of Mormon are true.  However, the promise extends further in verse 5 in that the Holy Ghost will not only help one receive a witness of the Spirit if the Book of Mormon is true, but also know the truth of all things.  Also, in the Bible Jesus says when he leaves the Holy Ghost will show them the truth of all things as well.
If one is to read certain parts of the Bible (such as the Song of Solomon) and if one is to read certain parts of the Doctrine and Covenants (such as the polygamy revelation) it can be hard to feel the Spirit confirm it as truth.  Also, Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith used to be “cannonized” scripture but were removed in the early 1900’s.  Furthermore, when Joseph Smith spoke about the Book of Mormon he said that it was the most correct book of scripture written.  But didn’t say it was completely flawless.  I’ve read that the Book of Mormon has been changed and edited over 4,000 times. Also, authors within the Book of Mormon acknowledge their weakness in writing
Acknowleding flaws and/or errors in scripture can be a huge thing for both LDS and Christians to accept.  They both believe that scripture is flawless. Due to the weaknesses of men in writing and translations, etc. and the LDS view of having an open cannon, it is very important–essential–that one maintains a close relationship with the Lord so they can be led by the Holy Ghost to know the truth of all things that are found in the scriptures.
However, this can lead to discrepencies and to people claiming that “the Spirit told them” to say and/or do certain things and believe certain doctrine.  The LDS comeback for this answer would be “that’s why we have prophets and apostles.”  However, the questions then arise: How are we to know if they are indeed prophets and called of God?  How can we know if what they’re speaking is truth?  The answer: the Holy Spirit.
It would take a whole other post to write about how to recognize the Holy Spirit speaking truth to you, but some posts I’ve previously written on this topic include:”Effectively Using the Sword of the Spirit,” “Learning the Mysteries of God,” and “Questions to Know if you’ve Experienced the Holy Ghost.”
I especially like this quote by Gordon B Hinckley:
How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil” (Jordan Utah South regional conference, 2 Mar. 1997)
I would like to let those who read this know that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit confirm truth to me on numerous occasions throughout my life and that I’m grateful for this.  As I’ve prayed about various scriptures I have felt the Spirit witness truths to me that are found in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and other writings both LDS and otherwise.  I know that I’ve felt the Spirit confirm that there is a God that watches over each one of us and that cares for us.  I’ve felt His love and Spirit as I’ve prayed about big and small decisions in my life and know that he will lead us into the right paths and help us find truth in all things.  I know that God will reveal the truth of all things to everyone if we ask in humility and faith.

Being that it’s conference weekend, I thought I’d share some of my favorite conference talks from various LDS leaders throughout the years and how they’ve affected me for good.  So here are a few of them in no specific order:

The Grandeur of God  by Jeffery R Holland

Jeffery Holland gave this talk a few years back and it really helped me in understanding who God is and my relationship to Him as my Heavenly Father.  It helped me more realize how I can develop a personal relationship with Him and how He loves me no matter what.  It also helped me realize my relationship with other people in the world as my brothers and sisters.

This Thing Wasn’t Done in a Corner by Gordon B Hinckley

I was on my mission in Frankfurt, Germany when President Hinckley gave this talk.  I was filled with such enthusiasm and desire to share the gospel that I couldn’t wait to get out and go street contacting to share the message of the Book of Mormon to the Germans.

The Power of God’s Love  by John H Groberg

When Brother Groberg gave this talk it touched me deeply.  I was reminded of the love I had felt for the people I served while I was on my mission.  The people I taught and prayed with, my companions, and the fellow LDS church members I had served with.  I also thought of my time as a leader in the Elders Quorom and the young men I had served and loved and helped.  I’ve had many great experiences serving in the church, but these two times are the times I’ve felt closest to the Lord and felt His love for all of us.

Be Thou an Example Thomas S Monson

This talk is very inspiring and the words “fill minds with truth, hearts with love, lives with service” have helped me in many areas of my life as I try to stay close to what the Lord would have me do.

We Walk By Faith  by Gordon B Hinckely

I’ve written briefly in previous posts about depression and anxiety I had from separation as a child from a parent.  This effected me emotionally and when I met my now wife and was preparing to get married.  I had serious anxiety over getting married.  However, I knew it was the right thing and approved by the Lord and this talk by President Hinckley helped me take the step into the unknown.  I’m very grateful for the guidance the Lord gave me to get married and for the encouraging words of this talk during that time.  I can’t imagine life without my beautiful wife.

Models to Follow by Thomas S Monson

After I graduated from BYU in 2002, I enrolled into graduate school.  However, I started feeling promptings from the Spirit of the Lord that I needed to move to Washington and live with my grandmother.  I wanted to make sure though that this was the Lord’s will before I took this leap of faith and moved.  I prayed and fasted during general conference weekend to get a confirmation from the Spirit and during this talk by President Monson I felt a strong confirmation that I needed to move to Washington.  After I moved to Washington so many things came into place.  I met my wife, got a job that put me into the career I have now, and met so many life long friends that have helped me grow closer to the Lord and as an individual.

Beware of Pride by Ezra Taft Benson

When I read this the first time I read this I was on my mission.  I was very humbled as I read this and it helped me understand and love the German people and see them as God sees them.  This helped me understand the importance of humility and how the more humble we are, the more God can work in our lives.

Living worthy of the Girl you will Someday Marry  by Gordon B Hinckley

I was single for a good little while and I used this talk as an example of how I should try to live my life while dating.  It was a long time before I married my wife, but it was worth the wait.  My wife is such a great support and sweet person and I feel so grateful for her.

Life’s Lesson’s Learned by Joseph B Wirthlin

This talk is a very fun talk to listen to about Joseph B Wirthlin’s experiences playing football in high school and college and how he was able to use integrity while playing sports even when it cost them the game.  He shares a life-changing event that occurred on the football field that changed his life.

These are a few talks that have helped me throughout the years.  I’d be interested in hearing what some of your favorite talks have been and how they’ve helped you.  Feel free to share!

I was looking up something from Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith that he gave in 1835 and I came across Jerry Stokes’ website.  In his website he compares these lectures to the Word of Faith movement (which I’ve never heard of before) and says it is heretical.  I will have to agree with him that many things stated in the Lectures on Faith are heretical to mainstream Christianity, which is a given for LDS theology.  One of the things he points out as being heretical is the fact that Joseph Smith states that one of God’s main attributes is faith and that without faith He would cease to be God.  This concept is found in Lecture 1 verses 13 – 17 and is quoted below:

13. As we receive by faith all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we in like manner receive by faith all spiritual blessings that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, 11:3 —

14. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

15. By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.

16. Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute — for it is an attribute — from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.

17. Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man.

I can understand Mr Stokes’ concern coming from a Christian perspective.  He may be appalled to hear that Jehovah, who created the world, would need faith.  After all, the Greek meaning of the word faith is “conviction of religious truth or of God.”  If Jehovah is all-powerful and all-knowing and He is the being who we worship, what need is there for Him to have faith in Himself?  Furthermore, does this lesson God’s stature and is it blasphemous to say that God has faith just as man does?

I don’t think it is wrong to say God has faith.  By definition, faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  For example, we read in the first book of the Bible (Gen 1:1-2) that God created the heaven and earth and the earth was without form.  The Hebrew definition of “without form” means “to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. desert; fig. a worthless thing; adv. in vain” .  Therefore, God hoped for and had faith in himself that the earth would be made and he created the beautiful world that we live in out of chaos (or nothing depending on your belief).  This fits into the definition of faith that we just discussed. 

Now, does saying this lessen God’s stature and elevate man’s in relation to God?  Not at all.  In fact, this proves the majesty of God and shows us our relationship to Him.  We are humans and have seeds of divinity in that we have the power to have faith and create things, etc.  But no one can create a world. 

Now, I will admit that I disagree with Joseph Smith’s statement that God would “cease to exist” if He didn’t have faith.  In the scriptures we read that God is never-changing and always exsisting.  God would be God regardless of whether He created worlds or not.

Overall, I believe in Joseph Smith’s statements on faith and man’s relationship to God.  I believe that man has great potential and that we are children of God and therefore have seeds of divinity within us. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you think God has faith and is it wrong to say that He has faith?  Do you have any other examples from the scriptures where God or Jesus showed faith?

The official statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) says the following about the purpose for temple garments:

Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.

Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation. (LDS Newsroom)

I’ve personally never really paid that much attention to why people of various religions wear certain clothes…especially their underwear!  However, as a Mormon, somehow this topic gets brought up on occasion and I can understand our friends of other faiths having questions about why we wear garments. 

For example, I was on a business trip a few years ago and shared a room with a colleague.  When we were changing he looked at me and had a hard time not doing a double take.  He had questions…a lot of them.  All I knew was that it is emphasized that garments are not used for casual conversation and I’m afraid I confused him more than helped him with my vague explanation of why we wear garments. 

Today I was reading in the scriptures and also a talk on how the garment is an outward expression of an inner commitment.  The verse I read today that impressed me was in Alma 34:36:

…the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t really paid attention to this before, but one purpose for the garment is to remind us of the suffering that Jesus went through for all of us and to remind us that our sins are washed away through his blood.  I then became curious and thought I’d look up more scriptures with this imagery and I found quite a few that share similar imagery.

I’m sure if I had sat down with my friend and showed him the scriptures related to the garment, it would have made a lot more sense to him rather than giving a vague answer and telling him it is too sacred to talk about.  Our friends may or may not agree with wearing the garments, but they should definitely gain more understanding if we approach it with confidence and understanding from their perspective.

Have any of you had a similar experience?  If so, what approach have you taken on explaining the purpose behind wearing the garment?

Other Good posts about Garments:

Some History of Mormon Underwear

In the book “How Wide the Divide,” Craig Blomberg from a Denver seminary and Stephen Robinson, from BYU (both have PhD’s in religion) attempt to “bridge the gap” between Evangelicals and Mormons.  The first step is to have a correct understanding of what the other believes.  The following is an excerpt from their book:

Since very few Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals are theologically bilingual, the same misunderstandings tend to be compounded over and over, which is grist for the mills of prejudice on both sides…(How Wide the Divide, page 14)

In an attempt for both Evangelicals and LDS people to learn about each other’s beliefs, both Blomberg and Robinson share a modern-day translation of “Articles of Faith” for both religions.  I will now share their thoughts.  Feel free to share yours in your comments.

LDS Articles of Faith Translated for Christians of other Faiths

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.  We accept the biblical doctrine that God is three and that God is also one, but we reject the post-New Testament attempts to explain how these two truths are to be reconciled
  2. We believe that humankind fell through the transgression of Adam and Eve and that humans in their present state are subject to sin, death and corruption.  However, we believe that individuals are accountable for thier own sins, not for guilt inherited from Adam and Eve.  We accept both divine justice and human accountability, but we do not believe in original sin.
  3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, fallen humanity may be saved by accepting and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ.  No one is predestined either to salvation or to damnation; anyone may be saved who responds appropriately to the good news of Christ.
  4. We believe that we respond appropirately to Christ and we accept his gospel by having faith in and being faithful to Christ as Son of God and Savior, that is, by accepting him as Lord and Savior and making him Lord of and in our lives.  We cannot merit salvation of ourselves, nor is it possible to “earn” the grace by which we are saved, but the obedience of faith, a godly walk and conversation, is a necessary component of faith in Christ.  Jesus will save us from our sins but not with our sins.  Beyond having faith in Christ, we must also repent of sin, consent to baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and receive the regenerating and sanctifying gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.
  5. We believe that the Christianity of the first century, New Testament Christianity, is true Christianity.  As such, it is the only standard by which to define Chrisitanity, as opposed to defining it by post-New Testament councils and creeds.  We believe that the priesthood authority, church organization, spiritual gifts, sacraments (i.e. ordinances) and doctrines of the modern church must be as they were in the New Testament church.  This obviously includes the presence of apostles and prophets who receive direct, continuing revelation for the church in the world.
  6. We accept the Bible (the King James Version) as the inspired word of God–every book, every chapter, every verse of it–as revealed to the apostles and prophets who wrote it.  We also hold the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price to be the word of God.
  7. We believe in the divine conception, subsitutionary atonement, sacrificial death, bodily resurrection and present glory of Jesus Christ and that he will return to this earth in judgment and in his glory to cleanse it from all wickedness and to establish his personal millennial reign.  Both the saved and the lost will be resurrected, the former at Christ’s coming or during his reign, the latter at the end of th millennium.
  8. We believe that the church established by Christ in the New Testament was changed by later Chrisitan intellectuals who believed the simple New Testament proclamation to be inadequate.  Feeling the language of Scripture to be unsophisticated, incomplete, vague, ambiguous or imprecise, the second, thrud and fourth-century church sougt to “improve” the New Testament gospel by the standards of Hellenistic philosophy, but compromised it instead.
  9. We believe that the Lord in preparation for his imminent second coming has “restored” New Testament Chrisitanity in the latter days through the prophet Joseph Smith.  Nevertheless, all honest Christians of whatever deonmination, not just LDS Christians, will be among the saved at the last day…(How Wide the Divide, pgs 16-17)

Evangelical “Article of Faith” or “Confession Statement”

  1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
  2. We believe that there is one God eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory.
  4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
  5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
  6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
  7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. (How Wide the Divide pgs 29-30)

I’m sure most people have heard the news by now about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraging it’s nearly 1million members in California to do “all they can do” to support the initiative in November to over-turn the ruling supporting bay marriage. 

If you haven’t heard about this, you can read the following blogs:

California Saints To Get The Call

Envisioning a Politically Thoughtful Church Culture

California Mormons Won’t Be Cool With Acts of Protest At Their Chapels

Mormons in California Called to Defend Marriage by Top LDS Leaders

The letter from the LDS Prophet and his counselors encourages saints to do “all they can do” to support traditional marriages, especially in California during the upcoming vote in November. 

Someone told me of a friend of theirs who lives in California that contacted them and asked if they were supporting the Church’s call to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriages.  When my friend told the person they were not supporting it, the individual got upset and self-righteously said “aren’t you going to support the Prophet?”  This in my mind is going too far and I feel that “doing all you can do” is objective and depends on the individual.  If certain circumstances cause someone to believe in gay marriage, yet they still are believing Latter-day Saints, maybe doing “all they can do” is different than someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

In addition, last December Elder Ballard said in an address to BYU students that the LDS Church takes a politically neutral stance.  Yet, of all the issues the LDS Church decided to go back on that statement and get politically involved with the ban on gay marriage.  Personally, I think it is fine if the Church encourages members to take a stand on what the Church feels is a moral issue, including gay marriage.  Whether or not I decided to vote for or against it is a personal choice and if it’s a moral issue I can take it to the Lord in prayer and see what I feel. 

Obviously, the two questions are:

1. What is your take on what it means to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriage?

2. Should the church get politically involved?  If it gets involved with this, do you think the Church should get involved with other issues?  Why or why not?

 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 887 other followers

GraceforGrace Community

Pages

Blog Stats

  • 485,146 hits
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: