Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where does your doctrine lead?

In my conversations with Evangelical Christians I have come across 3 disturbing beliefs that are a result of the mixing of apostate thinking with pure doctrine. Remember that correct belief "Orthodoxy" will lead you to correct behavior "Orthopraxis," which will lead you to a correct heart towards God "Orthocardia." A questions we should all ask ourselves is if our belief is leading us closer to or away from God. Additionally, correct belief should also lead us closer to our families and neighbors. Remember the two great commandments to love God and our fellow man? If loving God and our family and neighbors is so important, then the correct doctrines of Christ should increase our love and tolerance towards all mankind in addition to increasing our ability to love God.

#1. Family doesn't matter to God.

In a discussion about the eternal nature and significance of family to God, several of my evangelical friends were attempting to convince me that our immediate temporal family here on Earth was unimportant, temporary, and had no lasting value in the eyes of God.

To the LDS, family is the basic unit of social organization on Earth and in Heaven. Adam and Eve were organized into the first family before The Fall, and existed in that state of innocence and purity in the presence of God with a command to have children. LDS believe that family relationships can endure beyond death and be enjoyed for eternity.

#2. If you are not Christian, you are not my brother.

In a conversation about the pre-existence and eternal nature of the spirit within us, some Evangelical friends of mine were of the opinion that only professing Christians where their brothers and would be saved. This excluded me, because although I profess belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer, they tell me that I don't believe in their version of Jesus which they claim is the correct Jesus.

LDS believe that all mankind are spirit children of our Heavenly Father regardless of color, ethnicity, faith or creed. In fact, if you are Muslim or Hindu or Agnostic and are true and valiant to the truth which God has put in your heart and mind, then you will be both saved and exalted. That is because Christ is truth, and if you believe in truth, you really believe in Christ without knowing you do. God will make allowance for tradition which prevents some from getting the words right when the heart, head, and hands are clean in Christ. The Bible says "where there is no law, there is no sin." Eventually, those who are true and faithful will accept Christ in word to go along with their deeds. And also, the necessary temple work will be done on their behalf to satisfy the technical demands of salvation and exaltation. But, those who are faithful and true to the truth they are given by God will not be denied any blessing.

#3 God does not answer prayer about personal matters.

In a conversation with an Evangelical about personal testimony and revelation, my friend stated:

[there is NOT one passage in Old or New Testament scripture instructing us to inquire of the Lord on what we ought OR ought not to do regarding personal matters!]

[The Bible does NOT model for us a mode of decision-making where we examine our hearts for communication from God telling us what to do.]

And then he sited the Evangelical author Greg Koukl's, “Decision Making and the Will of God:”

[The Bible does NOT teach us to expect subjective internal promptings from the Holy Spirit as any kind of normative guide.]

Other Evangelicals claim that God will inspire with regard to "wisdom" or how to apply the Bible, but not about "knowledge." The only source of spiritual knowledge is the Bible alone. Therefore, they say that you cannot pray about whether something is true or not, but only if you should or shouldn't do something. The Bible teaches that "the Holy Ghost will guide us into all truth;" not just all wisdom. Truth encompasses both knowledge and wisdom. And that is the point of this post is that correct belief leads to correct action, and the Holy Ghost is required together with scripture for both.

LDS, know that Christ says again and again "Ask and ye will receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." LDS know that God does care about the even the smallest details of our lives. In some instances the answer may be "it mattereth not." But that still is a wonderful answer. If you have been led to believe by your doctrine that God does not care about the intimate details of your life, to not bother praying, or to not expect answers to prayer, maybe your doctrine isn't helping you develop as close of a relationship with God as you think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Clarification on the Self-Existent Intelligence

Today, I was visiting my wife's parent's ward in Atlanta, GA. During Elders Quorum, we studied lesson 17 from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith Manual on the "The Great Plan of Salvation." The lesson quoted extensively from the King Follett Discourse and stressed the eternal nature of the "soul", "intelligence", or "mind of man."

In several previous posts I was thinking about the concept of the self-existent, co-eternal "spirit of man," "mind of man," or "intelligence of man." This concept comes from the Book of Abraham, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Book of Mormon as well as the King Follett Discourse by the prophet Joseph Smith.

D&C 93: 29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

Abr. 3:22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

Ether 3: 15-16 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

During our lesson the teacher brought in several quotes from B.H. Roberts who was an member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, wrote the volume "History of the Church" among other works and was the editor for the "Millennial Star." B.H. Roberts was very educated and a wonderful debater. His teachings were somewhat controversial and sparked some debate within the church. B.H. Roberts was known from writing extensively on the immortality of the soul. And our Elder's Quorum teacher brought in several of his quotes from, "The Seventy's Course in Theology." In one section, B.H. Roberts commented that the King Follett Discourse and Abraham used the words "mind of man," "intelligence," and "the spirit of man" interchangeably, but that despite this it was his opinion that there is a difference. "

I do agree that there is likely some differentiation between the self-existing, co-eternal intelligence and the point at which we became spirit sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. If you go to and search using the terms [intelligence AND spirit] you will see other quotes from modern Apostles and Prophets that seem to make this differentiation talking about clothing of our intelligence in a spirit body. But there is no clear mention of mechanism that I have found other than the Brigham Young quote which I quoted in my other post.

Another friend of mine brought out another B.H. Roberts quote concerning the mechanism of creation of the spirit body from intelligence:

"Will the resurrection return you a mere female acquaintance that is not to be the wife of your bosom in eternity? No; God forbid; but it will restore you the wife of your bosom, immortalized, who shall bear children from your own loins in all the worlds to come, and that without pain or sorrow in travail. This, sir, was couched in the promise of Abraham; this makes the promise great." (Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.2, p.276)

It seems from this quote that B.H. Roberts believed in what he calls a "manual theory" as the mechanism by which intelligence is generated (not just formed) by God into spirit. The question and point of this post is; what should we do with this quote? It seems that Elder Roberts is referring to a physical mechanism. I don't have a problem with that. God is the Living God and has the power to both literally physically reproduce (Jesus as the Only Begotten) as well as spiritually pro-create. I am just not sure of the mechanism. And I don't think it matters.

And after looking around, I found a paper by Elder Roberts on "The Immortality of Man" which was published in the "Improvement Era" where he answers a series of questions his so-called "Manual Theory." B.H. Roberts in the article acknowledges his views are only a theory, and the fact that the theory is being debated and explained in the publication clearly suggests that not everything it claims are necessarily core doctrine of the LDS Church. But much of it is.

So, what are the essential truths on this subject? I will try and point out a few things that in my opinion are certain and why, and list what things have not been clarified yet and consequently, I have more of an open-mind regarding.

There exists something within man that is self-existent and co-eternal with God. Scriptures uses words interchangeably to describe what this is. They use "intelligence," "spirit," mind of man," and "light of truth." B.H. Roberts does not comment on the nature or mode or manner of subsistence of this form of existence. But Elder Roberts does talk about the necessary qualities of existence including self-awareness (sentience), ability to recognize self vs. other (individuality), and ability to recognized, judge, and desire light over darkness (will), and self-determination to a limited extent (agency).

Again, much of this is Elder Roberts opinion at the time. But the important concept here is that some element of our existence that is uncreated, self-existent. The reason that the eternal nature of man is important is that God can not be the author and creator of evil. If God made Lucifer who became Satan, then 1. He messed up, 2. He is guilty of giving Satan his will, knowing what he would do with it. 3. Or God rolls the dice and didn't know. God didn't create evil. Satan himself is called the Father of lies.

Because the intelligence, will, or mind of man is self-existent and co-eternal with God, the mind of Satan has always existed and was not created. Therefore, God is not responsible for Satan's rebellion and God is not responsible for our rebellion. God did not give Satan will. Satan possessed will as an inherent characteristic of self-existence. God did know exactly what Satan would do, but gave Lucifer free agency and every opportunity to choose rightly. Satan did not, and only Satan is to blame.

The Bible says that God is said to have made everything "that was made" both visible and invisible. But this suggests that not all things required making. It is also important that if man can truly realize immortality and eternal life then that life would have to exist infinitely forwards and backwards and have no beginning or end.

Another important point is the transition from intelligence to spirit. A few comments from current and past prophets and apostles have spoken of intelligence being clothed with a spirit body. There are even less comments on the mechanism. But the important point the Elder Roberts makes is that whatever the mechanism, the act in making us spirit children of God was an act of generation and not just organization or creation. Generation specifically implies that the very nature of the parent is imbued, endowed, and instilled in the offspring. Whether this occurs through a physical process or the mechanism of divine parenting or both, it doesn't matter. What matters is that God is the literal Father of Spirits, and we are His Spirit Offspring who are composed of the same essence and substance as God Himself and therefore can be endowed with all of our Father's characteristics, powers, and abilities. This power of pro-creation as well as reproduction is what makes God the Only True and Living God and not just the existing God.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Foundation Doctrine and Testimony

There has been considerable debate on the Internet among LDS and our friends of other Christian faiths about what constitutes official LDS Doctrine and what does not. The First Presidency of the LDS Church has released an official statement that reads that not everything a church leader has said on any occasion is necessarily official church doctrine. Instead, some teachings fall under the category of "well-meaning opinion." The criteria for doctrine by the LDS church according to this official statement is that the teaching should be clearly found in LDS scripture, in current LDS Sunday School Manuals, in official First Presidency statements, and/or repeated multiple times by past and present General Authorities of the LDS Church at General Conference and in current church publications such as the Ensign.

Some Christians of other faiths seem to have a difficult time with this statement because the LDS claim its General Authorities are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators like the Apostles and Prophets in the Bible. They tend to expect that these men should be infallible. But the LDS church does not teach a doctrine of infallibility of its leaders. The LDS church teaches that on the whole the Prophet and the majority of the Apostles would never lead the church astray. In other words, not everything said (as we understand it) is necessarily true just because of who these men are. But, if truth is to be revealed by God to man, we know where to look because the Prophets and Apostles of the LDS church hold the keys and authority to receive revelation for the whole church.

That brings up another important issue about the difference between core doctrine and opinion. And that has to do with individual testimony and a personal witness of truth by the Holy Ghost. See, the LDS church does not expect its members to blindly follow our leadership. Every member is expected to pray and ask God if the foundation doctrines of the LDS faith are true and are promised that if we ask with faith that God will reveal the truth of these foundation doctrines to the asker by the Power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, investigators of the LDS church are specifically asked before they are baptized if they have received such a witness and testimony as a prerequisite for baptism. This is done so that the individual member will have an independent witness that the doctrine is true directly from God Himself with no intermediary but Christ. By these means, the individual member develops a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who is our only mediator with the Father. Church leadership assist members with our relationship with Christ and help point us too Christ, but Christ is the only mediator between man and the Father.

So, how does this apply to the conversation with those of other faiths? Some have gone to great effort to scour LDS archives or archival publications such as "Journal of Discourses" and expect LDS to defend any quote they dig up. In some cases, some quotes in older books like "Journal of Discourses" and Orson Pratt's "the Seer" have taken a life of their own. Because some of these quotes are over 100 years old, and have not been commented on by more modern church leaders, it is difficult in many cases to even understand the true meaning and intent of the quote. In fact, many former-LDS I have talked to who question some of these teachings confess that they did not hear these teachings by the missionaries, from LDS scripture, from official LDS Sunday School Manuals, during weekly LDS church services, from current General Authorities of the LDS church in General Conference or in the Ensign (Official monthly LDS publication) or the LDS temple. They routinely say they read it or discovered it on their own.

But there is a more important issue here. And that issue is one of testimony. It is difficult for some to realize that to the LDS, there is a hierarchy of what we know to be true. Others think that everything the LDS church leaders say should exist on the same level. However, LDS believe what we believe because we feel that God Himself has revealed and confirmed to us that certain things are true by the Holy Spirit. What are those things? They are the foundation doctrines of the church such as that God Lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are God's word, that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that the authority of Christ's church was lost from the Earth and priesthood authority was again restored to Joseph Smith and God continues to call Prophets and Apostles today and continues to reveal His will and word through modern prophets.

Now, it is much easier for LDS to discuss any of these issues because we feel we have a testimony and spiritual witness of them. However, when it comes to other esoteric topics that routinely come up in discussion, it is more difficult because although we might have heard the quotes before, we don't necessarily have a divinely acquired witness and testimony that they are true or that we understand what the original intent of the quote. So, we say that such-and-such a quote in not doctrinal and should be considered a well-intended, well-meaning opinion. What adds to the debate is that often, LDS and non-LDS interpret these quotes differently and both sides lack modern, official commentary on these older quotes by Brigham Young or Orson Pratt, for example.

After assigning a particular quote to the level of "well-meaning opinion," The non-LDS often asks how can we consider so-and-so a prophet or apostle and not accept everything they say as absolute, universal, inviolate, inerrant, infallible truth? The reason is that our testimony and belief in Christ does not come from a faith in these leaders alone. Our testimony in Christ and His gospel comes from a spiritual witness from God through the Holy Spirit through prayer to Our Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Consequently, there are many topics which individual members have not received a spiritual witness on. We may have a spiritual witness from God that Brigham Young was a prophet so, anything Brigham Young says we will keep in consideration. But until more modern Prophets and Apostles comment on the particular quote in question or I receive a personal witness on a certain topic or about certain specific quote, I really cannot defend them.

I consider such quotes to be well-meaning opinion. In other words, because I believe Brigham Young was a true prophet, I will not outright reject what he said, but without personal revelation, I can neither support or reject the quote. I do try to point out if I think someone, who asks about a quote or teaching, is misinterpreting the quote and I will often give my opinion to help that person understand the context of the teaching. But in many cases, the teaching could be true as we understand it, or it could be inaccurate as we understand it, or maybe we misunderstand what is being said entirely. But the quotes themselves are not going to affect my belief in the LDS faith, because my belief is based on my trust in God alone and my testimony of truth in the core doctrines of the LDS faith which I have received through study, pondering, fasting, prayer, and revelation by God through His Holy Spirit.

There are those which read this and say that while these topics are not core doctrine today, they were the core doctrine then, and the early church members sacrificed to defend them and how could I turn my back on those teachings that the early church members believed in so much they gave their lives for them. Truth is that the core, fundamental doctrines of the church haven't changed.

My wife's has 3/4-th pioneer ancestry, and 1/4-th converted Missouri Mobbocrat ancestry. This ancestry includes surviving members of the Martin and Willie Handcart Company. According to their recorded journals and testimony (which I have and have read), they were converted by the same foundation doctrines that I was. They bore testimony of the same foundation teaching that I do. They were converted based on a spiritual witness that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Book of Mormon is God's word, and Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and was called as a modern-day prophet. I didn't read any testimony by them based on the pet-topics I often hear on the Internet such as blood atonement, or Adam-God. I don't know of anyone who joined the church because of polygamy either. If LDS testimony is conditioned and automatic, then I would expect early LDS members to be testifying of Adam-God right along with everything else if it was such a core doctrine. Fact is, they don't. A good sign that the theory is completely contrived or a grave misunderstanding is that these odd teachings are not taught by other church leadership contemporary with Brigham Young and they are not found in early LDS testimonies.

Again, my evidence against theories like Adam-God and Blood Atonement being core doctrines is that no contemporaries of Brigham Young taught it and no early LDS member mentioned it in their testimony. If LDS testimony is as conditioned and automatic as some claim, then I would expect testimonies back then like "I would like to bare my testimony.... i know the church is true .... I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet ..... I know that the Adam is God .... I know that murderers must confess their sin and have their blood shed on the ground to be saved .... etc."

With regard to polygamy. These ancestors accepted the practice of polygamy only because they had a witness of the other truths of the gospel. The practice was a trial of their faith. And only because of this testimony, did the early Saints accepted that God required polygamy. In the same way, because of my testimony, I accept that God no longer requires that practice.

13 Articles of Faith

1. We believe in God the Eternal Father, the Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.

These 3 persons or 3 beings of the God Head constitute one God by being one in purpose. This is slightly different than the Nicene Creed Trinity Doctrine. Joseph Smith at 14 years of age after reading in the Bible and pondering about which Christian church he should join went into a grove of trees and there while praying saw a vision of the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. In that vision Joseph Smith saw a a bright pillar of light and two personages in that light and one spoke to him calling him by name and said pointing to the other, "This is my beloved son, Hear him". The second personage who stood at the right hand of the first told Joseph Smith to join none of the churches because while they had a form of godliness, none possessed the keys, power and priesthood authority. This is like what the disciple Stephen saw who looked up into heaven and saw after being overshadowed or transfigured by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of the Father.

2. We believe that men are punished for their own sins and not Adams transgression.

All curses, and consequences of Adam including death are overcome by Christs atoning sacrifice. "While In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive". This is the unconditional part of Christs sacrifice. All men and women will be brought back to stand before God and make an accounting of our life.

3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

We are saved by grace 100%. But Christ doesn't just save us in our sins but from our sins and as we give God our whole souls will be empowered to choose rightly. While we do not contribute one iota to our own salvation without Christ. We are blessed to participate and witness the miraculous power of Christ as we are empowered to repent of sin as we come unto Christ. Christ just doesn't sweep our sins under the rug but purifies us and purges sin from us by His power.

4. We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and fourth the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This is how Christ has said we accept Him and enter into an everlasting covenant with Him. We must begin with faith, as we exercise faith we will be empowered to begin to repent of sin. We then can be baptized by water which is a promise to always remember Christ and strive to keep His commandments and serve Him. Then comes the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Those who are baptized are blessed by the laying on of hands to "receive the Holy Ghost". The reception of the Holy Ghost depends on us and our obedience to it's still small voice in our heart and mind. As we listen and obey, the power of Gods spirit will grow brighter and brighter within us. We don't have to be perfect at the beginning to merit the Spirit. Christ merits it for us and we are justified by His sacrifice. But as we listen to the spirit and accept it and give our while souls to God the Holy Spirit will purify and sanctify us and live after the manner of happiness.

5. We believe that a man is called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.

Christ taught that unless a man is re-born of water and spiritually born again of God or baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, he can not enter into the kingdom of God. But who can baptize and confer the Holy Ghost on another by the laying on of hands. Christ gave Peter and the other Apostles and his 70 Elders or disciples the keys of the kingdom of heaven that whatsoever they bound on Earth would be bound in heaven or whomsoever they baptized on Earth, that act was valid in heaven with God. This priesthood authority to act in Gods name was lost from the Earth after the death and martyrdom of the first Apostles. Consequently we see the world fall into the Dark Ages. However, God would prepare the works for a restoration of His church and authority through Joseph Smith beginning with the inspired Protestant reformers and Founding Fathers who laid the foundation of America where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could be restored. Although the church was persecuted and despite state authorized extermination orders, mobbings were driven from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and then finally to the safety of the Rocky Mountains.

Although inspired, the Protestant reformers recognized they had no priesthood authority like the Catholic Church claimed descended through an unbroken line through the Popes. Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who is the founder of the Methodist church, criticized his brother ordaining male and female pastors by writing "how easily are priests made by men and women's whim. Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid, but who laid hands on him?"

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church. Namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth.

When Christ was on the Earth and established His church, he set it up with an organizational body who possessed keys of authority. There was a chief Apostle Peter who held the keys and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood under Jesus Christ Himself who is our Great High Priest and leader of the Church. There seemed to be an important executive body comprised of Peter, James and John. Therefore, the LDS church also has a head Apostles who is referred to as president of the church and as Prophet. And to assist him, the prophet has 2 other councilors who are also Apostles just like Peter had James and John.

Below them is the quorum of 12 Apostles who are to be traveling ministers and special witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world. And below them are groups of 70 Elders who assist the 12 Apostles establish the church in all the world. Christ as well as Moses called 70 Elders. There has been an an interesting archaeological discovery recently in Rahib, Jordan of the first known Christian Church. The church has a mosaic dedicated to "the 70 beloved of God, and divine."

Christ's church also had Bishops or Pastors over individual congregations, teachers, and missionaries.The importance of a church with a central leadership is for uniformity of doctrine. During the NT times, there was a debate over circumcision. To resolve the question, Peter, Paul and the other Apostles and Elders came together to decide the issue through inspiration. In the same way the Constitution has the Supreme Court to determine how it is to be interpreted; Christ's church has a hierarchy to settle issues of doctrine and proper Bible interpretation.

However, while the prophets and Apostles have the authority to receive revelation for the whole church, the individual has the Holy Ghost and can be ordained to the same priesthood and has the same rights to receive revelation for himself and for those he has stewardship or responsibility over. It seems some want to make a false dichotomy between individual access to God and church government. They are not mutually exclusive. You can have both work together. LDS believe in the priesthood of all believers, but we actually ordain all worthy males to the priesthood. We have no professional clergy and fathers bless, baptize, and confirm their own family members and can be called as bishop or Apostle or whatever other calling at any time as God reveals His will.

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelations, healings, visions, interpretation of tongues and so forth.

With the gift of the Holy Ghost comes a belief in the signs and miracles of the Holy Spirit. LDS usually don't talk about these or make them public but record these experiences and miracles in their personal journals. But the Bible prophesies that signs should follow those who believe and the LDS church benefits from the blessings of a loving Father in Heaven who answers prayer in sometimes marvelous fashion.

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

We believe the Bible to be the word of God. The part about being translated correctly means as far as it is "interpreted" correctly. Obviously, the Bible is inerrant as it was given from God to prophets. But since then there are hundreds of Bible translations and even more Bible interpretations. So, the Bible is the word of God as long as it is "interpreted" correctly. The LDS believe the Bible 100%. like other Christian religions we don't pick and choose what we do and don't believe. We believe that through the Book of Mormon we understand how to interpret the Bible more correctly than any other church. The Book of Mormon and the Bible do not contradict each other at all but support each other. If some tell you they are contradictory, it is because they mis-interpret the Book of Mormon or the Bible or both. We find no contradiction.

What is the Book of Mormon? About 600 BC in Israel during the time of Jeremiah the prophet, God called many prophets to call Israel to repentance before the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the captivity of the Jews. Another such prophets was a man named Lehi who was from the tribe of Joseph (one of the 12 sons of Israel or Jacob). Lehi was led to America with his family and formed a modest but advanced civilization here on the American Continent. God continued to call prophets among these people. The interesting thing about these people is that they were Jews and practiced the Law of Moses but they were Christian and understood that the Law of Moses pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Then after the death of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Christ appeared to these people in America and taught very similar teachings here as He had in Israel to these "other sheep." However, 400 years after Christ this civilization which was really 2 competing societies, which have yet to be identified in the archaeological record, fell apart and disappeared. The people called the Nephites and Lamanites who are named after sons of the prophet Lehi, rejected Christ and died off and were absorbed by other peoples due to fighting and wars among themselves. So, in a way the Book of Mormon could be considered a collection of lost books of the Bible. The most important message of the Book is that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and Savior of the World, and the only way by which man can inherit eternal life.

Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon the most correct book ever written. How is the Book of Mormon the "most correct?" Joseph Smith wasn't talking about grammar or history. This correctness refers to the clarity of meaning and the lack of doctrinal ambiguity in the Book of Mormon. This is in contrast to the Bible which, because of ambiguous language as a result of translation, has produced thousands of Christian denominations and non-denominations. While there are a few off-shoots from the LDS faith, none is a result of a disagreement concerning a teaching in the Book of Mormon.

9. We believe all that God has revealed. We believe all that God does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal, many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

At the close of the Book of Revelations is some important verses which warn about adding and subtracting to the "prophecy of this book." Notice that "prophecy" and "book" are singular. And that the Bible was not compiled in its current form until hundreds of years later and the Book of Revelations was only arbitrarily placed at the end of the Bible even though John wrote his epistles after writing the Book of Revelations. Therefore, while it is important not to Add or Subtract to Gods word, these verses are speaking of the prophecy of John's Book of Revelation (singular) and not the many prophesies, and many books of the Bible. This shouldn't be construed as some magical statement that says, that's it, no more, the Bible and the heavens are sealed and closed and there is to be no more from God. He ain't talking to us any more.

Therefore as Amos says, "surely the Lord God will do nothing but he reavealeth his secret to his servants the prophets" Therefore, since many things will happen in preparation for the second coming of Christ, while the exact time of Christ's coming "no man knoweth," many important things will be revealed to man to continue to call man to repentance and prepare us for Christ's coming.

The Prophet and Apostles operate in a very distinct way in comparison to how the Traditional Christian Creeds were established. When the LDS leaders decide an issue, they may actually assign different members to argue for or against the different sides of an issue. They study the issue out and make it matter of prayer and fasting. Then when the unifying spirit of inspiration comes, they are in agreement about what to do. There is no voting in the same way we choose senators or vote for president. And they do not act until there is unanimity. Doesn't it make sense if everyone is asking God on an issue, God would answer everyone with the same answer?

But that is not what happened during the Catholic Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, and Trent and Constantinople where the so-called Traditional Orthodox Creeds were produced. At these councils, religious scholars came together and debated, and then voted and doctrine was established on 5-4 spit decisions and not unanimity. Kinda like Roe v. Wade. The problem with operating like this, is that it created schisms and division of the church. And so you immediately see that these ecumenical councils which sought to unify the Christian Church, immediately became fractured as the Eastern Orthodox split off and then the Protestant churches as there was a particular doctrine or set of doctrines that a group did not agree with.

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the 12 tribes, that the New Jerusalem with be built upon the American continent and that Christ will reign personally upon the Earth and the Earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.

This Article of Faith deals with End-times prophesies. The LDS faith believes that the 12 tribes of Israel will be identified and restored in a literal way to Jerusalem in Israel. We believe in the Second Coming of Christ to the Earth and that Christ's church in America will be gathered together to a New Jerusalem during the tribulation while those of Israel will be gathered together in Old Jerusalem. But after that period, Christ will reign 1000 years on the Earth and the Earth will be in a more glorified and paradisaical state at that time. "The meek shall inherit the Earth"

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all man that same privilege; let them worship how, where or what they may.

We respect the freedom of religion and believe that no coercion should be used to force people into a belief but that belief should be of a result of free will and choice.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates.and in obeying honoring and sustaining the law.

We respect that the freedom of religion is protected by government and "those who obey the laws of God, need not disobey the laws of the land" Therefore, LDS are encouraged to be law-abiding, active participants and productive citizens in our communities and our country even to the defending of our country with our lives if called upon by our governments. But in the Millennium we have the hope that our swords will be "turned into plowshares" and man "will not learn war any more."

13. We believe in being honest, true, chase, benevolent, virtuous; and in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say that we follow, the admonition of Paul; we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything, virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

It is hard to nail down our doctrine to just 12 or 13 statements. As some churches have a defining belief that sets them apart from the other churches, the LDS church is not easily pigeon-holed by just one distinct belief. LDS consider themselves to be pure seekers of truth, and if there is truth out there, we claim it as part of our religion.

Sealing in the Forehead

In preparation for the tribulation, John in Revelations says God will seal His people in their forehead as a protection against the calamities prophesied to come about before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the Earth.

Rev. 7: 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. What is this sealing that will occur before the tribulation?
Rev. 9: 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. This sealing seems to be a protection from the tribulation
Rev. 7: 9, 13-14 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Those in white robes are the same who are sealed. notice they come out of the great tribulation.

Rev. 1: 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 5: 9-10 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

This same group that are sealed, dressing in a white robe, and come from every kindred, tongue and people, and nation are made kings and priests unto God.

Rev. 17: 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

This same group are called, chosen and faithful

Heb. 5: 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

This honor is the priesthood. No man taketh it unto himself but needs to be called as was Aaron. How was Aaron called? He was called by prophecy and by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4: 14). But also, he was also washed and annointed, dressed in the undergarments and robes of the priesthood to serve in the temple.

Ezek 37:26-28 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Those that are prepared for the tibulation are sealed in their forehead, and dressed in a white robe, and called and chosen as was Aaron to serve in the temple day and night (Rev. 7: 15). When the sactuary (temple) is built in the Last Days. This temple will not be an Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood or Law of Moses Temple. There will be no blood sacrifice in modern Christian temples. This temple will be where the kings and priests of God will serve will administer the everlasting covenant of the Everlasting Melchesidek priesthood which involves admistering the infinite sacrifice of Christ, and the covenanting, consecration, and offering of our whole souls, a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God.

Heb. 7: 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?