Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm A Mormon

That's a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints. Although this matters greatly to me, I've never thought it really mattered to you. I'm just a combination of my own experiences, study, upbringing, and faith, the same as everybody is, and if you like me I'm thrilled, and if you don't, you don't. (Actually, it hurts my feelings if people don't like me, but I try to be mature about it.)

Anyway, with the whole Mitt Romney thing going on and my love of politics, I find myself watching newscasters and reading columnists defining me in totally inaccurate ways. I get defensive and sometimes yell at the TV and wonder about the media's sources. So, I decided to define myself. I'm not speaking for the LDS Church, or Mormons everywhere or anything. It says in Matthew that "ye shall know them by their fruits" and I'm as fruity as anyone, so I'll tell you (in a nutshell) what I believe.

First, let me say we believe that people have the right to worship "according to the dictates of their own conscience...let them worship how, when or what they may." That's one of our Articles of Faith. I believe it wholeheartedly, so I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything or change any one's mind. (I know we're famous for zealous missionary work, but people can get a little over enthusiastic about sharing, in my opinion.)

Here's where I'm coming from: I've gone to church my whole life, at least once a week and twice on Sunday. I've been taught by parents and leaders who believe our doctrine. Our church has a lay clergy, which means nobody went to theology school and nobody gets paid. We all serve as teachers, music leaders, and administrators of children's and teenage programs, Sunday School, the men's and women's organizations and everything that goes with those responsibilities. We're all taught to study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other good books at church and as families, which gave me a great foundation for learning on my own. I played the piano in Sunday School when I was 12, and started teaching 3-year-olds when I was 16, and I've served in the church, and attended church all the time since then. I think my 58 years of experience gives me the right to say what Mormons believe.
  1. We believe in a literal God. I pray to Him, I know he knows me and hears my prayers because I've had answers.
  2. We believe in Jesus Christ. I have studied his teachings in the New Testament, and I try to live the way he taught, and serve and love others as he demonstrated. That makes me a follower, or a disciple. In Acts 11:26, disciples were called Christians. We are Christians. I get SO angry and frustrated when the media says we're not...(very un-Christian-like, I know.)
  3. We believe in the Holy Ghost. We believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are separate beings. The Holy Ghost is a spirit that testifies of Christ, teaches us personally, prompts us to do the right thing, reminds us not to do the wrong thing, warns us and comforts us. Jesus called him "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," in John 14:26. He reveals truth to us individually. We refer to it as personal revelation, which is a feeling, or a knowledge in our hearts and minds of what we ought to do in a given situation. I've experienced that as answers to my prayers, and at other times. It's very quiet, but sure. Other people might call it intuition, deja vu, or a premonition.
  4. We believe that God wants us to be happy. That is why he has given us commandments. The commandments are not a bunch of arbitrary rules. They are to protect us from unhappiness, and lead us in a direction that will bring us joy and peace.
    It's like a parent telling a child that under no circumstance should he climb on the railing. It's a commandment. The kid might think it looks fun, and besides, other kids do it and nothing happens to them. The parent knows that the child could experience pain, and suffering. When the child is more experienced, he will realize that the rule was for his protection, not to limit his freedom, or make him a dork.
  5. We believe that we are children of God and he loves us. I grew up with a father who loved me, and wanted to protect me and give me opportunities, so I can understand God as a loving Heavenly Father. Others who grew up with very strict, or cruel fathers might imagine God with that personality. As I have read His words, I have come to know Him (like we get to know other authors) and as I have prayed sincerely to Him, I have felt His presence and His love. That's how I know it. Not because others have told me, but because I've experienced it myself. God is good.
  6. "We believe that the family is ordained of God, that marriage between one man and one woman is central to His plan. We believe that children are entitled to birth between the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." (from The Family Proclamation)
  7. We believe in forgiveness and repentance. That assumes that we aren't all following all the principles and practices we have been taught. It's REALLY ANNOYING to have my church judged by all the imperfect people who are members!!! Don't Catholics or Presbyterians ever sin??? Just because we're a bunch of hypocrites like everyone else, why do we get all the news coverage? (Forgive me.)
  8. We believe in eternal life. That means we lived before we were born and that we live after we die. If this wasn't a principle in my faith, I would have made it up for myself. I can't fathom believing anything else.
  9. We believe that nobody is going to hell just because they didn't hear about Jesus in this life, or because they died before they were baptized. Everybody gets a chance. Life may not be fair, but eternity is.
  10. We believe in searching out good things: good books, good ideas, good people. I know that God inspires people of all races, religions, backgrounds and political parties (I'll tell you that I am a Democrat, since I'm letting it all hang out) with impressions of how they can make the world better. "God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)
This was a pretty big nutshell...more a coconut shell. But these are a few of the things that define me. I'm a believer.

(I'll wrap this up on tomorrow's post.)

What defines you?

21 comments:

mama jo said...

wow!! that was great..you explained it wonderfully...

Heed said...

Yeah... that's a great summation. You need to market wallet-sized versions.
PS, I love your new illustrations. They are perfect for you!

Anonymous said...

I understand that you believe that there is a mother god and father god and Jesus is a created being from these two. That Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. That you believe in eternal progression and that the path is there for Mormons to also become gods. These doctrines are outside the norm of orthodox Christianity. So it's important that this be articulated.

gab said...

Amen to everything you said...

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Well said, Oma. I think you're brave to put your religion right out there on your sleeve. If everyone had the courage to do the same, maybe there wouldn't be so many people out there with incorrect information. Loved it!

Anonymous said...

I loved hearing about your beliefs, it is inspiring and I think I will read more on this subject. Everything you write is so articulate. It explains many questions I have had.

Granny Annie said...

This is the United States of America. We do not have to explain or defend our faith. We live in a country where we simply worship as we choose and allow others to do the same. I refuse to expalin or defend my personal beliefs. I do not require you to explain yours. Where did all this mix of politics and religion happen? Not one single political candidate should be judged on religious beliefs -- they should be judged on their history, concern and ability to keep my freedom of religion and their ability to protect the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all American citizens. Once again, the quote of my blog clearly states, "Faith is what holds us together while religion tears us apart."

Betty said...

I found this very interesting and educational. When I was working, I found myself in a situation where, (I finally realized) I was considered to be an atheist just because I didn't go around telling everyone I was a Christian. This, I think, is a direct result of the comingling of politics and religion.

kenju said...

I don't disagree with anything you said - and I particularly like #'s 8,9 and 10.

I like the new look here.

MissKris said...

I never look at the religion or lack of religion in anyone I care to associate with. After having been as far from God as anyone can be when I worshipped satan to being a Christian the past almost-31 years, the creed I live by in my own life is "What would Jesus do?" Jesus loved the souls of everyone and I try to do the same. I don't think I've ever been guilty of not liking someone because of or how they choose to have/not have some sort of religious beliefs. I've had several Mormon friends thru the years. My grandfather once told me, "Kristine, there are two things you should never discuss with people. Politics and religion." And I don't. We can 'talk' all we want, but if we don't LIVE what we TALK, whether religious or political, we'll be seen for what we are...hypocrites.

Celia Fae said...

Your anonymous #1 is on top of it. Sounds like they are past the first discussion....

I'm catching up on blogging and wanted to say thanks for stopping by and saying hi!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm going under anonymous, but a Mormon friend reads your blog and I don't want to have missionaries sent to my door.

That said, I'm fascinated to hear your beliefs. They sound much more mainstream than I've thought.

Sam'sClub said...

I don't usually comment on the blogs I read, but I had to this time. Who defined "Orthodox Christianity?" Is it a special club trying to keep people out? I vote to let in anyone who recognizes Jesus as their exemplar.

windywendy said...

i've investigated a few religions, including Mormonism....they all seem to have a lot of good...and they all have some unbelievable aspects, too...i guess that's why they require faith...

Miggs said...

Oma,

Religious beliefs, at their root, are simple -- a set of personal beliefs based upon one's life experiences. When folks belong to organized religions, it's easy for others to categorize these individuals based on the group's set of beliefs, for better or worse. These categories may not "sync" with everyone's individual beliefs in that group.

Regarding comment #3, while "orthodox Christianity" may not categorically accept every individual's or church's beliefs, Jesus Christ extends his hands to all. That is what is truly important. Those that are wrapped up in pointing out differences, putting up barriers and labelling the "other", are missing out on Christ's ultimate message of loving one another.

Anonymous said...

Lurker here. I salute freedom of speech. Good post.

Marty said...

This post sure attracted the anonymous crowd! I've decided to be efficient and turn my response into today's blog. See you there!

Anonymous said...

I'm not even a Mormon... but I think that you're awesome, sister. WOW.

Praise the Lord!

anna jo said...

amen, sista-friend. amen.

Shay said...

Hi Oma~

I'm Shay. I love your post. As far as being a Christian...well, obviously anyone who follows Christ and recognizes Him to be who He said He was... is a Christian. I lived in Utah for 12 years. My husband was an Elders Quorum President in Alaska a long time ago. Long story short. I know that according to the Mormon doctrine, Satan is Jesus's brother. Jesus is the God of this world in the same way that anybody can become a God of their own world if they fill all the Mormon requirements.
You sound like a wonderful person, Oma. According to the Bible you say you believe in, Jesus is actually the creator of this world...the light of the world. I believe you believe in the Bible. I just didn't want people to get confused about who Jesus was and is.

Take care!
Shay

Travelin'Oma said...

Some of these comments are interesting to me. I'll expound a little bit:

We believe that God is the Father of all spirits (everyone) so Jesus and Lucifer are brothers in that sense.

God presented a plan to all of his spirit children (us) which included sending us to earth to gain a body and experience. Knowing we would make mistakes, He explained we would need a Savior. God asked who would volunteer to save the world. Lucifer said he would do it. His plan was a plan to force everyone to follow him, and he wanted the glory.

Jesus said he would do it by allowing everyone to choose (and therefore grow) and the glory would go to God. Jesus was chosen to be the ONLY begotten Son of God, having been born of Mary (a mortal mother) and God, the Eternal Father. Lucifer was angry and was cast out of God's presence. His new purpose was to destroy God's plan and get us to follow him. He and his followers will never be allowed to be with God again.

Jesus was chosen to create the world under the direction of God. Then he came to earth to experience all that we would experience in life.

While he was on earth he taught principles that would bring us happiness and help us reach our potential: eternal progression (always learning, growing, becoming better, living with our Heavenly Father forever.)

Jesus organized his church, The Church of Jesus Christ, with his apostles at the head of the church. After some time all the apostles died and the teachings of Jesus Christ became confused. Some important principles were changed or forgotten totally and some were kept and passed down through the generations.

Joseph Smith was confused about which of the many churches were true. He read in the Bible that he could pray for guidance. When he did, Jesus and God (two personages) appeared to him. God said, "This is my beloved son, Jesus Christ. Hear him."

Then Jesus told Joseph Smith that His gospel had been changed over the centuries and that while there was a lot of truth in many churches, the whole truth was not to be found in any one church. It would need to be restored in its fullness.

Angels were sent over the next several years to restore the original gospel of Jesus Christ and give the authority (Priesthood) that Jesus had given his apostles when he lived on earth.

Many of the teachings were familiar to Joseph Smith and his followers who had belonged to other Christian churches. Some ideas were clarified and some things seemed new.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not an off-shoot of another Christian church, which is why people claim we are not part of orthodox Christianity. It IS the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ as he originally taught it, which is why we claim to be Christians in the truest sense of the word.

We are taught to study out every principle of the gospel and then pray about it. We believe that God hears and answers our prayers, and when we are sincere, we get a manifestation in our hearts from the Holy Ghost about the truth of what we're asking God. That is a promise to everyone.

I'd advise anyone who is seriously wondering about LDS church teachings to get the facts about our doctrine from a legitimate source (lds.org or missionaries and church members everywhere in the world) and study them out. Read the scriptures. You don't have to rely on what anyone else says. Sincerely ask God what is true. He'll tell you.