What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #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.

In Ezekiel 37:16-17 we read, “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe The Holy Bible to be the stick of Judah and The Book of Mormon to be the stick of Ephraim to which Ezekiel here refers.  We do not consider The Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible.  In fact, in every formal reference to the two, the Bible is listed first.  We consider them both to be very sacred companions to one another in declaring that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World.  As such companions, these sacred writings fulfill the law of witnesses to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Because the Bible has been translated many times throughout the years, it is inevitable that translation errors have occurred.  These errors have mostly been unintentional and simply due to the fallibility of man.  For instance, consider the verses found in 1 Chronicles 21:15 which say: And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

This verse seems to imply that the Lord repented of his evil, but the Lord has no evil in him.  Thus, we believe that this was a translation error that should have read:  And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it. And the angel stretched forth his hand unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and God said to the angel, Stay now thine hand, it is enough; for as he was destroying, the Lord beheld Israel, that he repented him of the evil; therefore the Lord stayed the angel that destroyed, as he stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan, the Jebusite.

This helps to clarify that it was not the Lord who repented of evil, but rather that the Lord stayed the hand of the angel because Israel had repented of his evil.  Therefore, ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…’

I have read The Book of Mormon, many, many times throughout my life, often side by side with The Holy Bible.  I can testify of the miraculous spirit I have felt as I have gleaned many important truths from both of these books and have striven to apply their eternal principles in my life.  They indeed testify that Jesus Christ is truly the Messiah–a truth for which I am profoundly grateful.

Please take time to watch this very short video with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as he explains our love for both The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon.

To learn more about The Book of Mormon, please read ‘Safety for the Soul‘ by Jeffrey R. Holland and my previous post ‘What is The Book of Mormon?‘.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #9–Mormon beliefs regarding revelation.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What is The Book of Mormon?

The Book of MormonRecently, ‘The Book of Mormon’ has received a lot of attention because of the Tony Award-winning production ‘The Book of Mormon’.  Although perhaps entertaining, I assume the production did little in helping its audience to understand exactly what ‘The Book of Mormon’ really is.  Therefore, it is still the source of a great deal of misunderstanding.  For instance, there are those who believe that for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons), ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a substitute for the Bible (see ‘Are Mormons Christian?’ to learn why we are referred to as Mormons).  Actually, this could not be further from the truth.  Because ‘The Book of Mormon’ has played such a key role in my own life, I would like to help others understand what it is and why we, as a church, consider it to be sacred.

‘The Book of Mormon’ is a volume of scripture that is comparable to the Bible.  Just as The New Testament is a record of Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Holy Land, ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.  It was actually written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  Their words were written on gold plates and eventually quoted and abridged by the ancient prophet-historian Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations.  One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites.  The other, the Jaredites, came much earlier at the time the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection.  During His mortal ministry, Jesus stated in John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  We believe that the Nephites on the American continent were among those to whom He referred in this statement.

After Mormon completed his abridgement of the record, he gave the plates to his son, Moroni, who wrote a few more words and then buried the plates in the hill Cumorah.  On September 21, 1823, this same Moroni, then a glorified resurrected being, appeared to Joseph Smith giving him instructions regarding the translation of the ancient record into English.  In due time, the record was delivered to Joseph Smith who translated them by the gift and power of God.  The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the law and ordinances of the gospel may be saved.

We, therefore, cherish ‘The Book of Mormon’ as a companion to the Bible witnessing that Jesus is indeed the Christ.  It fulfills the law of witnesses found in the Bible and repeated by Jesus in Mathew 18:16 “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  I can testify that as I have read both ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘The Holy Bible’ side by side, I have felt a confirming power that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior and my Redeemer.  Therefore, I can add my own witness that “the [Broadway] production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”  I am grateful for the blessing it has been to me and my family.

For More about ‘The Book of Mormon’ see this wonderful message by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:  ‘Safety for the Soul.

Reference:  ‘The Book of Mormon’ Introduction page.

Coming up:  With the 2012 Presidential Campaign having two Mormon Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, there is and will be more talk about Mormons.  But, what do Mormons really believe?  If you are interested in learning more about Mormon beliefs in a ‘non-threatening’ manner, over the next few months I will be posting a weekly discussion regarding basic Mormon beliefs.  These doctrines come from a document known as ‘The Articles of Faith’.   The ‘Articles of Faith’ help people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to understand how our Church is different from other churches. ‘The Articles of Faith’ do not contain all of the teachings and beliefs of the Church, but they do explain some of our most important beliefs.  Each week I will focus on one of the thirteen articles contained in the document with a very short discussion following each one.  I will also, at times, provide links for further information.  I welcome your comments and questions, but ask if you leave comments that you do so in a respectful manner.  Otherwise, I will not approve them for publication.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

The Return Home

I love the parable in the New Testament known as The Prodigal Son.  It is a story that all of us would do well to study whether one is religious or not.  It is a wonderful story about the love a father has for his son, even a disobedient son who in essence has mocked his father and spit in his face.  There are three main characters in this story, the father, the older brother, and, of course, the prodigal son.  I think to fully appreciate the multitude of lessons to be gleaned from it, we have to read it at least three times, for it is not enough to focus on just one of the characters.  We must read it each time imagining ourselves in the role of each one of them.  How does the story change depending on the perspective of each individual?

I would hope that each of us can relate to the prodigal himself.  It may seem strange to hope for such a thing, but I suppose that if we cannot envision ourselves in such a role, we are not being honest with ourselves, for who among us has not stood in need of forgiveness?  Who of us has not wronged another human being, even someone we love a great deal?  Who has not made a fool of themselves at some time in their life?  Who of us has not felt remorse of conscience for an unthoughtful act that has caused one we love such agonizing pain?  What does it mean to us when the one so injured is willing to accept us with open arms and doesn’t hold back any of his love?  I believe we have all found ourselves in such a position.  Our heart aches, we know we are undeserving of such acceptance, and we, with our head bowed in shame, return like the prodigal to his father.  Can you imagine the utter surprise and joy the prodigal felt as his father came running to him and embraced him with tears and kisses?   It is a thought that causes me to weep with gratitude for those who have played the role of the father in my life and for one who is my father eternally.

After imagining ourselves in the role of the prodigal, we then, perhaps, are ready to take on the role of the elder brother.  We all know he was justified in his feelings toward his younger brother.  After all, he had been a good son.  He had done all of which his father had asked him.  While his brother was out making a disgrace of the family name, wasting his inheritance, and living the ‘good’ life, he was acting responsibly.  Is it fair then that his father would welcome his younger brother back so willingly?  Of course not!  Have we not each played the role of the elder brother in our lives?  Perhaps we have seen those who in their immaturity or rebelliousness have not followed the rules.  Maybe they have wandered off in strange roads until they finally came to the realization that they were not living the ‘good’ life after all.  They finally come to know that true happiness is not in the life they supposed and they have an aching to come home.  Well, they have made their choice.  It would be unjust to allow us to be rewarded equally.  At times, it even so happens that the son who has strayed makes even more of his life than the one who had always been faithful.  Certainly this is not fair!  At times like this, I stop and ask myself, “Jeannie, do you want fair?”  When I ask myself this question, I know the last thing on earth I want is what is fair.  If life were fair, would I have the many opportunities and blessings which I enjoy?  I seriously doubt it.  I remember the times that I have been the prodigal and I rejoice that one has the ability and opportunity to come home to the embrace of loved ones whom have been waiting for their return.

Finally, we can consider ourselves as the father.  Have we not all been wronged, perhaps even mocked and betrayed by someone we love?  Perhaps it is easiest to relate to being so treated by one’s own child, but it is possible that instead of a father one might have to imagine themselves as a son, daughter, brother, sister, or friend who has been betrayed by a parent, sibling, or another person.  When this happens the pain can be excruciating.  After all, we have not only been hurt, we have been hurt by someone we love deeply.  Is it possible to fully forgive that person when they have truly come to themselves and yearn to return?  Are we like the father in that we never give up hope, that we find ourselves at times looking afar off in anticipation of seeing them approaching home?  As a parent, I can relate to how that father felt.  To see a child come to understand the errors of their ways and to have a desire to return would bring immense joy to my heart.  I, too, would run to my son or daughter with tears streaming down my cheeks and perhaps they would not understand, until they become a parent themselves, that the pain was never about what it did to me, but rather the concern I had for them.  The greatest feeling I know, is not to be loved, but rather to love.  It is that love that makes us able to embrace one that has returned and rejoice that he once again is safe in the arms of those who love him.

I submit that every one of us will find ourselves in each of these roles at some point in our life, perhaps even at multiple times.  I have learned important lessons each time I have so found myself.  I have learned how grateful I am that our past does not have to dictate our future, I have learned that thankfully life is not fair, and I have learned that love is the power that makes forgiveness possible.  I will try to remember the lessons from the past as I again play the role of one if not more of these characters.  I might even realize that I play each of these roles everyday.  Hopefully, I can improve the quality of my performance.

P.S.  Want to know some benefits of salt?  Check out this link of a video with my friend Lissa Coffey. CoffeyBuzz

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]