Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ATTENTION: MORMONS BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOR

Having lived in the Mormon Mecca of Utah from 1997-2002 and in the highly tolerant New Orleans from 2002-2007, I had forgotten just how ignorant some people can be about my religion. It's not their fault. There are all kinds of lies being spread, misinformation being disseminated, rumors passed on as God's-honest-truths, and blatant bigotry manifesting itself. In the last year, either on job searches or in talking to people in my new home, I've seen that not-too-successful attempt to hide a scowl when I tell people what church I go to. I would never ever make a face about someone's religion. Most of the time, since I press the people to explain their faces or suddenly frosty attitudes towards me, it is a matter of me stating what we believe and bearing them my testimony. Afterwards the awkwardness is usually lessened. In that same hope, I write this post. To dispell myths, hints, allegations, and things left unsaid.

A few observations for those in ignorance of the beliefs of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints:

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

2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

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

4. We believe that 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; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5. We do not think that Joseph Smith is the Savior, only Jesus Christ can save us from our sins.

6. We are saved by grace; after we do everything that we can to obey the commandments and to repent of our sins, the Lord's grace saves us from that which we can't repay.

7. The Book of Mormon isn't the Mormon Bible. We use the King James version of the Bible. We believe that the Book of Mormon is ANOTHER TESTAMENT of Jesus Christ. And that scripture that you're all thinking about right now in Revelations is talking about the Book of Revelations, not the Bible proper. Think about it.

8. No, I don't have or want another wife. Of all the candidates for president, Mitt Romney is one of the few who has only ever had one wife.

Jesus is the Christ. Mormons are Christian. Just because someone doesn't share your belief about Jesus doesn't mean that they aren't Christian.

One thing is for certain: trying to be like Jesus is really hard.

7 comments:

The Fonnesbeck's said...

This was a good post. I agree, it bothers me to no end that people believe so many crazy things about us Mormons. It's a mystery why we are so "strange" to some, but thanks for doing what you can to clarify a lot of the miscommunications that people have. I hate that Mitt Romney's religion is such an issue. It drives me crazy.

chattypatra said...

There is a very famous Baptist preacher here (whose name I honestly forget) who decided, around November, to preach to his congregation on why they should not vote for Mitt Romney because "Mormons ARE NOT Christians". Uh-huh.

I only found out because an article came out in the Dallas Morning News, and it was featured prominently.

Well, I must confess I was having one of those hormonal days and that was all the trigger I needed to forget to shut up and ignore it.

Yes, I fired up a letter to the reporter and e-mailed it to him.

I pretty much stated what you did, except I added that I was tired of hearing people say we are not Christians, when the name of the Church states the contrary, and I said something like,

"Where does he get off telling me what I do or don't believe? What does he know of my testimony of the divinity of Our Savior? Who is he to judge me? Instead of preaching intolerance and spreading lies, he should strive to teach his congregation how to love their neighbors. It is attitudes like these what makes Dallas a segregated city where racism and distrust based on ignorance strive."

I also suggested that next time, instead of publishing inflammatory remarks, he should try to find out what the other party has to say, and stated that I did not represent the official view of the Church, but my opinion as a member.

He never replied, of course. I'll always wonder if he forwarded it to the preacher in question.

Oh, well. If you've studied Prophecy and Modern Times, you know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope I am prepared.

Thewmes said...

Religion prefferance is extremely low, in fact non-existentent on my list of qualifications for president. Also, the amount of former wives or a candidate with high moral standing falls in the same boat. I will vote for the person that has the most similar views with mine on policy for the country.

I have found plenty of people here in New Orleans that act like being Mormon is shocking.

Eric Canaday said...

Hey Mac,

I found your blog when I was doing a search on religious hedgemony( I loved that article by the way). I am a follower Jesus Christ and and I believe that the bible is the inspired word of God. I am not an advocate of organized religion because the leaders of many christian sects have set themselves up as the mediators between God and men. They all seem to believe if you are not a part of their institution you cannot truly have a relationship with God.

Every mormon missionary that I have spoken with has told me that I am not truly "Christian" if I have not been baptized by an authorized member of their clergy. This experience (and the organizations historical stand on race) has lead me to believe that the powerbrokers in mormonism are as guilty of religous hedgemony as the so called evangelicals are.

I have a close friend that is a member of the mormon church who happens to be one of the most loving people I have ever met. I judge every person by the content of their character so I do not have a problem you or Mitt ;0) But I do have the perception that mormonism is a cultural construct set up to give a small group of people power over the financial and labor resources of a large group of people (hedgemony?). Am I missing something?

I dont pose the question as an attack I am just trying to gain some understanding. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Mac said...

Eric,

Well, you've posed some good questions that I feel merit a response.

You said:

Every mormon missionary that I have spoken with has told me that I am not truly "Christian" if I have not been baptized by an authorized member of their clergy.

I was a missionary for the church, and I never told anyone that they weren't Christian if that hadn't been baptized. What I did say is that in order for the baptism to be valid, it must be done by someone with the authority to do so. This authority is called the priesthood of God, and it was restored to the earth to Joseph Smith by John the Baptist (Aaronic) and Peter, James, and John (Melchezidek). Now, you might've misunderstood their message, or they might have botched their explanation, but anyone who believes in Christ is Christian. The difference here is that we believe that we are the only church on the earth that has the authority to conduct ordinances in His name.

Now, some might differ with me about the priesthood. Fine, but let me say that the same Protestants who "protest" against the Catholic Church, then claim that the Bible is the source of their power to baptize, are oblivious to the fact that the Bible was chosen by the Council of Nice in 325 AD, by the Catholic Church. I too believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, in as much as it is translated correctly. But, it is not a source of power or authority to act FOR OTHERS. Certainly is can prompt the individual to garner salvation, but it is not the means by which you can bring salvation to others.

I do have the perception that mormonism is a cultural construct set up to give a small group of people power over the financial and labor resources of a large group of people

Again I'll disagree with you. Hegemony (note the correct spelling) in the Church would imply some attempt by the leadership to hide the power in the abstract notions of Quorums and Presidencies, all in an effort to hold on to power. Please show me how the Church leadership specifically benefits from the labor of the membership incorrectly (I say that since you said they were "guilty of" it). The leadership gives of their time and talents in the same way. Only in the very upper levels are they even given any kind of stipend for their labors (only those called to full-time and life-long positions receive any support). The bishopes and stake presidents, the truly pastoral priesthood leaders receive nothing for their service. They cannot even write a check to themselves (it says so on the checks).

In the pioneer days, you might be able to read some hegemonic practices into the behavior of the Saints in Utah, but these were a people trying to settle a remote wilderness--the rules were a little different and look odd when viewed through today's lens. If you have any other questions, email me:
jwilliams AT coker.edu

Eric Canaday said...

"Hegemony (note the correct spelling) in the Church would imply some attempt by the leadership to hide the power in the abstract notions of Quorums and Presidencies, all in an effort to hold on to power. Please show me how the Church leadership specifically benefits from the labor of the membership incorrectly."

The general authorities of the LDS church exert social, intellectual, moral, cultural, ideological, & economic power by imposing extra-biblical policies that the members are obligated to follow. If the members were allowed to give their tithes directly to the poor, to serve at any nonprofit organization of their choice, and to worship in their homes instead of properties owned by the institution, the governing body would lose power.

The general authorities do not own the institution, but they control the resources. Ruling authority is the reward.

This type of hegemony may be supported in the writings of the LDS prophets, but there is no support for this behavior in the teachings of Jesus. Sadly, hegemony appears to be an epidemic in most organized religions.

We do not have to agree. I enjoy your writing and I respect you as a fellow human being. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Eric Canaday said...

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves."
[Howard Zinn, historian and author]