I’m excited to be participating in the 3rdAnnual LDS Writer Blogfest. “LDS” stands for Latter-day Saints, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people know us as the Mormons (I use LDS/Mormon interchangeably). As part of the blogfest we were given the option of either writing about a favorite speaker from our recent LDS worldwide conference, or to write about our beliefs in general. Since I tweeted quite extensively about the conference, and since many of my friends are not of my faith—blog/twitter/facebook followers as well—I chose to write about my beliefs.
With Mitt Romney’s run for US President this year (he’s LDS/Mormon if you didn’t know), it’s been an interesting year for my religion. I live in Michigan where there aren’t an abundance of Mormons. That means I get ample opportunity to talk about who and what we are—as well as who and what we are not. With Mitt Romney as the probable GOP nominee, it’s been great to see how many people have a better and more accurate understanding of Mormons. I love that. However…there are still a lot of misunderstandings and even blatant lies. While I don’t claim to be an expert on the LDS Church, I have been an active, participating member my whole life, so I thought I’d just give a quick overview, in case you’re curious.
1) There are approximately 14 million LDS/Mormons around the world.
2) The LDS church is one of the fastest growing religions in the US and worldwide.
3) It is the fourth largest religious body in the US.
4) Around 55,000 full-time missionaries around the world share our message and serve the community for 18-24 months out of their own pockets.
(There’s a quick list of famous Mormons at the bottom of another post here.)
The LDS Church is not a Protestant church in the traditional sense, nor is it a break-off of the Catholic Church. Rather it is considered a restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ in New Testament times through a man named Joseph Smith. That means our leadership today is like it was at the time of Christ, with a modern-day prophet, 12 apostles, and local priesthood leaders.
We have temples throughout the world, we believe in miracles and that the heavens are still open. In fact, we have an open canon of scripture, including the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and others. Very cool.
Before I run away with myself in excitement, I’ll just quote a few of our official Articles of Faith. (There are 13 total. The full list is here.)
Article of Faith #1) “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
We believe they are three separate beings functioning as one unit, the Godhead. This is slightly different than the concept of the Trinity.
Article of Faith #3) “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
I’ve had many people ask me if Mormons are Christians. (I actually wrote a post on this awhile back, read it here.) I will just say a resounding, YES!!! Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our only way to salvation. We, however, do not believe in the concept of grace alone. Like this Article of Faith states, our salvation comes in part through obedience to his commandments. Like it states in the Book of Mormon, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne 25:23) Or like James said in the New Testament, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)
|Are Mormons Christian? YES!
AofF #6) “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”
The current prophet and president of the Church is Thomas S. Monson. He has been head of the church since 2008. He, along with two counselors and twelve apostles, lead the Church today.
|Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2008
AofF #9) “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
AofF #13) “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, 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.”
Mormons are known for being family-oriented people. That is in part because we believe the family is more than just an earthly relation. We believe that families can live together as families into the eternities. In other words, when my husband and I were married, we were not wed “until death do us part” but “for time and all eternity.” I love that he’s mine forever. I love that I am not just a mother now, but I will be a mother forever.
|LDS Temple in Salt Lake City where couples are married for time and all eternity
Mormons also have a strict chastity law, meaning no sexual relations before marriage, and only complete fidelity after. And if you’re curious about the polygamy thing, it was outlawed in 1890. Groups practicing polygamy are NOT part of the LDS Church. In fact, members are excommunicated if found practicing polygamy. Polygamists belong to their own church, sometimes referred to as Fundamentalist Mormons, but please don’t link us together. It’s not accurate.
Mormons are also well known for our Word of Wisdom law that asks us to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, drugs, and tobacco in all forms. While that may seem very restrictive, I actually love this law. It means my mind is always my own, if that makes sense.
Anything else? Yeah. About 40,000 pages worth, but that’s a snapshot of my religion according to me. You can read more from our two official church websites: lds.org and mormon.org. Mormon.orgis geared for people who are curious about our religion, where lds.org is geared more for members, but you’re welcome to visit either. You’re also more than welcome to ask me or another Mormon any question you might have. Mormons love talking about our religion and dispelling the myths. As long as you’re not purposely trying to offend us, you won’t. And even then, chances are, we’ve heard it all anyway, so no worries. Ask away.
PS: To read more from the LDS Blogfest, here’s the list of participants. I have a lot of reading to do today. :)