The Religious Experience of Mormonism
The most well-known group of Mormons is the Church of Jesus . and personal aspect of their relationship with God and their commitment to. Many see parent-child descriptions of God's relationship to humanity as metaphors to Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest. For us the Jesus of history is indeed the Christ of faith. more clearly understand both their relationship to God the Father and their responsibility to each other.
Snow, a Church leader and poet, rejoiced over the doctrine that we are, in a full and absolute sense, children of God. Expressing that truth, Eliza R. As Elder Dallin H. Our highest aspiration is to be like them. A Proclamation to the World. Does belief in exaltation make Latter-day Saints polytheists?
For some observers, the doctrine that humans should strive for godliness may evoke images of ancient pantheons with competing deities. Such images are incompatible with Latter-day Saint doctrine.
Our progression will never change His identity as our Father and our God. Latter-day Saints also believe strongly in the fundamental unity of the divine. They believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though distinct beings, are unified in purpose and doctrine. How do Latter-day Saints envision exaltation? Since human conceptions of reality are necessarily limited in mortality, religions struggle to adequately articulate their visions of eternal glory.
For example, scriptural expressions of the deep peace and overwhelming joy of salvation are often reproduced in the well-known image of humans sitting on their own clouds and playing harps after death. A cloud and harp are hardly a satisfying image for eternal joy, although most Christians would agree that inspired music can be a tiny foretaste of the joy of eternal salvation.
Likewise, while few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities.
Latter-day Saints tend to imagine exaltation through the lens of the sacred in mortal experience. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.
I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
During his visit, he was announced by the voice of God the Father, and those present felt the Holy Spirit, but only the Son was seen. Jesus is quoted as saying, Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.
And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one. On the other hand, some Latter Day Saint sects, such as the Community of Christconsider the Book of Mormon to be consistent with trinitarianism. Some scholars have also suggested that the view of Jesus in the Book of Mormon is also consistent, or perhaps most consistent, with monotheistic Modalism.
Mormons insist on their Christianity, precisely on these grounds. If, however, a Christian is defined by belonging to a historical and theological tradition tracing back to the church councils of the 4th and 5th centuries and their resultant creeds, then Mormons do not fit. Although Mormons share many traits with evangelicals, it is incorrect to classify Mormons as Protestants, because they expressly reject the denominations and creeds emerging from the Reformation as part of the general apostasy of Christianity.
Definitions aside, it is impossible to avoid Jesus Christ in modern Mormonism. This is in part a result of renewed emphasis since the s on the Book of Mormon, which as noted is a deeply Christian text. Mormon art, music, and sermons are highly Christocentric. Mormons talk about feeling the love of Jesus, and the principal doctrinal touchstone for LDS curriculum and ministry is the atonement of Jesus Christ. Commonly quoted is this statement by Joseph Smith: Mormons teach that God the Father and Jesus Christ possess corporeal but perfected bodies of flesh and bone, whereas the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.
Indeed, the materialism of Mormon theology, including the corporeality of God and the rejection of a Triune God consisting of multiple persons sharing one substance, marks one of its most significant departures from creedal Christian orthodoxy.
The Holy Ghost is the messenger of God who communicates divine truth and comfort to humans. Mormons pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and answers to prayers come via the Holy Spirit, whose influence is felt both in the heart and the mind.
The sad fact is that all humans do sin, meaning that they, of their own free will, separate themselves from the perfect character of God. The one exception is Jesus, who lived a perfectly righteous life. Although human behavior is constrained and influenced by a multitude of factors biological, psychological, environmental, etc. Through his vicarious suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Jesus repairs the relationship between humanity and God, taking upon himself the totality of human sin and sorrow.
Mormons have typically subscribed to a substitutionary view of atonement, but other interpretations are allowable. On the question of who is saved, Mormon theology comes very close to universalism; that is, the doctrine that all receive some measure of salvation and none are condemned to never-ending punishment.
In one of his most important revelations, Joseph Smith envisioned a multitiered division of heaven, thus expanding on the traditional Christian heaven-hell dichotomy.
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Smith showed that humans are given additional opportunities even after their death to accept the gospel and thus to inherit a higher glory than they might have merited with their life on earth. First among these are faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Baptism is followed in turn by confirmation as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is performed by the laying on of hands and also bestows the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Although God listens to the prayers of all his children, formal ordinances such as baptism must be performed by a properly ordained priesthood holder; if performed by any other person, no matter how sincere, the ordinance is invalid in the eyes of God.
Because of the democratic bestowal of priesthood authority to all men who comply with church teachings and standards, all leadership positions at the local level are handled by lay volunteers rather than a professional clergy. Women are actively involved in the life of the congregation, though they do not receive ordination to the ecclesiastical priesthood. This has been a matter of considerable debate since the late 20th century, as a small but vocal minority of Mormon women have advocated for ordination.
Mormonism is a restorationist church. In contrast to the findings of modern biblical scholarship, Mormons believe that Jesus established a unified, hierarchical church before his death, led by apostles and prophets, with Peter at the head, but that the early church fell into apostasy.
Similarly, the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged on the basis of the unfolding set of revelations to Smith, rather than on a careful reading and application of the New Testament. Nevertheless, Mormons point out that the basic organization of the LDS Church does include, at least superficially, most of the same offices and titles referred to in the New Testament. Mormons believe in and display spiritual gifts.
Early Mormons experienced an impressive and cacophonous range of spiritual gifts, including tongues, prophecy, and healings.
Over time the charismatic display of such gifts became more restrained, but Mormons insist that spiritual gifts are real and that God continues to work in the world in miraculous ways. For the most part, the enthusiasm of the earliest converts has been domesticated. The gift of tongues, for instance, is now typically thought of as enabling missionaries who have been called to serve in foreign lands to better learn the native language.
Mormon attitudes to other faiths
Priesthood holders anoint with oil and administer to the sick by the laying on of hands, but Mormons also rely on modern medicine as much or more than on divine healing. Modern Mormon worship services are the opposite of ecstatic. Speakers will often become emotional and cry while sharing personal experiences or testimony, but anything more demonstrative would not be culturally tolerated. Central to Mormon identity and theology is the belief that God continues to speak to the church and to individuals through revelation.
Although Mormons believe that the essential truths of the gospel have been revealed to modern prophets especially Smiththey readily acknowledge that God has much more to teach humans and will do so at his pleasure.
Only they may receive revelations that are binding for the entire church. However, personal revelation is a cornerstone of Mormon devotional life, and divine direction may be sought for regarding all kinds of spiritual and secular matters.
As central as the principle of personal revelation is to church leaders and members, that revelation must generally correspond to the principles and doctrines laid out in canonized Mormon scripture.
Most Mormons are unaware of issues related to biblical criticism and would tend to reject scholarly arguments that conflict with core church doctrines.
In some ways this is ironic because both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith clearly taught that the King James Version was imperfect, thus necessitating not only the restoration of certain doctrines through revelation and additional scripture but also an inspired revision of the biblical text itself.
He left many chapters and even whole books intact, while making extensive changes and lengthy additions to others, most notably Genesis. A survey showed Mormons to be among the most biblically and religiously literate of any segment of the American population. As noted above, since the late 20th century the Book of Mormon has enjoyed a kind of privileged status within Mormonism. Curiously, Smith himself rarely cited or preached from the Book of Mormon.
For the most part, Mormons acknowledge doctrinal development without being concerned by attendant discrepancies. The Doctrine and Covenants, unlike the Bible and Book of Mormon, is a self-consciously modern book of scripture. The Doctrine and Covenants is an open book and can be amended when the church receives new revelation. Additions have been rare, however, with only five new revelations announced and canonized since the death of Joseph Smith inand only one since The Pearl of Great Price is an eclectic collection of sacred texts, something of a potpourri of revelation, both ancient and modern.
It includes five parts: Though the briefest of the four Standard Works, at only sixty-one printed pages, the Pearl of Great Price contains some of the most important and frequently cited passages of distinctive Mormon scripture, with particular insights into Mormon cosmology and identity.
The life of a committed Latter-day Saint is shaped by the rhythms, patterns, and moral values and teachings of the religion. They pray both verbally and silently as many as several times a day there is no prescribed numberand they fast for approximately twenty-four hours once a month forsaking both food and drink during that period.
Mormons place enormous emphasis on nurturing healthy and loving relationships with their families. They teach ethical and honest interactions in interpersonal relationships. They attend church weekly, for three hours on Sunday and often for extra meetings and social activities during the week. Mormons perform extensive community service and are often active in local politics and community organizations such as the Boy Scouts and PTA. They are encouraged to do daily devotional scripture reading, both as individuals and in families.
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Mormons sometimes feel overburdened by the weight of all these requirements, but they value the actively engaged religious and moral life. Cultural capital within the community is best achieved by quiet and consistent devotion to godly living and church participation. In short, being Mormon in the LDS sense means subscribing to a certain core set of doctrinal claims: