Sunday, February 12, 2006

What Does a Mormon Believe?

I got a kick out of a conversation I had the other day with John, a fellow I do business with. He had need of my locksmith services and wasn’t near his office where he kept a list of phone numbers. He recalled that I had a web site so he looked me up on the internet to get hold of me. While he was there he noticed that I also had this thing called a blog.

He had a chance to skim through a couple of my articles, read my profile and learn a little more about the insane character who stops by on Saturdays to cut duplicate keys for their car lot. This past Saturday he started asking questions about the “Mormon Bible”, as he called it, the one written by some guy named “John what his name”. I smiled and filled in the blanks; “The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from text written on plates of gold that were buried in the earth by the Prophet Moroni around the year 400AD.”

“I’ll bet those plates of gold would be worth something today”, or something close to that was the next thought, followed by, “What do you guys believe in, anyway?”

“We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the savior of the world”, was my answer. I suppose I could have quoted the Articles of Faith; but I don’t think he was ready for that much, at least not all at one time. We talked a little about the history of polygamy and how some splinter sects, no longer members of our church, continue the practice.

“I didn’t see much about your religion, at least not from what was posted there on your blog.” I explained that he could look in the archived articles and find some. Today while listening to the talks at church I heard a story about a young boy who, when asked by an adult visiting the Salt Lake valley what he believed, explained the most basic tenants as he’d learned them in Primary; we call them the Articles of Faith. (linked via title bar)

“A key document of the restoration of the gospel is a
letter the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in reply to a request of John Wentworth, editor of a Chicago newspaper. In the Wentworth letter, the Prophet wrote a “sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints.” (History of the Church, 4:535.) It apparently was the first published account of principal events that occurred in the 36-year-period after the Prophet’s birth. The last part of the letter, the Articles of Faith, is a concise statement of fundamental beliefs of the Church. The fact that one heaven-inspired person rather than a council of scholars produced this remarkable document is another evidence of Joseph Smith’s divine calling.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote in his article, “Seeking the Good”, Ensign 1992.

John asked about that “Big Church” we had over on Cypresswood, and so I mentioned that he was referring to the Houston Temple and that it was a special building with a different purpose than the local meeting houses scattered around the city. I did mention that Lucy and I had been “sealed” in the temple; explaining how it added to the familiar wedding vows, “’till death do you part”, by creating the extension, “for time and all eternity” which makes such a union the beginning of an eternal family.

“In the words of Hugh Nibley, “The temple is a scale model of the universe. The mystique of the temple lies in its extension to other worlds; it is the reflection on earth of the heavenly order, and the power that fills it comes from above.” (“Nibley Considers the Temple in the Cosmos,” Insights, an Ancient Window, Mar. 1992, p. 1.)”

John wanted to know if anyone could go inside the Temple and I explained that it was reserved to members who were living their lives in accordance with the principles of the Church; but that regular meeting houses were open to everyone. I hope this information is helpful to anyone desiring to know a little more about what a Mormon believes.
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