What’s becoming a recurring theme on Facebook happened again yesterday (I may sort of ask for it): I posted this:
I’ve been told Mormons worship a “different Jesus”. This is the Jesus we worship as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4A73DDEE675FBC39 – Hope this helps clarify who we look to for salvation.
The responses started off fairly low-key:
#1 I don’t know much about the Mormon religion, but I am starting to think that it is similar to Baptists in the fact that there are different branches of it. I have talked to a few friends that are mormon and I have discovered very different beliefs according to what group of Mormons you talk to. Is this correct? Are there different branches or affiliations of it?
Hey, thanks for the comment/question. My first answer would be to review what’s shared here: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2011/10?lang=eng (this is the last General Conference where many of the leaders of the Mormon Church speak to ALL members throughout the world. This happens every 6 months and is coming up again on March 31 and April 1, 2012.)
My second answer would be that no, we don’t have different branches that teach different doctrines – at least not on purpose. Our “clergy” are volunteers that are called for a time to lead and teach and then released to serve in a different calling in the Church. Sometimes understanding of the doctrine can be shared differently by different individuals but the core of what we all teach is (or should be) the same throughout the world. Hope this helps clarify.
…you may also have been hearing about other groups of “Mormons” Throughout our history there have been many groups who have splintered off from the main body of the Church. These have many names of which one of the largest was “The re-organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” They have since changed their name to “The Community Church of Christ” The leaders of this church are direct descendants of Joseph Smith Jr who started our church. This group did not come to Utah when the body of the church came out West in 1847. The more popular splinter groups are those who still believe in Polygamy as n the church headed by Warren Jeffs who is in prison now. The main church “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” have no affiliation to any of the splinter groups. As Nate has said the best place to elarn about our church is to go to LDS.Org……………………..Thanks for your questions……….good luck
Response #3,4 (same person):
Friend, have you examined your church objectively? Please, do not let a religious organization control your thinking. If you believe Mormonism teaches truth, will you compare it to the Bible? Think of the eternal impact upon your family if a church leads you astray. As a poor dying person may be fearful of a medical exam, people fear the truth due to religious conditioning. May God guard you from the bitterness that so easily follows deception! Do not react against God – the Father and Jesus Christ were not the Ones who misled you. May God bless your search.
?”Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16)
…no offense, but I found your comment a bit familiar when I Googled it and found this: http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/mormonism/research-on-mormonism – Come on – I’m not bashing on anyone’s beliefs, just trying to clarify common misconceptions many people have about mine. Remember when I shared this article about “Pure Religion”? I still believe this is true as well: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=dc99c5e8b4b6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1 (and no, you’re not an enemy at all and no, my initial post was not directed at anyone specific – I do online marketing for a living and have seen all kinds of poorly written articles about what Mormons do and don’t believe – this post was just to help people see it how it really is from our perspective)…
Response #5 (someone else):
Unless things have changed, Christianity is a faith that believes you are saved by grace. Christianity in the LDS view you are saved by grace through your works. Christians believe in a Jesus of 1 heaven, Christian Mormons believe in a Jesus that has 3 heavens, or three kingdoms in heaven. With that definitions, some religions/people will agree that they are different Jesus’s.
Thanks for the comment. We too believe in grace (http://www.lds.org/study/topics/grace?lang=eng). Grace allows all mankind to live eternally, to be resurrected, and use the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in their life. If we are saved by grace alone, however, what is repentance for? Couldn’t we just do whatever we want in this life, “believe”, and be saved? James 2:17-26 goes in more depth about what we believe regarding grace and works. In regard to the second point you made, we believe the 3 kingdoms in Heaven are talked about in the Bible: 1 Cor. 15:39–41, 2 Cor. 12:2, John 14:2
Their response back:
I don’t think deeds justify your faith. Faith is ” a firm belief in which there is no proof, a strong conviction” If you need to prove your faith through deeds, I think the faith is lost. To me, it’s that you are still reaching to justify your faith by proving to yourself or others that you have faith. your obedience, that you are genuine in your faith. If you are practicing deeds to further yourself in a heaven I don’t believe that would constitute ingenuity. (if I used that word right) I understand 1 Cor as the difference between an earthly body and a heavenly body. Not about kingdoms. I believe the Bible refers to the 2 heavens as, the first being the atmosphere around the earth, second would be space and the third would be paradise. In Ancient times the culture in Israel?, it was standard to refer to heavens this way. We are human, and we are not perfect, we were also created with consciences, repentance is a way of release, to atone and be able to move on with what ones purpose in life is. Without it, people may be stuck in sorrow and may not see the window of opportunities destined for them. Yes, you could do what ever you wanted in life, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel guilt, as I said we are human.
Thanks for the conversation Nate, it is interesting, I like learning about others and their beliefs, why people are who they are. Everyone is different, even in our own religious beliefs, and churches. Each person may have a different perception of truth and what the meanings are.
For me, the saved by grace verses saved by works debate is dead and done. I really think Mormons and Christians of every stripe actually believe very similarly on that point, we just express it differently. Without the Savior, we could not live again–all Christian-based faiths believe that and that includes Mormons. And I don’t know any of my Christian friends who would believe that someone who accepted their Lord and Savior could then turn around and make horrible choices such as serial adultery, rape, or murder. My Christian friends would not believe that that person had in fact accepted their Lord and Savior, because a person who has accepted the Lord and Savior doesn’t do those things. Sounds very much like “works” to me. We can discuss the other differences (Mormons belief in the godhood being three separate entities vs. the trinity, for example), but on the “grace verses works” thing, I think we’re just talking past one another. I thought what Erin wrote sounded very similar to what Mormons believe. And I like finding common ground with people of other faiths. I would like it if others recognized that Mormons due in fact believe that without the perfect Savior suffering and dying for us, we would be lost forever.
Great conversation. I agree with both of you: we alone can’t “save ourselves” through our works. We do the best we can and through the grace of God and His Son Jesus Christ, we are saved. We simply show our faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement by our actions. Just to say “I believe” and then go about doing whatever we want will cause guilt and remorse, and ultimately shows a lack of faith in Jesus.
Yes, there are things Mormons believe that are different than other Christian faiths (trinity vs. 3 members of the Godhead, the Book of Mormon, eternal families). For this reason we invite others to sincerely investigate, study, and mostly ask God what is right. Our intent is never to push others’ beliefs down to prove what we have is right – it’s simply to add to the faith that others already have in Jesus Christ. I appreciate the conversation and hope the videos I shared initially give you a better perspective of who we try to follow – Jesus Christ.
The End. (at least for now)
So, my question to myself is this:
Am I handling things appropriately as I discuss beliefs, doctrine, and misconceptions?
Is my intent to “prove” we are right and others are wrong, or is it simply to educate others and share the “good news”?
I researched “sharing the Gospel online” on LDS.org and found this article: Members Play an Important Role in Sharing Gospel Online
It talks about how a few years ago, if you Googled the term Mormon, the majority of what you’d find would be negative content about the Church. Not only did this hurt missionary efforts, but investigators would just stop investigating because of inaccurate or negative information they’d find online.
It says that…
Today the situation has improved…In addition to official Church websites, unofficial websites sharing positive information about the Church are spreading across the Web. Individuals are using blogs to share their values, and gospel messages are making appearances on social networking sites. In short, because of how members are using it, the Internet is bringing people to the full-time missionaries rather than driving them away.
M. Russell Ballard even encouraged us to share our beliefs online:
“May I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.”
The article goes on to say:
These efforts are all in line with a perspective voiced by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders.”
The Internet provides a way for Church members to find people in ways unimaginable a generation ago, and as technologies improve, so will Church members’ ability to share the gospel.
Elder Ballard’s talk is pretty straightforward about sharing the gospel online:
“Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.”—Elder Ballard
“There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had so far to share my testimony about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I’m grateful for Becky’s recommendation to “heed them not” at times too.
I know that if I am worthy of the Spirit and listen to its promptings, I’ll be led and guided on how I can best share my testimony and influence others for good.
I am excited about the future and want to always be a missionary.