Mormon Tithes and Offerings

Many people have questions about Mormon tithing and offerings.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “Mormon Church”) have many ways to give and many reasons for giving.

Mormon tithingTithing has been a law of the gospel ever since God has had a people on the earth.  The definition of the word “tithe” is one-tenth.  Mormons give one tenth of their income to the LDS Church.  This offering is made confidentially, so no one really knows who is paying a full tithe except the bishop (head of the congregation) and his counselors, and the clerk of the ward (congregation).  However, one must be a full tithe-payer in order to be worthy to worship in a Mormon temple, so if someone is temple-worthy, you can assume he or she pays tithing.

Tithing is a principle with a promise.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts (Malachi 3:10, 11).

Considering the law of tithing is sometimes a difficult thing for investigators and new converts to the Church of Jesus Christ.  But every full tithe-paying Mormon has at least one story of the miraculous blessings that come from paying tithing.  Most who have faced financial difficulties and failures can report how miracles were manifested because they were diligent in paying their tithing.  Obedience to this law really changes a person.  When the LDS Church builds a new temple, it wants to know how many people in the area pay tithing.  Not because the LDS Church needs the funds from that region (no debt is incurred in building Mormon temples), but because those Latter-day Saints who pay their tithing have a spiritual maturity that prepares them for higher temple ordinances.

The tithing collected by the LDS Church provides a main source of funds for running the buildings — meetinghouses, temples, family history libraries, the buildings at temple square in Salt Lake City, and for producing the manuals and books and materials that are perfectly correlated, translated, printed, and distributed worldwide.  Every congregation uses like materials produced by the Church.   Mormon missionaries are trained and transported to their locations with the funds of the Church.  Although they provide for their own support while they serve, the operating costs of the missions come from tithing.

The educational system of the Church of Jesus Christ is also funding by the tithing of the membership.  There are three universities (the Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii campuses of Brigham Young University), the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies and other semester-abroad programs, and seminary and institute programs for high school and college students.  Many of these programs are conducted in church-owned buildings.  Contrary to popular belief, the “general authorities” (prophet, apostles and seventies) of the LDS Church are not paid from the tithes of the members.  When these men are called to full time church administrative positions, they leave their vocations behind.  Some are still able to support themselves, but others may need a modest stipend, which comes from the profit-making concerns of the Church (publishing, broadcasting, farms, and ranches).

Fast Offerings in the LDS Church

The first Sunday of each month, Mormons fast for two meals (24 hours) and donate the value of the food to the benefit of the poor and needy.  Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ give a very generous fast offering, way beyond the price of two meals.  These funds power the amazing welfare system of the LDS Church, which benefits the poor of the Church as well as disaster victims worldwide of any faith or no faith.

At the heart of the welfare system is a recently opened facility in Salt Lake City, the Bishop’s Central Storehouse. It warehouses mountains of food and supplies, which are distributed to central storehouses in five other regions of the United States and Canada. From those five regional storehouses, food and goods are again distributed to more than 200 smaller bishops’ storehouses, to be used for the Church’s welfare system. The Bishop’s Central Storehouse also keeps emergency equipment and supplies that can be instantly dispatched whenever a catastrophic disaster occurs.

The size of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse gives a sense of scale to Mormon welfare and humanitarian efforts. Situated on 35 acres, the building’s current footprint is 570,391 square feet, with plans to add 100,000 more. The total planned capacity of the building is 65,000 pallets, and it stocks hundreds of foods—from corn, beans, and cereals to cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter—as well as toiletries, tools, and electric generators. It has its own trucking company, complete with nearly 50 tractors and 100 trailers, as well as a one-year supply of fuel, parts, and tires for the vehicles. The facility has even been built to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. [1]

But giving doesn’t stop here.  In addition to fast offerings to support the LDS welfare program, individual members and groups do all sorts of volunteer work to support the system, from canning peaches to harvesting tomatoes, to manning the bishop’s storehouses.  Mormons can also make other earmarked donations.

The Perpetual Education Fund enables returned Mormon missionaries in poorer countries of the world to afford higher education.  They borrow money from the fund and then repay it once they are successful.  This fund mirrors the Perpetual Immigration Fund designed by Brigham Young to enable Mormon pioneers to afford the journey to Utah.  There is also a general missionary fund for missionaries who can’t afford to pay their own way.  Members also often offer support to missionaries from their own congregations.  There is a temple fund, and a Humanitarian Aid fund.

The Humanitarian Aid arm of the LDS Church has many ongoing projects.  Latter-day Saints don’t give money, but show up as “Mormon Helping Hands” at disaster sites, and assemble hygiene kits, make quilts, and volunteer in the field to give medical help or translation help.  Humanitarian aid projects are constantly being sponsored on the local congregational level and during larger gatherings, such as the one held every year at BYU during the annual Women’s Conference.  Individuals may complete projects at home, too.  Those who make quilts try to make them durable, washable, and beautiful and try to imagine the disaster victim who receives one.  (See Mormon Church.org.)

Additional Resources:

Jesus Christ in Mormonism

Worship with Mormons

The Bible in Mormonism

 

Mormon Ordinances

A religious ordinance is an outward performance of a covenant between a person and the Lord.  The ordinances of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon Church”) were dictated directly from the Lord through scriptures and prophets, and they can only be performed by those who have authority from God to bind in heaven what is bound on earth.  This authority was had in Jesus Christ’s primitive church and continued by His original apostles, who acted in Christ’s name.  That authority was lost over time after the death of the apostles, and it has only recently been restored through God’s heavenly messengers to modern prophets.  No other church on earth has received this authority.

Mormon SacramentAs in ancient days, when a baby is born in the Church of Jesus Christ, it is given a “name and a blessing.”  The name given is that by which the child will be known during his or her earthly life.  The blessing is prophetic and individual.  The Elder pronouncing the blessing through the laying on of hands receives it by revelation.

There is no infant baptism in the LDS Church, since little children are innocent and cannot differentiate between right and wrong; nor can they understand the process of repentance.  The atonement of Jesus Christ covers the sin of Adam, so babies are born sinless.   The second Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ says the following:

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

When a child turns eight years old, he or she has reached what Mormons call “the age of accountability.”  At that time, the child may choose to be baptized.  Converts aged 8 and over can be baptized in adulthood, too.  Mormons follow the example and commandment of Christ by baptizing by full immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  At baptism, the person promises to take upon him- or herself the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to stand as a witness of Christ at all times.  In return, the Lord confers the permanent companionship of the Holy Ghost in an ordinance called “confirmation.”

Confirmation is performed soon after baptism.  A man holding the higher, or Melchizedek, Priesthood confers the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands and pronounces a revelatory blessing.  The gift of the Holy Ghost is the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit as long as the person continues in worthiness.  The Holy Ghost cannot dwell in an unclean tabernacle.

Every Sabbath, Latter-day Saints partake of the sacrament, consisting of bread and water, in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, which were shed for them.  The sacrament renews those covenants made at baptism.  Continual repentance enables the Latter-day Saint to be worthy to partake.

Mormon Temples-BrighamSilhouette-QuoteHigher ordinances are offered in Mormon temples and are for those who truly wish to consecrate their lives as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Baptisms and confirmations are performed there, but only as work for the dead.  Mormons search out their ancestors and perform this work for them.  Since the dead live on and still are able to make choices, they can accept or reject this work done for them.

The Endowment is the central higher ordinance performed in the temple, and everyone who is worthy to enter the Mormon temple, receives the endowment ordinance.  The endowment is an empowering ordinance that comes with instruction on the Plan of Salvation, including the creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, the saving power of the atonement, and the hope of exaltation.  In the temple, Mormons covenant to live morally and righteously and commit to progress in their discipleship of Jesus Christ.

After the endowment, one may participate in “sealing,” the formation of an eternal family.  A bride and groom may enter into an eternally-binding marriage covenant in the Mormon temple.  Any children born to them after their marriage are automatically sealed to the couple.  This is called “being born in the covenant.”  If a husband and wife have already been married civilly and have already had children, then the entire family can be sealed together in the Mormon temple.  Mormon families sometimes save money for years to be able to travel to a temple to perform these ordinances and establish eternal families.

Ordinances have been given us of God as milestones in our journey into His presence.  They are outward manifestations of our inward covenants and are always symbolic of Christ.  Once Mormons make covenants it is up to them to keep them for the remainder of mortality.  Temple marriage (eternal marriage), for instance, brings the promise of eternal union, only if the husband and wife “endure to the end in righteousness.”

Having entered into all of these covenants myself, I can testify of their transforming power in my life.  I am a much different person than I would be, had I not entered into these important and empowering commitments.  I have traveled a much more adventurous road than I would have, being led by the spirit of God, and I have done so with the guidance and protection of God.  I have enjoyed strength far beyond my own, with the gift of power from on high.  I have learned a bit about God and the transcendent nature of the atonement; the spiritual realm has become very real to me.  I testify to the spiritual power of these covenants and invite all to come and partake.

Additional Resources:

Mormon Temples

Mormon Temple Ritual

Mormon Doctrine

Mormon Worship Infographic

Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.

The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.

Mormon Temple Demographics

Additional Resources:

MormonTemples.com

You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation

Mormon Women

By Doris

Mormon women are praised and honored in Mormon doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) teaches that women are of equal value to men and should be treated as beloved daughters of God.

Mormon PrayerWhile some take the view that because women do not hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then they must be viewed as inferior, those who truly understand Mormon doctrine see that in no way, shape, or form are Mormon women viewed as of less value. Mormon women are seen as help mates for men, as God declared when He created Eve in the Garden of Eden. This does not mean that a woman’s purpose is to serve a man. This means that man and woman are complementary to each other. They have been given different traits, characteristics, and abilities which help the other progress in life and through the eternities.

Mormon women are seen as capable, spiritual, sensitive people who have a unique ability and responsibility to raise and nurture children. This does not mean that they are incapable of going out and getting a career and being just as successful and valuable as a man would be in the same career. Mormon doctrine teaches, rather, that there is no more valuable sphere in which a woman can use her talents and abilities than in the home. The world has come to view the job of a mother and housewife as inferior and substandard. Mormon doctrine, however, teaches that families hold our greatest responsibilities and potential.

In a world that is no longer focused on God or salvation, it is easy to say that we are all here for the short span of our lives and the harder we work, the more money we will earn, and the more comfortable life we will have. Mormon doctrine focuses on the eternities, not the here and now. While this life is an important part of our eternal progression, it is more important that we live this life with an eye to the eternities rather than to what car we can drive and how big of a house we can buy.

MotivationNobleandgreatQuoteMormons believe that families can be together forever. This doctrine is unique to Mormonism. Though many individuals of other faiths believe personally that they will be reunited with loved ones when they die, their churches’ doctrines declare marriages end at death. A Mormon woman is encouraged to stay home, if financially possible, to raise her children in love and righteousness not because she is incapable of doing more, but because there is nothing more important she could possibly be doing.

A career will last throughout this lifetime, but that is all. While a man’s primary responsibility is to provide for his family’s physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being, a mother’s responsibility is to create a wholesome, protected environment for her family to protect them as much as possible against the raging of the world.

There are many Mormon women who, either by choice or necessity, choose to pursue careers while also managing to raise children. These women are strong and often rely greatly on the Lord for extra strength and guidance. They should not be judged as breaking a commandment or going against the counsel of the prophet. This choice is a personal one that should be made with her husband prayerfully. On the other hand, Mormon women who choose to stay home and do their best to raise their families in love and righteousness should not be viewed as lazy or old-fashioned. They are content filling that role because they recognize its significance.

Mormon women hold many leadership positions within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They lead the primary organization for children between the ages of 18 months to 11 years. Women also lead the Young Women organization for young women between the ages of 12 and 18 as well as the Relief Society organization, for women ages 18 and up. In addition to these leadership positions, women serve in many areas of the Mormon Church’s organization. They are not paid for their time, but neither are the men who serve in the church; not even the president of the church. All Mormon clergy is a lay clergy. None is a professional religious leader. All who serve in the Mormon Church do so willingly, on their own time, and without monetary compensation, though they are of course blessed by the Lord for their service.

Mormon women are strong, encouraged to gain an education, recognized as the equals to and complementary partners with men. They have just as much to offer and just as much responsibility as men do in building the kingdom of God.

 

Book of Mormon and Other Mormon Scripture

By Doris

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) accepts the Bible as Mormon scripture and considers it to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. However, modern revelation has shown that many plain and precious truths have been lost from the Bible. Some things were lost in translation, some were lost in the transmission, or passing on, of texts, and other things were lost because wicked men deliberately took them out of the record.

Book of MormonThe Book of Mormon is a sacred text similar to the Bible. It is a second testament that Jesus is the Christ. It is the record of a people who left Jerusalem in 600 A.D., before its destruction. This group of people was led by revelation to a promised land, the American continents, and built up civilizations here. The Book of Mormon chronicles their dealings with Jesus Christ, their times of righteousness and times of wickedness, and finally, the destruction of a race because of their wickedness. The record was buried by the last righteous man, Moroni, and stayed hidden for about 1200 years.

In 1820, a fourteen-year-old boy was confused about which of the many Christian denominations he should join in his area. They all seemed to conflict with each other. He read James 1:5, where James instructs, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him as of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” This young boy was Joseph Smith. He did pray, and in response to his prayer, he received a marvelous vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They told him the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been lost from the earth, and none of the churches had the whole truth; therefore, Joseph should not join any of them. Three years later, Joseph turned to God again in prayer and received another vision, this time of an angel named Moroni, the same Moroni who had buried the ancient record 1200 years earlier.

Moroni showed Joseph where the record was hidden. Over several years, he prepared Joseph to receive these plates. Joseph learned that he could not use the plates for any temporal needs, such as supporting his poor family. These plates were to bring about the purposes of God and could not be used for personal gain. Joseph translated the ancient record through the power of God and published it in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. This book was never meant to replace the Bible, but is meant as a complementary book of scripture. The two used together show that Jesus is the Christ, that He loves all of God’s children, and that He continues to speak to them as long as they will listen.

Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) accept the Bible as holy scripture as well as the Book of Mormon. Other Mormon scripture includes the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelations (Mormon scripture), given mostly to Joseph Smith, about how The Church of Jesus Christ was to be organized on the earth in our day. Many times people are called to repentance, both as individuals and the church as a whole. There are many revelations restoring lost truth, like the proper method of baptism (by immersion by one having authority), the sacramental prayers, the laying on of hands to heal, and the organization of the church. The Doctrine and Covenants is truly a testament that God continues to speak today and that miracles are a part of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Pearl of Great Price is a collection of ancient scripture. It contains four books: Moses, Abraham, Joseph Smith—Matthew, and Joseph Smith—History. It also contains the Articles of Faith, thirteen statements declaring basic Mormon beliefs. Here is a breakdown of the Mormon scripture in the Pearl of Great Price. “Selections from the Book of Moses” was a portion of scripture revealed to Joseph Smith during his translation of the Bible. It contains a portion of Moses’ record which had been lost. The Book of Abraham is a translation by Joseph through the power of God of an ancient papyrus that came into the possession of the church. It contains three facsimiles of illustrations from the original text. Joseph Smith—Matthew is another portion of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, showing changes to words and additions of lost text. Joseph Smith—History is Joseph’s personal account of his first vision and subsequent experiences leading to the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition to the four books of Mormon scripture contained in the Latter-day Saint canon, Mormons believe in continuing revelation. There is a living prophet on the earth today, and God speaks to him. The 15 men who lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the three members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) are sustained by church members as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” They receive revelation for the church and the world, making God’s will known to mankind.

Mormon Polygamy

By Terrie

Although Mormons (a nickname sometimes applied to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) practiced polygamy more than one hundred years ago, they do not practice it today. Anyone who does so is excommunicated and the groups that practice today and call themselves “Mormons” are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon FamilyThe Mormon polygamy practiced by the early Latter-day Saints was very different from the practice of many modern groups. It was a minority practice and was not required of anyone. In fact, in order to have more than one wife, a man had to seek permission from a variety of sources. First, he needed the permission of the church, in order to demonstrate he could properly care for a wife and was a member in good standing. (First marriages, of course, did not require church permission.) Next, the man needed permission from his first wife. She not only had to approve the additional marriage, but also had to approve the specific woman chosen. In some families, the current wives selected the new wives themselves and were often the ones who received the initial revelation that another wife was wanted by God. The man also had to receive the permission of the woman he wanted to marry, naturally. Marriages were never arranged by the church unless Brigham Young was asked to recommend someone. Even then, the man needed the woman’s approval.

Thirty percent of women who entered into a marriage as a second or later wife were previously married. In an era when women had few legal rights and few ways to support themselves, it often provided a measure of security, particularly if the woman already had children or was older. Only one-third of all LDS adult women were in a marriage that involved Mormon polygamy, and the majority of those marriages involved just two wives. Because there were far more women than men, this allowed more women to have opportunities for marriage and motherhood.

In general, early Mormons, like Mormons today, discouraged divorce. However, Brigham Young granted divorces to any woman who discovered she could not cope with her marriage if polygamy was involved. However, the men who discovered they could not cope were told to return home and work harder on their marriages. Having chosen to take on an additional wife, they were now responsible for her well-being.

Mormon life in early Utah was very challenging. The work was hard and the men were often away. In the early days of the church, missionaries were often chosen from among the married men, who then traveled for years at a time without their spouses. (Today missionaries are younger and unmarried, or older and serving as couples.) Many women found that having additional wives in the home gave them an unusual amount of autonomy they did not have in more traditional marriages. If there were enough women in the home who were willing to care for all the children, the other women were free, and even encouraged by Brigham Young, to return to school for more education. Mormon women were encouraged by Young to enter careers not traditionally offered to women in the rest of the nation. Martha Cannon, for instance, was a doctor and was one of seven wives in a Mormon polygamous marriage. She decided to run for the state senate against her own husband and won, becoming the first female state senator.

“As I have often told my sisters in the Female Relief Societies, we have sisters here who, if they had the privilege of studying, would make just as good mathematicians or accountants as any man; and we think they ought to have the privilege to study these branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. We believe that women are useful not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but that they should stand behind the counter, study law or physic [medicine], or become good book-keepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large” (DBY, 216–17, Brigham Young, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young). [Note: “Sisters” refers to all female members of the church and the Relief Society is the women’s auxiliary.]

When the men were away on missions, additional wives provided more labor for the demanding farm life most families lived. It meant live-in emotional support and help with the children. If one of the wives was employed, it meant the family could live better while the man was away.

Eliza R. Snow, a wife of Brigham Young, said in a conference on the status of women:

“Our enemies pretend that, in Utah, woman is held in a state of vassalage—that she does not act from choice, but by coercion. What nonsense!

“I will now ask of this assemblage of intelligent ladies, Do you know of any place on the face of the earth, where woman has more liberty and where she enjoys such high and glorious privileges as she does here as a Latter-day Saint? No! the very idea of a woman here in a state of slavery is a burlesque on good common sense … as women of God, filling high and responsible positions, performing sacred duties—women who stand not as dictators, but as counselors to their husbands, and who, in the purest, noblest sense of refined womanhood, are truly their helpmates—we not only speak because we have the right, but justice and humanity demands we should!” (See Jaynann Morgan Payne, “Eliza R. Snow: First Lady of the Pioneers,” Ensign, September 1973.)

While this article has explored many benefits of early Mormon polygamy, the fact exists that there was no reason given by God for it to be instituted when it was. He commanded it; His Saints obeyed. Mormon polygamy was not a popular thing, even among the Latter-day Saints, but those who chose to participate did so out of love for God and out of a desire to be obedient to His commandments. While they were truly blessed for their obedience, they were also severely persecuted by their fellowman for their practice. Many Latter-day Saints were driven out of the country in trying to protect their families. Eventually God saw that the church would be destroyed if Mormon polygamy continued, and in 1890, He rescinded the commandment to live polygamy, and it became an excommunicable offense, which it continues to be today (See Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 1).

Additional Resources:

More Mormon Beliefs

Mormon Polygamy

LDS History

 

The Mormon Religion

The Mormon religion is the popular name for the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830, by Joseph Smith, Jr., who was a prophet of God in our day. Mormon history is full of persecution and struggle. Despite the religious freedom granted by the United States Constitution, Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes in four different states for their Mormon religion before finally fleeing west and settling in the Utah territory.

Mormon ChapelWhat is so different about the Mormon religion compared to other Christian faiths? What was it that made people who were otherwise good, law-abiding, faithful people turn on their neighbors with such hatred and malice? While there are many levels to answering these questions, for the most part, there are several straightforward responses.

Even today, there are members of many Christian denominations who feel a burning hatred for and distrust of the Mormon religion. This is largely because of misunderstandings and misconceptions, but there are some legitimate differences between the Mormon religion and other Christian faiths which are rooted in doctrinal issues of great importance.

Latter-day Saints do not believe in the Trinity that is defined in Christian creeds. Mormons reject the idea that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three different manifestations of an unknowable, indefinable being. They believe that God has a tangible body of flesh and bone and that He is the literal father of Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. Jesus Christ was born of Mary in a miraculous virgin birth. As the literal Son of God and as the son of a mortal woman, He had the power to die, but also had the power to take up His life again, which He did, rising from the grave on the third day after His death. The Mormon religion teaches that Jesus Christ lives, in a resurrected body, on the right hand of God and is our Mediator with the Father. The Holy Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost, is a spirit being, who is the third member of the Godhead. He speaks to our hearts and testifies of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another doctrine which sets the Mormon religion apart from other Christian faiths is that of authority. Latter-day Saints believe that the priesthood authority which Jesus Christ gave to His apostles when He organized the early church after His resurrection was lost after the deaths of the apostles due to the wickedness of men who took over the church. Instead of taking the existing doctrine and authority on faith, they tried (successfully) to instill the popular philosophies of learned men of their day into the doctrine and make the doctrine conform. Thus, the authority to act in God’s name was lost. A restoration, not a reformation, was needed to bring this authority back, which is what happened in 1830. Joseph Smith was set apart as the first prophet of our dispensation, and he was given the power and authority by those who had held it last: John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John.

The Mormon religion also loses popularity with other Christian religions because it claims to be the only true church on the earth today. It is understandable why this view may not be taken well by other churches, but it is also important to understand that the Mormon religion recognizes that all religions which teach good principles have truth. The distinction is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the earth today which has the fulness of the truth. They do not want to take away from people’s faith and beliefs; they simply want to add to the goodness that they already possess.

The most important thing to know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the doctrine is focused on Jesus Christ as our Savior. The danger in referring to this belief system as the Mormon religion is that it takes away from that focus, but that is a nickname that has been stamped on the LDS Church since its early days because of its belief in a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon. Christians often do not take kindly to the Book of Mormon, either, calling it the “Mormon Bible,” but the Book of Mormon is a companion book of scripture to the Bible and serves as another witness that Jesus is the Christ.

Everything in the Mormon religion focuses on Jesus Christ and the fulness of His gospel.

Article Written By Doris

http://youtu.be/9NN0boC4y_s

Additional Resources:

Jesus Christ in Mormonism

Joseph Smith

Mormon Families

By Kay Cahoon

Mormon Families today are like every other family. We work hard to take care of and support our families. In today’s society some families have to have both father and mother working full-time to take care of household bills. We have the same stresses day to day as everyone else. Making ends meet is difficult for the Mormon family as it is for society in general. Mormon families have disappointments, trials, tribulations, heartaches, and setbacks. So why are Mormons seen as “Pollyanna’s” or perennially “happy”.

Mormon FatherPeople seem to think that “nothing seems to phase us” or we must be faking “joy”. After all, NO one can be “happy” or “joyful” all the time, right? But in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have access to the Lord’s grace to help us with our trials — the unconditional love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can go to our Heavenly Father in prayer every day to share our struggles. We know that He listens with mercy and cares about each and every one of us no matter what we say or do. We are loved. When the world comes crashing down around us, we are never alone and we are always loved. And that is true in the Mormon family.

We teach our children that they are children of God and that they can always pray to Heavenly Father about anything that they are concerned, troubled or questioning about. We also teach our children that they have the agency to make any choice that they want to make, as long as they understand that their choices have consequences. We teach our children that they are accountable for those choices. We teach them about the “Word of Wisdom” which is all about making healthy lifestyle choices. That means we don’t drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or drink coffee and tea. We believe in moderation in all things.

We teach them that the scriptures are a sacred record and that if we read them daily, we will find answers to those daily struggles that we all must endure. We go to church every Sunday as a family to renew our baptismal covenants that we made when we were baptized. But we also go to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ through scripture study, talks and music. We believe in the Ten Commandments given to Moses. They include.. thou shalt not steal, honor your mother and your father and thou shalt not commit adultery. We study the scriptures daily as a family; we talk about the scriptures and how they apply to us today. One night a week we gather as a family for Family Home Evening, which is a fun time that we can enjoy each other and reinforce that we are an eternal family.

The active Mormon family keeps the Sabbath day holy, which means we don’t go shopping, play sports or anything that takes us away from the respect and focus that we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can be busy like bees for 6 days a week, but on Sundays we take a break, attend our church meetings, visit family, and keep the day holy.

But something that we hold sacred that really binds us as a family is going to the Mormon Temple. We build temples all over the world. Temples are Houses of God considered special or sacred to the Mormon Family. We go to temples to perform special ordinances that are eternal. Each person must be found worthy to attend and needs a temple recommend to enter The House of the Lord. In the Temple, we can learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our place in the eternities. Families are sealed together for forever, children to parents and grandparents going back generation-to-generation. Through family history research we find our ancestors, then through the ordinances of the Mormon temple, such as baptism for the dead, we seal our relationships forever. When a loved one dies, we believe that we will see that person again, when we pass away. We are sad to lose a loved one, but there is the belief, comfort and faith that we will be together in the eternities.

We are generally a happy and joyful people, because we try to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day as individuals and with in our families. By putting Him first and with the knowledge that everything we have and everything we do is through Him, we have the comfort of knowing that we are part of an eternal family, that we are loved unconditionally, that through prayer, scriptures, and personal revelation, we can find the answers we need for ourselves and for our families.

Kay Cahoon, member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), wife, mother of six, grandma of many, traveler and genealogist.

Additional Resources:

Strengthening Families

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

LDS Temples – the House of the Lord

Grace and works in Mormonism

I didn’t know what was expected the first time I heard someone say, “Let us say grace.” The family bowed their heads, said a memorized prayer and began the meal. I realized that their “grace” was similar to the un-memorized blessing on the food we had each meal as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (referred to as Mormons or LDS).

Jesus Christ MormonWhen I heard the word “grace” again, it had yet another meaning. I had tripped, and my mom teasingly said, “What you lack in grace, you make up for in charm.”

It didn’t take long to learn that “grace” had even more meanings. But the most meaningful to me refers to the grace extended from God.

The Bible, together with the Book of Mormon and other modern-day scriptures provides a comprehensive explanation of Grace.

From the Bible we read:

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they (Acts 15:11; See Ephesians 2:8-10).

In the writings of Paul, grace is freely given to all mankind because of the love and tender mercy of Jesus Christ.

The LDS Bible dictionary defines Grace in this way:

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient…

When Jesus suffered in Gethsemane for the sins and sorrows of mankind, He freed us from the prison of death—we were saved with no strings attached. However, we are expected to follow His teachings, example and commandments.

Some churches use biblical scriptures to argue that nothing more is required than the faith that Christ is one’s personal Savior. However, in the New Testament, James made it clear that faith alone is not enough:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? (James 2:14-17)

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)

Gerald Lund, a Mormon Educator, quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith in an article in the April, 1981 Ensign Magazine, “Salvation: By Grace or By Works?” :

So Paul taught these people—who thought that they could be saved by some power that was within them, or by observing the law of Moses—he pointed out to them the fact that if it were not for the mission of Jesus Christ, if it were not for this great atoning sacrifice, they could not be redeemed. And therefore it was by the grace of God that they are saved, not by any work on their part, for they were absolutely helpless. Paul was absolutely right.

And on the other hand, James taught just as the Lord taught, just as Paul had taught in other scripture, that it is our duty, of necessity, to labor, to strive in diligence, and faith, keeping the commandments of the Lord, if we would obtain that inheritance which is promised to the faithful. …

The Book of Mormon confirms that it takes more than saying we believe; we must live as Christ commanded:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

Dallin Oaks, an apostle of the LDS Church, explained (Ensign Magazine, May 1998, “Have You Been Saved?”):

…what is “all we can do”? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moro. 10:32).

We are not saved in our sins, as by being unconditionally saved through confessing Christ and then, inevitably, committing sins in our remaining lives (see Alma 11:36–37). We are saved from our sins (see Hel. 5:10) by a weekly renewal of our repentance and cleansing through the grace of God and His blessed plan of salvation (see 3 Ne. 9:20–22).

We must take action now to gain exaltation later. Exaltation is different than salvation. It means being exalted into the highest kingdom of heaven into the very presence of God. The gift of grace guarantees that the end of life (death) is just the beginning of eternity (immortality). We must strive to become better each day.

Using the standard dictionary definitions of Grace, Christopher J. Sexton, a recent convert to Mormonism, told how grace works in his life.

Grace:

1. Elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form or movement. This is how things go in my life when I allow God to drive the bus, and I just follow instructions.

2. Politeness, dignified and decent behavior. This is how I try to act as I pray and ask for the continued humility, strength and love to accept His will for me, knowing He knows best.

3. Generosity of spirit, a capacity to tolerate, accommodate or forgive people. This is the never-ending Love of my (our) Savior and all He does for me during the trial of this existence.

Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet, taught that through grace and following Christ (works) we will be redeemed:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32–33.)

I am humbled by the Grace of God. Because of Christ’s redeeming love, I deeply desire to be worthy of the incomprehensible sacrifice He made in my behalf. I am grateful for His arms of comfort and mercy that encircle me and strengthen me when I am weak. I pray that others will come to know, as I do, that Jesus is the Christ, filled with Grace and truth and that He is available to all who seek Him.

Sources:

Gerald N. Lund – “Salvation: By Grace or by Works?

Elder Dalin H. Oaks – “Have You Been Saved?

Bible Dictionary: Grace

LDS Scriptures: New Testament

Additional Resources:

Request a free copy of the Holy Bible

The Lord Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer

Missionary Work

Do Mormons Celebrate the Fourth of July?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) believe in the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. At the beginning of this sacred text we learn of a family that was led to the Americas before Jerusalem was destroyed nearly 600 years before the Lord Jesus Christ was born. In their account we learn from the father of the family (and prophet of God), “Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6).

Mormon TempleMormons recognize and understand that America is a blessed land. Some 2,000 years after Lehi and his family were led to America, we know that there was another who was led to this great land—a man of faith and determination, Christopher Columbus. In the Book of Mormon we learn about Columbus and his divine mission, from a vision of Lehi’s son Nephi,

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Ne. 13:12). President Gordon B. Hinckley (former prophet of the LDS church) said of Christopher Columbus:

It was he who in faith lighted a lamp to look for a new way to China and who in the process discovered America. His was an awesome undertaking—to sail west across the unknown seas farther than any before him of his generation. He it was who, in spite of the terror of the unknown and the complaints and near mutiny of his crew, sailed on with frequent prayers to the Almighty for guidance. In his reports to the sovereigns of Spain, Columbus repeatedly asserted that his voyage was for the glory of God and the spread of the Christian faith. Properly do we honor him for his unyielding strength in the face of uncertainty and danger (“Building Your Tabernacle,” Ensign, November 1992).

Just as we know that Columbus had a divine mission to “discover” America (perhaps his greatest contribution was establishing a colony on nearby islands from where exploratory expeditions could launch), we also know that our Founding Fathers had a divine mission to found the country itself. It was not by coincidence that these wise and courageous men (George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, etc.) were all born around the same time, were introduced to one another, and that they all had an indescribable passion and zeal for the land of America to be founded under God. President Ezra Taft Benson (late prophet of the LDS church) said this,

I testify that America is a choice land. God raised up the founding fathers of the United States of America and established the inspired Constitution… America will be a blessed land unto the righteous forever… (“I Testify,” Conference Report, October 1988).

Noted historian, Barbara Tuchman, said,

The product of a new nation, George Washington, was a leader who shines among the best. While Jefferson was more learned, more cultivated, a more extraordinary mind, and unsurpassed intelligence, a truly universal man, Washington had a character of rock and a kind of nobility that exerted a natural dominion over others, together with the inner strength and perseverance that enabled him to prevail over a flood of obstacles. He made possible both the physical victory of American independence and the survival of the fractious and tottering young republic in its beginning years.

Around him in extraordinary fertility political talent bloomed as if touched by some tropical sun. For all their flaws and quarrels, the Founding Fathers have rightfully been called by Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., “the most remarkable generation of public men in the history of the United States or perhaps of any other nation.” It is worth noting the qualities this historian ascribes to them: they were fearless, high-principled, deeply versed in ancient and modern political thought, astute and pragmatic, unafraid of experiment, and—this is significant—“convinced of man’s power to improve his condition through the use of intelligence.” That was the mark of the Age of Reason that formed them, and although the 18th century had a tendency to regard men as more rational than in fact they were, it evoked the best in government from these men.

It would be invaluable if we could know what produced this burst of talent from a base of only two and a half million inhabitants…. the Founders remain a phenomenon to keep in mind to encourage our estimate of human possibilities, even if their example is too rare to be a basis of normal expectations (The March of Folly: From Troy to Viet Nam, 18, 19).

A day never to be forgotten is that of July 4th, 1776. This was the day that our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. And to answer the question in the title of this article “Do Mormons Celebrate the Fourth of July?” the answer is a resounding, Yes! American Mormons honor and celebrate this day with fun and games and patriotic observances, just as other Americans. And we also celebrate it with singing hymns in church, giving thanks to God in our personal, family, and public prayers, and we simply celebrate it by honoring with reverence the great momentous occasion that it was—a day that was consecrated by God Himself.

A unique belief of Mormonism is that one pivotal reason for the foundation of America was for the re-establishment of Christ’s Primitive Church, now known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths). After Christ died, the priesthood power (the name Mormons give the power and authority of God) gradually disappeared with internal doctrinal disagreements developing within the Christian community. That priesthood power needed to be brought back, and it was, because of the rights and freedoms that came into effect on March 4, 1789, with the Constitution of the United States of America. Like Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and other key players of the founding of America, Joseph Smith Jr. had a divine mission from God. Just 44 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, he saw God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ in a vision, wherein they told him that he was to be an instrument in bringing about this great work. All of these events were not by coincidence; God designed them.

Each Fourth of July, I am reminded not only of the blessing it was to have our country become independent from Great Britain, but I am also reminded of God’s powerful hand in all things. I know that America was founded under God, and that indeed it is a blessed land.

Following are the words of President N. Eldon Tanner (former member of The First Presidency of the LDS Church):

We are all a part of America’s future. Our job is to learn and benefit from the past and to go forward in righteousness, keeping the commandments of God. In this connection the prophet Lehi said, “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7). (“If They Will But Serve the God of the Land,” Conference Report, April 1976).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz3Dj-YAFoM&feature=youtu.be

Additional Resources:

Read a talk by a modern day apostle Elder L. Tom Perry titled, “God’s Hand in the Founding of America

Request a free Book of Mormon

Learn more about Jesus Christ

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