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.
You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation
In the Bible it says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:1,6). The home is the best place to learn and apply the teachings found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) believe that nothing on earth can compensate for failure in the home.
God designates each of His children into families on this earth, where they can further develop their talents and attributes. God wants His children to obey His commandments so that they will experience long-lasting and complete happiness as they strive to live righteously here on earth. It is in the rearing of Mormon families in which all of us can receive the blessings of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in the four corners of our home where vital lessons can be learned and applied in life.
Many past and present prophets have testified about the value and importance of the family, whether that family is a Mormon family or not. “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
Mormon families love to mingle and to share with others the blessings they have received as they obey the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moron families are also willing to share they have and would gladly lend a hand to those who might stand in need of help. There are so many other things that Mormon families can share and testify of concerning the effect of the gospel in their lives when Christ’s teachings are shared within the Mormon family units.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the central core around which these Mormon families build their strong foundation. “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power to beat you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
Throughout the history of the Church, the Mormon family has been one of the most important aspects being discussed and emphasized. For example, the Church reserves Monday evening free of church responsibilities for members to focus and have time with their families. Likewise, Mormon missionaries all the world are instructed to put emphasis on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in their investigators’ homes where their families can gather together and hear the glorious message of the gospel as well.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the admonition of the Lord. He said, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). The wonderful thing about Mormon families is that they know, through obedience to God’s commandments, families can be together forever when they are sealed for eternity in a Mormon temple. The blessings which come to faithful Mormon families are the greatest gifts that God has to bestow upon His children.
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
The Mormon religion centers on Jesus Christ. In fact, the name of the church shows this, but because the nickname “Mormon” has been continually used, that is the term the general public seems to identify with the most. The name of the church which other people call the “Mormon Church” is officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints (or “Mormons”) are trying to teach people that the term “Mormon” is a misnomer and that the people to whom the term often applies are followers of Jesus Christ.
Mormonism, as the world religion is now identified, was organized during a period of religious revival in the United States in the early 1800s. A young farm boy named Joseph Smith grew up in a religious home and was confused by the many differing Christian sects which surrounded him, which each claimed to be the only church which had the truth, and which all seemed to disagree with each other on important points of doctrine. In his confusion, Joseph sought answers through studying the Bible. One day, he read James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” The fourteen-year-0ld boy took this advice to heart and went into a grove of trees on a spring morning to pour his heart out to God. In answer to his prayer, Joseph received a vision. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph and told him that none of the churches on the earth at that time contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ; therefore, he should not join any of them.
Over the next ten years, Joseph received more heavenly instruction and was prepared to restore the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. The Mormon religion teaches that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been lost from the earth when the people turned away from its truth in a period Latter-day Saints call the Great Apostasy. This period spanned from the time the twelve apostles were martyred and the authority of the priesthood (or the power and authority to act in God’s name) was lost from the earth to the time when Christ’s church was restored through that same power in 1830.
Joseph Smith was led to an ancient record kept by inhabitants of the Americas. This record contained the dealings of Jesus Christ with these people and His teachings to them. Latter-day Saints believe that these people are descendants of the House of Israel and were led to the Americas by the hand of God to preserve them. However, they also drifted into unbelief. One of the last faithful survivors was named Moroni, and he was instructed to bury the record of his people which his father, Mormon, had abridged. Joseph was led to this record and translated it by the power of God. It was published and is known today as the Book of Mormon. This is where the misnomer “Mormon” comes from.
While some other Christian religions accuse Latter-day Saints of not being Christian because they replaced the Bible with the Book of Mormon, this is not true. Latter-day Saints believe the Bible to be the word of God. However, they also believe that many points of doctrine were lost from its pages over time and through the designs of certain men. The Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible; it is a companion book of scripture to the Bible, clarifies confusing doctrines in the Bible, and is a second testament that Jesus is the Christ.
Latter-day Saints do not worship Mormon or Joseph Smith. They worship Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. They do recognize, however, that God continues to speak to His children today through a living prophet, and Joseph Smith was the first living prophet of our day.
While the Mormon religion differs from other Christian religions on certain points of doctrine, including, but not limited to, the definition of the Trinity, the principle of continuing revelation, infant baptism, and eternal families, they are most certainly Christians. They recognize that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, as He claimed to be. He is our Intercessor with the Father. He took upon Himself the sins and sorrows of the world. He overcame death, both physical and spiritual, that we may all have an opportunity to return to God the Father and partake of eternal life.
The Kiev Mormon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”) recently received first place for the best religious building construction for 2010. It is the first Mormon temple constructed “in the former Soviet Union.” The Kiev temple was announced back in 1998 just a few weeks after the dedication of the first Ukrainian meetinghouse.
Latter-day Saint temples are different from regular church meetinghouses. Temples are literally Houses of the Lord. They are places where Mormons go to make sacred promises or covenants with Jesus Christ. They promise to follow Jesus Christ and live a life of virtue and service to Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints also bring names to temples to perform ordinances such as baptisms and sealings that unite families in an eternal relationship, in behalf of their ancestors who have passed away. It is a place of love, peace, and holiness for those who attend.
For the full report, please visit the official Mormon news website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Find a local church meetinghouse.
Learn more about why Mormons build temples at the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Temples are houses of the Lord where sacred ordinances are performed. Learn more about what goes on in Mormon temples.
Personal revelation is inspiration given to us personally, by God, through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Everyone arrives on earth at birth with the light of Christ. People often call this “conscience.” This light dims when we commit sin, or when we reject it. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and being spirit, can dwell within us. The Holy Ghost testifies to us when things are true, leads us toward God and Christ, warns us of danger, and comforts us. After baptism by immersion by the proper authority, the “gift of the Holy Ghost” can be conferred by the laying on of hands. This is a permanent gift, as long as the person receiving it remains worthy. The gift of the Holy Ghost is something that is always with us, guiding us through life. Through our actions, we chose whether to listen to that guidance or to drown it out with the voices of the world, beckoning us to join in its sin.
How does one recognize revelation from God? While I know, from personal experience how I receive revelation, I do not know how you, the reader, or anyone else in this world receives revelation. It’s a personal thing that is given differently, conforming if you will, to each individual’s personality and ways of processing information. One of our great tasks as we sojourn on earth is to recognize the voice of God when He speaks to us.
Revelation can be given and received in many different ways. One example is having a thought in your head, which you never would have come up with on your own. This could be an idea or a choice of words that sound a little different than your normal thought process. There are times, when I’m writing or I’m talking about the gospel. I can go on for hours conversing and discussing different topics with someone, and then at the end of the discussion, I don’t remember one thing that I said. I know, during those times, that I was speaking through revelation that was being given to me, through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
There are also times, when the small voice in your head, can get rather loud. This is necessary to jolt your system, when you are in danger and need to get away, or do something as fast as possible. I would like to share two experiences where that loud voice in my head, saved me from something terrible.
The first experience was when I was 13 or 14 years old. It was during the summer, at the time when certain fireworks were legal in Utah. I didn’t have much experience with fireworks, because I had spent most of my life in foreign places, where they didn’t celebrate the Fourth of July. Wanting to get some fireworks of my own, I went around to my family members and asked them if they could take me to the store. Being the youngest and smallest, I was ignored, while the others were in an intense conversation. I do not remember the topic, but I remember that all their faces were serious. Getting annoyed and frustrated, as I often got as a child, I decided to do it myself, another thing that I was quite known for doing. So, I hopped onto my bike and rode down the hill to the grocery store. When I got to the store, I found out that my funds were not sufficient enough to buy the things that I desired. Being very stupid, I went around the store and asked people for small amounts of change. There was a particular man, whom I asked and he gave me a dollar. After collecting enough to buy the fireworks I wanted, I went to the check-out stand, only to find out that I was too young to purchase fireworks. Down-hearted and sulking, I went around the store to find the people I had borrowed money from and one by one, returned their change to them. When I got back to the man who gave me a dollar, he asked me what was wrong. I explained my situation, to which he offered an exchange. He would buy my fireworks with what money I had, if I helped him put his groceries in the car. With a now wide smile on my face, I agreed, gave him my money, and then waited for him by the front door. He purchased his things and mine, afterwards showing me to his truck, he handed me my fireworks, then proceeded to put his bags away himself, which I found odd. After he was done, and put his cart away, he looked at me, and said, “Hey, why don’t you hop in the front seat of my truck and we can have a talk.” Now, I had not been taught about “stranger danger” to the extent that other American children had, since I lived in little towns where everyone knew everyone. But the second that he said that, my body shocked, and something in me (I know now that it was the Holy Ghost) yelled. “RUN.” So, I politely excused myself, smiled, then turned and casually got on my bike. Once I got around the corner, I hid behind a fence and watched him pull out of the parking lot. When he went the other way, I got back on my bike, and I tell you, Mount Everest would have been a breeze to bike, the way I was peddling.
The second experience, funny enough, also had to do with my bike and me. Riding home on my bike one very dark night, I followed the path that I was familiar with, since my night vision was not the best. Suddenly, that loud voice in my head, told me to close my eyes. A flash of thought about how stupid that was (since it was pitch dark) entered my head, but I heeded the thought and closed my eyes. The second that I did, a branch that was sticking out over a fence, hovering over the sidewalk, whacked me across the eyes, scratching my eyelids, eyebrows and the bridge of my nose. Without a doubt, I knew that the Holy Ghost, to save me from what was sure to be a major eye injury, had guided me.
I have had other revelations in my life, but those are things that are between Heavenly Father, and me and should not be discussed casually. But I want to bear my testimony, that the power of personal revelation is real, and that if we surround ourselves with positive things of the Gospel and not of the world, that voice will become more and more clear every day, guiding us along the path that will lead us to eternal salvation, with our Heavenly Father.
Your Own Idea, or God’s
Discerning personal revelation is a life-long journey, and all believers must learn to recognize God’s voice. The “still, small voice” of the Holy Ghost can be heard by the heart and mind, and the words uttered sear into one’s soul. Sometimes gentle promptings will repeat again and again, and we can act on them or ignore them. If we want to be God’s hands in serving others, we need to heed His promptings to visit the sick or call a troubled friend.
One measuring stick that we can always use in discerning whether promptings are from God is that revelation from God will ALWAYS urge or guide us to do things that uphold the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It will never lead us in a direction that will harm us, or have us go against Christ’s commandments.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes strongly in the sanctity of the family and the bond and commitment between a husband, his wife and their children. God would never go against His own teachings and instruct an individual to stray from that sacred covenant. Recently I heard of a wife and mother in a seemingly happy family who felt instructed by God to abandon her husband and children and enter into a relationship with another woman. She claims that she has submitted to the will of God and has received daily confirmations from God in prayer. Her “inspiration” has not passed the test and could not be from God.
In the LDS Church, when we are confused, we have recourse to blessings from men who hold the Holy Priesthood. With the laying on of hands, they can convey messages from the Lord that will help us on the path to eternal life and enable us to serve others.
When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He performed many miracles. After His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, His apostles continued to perform miracles in His name. The power by which these miracles were performed was the same as it had been in the Old Testament, when prophets such as Moses and Elijah did mighty miracles. This power is the priesthood, or the power and authority to act in God’s name. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church) is the only church on the earth today which has this power.
The power of the priesthood was lost from the earth due to the wickedness of men who did not believe in Jesus Christ and killed His apostles. After the martyrdom of the twelve apostles, there was no man who had the authority to lead and guide Jesus Christ’s church on the earth. This period is referred to in Mormon doctrine as the Great Apostasy. Great men such as Origen and Augustine recognized that this authority was gone. They tried to use logic and the schools of thought to understand the gospel, but by bringing these things into the Early Church, they destroyed the foundation of faith and simplicity which Jesus Christ had built.
For nearly two thousand years, the earth remained in this dark state, with bits of the truth of Christianity among them, but no clear authoritative figure to speak for God. This changed in the early 1800s, when the priesthood power was restored to the earth. Joseph Smith had been chosen by God, for his humility and for his desire to find the true church of God, to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. Those men who had held the keys of the priesthood anciently were called to restore that power to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The beginning of the restoration of these keys began on May 15, 1829, when John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood, the priesthood which the descendants of Aaron had held for centuries in running the temple. Between May and June of the same year, Joseph and Oliver received the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John. This was the higher priesthood and held keys of higher ordinances, while the Aaronic Priesthood hold the keys for the power of baptism and the ministering of angels.
Today, any worthy male member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may hold the priesthood beginning at the age of 12. Worthy young men may, from the age of 12, begin to participate in the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood, which is described as the lesser priesthood or the priesthood of outward ordinances. They may begin to pass the Sacrament (similar to the Eucharist) at Sunday meetings. As young men get older and faithfully fulfill their priesthood duties, they can advance through the offices (or levels) of the Aaronic Priesthood, which include deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop.
Deacons: are given the responsibility to watch over the Church and its members by warning, expounding, exhorting, and teaching, inviting all to come unto Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59). As mentioned above, deacons pass the Sacrament to members of the congregation during Sunday meetings. They also collect fast offerings, assist the bishop and his counselors, care for the meetinghouse an grounds, serve as messengers of Jesus Christ, and may participate in baptisms for the dead in Mormon Temples.
Teachers: are ordained from age 14 and up. They have the responsibility to watch over and strengthen the Church by encouraging no lying, gossiping, or evil speaking among congregation members. They also prepare the Sacrament, serve as home teachers, and serve as ushers in Church meetings.
Priests: serve from age 16 and up. They have the responsibility to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and visit the house of each member (mostly through home teaching). Priests bless the Sacrament. They also have the authority to perform baptisms, under the direction and approval of the bishop, but they do not have the authority to confirm a member with the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Bishops: serve in the highest office of the Aaronic Priesthood. All Mormon Church clergy are volunteers. They do not get paid for their service. The invitation to serve as bishop is extended and the usual length of time for a bishop to serve is about 5 years. The bishop is president of the priest quorum and the whole Aaronic Priesthood. Though this is an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, men who serve as bishops also hold the Melchizedek Priesthood so they have the authority to preside over the entire congregation.
The Melchizedek Priesthood, or higher priesthood, is named after the high priest Melchizedek from the Old Testament. A man is typically ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood when he turns 18 and prepares to serve a mission. Any worthy male 18 or older, however, may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. The offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood include elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch, apostle, and prophet. This higher priesthood has been held by every patriarch and prophet authorized by God since Adam. However, when the children of Israel refused to live the higher law Moses brought them, the Aaronic Priesthood was given to them to govern the constricted form of the gospel they were willing to live at that time. Jesus Christ restored the Melchizedek Priesthood to His apostles, and they in turn restored it to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Each office of each priesthood encompasses all offices below it, thus any elder has authority to perform all the duties of the Aaronic Priesthood (except bishop; a man must be specially set apart for this office). The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys for all the spiritual blessings of the Church.
Elders: baptize and confirm members to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are able to confirm members with the gift of the Holy Ghost. This office also holds the authority to give blessings of comfort and healing to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.
Seventies: are general authorities of the Mormon Church and fulfill their duties under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Seventies direct missionary work and build up the Church across the world.
High Priests: have the authority to officiate in the Mormon Church. Certain callings in the LDS Church require men to be ordained high priests.
Patriarchs: are called on stake levels and ordained by general authorities of the Church. A patriarch gives special blessings of guidance (called patriarchal blessings) to worthy members of the Church. Patriarchs are ordained for life.
Apostles: are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. They also serve for the remainder of their lives. Apostles serve in the Quorum of the Twelve under the direction of the First Presidency. They travel throughout the world building up and organizing the Church. Each apostle holds all the keys of the kingdom, but only the president and prophet has the authority to exercise them all. Apostles exercise their keys under the direction of the president.
Prophet: there is only one at a time. The prophet is the mouthpiece of God and has the authority and responsibility to direct His affairs on the earth. The prophet is the president of the Church and holds all the keys of both priesthoods.
The fact that the priesthood has been restored is one of the greatest blessings of the gospel. The authority to act in God’s name does exist on the earth. Miracles are still performed, and Jesus Christ leads His prophet to guide His Church.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His twelve apostles ran the affairs of the Church and governed it with the authority of the priesthood which Jesus Christ had bestowed upon them. However, once the twelve apostles were dead, the Church went through its own dark ages, called the Great Apostasy, which lasted for nearly two thousand years. During this time, the authority to act in God’s name was lost from the earth. This was due to the wickedness and apostasy of many members of Christ’s Church. Over the course of several hundred years, many Church members and leaders despaired about the loss of authority and the adopting of many of the world’s elements into the gospel.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church) differs from all other Christian denominations because it is the only one which claims and has direct authority from God. While good men such as Martin Luther lamented over all of the major differences between the Church in his day an in Christ’s day and did all they could to start a reformation back to the old ways, there was no way to extract the pure Church out of what it had become. A restoration was essential to bring things back to the way they had been when Jesus Christ organized the Church on the earth.
This restoration began in the early 1800s. In 1820, a young farm boy named Joseph Smith was confused by the tumult of religious opinion going on all around him in upstate New York. Every sect seemed to interpret the same passage from the Bible differently, and he did not know which way to turn. He received guidance in his scripture study when he came across James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upraideth not; and it shall be given him.” As Joseph pondered this scripture, he determined to ask God for guidance. As a result of that prayer, Joseph received a vision. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph. They told him that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been lost from the earth and needed to be restored. They instructed him to not join any church at that time.
Over the next ten years, Joseph received more instruction and guidance from heaven. He had been chosen by God to restore the gospel to the earth. Joseph received countless revelations clarifying doctrine which had been lost from the Bible. Some of this doctrine included baptism by immersion, the eternal nature of the family, missionary work for the dead, the true nature of the Godhead, and many other things. Finally, Joseph was instructed to organize the church on April 6, 1830. This was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was the same as the Primitive Church, organized by Jesus Christ when He was on the earth.
The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most significant event that has happened on the earth since the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ Himself. The authority to act in God’s name, known as the priesthood, has been restored to the earth, and all who hold that priesthood can trace that authority directly back to Jesus Christ. Revelation continues today through a prophet of God, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This man acts as the mouthpiece of God, leading and guiding God’s people today.
The fourth Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states that baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands (or confirmation) for the gift of the Holy Ghost are the first two ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a person is going through the temple for him- or herself, he or she will have already been baptized and confirmed a member of the church. Why do baptisms take place in the temple, then, and why for the dead? Paul taught this concept, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). The concept is a simple one. Not everyone who has lived or who will live on this earth has had the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ. Should they be sent to an endless torment in hell because they never had the opportunity to be baptized? Of course not.
Mormon doctrine teaches that all members of the Mormon Church should do all they can to research their family history and to bring their family names to the temple. Family history work is a key part of Mormon doctrine, because Mormons believe that families can be together forever. This is not an automatic guarantee, though. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
When a person goes through a Mormon temple for the first time, he or she is performing ordinances there for him- or herself. Every time a person goes back to do an ordinance, it is being done for someone else by proxy. This means that a person is standing in for someone who died without the chance to receive these ordinances personally. Billions upon billions of people have lived upon this earth with no knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. By doing work by proxy for them, the law of mercy is being extended to them. A just God would not sentence them to hell for something that was no fault of theirs.
Nearly all names which have been submitted to the temple to have these ordinances done by proxy were submitted by family members. If a person brings personal names to the temple to do the work for others who have passed on, they must be personal family names. Occasionally exceptions are made to this rule; for example, if a good friend passes away and there are no other Mormons in their family. If permission is obtained from the nearest living relative of the deceased, that name may be taken to the temple. In all other cases, names for whom work is done have been submitted by family members.
Work done in Mormon temples is a completely selfless form of service. People sacrifice their time to complete these ordinances on behalf of other people. Mormon doctrine teaches that free will is an eternal principle. So, just because temple work is done for a person, that does not take that person’s choice away about whether they want to accept those ordinances. If a person for whom this work is done does not believe in its truth, or if he or she simply does not want to take upon him- or herself the commitments these ordinances include, that is fine. No one is forced to accept this work. However, by making sure it is done, then people on the other side at least have a choice, whereas before, they had none.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an incredible family history program, which is open to all people, whether they are members of the Mormon Church or not, free of charge. The Mormon Church has gained access to countless countries’ records, has digitized countless records, and these are all available for free.
LDS News on Church policy regarding baptism for the dead
The Thirteen Articles of Faith are considered to be scripture and distill some points of Mormon doctrine. They were written down by Joseph Smith in response to a query from John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as the Mormon Church is officially called) and its beliefs. They are listed below, with an explanation of each point following.
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
- 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.
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
- 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.
- As opposed to other Christian denominations, which embrace the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D., Mormon doctrine teaches that the Godhead (what many other denominations call the Trinity) is made up of three distinct beings: God, the Father, is our spiritual father and created us before we came to this earth (see Plan of Salvation); Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God, came to this earth and was born of a virgin mother, Mary, atoning for the sins of the world and giving His life for all who would live upon it; the Holy Ghost, a spirit being who testifies to individual spirits of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the truth of the gospel. Mormons believe that the members of the Godhead are one in purpose, but are still separate entities.
- The Mormon understanding of “original sin” is also quite different from other Christians’. While Mormons believe that Adam and Eve transgressed God’s law by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and fell from God’s presence for doing so, we are not punished for this act. Though we will all die as a result of the Fall, through Christ’s Atonement and resurrection, we will all rise again. Thus, we are only held accountable for the choices we make in this life, not for anyone else’s choices.
- The Atonement of Christ is a complex doctrine, but is not unique to Mormonism. Christ, the literal Son of God, took upon Himself not only the sins of the world, but also all the pains of the world. He did this so He would know all we went through, that He might succor us. He also died for us and rose again, the conqueror over death, allowing each of us to be resurrected as well, and to return to God to be judged for our thoughts, desires, and actions in this life. All will be saved in a heavenly kingdom of glory except “Sons of Perdition,” who have gained a perfect knowledge of Christ and then denied Him, thus “crucifying Him anew.”
- The first and most basic principle of Christianity is faith that Jesus Christ is our Savior. No other doctrine holds up without this. We must be baptized, as He was, to be cleansed from our sins. Baptism is more than just an act; it is a covenant on the part of the person being baptized to take upon him- or herself the name of Jesus Christ. This means to follow His commandments and strive to become a better person. Mormon doctrine teaches that one must be baptized by immersion (the whole body must go beneath the water), not sprinkling. In addition, one cannot qualify for baptism until the age of eight, what Mormon doctrine calls “the age of accountability.” Before this age, children are considered pure and are not held responsible for their actions. By the age of eight, they should have been taught the difference between right and wrong and may then can be held accountable for their choices. If a person becomes a convert later in life, the baptism is exactly the same as a child of eight’s. The laying on of hands refers to the power of the priesthood. This is the power and authority to act in God’s name. By having the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred upon you, you have the right and privilege of having a member of the Godhead with you at all times to lead and direct you, as long as you are living a virtuous life.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a prophet of God. Mormons believe in continuing revelation, or that God continues to speak through a prophet today. Only one person can be the ultimate authority on the earth at one time, and that man is always answerable to God.
- When Joseph Smith received his First Vision, he learned that the authority to act in God’s name had been lost from the earth when the Apostles died. Jesus Christ restored the fulness of His gospel through Joseph Smith, and the organization of the LDS Church today is the same as it was when Christ organized it during His lifetime.
- Mormon doctrine teaches that there are myriad gifts of the Spirit, and they are the same today as they were anciently. Priesthood blessings can be given which perform miracles, according to the will of God and the faith of the person being blessed. The power of the priesthood has led to countless miracles in our day, including many of healing, prophecy, revelations, visions, etc.
- Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God. It is a second witness to Jesus Christ being our Savior and is a companion text to the Bible; it does not replace it. The Lord told Joseph Smith that over time, many plain and precious truths had been lost from the Bible. Some through the evil designs of men, some through error in translation and transcription. The Book of Mormon and modern revelation have restored these lost truths.
- Mormons believe in modern revelation. God continues to speak through His prophet today. The Old Testament says that God will do nothing without revealing it to His prophets first (Amos 3:7). Scriptures also tell us that when the prophet speaks, it is as if the Lord is speaking (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38). Old revelation is always valuable, but the newest revelation always takes precedence over past revelation. In this way, the Lord can reveal what is needful to His people in each generation.
- The gathering of Israel spoken of in the Old and New Testaments is taken literally in Mormon doctrine. Scriptures declare that the Jews will be gathered home prior to Christ returning to the earth.
- Mormons believe that religious worship is a God-given right. Though they have been severely persecuted in the past for their own beliefs, they respect the freedom of others to worship how they see fit.
- The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on abiding by laws is clear: members should support their governments where they live and should contribute when they can to building a stronger community. At times when the law of the land conflicts with the law of God, however, the law of God is higher.
- Members of the LDS Church are encouraged to live good lives. Christ preached honesty and virtue. We should seek after the virtuous things in life and build them up. We should also reach out in kindness to one another.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to today as the Mormon Church, was founded on April 6, 1830, by a man named Joseph Smith. The roots of the church began 10 years earlier, however, when Joseph Smith, as a young man of 14, prayed to know which of all the many Christian denominations he should join. A religious revival around 1820 resulted in many denominations condemning each other, and Joseph was confused by their differing interpretations of scriptures in the Bible. During his own study, he came across James 1:5, which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Joseph decided to heed this counsel, and he prayed. In answer to his prayer, he received a marvellous vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. They told Joseph that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been lost from the earth, but it would be restored.
Joseph immediately received persecution when he spoke to local spiritual leaders about his experience. He was told roughly that the heavens were closed. The heavens were not closed then, nor are they now, as Joseph knew and continued to learn. Over the course of ten years, Joseph continued to receive divine instruction. He was led to an ancient record written on brass plates. He translated this record by the power of God. This book was published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. This book of scripture is a spiritual record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, who were led to the new land by the hand of God. It is a second testament that Jesus is the Christ and visited the American continent after His resurrection.
Missionary work has been a part of Mormon doctrine since its foundation. Early Church leaders went to Canada, England, and Europe and soon travelled to other far countries. Converts were encouraged to gather to Zion in the United States. What started as a church of six members has today grown to a worldwide church membership of more than 14 million. Now, however, members are encouraged to build the kingdom of God where they stand. There are now more members outside of the United States than inside it. Life has never been easy for the Latter-day Saints, however. They were pushed from New York to Ohio, then to Missouri, then to Illinois. Finally, the Saints fled the organized United States and settled in the Utah Territory. Even here, though, they were pursued.
Joseph Smith received many revelations from God. He restored, through the power of God, many precious truths which had been removed from the scriptures over nearly two millennia. He would often go to the Lord in prayer after reading in the Bible or while translating the Book of Mormon to gain clarification on certain doctrine. During one of these times, when Joseph asked about the practice of polygamy anciently, the Lord told him that it was only lawful when He commanded it. After some time, the Lord did command it. However, it was only a few members of the Church who were called to live this law. The Lord commanded the practice to cease in 1890, and it no plural marriages have been sanctioned by the Mormon Church since then. There were some break off groups more than one hundred years ago who chose to continue practicing this law. They are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though some claim to be Mormon. No person practicing plural marriage can be a member of the LDS Church. (More on polygamy.)
Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were martyred at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844. After this, the Saints were led by Brigham Young to the Salt Lake Valley, as Joseph had instructed Brigham to do. The first group of Saints arrived in the valley in 1847, and all new members of the Church continued to gather there for several decades.
Since this time, the LDS Church has grown to fill the earth. A living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, leads the Church today as its sixteenth president. Mormon doctrine teaches that he is the mouthpiece of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the leader of the LDS Church and reveals His will through His prophets today, just as He did anciently (Amos 3:7). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint has a world-class humanitarian aid program, a welfare program, education programs, and incredible organization. Mormon clergy are lay clergy, meaning they are not paid; they volunteer their time to serve when called by God. This means that a man could be called to serve as bishop in his congregation (or ward) and after his time is fulfilled could be called to be in charge of cleaning the meetinghouse. This is not seen as a demotion in the Church. Rather, all members recognize whatever call comes, comes from God. There is no demeaning service in God’s kingdom, and each job is important. These callings are opportunities to grow and learn and to serve others.
The Mormon Church continues to build temples in unparallelled numbers. More than 150 now dot the earth in countries everywhere, and more are announced every year. Temples are vital to the eternal salvation of God’s children. Learn more about the purpose of LDS temples as you visit this website.