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Holiness

by Elouise M. Bell

In LDS thought, as in most religions, it is God who invests a person, place, or object with holiness: "For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you" (D&C 60:7). Thus the temples of the Church are said to be holy because they are dedicated to Deity who has manifested himself within them. Latter-day Saints speak of the sabbath as holy because God has put his spirit into that day. The wooded area where Joseph Smith received his first vision is spoken of as the sacred grove because the Father and the Son appeared there. Marriage and other priesthood ordinances are considered holy because God is directly and personally a party to such covenants. The scriptures are holy because they contain the word of God.

Although they infrequently use the term "holy" (an exception is in a beloved hymn which beseeches God, "More holiness give me"), Latter-day Saints strive for a measure of holiness and perfection in mortality: "Man may be perfect in his sphere; …individual perfection is relative…. The law of the Gospel is a perfect law and the sure effect of full obedience thereto is perfection" (Talmage, p. 169).

The process of becoming holy is based on three doctrines: justification, which satisfies the demands of justice for the sins of the individual through the Atonement of Jesus Christ; purification, made possible by that same Atonement and symbolized in the Sacrament of the bread and water, requiring the constant cleansing of oneself from earthly stains and imperfections; and sanctification, the process of being made holy. Having purified oneself of imperfections to the greatest degree possible, one is invested, over a lifetime, with holiness from God. Alma 2 is an example of one recognized by God as holy (Alma 10:7-9).

These principles are summarized in the next to the last verse of the Book of Mormon: "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" (Moro. 10:33).

(See Sanctification; Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page)

Bibliography

Lee, Harold B. Stand Ye in Holy Places. Salt Lake City, 1974.

Talmage, James E. The Vitality of Mormonism, p. 169. Boston, 1919.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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