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Question and Answer 28

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (The Book of Mormon; Moroni 10:4-5)

by W. John Walsh

Visitors are invited to send any Questions via EmailWe try to respond to questions as quickly as possible, but are limited by time constraints.  Therefore while we will eventually answer every letter we receive, there may be a period of delay due to the amount of research required and/or our personal circumstances.

The questions answered in this section concern the basic beliefs and practices of the Latter-day Saints. Answers to accusatory questions are given in the Response to Criticism section. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are maintained separately.

All questions concerning Family History or Genealogy should be addressed to The Genealogy Lady at the New Jerusalem web site.

NOTE: Dates are posting dates

Please note that the answers given are not official statements of doctrine, but interpretations by the author for which he is alone responsible.

974:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Do you depend on achievements of your own to contribute you salvation?

Latter-day Saints believe we are saved through the atonement of Christ, but Christ only offers his redeeming blood to those who follow him and keep his commandments. (See Grace vs. Works; Grace)

973:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Are you personally trusting Christ as your Savior and Lord?

Yes, I recognize Jesus Christ as my Lord, God, and King.

972:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ?

Yes, Latter-day Saints view the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the most glorious event of all time. Having the power to lay down his body and to "take it again" (John 10:18), the Savior conquered death for himself and all mankind (1 Cor. 15:22). LDS faith in the literal and physical resurrection of Jesus is greatly strengthened by ancient and modern testimonies of many witnesses.

(See Resurrection of Jesus Christ home page)

971:   On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Do you believe that Jesus dies for your sins?

Yes, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God. He offered his life, including his innocent body, blood, and spiritual anguish as a redeeming ransom (1) for the effect of the Fall of Adam upon all mankind and (2) for the personal sins of all who repent, from Adam to the end of the world."

(See The Atonement of Jesus Christ home page)

970:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Do you believe in the Deity of Christ?

Yes, the Book of Mormon teaches that:

"....JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations..."

(See Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

969:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked: Is your main business proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ?

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"One of the great central works entrusted to the Church is to bring the world to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:

    —To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; (See Missionary Work home page)
    —To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
    —To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth. (See Teachings About Temples home page)

All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and his Son, Jesus Christ, in their grand and glorious mission 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39.)" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.434)

(See Contemporary Organization)

968:  On 05/12/99, Jeffrey asked:  Do you base your teachings on Revelations other then the Bible?

Yes, Latter-day Saints accept, in addition to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as the word of God. These four scriptural collections are called the Standard Works.  In addition, we believe in continuing modern revelation and believe that Joseph Smith and all subsequent presidents of the church were and are prophets and representatives of Jesus Christ.

(See Following the Prophets home page; Scriptural Writings home page; Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)

967:  On 05/10/99, a visitor asked:  My husband and I are in financial difficulty.  I am active, tithe paying LDS, he is not, but is understanding.  Lately the subject of bankruptcy has come up.  We only have one income as I raise the kids, one car, and normally live well within our means.  My husband was unemployed for awhile, so now we are deeply in debt.  I am concerned what bankruptcy would do to my church standing.   A friend said my recommend would be revoked, another said that the sin is in my perception of the necessity and the church wouldn't judge me or take action.  My husband is concerned because the very bills we would be getting rid of are causing us to go deeper in the red each month.  Is there a view or procedure the Church has on this situation?

Church leaders have encouraged members to avoid bankruptcy, if possible, but there are no Church penalties for doing so.  People who file bankruptcy are still eligible for a temple recommend and full participation in all Church activities.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

"Bankruptcies are common and numerous today. I hope bankruptcy proceedings are not intended to free men of their honest obligations. They may serve well to give the debtor a breathing period and an opportunity to make back the money but he should pay his honest obligations even though the law might have protected him against them." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.196)

President Heber J. Grant taught:

"'If thou borrowest of thy neighbor--' Let me add, or anybody else--'thou shalt restore restore that which thou hast borrowed; and if thou canst not repay then go straightway and tell thy neighbor, lest he condemn thee.'  That is one of the finest verses that was ever written, and please remember that this I am reading is "the word and the will of the Lord." In other words, do not take the bankruptcy act unless somebody knocks you down. All of my dear friends, many years ago when I was ruined in their judgment beyond the peradventure of a doubt, and there was no possibility, as far as they were able to see, of my ever being able to pay my debts, begged me to take the bankruptcy act. I said: "Not if I live a hundred and ten years. I will go on paying." And in the providences of the Lord I paid all of my debts.  Now, I am not condemning those who have to take the bankruptcy act; but I know of men whom I have begged and pleaded with to not take the bankruptcy act, who, if they had only had the nerve, the faith, and the willingness to work, would have come out all right." ( Conference Report, October 1933, p.7)

Elder Melvin J. Ballard taught:

"There is a law called into existence for the relief of men who are oppressed because of their creditors, and through taking bankruptcy men may be released from their obligations. I have many times been asked the question, who is justified in taking bankruptcy to avoid an obligation? My answer has been--and I would like to make it here, and if I am wrong I stand to be corrected--that no Latter-day Saint, so long as his creditors give him the chance, the faintest chance, to work out and meet his obligations, ought to resort to accepting the law of bankruptcy. It is only for those who are oppressed, those who have no chance, no hope, and nothing but oppression following them. They may be justified, but surely no one who can possibly work out his problems with his creditors, ought to resort to this means of relieving himself of his obligations." (Conference Report, October 1929, p.52)

(See Self-Sufficiency)

966:  On 05/10/99, Megan asked:  My question regards temple sealings.  I've always heard that even if children go wayward, that they will be with their parents forever as long as their parents keep their temple covenants.  Does this work the same for children??  Meaning that if the parents do not keep their covenants, but have been sealed to their child, who keeps her temple covenants, they will still be together forever.  Or is it only based on the parents keeping their covenants?  Also, what if a husband keeps his covenants and a wife does not?  Since it states that we must be sealed to receive the highest glory of the celestial kingdom, how can that work to be fair to all parties? 

The Articles of Faith state:

"We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."

Only those people who are obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel can receive exaltation in the Kingdom of God.  If anyone, including a child born under the covenant, fails to live a celestial law, then he or she will not inherit a celestial glory.  President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"All children born under the covenant belong to their parents in eternity, but that does not mean that they, because of that birthright, will inherit celestial glory. The faith and faithfulness of fathers and mothers will not save disobedient children.  Salvation is an individual matter, and if a person who has been born under the covenant rebels and denies the Lord, he will lose the blessings of exaltation. Every soul will be judged according to his works and the wicked cannot inherit eternal life. We cannot force salvation upon those who do not want it. Even our Father's children had their agency before this life, and one-third of them rebelled.  It is the duty of parents to teach their children so that they will walk uprightly and thus obtain the blessings of their birthright.  But children born under the covenant, who drift away, are still the children of their parents; and the parents have a claim upon them; and if the children have not sinned away all their rights, the parents may be able to bring them through repentance, into the celestial kingdom, but not to receive the exaltation. Of course, if children sin too grievously, they will have to enter the telestial kingdom, or they may even become sons of perdition.  When a man and a woman are married in the temple for time and all eternity and then separate, the children will go with the parent who is justified and who has kept the covenants. If neither of them has kept his covenants, the children may be taken away from both of them and given to somebody else, and that would be by virtue of being born under the covenant." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.91 - p.92)

If a spouse is married to someone who does not keep their sacred covenants, then he or she will have the opportunity to marry someone else in eternity.

(See Difficult Doctrinal Teachings; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

965:  On 05/09/99 Andreas asked:  Is it true that is has been prophesied that only five percent of all mormons will obtain exaltation?

It should be noted that the Lord invites everyone to make those preparations which will allow them to inherit eternal life.   The Book of Mormon teaches:

"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God." (Jacob 6:4, emphasis added)

Every single person in the world can be saved if they will simply love God and keep his commandments.  Unfortunately, some people (including many Church members) do harden their hearts against the Spirit.  By breaking the commandments of God, they lose the opportunity to receive the eternal inheritance that was offered to them.

The Lord has never told us specifically what percentage of Church members will receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom.  All authoritative statements on this issue have been general in nature:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

"The question is frequently asked, 'Can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances?' I would answer, No, not the fulness of salvation. Jesus said, There are many mansions in my Father's house, and I will go and prepare a place for you. House here named should have been translated kingdom; and any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too.....I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843–44, p.331)

Elder James E. Talmage taught:

"Of the many called or permitted to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, few may so excel as to be chosen for exaltation above their fellows." (Jesus the Christ, Ch.27, p.481 - p.482)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"Many are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb, to the Church and kingdom of God on earth, but few are chosen for salvation in the kingdom of God in heaven, because they do not keep the commandments." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.1, p.599)

"Unfortunately, 'there are many called, but few are chosen.' That is to say, many are called to the priesthood but few are chosen for eternal life. (D. & C. 95:5-6, 12.) 'And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson -- That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.' (D. & C. 121:34-46.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p.482)

"These concluding words -- "many be called, but few chosen" -- stand forth as the warning-climax of the parable, not alone to Peter and the other first laborers, but to all who are called to service in the vineyard of the Lord. Many are called into the earthly kingdom, but few shall gain full salvation in the heavenly kingdom; many are called to serve missions, but few shall reap the reward that might have been theirs; many are called to the holy priesthood -- covenanting thereby to love and serve God and their fellowmen with all their hearts, might, mind, and strength -- but few shall be chosen for eternal life in the kingdom of Him whose we are. As he who gave the parable anciently has said to us in our day: "There are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen. They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day. If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness. (D&C 95:5-6, 12; 121:34-40.) Many are called but few are chosen. It is an awesome warning." (The Mortal Messiah, Vol.3, p.310)

(See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

964:  On 05/09/99, Steve asked:  I'm an 8th grade student in Michigan and have been asked to give a brief presetentation on what a normal week looks like for people of the Mormon religion.  Do you know where I could find a 1-3 sentence summary of what is typical of each day...

See Lifestyle

963:  On 05/09/99, Sam asked:  What are your most important Church laws (beliefs)?

See Articles of Faith

962:  On 05/08/99, a visitor asked:  Is it possible to someone to behold the face of God the Father?

While our Father in Heaven normally uses Jesus Christ to mediate for him, he occasionally has revealed himself to his children in person as well.   For example, in the First Vision, Joseph Smith was privileged with a personal visitation by both the Father and the Son.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

'Without "the power of godliness," meaning without righteousness, "no man can see the face of God, even the Father and live." The unrighteous would be consumed in his presence. "Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God." To be sanctified is to be clean, pure, spotless, free from sin. In the ultimate and final day, the sanctified will be those of the celestial kingdom, the kingdom where God and Christ dwell. "But they [the children of Israel] hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence" -- because they would not become pure in heart -- "therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory." (D&C 84:21-24.) All Israel might have seen the Lord had they taken the counsel of Moses, but only a few did. On one occasion, for instance, Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu who were Aaron's sons, and "seventy of the elders of a saw the God of Israel," while the hosts with whom Moses had labored remained in their dark and benighted state. (Exodus 24:9-10.)" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.494)

(See Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)

961:  On 05/08/99, Dennis asked:  I am   doing a report on Mormons and I wanted to know the answers to these questions: 1. How many people practice this religion? 2. What is the origin of the religion? Is there a creation story? 3. What holidays are celebrated or services performed? What do you do? 4. Is there a written word? What is it called?

1.  As of 12/31/98, total Church membership was estimated at 10,354,241 (See Statistical Report 1998); 2.   See Overview;  3.  See Holidays and Celebrations home page 4.  See Scriptural Wiritings home page

960:  On 05/08/99, Andrew asked:  within the bonds of a temple marriage, is their limitations to the sexual affection you and your wife show to eachother.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life, we must remember that life is not designed just for sex. Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence. To the Ephesian saints Paul begged for propriety in marriage: 'So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.' (Ephesians 5:28.) And perhaps the Lord's condemnation included secret sexual sins in marriage, when he said: 'And those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.'

If it is unnatural, you just don't do it. That is all, and all the family life should be kept clean and worthy and on a very high plane. There are some people who have said that behind the bedroom doors anything goes. That is not true and the Lord would not condone it." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.311-12)

(See Teachings About Sexuality home page)

959:  On 05/08/99, Leanne asked:  Is it true that the Mormon faith encourages its followers to keep a two-year supply of food and other basic provisions on hand? If so, why? Thanks.

See Emergency Preparedness

958:  On 05/08/99, Brian asked:  what is the Church's position on the subject of deceit in general and specifically as it relates to attaining the Celestial Kingdom within a sealed marriage by the spouse who continually deceives their spouse for years in many different ways?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie noted:

"'Thou shalt not lie,' the Lord says, for 'he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.' (D. & C. 42:21.) 'Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.' (2 Ne. 9:34.) Liars suffer the second death (D. & C. 63:17; Rev. 21:8), and receive a final inheritance in the telestial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:103.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.2, p.58 - p.59)

The Lord has not made any exceptions for lies told to spouses.  Since one of the prerequisites of eternal life is forging a perfect mental, spiritual, and physical bond with our spouse, it could be argued that lying to your spouse is one of the most serious forms of lying.

(See Personal Integrity--The Key to Example; As Good As Our Bond by Elder Sheldon F. Child; Honesty -- A Moral Compass by President James E. Faust)

957:  On 05/08/99, Taylor asked:  Can you tell me what it is like being a Mormon!

See Lifestyle

956:  On 05/08/99, Sarah asked:  Do Mormons believe that the "end" will arrive with the millenium?

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"After the close of the millennial reign we are informed that Satan, who was bound during the millennium, shall be loosed and go forth to deceive the nations. Then will come the end. The earth will die and be purified and receive its resurrection. During this cleansing period the City Zion, or New Jerusalem, will be taken from the earth; and when the earth is prepared for the celestial glory, the city will come down according to the prediction in the Book of Revelation." (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.2, p.106)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"When the thousand years are ended Satan shall be loosed, men again shall begin to deny their God, and rebellion shall well up in the hearts of many. For a little season the devil will be free to gather together his armies, even the hosts of hell; and then the final battle will be fought in which Satan (who is Perdition) together with all his sons shall be cast out forever. (D. & C. 29:22-29; 43:31; 88:110-115; Rev. 20:7-10; 2 Ne. 9:16.) Then will come the end of the earth as it is now constituted, for it will attain its final destiny as a celestial sphere, and the meek shall inherit it forever. (D. & C. 88:16-20.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 501)

(See Millennium)

955:  On 05/08/99, a visitor asked:  Recently, I read that Brigham Young said the Moon and the Sun were inhabited by people wearing Quaker's style clothes. In which book is it written? Why did he say this stupid thing?

Actually, the statement is attributed to Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young, and is a third-hand reminiscence reported decades after it was supposedly made (i.e., unreliable).   (See How Can a Prophet Believe in Moonmen?)

954:  On 05/08/99, Kenny asked:  Is it apporopiate for a young man and young woman to be pen pals?

Exchanging correspondence is an excellent way to develop a good friendship.  The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet states:

"In cultures where dating is appropriate, do not date until you are sixteen years old. Not all teenagers need to date or even want to. Many young people do not date during their teen years, because they are not interested, do not have opportunities, or simply want to delay forming serious relationships. Good friendships can be developed at every age."

953:  On 05/02/99, Glen asked:  What was the first black given the priesthood?

The LDS Biographical Encyclopedia states:

"[Elijah Abel], the only colored man who is known to have been ordained to the Priesthood [prior to 1978], was born July 25, 1810, in Maryland. Becoming a convert to "Mormonism" he was baptized in September, 1832, by Ezekiel Roberts and, as appears from certificates, he was ordained an Elder March 3, 1836, and a Seventy April 4, 1841, an exception having been made in his case with regard to the general rule of the Church in relation to colored people [this rule was changed in 1978]. At Nauvoo, Illinois, where he resided, he followed the avocation of an undertaker. After his arrival in Salt Lake City he became a resident of the Tenth Ward, and, together with his wife, he managed the Farnham Hotel in Salt Lake City. In Nauvoo he was intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and later in life was the especial friend of the late Levi W. Hancock. In 1883, as a member of the Third Quorum of Seventy, he left Salt Lake City on a mission to Canada, during which he also performed missionary labors in the United States. Two weeks after his return he died, Dec. 25, 1884, of debility, consequent upon exposure while laboring in the ministry in Ohio. He died in full faith of the gospel." ( Vol. 3, p.577)

(See Blacks home page)

952:  On 05/02/99, a visitor asked:  do you have anything on blacks???   Because this kid says that blacks were not ABLE to be a member until 1978 and i just said "No they couldnt hold the preisthood...."  and he does not believe me...

Blacks have always been able to receive baptism into the Church, but Blacks of African descent could not hold the priesthood or receive temple blessings until 1978. (See Blacks home page)

951:  On 05/01/99, a visitor asked:  How do you tell someone that the Church is true?

See Testimony Bearing

950:  On 05/01/99, Laura asked:  I was just watching 20/20 about the orphans in Russia.  A question struck me as I watched these children suffering.   First of all I am a mother of a two year old and a three month old.  Anyway, my question  is, Is it better to have all your children naturally and then if you have any extra strength and means to adopt then search it out or is it
better to stop having kids naturally and adopt as many as you can and not grant more souls to suffer?  I know this is an odd question but it seems like having more kids (naturally) and ignoring the ones that are on the earth right now is not good.

Our primary responsibility is to bear and raise our own offspring.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"A law of procreation was decreed by God to the lawfully married. "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28). This law permits others of our Heavenly Father's children to be legitimately born into good families where these spirits can also grow to maturity and work out their salvation. The law of procreation has never been rescinded." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.539)

One of the major purposes of mortality is for us to become like God and develop divine parental attributes (See Godhood).   When a man and a woman, who have been sealed in the holy temple, join in a partnership with God to create a new life, a channel of sanctification is opened which allows them to partake of the divine nature.  It is a wonderful thing to adopt additional children and care for them, as you are able.

(See Procreation; Birth Control)

949:  On 05/01/99, a visitor asked:  I have never understood the churches' official standing on the question of evolution.

See Evolution

948:  On 05/01/99, a visitor asked: I have only been a member of the church a few years now and I cannot find what types of sins need to be confessed to the bishop.  I was wondering if you could help me understand why we need to confess sins to the bishop and what types of sins they are.

Major sins (such as adultery, fornication, robbery, embezzlement, fraud, false swearing, and comparable transgressions), which may have a bearing upon Church membership, must be confessed to ecclesiastical officers such as bishops.   There are at least two reasons why these sins must be confessed to the bishop: (1) Church discipline may be needed to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.   (2) The Bishop is responsible for helping the offender in the difficult repentance process.

(See Confession of Sins; Disciplinary Procedures)

947:  On 05/01/99, a visitor asked:  If Christ was born on 6th April, why celebrate xmas on 25th Dec? (2)   The bible does not give a date of Christ's birth, howcome 6th April...Christ did not celebrate his own birth, only 2 birthdays mentioned in the
bible that were unchristian... santa claus, decorations, tree, reindeers are all additions to the idea of xmas which is false, why celebrate Xmas anyway? 

946:  On 05/01/99, a visitor asked:  If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints admitts that Christmas, December 25, is not the birth of Christ but the worship of a pagan holiday instead, why does it allow it's members to honor it?

See Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25th?; April 6

945:  On 04/30/99, Braden asked:  I know that when Gordon B. Hinckley passes away, Thomas S. Monson will take over as President of the Church... but who comes after him?

President Boyd K. Packer is after President Monson in seniority. (See Church Leaders home page)

944:  On 04/30/99, a visitor asked:  In the Book of Moses, are the Cainanites (through Moses 6) and "Canaanites" (after Moses 7) the same people? I suspect they refer to one and the same people, despite the two spellings (in the JST they are
spelled "Cainanites" throughout with no second spelling). Are they two separate groups, or one and the same?

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"The Cainanites, who lived in the land of Cainan, from whence Enoch came, were a righteous people and evidently were descendants of Seth. Then there must have been another people called Canaanites who were a black race and the descendants of Cain." (The Way to Perfection, p.107)

943:  On 04/30/99, Jason asked:  Where does any prophet ever refer to any day other than Saturday as the Sabbath? 

See Is Saturday the True Sabbath?

942:  On 04/30/99, Sara asked:  People were dependent on the Bible alone for many, many years and did fine.  How do Latter-Day Saints know for a fact that the Book of Mormon and the doctrines and covenants are true, and that Joseph Smith and the 12 witnesses weren't just making it all up?

I don't believe that people have been doing just fine with the Bible.  The last 2000 years have been filled with blood and horror, as people with just the Bible have been murdering and raping each other continuously, often due to religious differences (e.g., Kosovo).  The Bible alone is insufficient to lead men to God, as history itself attests. We need constant and ongoing communication with God today, if we desire to truly understand what God requires of us.  (See Is the Bible Sufficient?)

How do we know that Joseph Smith was a real prophet and the scripture he gave us is true?  The Book of Mormon teaches:

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5)

In my mind, this is a really amazing position which the Church takes.  We don't say "Take our word for it!" or "Trust us!"  Instead, we encourage people to pray directly to God and let him give the assurance that these things are true.

(See Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)

941:  On 04/30/99, a visitor asked:  I without question believe in the creation of man, but do we to some extent believe in
evolution?  (For example that some creatures have evolved, they used to live in the water and now they walk on the Earth, and dinosaurs did they exist-was man living on the Earth when they did?)  I would be interested in any information pertaining to the church's view on evolution.  Also how do we, as Mormons, address such topics- they have in fact found these bones along with an incredible amount of other evidence that support the theory that we evolved.  How do you explain such findings, or is there no explanation? 

There are no conflicts between true religion and true science.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"Religion and science have sometimes been in apparent conflict. Yet, the conflict can only be apparent, not real, for science seeks truth, and true religion is truth. There can never be conflict between true religion and scientific fact. That they have occupied different fields of truth is a mere detail. True religion accepts and embraces all truth; science is slowly expanding her arms and reaching into the invisible domain, in search of truth. The two are meeting daily; science as a child; true religion as the mother. Truth is truth, whether labeled science or religion. "Truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come" (D&C 93:24). Truth is always consistent. It can never be in conflict with itself." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.118)

However, this does not mean every scientific theory is true.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie noted:

"From the day of their first announcement, these theories of organic evolution found themselves in conflict with the principles of revealed religion as such are found recorded in the scriptures and expounded by inspired teachers." (Mormon Doctrine, p.247-56)

In general, it is important to distinguish fact from theory.  When my wife and I were in college, she took a science course where the instructor very strongly espoused the theories of organic evolution, as it pertains to the origin of man.  She knew that the theories, as explained to her, were in conflict with Church teachings, but the instructor presented so much "evidence" that she did not know what to think.   It was a real trial of faith for her.  To help her resolve this issue, I gave her a great deal of information that the instructor did not present.  This information showed that the instructor's case was not nearly as strong as he claimed it to be.

(See Evolution; Science and Religion)

940:  On 04/30/99, a visitor asked:  Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognize Sunday as the primary day of worship set aside by God in the book of Genesis?  If so Why?

For Latter-day Saints, modern revelation fixes the day of weekly worship and holy rest as "the Lord's day," which is Sunday, the first day of the week (see D&C 59:9-12).

(See Is Saturday the True Sabbath?; Teachings About the Sabbath home page)

939:  On 04/30/99, Keri asked:  I was curious to know what is your opinion on assisted suicide or the withdrawal of treatment on a person who is terminally ill?

The General Handbook of Instructions states:

"A person who participates in euthanasia—deliberately putting to death a person suffering from incurable conditions or diseases—violates the commandments of God" (11-5; see Prolonging Life; Suicide).

938:  On 04/30/99, Greg asked:  I need to know LDS doctrine concerning Jesus Christ shedding his blood not on cross but in garden of gethsamene.  Sources and quotes would be helpful.  I have recently begun to study about LDS church and have been getting alot of  arguments for doing so, but that will not stop me.  Above question concerns one such challenge.  

Latter-day Saints believe the Atonement of Jesus Christ began in the Garden of Gethsemane and was consummated on the cross at Calvary. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"This sacrifice, which only a God could make, took place in Gethsemane when he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore, 'which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all,' he says, 'to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit -- and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.' (D&C 19:18.) And it also took place as he hung on the cruel cross of Calvary. During the last three hours of that agonizing ordeal, while darkness overspread the land, all the pains and suffering of Gethsemane returned. He came into the world, not alone to suffer in Gethsemane, but also at Golgotha." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.109)

(See The Atonement of Jesus Christ home page)

937:  On 04/30/99, a visitor asked: brother has been dating a Mormon girl for quite some time now......recently they became sexually active......I was wondering, honestly, what does the church believe about this issue?  ...... I believe she talked with her bishop because she was worried about not being married in a temple, what will happen with that?  And the day after she didn't take communion, so she was obviously concerned about her conflicting views on love and religion.  What does the church typically believe regarding this entire issue?

Throughout the centuries, the Lord has declared very clearly that sexual relations outside of marriage are sin (cf. Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18; 22:13-30; 2 Sam. 13:12; Matt. 5:27-30; 19:18; Acts 15:20; 21:25; 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:18-20; Alma 39:3-6; D&C 42:22-26). In like manner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that premarital sex is sin and counsels its members to abstain from it. Recognizing that the "new morality," which advocates that consenting partners may do whatever their appetites urge them to do, is nothing more than the "old immorality," the Church rejects the popular view that sex before marriage is not sinful and is justifiable as "normal and natural." Rather, the Church teaches that sex should be a sacred expression of love between a husband and wife and that both men and women should abstain from sexual activity until their marriage. It teaches that sex before marriage is an expression of lust, not love, and admonishes its members not to participate in it or in any other kinds of activities that excite sexual desires. Those who engage in sexual relations outside of marriage are unworthy to participate in the sacred ordinances of the Church, including temple worship and partaking of the Sacrament.   The Church teaches that those who have participated in premarital sex may repent of their sin, reminding them that true repentance requires that they abstain from sexual relations except with their legal spouse.

(See Teachings About Sexuality home page)

936:  On 04/30/99, Jeremy asked:  [Regarding the Utah Expedition] why did Brigham Young want to kill the soldiers before he even knew why they were coming, and if they were coming to prosecute, then why strike first?  Joseph Smith founded the church, and with all the prosecution that happened, never advised killing people....or massacring them.

While Brigham Young did not want to kill anyone, Latter-day Saints believe in defending our families from rape and murder.  The Book of Mormon teaches:

"And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion." (Alma 43:47)

(See Utah Expedition)

935:  On 04/30/99, Frazier asked:  Do any members speak in unknown tongues in the temple services?

No, the speaking in unknown tongues is not part of the temple ceremony. (See Teachings About the Temple home page)

934:  On 04/30/99, Dwight asked:   Where are the Golden Plates now?  Did Moroni take them back to heaven?

After Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the gold plates were returned into the keeping of the angel Moroni. (See Why Don't You Have the Plates?)

933:  On 04/27/99, Greg asked:  if i am to understand what the website is saying, then genesis refers to the Father (Elohim), for that is who created.  the God who rested from all his work of creating heaven and earth is referring to Elohim (the creator). and
when God created man and gave him his spirit, it was again Elohim.  am i correct?

The Creation scriptures are an abbreviated account and leave out many details.   From the various scriptural accounts and the teachings of Latter-day prophets, we know that God the Father sent Jesus Christ and other choice spirit offspring to create the earth.  The exact processes used and who did what remain a mystery yet to be revealed.   We do know that Jesus led the effort under the Father's instructions. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"Under the direction of his Father, Jesus Christ created this earth. No doubt others helped him, but it was Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, who, under the direction of his Father, came down and organized matter and made this planet, so that it might be inhabited by the children of God." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.74)

(See The Creation home page)

932:  On 04/27/99, Ryan asked:  My question is: many people use drugs such as prozac, valium, zoloft, etc. for their mental well-being, even though they have many serious side-effects.  (As a side note, Utah, land of the Mormons, has the highest Prozac abuse rate in America).  If it is okay to use these harmful prescription drugs for the overall good of the patient, why is it supposedly against church policy for its members to use various non-harmful drugs for the expansion of their minds?  After all, knowledge is the glory of God and it has been said that we need to learn as much as we can before we die, because we'll be that much farther in our journey to be Gods.  I've always been curious about this, so please research this question for me.  Thank you!

See Abuse of Drugs

931:  On 04/27/99, Sara asked:  Why would God have changed any of the Bible?

While God has not changed any of the Bible, Latter-day Saints believe the current text is not identical with the original text as given by the apostolic authors. In addition to difficulties associated with translating from ancient to modern languages, other scriptures also declare that some parts of the original biblical text have been lost or corrupted (e.g., 1 Ne. 13:28-29; D&C 6:26-27; 93:6-18). Joseph Smith commented on the Bible's incompleteness: "It was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled" (TPJS, pp. 10-11). He later said, "Much instruction has been given to man since the beginning which we do not possess now…. We have what we have, and the Bible contains what it does contain" (TPJS, p. 61). The Prophet Joseph further stated, "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (TPJS, p. 327). Thus, the elements of mistranslation, incompleteness, and other errors weaken the Bible; but the spirit of its messages still reveals enough of God's word to fulfill his appointed purposes. Joseph Smith summarized thus: "Through the kind providence of our Father a portion of His word which He delivered to His ancient saints, has fallen into our hands [and] is presented to us with a promise of a reward if obeyed, and with a penalty if disobeyed" (TPJS, p. 61). Latter-day Saints have continued to trust in the general accuracy of the biblical texts even though they know that that text may not always be correct. Thus, they study and revere the Bible, especially in the context of other scriptures and modern revelation, which have much to say about the Bible and how it is to be interpreted, and as they study they ponder and pray that they may receive inspiration from God and come to understand the Bible's messages as they need to be applied in their lives (cf. Moro. 10:3-5).  The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) has restored a great deal of the original intent of the Biblical authors.

(See The Holy Bible home page)

930:  On 04/27/99, Eva asked:  How can you be sure that God has been a human being (except that he came to earth like Jesus) and that humans can become gods after death and create a new world of his/hers own? Where can I read about this in the Bible?

Latter-day Saints perceive the Father as an exalted Man in the most literal, anthropomorphic terms. They do not view the language of Genesis as allegorical; human beings are created in the form and image of a God who has a physical form and image (Gen. 1:26). (See Teachings About God the Father home page)

Logically and naturally, the ultimate desire of a loving Supreme Being is to help his children enjoy all that he enjoys. For Latter-day Saints, the term "godhood" denotes the attainment of such a state—one of having all divine attributes and doing as God does and being as God is. Such a state is to be enjoyed by all exalted, embodied, intelligent beings (see Deification; Eternal Progression; Exaltation; God; Perfection). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all resurrected and perfected mortals become gods (cf. Gen. 3:22; Matt. 5:48). They will dwell again with God the Father, and live and act like him in endless worlds of happiness, power, love, glory, and knowledge; above all, they will have the power of procreating endless lives. Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ attained godhood (see Christology) and that he marked the path and led the way for others likewise to become exalted divine beings by following him (cf. John 14:3).

While the Bible is the word of God, the Bible does not contain all of God's words.   Due to modern revelation, Latter-day Saints know ,many things that are not contained in the present Protestant or Catholic Bibles, which are nonetheless true. (See Is the Bible Sufficient?)

929:  On 04/27/99, Sara asked: Does God worship another god?

Our Heavenly Father became God at some time before "the beginning" as humans know it, by experiencing a mortality similar to that experienced on earth. There has been speculation among some Latter-day Saints on the implications of this doctrine, but nothing has been revealed to the Church about conditions before the "beginning" as mortals know it.  In other words, the Church has no official teaching one way or another on this topic.  (See Teachings About God the Father home page)

928:  On 04/27/99, a visitor asked:  I have a question.  My husband is a convert, the only member in his family. Often times our discussions about eternal life lead us to the subject of what happens to someone like his parents, good people who believe in God, but are Lutheran instead of Mormon.  Is there no chance for them to enter the Celestial Kingdom if they do not accept the gospel while here on Earth, or will they have a second chance after their death to hear, accept the gospel, and have the necessary ordinances performed for them, therefore making them eligible to enter the Celestial Kingdom?

The Book of Mormon teaches:

"And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.....And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. " (Alma 41:3-4)

We should have absolute faith and confidence that every man, woman, and child will receive a fair and impartial decision at the judgment bar of God.  No one will be unfairly rewarded or unfairly punished. Good people will receive all that is due to them.   However, to inherit the celestial kingdom we must accept the gospel in this life if it is offered to us.  There are no second chances for celestial salvation if we reject the gospel in mortality.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation by accepting the gospel in the spirit world after spurning, declining, or refusing to accept it in this life." ( Mormon Doctrine, p.685)

(See Second Chance Theory)

927:  On 04/27/99, Sara asked:  Is the Heavenly Mother mentioned anywhere in the Book of Mormon?  If so, where?

The Book of Mormon does not mention Heavenly Mother.

926:  On 04/27/99, Bill asked: I am a Catholic and I chose to do a study on Mormons: their basic system of beliefs, and present day status.  I have visited your website and although it is very informative, it is a lot of information for a 3 page assignment to cover.  I was wondering if you would please tell me the most important issues of your religion, those that I should mention in my paper.  Then I could go back to the website and narrow things down.

See Overview of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; The Articles of Faith

925:  On 04/27/99, a visitor asked:  I was wondering if the prophet receives a stipend?

Some General Authorities of the Church (include Presidents of the Church) receive living allowances, depending upon their personal financial condition (i.e., need based).  For example, a General Authority who is a retired business executive and independently wealthy would receive no allowance.  On the other hand, a school teacher called into service before retirement age, might receive a small stipend to allow him to feed his family.  Unlike local leaders, who maintain their normal vocations while serving in Church assignments, General Authorities set aside their careers to devote their full time to the ministry of their office. The living allowance given General Authorities rarely if ever equals the earnings they sacrifice to serve full-time in the Church.

924:  On 04/27/99, Sara asked:   Could you please explain the books of Moses and Abraham?  Why is one of them just Genesis written over again, with the same wording?

The Book of Abraham autobiographically recounts Abraham's early years and is one of the texts in the LDS scriptural collection titled Pearl of Great Price.  The Book of Moses is an extract of several chapters from Genesis in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).   While many portions of the JST version of the Genesis chapters (i.e., the Book of Moses) were unchanged, there are many changes and additions to the text. Due to the significance of these changes, the JST text was canonized and included in the Pearl of Great Price.

923:  On 04/27/99, Hugo asked:  Are Members of your church discouraged or looked down upon if they date or want to marry a non-member?

See Dating and Marrying Nonmembers

(See Question and Answer home page)

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