On July 6, WHBQ-TV broadcast four segments on their 9 p.m. newscast that dealt with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the Mormons.
While much of the show was well done, some of the information was confusing and may have been misunderstood by the general public. I welcome this invitation to explain some of the basic tenets of our faith.
We believe that the same church that Christ organized while he lived upon the earth exists today. The Bible teaches of an apostasy and a restoration; it is our belief that His church was restored to the earth in 1830. As in the time of Christ, there is a living prophet on the earth who is the head of the church who sits in council with 12 apostles. Continuing revelation is a fundamental belief that governs the church today.
It is because of continuing revelation to chosen leaders that we have important answers to many questions that confront us today.
The authority to act in God’s name, known as the priesthood of God, has also been restored to the earth; this priesthood holds all the keys necessary to administer the affairs of the church upon the earth today. Local congregations are called wards and are led by a bishop who serves without compensation.
In answer to prayer in 1820, a young man named Joseph Smith, received a personal visitation by God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, who indicated that the church which was organized while Christ was on the earth no longer existed on the earth and that Joseph Smith would be raised up to help in the restoration of Christ’s church.
As a result of that personal visitation, we understand that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate personages with glorified bodies of flesh and bones; we understand further that the Holy Ghost is a separate spirit personage.
During the 10 years between the first heavenly visitation and the official organization of the church, Joseph Smith was led to an ancient sacred record written on metallic plates and hidden hundreds of years earlier in a nearby hill by the last author of the record, a prophet named Moroni.
Through inspiration, Joseph Smith translated this ancient record into a text, which is named The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. Mormons, believe this book to be sacred teachings revealed to prophets who lived on the American continent between 600 B.C. and 421 A.D., including a prophet named Mormon, it does not contradict or replace the Bible, but it complements the Bible. Both books of Holy Scripture are used extensively in the church today. We also accept two other books of scripture: The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worship the resurrected Christ; we teach that he is the only begotten Son of God, the Father, and a mortal mother, Mary. He lived a perfect life, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, atoned for the sins of all mankind, was crucified, died and was resurrected. He lives today!
We believe that men are saved and receive immortality through the grace of Christ. We also believe that man receives varying rewards in immortality, depending on the kind of life he lives while on the earth. Scripture teaches that the righteous will live again with God, and Christ and will inherit all that they have; scripture does not teach that we rule our own planets.
Today, there are more than 14 million members of the Church Worldwide, with more than 6 million residing in the United States. It is the fourth largest Christian religion in the U.S., with 8,000 members living in the Mid-South.
We believe in sustaining our government, being honest, chaste, and in seeking to do good. We tithe and adhere to a health code called The Word of Wisdom in which we abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol.
We worship on Sundays, seek to be good citizens and to have strong families. In fact, we believe that families can be together forever, which is one of the reasons we build sacred temples; one of which is located in Bartlett. We welcome inquiries into the church. Visitors are always welcome.
Bob McBride is supervisor for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Public Affairs Council for Memphis and Little Rock.