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Thursday, June 26, 2008


I finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia series yesterday. I love those books; partly because it takes me back to my childhood, and mostly because C.S. Lewis has an impressive knack for putting Christianity onto paper without being overbearing or stiff.

Anyway, I was thinking about something Polly, Digory, and Fledge (a winged horse, who could eat grass--children can't) were discussing on their journey for the magical apple in The Magician's Nephew:

"Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals," said Digory.

"I'm sure Aslan would have, if you'd asked him," said Fledge.

"Wouldn't he know without being asked?" said Polly.

"I've no doubt he would," said the Horse (still with his mouth full). "But I've a sort of idea he likes to be asked."
This concept is a difficult one for some to grasp. God knows everything and has all power, so why doesn't He give me what I desire, automatically? Why must I pray at all? The LDS Bible Dictionary puts it so plainly,
"The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
Prayer also has a transformative effect on those who pray. It makes us humble and aligns our wills with God's. Did you ever wonder why we are so emphatic about praying in the name of Christ? (see John 16:23) When we say, " the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." it means, "This prayer is offered as if Jesus Christ were saying it. We are certain He would give it His stamp of approval." In a public prayer, when everyone else says, "Amen." they mean, "I agree with what has been said."

The more you pray, the more you'll feel the Holy Ghost silently, softly directing your prayers away from worldly desires (see 2 Nephi 32:8-9). With more effort and forethought invested in each prayer, your sights will be lifted beyond hopes and desires you thought possible. You will see that God has higher dreams for your end-goals than you ever did. You will find it easier and more intuitive to guess the mind of Christ, and knowing God means eternal life (see John 17:3).

Take a moment right now to speak to God. Go on. It isn't like you're in the middle of something. Tell Him who you are now and who you hope to become. Thank Him for the good circumstances you live in and the loving relationships you enjoy. Ask Him for help with a problem you face. Ask for advice. And tell Him you'll check in again soon.

...and remember to end it in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sharing the Gospel

Q. How do you tell a non member about the church? It's hard.

This is a tricky question, because every person and every situation will be different. So my main tip would be to try to be aware to the person's situation and be especially sensitive to your relationship with them. I would try to put your relationship with them first and pray for guidance.

During college, I spent some time in New Zealand, and I ran into this question myself quite often. The way I tried to handle it was, first and foremost, to live the gospel, keep the commandments and standards. Simply by not drinking coffee or not swearing, people noticed that I was a bit different. I didn't have to advertise that I was a 'Mormon'.

The friends I was with in New Zealand weren't members of the church there, but they had had encounters with members there. My impression was that the non-members' perception of the church was negative simply because the local members would befriend the others just so that they would get baptized. When the non-members didn't express interest in baptism right away, the members would stop trying to befriend them. My kiwi friends did not like that.

When non-members ask me about the church, I've found that the most effective way to 'proselyte' would be simply to have a sincere conversation with them about their beliefs. I tried not to make it a one-sided conversation. As I asked them questions about what they believed, and actually listened to what they were saying, the conversation was very meaningful to both of us. Then when they would ask me a question, it was more about what I believed personally (a testimony in conversation form) than it was a prescribed discussion.

I've found that people don't like to be told that they're wrong, and they don't like to be preached at, especially when they are receiving unsolicited information.

I think one of the biggest turn-offs to non-members is an attitude that we as members can 'save' them. I try to remember that I'm a sinner, and I need saving, and the only one that has the power to save is Jesus Christ.

This is one opinion, I welcome other comments and suggestions.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why Illness?

Q. Why do we have illnesses and disabilities? How is this part of God's plan?


I've been asked to address this issue, which was quite timely as I have been sick for over 2 months with some form of lung infection. It has left me rather listless and weak. I hope that this will invoke more of a discussion rather than be viewed as the definitive answer. Why illness - is a major issue that most religions have had to deal with: the fact that bad things happen is explained in various ways. The Taoists suggest that the opposition of Yin and Yang are what maintain a balance in the universe. The Hindu have a similar take with their idea of Karma. Many Christian faiths look at the misadventure in the Garden of Eden kind of like the opening of Pandora's Box in Greek Mythology which released all that was bad into the world.

The LDS belief goes back a bit before the earth was formed and recognizes that there was spirit life in the pre-earth life and that these spirits had free will or moral agency. Agency to believe and to act is an enormous power, a power that can help us progress but also a power that can damn progression if poor choices are made. The first insight into the use of our agency as spirits was at a council held in heaven.

There was a disagreement about how the earth plan should operate: Lucifer wanted to take peoples' agency away, and ensure that everyone would return to heaven--and he also wanted the glory for doing so. Jesus agreed with the Father's plan that agency would be allowed and then volunteered to be the sacrificial lamb. One third of the hosts of heaven wanted the assurance which Satan proposed and followed him. They were expelled from heaven and forfeited the opportunity to receive a physical body. The rest of us accepted the Father's plan which would allow all men to come back to God if they accepted Jesus and obeyed the commandments. They would receive bodies, learn to use their bodies to progress further and be resurrected with glorified bodies like our Father's.

When Adam and Eve were created, the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was made available along with a warning from the Father that they shouldn't partake of the fruit. Satan beguiled the woman and she ate, followed by Adam eating of the fruit. God then expelled them into the world of hard knocks but with a knowledge of good and evil, an understanding that all things have their opposites and that choices are possible.

Obviously nobody chooses to get sick, yet people make choices that not only affect themselves but often affect many other people as well. Let's look at an easy one, the recent AIDS epidemic. There are various theories of how that disease was introduced to the human race from animals. If some better choices had been made perhaps the disease wouldn't have made the leap to humans. Its spread through bodily fluids can be controlled in most cases. So in the U.S. with a fairly small infected population a person can take precautions to keep himself free of the disease. In Botswana where 60% of the population is infected it is much more difficult: some children are even born with the disease. One might say that the individual baby had no choice and is being punished unjustly. From our earthly perspective that looks right, but our perspective is limited to this life and the assumption that living long and healthy is the ideal.

In John 9 Jesus comes upon a man born blind. His disciples ask him, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus replied that neither sinned but that the man was put there for the glory of God to be manifest. The disciples had the short perspective in this case assuming that since all sin is punished with suffering, all suffering was the result of sin; but there was a larger perspective which they hadn't considered.

Job provides 39 chapters of argument about whether Job was guilty of sin which would help his friends explain the troubles that had befallen him. Finally even Job begins to fall into his friends' way of thinking and questions the Lord. Chapter 40 is the Lord's response which starts with the question: "Wilt thou also disannul my judgement? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?" He goes on to express the majesty and power of the Lord, pointing out the limited view that mankind has of the creations of heaven.

The LDS perspective on why illness and pain exist is that it is part of earth-life challenges. It helps us appreciate the good when we have experienced the bad. Some choices can be made to reduce illness in our lives but sometimes the illness is part of the curriculum of heaven to teach us lessons we might not otherwise get. The question might not be why there is illness, but rather how we handle the adversity.

Question Box: Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants

A question was input into the illustrious question box (that rectangular thing on the right there) as to what the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants are. Well, A) they're books and B) having perused both of them multiple times I feel qualified to explain the following:

Firstly and foremostly, in order to understand these books it must be understood that we believe that God still speaks to man. There is a prophet on the earth today (Thomas S. Monson by name, as seen in the lovely picture) who receives revelation directly from God for the people of our day and age.

Ok. The Pearl of Great Price is a sort of hodgepodge of articles and publications that concern our faith and doctrine. It contains, among other things, Joseph Smith’s account of his First Vision when God and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the spring of 1820. It also contains the Book of Abraham: a translation of some ancient Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith acquired, which contain writings of the ancient patriarch Abraham. This book sheds fascinating new light on pre-earth life and the creation (click here). Way cool times three. It's also got some nifty facsimiles like this one on the left.

The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of revelations from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as to some of his successors. It also contains inspired declarations made by these same men. We regard it is as a book of scripture like the Bible because it is the writings of prophets inspired by God. It’s a truly remarkable book in that we can hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to man in our modern day. Some of my favorite passages from the book include this, Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus Christ and this here, a trio of verses that keep me motivated.

But, as Reading Rainbow would remind us, you don’t have to take my word for it (for all you know I could be blatantly lying [insert maniacal laughter here])—be your own judge, read from the Pearl of Great Price here, the Doctrine and Covenants here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Question Box: Repentance before Baptism

Q. I am a non member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but looking into it. What is the belief Mormons have on becoming a member of the church: do you have to repent before you are baptized?

Yes, you do. While we believe baptism is a new beginning and cleanses the individual from sin, the repentance process must also be integrated into one's life. The fourth article of faith states, "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." Note that repentance is listed before baptism, although repentance must be an ongoing, lifetime process. Baptism itself is a sign that we have repented. It is a covenant that signifies that we have turned our lives around to become disciples of Christ.

Investigators of the Church are taught by full-time missionaries the commandments God sets forth for his people. With that knowledge, they can begin a life of obedience to these commandments, which begins with repentance. When investigators repent and make changes to their lives, they show that they are ready to enter into the baptismal covenant with the Lord.

In Doctrine & Covenants 20:37 we read,

"And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church."
For further reference, see also the conversion of people in the Book of Mormon as described in Moroni 6.

The missionaries play a very important role in this entire process. Not only are they teachers, but they are guides in helping people to repent. Obviously, repentance involves more than changing one's actions: an individual must plead with God for forgiveness and strength. The missionaries help with that as well, by directing, encouraging and supporting.

I would like to encourage anyone who needs help with repentance to contact the missionaries serving in your area.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Question Box: Birth Control

Q. I am a non-member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but looking into it. I was wondering: I'm on birth control for regulation of the menstrual cycle. What is the belief Mormons have on this?

The official church stance on birth control is that this is a decision to be made solely between husband, wife and the Lord. We believe that children are a wonderful blessing and that the commandment God gave to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force today. Husband and wife are encouraged to ponder the blessing that children bring and take the decision to God in prayer.

Members are reminded that finances, schooling and other worldly concerns are not God's concerns. Sometimes faith is required when the world would say, "That doesn't seem wise, considering your circumstances." I have known couples who have waited to begin their families until their positions become more secure and I have known couples who have started their families despite many secular obstacles. It is not the position of any outsider to make a judgment on such a private, individual matter. What is right for one couple may not be right for another.

Sexual intimacy brings new life into the world, but that is not its sole purpose. God intends sexual relations also to be an expression of love between husband and wife, an important part of a loving, faithful, flourishing marriage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Question Box: More Than the Bible?

Q. How do you explain Revelation 22:18-29 (KJV) in conjunction with the addition of the Book of Mormon (and others) to Holy Scripture?

I can handle verses 18-21, but 22-29 are beyond me. I'd love to hear what you think of those.
Chapter 22 of Revelation is the final chapter of the New Testament, verses 18-29 (KJV) are shown below:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The implication is that since these verses close out the Bible as we know it today, God will not allow any more prophecies. My response to this would be a long series of quotations from a talk given recently by the Apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, but I think it would be more sensible for you to read it or listen to it or watch it yourself (it's only 15 minutes long).

Please, come back and comment when you're done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Question Box: Traveling Jesus

Q. Do Mormons believe Jesus canoed across the Atlantic to America?

Of course not. He just walked across.
Seriously, though, this is a good question, and it shows how successful the enemies of our Church have been in spreading falsehoods and half-truths. It's easy to throw slogans around. The sillier the slogan, the easier it is for people who don't know any better to dismiss us and our beliefs out of hand.

No. Mormons don't believe Jesus canoed across the Atlantic. Where did this particular slogan come from, then?

We believe that Jesus intended the whole earth to hear His message. There were people beyond the borders of the Middle East who, for centuries, prayed to God, hearkened to the local prophets, and wrote His teachings in scripture. Jesus speaks of them, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine...And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." John 10:14,16

Shortly after the resurrection and ascension of the Savior in Israel, he appeared to a group of people across the globe in America. Rather than arriving on shore in a kayak, he opted for a more dramatic, brilliant appearance in the sky, followed by a slow descent. He spoke to the people, gathered at the ancient temple (many scholars place it in central America), and invited them to feel the nail-wounds in His hands and feet, and the scar in His side (see 3 Nephi 11).

This account, along with much more about these ancient American Christians can be found in the Book of Mormon (subtitled, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ"). Because Jesus preached the same gospel in both America and Israel, this becomes an even stronger witness for the Bible and for Jesus Christ. You can know whether it's all true by asking God yourself in the name of Jesus Christ and He will manifest the truth unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:3-5).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Question Box: Joseph Smith

Q: Was Joseph Smith hearing from God himself? Can you tell me about this one?

Good question. The answer is yes. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet who heard from and spoke with God himself. And yes, I’ll tell you about this too, but I’ll give a little background first.

We believe that God has always called prophets to teach and guide others. We’ve seen that God has called numerous prophets in the Bible, first starting with Adam. Adam taught the people, but eventually his teachings were rejected by the people and they fell into darkness and apostasy. But God loves his children, so he sent another prophet, Noah. Again, we see that he taught the people, but his message was also eventually rejected and the people fell from the truth. Again, God sends another prophet, Moses… and we see that this cycle continues. God calls a prophet, the prophet teaches the gospel, but his teachings are rejected and the people fall away. This continues throughout the Bible even until the time of Christ.

As we all know, Jesus Christ taught the people, but many didn’t listen to his teachings. Not only did they reject his message, but they crucified our Lord. Later, they also rejected and killed the apostles. At this time, the people fell into a great apostasy, a great rebellion against God and his gospel.

We know that God is an unchanging God, and that he still loves his children. That is why he has called a prophet for our day. As a young boy in 1820 Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true. He searched the Bible for a better understanding and he read that he should ask of God. (James 1:5) Acting on this instruction, Joseph went into the woods near his home and prayed.

In Joseph Smith’s own words he says what happened, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-17)

Joseph Smith did see God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. He spoke with them face to face. Joseph was given a divine mission as a prophet of God. Through him, the Lord accomplished a great and marvelous work that included bringing forth the Book of Mormon, restoring the priesthood, revealing precious gospel truths, and organizing the true Church of Jesus Christ.

As I mentioned, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which comes with a promise given in the last chapter, “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.” (Moroni 10:4) Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can say they know that Joseph Smith’s story is true, because they’ve taken the time to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:16)

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to study, pray, and find out for him or herself whether this story about Joseph Smith is true. I would encourage you to take the time to do these things too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Question Box: Priesthood

Q. What is the LDS position on women as priests/pastors/leaders/whatever they are called?

Well, the church's position is that women are very capable leaders. The women's organization (Relief Society) is led by 4 women (president, 1st counselor, 2nd counselor, secretary) with the same organization in the Primary (children's classes). Women also lead the teenage girls (Young Women Organization) in the same fashion. Women give sermons for the whole church, and they teach sunday school lessons. However, the main body of the congregation (called a ward, or a branch) is led by men.

As far as women being priests, pastors, or whatevers, that just isn't women's job. Okay, that sounds sexist, but it isn't, just hear me out (and know that I am a woman).

See, God isn't running a democracy and He doesn't have to give His power to everyone to be fair. He is running a theocracy; and it works well because He knows everything, understands what we need, and is completely Good.

So He has assigned the worthy men the role of carrying his authority to preside over the church, give Priesthood blessings, and serve as God himself would serve. This is really good for men, in general. It gives them the opportunity and responsibility to take care of others, serve, and become selfless. Men sometimes have a hard time looking outside themselves, and with this responsibility solely on their shoulders, they are solely responsible to God for how they do. If they don't do what they are supposed to bad things can happen. That's how apostasy comes about.

He gave women an equally responsible job--they are in charge of raising their children to be God-loving, respectful, and well-balanced. This is a huge job: like the Priesthood, they are accountable to God for how they do; and, like the priesthood, the responsibility helps them take care of others, serve, and become selfless. If they don't follow through with their duties, and their children grow up without knowing God, or keeping His commandments, bad things can happen. That's why the earth was flooded.

Both men and women are heading for salvation, but since our natures are so different, God has given us different responsibilities to round out our weaknesses and accentuate our strengths. That's why God's theocracy works--everyone in His kingdom is working toward the same goal and He has tailored their roles to get them there.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Question Box: Salvation in a Nutshell

Q. What is the Mormon message of salvation in a nutshell? (like, two paragraphs)?

Not a fan of reading, eh?
All right, I'll do it, but you have to promise to do a little more research before you tell your friends at your next barbecue that you 'studied' Mormonism.

This is the very center of our beliefs --
The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

We are mortal. We will all die. We, alone, are powerless to stop it. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross; then, after three days He was resurrected. Many deceased souls were awakened from the grave at that time and were given immortal bodies also. We have all been promised an eventual release from death also, all because of Jesus Christ.

We make mistakes; not just bad, embarassing choices, but often downright wicked decisions. If you haven't ever murdered, stolen, or lied, you might be tempted to say this is a problem for other people, but consider this: Is there someone you dislike whom you treat like garbage? Do you do things in secret that you are ashamed of? Are you holding on to a long-running grudge? Do you snap at people? Just as pain is an indicator to your body that your physical body is in danger, guilt warns us when we are in (or approaching) spiritual danger, and few of us are free of guilt.

The punishment for sin is separation from God. We are powerless, on our own, to avoid this consequence. Once again, Jesus Christ provided the way out. He suffered an infinite atonement for our sins, thus making payment for the wrong moves we made (but He never made). We must choose to accept this gracious gift, and along the way start learning how to make good, holy choices. Our purpose isn't just to fulfill a debt, but to become the sort of person Jesus is.

The start of our path is having faith in Christ. I know He loves me and will help me with the problems in my life. You can have this faith, too. Next comes repentance: turn your life away from your sins and pray for forgiveness. Then, to set out as a new beginning, covenant with God that you will be His disciple your whole life long with baptism by immersion in water. Receive the Holy Ghost after it has been conferred to you through laying on of hands, and finally, live up to your promise and seek the godly road.

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I realize this was double the paragraphs you had anticipated, but it's such an important topic that you should probably read it again.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


In the Book of Mormon, God tells Nephi, the first contributor to the Book of Mormon “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30). There are three points to take away from this: First, knowledge of God and how we should live, etc doesn’t come all at once, but a little at a time. Second, if we follow what has been given, we will receive more. Third, if we aren’t willing to follow God’s counsel and live by it, that which was given to us will be taken away.  I take this to mean that we will forget the knowledge of God that we had gained. 

Throughout my life there have been many things that I haven’t understood about my religion-- why I was asked to do this or not do that and so on, the answers were not immediately available.  However, as I have sought to understand, understanding has come.   For me, the Holy Ghost always confirms this understanding.  When this happens to me, it is an epiphany.  All of the cards fall into place and I understand the why.  

It is similar to climbing to the top of a peak, I cannot always see where the trail leads or what it will look like from the top.  However, once I reach the top I can see further than I ever could on the trail below and I can understand better where I am.  Furthermore, the view from the top is always worth the struggle.  I feel that it is the same with living God's commandments.  Sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but once I make up my mind that I am going to do it (choose to do it) the Holy Ghost always confirms that I have made the right choice.  These experiences with the Holy Ghost are always worth the effort, because I know that I am acting according to God's will and that is when the understanding comes,  "I can see for miles and miles." As I have moved from understanding to understanding my belief in God and his prophets has grown and so has my willingness to follow their counsel.  Thus, I know that there is always a why, there always has been and I know that there will continue to be an answer even if I don’t immediately understand.  

I want to illustrate this point with a personal example that may appear absurd to many of you.  During my first year of college I grew a magnificent beard.  It was thick and black and I loved it.  However, I felt that I should prepare myself to serve as a missionary for my church.  I knew that this would mean that I had to cut my beard and shave for two years.  Nevertheless, I vowed that the day that I returned from my missionary service would be the last day that I shaved for the rest of my life.  Begrudgingly I cut my beard and left for my mission.  

In the middle of this missionary service I was at a meeting with the president of our mission.  He was talking about our appearance and how it influences how others see us.  To paraphrase he said everyday it is possible to meet someone who might have a large impact on our lives therefore we should always look presentable so as to give them the best possible impression.  At that moment, the Holy Ghost filled my heart and I knew that I was being asked not to grow my beard again for this reason.  I understood the why.  This might appear silly, but the point is I had progressed in my understanding of why I was asked to keep myself clean-shaven. I am not saying that this applies to everyone else, but it applies to me and I am happy to follow this understanding that I have gained.

Finally, we shouldn’t criticize or judge others if they do not see things or live their life the way we do.  Perhaps they haven’t progressed in understanding the way we have or maybe they are beyond us in understanding God and his mysteries.  In the context of progression if we judge others we are saying that we know best and that we are better than others.  We should have charity for all people regardless of the choices they make or the lives they live.  God loves all of his children and we should do the same and leave the judging up to God, because only he knows our thoughts, desires and intents.  Furthermore, he is the only one who truly knows where we are on the path of progression

Why Mormons?

Question: Why Mormons?

Answer: Can you please be a little more specific?

Question: Yes, of course. What makes the Mormon Church any different from any other church; why are you Mormons always trying to share your beliefs with me?

Answer: Great question. Let me answer it for myself: the Church is special to me and I love to share its teachings with others because I know it to be the true church. I believe that other religions and faiths have teachings that are true and I am forever grateful for the work that they do to make people better but I also believe that they are missing important truths. To use a familiar phrase, I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church that can honestly claim to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

With this, I believe that this church is the only church with authority from God to perform saving ordinances such as baptism.

Authority given to man by God to act in His name is called the priesthood. Throughout time, God has called special individuals to be prophets. Prophets are given the priesthood authority by God and are instructed to teach the people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus men like Noah, Abraham, and Moses had this authority to act in God’s name. But, because we men are silly, these prophets were consistently rejected. When a prophet was rejected, this priesthood authority was lost from the Earth for a time (known as a time of apostasy) until God saw fit to once again call a new prophet to restore what was lost.

This cycle of “have a prophet, kill the prophet, don’t have a prophet, eventually have a new prophet” continued up until Christ was sent to the earth. While here, Christ acted as the prophet and organized His Church, which organization included the calling of twelve Apostles. But (silly humans) even Christ was rejected and killed. When Christ was killed Peter, having the proper authority, assumed the role as head of the Church. And yet the persecution didn’t stop. Christian heads were rolling left and right and the Apostles were killed off until, yet again, a new era of apostasy began. Authority was yet again lost from the earth because of the wickedness of men.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that that authority was never lost. The Protestant reformers (a la Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, etc), pointing to the widespread corruption in the church of their times, heartily disagreed and broke off in attempts to organize churches that were more like the original Church that Christ had established. But most of these reformers realized that they didn’t have authority from God—they didn’t claim themselves to be prophets called by God. Roger Williams, co-founder of Rhode Island and the Baptist church in America, recognized this lack of authority in his church and soon left saying,

There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking. (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

So mankind needed to wait until God saw fit to call a new prophet. The wait lasted until 1820. In spring of that year God and Jesus Christ personally appeared to Joseph Smith to call him as a new prophet – a prophet to restore what had been lost, a prophet specifically given the priesthood authority necessary to once again establish Christ’s Church here on the earth.

And thus it is that Christ’s Church was restored (not reformed) and is now on the earth again with a prophet, with apostles, and with the priesthood authority necessary to perform baptisms. The Heavens are still open, God talks to His children in our day.

These things I know to be true.

That’s why Mormons.

Thanks for listening.

(Oh, and I dare you to watch this. Or this.)