Friday, September 21, 2012

mormon mom bloggers

This is not an official Friday Q & A, more like an attempt to umbrella a bunch of varying questions I get about being a Mormon. 

A few months ago a blogger contacted me to see if I wanted to take part in a project she had come up with. 

The idea was to band together with a group of fellow bloggers to share what we believe as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I told her I was in.  "Why??" you may ask.  

I know that talking about religion is scary or taboo for some.  But for me it is a way of life.  Something that makes me and my family happy. Why keep it all to myself?  There are so many misconceptions out there which are heightened with so much going on in the media with a Mormon presidential candidate and the Book of Mormon broadway play...people are trying to figure out what in the world this crazy religion is.  I'm all for clarifying that.   

There was an article written a while back that caught my eye about the phenomenon of how many Mormon Mom Bloggers there are out there (here).  And then there's this one too I thought was interesting,  I think maybe because we are taught from when we are young to write in journals and like that second article says "we seek after good things."  I think blogs can be a great way to share "good things." 

Now, I hope people don't get confused...this little project I am a part of is not a mission to convert people to believe the same things we do. It is to help clarify what Mormons believe after being asked so many times.  Why we think the way we do, why we make the choices we make, etc.  And every Mormon has different answers to these questions.  Sure, we believe in the same core values: we have a loving Father in Heaven who wants us to return to Him some day.  He sent His son to be our Savior so that we could repent of the many mistakes we make in life.  We strive to love our neighbors as Christ loved (more on this back here).  

But all of us bloggers in the project came to believe in these things from different routes.  Some may be converts to this religion, some (like me) were raised Mormon their whole lives. Others have gone through horrific events to find their faith, while others are just happy-go-lucky believers who just don't doubt what they have grown up being taught.  But the bottom line is that we all love our religion and feel we are that much happier because it is in our lives.

do not know most of the other bloggers on this list, but I know they get people commenting like I do, people who are incredulous as to why we do some of the things we do.  

So this is what we are doing for the project:  We are offering a packet with a little write-up from each of us about why we believe what we do.  How we came about our faith. 

Here is a list and links to the bloggers who are part of the project (you may know a few of them:):


Mariel - or so she says...
(she's the one who started this thing and you can find her explanation if you click here.)
Camille ~ Six Sisters Stuff
Leigh Anne ~ Your Homebased Mom
Megan ~ Brassy Apple
Reachel ~ Cardigan Empire
Caroline ~ Armelle Blog
Carrian ~ Sweet Basil
Melissa ~ 320 Sycamore
Shandra ~ Deals to Meals
Kristyn ~ Lil' Luna
Kelli ~ Lolly Jane
Stephanie ~ Somewhat Simple
Becky ~ UCreate
Arianne ~ Still Parenting
Shawni ~ 71 Toes
Lindsey ~ The R House
Kirsten ~ The Crafting Chicks 
Melanie ~ Sugardoodle
Kierste ~ Brown Paper Packages
Shelley ~ How Does She? 
Brooke ~ The Crafting Chicks

With that packet will come a Book of Mormon.  Why the Book of Mormon?  Because it is a key part of explaining what we believe.  I am right in the midst of reading it right now trying to finish by Christmas and man alive, I love that book.  We believe that The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and partners with the Bible as scripture.  

There's an article about the project here.

If you are interested in receiving a packet I will personally send you one with no strings attached.  Just email me at sepphotography at gmail dot com. 

If you are already a member of our church and would still like to see the packet please mention that in your email because I will email it to you instead of mailing it (because you already have a Book of Mormon, of course :).  

Also, I mentioned before back here, there is a new site with all kinds of information from members of our church (to pair along with other sites including Mormon.org where my spotlight is here which I explained back here).  The new one my parents are helping with is called mormonbriefing.com and it's pretty cool too.

And if you are uncomfortable with all this religious mumbo-jumbo, just click over here to get your mind off of it and feel happy that your daughter probably isn't throwing a tantrum like this in the middle of a parking lot :)

Happy weekend!

82 comments:

  1. Thank you!! I have noticed that so many bloggers are Mormon but never knew how to ask why without being afraid of sounding offensive...as silly as that is. Thanks for putting an end to my curiosity!

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  2. The LDS church is home to many hard-working, generous and good-living people! Even your offer here is an example of this notable generosity.

    However, I think it is important to understand - if others are looking into investigating Mormonism further - that Mormonism is not in agreement with historical, orthodox, Biblical Christianity.

    The Bible alone is God's inspired word to man, telling the story of God's unmerited mercy and grace towards mankind.

    Joseph Smith's writings establish a relatively recent religion that includes mercy, but promotes works as the primary road to salvation (though I realize the LDS church would consider his work divinely inspired, conservative Christianity does not).

    I just thought it would be helpful to establish that distinction, though I applaud your willingness to go public with your faith!

    Looking forward to more insights on this and other topics. Thanks for your courage :)

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  3. This is incredible what you are doing to answer question on the Mormon faith. I love it!
    Fellow Mormon mommy- Jeneka

    Loveforbuttercups.com

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  4. It is funny you should have this post today as I was just reading this article (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/why-i-love-mormonism/) and wondering if it is true that what makes Mormons distinct from Christians is that Mormons believe that there is something divine in every person that is equal to God. In a sense, that we can all become god-like. (I never knew! Or did I interpret it wrongly?)

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  5. I think it's great that you choose to share about your faith! I love reading your blog and have always wondered about what Mormons believe. My hope is that you are not offended by any of my questions. I am just very curious and hope it doesn't come off in a judgemental way. Do you believe that "religion" (as in religious works/deeds, practices, rules, standards, obligations, rituals, etc.) is what Jesus wanted His followers to get caught up in? As a Christian who believes the Holy Bible and only the Holy Bible is God's Word, I see that Jesus spent a lot of time and energy trying to reach and teach the Pharisees (the religious people of that time period) that what they were doing was all wrong and that relationship with Him was above all else. Do you believe that the work of Christ on the cross fully and completely saves the believer and that "it is finished"? Or do you believe your salvation is based upon your own good works such as missions, baptism, etc. In other words, do you feel your salvation depends on you or on Him?

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  6. Are you able to send the packets to non-US addresses? I'm in the UK and would like to know more. Frustratingly I literally just left the US on Tuesday!

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  7. Dearest Shawni! Great post! It was thoughtful and articulate and I enjoyed reading it. You are a great writer, a neat woman, and a wonderful mother. Such a good example for so many!!! I have had the opportunity to meet you several times at various AMI functions, and you have always been very kind! (I adore your parents too.) Anyway, just wanted to pop by your blog and show you some love and support. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  8. P.S. This is Aleisha from the blog, "She Calls Me Mama Leisha." I'm one of the Mormon bloggers involved in this neat project!!

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  9. What a wonderful thing you ladies are offering! I think it so good for people to study questions out for themselves-- to read the Book of Mormon and ask questions to real members of the Mormon church. I think there are some misconceptions out there. Because members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give great reverence to their baptismal covenants-- that they promise to strive to live a Christ-like life and work hard to obey the commandments (that is their end of the covenant), they believe that in return Christ will bless them with His spirit to always be with him (Chirst's end of the covenant) (a covenant is a two-way promise). Some poeple may interpret this to mean that members of the LDS church believe in their own works. In actuality, they very much believe in grace. They believe that it is through Jesus Christ that they are saved. And that by His grace-- they shall receieve forgiveness, mercy, redemption, salvation, and strength. None of us can save ourselves no matter how many commandments we follow- no matter how good or perfect someone might look on the outside or by how many rules they follow. It is only through Jesus Christ and our relationship with Him that we can be saved. The guidelines that Mormons live by are a means to an end, so to speak. It is their way of bringing themselves closer to God to build that relationship with Him. But it isn't the works that save people, it is the Lord himself. This scripture from the Book of Mormon essentially says what I was just saying and it might surprise some people-- 2 Nephi 4:34 "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm."

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  10. Good for you, Shawni! I would say this to anyone who wished to clarify their religious beliefs. So important that we understand and support each other!

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  11. I'm a long time follower of your blog, but I don't think I've ever commented before. I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and left the religion when I turned 18 and I want nothing more to do with it or any other religion, but I wanted to thank you for something. Even though I want nothing to do with religion anymore, I still read every post you write even if it is very much about being a Mormon, because so much else shines through. I get so much out of reading about your values and morals (that are very similar to what I was brought up with and thank my parents for, even though I hated the reason), because I still want to teach these things to my children. Your children seem to be growing into respectful, resourceful, hardworking young adults and that is what is important to me when I read your posts. Thank you for sharing your beliefs in a way that is not at all pushy, but still tells so much. Wow! That was long and rambly, sorry!

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  12. Faith without works is dead.

    Whatever you do to least of my people you do unto me.

    Christ was clear he wouldn't 'know us' unless we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty in the gospel.

    The problem with the bible being it is the 'I accept you as my personal savior' line isn't in there word for word. Also most reading the bible and the bible alone are reading the thing in English or Spanish or some language not original to its writing. Stuff gets lists in translation.

    Besides doctrine issues the LDS requires too much time. Why is time spent on crafts and such on Sunday's? Teen would spend 3 on Sunday, 5 in seminary, another hour and a half in mutual, perhaps a dance or gathering every now and then and hours on scouting or PP, then there are church camps. The only interaction with another outside the faith is a investigation, no time for anything else. The there is the fact that US LDS can't have a simple service to include everyone for marriage before bing sealed, they make any member who does a civil sealing wait a year to be sealed. Makes no sense since your church baptized and seals dead people. We don't need to be in the temple. But it's like eloping. One good man movie the dad stayed outside. The mother should have as well. If its really about the couple then no family should be there if they all can't. In other countries a civil ceremony is required. You need to become more universal if you want to be international faith.

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  13. Shawni is sharing what she believes in a non threatening, loving sort of way. It would be nice for others to treat that with respect and kindness and not tear down her beliefs.

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  14. What a cool project!!!
    I've loved the opportunity that blogging as a Full Time Missionary has given me to become comfortable sharing what I believe openly on my blog.
    Thank you for not being ashamed of what you know is true!

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  15. I think it's important for those not of the LDS faith to know that we believe in a modern day prophet. We have a prophet here on the earth today that guides and directs us, just as the prophets that are spoken of in the bible. The LDS church is Heavenly Father's church, and He has set up His church through latter-day prophets. The comment someone else had, "You need to become more universal if you want to be international faith." suggests that we as members can make whatever changes we wish to the LDS church. We, as members, cannot change how the church is organized. We believe we are directed by our prophet whom we believe speaks with God.

    Thank you for doing this, Shawni! And a thanks to all the other mormom mom bloggers out there as well!

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  16. No. I am suggesting you are more universal in your rules.

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  17. Wow! Great idea.Beautifully crafted post.The comments are fascinating! Love it!

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  18. @Unknown. I'm am taking this directly from the mormon.org website, because it explains it better than I could:

    Under the section "Jesus Christ." Here is the link: http://mormon.org/jesus-christ

    "Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to do good works. The Holy Bible teaches, "Faith without works is dead" ( James 2:20 ). This does not mean that we can be saved by good works, for no amount of good works can cleanse our souls of even a trace of sin without the power of Christ’s sacrifice. But those who have genuine faith in Christ will want to follow Him and do the kinds of works He did, such as helping the poor and needy, caring for the sick, visiting the lonely, and showing good will and love to all people."

    Now, for my own words:

    Essentially, as a Mormon, my testimony, my belief in Jesus Christ is first. Without Christ, I am nothing. I am grateful for the Restored Gospel that gives me further light and knowledge about Jesus Christ and His role as my Savior. Because I love Christ, I want to try to emulate His example. It isn't enough for me to say "I have faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore I am saved." I want Him to know that I have faith in Him by the works that I do. Faith is an action word, not a passive one.

    That being said, I will fall short every day. We all will. That is where His atoning power comes in. He lifts me up, gets me back on my feet, and makes me want to be a better person. The answer to your last question is, "It ALL depends on Him." Without the atonement, I (we are) am lost, completely. I am grateful to Him everyday because of what He did for me. And hopefully, by my actions, He can see that.

    Thank you for your questions, because it gave me the chance to share my testimony of the Savior. If you have further questions, I would highly recommend checking out the mormon.org website. It's a great way to get a answers about what we believe. Of course, I understand the desire to hear first hand from members of the faith. I feel the same way when I learn about other beliefs. :) Have a lovely day!

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  19. Not everyone who says to me 'lord, lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father... Many faiths claim that those who promote good works, likes works of mercy are somehow thinking its the works that get them in a firm relationship with jesus and worthy or his salvation. Those people are not only in error they are danger of losin their own salvation. It is not enough to call on the name of the lord or perform miracles in the name of the lord. Salvation may go to whomever God extends it. Religion just helps people work toward that end.

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  20. Great post. Please do an update about Lucy! I miss hearing about all her cute quirks, struggles, and successes!!! :)

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  21. @kms--much of what you are saying fits in with the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is so crucial to do the will of the Father, to live like His Son. Ultimately, whatever we do pales in comparison to the redeeming power of Christ's sacrifices in Gethsemane and on the Cross. I love my faith, and I love all other faiths that inspire followers to be good and do good.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I've enjoyed reading them.

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  22. what a cool perspective from "unknown" on 9/21 at 2:35pm. I hadn't thought of "works" being interpreted as if one's salvation depends on him/herself INSTEAD OF on Christ. I think it's both. When I was a kid, I used to think that any 'bad guy' could SAY that he believes, but if he does bad things (like steal), then he must not really understand what it's like to truly believe in his savior. I thought that was sad. We should respect and try to understand what he did for us and feel indebted to Him and do everything we can to honor him. We should try to be like Him, so if we simply believe and don't actively show it, then we'd be hypocrites. There are lots of good people out there who DO do good. What a wonderful world.

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  23. While thinking about Jesus and the grace he extends towards us, I think it is important to acknowledge who the LDS church believes Jesus is.

    Mormonism is essentially a religion following the teachings of Joseph Smith, who adopted much Biblical language to establish the LDS church, though he clearly taught that the Bible alone was incomplete and contained errors. The difficulty is that though Mormonism uses Biblical rhetoric, the LDS definitions for essential Biblical doctrines and personalities (i.e God and Jesus) are completely different from what the Bible teaches.

    Because the definitions are so different, so is the overall narrative of reality according to LDS teaching, making it a different gospel that does not legitimately square with the Biblical story. Which of, course it is fine to believe, it’s just important to note that it contradicts the Biblical story of reality.

    For example, because the LDS church believes that each person on earth is progressing towards godhood themselves, it teaches that the current God of our world (Heavenly Father) was once a man somewhere else, who progressed and became the God of this world, then had spirit children including all people, Jesus and Satan (“Jesus, Satan, and all humanity share God the Father as their spiritual sire.” – www.fairmormon.org).

    The trouble is that though the LDS church clearly sees Satan as the bad guy and Jesus as the good guy, they are essentially considered spirit brothers. This is in violent opposition to what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that there only was, is and will be one God, whose son, Jesus, is also God. The trinity, the concept of God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (3-in-1), is an undeniable Biblical principle that the Mormon church rejects. So an important question to ask is, who is the Mormon Jesus?

    That’s just an example of why it is so important to define terms as we dialogue and compare Mormonism with Orthodox Christianity, because though the language is the same, there are different meanings behind the words. ;)

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  24. Goodbean, I have not combed the Bible to verify what I'm about to say but I believe that the concept of three-in-one was never actually articulated in the Bible. As an Anglican (Episcopalian) I do believe in the Trinity, but although Jesus often referred to his Father he never, to my knowledge, referred to "the comforter" as a third part of Himself. It's a matter of interpretation, and I think there are other schools of Christian thought which also do not believe in the Trinity.

    I'm still relatively new to scripture, so please forgive me if I have overlooked what may seem to be glaringly obvious references - and please direct me to them!

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  25. May at Faint with Hunger, you're right that the trinity is not a term expressly articulated in the Bible. It is a theological word, a title, given to the nature of God that Bible clearly describes.

    The New Testament says that Jesus is God (John 1:1,14); it says the Father is God (Phil. 1:2); and it says the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). This is the Trinity: three distinct natures in one Godhead.

    Interestingly, nowhere does the Bible say, "Bible" within it's pages either, but it's meaning is still accepted and understood :)

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  26. Is James not in the bible for nonCatholics?

    Actually you are the only one claiming a person can earn God's grace. And you are suggesting the only thing needed is to claim to be a believer. More is expected than a unsubstantiated declaration, unless in imminent risk of death.

    Joseph Smith technically isn't in the book of mormon. It was just revealed to him. Paul talks about a 3rd heaven. The LDS have a multiple level system of heaven. Christ set up his church with Peter, the method of ordination is clearly established. Complete line of Popes from Peter to present. Did the Holy Spirit disappear for centuries? He said we wouldn't be alone. It doesn't make senes. I do think it is great for there to be so many faiths. We are all vastly different in our capacity to understand. What is perfectly clear to one is not understandable by another. There is a place for all to grow in their understanding of
    God. Human beings in this mortal world will fall short on this too. It is silly arguing which denomination is Christian or which one is Right.

    It is said that not a word or letter or the Torah can be changed. Yet Christians eat shell fish. Of course there is more to God than the bible, which for many are missing a few texts.

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  27. Grace isn't earned, it's received. And it's a gift.

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  28. You are aware Jesus didn't write the bible, right? I would imagine there are many things that were written down about the time of Jesus we don't have included in the bible. Some true and some whoppers of a tale. There were erroneous gospels circulating over the centuries. The reason there are Lutherans is they chucked part of the bible as it stood for centuries, if some can chuck out scripture why can't others added be such a stretch of the imagination? After all Revelation wasn't added to the body upon being written. Proverbs and Deuterotomy said not to add to God's words. But where does that leave Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts..?

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  29. First 5 books of the old testament, that is the Torah. You mentioned one of the books in the Torah.

    Your bible tossed a number of books that are continued to be found in the Catholic bible. You subtracted the word of God.

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  30. Yes, there are additional books. The first 5 and some others are accepted by Islam as sacred texts as well.

    LDS consider the other texts word of God. Basically the short of it Christ needed to appear after the resurection to fulfill the covenant and one tribe of Isreal is considered to have travelled to the America's years prior. Their books discuss that history and record. It also contains the one the rest of Christians know. But like a game of post office, the scriptures sound a little different. Not unfamiliar in all parts. Some parts. Then there is the explaination of how he was given the tablets on which the record was written and transcribed it and why.

    Deuteronomy says word of God can't be added to or taken away. Your bible took away. Theirs added. All added cause the new testament exists in all of them. If its the word of God okay to add. If not okay to take away.

    God is in his heaven. Gates of heaven are opened.

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  31. I don't mean to be flippant about the LDS texts. I don't think it's outrageous thing to believe. And I don't think it's outrageous to decline acceptance in all the texts in my bible either. I think it's outrageous to believe another isn't in favor with God because they have more or less texts. I don't think God is going to care if I'm Catholic or Baptist or Amish or Jewish.

    Scripture states a number from Israel are getting to heaven. They surely didn't proclaim anything in life like in John about Jesus. God, sure. A symbolic number. A mutlitude from each tribe. God decides who receives grace and when. Jesus opened the gates.

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  32. just to clarify about what someone wrote about the scripture in Dueteronomy.that scripture states not to take away or add from the bible couldn't mean no other scripture should be written because after Dueteronomy came Joshua, Judges, Ruth so on and so forth including all the books in the New Testament which was written in different countries still. So I think that statement in the bible means not to add or take away from a particular scripture to make it suit your own philosophy or agenda. If we were to think of it as being the way kms suggested every scripture after Dueteronomy would be void.

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  33. Wow, lots of thoughts. I love that there are so many people doing so much religious research, and I'm so glad we can all share our views of what we have found to be helpful in making life meaningful, joyful and purposeful. I hope we can all remember everyone has their own spiritual journey in life and to respect that.

    Thank you thank you to those wonderful LDS responses to the questions about our faith...thank you for helping me clarify some of what we believe. I so appreciate you taking time out to do that as I'm sure those do who asked the questions.

    I have an inbox chock-full of requests for the packet to be sent all over the world and in different languages and I'm excited to share what has brought so much happiness to me and my family. I will get to the post office as soon as I can!

    Much love,
    Shawni

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  34. I like that you're willing to share and explain your beliefs instead of saying, "This is what I believe and no one is allowed to critique."

    What an interesting discussion in the comments as well.

    I am an Orthodox Jew but I find Mormonism particularly fascinating. I like that it focuses on works a lot and the family as well. (Jews believe that you don't have to be Jewish to get to heaven, btw!)

    Anyways, I love reading about religion...I'm glad that your blog has provided a non-judgmental forum of discussion. :)

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  35. Actually Colby said that deut said no scripture can be added so the book of mormom is false. I pointed out under deut there could be no new testament understanding it that way.

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  36. Interesting discussion. I think it is an awesome thing you are doing Shawni.

    I love this article by Jeffrey R. Holland, addressing leaders of Christianity. It talks about how we can respect each other's views and yet come together in Christ.

    http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/08/standing-together-for-the-cause-of-christ?lang=eng&query=friendship

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  37. I believe prophets in the Bible did tell us that in the last days something would rise up after several hundred years of apostasy: Isaiah 11:10-12; 29:8-16; Malachi 3:1-5.

    James 1 & 2 are also good examples of what God expects from us: enduring temptation, being doers and not just hearers, having faith with works. The thing about faith also applies to religion; do we have enough faith to decide that one religion is true over another? God is not just going to come down and tell us all to join his church or that Joseph Smith will be the one to restore it with a loud voice. (And we also believe that all people -not just Mormons- will return to Heaven after we die.) http://mormon.org/plan-of-happiness

    The Bible speaks of fasting and praying together, of paying tithes, of temples, of baptizing for the dead, of morality. Is there a church that represents the fulness of the gospel that was taught in the Bible? http://mormon.org/what-do-mormons-believe.

    All these questions you may have can be answered by others just like you who at one time were unsure, too. Use the search tool (like, type in 'Trinity' and see what it brings up.)

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  38. The question of religious relativity is an interesting one. If "all roads lead to God" then it shouldn't matter what we believe and practice.

    However, as an extreme example, Hitler's occultic faith was made manifest through his actions, and no moral person would agree that the road he chose would lead to God.

    We live in a time where few people believe in spiritual absolutes, though the physical world all around us proclaims that there are absolutes that are undeniable: i.e. gravity. Why would this not be so in the spiritual world as well, as God created both?

    God created people for fellowship with Him. But, when Adam and Eve brought sin into the human race, sin forever separated man from God. We cannot assume to "make friends" with a Holy God on our terms. A Holy God cannot accept us into His Presence simply because of our good intentions,or our choices made from personal comfort, or because we belong to the right group. Wrecked by sin we must accept the spiritual laws/limitations He has established in His Word,and come to Him humbly on His terms.

    This is the story that the Bible reveals to those who would seek Him.

    Plucking convenient "proof texts" that highlight unbiblical theories, without exploring the context, is a dangerous game. I'd encourage anyone eager to learn about the God of the Hebrews and Christians to read His word directly. Don't get too lost in semantics and religious double-speak. Just investigate it for yourself! :)

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  39. Very few faiths get tangled up in a knot cause others aren't their faith.

    One denomination says faith alone. Another encourages their members to have faith, receive grace from the sacraments and perform spiritual and corporal works. If faith is ALL why be in a knot for the folks who do more?

    Jews are the chosen people, chosen to live the law. There are hundreds of positive and negative commandments. Gosh we who are not get off easy. Are you seriously saying once the crucifixion happened any Jew not a believer dying the next day on will rot in hell? Jesus was a Jew at the time of his death. I cycle through the entire bible about every 3 years. I just don't see that being accurate.

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  40. I just had to put in my two cents.

    First, "faith without works is dead" is a direct quote from the Bible, so the Bible does not disagree with that. Jesus made a point of saying that the people who would inherit his Kingdom would be the ones "DOING" the will of his father. Just believing is not enough. "Even the demons believe and shudder" - also a direct Bible quote.

    As far as the Trinity, it is not biblical. People quote the scripture where Jesus says "I and the father are one" to prove it, but a few verses down Jesus also tells the 12 apostles "we are all one" - obviously he meant one in thought, purpose, belief - all 12 people were not literally ONE.

    Also, the idea of "all roads lead to salvation" is just a way for people to rationalize their beliefs. The Bible says that broad and spacious is the road leading to destruction but narrow and cramped is the road leading to everlasting life. The "narrow and cramped" analogy suggests that it does not have room for all religions and "good people" - it has specific requirements.

    Finally, if you are familiar with the Lord's Prayer in Matthew chapter 6 - it says "your kingdom come, your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven. So the kingdom Jesus preached about was an earthly paradise similar to the one the first human pair was put in. Psalms 37:29 says that the righteous will possess the earth and will reside forever UPON IT."

    Just food for thought.

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  41. Matthew 7:21 (Caps mine)

    "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER who is in heaven." - World English Bible

    "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven." - King James Version

    Believing is important, but you have to back it up. Not necessarily with elaborate missions, but with how you live your everyday life. Walk the walk, in other words.

    "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit." - Matthew 12:33 New International Version.

    If you believe, then keep on stealing, lying, generally being a bad person then what kind of fruits are you producing?

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  42. I'm not sure what you are referring to as "grace" - but I do think we are in the same book, so to speak, if not exactly on the same page :)

    Of course we are all sinners and fall short - but that doesn't mean we throw up our hands and say, "oh well, I'm a sinner anyway, I might as well have this affair, or be dishonest..." or whatever it is our imperfect flesh tempts us to do.

    I think we can at least agree on that.

    What are your thoughts on the Trinity and the earthly paradise I mentioned? Since we're discussing doctrine.

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  43. A new testament text For Jewish people. Honestly? He spoke of Abraham not just having faith.

    Are you suggesting that the people of Isreal are not in God's favor?

    Saying there is only one way is just a way to feel justified in telling everyone else they are wrong and you are right. Hubris. Deadly sin. And you are making things more complicated than they need to be.

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  44. The gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were eyewitnesses of everything, as was Peter, James - all personally acquainted with Jesus and with him during all this.

    Maybe you are thinking of Paul and Timothy, that was years later.

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  45. Wow, lots of input here! I love that there are so many people who have really dissected and studied out so many aspects of so many different religions and I think this has been a great discussion. I just erased a few comments at the end here that may make people feel uncomfortable. I don't think anyone meant any harm, but I just want everyone to feel respected in whatever it is that they believe. We all come to our religious convictions on different paths and I love that we can all share that and possibly help each other in doing so with different insights, but ultimately, it is between us and God where we find peace in what we believe. The bottom line is that there sure are a lot of people out there doing their best to serve and become the kind of person God wants them to be.

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  46. goodbean: Your comment about the lds belief that each person on earth is progressing toward godhood brought to mind a beautiful talk I heard last month. It was given by Tad R. Callister who is one of the senior leaders in the lds church. Here is a link to it if you are interested in some thoughtful religious reading: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2060 It is entitled "Our Identity and Our Destiny" and may help clear up some misconceptions about lds theology.

    Thanks, everyone for all your comments. It has been a lot of fun to read everyone's input. I appreciate the opportunity it has given me to reflect upon and clarify my own beliefs!

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  47. Michelle, thank you for passing on the article, which I read ;)

    Unfortunately, though the article was polished and interesting, I believe that Mr. Callister took great liberty in interpreting the scriptures he quoted, using Joseph Smith’s writings (which I believe are not divinely inspired) to emphasize the idea at hand.

    The Bible is very clear that there is only one God:

    “Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” –Isaiah 43:10

    “I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” – Isaiah 44:6

    Deut. 4:39, 2 Samuel 7:22, 1 Chronicles 17:20, Isaiah 37:20 and Isaiah 45:5 are also just a few of the many Bible verses that underscore that there has been and will be only one God.

    This is what the Bible says about the account in the garden that the author refers to: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord had made… [And he said to Eve] “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5

    He does not say that you shall become a god, he says you shall be like God – knowing good and evil. I believe this pride is the ultimate reason that God destroyed the tower of Babel later on in Genesis, because humans had the hubris to believe they could be gods.

    Further, the scriptures the author quoted about becoming perfect like God were Biblical endorsements for believers to seek to be like God in one’s character and desire for holiness, not to become a god in substance. There is a distinct difference, one that that Bible is very clear about.

    I accept that Joseph Smith’s teachings teach a story about eternal progression and a poly-theistic perspective on reality, but it is truly impossible to square this perspective with a holistic reading of the Bible. The Bible just does not suggest or endorse these ideas.

    Thanks for taking the time to “chat”! ;)

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  48. I think it's brave, kind, and so generous of you to be so open about your faith. And you give such a great face to that faith - as you would to any religion - being the sweet, smart, funny, down to Earth woman that you are. Good for you! The one question I have about Mormonism is this: obviously people who are blogging about their faith tend to be religious. Thus, it seems like all Mormons are deeply religious since, well, all the Mormon bloggers are deeply religious. How true do you think this is? It seems like perhaps the Mormon church does a better job of making/keeping it members very religious thanks to the emphasis on family and community, but is this really true? Are there many casually religious Mormons out there or lapsed Mormons? Thanks for answering questions, and also, sorry if you meant to put an end to the questions by participating in this project!

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  49. Goodbean, I agree with you on the non-Scriptural basis for LDS teachings.

    I also love how you quoted so many scriptures about how there is only one God - no God besides him. He truly is a jealous God.

    That's why I can't understand how a non-Scriptural teaching like the Trinity can be spoken about in the same sentence. It is insulting to God to put his son, and his Holy Spirit on the same level as him.

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  50. Elizabeth, either you are religious or not. If you are casual or "lapsed", then you are not religious.

    It's an all or nothing thing - I don't believe that God accepts non-practicing religious people. It means that they don't care enough to commit.

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  51. TazLady,
    My questions was not whether God accepts non-practicing people of any faith. I don't think you - or anyone for that matter - can say who God accepts and doesn't accept. The question is whether or not there are non-practicing Mormons or "less religious" Mormons who consider themselves to be Mormon despite not attending church every week for example.

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  52. Elizabeth I truly wasn't trying to be flippant. I can't say who God will accept or not, merely what I, personally believe to be the case.

    In my opinion, which may not be yours, people cannot consider themselves Mormons or any other religion if they do not practice it - if Mormons have a teaching that says you have to go to church a certain number of times a week, if you don't follow that teaching, then you can "consider" yourself anything you want, but you are really not a member of that religion, since you don't adhere to ALL their rules.

    As I said, this is only my opinion - not meant to be rude.

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  53. Elizabeth, I don't mind the questions at all. I think there are, in every religion, members of all different levels of commitment. There are so many different personalities in the world that there's no way everyone in a religion can interpret every single thing in a religion the same way.

    Let's take keeping the Sabbath day holy. Now, everyone who wants to adhere to that is going to keep that day holy in a different way. Some believers who want whole-heartedly to adhere to that rule may put emphasis on not shopping or buying anything on Sunday. Some may make a rule to only spend time with family that day. Others may interpret keeping a day holy to mean they should share it with others and invite families in the neighborhood over for dinner...establish more Christlike relationships with people they love. Others may feel that you should not cook much on Sunday and truly make it a day of rest. Still others may think it's the best day in the world to cook together and bond through that. Some think it's ok to play soccer in their back yard, others may think that's not "holy" and they should stay indoors reading scriptures or writing in a journal reflecting upon life in general.

    Some believers in keeping the sabbath day holy would take it to a more spiritual level than what you can or cannot do to make that day holy, and would use that day to truly make themselves closer to God and fill it so full with those things that they wouldn't even have time to think about all the things they "shouldn't" be doing.

    But all of these people are trying to live a life that adheres to keeping the Sabbath day holy. And I don't think that any of us are to judge whether they are or are not doing things right or wrong. God is the only one who knows what's in their heart.

    There are many guidelines and "rules" in every religion that try to help members to develop their relationship more wholly with God. But every individual is going to take those in different ways. Sure, there are some black and white things. As Mormons we don't smoke. Would we still love and include someone who says they are Mormon and smokes like a chimney? I sure hope so. Would we still love and include those who struggle to get to church for three hours each week? We sure better. Because we are not the judges.

    Ok, so I don't know if this really answers your question or not, but bottom line is that I agree that the Mormon church helps people to be deeply religious because we GET to go to a church each week for three hours on Sunday with supplementary firesides, youth programs, etc. that help uplift us and feel closer to God. We are constantly reminded through what we do that makes us happy that we are striving toward that ultimate goal: to return to live with God some day. To be glad and rejoice in the end instead of shrinking away in horror that we didn't try our best to serve and love as Christ would love in this precious life we've been given. I'm so grateful to have a living prophet who we believe still gets revelation from God to help guide us to do what's right. And I'm so grateful for the gift of agency so that we can choose what makes us happy and make conscientious decisions.

    I'm glad we can share what makes us happy, and that people can dissect it any way they want to figure it all out in their own way to hopefully make them happy.

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  54. (Sorry Shawni, for continuing the thread for so long... just can't bear to leave a question hanging!)

    TazLady, I guess I just don't understand your problem with the Trinity.

    Though it may be difficult for us to grasp, I think it makes sense that God, in His very nature is communal, is Love within and between Himself; the ultimate expression of love/relationship resides within Him, making Him a complete relational being in His very essence.

    Here are a few references where God refers to Himself in the plural:

    "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Gen.1:26)

    "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." (Gen.3:22)

    "Come, Let us go down, and there confuse their language." (Gen.11:7)

    "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Is.6:8)

    --
    On another note, Elizabeth, I could be wrong about this, but I do not believe the LDS church encourages much open questioning of the faith by members.

    Members are bound to obey their prophets teachings and the rules of the church. I imagine it could be a difficult thing for a Mormon who may struggle with questions about their faith, because a questioning spirit is frowned upon within the organization, because it is perceived as a crisis of belief which could effect your eternal security.

    That is why I believe there are not many who are practicing "in the margins" of the LDS church, but there are those who are the committed and those who have left, for example:
    http://www.exmormonsforjesus.org/

    The Bible does promise us that when we seek God (not a church, or an organization or a practice) He will reveal Himself to us and guide us to the truth. So I think this could be great encouragement for everyone on their spiritual journey:

    "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" - Matt. 7:7

    Take care :)

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  55. Hi Goodbean -

    Here is my "problem" with the Trinity. Please take the time to read it.

    Many Christian denominations teach that God is a Trinity. However, note what the Encyclopædia Britannica states: “Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies.”

    “The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325 [C.E.]. Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father.’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”—Encyclopædia Britannica (1970), Volume 6, page 386.

    What does the Bible say?
    “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘Look! I can see heaven thrown open,’ he said, ‘and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’”—Acts 7:55, 56, The New Jerusalem Bible.

    What did this vision reveal? Filled with God’s active force, Stephen saw Jesus “standing at God’s right hand.” Clearly, then, Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven but, rather, a distinct spiritual being. There is no mention of a third person next to God in this account.

    Despite attempts to find passages of Scripture to support the Trinity dogma, Dominican priest Marie-Émile Boismard wrote in his book À l’aube du christianisme—La naissance des dogmes (At the Dawn of Christianity—The Birth of Dogmas): “The statement that there are three persons in the one God . . . cannot be read anywhere in the New Testament.”

    “I and the Father are one,” said Jesus. (John 10:30) Some quote this text to prove that Jesus and his Father are two parts of a triune God. Is that what Jesus meant by this statement?

    Jesus and his Father are “one” in the sense that they are in complete agreement as to intentions, standards, and values. “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing,” Jesus explained. “For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”—John 5:19; 14:10; 17:8.

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  56. Thanks TazLady, for sharing your research. I'll look into it :)

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  57. It is, in fact, encouraged to ask questions in the LDS church. We MUST ask questions to clarify and figure out what we believe.

    One of the biggest things I taught as a missionary was to ask God what is true: "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 10:4-5). You don't have to believe the in the Book of Mormon to believe that one...I think all religions teach that God will reveal truth to us if we seek for it.

    The problem is that religion cannot be proven, no matter how much we dissect it. Belief comes from the heart. If things were proven to us there would be no room for faith which is crucial in our spiritual journey. While I believe it is extremely important to study and drink in the scriptures, we must remember that there are all kinds of different translations of the Bible. Some people have interpreted it from different languages and may have made mistakes, some have switched phrases and/or words, all with good intentions of making it more easily understood, but even a single word change can create a completely different connotation. That's why it is so important to follow what our hearts tells us. I believe that if something is true, it gives clarity of thought and joy. I believe that the Holy Ghost can truly help guide us to what will make us truly happy in life.

    For me, I have found, through much time on my knees and study and life-living, that truth to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which I believe is guided by a prophet who receives guidance from God. And I'm so incredibly grateful for that. But everyone has to go through their own spiritual journey in life and I completely respect that. Just want to share what makes me happy for all those who have asked.

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  58. Shawni,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and honest answers. (And yes, you did answer my question!) It's certainly true that everyone has their own individual experience and journey in faith. You and your family are lucky to be part of such a supportive community. Thanks again!

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  59. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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  60. There is only one God. If Jesus isn't one with God and you agree with me He is divine how can he also be God.?In the beginning was the word, he word was in Gods presence and the word was God. Jesus died because he claimed to be the Christ. A diety. So many Christians say Jesus first then others then yourself. I am the Lord your God you shall have no other God's. Where is God in the Jesus others self priority?

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  61. kms - i understand your confusion. Jesus is not divine. He is God's SON, not GOD. The "Christ" is not a "deity". If GOD said "you shall have no other gods before me" then why would he be okay with people thinking his SON was a GOD. NO OTHER GODS - just the one - not his son, not his holy spirit, JUST HIM. Why is this so hard?

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  62. Why is it so hard to accept the trinity?

    Then Christians who put Jesus first are blasphemous because they put God after Jesus.

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  63. Shawni thanks so much for being the perfect person to answer the great questions of your blog readers. You explain everything with such perfect love and wisdom. I have people ask me similar questions & find it difficult sometimes to find the words. It would. Be awesome if you could have a button people could get to put on their blogs cause I'd love to direct my readers to yours :)

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  64. "Then Christians who put Jesus first are blasphemous because they put God after Jesus."

    Yes, kms, they really are!

    No other Gods BEFORE me. What language does it have to be in so people will get it? God does not want Jesus (or anyone or anything else) worshipped or made to be more important to them than HIM.

    It's not a hard concept.

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  65. Can't wrap my head around how you read the same book and come up with different conclusion.

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  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  67. I tried sending an email but it didn't go through. It is sepphotography at gmail dot com, right?

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  68. Yes DenaliL, that's my email...weird it didn't come through! Did you try again? You can write here if you'd like to ...

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  69. Thank you for your insight, I found your blog very motivating.

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