I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sometimes referred to by people as “The Mormons”. I would like to invite you to take a few minutes and read through this page and view the embedded videos as I try to share why I am a member of the church, what we believe, and how being a member of the church as helped over the course of my life. Thanks.
I was sort of born into the church in that my mother had joined the church a short while before I was born, but my father was catholic and did not join the church until several years after I was born. To that end my dad and his parents ensured I was christened at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope in Calgary as an infant and my mother ensured I was given a name and a blessing at Cresent Road Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints within a couple of weeks of each other. Ultimately I was baptised in the Church of Jesus Christ when I was 8 years old, served a mission in the Japan Fukuoka Mission from 78-80 and have be actively involved in the Church the rest of the way since.
Over the course of my own life I’ve come to have my own testimony of the truthfulness of the church. I think one of the keys for me is that each member must eventually come to their own understanding or testimony, when you’re young you may rightfully rely on your parents and leaders but ultimately you have to know for yourself. In the Book of Mormon, you can read toward the end of the book, in Moroni Chapter 10 verse 4″ 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 efaith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
It is either true or false – there is no halfway on the fundamental elements of our church.
For me – it comes down to true or false, a very binary equation for folks. There actually was a record of people in ancient America recorded on plates and translated by a modern prophet or there wasn’t. There actually is modern day revelation, and specifically Joseph Smith actually saw what he said he saw in 1820 (see below) or he didn’t, and finally though most important, there either was a Jesus Christ who suffered for us, died for us, and was then resurrected leaving an empty tomb through that miracle or there wasn’t. For me the answer to all three is yes, Jesus Christ is risen, Joseph Smith did see that very same Jesus Christ in person in 1820 and several times after, and Joseph Smith did receive from an angel the plates that contained the record of a people on the ancient lands of America and translated that record into what today we know as the Book of Mormon. In the end by the power of modern revelation and as a direct result of visits from many other prophets and leaders of the past the power to act in the name of God, the Priesthood, was restored and the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth in April of 1830. Again it’s either all true or it isn’t – and each of us is entitled to know for ourself.
Why “Mormon”? Because of the Book of Mormon
Our church is often referred to as the Mormon church after the Book of Mormon, it’s ok, we understand and answer to that but for the record we believe Mormon was a prophet in ancient America who was charged with compiling the records of a group of people who had travelled from the ancient Jerusalem area. The Book of Mormon, we believe, is a second testimony or witness of the existence, life, and purpose of Jesus Christ. As such we believe it supports the teachings in the Bible. As the 8th of 13 fundamental Articles of Faith “We believe the aBible to be the word God as far as it is translated correctly we also believe the dBook of Mormon to be the word of God.”
Joseph Smith – a Modern Day Prophet.
The Joseph Smith story in his own words can be found here. (If you’d like you can switch languages on the site). I have always felt it critical that Joseph Smith didn’t go to ask in prayer if he should start his own church, he went to ask which church he should join. The answer changed his life and literally millions of people since but I have little doubt that at many times in his life he wondered if perhaps maybe “this cup” could have been give to someone else or the burden could have been a little lighter. Repeatedly beaten, jailed, threatened, and ultimately murdered – shot to death while in jail – I think it might have been pretty easy to want to walk away if there was any doubt.
The eternal nature of mankind and the family
At the simplest level we are all (yes all) spiritual sons and daughters of god – children of heavenly parents, who lived together before we came to this earth.
A Classic Children’s Hymn
Before this earth we lived with God
There is a plan – we refer to it as The Plan of Happiness or The Plan of Salvation and it called for each of us to come to this earth and gain a body, we were given agency which quite simply means we have the choice, we are not forced to do anything and that agency brings great joy and absolute sadness but it is ours.
The Plan of Salvation, coupled with the atonement and resurrection of the Saviour and the power of the priesthood allows families to be together for all time AND eternity. We very much believe in eternal families, when a loved one leaves this life we are still naturally saddened but we know a reunion will take place and look toward that happy day when as parents we’ll be reunited with our children and as children we’ll be reunited with our parents.
Temples and their connection to eternity
It is for this eternal reason that our church has very special buildings across the earth we call Temples. The very sacred nature of the temple has sometimes caused some people to use the word “secret” when really “sacred” is the key. You can read all you’d like about the temple, but only members of the church who are worthy, defined as living their life in accordance with the commandments and teachings of the church, can enter the temple. In the temple we have baptism for the dead (See 1st Corinthians 15:29) and couples can be sealed (married) for time and all eternity for themselves, or sealed as proxy for those who have passed away without the opportunity to partake in that eternal ordinance in this life.
The Temple provides the key, the foundation, to our belief that we can live with God and our loved ones again. You can learn more about temples here.
The Atonement and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
Knowing that we would have agency, and knowing that we would make mistakes, hurt others, and fall short of perfection it was critical that there be a way for us to correct our ways and help reduce the suffering we would cause or experience. It is to this end that our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden and on the Cross in completing the perfect Atonement. While the atonement is mentioned once in the New Testament we can learn a great deal about the power of his Atonement in Book of Mormon. I particularly like the verse in the Book of Alma Chapter 7 verse 11 where we read, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions andbtemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.“
This is not meant to be all encompassing, in the end, I go to church Sundays, work with our youth on Wednesdays, check in with others throughout the week, strive to be the best I can be, obey the commandments including things like the Word of Wisdom which forbids smoking, drugs, alcohol, and coffee, pay tithing, and honor the vows I made when I was married over 30 years ago as part of what we call the law of chastity. I do all of this because I believe the Tomb was empty because He who we call Jesus Christ is resurrected. I do this because I believe in 1820 a young 14 year old boy at that time saw that same Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father in answer to a humble prayer in what we refer to as the Sacred Grove. I do this because I do believe that an angel by the name of Moroni (the son of Mormon) did give Joseph Smith the plates of gold and he (Joseph Smith) did translate those records which today we know as the Book of Mormon. (I might add that 11 others have sworn in testimony that they too saw the plates and three of those witnesses saw Moroni at the time they handled those same plates)
It’s true….or it isn’t….I believe it is and invite you to find out for yourself.
As I said at the outset this is either true or it isn’t. If it’s false, I guess I missed out on drinking, smoking, etc., I guess I’m out a bit of money from obeying the law of tithing. I guess I missed out on whatever I would have read or done in the time I was reading and studying the gospel or attending church. I suppose I may have missed out on some things if others felt that as a member of the church I should be prevented or excluded from participating, and I guess I missed out on whatever I missed out on by obeying the law of chastity, waiting until I got married and then being faithful since. If it’s false, I guess that might be the defined loss…but if it’s true – and it is my firm belief that it is true…then I will continue to do all I can to ensure that I am with my loved ones for all time and eternity and can be the best I can be.