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Normal Mormons

A "model minority" blends in

The public affairs department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently noted an uptick in the media's use of the word cult to describe Mormonism, even in august publications such as the New York Times and the Economist. It is probably not coincidental that two Mormons, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are running for president.

The peculiar place of Mormonism in American culture was made even more evident in a comment by Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt. Speaking in July with two other commentators about the presidential chances of Texas governor Rick Perry, she said she expected that Perry would be able to raise money from the conservative base of the Christian Coalition, especially "with Romney obviously not being a Christian." Her cohosts murmured their assent, as if it were obvious that the Mormon Romney is not a Christian.

That Romney and Huntsman are Mormons is a huge stumbling block to their candidacies. Polling in June by the Los Angeles Times revealed that at least one in five Republican voters said that on principle they would not vote for a Mormon for president. An even higher number of Democrats—27 percent—claim that they would not support a Mormon.

It's not just in the arena of politics that people are suspicious of Mormons. In their 2010 book American Grace, sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell revealed that Mormons rank as the third-most-hated religious group in America, after Muslims (no surprise) and Buddhists (a major surprise). The study's findings also showed, however, that suspicion of minority religions decreases significantly when people have personal interactions or friendships with members of those religions. A conservative evangelical soccer mom may claim to despise Mormonism, but her qualms tend to lessen when she becomes friendly with a Mormon co-worker or neighbor.

Therein lies a problem: unfamiliarity. A 2009 LDS-sponsored study indicated that nearly half of Americans understand next to nothing about Mormons, and many have never known a Mormon personally.

On the other hand, as increasing numbers of Mormons move out of traditionally Mormon-dominated areas in the western U.S., Mormonism should become more accepted and mainstream. The LDS Church has attempted to further that trend with its "I'm a Mormon" ads. The ad campaign began with the church opening its website to members worldwide, inviting them to upload home videos describing themselves and their beliefs. It was an unexpectedly democratic move for a religion that tends to favor top-down authority and a centralized single message.

In June, the church expanded the PR campaign to include "I'm a Mormon" billboards in New York and other cities. This campaign will reach more cities this fall. The ads, which aim to show the racial and ideological diversity that exists in the LDS Church but is not always apparent to outsiders, appear to be working: the church has reported a significant boost in visitors to its website. The ads also seem to have the desired effect of thawing chilly receptions of Mormon missionaries in the cities where they have been launched. The theme of the ads may be described as, "We're normal—in fact, we're just like you!"

But can Americans expand their definition of normal to include a religion that seems so different doctrinally than the forms of Protestantism and Catholicism they're used to? Evangelical Christians, in particular, have been aggressive about pointing to the differences between Mormon and mainstream Christian beliefs. For example, during his 2008 campaign, Mike Huckabee suggested that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. In May, writing at Patheos.com, evangelical pastor Warren Cole Smith declared that any candidate who supported a "false and dangerous religion is unfit to serve," adding that a Romney presidency would "normalize the false teachings of Mormonism the world over."

The editorial elicited more than a thousand comments, testifying to the polarizing nature of Mormon beliefs. Some of Smith's fellow evangelicals expressed their deep suspicions of Mormonism, seeing it as a wolf in sheep's clothing, while true-blue Mormons chimed in and smugly asserted a monopoly on religious truth. Atheists and agnostics expressed a snarky wonderment that anyone could subscribe to a religion claiming that a man rose from the dead—and compounded such a fabrication with additional whoppers involving golden plates and the perils of tea drinking.

Many of Mormonism's critics fail to appreciate the ways that Mormon theology has changed through the years, often by way of the guidance that the LDS president claims to receive from God through "continuing revelation." (The teachings of a previous era are almost never explicitly repudiated, however.) For example, the doctrine that African Americans bear the "curse of Cain" is certainly not LDS doctrine today, though it was in the days of Brigham Young.

Some theological teachings are more opaque. For example, Mormon theology has traditionally dictated that human beings will become gods and that God himself was once human. An apparent disclaimer of this early Mormon teaching came when LDS prophet Gordon B. Hinckley appeared on Larry King Live in 1998 and, when asked whether Mormons believe that God was once a man, answered, "I wouldn't say that." He had given similarly vague denials the previous year to reporters from Time and the San Francisco Chronicle.

But what one LDS leader says to the media is not as reliable a gauge of the changing winds of LDS theology as the wording used in the LDS Church's twice-annual General Conference, when many worldwide Mormon leaders address the faithful by satellite or streaming Internet. In that forum, it's been rare to hear leaders talk about godhood recently unless they are quoting earlier leaders on the subject—and even that happens less frequently than it used to.

An investigation of the official LDS website confirms this trend. From 2006 to 2011, the word godhood appeared only ten times in official General Conference talks, church magazines and manuals. Of those cases, two quoted former LDS prophet Spencer W. Kimball about human beings becoming gods; one quoted former prophet David O. McKay on the subject; one cited midcentury leader Hugh B. Brown; and two drew from former apostle Marion G. Romney (a cousin of George Romney, Mitt's father). Two others referred to the "godhood" of Jesus Christ. Only one magazine piece—written anonymously—asserted that human beings "have within us the seeds of godhood," while an article about recovering from romantic breakups mentioned godhood twice as a goal for righteous human beings. Interestingly, that article was not written by a high-ranking international leader.

By comparison, church talks and materials from the 1970s and 1980s employed the concept freely in relation to the eternal destiny of men and women. As then-prophet Spencer W. Kimball said in 1976, "Our Heavenly Father has a plan for man's growth from infancy to godhood."

Does that mean that Mormons no longer believe that they can become gods? It is difficult to say. Many Mormons no longer think about the topic at all; it has become an insignificant aspect of contemporary theological expression. The idea may someday fade away, just as the church's encouragement of plural marriage—once a cornerstone not just of Mormon practice but of its belief system—has faded away.

There's no question that Mormon theology is subtly changing. The real question is how far it will bend to accommodate its host culture and where will it seek to reestablish its distinctiveness. Historians such as Jan Shipps, Thomas Alexander and Kathleen Flake have argued that whenever Mormonism has had to give up something central in order to assimilate into American culture, it has tended to compensate by hardening its position in other areas. For example, when polygamy was jettisoned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Word of Wisdom (the Mormon dietary code that eschews coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco) assumed a position of prominence. Early generations of saints had adopted a relaxed view of the Word of Wisdom, as is evident in the sanctioned presence of wine at early Mormon temple dedication ceremonies, the appearance of coffee on the list of required provisions for saints undertaking the arduous journey west to Utah, and Brigham Young's decades-long struggle to stop chewing tobacco. But once polygamy was disavowed, the Word of Wisdom became one of the most important markers of LDS identity.

In 1906, the wine of the LDS sacrament (communion) became water in a nod to the broader U.S. temperance movement, and by 1921 strict avoidance of coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco had become not just recommended but required for Mormons seeking entrance to the LDS temple. Coincidentally, Mormons expanded their temple-building efforts abroad, began emphasizing Joseph Smith's "First Vision" and underscored the unique revelatory role of the LDS prophet. It's not that these elements were absent from Mormon theology and practice before the disappearance of polygamy, but that they were rarely front and center.

Mormon history has always revealed a tension between adapting to the surrounding culture and emphasizing distinctiveness. In the past 30 years, Mormons have become more like evangelical Protestants in their political leanings (approximately 65 percent of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. identify themselves as Republicans) and even in their theological formulations. There is far more emphasis on grace and on Christ's atonement among Mormon leaders today than there was two generations ago. However, Protestant and Catholic critics are correct when they say that Mormonism remains theologically distinctive. For example, Mormons reject creedal Christians' doctrine of the Trinity as "extrabiblical."

Mormons today are likely to stress their distinctiveness in the area of personal and family values. Even those who criticize Mormon theology often express a grudging admiration for the LDS Church's focus on family, teetotaling, tithing and missionary service. Mormon spiritual practices serve as bridge-builders even when doctrine is a point of contention. It's not difficult to imagine that some doctrines that have been the greatest sources of division are going to go the way of spotted owls even as the unique Mormon lifestyle continues to win praise.

To some extent this transformation is already occurring. During the very same summer that voters were scrutinizing Romney's Mormonism and finding it wanting, American popular culture fairly exploded with what the media called a "Mormon moment," which presented Mormonism in a generally positive light. The cheeky Book of Mormon musical found itself the toast of Broadway and brought home nine Tony awards; Newsweek published a story titled "Mormons Rock!"; and freshly returned Mormon missionary Elizabeth Smart was lauded for her evolution from kidnapping victim to mature, committed activist—a development she credits to her LDS faith.

Mormons now find themselves in the familiar situation of being on the defensive theologically and politically, but at the same time they are in terra incognita: they are not only a tolerated sect but are viewed as a model minority leading the way in preserving family values. When a group is held up as a model minority, it tells us as much about what the host culture needs as about the minority itself.

Mormonism's new cultural role is apparent in the profane but charming Book of Mormon musical (which, for the record, I saw in previews and found hilarious). Some Mormons have been anxious to clarify that the musical is not really about Mormons but about American culture's idea of Mormons. Historian Richard Bushman recently compared the production to visiting a funhouse Hall of Mirrors at a carnival: you can recognize yourself, yet it's not really you. He is quite correct about that—but the distortion itself is instructive.

Probably the most theologically flawed song in the production is "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream," in which a missionary who has abandoned his companion succumbs to the guilt he feels for breaking the rules and failing in his mission. The lyrics posit a Dantean inferno for the Mormon reprobate: "Down, down to Satan's realm / See where you belong / There is nothing you can do / No escape from Spooky Mormon Hell Dream." Lucifer is there in the Mormon hell, and Catholics and Jews are his minions. Elder Price finds himself confessing his "awful" sins (failing as a missionary, stealing a donut as a child) to his fellow travelers in this nightmarish afterlife: Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer.

The song is side-splittingly funny, and it's augmented by sight gags, like a pair of giant dancing Starbucks cups that represent the terrible temptation of coffee. The coffee part is at least accurate. The worldview mocked by the rest of the song is a fiction: Mormons don't believe in any sort of eternal hell that resembles the one depicted in the song. In fact, one of the sticking points between LDS theology and mainstream creedal Christianity is Joseph Smith's near-universalism and his emphasis on the three levels of paradise that the vast majority of humanity will find themselves in after the final judgment. A popular Mormon folk story features Smith's teaching that even the lowest kingdom in heaven is a paradise so divine that anyone who caught a glimpse of it would be tempted to commit suicide to get there sooner. The story is probably apocryphal, but the spiritual point hits home: in the Mormon cosmology, almost everyone attains some version of heaven, even adherents of other religions.

Yet the song's existence illustrates what the host culture now requires. Throughout history, the reasons that Mormonism has been vilified have changed according to the anxieties of the day. In the 19th century, Latter-day Saints were excoriated for an allegedly lascivious sexuality. Mormon men were depicted in cartoons and antipolygamy fiction as sexual predators whose libidos knew no bounds. In the early 21st century, members of the same religion are portrayed as being sexually repressed. The creators of The Book of Mormon production apparently also need them to believe in a sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God variety of eternal punishment. In a strange way, Mormons have become the cultural arbiters of morality: the musical critiques LDS teachings on homosexuality even while showing Mormons to be some of the sweetest people you'll ever meet.

The story of what happens next in Mormonism's careful negotiations with American culture is unwritten, but the past suggests that the church will bend for the sake of assimilation. With two Mormon candidates running for president and Romney among the front-runners, such negotiations have high political stakes.

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Comments

Mitt Romney is not a Creedal Christian

Mitt Romney is a New Testament Christian, not a Creedal (Fourth Century) Christian: Mitt's theology is non-Trinitarian, baptism by immersion, lay priesthood, theosis, salvation by grace and works, etc:

http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com

11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were non-Trinitarian Christians. The Founders would be mortified that some folks today would deny the Presidency to a non-Trinitarian, non faith-only Christian.

mortified

The Founders would be much more "mortified" that the USA is full of so many ignorant fools who can't tell angels from devils, good from evil, etc, and yet are active voters. Anyone who adheres to LDS theology has SEVERE reasoning impairments that disqualify her from office.

Even more mortified

Anyone who believes that a person's theological beliefs of any kind have any bearing on their ability to serve in public office doesn't just suffer from reasoning impairments but terrifying moral and educational deficiencies.

Impairments

The reasoning ability of your average Latter-Day-Saint brings about self-sufficiency, faithful relationships, adherence to Gospel Principles of 'truth, honesty, benevolence, kindness, etc', and can hardly be realistically described as evil or devilish. Please acquaint yourself with said theology before casting aspersions at believing Christians.

mortified

Look up the word ignorant. You will find that it fits you in this situation. You cannot speak of things that you have not studied. You cannot profess to understand mormonism until you have studuied it. Your fears have been fed to you by your pastors who don't wnat you to hear the truth. IF you read the bible, you will find that everything taught in the Mormon doctrine coincides with the new and old testiment. Not so with other religions, especially when they argue that God the Father is also the Son, or that he has no body. They contradict themselves continually.

Mortified is not the brightest bulb

What have you studied in Mormonism? and idk if you have noticed this but the teachings in the Old and New testament dont line up when it comes to the teachings of Moses and the teachings of Christ. God give the laws and rules that should be obeys in the present not the past.

severe reasoning?

mortified obviously doesn't know about the very impressive percentage per captia of scientists that come out of UTAH. mortified didn't convince me of her asinine insults regarding adherents to LDS theology and reasoning, since she failed to offer ANY REASONING!!!!! go figure.

Mortified

Firstly, LDS faith, properly understood, is conducive to any test of rationality, in so far as rationality can be applied to any religious faith.

Secondly, rationality is not the basis for genuine faith. Where religious faith is chosen on the basis of reason alone, it is an almost entirely humanistic exercise and not intrinsically spiritual. Spirituality becomes an adjunct, but not a driving force, of such a faith. A commitment to Mormonism requires first spirituality - a connection to the Divine - and secondarily rationality, in the study and exercise of such faith. See above.

Further, it is my experience that those who most readily cast the aspersion "ignorant fool" on others are those to whom the epithet most likely applies. And yet further in this regard, note the Lord's own comments regarding those who would call others fools: such "shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt. 5:22).

Properly named

"mortified" is what you should be at that kind of ignorant comment.

Really?

you have that flip-flopped bud

No Religious Test Required

American's need to understand the Constitution, if they did, the article would not need to be writen:

How the first amendment was written:

In the spring of 1778, the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, PA. They resolved three main religious controversies. They:

Decided that there would be no religious test, oath or other requirement for any federal elected office.

Allowed Quakers and others to affirm (rather than swear) their oaths of office.

Refrained from recognizing the religion of Christianity, or one of its denominations, as an established, state church.

Americans DO understand the Constitution

But perhaps you don't? Yes, there is no religious test, oath or other requirement for hold a federal elected office. That does NOT mean that American citizens need to vote for someone (Mormon, Catholic, or otherwise). The GOVERNMENT can not stop you from running, but that does not mean people will vote for you. Who we vote for is personal, based in part on what people believe and the positions they take. One of the main reasons people will not vote a Mormon for President is the secrecy and hypocrisy that surrounds the belief theology.

"Religious Tests" has nothing to do with it!

I hear this comment about "religious tests" and it shows such a shallow level of thinking. I know that is blunt, but really!

The GOVERNMENT may not impose any religious test; the VOTERS may impose any test they want.

correct, but wrong in spirit

While you are absolutely correct in a technical standpoint, it's not exactly a noble set of reasoning. We're talking about grand principles here... if you want to be all for the principles of the constitution apply to govermment, but not applying to you, that's your decision. Now certainly, we don't look at every sphere of government this way, but when you look at the noble principles of the constitution, one of them is that an open society tolerates and works together with a variety of beliefs and that all should not be pressured or required to conform to a certain religious doctrine in order to be acceptable. 

What you're suggesting is voters should consider to view large sections of the US population, who are upstanding citizens, from being elected in government because individual voters should do what the consitution expressly forbids government from doing. It's a pretty lousy disctinction. But then, the kind of reasoning that would reject Mormons, etc. from government is the result of pretty poor reasoning to begin with.

Thanks from a Mormon

As a practicing Mormon, I appreciate your thoughtful analysis, especially as it is presented without rancor or condescension, which is more often the case than not. Thank you. -Michelle

I agree

Yes, I think this comment is correct. I certainly felt this to be the case and the ability of the writer to be intelectually capable. Such writing I believe shows the writer is not insecure in their own beliefs and is a credit to them.

Excellent journalism

Michelle is either very well informed about Mormons, or she took the extraordinarily sensible action of actually consulting with a well informed Mormon to avoid the all too common gossip that passes for religious critique these days

Informed

Michelle is reasonably well informed, yes, but I think the original comment here is more to the point. Michelle's understanding of Mormonism is not, I think, entirely accurate, but her approach is reasonable, polite, thoughtful and in several other ways appropriate and deserving of appreciation.

Tempered, not changed...

Being a life-long Mormon I too have noticed changes in the LDS faith, but they have not been changes in teachings as they have been in perspective and temperance. I believe that this has been done as the church has grown from a predominantly a Utah/USA faith to the world-wide faith that it is today. If I am not mistaken, there are now more members outside of the US than there are in the US. I think the attitude has changed from, "You are wrong and we are right" to "bring your faith with you and let us add to it."

Yes, we still believe and teach that all of God's children have the divine potential to become like Him. We will never become Him, he will always be our Father.

This is one of the most heart-warming teachings that we have. I think of my sons, and how I want them to have everything I have, and hopefully more. To know that my Father in Heaven desires the same for me truly moves me. Anything less and we would not truly be his children, but creations along the lines of animals. We were created in His image, to become like Him.

Tempered, yes

I agree with the general sentiment of the Sep 26 response by Anonymous that LDS faith has tempered over the years, but remains unchanged. However, I think even that claim may be exaggerated. For example, the idea "bring your faith with you and let us add to it" was typical in the earliest days of the LDS Church, as suggested by Brigham Young's comment along the lines that the Latter-day Saints could invite a protestant preacher to teach their Sunday School classes and would hear nothing objectionable to our faith.

I think that in general too much can be made of the "changes" to LDS practice, preaching and teaching. Yes, the Church, as an institution, and Church members, as individuals, have adjusted to the times from time to time. I do not think, however, that such adjustments have ever been for the purpose of assimilation or accommodation, but can be compared to the natural way that human beings, as their understanding of themselves and others deepens, find more appropriate ways of expressing themselves. The LDS Church and its members have simply matured (with yet more maturation to come), understanding better the doctrine and revelations that have been given to us, and knowing better what they mean for us and others and how they therefore can more effectively be shared.

This idea of progressive development (of individuals and institutions) is, itself, an inherent component of LDS faith and philosophy and, like many LDS ideas that people think are "new" or "changed", something that has been present in them from the first days of the Church.

I am a Mormon....Now!

Let me clarify first and foremost, I am a Christian. I don't care who you are, or what you believe, but I know in whom I trust, and His name is Jesus Christ and I am his disciple. I have been since I was about 5 years old, when my dad to me to a revival meeting and I publically declared that I loved Jesus and wanted to go to heaven. My dad was a Baptist, but after his and my mom's death, I was raised by my grandparents, who did not practice religion, but sent us with a neighbor to a Evangelical and Reformed Church (Based on Lutheran teachings). At 14 I joined a group called Youthtime Evangelism in Buffalo, New York. I started dating about this time and would go to church with the girls I was going steady with. I attended their different Sunday Schools and asked many questions. Why? Because to me, although they all claimed to be Christians, they all had different doctrines and this did nothing but confuse me. I even took home study lessons from the Paulist Father's in Chicago, hoping the Catholic Church had what I was looking for. But, I was even more confused as to the nature and doctrine of "Who was God, Anyway." After leaving home and getting married I associated my family with Presbyterianism. But finally left organized religion in my late twenties.
In 1974 I was stationed at the Department of Defense Computer Sciences School at Quantico, Virginia, serving as a Marine Master Sergeant. I met a Major named Roger Clawson, from Kaysville, Utah. I was told by some of the other officers that Major Clawson was a Mormon. All I had ever heard about Mormons was that they were a cult living somewhere in Utah. Being suspicious I watched him like a hawk. But over the next 8 months I came to observe that he was just as normal as me. He never brought up the subject (Officers are forbidden to proselyte the enlisted troops) but on one or more occasion I asked him to explain his beliefs. The more I heard the more I felt like this was a religion I could embrace. The doctrine that jumped out at me and lead to a serious investigation was the idea that Joseph Smith, at the age of 14, wanted to know which church was true and so after reading the New Testament book of James, 1st Chapter, 5th verse, decided to pray about it and find out what God had to say. With the faith only a 14 year old can have, he retired to the woods near his home and prayed to know which Church he should join. To his surprise, a beam of light descended upon him and within that light he saw two beings. One, pointing to the other said, "This is my beloved Son, Hear Him".
When Joseph asked this being which church he should join, he was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof."
That went right to my heart. That is why I could not figure out which church to join. Joseph was right. The ministers I met and had taught me in my youth could not agree on doctrine because of personal pride, and their desire to teach their own philosophy mingled with scripture.
I finish my investigation and after 9 months, was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 10th of May 1975. And I have never doubted since. Yes, I am a Mormon and have a burning testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and sacrificed His life for the redemption of mankind. This I know to be true. Douglas A. Deming, Sr. Age 72

Your heartfelt story.

Thank you so very much for sharing your story here. You are a most intelligent clear-eyed seeker of truth -- a hard commodity to find these days. Isn't the Savior the most amazing and loving being imaginable ! He must have been so happy to answer your prayers and seeking. Thank you again. Mike & Beverley Gonfel

Thank You

Thank you for sharing your story..You made my day...Mabuhay! from the Philippines

Conversion Story

My conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is remarkably similar to yours. I joined as a Captain in the Air Force serving in England. My boss was a "Mormon" and I needed to know what made this outstanding person "tick." When I studied what the "Mormons" believed my search for the Biblical church of Jesus Christ ended. Now, 40 years later, my joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the absolute best blessing in my life. My wife and I always thank our Father in Heaven for the blessings our family has experienced as members of Christ's Church.

I am a Mormon NOW, TOO!

I joined the LDS church over 9 years ago on April 6! I wish I had known about the church when I was in my teens. I would have avoided a lot of heartache. I am now 70! After joining and attending many churchs, last one being the Church of Christ, no one could answer my burning questions. After my husband, (75 at the time) and I investigated the church and its doctrine, we knew it was true and it answered ALL our questions and concerns. My husband was a Bible scholar and always knew something was missing and when we felt the spirit testify that we were now home at last...with the gospel being restored on earth in the latter-days, just as when Jesus walked the earth, we knew it to be the true church. I thank my savior, Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father for giving me the fullness of the Gospel, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Another Testimony of Jesus Christ. Folks, be open-minded and pick up a Book of Mormon, It testifies of Christ throughout. YES, WE ARE CHRISTIANS! Carolyn Meinhardt, Hendefrsonville, N.C.

Thank you for your conversion

Thank you for your conversion story. I too am a convert after having been raised in the Luthern Church and then a Methodist for many year. After being introduced to the Missionaries, I told them I was a Methodist and really had no need to meet with them. They left a Book of Mormon and a few pamphlets. That's all I needed! And knew, without a doubt, this is what I wanted in my life. Baptised in 1979, am now an Ordinance Worker in the Temple and could never have been more happier or blessed!

Thanks

My dad joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was nine. I've watched him for 38 years now. As I’ve watched him change as he lived more and more of the doctrines taught in the church, going from “grace to grace”, so to speak, I’ve been totally amazed at the power of those truly Christian doctrines to change people’s lives for the better, and if that’s not the basis for all Christianity, I don’t know what is.

Me, too!

I started looking for a church at the tender age of five. At thirteen I joined Teen Time, a non-denominational Christian group in Canada, which opened my vistas to many more churches, congregations, and doctrines. It was a friend from that group who, inadvertantly, introduced me to the LDS faith at the age of 17 (she had a crush on an LDS boy and asked to go to a dance with her so she could see him). To date (35 years later) she is still not LDS. But I am and have been, all these years, despite public and private ridicule; beatings; loss of friends, family, and jobs; not to mention pastors, preachers, and others trying to"save me".

I knew it all rang true the first time I heard it and, when I studied my Bible, I found that what I had learned was backed up therein. When I prayed about it with a mind open toward His will, it was confirmed. So I will not. No. CAN not deny it.

Alice S.

Testimony of Conversion

Let me join my testimony to this growing chorus. I too am a convert to the Mormon faith. From my youth I studied the Bible intently. My mother tells stories of me sharing New Testament stories with elderly folks at the age of 6. Along with Batman and Superman a picture of Jesus adorned my walls from a very young age.

Over those early years, I attended Catholic and protestant churches. My family were not church goers. Of my own volition at the age of 9 I attended a "Gospel Fellowship" church in east Toronto. At 15 I had joined the United Church of Canada. I also studied spiritual philosophies (Buddhist, Hindu, New Age) in a driving quest to discover God more fully and personally. Eventually, along came the Mormons.

For over a year I studied with the missionaries. The familiar feelings of the conviction of the Holy Ghost that had attended my prayers and spiritual experiences in years past also attended those meetings, and particularly as I learned of the Joseph Smith story and the Plan of Salvation. Ultimately, I gained a conviction that I could only do as Jesus directed if I was to learn the truth: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." I joined the Mormon church, knowing I could leave at any time if I did not find it true. That was 1982, near my 18th birthday. I remain a Mormon to this day.

I have since had multiple convicting experiences receiving the testimony of truth through the Holy Ghost. I have, further, since that time had wonderful opportunities to study world religions, a variety of expressions of Christian faith, the history of western civilization and Christianity in particular, to read the Patristics (writings of the early Church Fathers), St. Thomas Aquinas and others, to earn two degrees in philosophy, a degree in law, and to review many texts full of "anti-Mormon" sentiment and reasoning. Through this process, in addition to the spiritual conviction I cannot deny is a deep and rich well of intellectual knowledge and experience that (to the extent human reasoning and history can do so) has only verified and enhanced my understanding.

I therefore also commend to you the comments that others in these threads have made: seek real knowledge before passing judgment; and, primarily, seek real understanding, which comes only by the Spirit, by the grace of Jesus Christ, to those who seek it with sincere intent.

And, finally, let me tell you where my Mormon faith has led me: to the strongest conviction of any conviction I have ever felt or known, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the World; my truest friend, my only hope, my source of peace, my rock of salvation. I love Him. I revere Him. I testify of Him in every way I can. I rely wholly and unabashedly on His mercy because of my intense weaknesses and sins. I trust in His loving kindness and the power of His atonement to erase all sin and carry me, despite myself, from grace to grace till I may, through his grace and relying alone upon His merits, come to the "perfect day" and stand before the throne of God to be made His joint-heir in eternal glory.

And I know, from many years' experience and involvement in Mormon communities in North America and Asia, and with Mormons from many countries besides, that these feelings and this faith are shared by them.

Are Mormons Christians? Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Spirit Touched Me on the Banks of the Sea of Japan

I was a Marine Gunnery Sergeant just back from a deployment to the PI, my son had started taking the lessons from the missionaries, so I was encouraged to attend. My wife was inactive since before we got married, mother in law came to visit as wife was having a difficult pregnancy. I should support my family so I went along with the church thing not making a real effort. Then it was time for the son's baptism, as we went to a little park on the beach of the Sea of Japan, Okinawa. There was singing and talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost and all was well. Until the missionaries took my son out into the waters of baptism. Then it struck me like a Lightening Bolt, The Spirit of God. I a Gunnery Sergeant of Marines, an Explosive Ordnance Technician with a conviction hard as a rock was openly weeping and it felt like pins and needles. I know what I saw was true...I was baptised Sept 6, 2003 and now serve as the Elder's Quroum President in Florida. My family has been to the Mountain and sealed for all time and eternity. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ.

Importance of being a Christian

Douglas (and secondarily other Mormon posters):

 

I always enjoy conversion stories! I am a Mainline Protestant Christian (Presbyterian), who came to faith through  the working of the Holy Spirit.

Your post has illustrated something that puzzles me: Mormons (here and other places I see)  greatly value being considered Christians and really want other Christians to see Mormons as part of the wider Christian Community. Many of the Mormon posts here proudly claim that the author is a Christian.

Yet, you clearly have a very low opinion of us non-Mormon Christians.  In your post, you refer to our creeds and confessions  (and I believe you are quoting your Prophet Joseph Smith) my  as ‘Abominations’, that our ministers are ‘corrupt’, and that our beliefs are of men, not God.  And, your Church regularly  sends missionaries to my house to tell my kids and I all this and warn us that  we won’t get to the real heaven. 

 

Question: If you have such a low opinion of us and our faith, why would you care if we considered you ‘one of us’?  My question is sincere.

 

Mormons and other Christians.

This is an excellent question. Let me throw in my 2 cents...well maybe it isn't even worth that much. I am currently serving as a chaplain in the US military, and also happen to be LDS. The far majority of my ministry is among those who are not of my faith. I work with religious leaders from many different faiths and denominations, and I can tell you that there is light and truth in nearly all of them. I see the Spirit working in the lives of Catholics, Protestants, and yes even Jews, muslims, hindus, etc. Though the quote you referred to about other churches being an abomination is often thrown around by offended Christians, in my experience it does not (when used in that context) represent the teachings of the church, nor the attitude the majority of its members (there are always some are a little more extreme, but that is true of any religion). In fact, as mentioned in this article, LDS theology is actually a lot more inclusive in its teachings about heaven and hell. We don't believe that if you aren't mormon that you are a sinner, or and abomination or even that you will go to hell. In truth, we don't talk much about hell. To me it feels like the main motivation to try to get people to accept our teachings is because we really believe it will make their lives better and happier. I have some great friends of other faiths who are outstanding christians. There are many things I see in other religions that I really admire. I think there is always room for "holy envy" of others' faith and practices.

As for the "abominations" comment, Joseph Smith didn't say that. It was the Lord that said it to him in answer to his prayer. I don't know exactly what He meant by that, nor am I going to try to sound like I do. But I suspect, based on the fact that Joseph and his family continued to have some connection the the local churches even after this as well as on the current teachings of the Church leaders, that it didn't mean that all other churches are evil or sinners. Do mormons believe that they have more truth than other christians? Of course. I don't say that in a smug way. We believe in continuing revelation through living prophets and apostles, and in open canon of scripture. If those things really are true (which I believe they are), they represent a significant difference between Mormons and other christians. That doesn't mean to us that everyone else is wrong, just, perhaps, incomplete.

So does that belief make us different than other christians? Absolutely! So why do we care about not being called christians? We don't mind being different from mainstream christianity. We proclaim those differences. The problem is in the way it is phrased and what it implies. If you were to say "Mormon's aren't mainstream christians," or even better, "Mormons aren't protestant christians," or "Mormons aren't trinitarian christians" then I wouldn't have a problem with it because it would be a little more clear what the differences are. But when you say just say "not christian" it implies that we don't believe in Christ (thats when people start assuming we worship Joseph Smith or Mormon), and that is very hurtful to us. It is a similar concept with the word "cult." People use that word to describe us. If you were to ask them what they mean they would probably give some definition of a small break-off group that has different beliefs and is led by an influential leader (incidentally that definition fits early christianity well too). In that case, it may be true. But when people hear the word cult, they think of creepy, militant groups like the branch dividians or dark, satanic groups (Occult).

Yes we are different. But it isimportant to us that those differences are stated in a way that is not misleading.

Full text of study?

"Therein lies a problem: unfamiliarity. A 2009 LDS-sponsored study indicated that nearly half of Americans understand next to nothing about Mormons, and many have never known a Mormon personally."

Can you give us a link for the full text of the study to which you are referring?

Thank you!

good.

I started reading thinking I would stop when my interest was gone. Good read. I think Mormons are pretty normal, but like this piece said, it's because I know one.

Mormon doctrine does not change

Like many Mormons, gospel study is a major part of my religion and since joining the church in 1974, I have not seen any doctrinal changes. However, the church is a living church. Doctrinal emphasis and practices do change with the needs of our changing society.

In my early days of church membership, blacks were not allowed to obtain the priesthood. However, the members knew that in the Lords time frame, the blacks would one day be entitled to receive the priesthood. That happened in 1978. I saved the San Jose Mercury article about Spencer W. Kimballs revelation to include blacks. I do not have a problem with the fact that the church at one time did not allow blacks into the priesthood. The early apostles were not allowed to take the gospel to the gentiles until the apostle Peter received a revelation to do so. Who am I to question a long term plan by an all knowing God?

Also, I do not have a problem with the fact that polygamy is no longer practiced. However, though church policy excludes those who practice polygamy, I personally do not have a problem with any group whose adult members are willing to submit to this practice, as long as there is no abuse.

As societal attitudes change, I see the church and it's members become more careful about discussing some topics. Some of this is due to a flood of anti Mormon sentiment that spreads false idea's about the church or some teachings are placed in a bad light. Speaking about some topics just stirs the pot and is akin to casting perls before swine.

For example, Mormons believe that we are literal spirit children of a loving Father in Heaven. This includes me, you, Hitler, Jesus and the wayward Satan who was cast out. So yes, Mormons believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers in the same way that Hitler and Martin Luther King are brothers. But no member of the church ever made this statement. The concept is natural conclusion designed by those with not so pure motives, to make the church look bad.

God's views on racism

I would suggest that the question we should be asking is: is God OK with racism and polygamy?.

Scripture clearly shows us that God is now, and always has been, a God of Justice. God's traits don't change over time. Christ has never condoned (much less instituted) racism or polygamy. Those are a product of the fallen nature of man. To believe that God for a long time excluded people from full participation in his church, or in his Kingdom to come, solely because of the color of the skin with which he wrapped them, is to deny that God is just. If a God once endorsed Polygamy (with all its consequences to the family, and the many men it condemns to singleness), and will again in the future, what does it say about God?

Like the LDS, most of Mainline Protestantism practiced institutional racism for many years. We have realized we were wrong, that we were doing violence to the goodness of God, repented and asked for forgiveness. This is not to say that we don't still have a way to go.

God, Racism, and Change

Hi, this is Dwight.

In your post entitled “Gods View on Racism” posted by Anonymous on Sept. 28th 10:19 am we read several claims: 1) “God's traits don't change over time”. 2) “Christ has never condoned (much less instituted) racism or polygamy.”

Let’s make sure we get our biblical facts right. The statement that God does not change over time is correct but that does not mean that God never varies his rules for mankind. Is it true that God never discriminates? For instance: God gave the authority to officiate as priests in ancient Israel to only one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exo. 28:1-4; Num ch 17; Num. 18:6-8; Num. 27: 18-23). We see where Uzza was severely punished for an act that only the priesthood holders were authorized to carry out (1 Chr. 13:9-10). The Aaronic Priesthood was given to the tribe of Levi as "an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations" (Ex. 40:15) and those who could not prove their Levitical lineage were "polluted, put from the priesthood." (Ezra 2:6-26).

If Moses were here today, and if he restricted priesthood authority to only one segment of society and denied it to the others, there would be a great outcry of discrimination against Moses as a false and racist prophet. Yet it was not Moses who did it, it was the Lord. Moses was just carrying out the commandment.

After Christ came and fulfilled the Law of Moses, there were to be priests from tribes other than the tribe of Levi. Two examples are given: Christ himself, and Melchizedek who would "not be called after the order of Aaron. For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." (Heb. 7:11-12). Thus, we see in the Bible that not only does God change the rules over time but that he discriminates as to who gets to hold the priesthood and that, later, he revokes that restriction. This is an almost exact parallel to what God did in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in regard to priesthood authority. Seems that the God of Mormonism acts just the same as does the God of the Bible!

Note another example: Jesus commanded that the gospel be taken only to the Jews. (Matthew 10:5-6) So, using the reasoning of the anti-Mormons Jesus was prejudiced and he must be false. That would pretty much make the whole Bible false. Later God revealed to Peter that the time had come to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10) This came by revelation to the man who was the prophet at the time - Peter. It does not come by the will or reasoning of men. This shows that God has his purposes and his time table. It is not revealed why the gospel was denied to the gentiles at first but it was God's will that it be so. Likewise it is so with the Church and priesthood authority in the Church today.

Note some other examples of variableness in Gods dealings with man: One of the most well known commandments is "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex. 20:13) Yet God commanded on other occasions, and in certain circumstances, that people be killed. The Lord said that murderers be put to death (Num. 35:16-21, 30-33; Ex. 21:12; Gen. 9:6; Rev. 13:10; Rom. 1:32). The Lord commanded that a man be put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath day (Num. 15:32-35; Ex. 35:2). He commanded that adulterers be put to death (Lev. 20:10, Deu. 22:13-29). And He commanded the death penalty for other reasons as well (Deu. 13:1-11; 17:1-12; 21:20-23).

Additionally the Lord commanded the Israelites to take possession of cities and kill all the inhabitants, not only to kill the soldiers, but all the people, even the elderly and the children, and all the animals (Deu 7:2,23; 1 Sam. 15:2-3). He commanded Abraham to kill his son Isaac. From these Biblical examples we see that God can give commandments and he can make exceptions to the commandments he has given.

The Law of Moses did not exist from the time of Adam down to the time of Moses. The people of Moses’ time would not live the higher laws so they were given the Law of Moses. It was added to the higher laws of God because of the stubbornness of the children of Israel. The scriptures say "...ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses" (Acts 13:39); and "For the law made nothing perfect..." (Heb 7:19); and that the law "...was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Later, the law of Moses was fulfilled by Christ and no longer observed (See Acts 13:39; Heb. 7:19; Ga. 3:24).

Thus we see in the Bible: No law of Moses, then the Law of Moses, then No Law of Moses again. After the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ, He gave "a better covenant" (Heb. 7:6), and spoke of "the first covenant" (Heb. 7:7), and "a new covenant" (Heb 7:8,13). And we also read where the God instituted "a change also of the law" (Heb 7:12), and He said: "For verily there is a disannulling of the commandment going before" (Heb. 7:18). It is clear that God can change his laws, or the way his gospel is administered, as he pleases.

The critics of the LDS Church would have us believe that the Church is false because the priesthood was withheld from Blacks and the God of Mormonism is a false God. If so then the Bible is also false for the same reason. In the Bible Moses, under God’s direction, withheld the priesthood from the other 11 tribes of Israel. So, by the same standard that makes Moses a false prophet and the Bible is false as well. However, the Bible is not false and Moses is not a false prophet. It is the anti-Mormon logic that is false. If we follow the anti-Mormon logic then Jesus would also be false because he withheld the gospel from the Gentiles.

It is not Jesus, God, Moses, Joseph Smith, or the restored Church that is the problem. It is the false standard for judgment that is set up by the anti-Mormons. They set up a standard that is un-factual, unhistorical, un-scriptural and which proves the Bible and even Jesus false along with Joseph Smith and Mormonism. The truth: God can withhold the priesthood from any group anytime he wants to. He is God. He can do whatever he wants.

I don’t know why God withheld priesthood from the other 11 tribes of Israel. I don’t know why Jesus commanded that the gospel be first taken to the Jews and excluded the Gentiles. I don’t know why God withheld priesthood authority from Blacks until 1978 in these latter days.

The issue of Blacks and the priesthood is a non-issue. All of the other anti-Mormon arguments are not the real issue. The real issue is this: Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the true church restored to the earth? Is Joseph Smith a true prophet of God? Is the Book of Mormon true? If so then it was God, and not Joseph Smith or any other man who directed the priesthood to be withheld from Blacks just as it was God, not Moses, who withheld the priesthood from the other 11 tribes in the Bible.

On Polygamy

Hi, this is Dwight.

In your post entitled “Gods View on Racism” posted by Anonymous on Sept. 28th 10:19 am we read “”Christ has never condoned (much less instituted) racism or polygamy.” Let’s look at that statement in regard to polygamy. Where do we get the idea that it is wrong to practice polygamy? Can you show me where it says in the bible: Thou shalt not practice polygamy? It’s not there.

In the Bible we see where David had three wives, Michal, Abigail, and Ahinoam, - at least two of them concurrently (1 Sam. 18:27; 1 Sam. 25:40-43). In spite of this we see that the Lord appeared unto David (2 Chronicles 3:1) because he was righteous. We even see where God, through the prophet Nathan, gave saul’s many wives to David (2 Samual 12:8). So God, by His command, does give people plural wives.

Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, a righteous woman, was a plural wife. (1 Samual 1:2)

In the Bible we see where Abraham had plural wives – Sarai, Hagar, Keturah and others.(See Gen. 16:3, Gen 25:1,6) Abraham was righteous and God appeared to him at least twice during the time he had plural wives (Gen 17:1, Gen 18:1). Abraham is blessed and God makes His covenant with him and blesses him to be the father of many nations (Gen 17:1-6). God didn’t care that Abraham was a polygamist. Instead, God appears to him and blesses him. Here we see that God not only condoned polygamy but he blessed Abraham for it and it is the means by which Abraham fulfills God’s promise to become the father of many nations.

In the New Testament Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful (Galations 3:7,9,29) Even Jesus says that the righteous do the works of Abraham (John 8:39). Contrary to your claim that “Christ has never condoned…polygamy,” we see here the opposite. Jesus says we should do the works of Abraham. Abraham’s major work was to be the father of many nations which he accomplished by practicing polygamy with God’s permission.

We see Jesus teaching that those polygamists Abraham and Jacob, along with the other prophets, will be in the Kingdom of God while others are thrust out (Luke 13:28). So, clearly, Jesus thought that polygamists can go to heaven. We see Christ affirming this again in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazurus wherein Jesus tells us that Abraham, that old polygamist, is in paradise while the Rich man is in Hell (Luke 16: 19-31).

If we say that Mormonism and Joseph Smith are false, because of the practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church, then we must also apply the same standard to the Bible prophets and patriarchs; they are also false. This standard even makes Jesus wrong where he teaches that polygamists will be in heaven. It is clearly the standard of judgment that is wrong and not Jesus.

Dwight

Hi Dwight: That's quite an

Hi Dwight:

That's quite an eloquent defense of polygamy.

I would suggest to our Mormon friends that perhaps one of the reasons that many non-Mormons still stereotype Mormons as racists and polygamists is that, as evidenced by Dwight's post, you are giving mixed messages about whether Mormons see racial discrimination and Polygamy as bad things, or good things.

Sure go to the source for the

Sure go to the source for the information you want. mormon.org You can find answer to all the questions you have.

Thank you for your insight

This was a well written and engaging piece, it is great to see people take a subject, Mormons, seriously and provide an interesting and thought provoking perspective. Romney may prove out to be a good president, he sure has the bonafides. I hope that the country gives him a chance.

CRUCIAL CORRECTION

The article states that a belief that black Americans had the curse of Cain was once doctrine in Brigham Young's day -- this is not true. This belief has never been LDS doctrine. It was accepted by certain members of the church and even propounded by church leaders at the time, but it was not and never has been "doctrine." Please appropriately fact-check your articles with respect to these matters. LDS Church "doctrine" consists exclusively of truths revealed and explicitly laid forth in the "Standard Works": Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants. If it's not in there, it's not doctrine. At best it's speculation, extrapolation or opinion. But not doctrine. It is a crucial distinction.

Crucial

Thank you for making this clarifying statement. This was one of the issues that led me to write, in another post, that the article is not entirely accurate.

Another error in the article is the suggestion that LDS do not currently believe or emphasize the destiny of the faithful to become like God. As another poster has emphasized, this is entirely untrue. That doctrine remains as core today as it was in Joseph Smith's time, whether it is expressed in General Conference talks or not.

Is the endowment doctrine?

Is the endowment doctrine?

Mormons & Blacks,

I might add that I heard that doctrine preached by some members of the Church, and where I was able to, I would point out that if the Blacks were the progeny of Cain then, they had best observe that God had promised Cain that those who would hurt him and I would suppose his off spring their punishment would be seven times that of other races. Persons who were racist found this doctrine very difficult to swallow. I had a son on a mission at the time who was working with Blacks. Several bishops came to him with the admonishion to baptize any more blacks into their wards. My son was a bit cheeky and would reply "Oh, are you starting another Church?" Or, "Then you no longer accept President Kimbal as your prophet?" Perhaps, and I'm not a prophet, the Lord excluded Blacks for a time from holding the priesthood to identify and weed out the people who could and would hate another person because of the color of his or her skin. I was and am thrilled that a honorable men in the Church can NOW recieve the priesthood of our Savior Jesus Christ along with all the attendant blessings that come with it.

Loaded with problems

The article is laudable for attempting to get "inside Mormonism," but the author's lack of understanding of Mormonism and apparently unwillingness to even want to understand its nuances results in a number of misleading statements and assertions. Mormon theology is not "subtly changing." It evolves. It always has evolved. It's a cornerstone of LDS belief that we are only able to perceive a modicum of the totality of truth, and that mankind is led "line upon line, precept upon precept" toward that eventual knowledge. So change is not, as it is with many Protestants, a dirty word. Second, the belief that man can become deity is not being de-emphasized and never will. It's the whole point of LDS doctrine -- "exaltation" and "eternal progression" are the core revealed truths that clarify Christianity, illuminate its historical problems and contradictions and define man's relationship to God. It is absurd to suggest that these ideas, rather than becoming sharpened and focused over time, will simply "fade away." Mormons may seek to de-emphasize such beliefs in the face of public scrutiny that doesn't understand them, but they are hardly "going away." Finally, commandments such as "The Word of Wisdom" ought not be confused with "theology." The rules and parameters for behavior that deity has handed down to man over the millennia pertain to earthly matters and man's ability to govern his or her own spiritual well-being. The eternal truths related to the true nature of deity are a separate matter and ought to be considered as such. So "doctrine," "theology" and "commandments" for behavior are three different classes that need to be defined and treated distinctly. Please inform your writer of this fact.

The author is a Latter-day

The author is a Latter-day Saint in good standing.

Lacks doctrinal understanding

Interesting that a Latter-Day-Saint in good standing would miss the mark on the eternal nature of core doctrine. A practicing member who studies both ancient scripture and modern revelation would distinguish between gospel doctrine that does not change and commandments and guidance that the Lord gives through revelation to His prophets for the current day which may change according to the needs and challenges of the time. Thankfully the Lord uses prophets both ancient and modern to reveal the Lord's will for His people. However, the Lord and His prophets don't change core doctrine, and are more interested in the salvation of souls and revealing pure truth than appeasing the world.

fair article but a few errors

Thanks for this article, you raise some interesting ideas. I think you were pretty fair to us (I've been a Mormon all my life, returned missionary, BYU, blah blah).. but I would point out a couple inaccuracies.

The word of wisdom was initially given not as a commandment - as it says right in the text of D&C 89.. it was only later brought up to the full level of commandment. Any timing related to the polygamy issue is coincidental. It was always understood by the saints that this would one day be a commandment in force.

Also - the doctrine that we can become gods is never going to go away. I think the reason (perhaps) why it's not mentioned so much in conference is that general conference now has a very wide audience.. including non-members, and members of the press. We get pretty hammered when we talk about that, so I think that's why it's not perhaps said explicitly so much. But it's a core belief, taught by Joseph Smith in the crowning sermon of his life..

And it is certainly biblical as well - Peter speaks of our becoming "joint-heirs with Christ", and there are several other scriptures. CS Lewis had quite a bit to say on this idea.. the whole Narnia series is an allegory - the lion is Christ, and the children are destined to become kings and queens (to their astonishment).

I would say we believe it's the whole reason the earth was created in the first place. God didn't create the earth in order to make people who would simply amuse him or grovel below him for eternity. He is benevolent and charitable, he is our father (with all the future implications of that word). There is great purpose in it.. he intends to bring us up to his level, even give us all that He has (if we will allow him). That is the great promise of the scriptures.

Inadequate research

Readers should be aware that Ms. Riess' argument that LDS leaders are "backing away" from the truth that we can become like God is based on inadequate research. Just because the word "godhood" isn't used as frequently as it may have been is not evidence of anything. For example, a quick search of ONLY General Conference addresses from 2006 to 2011 shows that Church members we were taught that we can "become like" (those were the search terms I used) God 10 times--that is only in General Conference talks.
It is unfortunate that Ms. Riess fails to recognize the doctrine unless it is specifically tagged with the word "godhood." I'm sure additional searches using similar terms in General Conference, magazines, and manuals would turn up many more references to this core doctrine of the LDS Church, which we base on the fundamental belief that we are literally children of God with the potential to become like Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Psalm 82:6; John 17:20-24; Romans 8:14-21; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 3:20-22--just for a few examples).
Hopefully, this will encourage Ms. Riess to be more careful in her future research for her articles and readers will have an appropriate "buyer beware" warning as they read her material.

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