What Do Mormons Believe? – Repentance

dsc_0038Several months ago, my toddler son found a lot of joy in ripping the internet cable out of the wall. Not just the cable, mind you, but the entire faceplate with the cable still attached. I started having him sit on my lap with his arms forcibly folded right after he did it. He totally hated it, so I knew it was working. After a half-dozen “time outs” (that lasted like 5 seconds each), he stopped pulling the cable out of the wall.

Do I remind him of how he used to pull the cord out of the wall? Do I continue to punish him retroactively for how he was disobedient before he figured it out?

Heavens no. I’m just glad that he is catching on to things and becoming a better, smarter, more obedient boy. Because that is the reason why he was born–to learn these kinds of things.

In fact, that is the reason that all of us were born. Our Heavenly Father sent us down here so that we could learn about how the world works, how relationships are made strong, how our bodies operate, and how to have faith in Him and serve His children. We all make mistakes–sometimes because we don’t know any better, and sometimes even if we do. But that is part of the program. Our whole earth experience is involved in this learning process, and Heavenly Father has given us a lot of help to know what is appropriate and what is not.

Mistakes do count against us, though. So God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to take upon Him all of the sins and mistakes, sicknesses and temptations, suffering and injustices of the whole earth so that we can ask Him for help and forgiveness when we mess up. Since Christ already paid for our mistakes, we can be made clean again through Him. It is such an amazing and merciful plan. But we have to do our part. We have to repent.

Repentance has kind of a dour connotation. Like dressing up in sackcloth and ashes,


flagellating ourselves (or hitting our faces with boards),


hating our mortality and never forgetting how lowly and evil we are. This is how we feel we should react when we’ve messed up royally, but that isn’t repentance. That’s how Satan wants us to feel, so that we never get around to the actual repenting. Think of my son and the cable faceplate. That is how God sees us. When we do those really stupid things, He corrects us. Sometimes we are thicker than we should be and it takes a long time to realize that what we are doing isn’t good. But when we figure it out, what we need to do is:

1) Recognize that we have been wrong. Ask Christ for His atoning power to make it right.
2) Change our actions. Ask Christ for the strength everyday to make the change.
3) Make it right, if we have wronged someone else. Ask Christ how to do this–He suffered their pains (perhaps inflicted by you) as well as your pains.
4) Promise not to do it again and then not do it again. Ask Christ for help all along the way.

It is a simple process, but it can be extremely difficult.  Addictions, habits learned through the years, and even doing things that go against the natural man’s tendencies have to be pulled out by the root.  Its hard.  But it is possible, everything is possible with Christ’s help.  He’s already overcome it, so He knows how to help you do the same.

It’s just a process of changing ourselves to become better. God wants us to be better. He wants us to figure it out. He wants us to be healthy and at peace with our neighbors, ourselves and Him. And He wants us to learn this as quickly as possible. And once we figure it out and change, God doesn’t keep reminding us of it. He doesn’t say, “Well yes, you are sober now, but remember how you used to drink and drink until you couldn’t even stand up?” He says, “Well done. You’ve figured that out. I’m proud of you. Now to the next thing.”  So we should forgive ourselves too.Repentance is really one of the most merciful and kind blessings that our Heavenly Father has given to us. He allows us to change. He expects us to become better and to really (eventually) keep the commandment that Christ gave to us to “Be ye therefore perfect.” He has got everything in place through His Son’s sacrifice to make it possible for us to move on past our mistakes and be forgiven, if we can just be obedient and not fight the “time outs” He gives us.


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


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

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

“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.

“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

This concept is a difficult one for some to grasp. God knows everything and has all power, so why doesn’t He give me what I desire, automatically? Why must I pray at all? The LDS Bible Dictionary puts it so plainly,

“The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

Prayer also has a transformative effect on those who pray. It makes us humble and aligns our wills with God’s. Did you ever wonder why we are so emphatic about praying in the name of Christ? (see John 16:23) When we say, “…in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” it means, “This prayer is offered as if Jesus Christ were saying it. We are certain He would give it His stamp of approval.” In a public prayer, when everyone else says, “Amen.” they mean, “I agree with what has been said.”

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

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

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

Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants

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

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

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

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

But, as Reading Rainbow would remind us, you don’t have to take my word for it—be your own judge, read from the Pearl of Great Price here, the Doctrine and Covenants here.

Salvation in a Nutshell

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

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

This is the very center of our beliefs —

The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

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

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

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

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

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