Mark is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He served a 2 year mission in East Tennessee and the surrounding areas.
How to Find out about Religions
Many do not know much about my faith and religion and often they do not know where to go to find out about it. If someone comes to me about another faith, I have found it is best to focus on common beliefs. Along those same lines, I would not ask a divorcee about marriage or someone who is married about divorce. Would you go to a Christian to find out about Buddhism or Hinduism? Whenever you want to learn about a topic, a religion especially, it is best to go to the source. It is disappointing to see how many ignorant and negative posts I have seen from atheists and others who hate the "Mormons" (nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). It is important to clarify because breakoffs are lazily called Mormons, but they are quite different.
So in regards to building on common beliefs…metaphorically, with Christianity, consider how different children describe their parents differently. The same could be said of me and the family I came from. This explains why many say they have the truth about God and/or Jesus but know them differently. If you look at the gospels only, all Christians have very similar beliefs. In my opinion, Paul's teachings are where most Christians disagree about specific doctrines.
If we look at the Bible alone, you find tens of thousands of churches that have stemmed from it. In my opinion, we have more similarities than people take the time to discover. We believe that Jesus Christ organized His Church, then there was a falling away or Apostasy after the Apostles were killed. So, we believe the church was restored by the Lord through the first prophet of the restoration (Joseph Smith). One of the first things that was revealed from Joseph Smith’s first vision was that God and Jesus Christ were separate and had bodies. They are the same in every way except physically. This goes against one of the core teachings from 325 AD form the Nicaean Creed that taught that Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Ghost were the same being. If you think about it, why would Jesus talk to Himself on the cross? So, we believe the Church was restored, not reinvented.
We believe that God speaks to prophets now, just as He did in the Bible. Why would He have stopped?
I know that Joseph Smith (our first modern prophet) was a prophet of God because his teachings about Jesus Christ are true. The truths restored through Joseph Smith have made me a better Christian and a better person. He taught that scripture was not complete, so there was additional scripture. With additional scripture (the Book of Mormon), the Gospel is clarified and is easier to understand.
What else did he do? He restored the Priesthood. He predicted the Civil War. He helped to restore the Church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4) to have Apostles and other leaders. He taught that revelation from God was possible. Joseph Smith lived and died as a prophet. He taught true principles and prophesied like the prophets from the Bible. He made major claims, such as seeing God and Jesus Christ, so he was persecuted. He gave the message to all nations. He gathered thousands of people to Zion (a united gathering of believers). Temples were built as in ancient times (another example of restoration).
He was persecuted for saying he was a prophet. If he were a false prophet, wouldn’t he have said that he was Jesus Christ or that there was not Christ? He said that Jesus was the son of God. He learned and taught that God and Jesus Christ were separate and distinct beings. He taught that man was created in the image of God. He taught that the channel between earth and heaven is open and revelation is continuous.There is much more, but you would have to ask God sincerely (James 1:5) to know if he was a prophet. Joseph Smith was arrested by ignorant savages who felt threatened by the growth of the church. In the end, he was a martyr and died for what he believed.
When I was sharing the experience about Joseph Smith's vision while on my church service mission, the telephone would often ring. This tells me that Satan does not want people to believe. Consider the parable of the sewer...if something is true, Satan will try to stop it. Also, there was a peaceful feeling when I would share it. Satan cannot give us peace.
I have considered and studied various things through my life about religion and what I should believe in. I have found my faith to be in something that I have found for myself to be true. I live by the faith that I have found. The church is alive, not dead.
© 2019 Mark Richardson