I believe in God the Father Almighty who created all things through his Word, his only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, who was always with the Father and has always been God. I do not believe that Jesus was just like us in the pre-existence, the first of many spirit children of God the Father. Jesus was always God and there was not a time that he was not God. I believe that God the Son was begotten of the Father before time began and thus before creation and is of the same substance as the Father. God the Son created the heavens and the earth. He came down from heaven as the "Father" and creator of this world and became one of us to teach us and bring us back to God the Father. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate and suffered, beginning in the garden, and died for our sins on the cross and we will not have to suffer for our sins if we repent and believe in him and allow his grace to save us from the pain and suffering for our sins. I believe that resurrection is a gift made possible to all men through no act or work of their own. It is up to us to decide whether or not we will suffer the pains of our sins or repent and take advantage of Christ's gift of forgiveness.
I believe that Jesus is truly God and truly Man. At no time during his earthly existence was he not God or not Man. He was truly born of Mary, one of our race. He really suffered, died, and was buried. He went to the world of spirits and opened the way for them to be freed of their sins and leave the prison into which they were confined. On the third day he arose again from the grave. He appeared to many. His hands, feet and side were handled by others - he really had a tangible body after resurrection. His resurrection changed the lives of his early followers from scared sheep who had lost their shepherd
into men and women of courage. He prepared and even ate food in the presence of others. He was seen ascending into heaven and those watching were promised that he would return. I believe that Jesus will return in power and glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will never end.
I believe in God the Holy Spirit who gives life to our world and proceeds from the Father and the Son. I believe that through the Holy Spirit, God has spoken through the prophets and in like manner, I believe God can speak to us as well.
I believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist and that it was not given to us as only a symbol of his body and blood. I believe that Christianity has believed from the beginning that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and it has only been recently (the last 400 years) through the teachings of Zwingli and Calvin that many Christians have been led away from the primitive faith by viewing the Eucharist as only a symbol.
I believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct divine persons and are the one God (Godhead/Trinity) that in Jesus fully resides bodily (Col 2:9). I no longer believe, as I did as a Mormon, in three Gods, but in one God in three persons.
I do not believe that matter is co-eternal with God. I believe that God is the source of all power and light, e.g., energy in the universe and therefore has the power to create matter from his own source of energy. Energy is eternal and can't be created or destroyed. Matter was related to energy through Einstein's theories including E=mc2. The theory that God organized the world from pre-existing matter comes not from Christian tradition but from the Greek tradition as taught by Plato. If God created the worlds from pre-existing matter, it is from matter that had long ago been created by God from the power
and light that he is and is therefore not co-eternal. All matter has as its source God.
In his treatise against the heresy of Noetus, St. Hippolytus had this to say about God and matter:
"God was alone and nothing existed but himself when he determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as he had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is co-eternal with God. Apart for God there is simply nothing else. Yet although he was alone, he was manifold because he lacked neither reason, wisdom, power nor counsel. All things were in him and he himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by himself, God manifested his Word, and through him he made the whole universe. "
I believe that our lives have been given to us by God to see if we are worthy to return and live in his presence. God loves us as his children and wants us to become like him. We
have the opportunity to suffer and share in Christ's own example to help us become like God. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."(1 Jn 3:2).
"God became man so that man might become God." (St. Augustine, bishop).
"Since it was the will of God's only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods." (St. Thomas Aquinas, priest)
"When we have been deified and made immortal, God has promised us a share in his own attributes." (St. Hippolytus, priest)
The act of seeing the face of God the Father will have a transforming effect on us.
St. Irenaeus in his treatise Against Heresies said,
"By his own powers man cannot see God, yet God will be seen by men because he wills it. He will be seen by those he chooses, at the time he chooses, and in the way he chooses, for God can do all things. He was seen of old through the Spirit of prophecy; he is seen through the Son by our adoption as his children and he will be seen in the kingdom of heaven in his own being as the Father. The Spirit
prepares man to receive the Son of God, the Son leads to him to the Father, and the Father, freeing him from change and decay, bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from seeing God. As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see God are in God sharing his glory, and that glory gives them life. To see God is to share in life."
St. Leo the Great from a sermon on the beatitudes said this about seeing God,
"What mind can conceive, what words can express the great happiness of seeing God? Yet human nature will achieve this when it has been transformed so that it sees the Godhead no longer in a mirror or obscurely but face to face-the Godhead that no man has been able to see. In the inexpressible joy of this eternal vision, human nature will possess what eye has not seen or ear heard, what man's heart has never conceived."
I believe in Jesus Christ; He is the Messiah, the only Begotten of God the Father from before all time, my Savior and King. He entered our world, a world He created, and became one of us, uniting man and God. He will return again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.
I do not believe we are living in the last days, the latter days, or the end of time. I do not believe that Jesus Christ will
return in my lifetime or in the lifetimes of my children or grandchildren. I believe that Jesus will return someday but
that this time is in the far distant future, perhaps as far away as when our sun, the star that gives warmth and light to
our planet, runs out of fuel and goes super-nova, burning our world and melting its elements. I believe it is human
nature to believe in the end of the world because all of our experience with living things on this planet is that they
someday die. Nothing lives forever; life always ends in death. I believe that religion gives us the hope that our lives
have meaning and might continue after this death that is so pervasive in our world. I believe that Paul believed that
he was living in the last days, that at anytime the trumpet would sound, the dead would rise and those that did not
sleep would be caught up to meet Christ at his glorious second coming. I believe that this belief in the imminent
coming of the Lord was critical to Paul's success as a missionary. In a like manner, this same belief in the imminent
coming of the Lord was a very powerful force in getting people like my relatives from England to join the Latter-day
Saints in the mid 1800's. There was supposed to be a final gathering upon this the American continent and that
Christ was shortly come to personally rule on Earth for a 1,000 year millennial reign. Each year that passes only shows
that Latter-day Saints are really Millerites without a fixed date. I believe that section 77 of the D&C will eventually
become a source of problems for those that continue to believe in the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith. By the year
3000 I am sure that this section will have to be viewed in a less literal light in much the same way that Christianity had
to change its view of the imminent second coming of the Lord when faced with the fact that he did not return. I
believe that Christ will not return until the words of Christ are fulfilled in which he questioned if faith would be found
on the Earth at his coming (Luke 18:11). I believe that we are now seeing the LDS church taking steps to downplay
the fact that Christ has not yet returned and may not in fact return for a long time. For example, look at the new logo
for the church that places "Latter-day Saints" in a less prominent type size while emphasizing the
"Jesus Christ". I believe that I am the first member of my family to believe that Christ will not
come back in his or her own lifetime and I want to somehow let my children and my children's children know that I
lived my life hoping for Christ's return but knowing that he would not come as soon as the Anabaptists used to teach and not as soon as the LDS have been taught.
My parents believe that Christ is coming back very very soon and that those alive now will usher
in his second coming and millennial reign. Only time will tell and I believe that I have over 1900 years of waiting (and
most recently over 150 years of waiting) on my side to say that in all probability Christ is not coming back as soon as any of us would hope. Maran-atha: Come, O Lord!
I believe that Christ's church as established by Paul and the twelve apostles survived beyond the destruction of
Jerusalem and the death of the Apostles. I see no possible concern over a general apostasy until the Arian heresy of
the fourth century. I do not believe that the Gnostics had secret truth and I find their "gospels" and
belief in a proud and jealous Creator God very foreign to my own views of Christianity and contrary to the beliefs
found in Western Christianity. I believe that we have been blessed to have the writings of so many of the early
Christians like Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Justin Martyr who both paint a picture of Christian organization
and worship that can still be found today in Catholicism and its offshoots.
I do not believe that the Book of Mormon was translated from Golden Plates. I believe the Book of Mormon is at best a revelation from God
(similar to the Qur'an)
or at worst it is a 19th
century work of religious fiction written to address the concerns of 19th century Christians in America
by setting forth a divine purpose for the United States and attempting to explain where the Indians came
from. The Book of Mormon contains no prophecy that had not already happened at the time it was published. It makes no mention of the dramatic world changing events of the 20th century and time will show that it is also silent on the important events of the 21st century and beyond. The Book of Mormon does not speak to the concerns of our day, the break up of the family unit, dual wage earners, feminism, global economies and global issues, resource consumption and re-use, ecumenism, the apparent end of global warfare due to nuclear weapons and the ability to destroy the planet many times over, and so on. It is silent about the World Wars of the 20th century. It is silent about the return of Jews to Israel.
I do not believe that the Book of Abraham was written by Abraham's own hand on papyrus nor
was it copied at a later date onto the papyrus found with the mummies purchased by the faithful in Kirkland, OH for Joseph Smith. The
Egyptian facsimiles included with the book provide the evidence necessary to show that Joseph Smith could not
translate Egyptian. Facsimile No. 1 shows that he didn't even know enough about the writings on the papyrus to
correct the missing portions. Since Abraham 1:12-15 makes a direct reference to Facsimile No. 1 it is very doubtful that this book
is a translation of anything. The book is again at best a revelation from God and at worst a fiction written to bolster
support of a movement in trouble after the collapse of the Kirkland Banking Society and defections from the faith.
I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the potential to grow and become one of the
world's great religions along side Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and the religions of the East. The LDS movement has
not grown as fast as did Islam due to its non-violent, non-militaristic methods of proselytizing, but it will grow for
similar reasons: belief in a prophet who has claimed to have received a revelation from God, a message for God's
people on Earth. The LDS religion is different from other Christian sects to the point that any serious ecumenism or
inter-communion will not be possible within my lifetime, however, the workings of the Holy Spirit can be seen within the LDS movement, turning it and making it closer to traditional Christianity as it continues to moderate its doctrine of the Godhead and man's relationship to God, and accepts statuary and other art forms in homes of members and in its places of worship. The only thing that will stand in the way of LDS ultimate success will be information. We live in an information age, an age never before known on Earth. No longer can we held hostage by those who through years of study became masters of individual theological subjects. Through technology we can screen libraries of books and publications for information. We are entering a period of change unparalleled since the invention of moveable type. See what the printing press did to organized religions in the 16th century and I predict that similar challenges and changes will occur in this new age. Will people in this age of information have the time or will they take the time to study and learn the truth or will they continue to find it so much easier to believe that the Christian faith and sacrifices from 70 A.D. until 1830 just don't matter?
It is more likely that Christianity is false than it is probable that Mormonism is true.
I do not believe that the polygamy practiced by Joseph Smith and the early leaders of the church was patterned after Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob (Israel) but
appears from its inception to be patterned after David and Solomon both of whom are maligned by the Book of
Mormon for this practice. Abraham was given Hagar by his wife only after years and years of infertility. Abraham
also listened to Sarah and sent Hagar away after Sarah was able to have her own son. Such was not the case with
Joseph Smith who had children by his first wife Emma and then resisted Emma's attempts to stop the practice when
she found out about it. Abraham did take another wife and possibly others (Gen 25:6), but only after the death of
Sarah. Isaac appears to have had only one wife, Rebekah. Jacob (Israel) had two wives when he only wanted one
(Rachel). He was forced to marry Leah through the deceit of her father. Rachel only gave her handmaid (Gen 30:3) to
Jacob when it had become apparent that she, like Sarah before her, was barren. Leah then, not to be outdone by her
resourceful sister, gave Jacob her handmaid for the purpose of having more children. In no case do the scriptures
indicate that the man initiated the polygamous relationships with other women, it was always the wife that made this
decision to give another women to her husband and always for the purpose of having children by her and through
her. It appears that the man's role is to seek the first wife. It appears to be the prerogative of the wife to give her
husband other women. This is not the pattern that was followed by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. I believe that it
was the discovery of the true nature of Joseph Smith's relationships with many women other than his mother Emma,
that caused David Hyrum Smith to have a psychotic break (to which he was most likely predisposed) and live the
remainder of his life at the Elgin Mental Hospital that remains in Elgin, Illinois to this day.