LDS religious commitment high, Pew survey finds

Of all the numbers in the Pew Research Center’s recently released survey of “Mormons in America,” the highest, most overwhelming numbers are these: 98 percent of respondents said they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion.

 Pew Study: Mormon Beliefs, Religious CommitmentThis comes on the heels of earlier surveys indicating that 32 percent of non-LDS U.S. adults say the LDS Church is not a Christian religion, and an additional 17 percent are unsure of LDS Christianity. The theological and semantic reasons for this can be complex, but for the 1,019 self-identified Mormons who participated in the Pew survey, their theological position is clear: Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, and they consider themselves to be Christian.

“Certainly in Latter-day Saint theology is this idea that if you understand who you are, you understand that there’s a purpose in life, you understand your connection to God, that certainly has an impact on how you live your life and what you do, but also how you feel about your life and what you are doing,” said Michael Purdy of the LDS Church Public Affairs office. Read more

Pew Study on Mormons in America

As the “Mormon moment” extends into 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life today released a groundbreaking new survey, the first ever published by a non-LDS research organization to focus exclusively on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their beliefs, values, perceptions and political preferences.

Entitled “Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society,” the survey was conducted between Oct. 25 and Nov. 16, 2011 among a national sample of 1,019 respondents who identified themselves as Mormons. The results validate a number of long-held stereotypes (most American Mormons are white, well-educated, politically conservative and religiously observant) while providing a few interesting surprises (care for the poor and needy is high on the list of LDS priorities, while drinking coffee and watching R-rated movies aren’t as taboo among the rank and file as you might think).

Pew Study on Mormons in America“While this survey comes amid a contentious election campaign, it is not solely or even chiefly about politics,” said Luis Lugo, Pew Research Center director, in the published survey’s preface. “Rather, we hope that it will contribute to a broader public understanding of Mormons and Mormonism at a time of great interest in both.”

For example, in one very interesting section of the new survey, respondents were asked several questions about what is essential to being a good Mormon. According to the survey, 80 percent said “believing Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ” is essential to being a good Mormon, 73 percent said “working to help the poor,” 51 percent said “regular Family Home Evenings,” 49 percent said “not drinking coffee and tea” and 32 percent said “not watching R-rated movies. Read more

The Book of Mormon and Mormon Scriptures

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called “Mormons by friends of other faiths,” are Bible-believing Christians.  Mormons study the scriptures daily and take classes on the scriptures in Sunday School.  The Sunday School classes and teaching manuals are correlated world-wide, so that all Mormon congregations are studying the same thing at the same time.  There is a four-year course of study, with two years spent studying the Holy Bible, one year on the Book of Mormon, and one year on Church History and the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of revelations important to the establishment of the restored gospel in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ).  The Pearl of Great Price is studied along with other scriptures — the Books of Moses and Abraham with the Old Testament, and Joseph Smith’s early history with the History of the Church.

Holy Bible MormonIn the United States, the King James Version of the Bible is used, and it has not been changed in any way from the original.  The LDS Church edition simply is cross-referenced with other LDS scriptures and includes maps, illustrations, a Bible dictionary and a topical guide.  It is true that Joseph Smith, first prophet of the restoration, was working on a new translation of the Bible, and footnotes indicate where his analysis diverges from the KJV.  Mormon scholars are dedicated to finding the true meaning of the Bible, and footnotes also contain Greek and Hebrew translations where the King James committee erred.  However, no changes have been made in the text in those cases.

Lost Books of the Bible

The Bible refers to prophets and books that are not in our possession at this time.  (Read about them here.)  Perhaps some of these writings will be found in the future.  Modern prophets have indicated that other writings exist which have been “hidden up” by the Lord to come forth when men are righteous enough to receive them.  These include the writings of Joseph (who was sold into Egypt) and John the Baptist.  A portion of the Book of Mormon was also sealed and kept back because of our unworthiness.  This increases our responsibility to feast on the scriptures we DO have, in order to progress to the point where the Lord can trust us with more knowledge.

The Lord’s Work Never Ceases

In the Book of Mormon, it says the following:

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my wordunto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.   Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written (2 Nephi 29:7-10).

The LDS Church has an “open canon.”  This means we know that there are scriptures still to come forth to God’s children, and as they are revealed, they will become part of the “standard works” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The fact that we have the words of modern prophets, too, means that their words can be the word of God.

The Book of Mormon

This is the last dispensation of time before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  It is sometimes called the “last days,” or the “fullness of times.”  All things that were anciently part of God’s kingdom must be restored and gathered together in preparation for His coming and the ushering in of the millennial reign of Christ.  One predicted aspect of the last dispensation of time is an increase of knowledge to be poured out upon the earth.  We are witnessing this in the breathtaking speed in which technology progresses.  The prophets also predicted an increase of wickedness, but also an increase of spirituality among the righteous.

A witness of Jesus Christ must also be taken to every kindred, tongue and people on earth.  Whether Christ truly existed, and then whether He really died for our sins, has been the subject of debate since Christ walked the earth.  The Book of Mormon joins the witness of the Holy Bible in proclaiming that Jesus is the very Christ, whose atonement saves us.

Around 600 B.C. there were many prophets in Jerusalem.  It was dangerous.  Jeremiah had been cast into prison, and a prophet named Lehi was warned by God to flee the city for safety.  Lehi and his family abandoned their home and their wealth to flee into Arabia, from where God led them over the sea to a “promised land” in the America’s.  Lehi and several of his sons were prophets, and prophets continued to preach to this people of Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah and Savior, even as they continued to live according to the Law of Moses.  The people received miraculous signs of Christ’s birth, and devastating storms and earthquakes at His death that killed the wicked among them.  Shortly after, Christ visited them as a resurrected being, organized His church, and called 12 “disciples,” as He had called the 12 apostles in the Holy Land.  He told the people they were the “other sheep” He had described to the apostles.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:16).

For 200 years, the Book of Mormon people enjoyed perfect peace and prosperity, having all become “Christians.”  Then they descended into wickedness and were destroyed.  The Lord said of the record of their prophets…

For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust (2 Nephi 26:16).

The Doctrine and Covenants

The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelations, especially some received by Joseph Smith, and especially regarding the establishment of Christ’s Church in these last days.  These revelations provide guidance for the organization of the Church with the ancient church as a pattern, for the authority of the priesthood and how it is used, for the pattern of the sacrament (eucharist), etc.  There are some exciting and enlightening visions, such as Joseph Smith’s and Sidney Rigdon’s vision of the degrees of glory in heaven, and Joseph F. Smith’s vision of Christ’s ministry in the Spirit World.  There are also last-days prophecies.

The Pearl of Great Price

While Joseph Smith was working on a translation of the Bible, he received by revelation more information about Moses and the creation.  The result is the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.  He also translated an Egyptian papyrus, which is published in the Pearl of Great Price as the Book of Abraham.  From the Book of Moses we see that Moses was taught about the “Only Begotten Son of God,” and that he saw all of the earth through vision.  From Abraham we learn about “life before life” on earth, the spiritual creation that took place before the physical creation.  Joseph Smith’s history is also included in the Pearl of Great Price, as is his translation of Matthew 23 and 24, and the thirteen Articles of Faith of Mormon belief.


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