Monday, February 25, 2008

More Articles of Faith

I was once asked to explain our beliefs further, by someone who had read the 13 Articles of Faith. This was my reply.

We believe that those who are meek will inherit this earth in it's resurrected and glorified state.
We believe that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who aren't puffed up, but humble enough to hear what God is teaching.
We believe that those who are saddened by the sins of the world will be comforted by God.
We believe that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness we shall be filled by the Holy Ghost.
We believe that if pure in heart, we shall be seeing God at times.
We believe that if we have mercy to others God will be merciful to us.
We believe that God will truly consider us His children if we try to bring peace to conflict.
We believe that if no-one is saying evil against us falsely, and twisting our words and intentions, then we're doing something wrong.
We believe that great responsibility rests on us to be as Christ wants us to be, and if we aren't then we're no use to God (as the salt).
We believe that Christ in us should be shown in our actions.
We believe that Christ fulfilled the law by being the sacrifice.
I believe that if you can't keep the commandments of the law then you won't even be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
We believe that Christ taught greater commandments and asks us to obey those, not forgetting the law.
We believe that Christ requires us not to be angry, not to lust, to keep our thoughts pure, not to seek divorce, not to make oaths and promises, to turn the other cheek and to love others.
I believe God requires us to be perfect.
We believe that your Christian actions shouldn't be done to gain adoration from people, and it's therefore best people don't know what good you are doing for them.
We don't believe in having set prayers (though we do so in the case of ordinances, to ensure that all necessary points are stated) or repetition of statement, as God isn't deaf (or sleeping - to quote Elijah).
I believe reciting the "Lords' prayer" isn't advisable as most people seem to quote it with a piousness because they know it, don't mean it, and are so fixed on it rather than its meaning always fail to conclude the prayer in the name of Christ.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Philosophy - the Relationship to Scripture, Revelation and Reality

The purpose of scripture and revelation is to set a standard of rules, and give examples of how and why to apply them. They also teach us about ourselves and God, and how that relationship works. Then there is advice about what is to come. They, therefore, set an approach to life that is wisest to follow.

Philosophy comes from the opposite direction in that it puts the person in the driver's seat. The person invents the laws that they should follow, according to their perception of life. They decide what God is and how the relationship works. It gives them the opportunity to philosophise away or bend anything God has said that doesn't suit. That way they get to create their own religion in a fuller sense.

One obvious failure of philosophy is that it has no standard to find a concept true or false. Each idea is a matter of opinion. The natural man takes over from the truths taught by God. And as man pursues these concepts problems begin to happen. Then man philosophises away these problems, and so they continue.

Serious wars generally eventuate and people slowly begin to turn back to God in fear of the outcome if they don't. We saw this in the Second World War. Then in the 50's there was this great progress and blessing that came as the world followed better principles. The blessings went on into the 60's. But in the latter 60's there began to be a moving away from God. It increased into the 70's and by the 80's we began to suffer the consequences. Recessions, drought, unemployment, aids, increased violence, drugs and economic downturns.

But philosiphers give us excuses for these things. And governments keep our minds busy on meaningless projects like not using plastic bags and worrying about the claimed "Green-house Effect". As if this will make the world better and solve the real problems.

People demand that the government do something about social problems. So governments create more laws to restrict social rights, as if this will resolve it, while the problem itself gets worse, because people don't turn to the real cause. They want the government to curb the natural result of sin by getting "tough" on those involved in its outcome.

It is time we turned from man's philosophy and ideas of resolutions to life's problems and turned back to the tried and proven methods of God.

To some extent we can all be guilty of philosophising religion. To help us God has given us scripture, prophets and personal revelation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Crosses - Should we have them?

The noticeable difference between standing in an LDS chapel and standing in other churches is the obvious lack of adornment in an LDS chapel. Some flowers are a moderate decoration compared to stain-glass windows, crosses, and possibly statues etc. Then there is the question of whether we should wear crosses? Did Christ's Apostles wear crosses? The answer to that is very simple. No! Had they done so they would have been stoned.

Deut 5:8 "Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth."

In plain English the law given by God to Moses forebad Israelites from making likenesses of anything whatsoever - no art or sculpture. When Solomon built the temple he had to get Gentiles to sculptor, and the things remained in the temple only. Archaeologists can't find any Israelite art because there wasn't any.

Some will quote something like the following text and propose that this vindicates wearing crosses.
Matt 10:38 "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."

I can assure you that he wasn't referring to a concept of wearing crucifixes. As is demonstrated in his own case, people who were to be crucified had to carry their own cross and then be crucified. Christ chose a dreadful thing and used it to make his point. That we must be ready to suffer the worst of things. This is in context of the verses around the statement. The whole subject matter is one of being prepared to sacrifice friends, family, comforts and life. It isn't a declaration of what jewellery to wear.

Let's consider the idea that our neighbour's son was murdered saving your life. By someone using a knife. Would you think of wearing a knife around your neck when you went to visit your neighbour? Would you regard that he would see this as some kind of respect? Because it is the last thing I would wear. I think he would see that as very sick.

God spoke strongly against any physical representation of him to Israel of old. What would make him change his mind now and think that physical representations (such as crosses) of him or his Son are acceptable? If you want to demonstrate your belief in Christ, live a Christ like life and people will see it in you (as Christ stated).