March 26, 2012

baptism for the dead- revisited.

{You can read my original post here- I believe in baptizing dead people... yes, i do.}
Although I write often about what I believe, I do not often write about my religion.
I haven't been too excited about writing two religious posts in one week.
i hope you don't feel like i'm preachy or trying to convert you to my religion by discussing these topics.
i don't love the original post that i wrote and i don't love this follow-up post either.
i'm not someone that enjoys topics that create discord.
Like most of the blog posts i write, I wrote that post late at night as a response to an issue that was pulsing through my veins.
i was feeling so frustrated that people take something beautiful and holy and make it weird and degrading.
I wrote my blog to people who mock and persecute.
But, those people don't read my blog. 
i wish i could redo that.  Because, you are my friends. 

I wish I could take each of you with me to the temple.
I wish you could sit beside me in a white dress and see what we do.
It is beautiful.
If you are ever given the opportunity to go through a temple open house, please do it.
You will feel a little part of Heaven.
The temple feels like Heaven.

1. Yes, Mormons do believe that ordinances such as baptism are required for salvation.
In John 3:3-5 Christ teaches Nicodemus saying...
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old:  Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  

I understand that this is different from many Protestant religions, but this is not a doctrine that is uniquely Mormon.
If you are going to have an issue with Mormon temple work-- it should not be because we believe that baptism is an ordinance essential for salvation.

2. Mormons believe that everyone will be given the opportunity to know Christ and accept Him, whether in this life or the next.  
I believe this is a unique LDS doctrine.
We do not believe that men will be saved without accepting Christ.
We do not believe that there is any other way to be saved but through the atonement of Christ.
But, we do believe that there will be a time after our death and before our judgement where all men will be taught TRUTH and will be given an opportunity to accept Christ or reject Christ.
There will come a time when everyone will know that Jesus is the Christ.
When they shall say unto him, 'Lord, that our eyes may be opened'... and Jesus will have compassion on them, and touch their eyes; and immediately their eyes will receive sight, and they will follow Him.
(Matthew 20:34)
When this happens there will not be Mormon and Baptist and Catholic and Hindu and Buddhist... there will be The Church of Jesus Christ and The Church of the Devil.
People will choose, as they have here on earth-- to follow truth and light and goodness, or to follow evil, darkness, sin and wickedness. 
"Is there a God beside me?  yea, there is no God; I know not any."  Isaiah 44:8

our neighbors in Michigan were Indian.
They invited us to their house blessing ceremony.  (they are Hindu.)
i wore the most comfortable gown-- i think it's called a punjabi, it felt like jammies and i wished americans wore them every day.
and oh, the food!!  the food alone was heavenly.  :)
i was surprised at the ceremony.
the God they worship looks half elephant and half man.
they used weird herbs in the ceremony and burned incense and spoke a language i didn't understand.
ultimately, the purpose of the ceremony was to dedicate their home to their god.
and, they were good people.
i was SURPRISED that i felt, what i call, the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of the Lord burning strong in my heart during that ceremony.
i was filled with love for these people and for this culture.
i do not believe God is in the form of an elephant man.
i do not believe in the rituals that were performed.
but, these were good people who were living good lives.
they were dedicated to family.  they taught morality and charity.  they valued education.
they loved their neighbors.  there was unity and friendship NOT judgement, abuse or hatred.
as they told me the story of their half-elephant man, Ganesha, i heard references to Christ.
my memories are faded, but i seem to remember that this boy died trying to save his mother.
he was resurrected and took the form of the elephant because that was the first animal he saw as he was resurrected.
no, they did not worship a god that looked like my god.
but i'm not ready to say that he wasn't there blessing their home, filling their hearts and caring for their family.
i know He was there.
i felt Him.
i will not be surprised if we are neighbors again in Heaven.
they felt like my brothers and sisters-- we have the same Father and the same Savior.

on Earth today there are many cultures and many religions.
often people choose to worship God in the way that is traditional to their family or their culture.
perhaps these people are rejecting Jesus and choosing not to be saved through His grace and mercy.
but perhaps they are choosing to follow Him as they know Him.
i can imagine that someday, if given only ONE choice-- good or evil, Christ or Lucifer... many more will accept Christ and be saved.

If you want to talk about Jews, I will ask you one question.  
Have you ever talked to a Jew?  Have you ever asked them about their Messiah?
If you are Jewish I know you will tell me that you do believe in a Savior.
Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Christ.  But, Jews do believe in a Messiah.
They are a beautiful, believing, faithful people.  I have many Jewish friends.
My personal opinion is that the Jews around the time of Christ may have been too steeped in religious tradition that they could not accept the Christ that came more humbly than they had anticipated.
I believe that the Christ the Jews are waiting for looks more like the resurrected Christ.
The Millennial Christ who will not only be a teacher and a healer and a saver... He will come to rule and to reign.
Jews do believe in a Savior-- and when He comes again, they will know Him.  
I'm sorry if this is an offensive belief.

Please, don't tell me that I worship Satan because I do believe in temples (there are many temples in the Bible).
Please don't think that the LDS doctrine of baptisms for the dead is offensive or degrading or weird.
It is a gentle doctrine.  It is a doctrine that opens Heaven to all the inhabitants of the earth, not just a select few.
Please don't tell me that I am not Christian.
I believe in Christ.  He is my Savior.  He is my God.  He is my friend and my Father and my daily bread.  
I know Him and He knows me.

I love this quote from Ezra Taft Benson, a modern-day prophet of God, 
"Nothing will surprise us more than when we get to heaven and see the Father and realize how well we know Him and how familiar His face is to us." 

I believe this.
I would also add, "Nothing will surprise us more that when we get to heaven and see our neighbors and realize that they know Him too. "

Here is a great talk, by an apostle of God about Mormonism. 
This talk is titled Mormonism 101 and was given to the Harvard Law School.
Thank you for reading this post.
Thank you for reading my blog.
You are my friends.


Rebekah said...

wonderful--spoken with conviction, sincerity, and LOVE.

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't have to defend our beliefs.,They should speak loudly enough through our lives for all to see. Jesus never defended himself....

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