Monday, March 28, 2011

More on Mormons - Plural Marriage

Plural Marriage from the Mormon text, the Journal of Discourses…

"Patriarchal marriage involves conditions, responsibilities and obligations which do not exist in monogamy, and there are blessings attached to the faithful observance of that law, if viewed only upon natural principles, which must so far exceed those of monogamy, as the conditions responsibilities and power of increase are greater. This is my view and testimony in relation to this matter. I believe it is a doctrine that should be taught and understood."
Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.30, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."
Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.268 - p.269, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866

Alright, so what is plural marriage?

Defined by the Mormon Church 

Plural marriage is the practice of polygamy. It was heavily practiced and adhered to in the 1800s but now is not supported by the church. Mormons believe that God told Joseph Smith, that “He had permitted this practice and was told that God had commanded it for specific purposes.” The Book of Mormon also states “If I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall [have only one wife]” (Jacob 2:30; see also v. 27)

After Joseph Smith was spoken to in 1831, he led several church members into following the practice as well.  Official Declaration 1 - declared that the church does not support plural marriage. Polygamy continued through the early 1900s but eventually dwindled out.

Link to video

I don't know a lot about the Mormon church and I realize that there is misinformation all over the place. Please share your views below. Especially if you disagree...That is the only way to learn. I am certainly not anti-Mormon...just curious...

Two Types of Marriage According to Mormon Beliefs

Civil Marriage: Contract for Time

1. Home, church, office, almost anywhere
2. Justice of the peace, minister, judge, bishop
3. Until death
4. Single, servant to others
5. No claim on our family

Celestial Marriage: Covenant for Eternity – more on Celestial Marriage
1. Sacred sealing room in the temple
2. One having sealing power from the prophet of the Lord
3. For time and eternity
4. Gods and goddesses
5. A family unit forever

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More on Mormons - The Unattainable Goal A.K.A. The Jesus Plus Program

It seems that Mormons have the idea that it is faith plus works (Jesus Plus) that gets you into heaven.  This is a blatant contradiction with non-Morman Christians (I don't know enough about Catholicism but I think this sentence should also say non-Catholic Christians, but like I sad, I am not sure). Edits in Red. Thanks to those of you who have helped me understand the beliefs in the Mormon church. I certainly don't want to offend or hurt any who practice Mormonism I simply want to learn more. 

I know this topic is heavily debated amongst various churches. My only position is that any church or view that is works based is 100% wrong (read Galations for clarification). I do not claim to know that Mormons believe works in the currently life get you to the afterlife or adhere to legalism while on earth. Rather I want to learn more about the debate.

It is important to note that even though Mormons use Christianese, many of the significant theological terms have completely different meanings (This is true with Islam as well...It can take 45 minutes of using a term in a conversation to realize that the meaning is completely different). It is difficult to fully comprehend the differences when you are used to hearing terms used in one context, but once you grasp some of these ideas, you will see some extremely significant differences. The entire gospel in one of these religions is not only different but the exact opposite of the others. Here are some theological vocab examples.

Repent – Mormons believe that repentance is turning away from, and never sinning again.

Non-Mormon Christians believe that after we repent we will sin again and that Christ’s grace is sufficient to cover all, even individual sin, regardless of our actions.  This can be seen in Romans 7:15.

Mormon Scriptures

Doctines and Covenants 58:42-3 the term forsake means to completely give up. How was Jesus forsaken? Repent means to stop your sinning completely. This contradicts the heart of non-Mormon Christianity.

Moroni 10:32 This verse has the if/then clause that “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness…then his grace is sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” which takes us back to the idea that you must be perfect first.

2 Nephi 25:23 states that “we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Heaven – these viewpoints are discussed in my Eternal Progression post in the chart.  "Jesus Christ Is the Way" talks about salvation and the role that Jesus Christ plays in the church.

Lets look at some key points from this article on

The first paragraph says that “the scriptures say that His Spirit cannot be with us if we are sinful.” This is talking about how must repent and not be sinful. We are cleansed of our sins when we reach perfection.

Physical death is the first death where you go to one of two places depending on whether you believe in Jesus. Your perfection determines in part where you go after here.  One of these options is understood as the Mormon hell. For more information see my Eternal Progression chart and my Eternal Progression blog post.

Spiritual death is the second death (see Eternal Progression) where we will either go to eternal damnation (non-Mormon Hell) or have the opportunity to “be resurrected just like Christ was and live forever in perfected [by our own works] bodies after we leave this life.”

Mormon salvation is what everyone experiences because of Christ after physical death. But we “must do our part to overcome spiritual death.”

From my research, Mormon forgiveness is based on the “need to repent [fully by never sinning again] and increase out faith in Jesus Christ throughout our lives. We will not be saved simply because we get baptized or say we believe in Jesus Christ. It takes work…”

Am I missing something?   Can any Mormons out there explain some of this to me?  Why does it seem that Jesus not enough?  Thanks in advance guys! And thanks for the great responses since this post. There have been some very insightful responses.

I don't know a lot about the Mormon church and I realize that there is misinformation all over the place. Please share your views below. Especially if you disagree...That is the only way to learn. I am certainly not anti-Mormon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Roundel - The Sermon on the Mount

This roundel represents the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5, 6 and 7).  Our pastor recited it from memory.  Go Pastor Brad!

The most common section of this famous sermon are the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-11):
    He said:   
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The links above will take you to where you can read the rest of the Sermon on the Mount in a variety of translations.

Friday, March 18, 2011

More on Mormons - Eternal Progression Chart

This chart lays out the basics of Eternal Progression.  The spirit world is where the spirits live.  Christ and Satan were brothers, this is where the battle between the two play a role. 
In order to become humans spirit babies need a body.  Born according to merit refers to what role the spirit of the person played in the battle.  Satan (Lucifer) and his followers are denied a human body.  One step up were those who remained neutral in the battle; they were born with black skin.  The great warriors for God were born to Mormon families here on earth.

Leaving earth is considered the first death or a physical death.  You either go to Paradise or hell (spirit prison).  This is one area where confusion between non-Mormon Christians and Mormons may arise.  Mormons consider Spirit Prison to be Hell where non-Mormons refer to Second Death, or Outer Darkness, as Hell.  After the split after the physical death everyone (except Satan and his followers) face judgment.  They will then go to Second Death (non-Mormon Hell) or to one of the three heavens.  Sons of Perdition are ex-Mormons.  The wicked of the world could be seen as Hitler and Jack the Ripper.  Honorable non-Mormon Christians would go to the Terrestrial Kingdom (Jesus sometimes visits), and Mormons would be split up between the three levels of the Celestial Kingdom.

**Please help me understand if my understanding/interpretation is not what is actually believed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Much do you Know About Religion?

Here are my scores for a quiz I took on a variety of religions.  I missed a question about Ramadan (that I should have known) and the other was about the Bible in schools (I guessed on that one).
The sad thing is that (13 out of 15) 87% isn't that great : (

Here is the survey site.
Try the test yourself and let me know what you score in the comment section

See stats from a variety of groups below.  It is pretty nerdy but interesting.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More on Mormons - Eternal Progression

From  Does this image illicit a good feeling?  It should.
First of all, I am not Mormon and am unsure of the exact beliefs and what they mean to those who practice the religion. That being said I am sure that I don't have it all perfect. These posts are simply my research. I would love to read the explanations of those who practice Mormonism. Thank you!

An important terminology difference is the idea of being saved vs. the idea of eternal life.  If a non-Mormon Christian and a Mormon are having a discussion, the non-Mormon idea of being saved is what a Mormon will call eternal life.  This is because Mormons believe that everyone is “saved” from the first death, which I will address later.  One way that this distinction will become clear is through the question “if you were to die today, do you know that you would spend eternity with your father in heaven?”  The answers of the two religions will vary in response to this question.
Another difference is the expressed in this quote “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.”  It appears that, Mormons not only believe in the one God, but also a bunch of other Gods.  When you die the second death you may get a chance to become a God. (If this is not true, please help me understand in the comments)
Here are some excepts from Journal of Discourse 3:3 – 4  
"God himself was once as we are now, and is exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.  That is the great secret…for I am going to tell you how God came to be God.  We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away a do away with the vail, so that you may see…and to know that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did…Do you believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible…Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you…until you arrive at the station of a God and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before you." 
The LDS church understands Yahweh (LORD) as being a separate entity from Elohim (God).  As shown about there is also the possibility of individuals becoming Gods.  Non-Mormon Christians see Yahweh and Elohim as the same being based on the phrase "the LORD your God."  Using Bible Gateway, I found several hundred examples of this phrase.
Our Eternal Life  - A brief explanation of eternal life from (goes with the image at the top). 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bottom Roundel - The Donation

Even though the this window was designed for my pastor to use as the background for a Power Point to go with his sermon, I decided to take use a little artistic freedom and play around a bit...

This roundel and stylized quatrafoil show the idea of how the donor of a window or relic often depicted themselves, or their family and personal heraldry on the donation.  I incorporated this idea into my window for fun more than anything, but it is a historically accurate way to sign a representation of a stained glass window.  The image is me passing the window on to the great Emmaus Road Cathedral de Laramie.

Friday, March 11, 2011

More on Mormons - The Heavens are Open

They Saw the Heavens Open - Walter Rane
Brigham Young said, “I would rather have living oracles than all the writing in the books.”

The Heavens are Open, or the term Continuing Revelation, refers to the belief that the prophets of today are more relevant than the old prophets even if there is a contradiction. There are conferences, within the Mormon church, where the prophets of today speak and reveal these new rules and revelations (some of the most recent were no second earring holes and no sandals in church).  Like any Christian conference, the Mormon conferences (if they are the same conferences) have inspirational speakers as well.  I have links below.

This idea of Continuing Revelation consists of two important sub categories 1) Eternal Progression and 2) Plural Marriage. I will discuss these in separate posts, as I think they may get long.

It seems to me that there is a difference between prophets of today holding more precedence than the Old and New Testaments and the prophets of today speaking truths that already align with the ancient text.  I have a hard time with any person who is speaking on behalf of God contradicting the Old or New Testament. 

What do you guys think about the ability of today's Mormon prophets being seen as having the authority to make statements on behalf of God that could potentially contradict old Biblical beliefs?  Do you agree with this idea?  Why or why not?  I would love to see both sides.

Here is an article about Continuing Revelation from Mormon 

October 2010 Conference Sessions.
By the way...I am not Mormon and am unsure of the exact beliefs and what they mean to those who practice the religion. That being said I am sure that I don't have it all perfect, or even close in places. These posts are simply my research. I would love to read the explanations of those who practice Mormonism. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on Mormons - Introduction and Church History

One depiction of The Sacred Grove
I went to a seminar with my church this past weekend.  There were breakout events where we had the options of choosing from various sessions.  I went to the sections on Mormonism and learned a lot.  I learned about some of the history as well as some of the differences between Non-Mormon Christianity and the Mormons.  I was not expecting the differences to be as stark as they were.  I think I will create several posts on these differences.  Please comment if you have any more information.  The point of these posts is for me to continue learning.

For this post, I will start with some of the history of John Smith.  He was from the “burned-over district” in New York.  This specific area of New York was ‘burned-over” with religious revivals including Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, occultism, spiritualism, Millerites, Shakers, and the Oneida Soceiety.  Soon, LDS can be added to this list.  John Smith being in the midst of all these religions (and branches of Christianity) saw a vision in the Sacred Grove.  There were two (the number varries) angels.  John Smith asked which church he should join and the angels responded that “none of the surrounding religions are correct” and he was going to be the father of the true religion.
Later on, Joseph Smith found/was given gold plates that only he could translate.  The process he used to decipher these plates included using a “seer stone.”  He placed the stone in his hat and had visions on the inside of his hat, one page at a time.  The visions did not pass on to the next page until he read them back aloud.  This is how we know that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct book on earth.”  This practice was common among some of the occult religions in the “burned-over district,” which is most likly where he learned it.
The original version was later revised to correct the incorrect old English grammar and some other wording.  John Smith also rewrote the Old and New Testaments (JST) because he was told that the Bible had been corrupted after Jesus and the disciples died.  We now know that this is not true, due to findings such as the dead sea scrolls.  I believe that most Mormons use the original King James Bible with Smith’s changes in the foot notes.
Facts I never knew about John Smith - Everybody has Their Dirty Little Secrets
Another depiction of the Sacred Grove
1. John Smith practiced Polygamy and Polyandry
            He had 34 wives
            Polyandry is where a woman has more than one husband.  John Smith married women whose husbands were away.  The difference between their first marriages and the marriage with JS is that his was said to be “forever and eternity.”   That meant that his was a marriage in heaven, and the woman’s first marriage was just on earth.  I think this goes back to the idea of marrying the deceased for eternity, so you are married in heaven.  Does anyone know how this works?
2. John Smith committed bank fraud by printing money with no gold to back it up.
3. Joseph Smith was martyred while in prison.  He fired several shots in self defense, missing all but one person.
4. In addition to the "seer stones" John Smith used a "Jupiter Talisman" to find buried treasure.  I would like to research more about this practice because I don't know much (Here is some YouTube research, see 3:48 in the video below or click the link).  Not only was JS involved in occultism but he was also involved in Freemasonry.  This article from the Institute for Religious Research explores Smith involvement in Freemasonry and the Mason symbolism in the Mormon Church.

Images from What Mormons Believe and Truth and Grace
I really didn't look at these sites - I am only linking to them to site where the images came from.

The information about the Jupiter Talisman lines up with what the speakers (from a church in Salt Lake City, Utah) at the seminar I attended.

And finally, I am not Mormon and am unsure of the exact beliefs and what they mean to those who practice the religion. That being said I am sure that I don't have it all perfect. These posts are simply my research. I would love to read the explanations of those who practice Mormonism. Thank you!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kingdom of God

Last month my pastor asked me to create a background for a Power Point.  People responded quite well, so I am creating another one.  This sermon series will be titled the Kingdom of God and my design will be based on stained glass windows with some of the stories from Matthew 5.  The window will also consist of some typical stained glass imagery. 

This image is the logo for the whole series.  It will reappear in the last roundel as well.

This series will come from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7)

I will post some of the other images in the following weeks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I read a post called “Frugality in a Consumption Crazed Society” a couple days ago.  The article made me think about my grandmother and how she remains frugal in a consumption crazed society. My grandmother may be the cheapest person in the world and this is why I love her. She washes plastic baggies and will buy pounds and pounds of nonperishable food and freezable food. She gardens and cans food all summer. She sews her cloths and makes her blankets, curtains, and upholsters her chairs. My grandma may not be doing these things because she is conscious of our resources running out, because she wants to be a good steward of the land we are given, or because she wants to follow the new “Go Green” trend, she is doing these things out of habit.

I am not about to say that we should adopt every one of my grandma’s habits, but we can learn from her. There are very practical ways that she saves money, energy, and resources. She turns lights off when she leaves the room and she never spends money that she doesn’t have (she also has a lot).
More importantly I would argue that one of the main problems in our society is that we tend to be the opposite of my grandma. We throw everything away and don’t even think about donating or sharing. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we don’t have enough, are not good enough and need more to be normal.

One irony is that my grandma’s strategy may also be one of the best ways to get rich. If you seldom spend money that you don’t need to spend it will add up quickly. If you work hard and only spend what you have, or less, you will never be in the debt that many Americans will get themselves in. (If you are in debt, Read Dave Ramsy and listen.)

There are clearly two extremes and I would argue that people can live the happiest life somewhere in the middle. If you can never have enough, you will never be happy. On the other hand it is alright to buy nice things for yourself and others.