I recently had a non-member who I very much respect and admire, send me some questions, following my post on Truth and Revelation. Here are the questions, followed by my answers.
- What are the principal articles of faith, the immutable ones? Your description in your post makes it seem like all is a moving target. Is there belief in a resurrection, as an example?Jesus divinity? Trinity?
(if you need me to define these terms in my understanding of them as a catholic, please let me know)
- Obedience rule? (i.e. JFK about being president and a catholic
- Role of personal conscience?
Those are the starters. Good questions for anyone to ask once they realize that Mormons are non-creedal.
Question one is easy, since there are thirteen articles of faith (except, it isn’t going to be that simple).
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
- We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
To be more specific, we believe in a literal resurrection, that Jesus Christ is divine, the son of God who was crucified and raised from the dead. We believe that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the light, and the only way. Though what and how the atonement works is still not as well defined as one might hope.
We do not believe in classic trinitarian (or the modern monist versions) approaches, which means we do not believe in the common definitions of three in one trinity doctrines. We embrace a one in purpose, three in person godhead. But, when we speak of the resurrection, what we really know comes from 1 John 3:2 “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.” Though see D&C 88.
As for how negotiable things are, see the Temple Recommend discussions we have had on this blog. It is interesting that you don’t have to believe all thirteen of the articles of faith to qualify for a temple recommend.
The “obedience rule” (which is not how LDS would put it) is pretty loose. After all, Harry Reid is a member in good standing and there is a steady drum beat of a reminder that membership in the Church does not presuppose a political stance. For all intents and purposes, there is not one. But there is a tension between the hierarchy of an organized church and individuals. The Romney family politically was very engaged in civil rights. Some LDS leaders have been progressives, some reactionaries.
The role of personal conscience? I think it is critical. Others don’t agree with me. Everyone would agree it is important. Doctrinally we believe that the conflict over preserving the free agency of mankind is a core conflict between good and evil. The plan of salvation is grounded in free agency and in salvation through Christ.
There are still issues as to what confession means and how it works, and a number of other points (many of which I’ve blogged about: http://www.wheatandtares.org/author/ethesis/ ); e.g.:
So, do you think I’ve answered those questions correctly?
How would you have answered the questions differently?
What questions should they have asked, what questions should I really have been answering (looking to what you think they meant to ask rather than the question they actually asked)?
Add to and correct my answers, ask more questions.