There have been a whole slew of articles in recent weeks talking about the irrationality of Mormon beliefs. On the whole it seems that there is a consensus in the media that the beliefs of the church are untenable and could only be held by a fool. The point of contention seems to be whether this should disqualify a member from public office or whether or not other churches are just as bad. Really, what they are focusing on unfortunately is not belief or theology. Instead, the media seems obsessive in its criticism of the very possibility of the supernatural or theological. Angels or God appearing to man is dismissed as impossible rather than truly examined in any meaningful way. Rarely does the conversation go any deeper than the level of outright dismissal. There is rarely a discussion of deeper questions of good versus evil, of the role of free agency and belief or any the myriad of questions that are fascinating and to which Mormonism offers unique answers.
I join with others in urging the media to take a more serious at the world view of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because one of the things that first attracted me to the church years ago was frankly how logical the theology was and how it cleared up so many of the logical flaws that I found in other churches or religions.
I want to explore (likely over several posts) several of the aspects of Mormon theology that strike me as particularly lucid and logical
In this first post I want to deal with the idea of Prophets and the concept of Gospel dispensations. I hope to then address the plan of salvation and especially the pre-earth life and the idea of vicarious ordinance work for the dead.
One of the most beautiful and simply logical things about Mormon beliefs is an incredible sense of consistency throughout recorded human history. Christianity has always struggled with the question of why Jesus Christ only came in the meridian of time and what happened to those before his time. Also, difficult for those in most religions is to explain the multiplicitude of other faiths. How could God be the author of some much confusion and disarray?
Most Christians rightly point to the many prophecies of Christ by prophets such as Isaiah and Zechariah as evidence that he was known before his birth. Prophets were called of God to prepare people for Christ and to look forward to his birth. Jesus’s remarks that Before Abraham Was I Am and that Abraham looked forward to my day reveal that even as far back as the time of Abraham faith in Christ was the basis of belief.
Yet, of all the belief systems only the LDS church takes the logical step of extending this claim back to the time of Adam and Eve. Indeed, in many churches implying that Adam is saved let alone that he was a prophet is blasphemy. Yet, because of the revelations given through Joseph Smith we realize that Adam and Eve not only received revelation from God, but specifically that they had faith, repented, were baptized and received the Holy Ghost in the same way that we do in the modern church.
These passages in the Book of Moses are remarkable in their lucidity and plainness
4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.
13 And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.
14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;
15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.
This of course stands in stark contrast to the documentary hypothesis which postulates a gradual evolution to monotheism. We understand that God has been absolutely the same since the beginning of time, and that all people have known about Christ and could be saved through his name. The differences in faith are not a by product of God’s doing. There was in the start one pure faith taught. Digressions and diversions into lesser faith came only because of wickedness. People choose to follow Satan rather than God and so perverted the true teachings. This also accounts for the very humanizing and logical view point that all religions have parts of the truth to some greater or lesser degree. Having all started from one pure source, it is logical that despite the perversions that have accumulated over the years, many shards of divine truth would remain.
The beauty of this doctrine should be apparent to all. If this is true, then God truly loves all people in the world equally and did not favor those in the time of Christ or in our day more than those that came from Adam.
This belief is also enhanced by many Book of Mormon passages showing people converted to the gospel of Christ well before his coming. They were baptized and born again just as those at the time of his coming. Enos’s conversion is a great example of this
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins areforgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?
8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
Of course, the point of this article is not to look at the actual merits of the theology but merely to point out how simple and rational this position is. It eliminates the need to explain away exclusivity of Christianity and allows us to truly believe in a God which is not a respecter of persons. All in all, a pretty simple and logical belief.