A few days ago I was looking around the source of all the world’s knowledge, Google, and found something interesting:
Now, for those of my readers who don’t know, I am a Mormon, aka a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My whole life I’ve had people asking questions about what Mormons believe, and I’ve been pretty surprised at the range of some of these questions, so I decided to use my blog to set the record straight about a few things. Not to preach, but just to inform. So this week I’ll be answering these 4 questions prompted by Google.
1. Do Mormons believe in hell?
This question has a short answer and a long answer. The short answer: Yes. We do believe in hell.
The longer answer is a bit more complex because it gets into the nuances of our beliefs about the afterlife. The easiest way to answer without going too Sunday School on you guys is that Mormons believe that God wants to save as many of his children as possible, so the only ones who go to true hell, termed “Outer Darkness” in Mormon culture, are those who have denied Christ after having received a sure and perfect knowledge of his divinity. Fortunately, there are very few people in history who could possibly qualify for this. In addition, we do not believe that hell is literal fire and brimstone, but that these words are metaphors used by scripture to describe the feelings of the souls stuck there.
So what about all the other people in the world? Those who live bad lives, do evil things, etc? Mormons believe that God will give all people, no matter where or when they were born, adequate chances to accept Christ. Those who do will receive all the blessings of heaven, living with God for eternity. Those who do not but were still good people, or even those who were bad people but not bad enough to go to “hell”, will each receive a place appropriate for them. They will be places of lesser blessings and happiness, but still far better than any hell, because although they may not have accepted Christ fully, God does not want his children to suffer unnecessarily in eternity.
2. Do Mormons celebrate Easter?
This one actually has a very simple answer: YES!
Mormons believe in Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, death on the cross, and resurrection three days later just like every other Christian. We believe that it is only thanks to this Atoning sacrifice by Christ that mankind can be saved, and we celebrate that day like every other Christian believer – on Easter. In fact, just this year I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Easter in Israel while living there for a study abroad, and I even got to participate in the Palm Sunday march into Jerusalem! So, yes, Mormons celebrate, and love, Easter!
3. Do Mormons drink?
This question also has a simple answer: No. This question usually refers to alcohol, which Mormons are asked to abstain from completely.
The code of health that Mormons live by is called “The Word of Wisdom” and we believe it to be revelation from God to the modern day founder of the Mormon church and prophet, Joseph Smith, for both physical and spiritual health. The Word of Wisdom prohibits not only drinking alcohol, but also tea and coffee. Because of The Word of Wisdom, Mormons also do not smoke or use tobacco, or use drugs of any kind (except for legitimate medicinal purposes). But the Word of Wisdom does more than just prohibit things, it also encourages Mormons to keep themselves healthy in all ways, including to eat fruits and vegetables, eat meat sparingly, and to eat grains.
4. Do Mormons believe in the Trinity?
Like the first question, this one is more complex than it may appear. The answer depends largely on your personal definition of the Trinity, a doctrine of which the details have been debated by different denominations for centuries. So instead of trying to sort through other religions beliefs of the trinity, here is the belief of Mormons:
The “Articles of Faith” is the name of the basic tenets and beliefs of the LDS (Mormon) church. One might call them statements of our core doctrines. The first Article of Faith states:
“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” -First Article of Faith, Joseph Smith
So, by the most basic definition of the Trinity, yes, we believe in the three divinities of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the Godhead. However, where we differ from some other Christian denominations is that we do not believe these three persons are all one incomprehensible being. We believe that the three members of the Godhead are three separate beings, however we also know that they are one in purpose and doctrine. They are perfectly united in bringing to pass Heavenly Father’s divine plan of salvation. This is how Mormons understand when Christ and the Father are repeatedly called “one” in the Bible, yet God speaks from heaven at Christ’s baptism and Christ repeatedly prays to His Father – they are distinct beings, but one in purpose and one in love for us.
I hope that this post about some basic beliefs of Mormons has been enlightening to you. Again, please remember that my intention here is to inform others about Mormon beliefs, which are apparently so frequently misunderstood that Google suggests them. My intention is not to preach or convert, and certainly not to instigate an online comment section debate.
If you have any questions you would like answered by a Mormon, please leave them in the comments, and I may use them next Monday! And if you would like more information on anything discussed today, or the Mormon religion in general, please visit www.mormon.org. And feel free to check out my related post, 5 Myths about Mormons.