I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as a child learned our Articles of Faith. These statements of belief were written by Joseph Smith in response to a question early in the history of the Church. They since have been adopted by the Church as a standard statement of our beliefs. It was not until I did serious genealogy research that I realized that such Articles of Faith were not unique to our Church. The Baptist Churches that my ancestors belonged to had Articles of Faith. Each individual congregation had their own Articles, which differed slightly from each other.
Though I accept without reservation the official Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I felt that, at least for the purposes of this blog and possibly because the exercise of articulating my thoughts might be good, that I would attempt to put my beliefs into writing.
1. I believe in God. I believe that He is the father of our spirits – we are His children. I believe that He is all-knowing – that He knows, understands and applies all natural and eternal laws and does nothing contrary to those laws. I believe He created the earth and our physical bodies. (Genesis 1) I believe He is all-powerful, with power and abilities beyond what we can comprehend. (Moses 4:9) I believe that God is good, holy, and righteous. He does not use His power for His own benefit or amusement, for He also and always acts in consistency with eternal laws – just and holy laws. He is just and holy. I believe that He loves all of His children unconditionally, not because all of us are that loveable, but because it is His nature to be loving.
2. I believe that there are eternal, absolute and unchanging truths. God acts according to these truths. He has revealed them to Prophets in the past as recorded in Holy Scripture and to Prophets today. Our challenge is to learn, understand and apply those truths in our lives, not to define our own truths or follow the changing trends of the world. Learning and understanding truth is an ongoing process accomplished through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, for eternal, spiritual truths can not be fully understood through our finite senses, physical observation or scientific methods.
3. I believe that our loving and wise Heavenly Father desires the happiness of His children. He devised a Plan, which is called among other things “The Plan of Happiness.” (Alma 42:8; Alma 12:25-26; Moses 6:62) This plan involved providing physical bodies to allow us to learn and progress in ways that we could not as spirits, and for a physical earth upon which we could live and learn though experiences possible here. His goal, also stated as “my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
4. I believe that one of the greatest gifts our Father in Heaven has given us is Agency – the ability to choose and act for ourselves. Agency is not simply the freedom to do what we want, but ultimately the opportunity to choose God over evil, for our happiness and progression depend upon that choice. God has given us commandments and He allows opposition, so that we can exercise that agency. (2 Nephi 2:11-16) These commandments were not given to restrict our freedom, but to help us conform our behavior to God’s eternal laws, and thereby avoid the consequences of violating those laws. The first and greatest commandment is to love God, which love is expressed in obedience to all of His commandments.
5. I believe that Satan is allowed to provide opposition necessary for us to exercise agency. He rebelled against God in our Pre-Earth life and continues to oppose all that is true, good and right. The objective of Satan and his followers is to entice us to choose that which is contrary to God’s will. Satan is the enemy of God and of us, God’s children. His nature and tactics are opposite to God. He is known as the “father of lies” (2 Nephi 2:18; 2 Nephi 9:9; Moses 4:4; 5:24) in opposition to a “God of truth, and cannot lie”. (Ether 3;12; Deuteronomy 32:4) Satan is experienced and skilled in making lies sound very good, and convincing many that there are no absolute truths. He encourages our selfishness because that is his nature. He is full of hate, in opposition to God’s love. He desires that we be miserable like he is, for he has been denied a physical body and the opportunities and joys possible to us. (2 Nephi 2:27)
6. I believe that according to God’s plan, He created this earth and our first parents Adam and Eve. They were created in God’s image – male and female. (Genesis 1:27) I believe God has a physical body which was the pattern for ours, though His is glorified and immortal. In His wisdom and to facilitate His Plan, He created us in two opposite, yet complimentary genders making it possible and necessary for us to work together to create bodies for all of His spirit children and for us to progress. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World) I believe that we have a Mother in Heaven as well as our Father in Heaven.
7. I believe that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a necessary step in God’s Plan for us, and that Eve played a vital role. Adam and Eve were given conflicting commandments in the Garden of Eden – Multiply and replenish the earth and not to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 1:28;2:17) It was necessary for Adam and Eve to exercise their agency to become mortal and to further the Plan. The Fall enabled Adam and Eve to bring children into the world, but also separated them, and us, from our Father in Heaven. This fallen state, along with agency and opposition, results in all of us eventually making choices contrary to God’s laws – we mortals sin – and thereby are subject to the consequences of violating God’s laws, which includes being unworthy and unable to return to His presence.
8. I believe that God, in His great love and wisdom, has provided a way for us to be reunited with Him. Jesus Christ, the literal Only Begotten Son of God, came to earth as an infant with a physical body like ours. He experienced life as a mortal and willingly took upon Himself all of our sins and gave His mortal life as an atonement for our sins. I believe that He was literally resurrected – He rose from the grave with a glorified, eternal, physical body – making it possible for us to also be raised from death and live again.
9. I believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be forgiven of sins through sincere repentance. The atonement also heals the wounds inflicted upon us by other’s sins. Through coming unto Christ and partaking of His gift, our hearts can be changed. I believe this is a real, though usually a gradual process. (Mosiah 5:12) I believe in Gifts of the Spirit, which include the ability to forgive and the gift of Charity – to love others as He loves. (1 Corinthians 12:4-10; Moroni 10:8-20)
10. I believe that Jesus Christ established His Church and Kingdom upon the earth during His mortal life here. He ordained Apostles to lead the Church after He was gone. They were ordained to the Priesthood and given Keys to administer ordinances.(Matthew 16:19) They were charged to preach the Gospel to the world. (Mark 16:15) They were persecuted and eventually killed.
11. I believe that the Church which Jesus Christ established was eventually corrupted by man, authority was lost, ordinances changes, scripture altered, and men were left with an earthly and quite political Church. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ was restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was given the same Priesthood keys and authority from those who held it in Christ’s time. Gospel truths have been restored through revelation to Joseph Smith and other Prophets. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lead today by another Prophet, Russell M. Nelson.
12. I believe that Joseph Smith was directed by an angel to find hidden ancient records created by a “lost” branch of the House of Israel and which contains pure truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in addition to the history of that people. The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith.
13. I believe that certain sacred ordinances are necessary for our exaltation – for us to progress according to God’s Plan and return to Him. These ordinances are required for all and a way has been provided for the living to perform those ordinances for those who have died without the opportunity to learn and receive them. These ordinances are performed in Temples. I believe that the dead are taught in the Spirit World and exercise their agency to accept or reject these ordinances. I believe that our deceased ancestors are anxious for us to learn about them and provide these ordinances to eternally connect the generations of our families.