Ask a Mormon

As I posted here “Researching Mormonism – a Lutheran Bishop’s advice“, Krister Stendahl gives us three rules for examining another religion.  The first and foremost rule is that when you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion, and not its enemies.

His words inspired me to create this page – allowing you to ask me any question you might, so that you can hear an answer directly from a Mormon.

As you’ll see by the disclaimer at the top of my blog, everything I say is simply my opinion and interpretation of doctrine, for official doctrine you can visit  But, I will give you my honest opinions, and I will base them on scripture and doctrine to the best of my ability.

If I don’t know the answer to your question, then I’ll endeavor to get you an answer. 

All you have to do is type in your question in the comments below.  I don’t moderate them.  If the question seems genuine, I’ll answer it in a dedicated post.  If it’s not genuine, or if your purpose seems to simply be to argue, disrupt, or be disrespectful, don’t bother – I’ll delete it and move on.

But if you’re someone who genuinely wants to know what Mormons believe about something, just ask.


P.S. – Because I can’t get to every qeustion immediately (I’ve got 6 kids, after all ;-), I will notify you by email once I answer your question on the blog.  Thanks for participating, I’m sure this will be fun.


82 Responses

  1. …Marcus asks 58 questions.

    From Rusty: That was 58 questions. What’s more, all of them are canned questions popular among Mormon Critics under the title “Questions all Mormons should ask themselves”. If you truly are sincere about finding the answers, each one of them is answered in full detail here. What’s more, as you read through the answers you’ll see not only how baseless they are, but how well they illustrate the uneducated minds of their founders, how poorly they understand scripture, and the un-Christlike nature of them all. A true follower of Christ would do well to seek for themselves, ask for themselves, and not merely forward on such ramblings without first checking their sources. I’d prefer to spend my own time answering legitimate qeustions.

  2. Rusty, from most of the Mormons I’ve ever had a chance to talk to, they usually tell me that their greatest evidence that the Church is true is a witness from the Holy Spirit. Is that something that you also would say?

    If so (or even if not, I’d like your perspective), how would you counter the argument that people of other denominations (say Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc…, for example) might also say that the Spirit witnessed to them that their church was true, and the LDS church isn’t?


    From Rusty: Thank you for the marvelous question – I’ve answered it here “Whose answer is right?”

  3. What do you think of the book Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer? I find it to be a wonderful and moving history of the early LDS church and the persecution that followers faced. Most mormons find the book offensive, subjective, and false.

    The problem is that along with the history, several outlying extremist sects that are not associated with or recognized by the LDS church are examined. From my viewpoint, the book is quite objective in stating this. I was wondering if you’ve read it, and what you think.

    From Rusty: I actually bought it a while back, but never got around to reading it, and never talked to anyone else who had. You’ve piqued my interest though. I’ll have to pick it up and give it a shot.

  4. Rusty, are the two teachings below in conflict.

    Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught, “We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so one, from one generation to generation”

    Isaiah 43:10
    Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

    From Rusty: Thanks for your question, I’ve answered it here: Are Mormons Polytheistic?

  5. Hi Rusty,

    I was wondering unofficially what you felt about the Kinderhook plates. I would say, not to discredit your opinion, that a trap was set to catch a fox and a fox it did catch.

    Well, everything I say is unofficial, so I’m afraid that’s the only thing I can offer! LOL.

    I would say that it’s an interesting story altogether, but that’s about it. They have no bearing either way in validating my belief in the Book of Mormon or in the Prophet Joseph Smith. So while interesting, I find them rather inconsequential. They’re of more value as a red herring than of any real religious merit, which is why, I suppose, one would choose to dwell upon them. As for myself, I’m far too busy just trying to understand things like faith, hope, repentance, and other fundamental principles upon which I can base real action and that can have real bearing in my life.

  6. Rusty,

    That article seems to address more the basis for a Mormon’s testimony, and whether it’s possible to have a witness from the Holy Spirit. My question leaned towards the fact that different people would say that the Spirit has “witnessed” entirely different and opposite things to them, and how you would respond to that.

    Look forward to your answer.


  7. While Rusty’s out, I want to venture forth an opinion on Brad’s question about how the Holy Ghost can witness to one person that Mormonism is true and to another that Presbetyrianism is true. Here is my attempt at an answer. Then we can both wait for Rusty’s reply.

    The Holy Spirit witnesses truth. When a true principle is being taught, the spirit is likely to be there confirming it. Truth can be found in many places. I read a poem from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and the words ring true. Buddha’s teachings have truth in them and those reading them may have received a “witness.” You’ve likely heard of the theory of many paths up to the same mountain top. This is used to illustrate that one particular church doesn’t have exclusive rights to the truth.

    I’m sure any member of a particular church believes that his or her church has the most truth, otherwise, they would change churches. I don’t doubt that the Holy Ghost can witness truth in a Lutheran Sunday School class, or Catholic Mass, or Baptist Bible study. All of these are leading you up the mountain. But from the Mormon’s perspective, these paths end before reaching the top. There comes a time when you seek further knowlege and that particular sect cannot satisfy your desire for enlightenment.

    The Holy Spirit will not witness to you something untrue. But your interpretation of the witness might be flawed. For example, sensing that a doctrine found in a Buddhist text rings true, so you conclude that Christianity is unfounded.

    I liked how Rusty described a witness of the Spirit–I think of it as remembering something long forgotten. In pre-Earth-life we knew the truth. Now our mortal bodies have veiled us from the truth. But when we feel a witness from the Holy Spirit, the veil thins and we “remember” the truth.


  8. Ryan, what you’re doing is assuming that truth means all roads lead up to the mountaintop. While there are “truths” found in many non-Biblical writings, they don’t all lead to salvation. 2+2=4. That is certainly true, but it has no bearing on salvation, does it? Water is wet. That is true, but again, no bearing on salvation. So just b/c other writings can be “true”, doesn’t mean they lead to salvation. I would think you would hopefully agree with that.

    Here’s my point. Mormons believe the Spirit has witnessed to them that Mormonism is true. I have prayed to the Spirit to see if Mormonism is true, or if Christianity is true. I have received an answer from the Spirit that Mormonism is not true, but Christianity is. The Spirit has told me that the teachings of Mormonism will not lead to salvation, while the teachings of Christianity will.

    This puts us in a conundrum. Purportedly, the Spirit has witnessed to 2 different people (a Mormon and a Christian), 2 completely different and opposite answers (yes and no, true and not true), about the same question (is Mormonism true?). As such, that really only leaves us with a couple possibilities. Either the Spirit is confused, and isn’t sure what to tell different people, or one of the people REALLY didn’t have a witness from THE true Holy Spirit, but was deceived. I doubt you would agree to the former (as I wouldn’t), so we must be left with the latter. In which case, we’re left with yet another dilemma – if 1 person really didn’t receive a witness from THE true Holy Spirit, how do we know which one? B/c at that point, you are not able to look to the Spirit for confirmation, b/c it is the confirmation of who received a correct witness that you’re trying to ascertain! See the problem it leaves you with…

    Would still be curious to hear your, and Rusty’s, answer to that…

  9. “In pre-Earth-life we knew the truth. Now our mortal bodies have veiled us from the truth. But when we feel a witness from the Holy Spirit, the veil thins and we “remember” the truth.”

    These are exactly the feelings I had as I read the Book of Mormon the first time. It seemed familiar and it rang true. Then I had to pray to find out if it were true before I could decide to be baptized. It took hours, but I received a dramatic, undeniable witness from the Holy Ghost that it was true. From then until now, there is no doubt in my mind and soul.

    Brad, I can’t judge your experience, only mine. We may never agree. I know I will never change my mind. The witness was too strong for that. I just hope that for you it will be someday, too.

    May God bless you!

  10. BTW, Ryan, you blog like a pro!

  11. Margaret,

    Only problem is, you didn’t even begin to answer the question asked. This is typically what happens when I ask the question. It gets talked around, but not answered. Your very post assumes that the witness YOU received is true.

    My questions asks about differing witnesses. That has yet to be addressed, by nearly any Mormon I’ve ever talked to. Brushed off, yes. Addressed with a cogent argument, no.

  12. Brad,

    I doubt that I could come up with an answer that would satisfy you. We have opposite opinions. To me, the answer I received IS true. I am very comfortable where I am in my beliefs. If you feel the same about yours, then we have to agree to disagree. I’m confident that if there is an answer to your question, Rusty can find it. I am constantly amazed at his wisdom.

  13. And Margaret, you illustrate perfectly exactly what I said in my post. I haven’t seen a Mormon who can, or is at least willing, to address it. They will usually talk around it, as Ryan has already done, or just ignore it, as you have done. Case in point.

    Why is this? It’s not a terribly difficult question, but it does make you stop and think at the REAL reasons for WHY you believe something. Is that it? You say “to me, the answer I received IS true.” Fine. But I say the same thing about MY answer, and we each purport to have received the answer from the same place! Which brings us right back to where we started – how do we know which one of us is correct?

  14. I don’t think I was skirting the issue at all. Brad, you and I agree that the Holy Spirit is not confused and giving conflicting evidence for truth. So the natural conclusion is that one of us is decieved.

    I said the same thing but put it in a less abrasive context. Maybe the interpretation we make from the feelings we feel are off course.

    I for one don’t pray for confirmation that other churches are wrong. The more I study the more I find out that we are more alike than different in many aspects of our beliefs.

    In your case, you may be coming from an entirely different background and your misconceptions about “foreign” religions like Mormonism might make your interpretation of the holy spirit’s guidance off course. I’ll illustrate an extreme example to make my point. If you saw the movie, “Borat,” you see that the main character had gross misconceptions about Jews–imagining that they have horns on their heads, they can shape-shift into roaches, will steal money every chance they get. These misconceptions would taint the very nature of the question if Borat were to pray if Judaism were true.

    Mormonism is Christianity. I don’t separate the two. I am a Christian, regardless of what others regard me as. The Holy Ghost can confirm the truth, usually with a peaceful, sound feeling that may be hard to interpret. If your misconceptions given you a black and white when the answer is more gray, you will be deceived.

  15. In re-reading the entire dialogue, I think the simple answer in who is decieved is found in the Bible, From Christ HImself, on the Sermon on the mount. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

    Granted, the religion is only as good as its people, and there are a few sour grapes in every bunch. But overall I am happy to be part of a church that produces honest men and women, willing to serve in their community, and being genuine good neighbors.

    Another fruit of Mormonism is the Book of Mormon. After reading it with real intent to become a better person, I can say that it has brought me closer to God than any other book. This probably sounds like blashphemy to the Bible follower. I too consider the Bible to be the Word of God, but some of it’s hard reading, and there appear to be contradicitons. The Book of Mormon helps me to understand God’s will. Not by replacing the Bible, but by supplementing it. This is the very fruit I discovered that helped the Spirit whisper to me the truth of the Restored Gospel.

  16. Amen, Ryan! Thank you.

  17. Still no good, Ryan (and Margaret, who remains silent). Ryan, essentially what you’re saying is that I have it wrong, that I’ve brought pre-conceived notions to the table that are affecting my ability to properly interpret the witness of the Holy Spirit. Of course, the same could be said about you, so in all reality, we have to throw that out, as it is possible for both of us. Unless, of course, you would state that you truly bring absolutely no pre-conceived notions to the table. Of course, I could say the same as well, so it’s really back to square one (again, you see), where it’s a he said/she said argument.

    You are inherently saying your witness is right, and mine is wrong, with the reasoning that I must be having something cloud my judgment. What’s your basis? That line of thinking inherently assumes that you’re correct already, albeit you gather that assumption from a subjective determination, that I can also (and do also) make. Again, square one.

    Further, if you want to go the oft-quote-by-Mormons route of “by their fruits”, we can. I don’t know you, so can’t say anything about your fruits, but let’s assume you have many (as they relate to Mormonism), and you can safely assume that I have them as well (as they relate to Christianity – and yes, I do make a clear distinction between the two). If that’s the case, then you are inherently saying we’re BOTH right, b/c of our fruits. It’s tough for BOTH of us to be right, when we believe so differently about common items, Ryan. It’s actually impossible. 2+2 cannot equal both 4 and 5. It can only be one or the other.

    You have set up a logical circle that is only valid within Mormonism, but outside of that, makes no sense at all. Margaret is willing to let you do her talking for her, which is fine.

    How about this – what would you say if I told you the true Holy Spirit truly witnessed to me that 2+2=5, and not 4, like everyone thinks. What would you say?

  18. I’d say I’d better go relearn math.

    I must apologize for taking so long to get back to this… having a new baby in the home, with 5 other children has made my life a bit of a madhouse!

    But this has been such a fascinating discussion. I have some thoughs I want to share… my attempt at an “answer”, if such it could be called. I’m working on an early bedtime (we’re all exhausted), and will attempt to post it tonight.

    Brad, I hope that the answer I attempt to give feels as concrete as I think you’re hoping for. I certainly will address the issue head on, and see your point about how it seems any argument is so easily self-countered by equivalent statements from the other side. Although I think there’s wisdom in both Ryan and Margaret’s words that you might be overlooking. I’ll elaborate tonight (and no, it’s not a restatement of what has already been said).. Again, I sincerely apologize for the delay on such an important topic, but really look forward to the opportunity to share my thoughts, and hear your candid reply.

    This will be an important conversation to have publicized and archived. Thank you to all who have contributed.


  19. So much for an early night. It’s now 2:00 in the morning. Still, I’ve attempted to answer your question, at least as best I can here “Whose answer is right?“.

    I’ll likely move these comments over there after a while so they’re had in context of the answer.

  20. I was wondering if you offered any kind of advertising?


  21. how can we find out if a member of the familly who has died has been baptized morman…..chris

  22. The best way I know is to go t your nearest Family History Center. If you’re not sure what that is, call the nearest chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and ask where the nearest Family History Center is and the hours they are open. There are some wonderful people there who are trained to help people with questions. You don’t need to be a member to get help.

  23. is there anyway someone can help us now on the computer it would be a big help….chris

  24. Chris,

    Are you looking b/c you’re worried they WERE baptized Mormon, or worried they WEREN’T?

  25. Go to and try that. Good luck!

  26. Brad, im am worred they were baptized mormen so what do i do? can you help………chris

  27. Chris,
    There is nothing you need to do. We do a lot of work for the dead by proxy, but it is only binding if the person for whom it was done wants it to be. Heavenly Father never takes away our agency, even after death. We get to choose the kind of afterlife we want, providing we are worthy of it. It is possible to find out if the work was done, but there is no need to “undo” it. So don’t worry. Hope that helps you.

  28. Chris,

    Depends on your point of view. I don’t know your religious beliefs, so I don’t know where you’re coming from. If you’re Mormon, I doubt you’d be worried they WERE baptized Mormon, so I assume you’re not Mormon. If you’re Christian, I can see why you’d be worried. Under Christian beliefs, once you’re dead, that’s it – there’s no more choices you can make, as your fate is sealed at that point. Thoughts such as purgatory, or an afterlife with agency (or free will, as it is commonly called), are not backed up by Scripture.

    So, if you’re Christian, and worried that your family member died as a Mormon, then from a Christian point of view, there’s nothing left that can even be done. Death is final.

    Of course, from a Mormon point of view, they don’t believe this, as Margaret clearly illustrates in her post above. They say they do work “by proxy” for the dead, but it’s only “binding” if the dead person “wants” it to be. Not sure exactly how a dead person can wish or want anything – THEY’RE DEAD. There’s no record in the Bible of any free will after death. In fact, if you look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, you have the exact opposite – a complete inability to effect a change in your eternity AFTER you’re dead, and no opportunity to come back and warn others, either.

    I would agree that we can “choose” our eternity, in the sense that Heaven or hell is a choice that we make based upon whether we accept the true Christ or not, but it’s not based on our actions at all. If it were, nobody would make it to Heaven, as based on our actions, nobody would ever be good enough to go, compared to a holy and righteous God.

    It’s a very nonchalant attitude that Mormons have towards hell, partly b/c they don’t think virtually anyone is destined to go there. It’s a nice thought, but it’s just not supported by the Bible, unfortunately.

    While this may not comfort you as to your family member, Chris, depending on your beliefs and circumstances, you at least do have the opportunity now to ensure that your personal relationship, and those of others you love, are correct with God.

  29. Our spirits are eternal, and so are the blessings of free will. I’m not quite sure how one could believe that suddenly after death we suddenly are now incapable of making decisions, and choosing. Baptism for the dead (which is also found in the bible 1 cor. 15:29 is done because those who have died still have the ability to choose, to make decisions. The gift of free agency is an eternal one. Once we’re resurrected, we won’t become puppets on strings, incapable of making decisions and moving on our own, rather, we continue as independent beings, learning, growing, progressing, and choosing.

    As for the misunderstanding you have of LDS view of hell, I’ll address that in a separate post. But thanks for commenting.

  30. I’m not quite sure how one could believe that suddenly after death we suddenly are now incapable of making decisions, and choosing.

    Maybe it’s the fact that we’re DEAD. What Biblical support do you have for us being able to make a decision to accept or reject Christ, AFTER we die? Would be curious to see that.

    You COMPLETELY misinterpret 1 Cor. 15:29. If you would like to get into it, we can – just let me know.

    Feel free to explain exactly WHO will end up in hell, and maybe more importantly, who you believe WON’T end up there. And please provide your Biblical basis – I’m not concerned about anything the “other 3” works have to say, as I don’t lend them creedence, as they cannot be shown to be inspired by God. You can feel free to reference them, however I won’t argue any position from them.

    Of course, still waiting on your rebuttal on the “whose answer is right” post, b/c there are still some basic acknowledgements of logic and reasoning that need to take place, that haven’t.

  31. I would actually be interested to have you elaborate on your interpretation of 1 Corinthians. I’ll do a separate post on baptism for the dead, so we can properly segment that conversation.

    I’ll also post separately on our ongoing capacity to choose, even after death. These conversations will be valuable, but longer lasting if there’s a post dedicated to it.

    As for who will end up in hell. That too will have a dedicated post that I’m working on, called “Three degrees of Glory”.

    I’ve been traveling at a conference, and am just now boarding the plane to head home, so I’ve been a bit busy, but once I get home I’ll return to some sort of normalcy again with my posting.

    In regards to your further questions on “Whose answer is right”, I never approved them, so they’re not there. It was simply more of the same argument, and added no value. If you’d like to add value, and answer the question we’ve asked and been waiting patiently to hear, then I’d be happy to allow further discussion on the matter. Otherwise, there’s no use further poluting that post with more of the same.


  33. Chris, can you tell me what it is that you’re worried about?



  36. Chris, nobody but your uncle had the choice as to where he was going when he died. Nobody on earth could have decided that for him. As I mentioned before, now that he has passed away, there is no use thinking about it, b/c it is over – eternity has been decided for him. Try Hebrews 9:27, among others.

    Best thing to do now is to ensure that the relationship you have with God is the proper one.

  37. Chris,

    I am sorry to hear about the passing of your uncle and wanted to address your concern. Even if your sister-in-law has done a baptism for the dead on behalf of your uncle in the last three weeks, the online records that are available to LDS members usually won’t reflect that information for several more weeks due to delayed technology. According to LDS church policy in regard to your uncle’s passing, THE closest living relative (i.e. wife, children, etc.) at this time would have to give permission for another person (family or not) to do a baptism on his behalf. This does not mean that it doesn’t happen. Out of respect for the deceased individual and their family members, as long as the closest living relative does not give permission for the baptism, the LDS church discourages any such act on the deceased’s behalf.

    I am aware that you are not LDS but would like to reiterate our beliefs in regard to ordinances for the dead. “For the millions of people who lived before the Restoration of Christ’s Church, temple ordinances were not available during their lifetime. Even today, millions live and die without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ or without accepting the gospel he taught. Provision must be made, then, for those who have died without that opportunity.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all saving ordinances are to be performed on earth on behalf of the dead… All temple work is valid only if it is willingly accepted by each individual prior to the Resurrection.” (,11267,1906-1,00.html)

    This may not subdue your concerns, but I hope it gives you more information.

  38. Chris,

    Your uncle could not mave been baptized for the dead yet in a Temple. We always have to wait 1 year and 1 day after the death date before that ordinance can be performed.

    If possible, it might be good for you to talk to your sister in law and tell her of your concerns. In any case, if your uncle does not want to accept that ordinance, he will have his wish.

  39. Thanks for adding that information Margaret.

  40. Chris,

    This “baptism for the dead” concept in Mormonism comes from some gross misunderstandings and misinterpretations of Scripture. While I have told Rusty that I will refrain from being on here and discussing with him, I’ll write this for YOUR good, hopefully.

    Scripture makes it clear that all men are without excuse (Romans 1), that we are all sinful (Romans 3), that there is a penalty for that sin (Romans 6), that only God’s grace can save us (Ephesians 2) and that if we accept that grace and have the Jesus of the Bible as Lord of our life, then we are assured of Heaven as our eternal destination (Romans 8, 1 Peter 1, and many others). No special ordinance is needed, or able, to save us, for there is nothing we can do apart from receiving God’s grace to merit salvation. This includes baptism.

    If your uncle was not Mormon when he died, then he is most assuredly not Mormon now, for he has realized the truth of God’s existence and power. A “baptism for the dead” hasn’t changed that one bit, despite the claims of Mormonism, Chris.

    I didn’t know your uncle, obviously, or his religious leanings. If he was a Christian who had accepted the Jesus Christ of the Bible as his Savior, then you can be assured that he is with God right now. If he didn’t, then you can be assured that he is not, and will never be. That fate has been decided, and was sealed at the moment he left this earth. There are no 2nd chances, nothing anyone or any religion can do after the fact. Read the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Bible, for a great example Jesus gave on this very line of thinking.

    Chris, please feel free to contact me offline from this blog if you wish to discuss further. I wish you well.

  41. Chris, The mormons take this one verse and build a whole doctrine that is not biblical. It is similair to a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal to recieve a blood transfusion.

    In 1 Corinthians 15, there is a verse that says: “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”

    Well, Paul is saying, “Why are people baptizing for the dead if there is no resurrection?” And we are saying, “What in the world does he mean by that?” Right? “What is the Baptism for the Dead?” It isn’t even important what he means–to us. People then knew what he meant. There was some pagan cult at that time that was doing Baptisms for the Dead, today it would be the Mormons. But, all Paul is trying to say is, he is trying to prove the validity of resurrection in general. In other words, the whole chapter is to prove that there is a resurrection, and all he is saying is, “Even the pagans understand that there is a resurrection, or else why would they be baptizing for the dead?” In other words, he is only using what we would call a natural argument rather than a supernatural one.

    Actually, the practice of being baptized for the dead is not only biblical, but was practiced by the early church for almost 300 years after Christ’s death, and was abandoned only after a heated debate resulting in a very close decision to eliminate the practice, primarily to help prevent growth of some competing sects that were gaining momentum. You can read more about it here: What if Mormons are right?.

    Like we say, for example, the old story of immortality that is told about the little blind boy that was sitting on the top of a hill and he had a kite, and the kite was pulling against the wind. Somebody said to him, “Can you see the kite?” He said, “Oh, no sir.” And then he said, “Well then how do you know that it is in the air?” “Well,” he said, “I feel the tug on the string that I hold in my hand.” The old adage was that’s the way it is with immortality–even pagan people feel the tug of immortality–that there is life after death. That is why Indians buried ponies with the dead braves. That’s why people in Greece put a coin in the mouth of the dead body, so that they could pay their fare across the Mystic River of Death. That’s why they put a canoe in a Pharaoh’s pyramid, so that he could go down the River of Life in his canoe. In other words, there is something in the human heart that longs for immortality, and Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15, “If there is no resurrection, then why are these people baptizing for the dead? Even the pagans feel the pull of immortality.” And of course it [Baptizing for the Dead] was in error, and it still is with the Mormons that do it.

    I think it’s best that you understand that God will not hold your uncle accountable to their pagan practices. If you need help with this we can put you in touch with someone in your area that can explain the biblical principals for death and the resurrection.

  42. Brad, I invite you to answer the questions I’ve asked here (What about works), which lists all the scriptures in the bible that say we’ll be judged by our works. To say otherwise means that you must have a clear alternate explanation for each of these scriptures. If so, I’m anxious to hear them.

    Additionally, I’m anxious to hear how you interpret 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?”.

    Why would there be baptism for the dead if baptism weren’t necessary? And why would there be baptism for the dead if the dead are unable to receive it?

    Thanks in advance for any clarification you’re able to give to your viewpoint.

  43. Brad, Sorry, I had posted the above interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15 before Rusty’s request for you to do likewise. I don’t think he had read it yet.

  44. Martin,

    I appreciate your response – it is exactly what I would have said to explain it. Well said.


    As I mentioned, you like to moderate your blog too much to have only the comments you wish others to see. And you love to ask people to answer previous questions you’ve asked, all while being unwilling to continue to address questions YOU’VE been asked. There’s other blogs out there that have people willing to truly discuss on any terms, not just yours.

    I feel sorry for Chris, which is the only reason I’ve kept an eye on it.

  45. Brad, as I’ve mentioned, I only moderate those comments that are disrespectful, specifically anti-Mormon, or are simply argumentative. Look at your last post, did it add any value? You’re a detractor, and I’m only interested in builders and seekers. Is it a wonder why your comments are moderated? Don’t forget, you’ve said before that you’ll stop coming back. yet here we are again. You’re welcome to stay and discuss, but you’ll need to start playing by the above rules (they’re really not all that difficult), or you’re welcome to find some other playground.

  46. Baptism for the dead

    Martin, thanks for the comments about baptism for the dead. It certainly requires it’s own post.

    In actuality, history is clear on the practice of Baptism for the dead. In fact, it was performed by the dominant church until forbidden by the sixth canon of the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397, but some smaller sects continued the practice nonetheless.

    So it wasn’t until almost 400 years after Christ that the practice was banished by church councils, which is yet another example of the apostasy, or the eventual falling away of traditional Christianity from the original gospel and church of Christ.

    There are lots of other historical records of early Christians (and others) practicing baptism for the dead, but I’ll save those for the full post. Suffice it to say that clearly this is a far cry from the overdramatization that Mormons somehow invented a whole ordinance from one verse of scripture.

    Rather our ordinances come from latter day revelation to living prophets and apostles and are supported by scripture. Thus we see the clear and present need for a complete restoration of the gospel (including it’s lost ordinances and authority).

    In any event, before you attack another’s religion and make claims such as this, it’s always advisable (and respectful) to do your due dilligence first.

    Is Baptism Necessary?

    In the meantime, and relating to the claim that baptism isn’t necessary, can you offer your interpretation of John 3:5:

    “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

    It would appear to me that there is action required on our behalf in order to enter into the kingdom of God.

    Is death really the end of choice?

    If there were no action possible after death, and aside from the scripture and early Christian practice of baptising for the dead as evidence that they still are yet able to choose, then why then would Christ preach to the dead? Perhaps you can offer your interpretation of John 5:25

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”


  47. You’re right, Rusty, I said I won’t be on here anymore, and I intend to honor that. As I mentioned, I was on here to hopefully talk to Chris, and have told him what I feel I needed to. I hope Chris takes the words to heart.

    Essentially, Rusty, what you say is that you choose to moderate what runs contrary to your beliefs in an “anti-Mormon” fashion. That’s OK – as I mentioned, there are other Mormon sites that aren’t afraid of a running blog, which I’ll be happy to frequent.

    I’ll close and move on by saying this, Rusty. I know you don’t believe it, but you’re lost. You are believing in a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination, and following ideas and patterns that are not based in truth. Yes, I know you don’t believe that, but one day you will, Rusty, and as I said, if you wait until that day to find out, at that day it will be too late. I don’t like coming off that way, but for some people, it’s all you can say to them. I don’t want to have you look at me when that great Judgment Day comes, and ask me “why didn’t you tell me”, b/c I am right now, Rusty.

    I wish you well.

  48. Brad,

    Hello again. You say that I moderate what runs contrary to my beliefs? Surely you jest. Either that or you haven’t read many of the comments on my blog posts. The majority of them are not Mormon opinion, but still I don’t moderate them because as long as they follow the rules I’ve already outlined several times now, they still add value and enhance discussion.

    I’m sorry you’ve not yet gained a testimony of Joseph Smith, but I appreciate your apparent heart felt warning. Still, I know Joseph was a prophet of God. I know too much to deny that, and likewise welcome you to reconsider your judgement of him.

    In the end, we’ll all be accountible for that which we’ve chosen to believe and do. May we all ensure that we’ve given adequate and prayerful consideration of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so that we may stand guiltless before God at the last day.

  49. Amen.

  50. Brad, thank you for the concern. I guess we can all be happy now…

  51. I found this from a comment on the mormon blog

    “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

    Brigham made this statetment after the above
    J of D 13 page 95 – 1870

    “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. “

    I am more interested to know the explanation of the first quoted statement. Any explanation to this would be very appreciated.

  52. Sure! The both are actually tied together.

    The bottom line is that we believe that God speaks through prophets today, just as he did in times of old, for he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has told us in the bible that hischurch is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”, and that he gives “some apostles; and some prophets… for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (meaning his church).

    The bible is the word of god, as recorded by prophets and their teachings. We believe that in the same way, the words of the latter-day prophets, since they speak the words of God, are also scripture. We believe that the cannon of scripture was never closed (there is no reference in the bible that it was closed, that God would not speak again.. in fact to the contrary, he says “other sheep have I that are not of this fold, them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice..”).
    So the Lord has called prophets today to lead and guide his church, and the commandments they give unto men, come not from them, but from God. If men obey them, they will “earn the great reward”, but if we disobey the commandments of God, we shall not for the Bible itself says that we shall be judged according to our works.

    During the time of Brigham Young, the prophets had relayed command of the Lord to support the practice of polygamy. Hence, during the time, if you could not accept that, then you could not accept the prophets and their divine calling, and would be accountable for your disobedience and lack of faith.

    During the times of the Old Testament, men were commanded to offer sacrifice and burnt offerings. But there came a time when that law was fulfilled, and the practice was no longer necessary. Similarly, the time eventually came when the law of polygamy was fulfilled and the time was past for its practice, so it is now not only no longer a part of the church.

    I hope this helps… I’ll do a separate post on it sometime as well.

  53. Hello.

    While I’m not a member of the LDS church, I have been studying and trying to learn more about the church and its doctrines over the past few months.

    I have a couple of questions about God’s character, and God’s power and authority (the priesthood).

    God (Heavenly Father)
    In the King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith states “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.” In reading other church documents at, this understanding of God’s character and nature has been echoed by many of the prophets that followed Smith.

    In Chapter 8 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, they quote Smith, saying, “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years [see Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 7:3]. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam’s authority.”

    ” ‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ [Hebrews 7:3.] The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. …”

    I’ve been turning these quotes about God and the priesthood around in my head for a while. If “God Himself was once as we are now” it seems logical to conclude that he had a father and a mother. The priesthood, or God’s power and authority, is “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life”.

    1. How can one reconcile God’s character, as “an exalted man” with a beginning, and his authority, which has “neither beginning of days nor end of life”?

    2. Did God’s authority come from something or someone greater?

  54. Hi Rusty,

    I was doing some reading last night, and thought about our conversations. We’ve discussed about how Mormons have dismissed the ecumenical creeds, claiming that they were written by people who had other agendas and had no prophet status or no prophets guiding them. Let’s say that is true. If that is true of that time, and in the time until Joseph Smith, how does the Mormon church reconcile the history of Biblical translation during that time? Jerome translated the Septuagint into Latin in the 5th century (I believe). The King James Version relied heavily upon Jerome. Do you see the problem here? I don’t know what scripture Mormons use, but the translation is likely “tainted” by the very same “problems” that arose in the creation of the creeds. How do Mormons address this?

    Pondering Pastor

  55. I’ll take a whack at a few of these questions recently offered, but as always, I defer a more detailed explanation to Rusty.

    Your quotes are a good sign that you are studying well into the LDS church, and by the time you make your decision, you very well may know more about it than many members. So I’ll give you my explanation, but I am unsure if I based it upon my own reasoning or if I learned it from a now forgotten source.

    I feel that the priesthood is pure spiritual power, eternal, unending, and all powerful. To tap into it, rules must be followed. I don’t know all the rules, but some are common sense. You can only use this power to do good. You cannot use it to bless yourself. The authority to use it must be God-given, and your access will be limited to assist serving those in your stewardship. And certain stewardships are temporary (like church callings)–they may require “keys” to unlock the power of the priesthood, given by one in authority. The ability to use the priesthood power is dependent upon the personal righteousness of the priesthood holder, and the faith of both the priesthood holder and the receiver of the blessing. This power has always existed and is the same power God used to create the heavens and the earth and is now using to govern over us as a loving Father.

    We mortals can’t comprehend immortality as we live in a linear timeline. The added dimension of timelessness can only be comprehended in analogies like skipping pages through a book. So while we are mortal, we will always esteem our God as our Eternal Father, no beginning and no end. He will always be our God.

    But prophets have thrown us a bone to chew on–a doctrine upon which pondering details rapidly approach incomprehensible. “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” I cannot say how this works, other than the more Christlike you become, the more perfect you are, and therefore the more ready to use this priesthood power on a larger scale. The beauty of it is, you can’t earn the right to this power. Satan thinks you can. Cain thought he could. Both failed. Once you are so perfect that God knows you would not ask anything contrary to the will of God, the time will come when you can be called up to become like Him, a God yourself. And this may be how He started. At least, that is how I think of it. There are many other opinions out there, and I’d love to be corrected or pointed to a source where I can learn more. I hope I am not leading you astray.

    And Pondering Pastor,

    We use the King James translation of the Bible as you alluded to.

    Our creed from the Articles of Faith (written by Joseph Smith), verse 8, is likely what you are looking for. “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.” Some critics would mock the “convenience” of this creed–stating that we throw out whatever we don’t like because if it doesn’t fit well into Mormon theology we can chalk it up to “a poor translation.” But as illustrated in Rusty’s blog in general, we study the Bible as diligently as other Christian religions. It’s very enlightening to have “another testament of Jesus Christ” to clarify and instruct where the Bible leaves us wanting more.

    And also, did you know that Joseph Smith provided a personal translation of the Bible–not from another language, but from the King James Version as a source. He mainly left the Bible as is but on several verses used a different verb or added a participle. In some chapters he went on for over 10 verses beyond what was in the KJV. Each of these “edits” provides explanation on some difficult-to-understand scriptures. You may be surprised that we don’t routinely use his version, but it is available to us to help in our study.

  56. Pondering Pastor,

    Ryan addressed it exactly as I would have. In short, it’s as you suggest, we believe that due to the loss of prophets and the discontinuation of ongoing priesthood authority (or what we call the apostasy), all things relating to Christ’s church and doctrine, as established by him, began to suffer from the inevitable pains of entropy.

    In many instances, it wasn’t out of some sort of spite, or mal intent that doctrine changed, but rather simply that man was left unto himself to interpret scripture, and without the divine guidance of a living prophet, interpretations of that scripture, as well as translations, became subject to the folly of man and his limited mortal understanding and perspective. So as the scriptures were translated they too were frequently refined in sometimes small ways, sometimes large, to conform more to the currently accepted beliefs.

    Eventually, through the creeds, even whole practices and their supporting scripture was abandoned, which is how we view the decision to abandon the practice of baptism for the dead, as narrowly decided in the Sixth Canon of the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), in spite of it’s early and widespread practice.

    Because of this, and as Ryan discussed, after Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon (which was given as another testament of Jesus Christ, to clarify lost truths… that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established), he then went through the bible to fix those passages that contained the greatest error. This became known as “Joseph Smith Translation” which we include in our copies of the King James Version of the bible.

  57. John, I wouldn’t even attempt to do a better job than what Ryan did (and I apologize for not getting to your answer sooner).

    Let us know if this does not answer your question, and perhaps I’ll try to elaborate more.

    The only thing that I’d add, is that the nature of our souls is eternal. Mormons believe that matter cannot be created or destroyed, and that there is no such thing as immaterial matter, but all spirit is matter, only it is more fine and pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes.

    So even before we existed (you and I) as mortal beings, we existed in a pre-mortal state, and birth was merely the uniting of our spirit bodies with a physical body. And after death, upon the resurrection (a free gift to all), our spirits and bodies will be eternally reunited. Hence, even as we strive to become perfect, that we become “joint heirs with Christ” (as Paul said), of us it may too be said, that we are without beginning, and without end.

  58. These answers by Ryan and Rusty are a wonderful explanation of some of our doctrine. It was beautifully said by both of them. I really appreciate the knowledge I have gained by studying the scriptures, reading the Church magazines and listening to our leaders. I have learned from this blog, too.

    As a female member I have no problem with not having the Priesthood. We receive ALL the blessings of the priesthood. As women, our responsibilities are different. As one of our hymns says “the errand of angels is given to women”. We bear children, nurture and teach them, give compassionate service to those around us in need, and serve in any way we can. Some of the responsibilities are shared between the “sisters” and the priesthood and our status is equal. Every woman has access to the blessings of the Priesthood, even if she is single, divorced or widowed. Heavenly Father’s plan includes all of us and no one is left deprived or alone in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There is always a Priesthood holder watching over us to provide those blessings when needed.

    If you have more questions, “ask a Mormon!”

  59. Rusty,

    In modern times, Christianity has endured the challenge of good scholarship calling into question some of the assumptions it has made, and rightfully so. Modern Biblical translation relies on good, grounded, and scientific scholarship. Most modern Biblical scholars do not accept the King James Version of Scripture as an authoritative translation for our day (for a variety of reasons). There are many better translations that have started with the original languages in common use today. In fact, books are published which analyze the reliability of each of the ancient Biblical fragments. The attempt is to get as close to the original as possible. This has been a fruitful exercise, and yet, many questions remain.

    Please contrast that with Joseph Smith “fixing” an old English flawed (we agree) Bible that was translated into English from the Latin which had been translated from the Greek translation of the Hebrew version of the Old Testament. It’s a good thing Joseph Smith chose to keep his translation and fixes separate, but even so, this seems to be a lot like Thomas Jefferson’s reworking of the New Testament where he excluded all of the miracles of Jesus and “turned him into a philosopher”. Even given that Joseph Smith called himself a prophet of God, supporting Joseph Smith’s translation of scripture sounds like it depends upon accepting a conspiracy theory to me. It is willing to ignore factual and documented scholarship of ancient texts. Continuing to rely on the King James Version of scripture ignores the contributions of scholarship and science over the past 400 years.

    I don’t know if you can appreciate the impact this has on my attempts to appreciate what Mormons have to contribute.

    On God’s changelessness, once again we are in a paradox. See Exodus 32:14 for one example. Another is that while we describe God as changeless, we pray, hoping to change God’s mind. Interesting!

    Pondering Pastor

  60. The difference between Brad and the rest of you, is that he believes you are all damned, but you believe that Mormonism can save even him, even after he dies. The fire that burns in the heart and spreads to the rest of the body so that it feels like it will consume all, yet does not consume, and fills the room, and also melts away any negative thing, and fills the soul with pure and noble desires, and rapturous glorious feelings, confirms that Mormonism is true. Would that every creature could experience such. None would ever doubt again.

  61. pondering pastor,

    I can appreciate the suspicion you must have of Mormons when you hear that Joseph Smith “edited” the Bible–even starting from a flawed translation. But I hope you can appreciate our point of view as we esteem him as a prophet of God. How wonderful to have a man who has seen God, who has talked with Him face to face, who has been taught by angels–this same man offers to bring back the true meaning of what was offered in the Bible.

    I would prefer the translation from the one who talks with God over the translation of hundreds of scholars who are trying to recreate the “original.” I say the original is God’s word, and the more direct venue is through His prophet.

  62. Marshall, that has got to be the best description of the confirming feelings of the spirit I have ever seen. Once you have felt those feelings, there can be no doubt. Sometimes we have to work hard to receive those feelings. They don’t come just because we ask. We must study and ponder and pray until they come.

  63. There’s a game that I played in grade school, that most are familiar with. It begins when one person thinks up a sentence, and then turns and whispers that sentence into the ear of the person next to him. He then, in turn, repeats the process, and so it continues until the end, when the final person blurts out the answer and everybody laughs at how much it changed from the original.

    I think the crux of the issue at hand, regarding Joseph Smith’s Translation, is much like what Ryan said.

    The end-all goal is not to reach the most accurate translation, for translation by its very nature involves loss, but rather to reach the most accurate understanding of the original meaning.

    So while for centuries Scholars have struggled and worked diligently to purify the translations, Joseph smith was less concerned about the translation (at least as I see it), and more concerned about making sure we simply understood what was meant.

    Referring back to my earlier analogy, rather than going to the person second, or third in line, he went to the message originator, and bypassed all the other people in line so that we would have a purer message, and not even have to worry about translation.

    Of course, all this hinges upon one’s acceptance of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, as I explain here. But simply speaking theoretically, if there was indeed a living prophet, does it not make sense that instead of translating, he’d simply interpret the scripture directly? Telling you what a particular verse meant that was confusing, or widely misunderstood?

    To me, whether or not he was a prophet of God, the method is both honest and appropriate. It’s just that it’s worth and truthfulness depends upon your acceptance of Joseph Smith, but I see no fault with how or why it was done.

    Does help at all?

  64. Do Mormon’s love themselves more than they love God? Isn’t your inner motivation behind your obedience worked to continue to save yourselves? So you don’t fall from grace?
    Isn’t that confusing?

  65. I can’t speak for all, but as I understand it, our motivation comes from loving God and our Savior so much that we can’t bear to spend eternity anywhere but with them. We strive to obey and live a Christ-like life so we will be worthy to live in their presence. I suppose there could be a selfish component to that, but we also strive to bring along our families and anyone else who is willing. We want to share what we have with everyone!

  66. Why do Mormons have food storage?

  67. We do for several reasons. I’ll list a few.

    1. Because the Lord has told us to through the Prophets. We should store food, clothing, and many other necessities, a year’s supply if possible.

    2. If we are prepared, we can survive natural disasters, economic crises, unemployment, injuries and disabilities, and many other problems. we don’t have to panic and run to the stores, hoping they aren’t out of what we need.

    It’s important to rotate what you store, and store what you like and will eat. That way you won’t end up with spoiled food, dead batteries and clothes that don’t fit.

    It just makes sense to have food storage.

  68. what was the LDS church so concerned about regarding Prop 8 in CA (and 102 in AZ and ? In FL?)

  69. Dan, I’d love to answer that. I’ll do it in a separate post.

    Jombie, I’ll also address the food storage question in a separate post as well. Thanks for asking, both of these are great questions.

  70. Wow. What a great site and effort. At the beginning of this section it references that is a great site and is primarily a resource for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those not members of the church a great site for learning the basic doctrines is (this is also a great site for members too). Thanks again!

  71. I have a question that seems most appropriate here. Mormons celebrate/remember with bread and water, I believe. What is the significance of bread and water? We celebrate Holy Communion with bread and wine. I don’t understand the water part.

    Pondering Pastor

  72. I’ll try this one. Rusty, or someone friendly, please correct me if I’m mistaken.

    Initially, the ancient and modern Churches used new wine or grape juice. Soon after the LDS Church was organized, there was some concern over those selling the grapejuce adding poison to it. The Lord then revealed “that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:1-2).

    Since water is readily available anywhere, and safe, this is what we use today.

    if you want more information, you can go to

  73. I understand the debate about new wine/grape juice vs. wine in the “ancient and modern Churches”. I disagree with those who propose that it was “new wine/grape juice”. Scripture speaks of intoxicating beverages frequently, often very favorably. But, I’m not arguing that here.

    So, essentially, if I understand you correctly, it was a revelation of the Lord. Was this to a prophet of the church?

    Pondering Pastor

  74. The revelation was given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet in Harmony PA in August of 1830.

    There may have been times when intoxicating wine was used for the sacrament. Since this revelation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has used only water.

  75. It is interesting that this has been retained even after the “danger” of poisoned wine has past.

    Not being critical … just observing.

    Pondering Pastor

  76. It’s a great question. When you take the context Margaret provides, and supplement that with the revelation given to Joseph about what we call the “Word of Wisdom”, which essentially entails instructions on how to care for our bodies, which are temples, and includes the counsel to avoid substances like tobacco and alcohol (much like Daniel in the Bible), then it makes more sense why now we simply use water. It’s clean, pure, and healthy.

  77. Some Christians use grape juice today for the same reason.

  78. It is important to note that we can use grape juice. Water is used generally, but I have partaken of the sacrament when grape juice is used – as approved by an LDS bishop for a youth conference. The scripture Margaret quoted above said: “that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory…”

  79. When water is avalible it usually is cheeper than any fruit juice. Thus I see the only reason to use Grap juice is to substitute for wine but keeping the look.
    Thus if there is a decision to be made between water and grape juice then the choice for grape juice would be more vain, looking at appearances.

    However as a student of Floklore, I do see some reasoning to use something that looks like blood as a reminder that it is a substitute for the blood of Christ.

    God bless you all,

  80. I have a question. The Introduction to my book of Mormon (and I would assume all of them) says “[The Book of Mormon] is a record of god’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the America’s and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.”

    If the Bible contains the full gospel (or “fullness” thereof”), then why do we need the BOM? If the Bible contains the full gospel doesn’t that mean that a person can be “fully saved” through reading the Bible alone?

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