Hey there, my name is Stuart and I’m a college student here at BYU. I’m hoping to someday become a surgeon, but I still have a lot of school left ahead. I’m nearly 22 and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakenly called The Mormon Church). We’re known that way for a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon, which is very much like the Bible in that it teaches of Christ and was written by prophets, but it is different because it was written by ancient prophets in America. One of the first of these was a man named Nephi, a very righteous man who lived roughly around 600 BC. He took great care to teach his people the law and the commandments and of the Savior who was to come. To do this, many times he read to them words of previous prophets and helped them understand and apply them. That is also the way we should use scripture, trying to make it personal. One of his favorite prophets to quote was Isaiah. Nephi dedicates several chapters to sharing some of Isaiah’s teaching that he used. This last week I read some of those chapters and some things jumped out at me, especially in chapter 24 of 2 Nephi. In this chapter Nephi is quoting what we know today as Isaiah 14 and it speaks about the devil. Usually that’s something people frown upon, thinking that it’s not even good to talk about him, but in reality it depends on what’s being said and why. Isaiah in this part is taunting the devil and at the same time teaching us a valuable lesson. He speaks of the last days, how the Lord will be victorious and reward His covenant people. He speaks of how the world will rejoice, that it will break forth in singing at the downfall of the tyrant. The next verses have always caused me to ponder, they read: (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘agency’
In the Book of John, we learn, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (See John 1:3.)
It is clear, then, that anything that exists was created by God, and so God made Satan. However, he wasn’t Satan at his creation and he was not created evil. The prophet Isaiah helps us to understand what turned Lucifer into Satan and demonstrates that he is not the being God created him to be: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (See Isaiah 14:12.)
In other words, Satan, as created, was not evil. God does not create anything that is evil. The creation accounts in Genesis consistently remind us that everything God creates is good. How did Satan go from being a good creation of God to being the source of evil? (more…)
This is a common misconception about religion. Mormons teach that each person is given agency to choose for himself how to live
. Mormon beliefs begin the story of life prior to birth, when God created each of us as a spirit. We lived with Him, learning, developing our character and personality, and practicing making choices, until the time came to come to earth. At that time, we were, as always, given our agency. We could choose to come to earth with Jesus as our Savior. If we made this choice, we would continue to have agency and some would use it unwisely and be unable to return. God would send a Savior to do that part we couldn’t do for ourselves. This Savior, Jesus Christ, would take on the sins of the world and die for them.
The other choice was to follow Lucifer. Lucifer wanted to take away our agency and send us to earth as puppets, with himself as the puppet master. He would control our every thought and action, and we’d live perfect lives, but for no purpose. Some were uncomfortable with the idea of continued agency, and rejected it. They preferred to stay with Satan and allow him to do their thinking for them. Those who followed Lucifer elected to give up their agency and were denied a chance to come to earth. They could not live here without agency.
The Mormon religion allows us to maintain control over our lives. Mormons teach that each person is required to find out for himself if the Mormon religion is true. While a very young child might believe simply because his parents believe, the child is taught, before he is eight years old, to begin deciding for himself. At age eight, he can be baptized, and before this happens, he is to learn his religion and to pray to know if it’s true.
This process is often repeated several times, as the child grows up and gains a stronger ability to recognize the promptings of faith. The pattern was set for us by Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet of modern times. He wanted to know which church to join, and after reading in the Bible that God would tell him, he went into the woods to ask God. Both God and Jesus Christ came to him to answer His question.
Most of us won’t get that type of answer, but we can receive an answer to our prayers, just as Joseph Smith did.
Does joining a church force you to give up your right to think for yourself? Of course not. Because each member of the church is taught to find out for themselves if the church is true, they are making an informed decision. Even after making this overall choice, if they learn something they’re not sure about, they can pray about that specific doctrine as well.
If your mother taught you not to touch a hot stove, and you obey, have you given up your right to think for yourself? No, because you are still free to touch the stove, as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences. You’re simply choosing to do what you know is best for you. Mormons, and other who believe in God, are doing the same.
One example often given is that of the sonnet. The sonnet is a poem with a very strict structure. Within the strict structure, however, a great deal of originality is possible. There are millions of sonnets, all following the rules, but all unique.
Believing in God is comforting. It’s a safe and healthy comfort, unlike the artificial comfort brought about by alcohol, drugs, or other immoralities many people turn to when they are stressed or worried. People who believe in God know there is someone who loves them and knows them, who always has their best interests at heart, and who, while not taking away our personal agency, will help us if we ask for help.
A true religion asks a great deal of its members. The Mormon religion isn’t a passive one. Because it’s a lay church, each member works hard to help it function, serving as leaders, teachers, and givers of service. They are held to a high standard of behavior.
Giving up your right to think for yourself is seemingly easy (although in reality it isn’t.) People looking for an easy way through life aren’t interested in being Mormon. The moral standards are very high and, since Mormons live in the everyday world, not in a sheltered community, this means making sacrifices and fighting those who want them to lower their standards. They raise families, have jobs, do volunteer work, and are also taught to make the most of the talents they have been given. They must figure out how to do this on their own, given their unique circumstances.
Religion never promises to be easy. The Mormons expect people to work hard for their own happiness and well-being, using the gospel as a guideline, but making choices within those guidelines.
Personal Response by Jack Rushton
I believe this is a very profound question that has undoubtedly been asked by millions of people from the beginning of time. Life can seem unfair at times as we experience our own personal suffering, and witness through our own eyes or through the media, the incredible suffering that seems to be such an integral part of the daily lives of people all over the world.
I had to come to grips with this question on a personal level when 19 years ago I broke my neck, severed my spinal cord, and became paralyzed from the neck down and ventilator dependent.
Approximately 6 years ago I had an experience with my son-in-law that I believe will shed some light on this fundamental question about life.
One morning I received a phone call from my son-in-law, Matt. He was enrolled in the MBA program at UC Irvine which is about 20 minutes from our home. The Dean of the MBA program had just announced to all the students that were there that day that one of their classmates by the name of Michael Johnson, had drowned in a swimming accident in Northern California the day before. Michael was one of the brightest students and leaders in the MBA class. He was very charismatic and his future as a leader in the business world appeared to be limitless. His fellow classmates, including my son-in-law, were just stunned when they received the news regarding Michael. After conferring with the Dean and several classmates Matt volunteered me to come to UC Irvine to speak to the 50 or 60 students who were there that day for just a few minutes. (more…)