If you want to understand the secret to Mormonism, something 99.9% of the world does not know, even though many think they do, read on.
This last Tuesday I was at dinner with a number of wonderful coworkers. We were talking about religion and listening to the guy who helps set up our training environments talk about the interesting hunting ministry he’s involved with (it’s very cool—12,000 acres of woodland in Alabama all dedicated to hunting, outdoor survival, and God).
At one point in the conversation, a delightful fellow trainer, who shared with us the night before the definition of diplomacy as being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them look forward to the trip, asked me, “Does your church believe in Christ. Or, no, is it some other fellow?”
It’s a great question, and I realized that many people are confused. And so I wanted to take time to clear it up.
So what the heck is a Mormon?
It’s not what you think.
And for those of you who think you know, nope, it’s not about that book.
Let me explain. You’ll come away knowing more about us than anyone in any of your circles, and you can lord your superior knowledge over them at dinner parties, when playing games that require vast stores of smarts, or at random moments, just because you can.
Here’s the deal. The first part of the name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ.” So, yes, we believe in Christ, that he died for us, was resurrected, is our Lord and god, etc.
The last part of the name is “of latter-day saints.” We don’t use “saint” to mean super-holy people like the Catholic church does, but more as followers or disciples. So you could translate the last part of the name of our church as “of latter-day followers.”
So the whole name would be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day People who Follow Him.
Okay, then what’s the deal with the name “Mormon”?
Well, here’s where we get to the nub of it and the thing that 99.9% of the world doesn’t know. The key difference between the Mormon church and other Christian churches is that we believe that Jesus has called apostles again in our day, just like he did back in the good old days. And when I say apostles, I mean guys like Peter, James, John, Paul, etc.
You might be wondering what an apostle is. What made those guys special?
It wasn’t that they had great faith in Jesus. Lots of people had great faith. It was that they were called to bear special witness of him. And that special witness was not merely that they believed, but that they knew Jesus was the Messiah because they had seen and heard him after his resurrection.
Peter himself said it best when he wrote in his letter, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
When the apostles had to choose someone to replace Judas, Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, one must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”
These guys didn’t simply believe. They knew. They were eyewitnesses to the fact that Jesus wasn’t just some preacher—he was the son of God and was resurrected.
So Mormons believe that Jesus has called apostles again today who bear witness of an absolute certain knowledge of the reality of Jesus the Christ. We believe their purpose is also to be the Lord’s spokesmen when He wants to make general announcements or give general instructions. Finally, we also believe they’ve received the authority to offer the covenants the Lord wants to make with all of us.
We believe the first apostle called in these latter days was a fellow by the name of Joseph Smith. We don’t worship Smith. He was just an apostle. Just like Matthew or John of old were. But we do believe the Lord called him to be an apostle and restore some truths that had gotten lost or confused over the years.
We also believe the Lord asked him to bring forth other scriptures in addition to those in the Bible. One of these new scriptures was a translation of an ancient record called The Book of Mormon. It’s called that because Mormon is the name of the guy who wrote it. And Mormon was another apostle—one called by Jesus in ancient America.
And guess what the purpose of The Book of Mormon is? It’s to testify of Jesus Christ and explain his gospel.
So the name of the Mormon church is really The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe that Jesus has called and commissioned apostles in our times, right up to today, to bear special witness of him. And in addition to that, those apostles have brought forth additional scriptures that witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ.
For Mormons, it’s all about Jesus Christ.
So when someone asks, what’s a Mormon? You can say, let me tell you the real answer. It’s not about an additional book of scripture. Yes, folks gave them the nickname of Mormons because of that book, but the key difference is that Mormons believe that Jesus has called apostles like Peter and Paul again in our day to be his spokesmen, and bear a certain witness of him and his good news, and help folks receive all the blessings the Lord wants to pour out on them.
And, O, what a wonderful message we Mormons believe that is.
If you liked those videos, you can see more here.
Please feel free now to randomly lord your superior knowledge over your family and friends.