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Mormon Theology 101

Posted by nebula0 on August 21, 2008


The place to start is an overview of Mormon theology. It’s much more complex than it appears on the surface, and there are important divergences from mainstream or historic Christianity, so when trying to understand Mormonism forget what you know about Christianity and start over.

I will explain this by going through the possible journey of an individual as he progresses through the stages of existence as understood by Mormonism.

Our person is eternal, the core of his being has always existed, and always will exist, and cannot be extinguished. However, the part that is eternal is a person barely there, and progress in potential and happiness he needs to be progressively clothed, embodied. The first step is to receive a spirit body. This happened when heavenly father and mother created a spirit body for our person, along with billions of other spirit children. Heavenly father is what our person strives to be like, because he represents the fullness of human potential. Heavenly father is now a god, but used to be in the same position as our man, and is now helping other persons progress to his position.

The next step is to receive a physical body. God the father has a physical body, and it is an essential step in progression. To receive a physical body it was necessary to create a physical earth to deposit the spirits on and join with physical bodies. Heavenly father once lived on an earth like us, and went through a similar process. This sojourn on earth would also be a time for testing to see what the spirits would choose to do when they were out of the direct sight of the heavenly parents. They would forget all about their pre-mortal life on earth, and this is known as the veil. It was known that they would mess up, make wrong choices, and it was necessary to atone for those choices since once they sinned they would be too imperfect to live again with heavenly father. Lucifer, one of the spirit children proposed to take away freedom of choice, free agency, from the spirit children, thus ensuring that they would all be able to return to the holy presence of the father, and incidentally, Lucifer would then take all of the credit for humankind’s return. Jesus, the eldest of the spirit children, proposed to keep free agency intact, and that he would serve as a sacrifice for the transgressions of the spirit children, and through the sacrifice they could be cleansed and live again with heavenly father, and all glory would go to the father.

Heavenly father rejected Lucifer’s plan for Jesus’ and Lucifer and a third of the spirit children revolted, and defeated and doomed to become bodiless demons stopped in their progression. It was once widely believed by Mormons that black people represent the third of the spirits who were neutral in the war in heaven, and white people the third who took Jesus’ side, and those born in Mormon families were the spirits who were truly valiant in the war.

Heavenly father would periodically send prophets to earth, spirits chosen for this purpose, to warn humans to choose the right things, and foretell of the coming of Jesus. The first prophet was the first human: Adam. Adam and Eve were the first souls, that is, spirits united with physical bodies. In order for them to progress and be tested, it was necessary for them to know both good and evil, but the only way to know the difference was to transgress against the father. Hence, Eve’s transgression of the commandment not to eat of the true of the knowledge of good and evil was necessary for humans.

Eventually Jesus did come and make his sacrifice, he atoned for the sins of everyone past present and future by taking on the burden and enduring separation from the father in the garden of Gethsemane, followed by his death on the cross. Jesus gave to his apostles the necessary authority to act in his name to provide ordinances necessary for humans to make use of his atonement and return to the direct presence of the father. Shortly after Jesus’ death, after the death of his first apostles, the authority was lost on earth in the Great Apostasy. The authority was not returned until Joseph Smith was chosen to return the authority, the priesthood, to the earth.

So it was that our man was preached the Mormon gospel and joined the church and was baptized by the proper authority in order to take advantage of the atonement. He also underwent other necessary rituals such as confirmation and the receiving of the Holy Ghost- a god who remains bodiless in order to dwell in the hearts of the embodied, a noted exception to the- general rule that to become gods people need physical bodies – as well as rituals in Mormon temples such as the endowment ceremony. He met a nice Mormon lady and got sealed, or married, in the temple for eternity. Remember how heavenly father has a heavenly mother? Our guy is walking in the father’s footsteps to be where he is, and having an eternal companion is part of that step.

Our guy dies and is ushered through the veil into the spirit world. He preaches to those in spirit prison, or those who haven’t been baptized by authorized authority (male members of the LDS church given the priesthood) in order to give them a chance to accept the gospel. If they do they can activate the baptism by proxy done for them by live Mormons in temples. Mormons will also do endowments and sealings for the dead person, so that they can take advantage of all of the necessary ordinances for eternal life. Our guy does this until the resurrection comes, at which point he is resurrected. He calls forth his wife’s secret name, given to her in the temple, which she revealed to him as part of the sealing ritual and she too is resurrected on the morning of the first resurrection, as good Mormons can expect. At the judgment, all are assigned to one of three kingdoms, and only the very worst apostates are consigned to outer darkness, where Satan dwells. The good Mormons are assigned to the Celestial Kingdom, in the presence of the Father, those generally good but not Mormons to the Terrestial Kingdom, where the Son will visit, and those not so great to the Telestial Kingdom, where the Spirit will visit. Those who are eternally married and going to the Celestial Kingdom have a chance to advance to godhood or exaltation to start the process all over again on worlds that they create.

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