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General Church Doctrine and Policy

1. Why are sinless children baptized at age eight to wash away non-existent sins?
2. Why will Mormon leaders not readily allow members to leave the Mormon Church?
3. Why do Mormons eat of meat when they are told not to?
4. If murder is the unpardonable sin, why did Moses appear in glory?
5. Why is it in the Mormon church today that only the one saying the Sacrament prayer kneels?
6. Why do Mormons not have crosses on their churches?

1. If children have no sins until they are eight years old, why are they baptized at age eight to wash away non-existent sins? (see Moroni 8:8).

A: They aren't. They are baptized to become members of the Church and to "fulfill all righteousness" as the sinless Jesus did when He was baptized(Matt. 3:13-17). Also, children aren't baptized the exact moment they turn eight. It can sometimes be a month or more later depending on the circumstances. Since no one really knows the exact moment a child becomes accountable for sins, the baptism washes away any few sins that they may have committed since becoming accountable. This gives them a clean slate to start from. After baptism they may then take advantage of the principle of repentance and receive a remission of any sins they do commit later on.

2. If free agency is man's great heritage, why will Mormon leaders not readily allow members to leave the Mormon system upon request?

A: If someone really wants to leave the church he can freely do so. The local leaders are obligated to follow a proven protocol that has been shown to work best in these cases. It allows for a little cooling off time to be sure that the person is sincere about wanting to leave and is sure of what he or she is doing before making such a big step.
Also, leaving the Church is a very dramatic step in someone's life; at least in the eyes of the Church leader. It means the member is going to lose his chance for exaltation in God's kingdom; something that a leader, who loves his fellow members and cares about them, is not going to take lightly.

3. Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine? (see D & C 89:12-13).

A: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. You're right many do ignore it. But actually the original 1835 edition of the Book of Commandments (Precursor to "Doctrine and Covenants"), leaves out a very important comma in verse 13, causing it to read:
"And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."

With the comma gone after the word "used" it now reads that eating of meats should not be restricted to times of winter or famine. No one knows who put the comma in there for subsequent editions, only that it was inserted by an editor who was preparing the text for a new printing. Researchers are unaware of any direction from Church authorities to make the change. Regardless of this, the previous verse does say we should eat meat "sparingly".

One reason for the lack of emphasis on abstaining from meats now may be due to the fact that at the time this revelation was given the preservation of meats, especially during the warmer seasons, was not as effective as it is now. People at that time were therefore subject to more foodborne diseases from poorly preserved meats than we are today.

One must also consider other LDS scriptures to place the subject of meat eating in proper perspective. The Word of Wisdom does not advocate total vegetarianism, as evidenced in the following scriptures, also found in the Doctrine and Covenants:

"And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;
For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance." (D&C 49:18-19; see also 1 Tim. 4:1-3.)

We ephasize the part about abstaining from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco because that is how our latter-day prophets have interpreted those scriptures for us in this day. They have also refered to the Word of Wisdom as they counsel us against the use of illegal drugs; something that was not a problem in 1835 and therefore not mentioned in the scripture.

4. If murder is the unpardonable sin, why did Moses appear in GLORY on the Mount of Transfiguration? (Exodus 2:12; Matthew 17:3; D & C 42:18; Alma 24:10).

A: Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is the "unpardonable sin". Forgiveness for someone who has killed depends on whether or not it was self-defense or premeditated murder or somewhere in between. Only God can make the judgment on that. It could be argued that Moses was defending a fellow Hebrew who was being beaten. It should not be considered murder. God has said, "I will forgive whom I will forgive..."

One must observe carefully the wording in the D & C 42:18 scripture:
And now, behold, I speak unto the church; Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land.(D&C 42:79)
The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, sayeth the Lord God...(D&C 132:27)

The Doctrine and Covenants is quite clear in applying the "unpardonable" qualifier "to the church,"; that is, to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and covenanted to obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Moses killed the Egyptian before he had received the knowledge of the truth on Mount Sinai. Therefore, even if his action in killing the Egyptian was murder, according to the Scriptures, Moses would not have committed the unpardonable sin. The Hebrew word for "slew" used in Exodus 2:12 is "nakah" (pronounced naw-kaw). This word has several meanings, the primary of which is: ...strike (lightly or severely, lit. or fig.): - beat, cast forth, clap, give [wounds], go forward, kill, make [slaughter], murderer, punish, slaughter, slay (-er, ing), smite.... While the definition can include murder, murder is a secondary definition. In contrast the word used in Exodus 2:12 is different from the word used in Ex. 20:13 wherein the Lord said: "Thou shalt not kill." The Hebrew word for "kill" in this case is "ratsach." James Strong, (The Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, (Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa: n.d.), Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary: 78, #5221) defines this word to mean: to dash in pieces, i.e. kill (a human being), espec. to murder:-put to death, kill, (man-)slay (-er), murder(-er). It should be very apparent that in the Ten Commandments, the clear meaning of "ratsach" is murder. Bible commentators identify what occurred in Ex. 2:12 as a slaying instead of murder. It is significant that Bible commentators also point out that the Bible nowhere condemns Moses' action nor calls him a murderer. In the eyes of God, and according to the law of most, if not all, human societies, this killing was excusable homicide, not murder.

5. The D & C teaches that the Elder or Priest who administers the sacrament "shall kneel with the Church." (D&C 20:76) Why is it in the Mormon church today that only the one saying the prayer kneels? Some say that the standing and kneeling would be too disruruptive to the meeting. But Catholics stand and kneel as a congregation during Mass without noise or confusion.

A. President Joseph F. Smith, July 16, 1893, gave this answer: "I would like to call the attention of the congregation, especially of the Bishops, to the mode of administering the sacrament. The book of Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that the Elder or Priest who administers the sacrament "shall kneel with the Church." Of course, it is quite difficult, and probably inappropriate, for a whole congregation to kneel while the blessing is being asked upon the bread and upon the water. The confusion and noise incident to kneeling and rising again would be inappropriate. Besides, the construction of our meeting houses, and the size of the congregations generally, would make that practice rather impracticable. ..."
Section 20 of the D & C was given in April 1830, at a time when the church was very small and numbers attending the meetings were few. It was much less disruptive then for them to all kneel during the prayers than it would be for us now. What is more important during the sacrament is the attitude and spirit we have within us as we partake. By the way, neither the Catholics now nor the Mormons in 1830 had as many children as we do today in our chapels during Sacrament meeting. Best to keep them seated.

6. We see on the Mormon temples and churches the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere is seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. Why is this when you say you are Christians?"

A. The answer to this is found in the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.
The lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship." (General Conference, April, 1975)

President Hinckley Also said:
"As has been indicated, there are a few who have taken it upon themselves as their mission to belittle and demean and destroy the faith of the weak, with a badly flawed argument that we are not Christians. To all of these we have a twofold answer, quietly spoken.

The first is this: Would a true follower of Christ, a follower of him who was the epitome of love and mercy and consideration, so seek to injure another?

The second: We ask only that we be judged by our fruits. Said the Master: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. . . . Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:16-18, 20.)
By that standard we are willing to be judged." (General Conference, October, 1983)

On another occasion he said:
"We are a part of the great community of Christians, and yet we are a peculiar people, in some respects difficult for you to understand and write about. . . . We are somewhat peculiar in our doctrine.
Are we Christians? Of course we are! No one can honestly deny that. We may be somewhat different from the traditional pattern of Christianity. But no one believes more literally in the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. No one believes more fundamentally that He was the Son of God, that He died for the sins of mankind, that He rose from the grave and that He is the living resurrected Son of the living Father.
All of our doctrine, all of our religious practice stems from that one basic doctrinal position. ``We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.'' This is the first article of our faith, and all else flows therefrom." (Interview with Religion Newswriters Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sept 14, 1997)

Actually the physical sign of the cross was not used at all in the early church(New Testament) after Christ died. In fact, it was not used as a Christian symbol until sometime during the 4th or 5th century.
Does that mean for the first 400 years after Christ, people who called themselves Christians were not really Christians?

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