Wednesday, July 13, 2011

To Karol

Karol,
So nice to "meet" another person who lives so many of the same standards I do. I really do consider it a treat to meet people who are not LDS who live this way. Perhaps I only meet them so rarely because I have never lived in an area where there is a strong Christian contingency like the south or conservative values like Middle America. I have only live in Las Vegas (not known for conservative values obviously), Utah (full of conservatives but most are LDS), Washington DC, and Southern California (both rather socially liberal areas.)

Anyway, it is a pleasure to hear of other people, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindi or otherwise who choose to live like I do.

Now to answer your question regarding the origin of my belief that Jesus Christ visited the natives of the Americas and that He and His Father appeared to a 14 year old boy. You wanted to know where in the scriptures that came from.

Let me start with a story. In 1820 there was a boy named Joseph Smith who was 14. He lived in upstate New York with his family. There was a religious fervor in the area at the time with many preachers from various Protestant denominations holding revivals and preaching about how their church was the only way to heaven etc... Joseph's mother and siblings had been going to various churches and most had chosen one church or another to join. But Joseph felt confused by all the preaching and was unsure of which sect to join.

His family was a Bible reading family and so one night he was reading the Bible when he came across the scripture in James 1:5 which says that if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. This verse pieced Joseph powerfully and he thought over it extensively. Eventually he decided he must follow its instruction and pray to ask God which sect was the right one to join.

He set off and went to pray in a grove a trees near his house. I will quote his own account of what happened after he uttered his prayer. "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"


The Savior then spoke to Joseph telling him that he was to join none of the churches. He informed Joseph that the church He established when he was alive was no longer on the Earth. He informed Joseph that one day he would help the Savior restore to the Earth His original church with apostles and prophets being led by the Savior himself at their head. The product of this "restoration" is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


Now I know this sounds like a crazy story. But I believe it with everything that I am. I have prayed in that same grove where Joseph prayed and felt my heart so filled with the Spirit telling me that this story did in fact happen that it seemed to burn within me. I feel that same Spirit of "ringing truth in my soul" every time I hear or read Joseph's account of this visitation from the Savior and the Father. 


But I understand that believing this story makes me (and all other LDS people) a bit different from the rest of the world. That is why it made my list of how being a Mormon makes me feel different.


As for Jesus Christ visiting the Americas. That comes from a book called the Book of Mormon (which is where the nickname "Mormons" comes from). It is a second witness or "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" as its subtitle proclaims. Joseph was led by an angel (who was the final author of the Book of Mormon when he lived) to a hillside where an ancient book of golden plates was buried. By the power of God he translated this book into English. The angel took the plates back from Joseph when the translation was finished. The result is the book we know as the Book of Mormon. 


The Book of Mormon is a history of a few groups of people who were, at various times, led by God out of the Old World of Jerusalem (some as early as the tower of Babel, others later around 600 BC). It records their belief in the Savior who would come and the preaching and visions and teachings of the prophets who came among them over the span of about 1000 years. Most significantly, it records what it was like in the ancient Americas when Christ was born (a day and night and day with no darkness) and when he died (massive natural disasters and earthly upheaval followed by about 3 hours of total utter darkness). It also records a visit from the Savior to the people in the Americas after his resurrection. In this He delivers a sermon nearly identical to the Sermon on the Mount. 


The only reference there is in the Bible to this is where the Savior tells the Jews of the  "other sheep" that are not of this fold that He is going to visit. 


Again, I feel the in tune ringing, peaceful, warm, feelings of the Spirit every time I read the Book of Mormon. I love this book. I read it over and over and love it and learn new things every time. Again, though, this is something I wouldn't expect anyone to believe who hadn't read the book and prayed to know for themselves if it was true and gotten an answer. I mean who would believe it without?


If anyone reading this would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon, you can either click on the link HERE or just email me your name and address at stephaniewaite at gmail dot com and I will write a personal note in one and send it to you. Give it a read and see what you think.


Hope that helped clear this up for you Karol. Thanks for asking the question.


much love,
stephanie

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful explanation. Do Mormons therefore read the Bible and uphold it as absolute truth as well? Thank you for being so open. Would you believe I grew up a couple of miles from the Mesa Mormon temple and have never felt comfortable asking this question?! :)

Cheryl said...

Stephanie...you have such a way with words and this is such a great explanation. I came back specifically to read how you answered that question. What great work you and Camille are doing!

Stephanie said...

Dear Anon,
Have no fear. Ask away. As for the Bible: We do read and study the Bible and we believe the Bible to be the Word of God in so far as it has been translated correctly.

You will note that there are several versions of the Bible in print these days. It has been translated by scholars over the centuries various times and words have been translated differently in different variations. We use the King James Version of the Bible. Actually if you read the Book of Mormon you would find many parts that are nearly identical to parts of the Bible. I mentioned the Sermon on the Mount but there are also other parts as well.

In church we spend a year studying the old testament, a year on the new testament, a year on the book of mormon, then a year on LDS church history including modern day scripture called the doctrine and covenants. then we repeat that 4 year cycle. So you see that each book is equally studied. They compliment each other.

nina said...

Wow, I am impressed that you were able to explain all that so simply but efficiently. I am a fellow mormon blogger and I want you to know that I think you do such an awesome job at sharing your beliefs with others. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

As a busy mom...I was curious to know what your personal scripture study consists of...do you read so many pages a day or a time limit or a chapter a day? Also, What do you insist your children do? Thanks Stephanie.

Sue said...

Wonderful explanation, Stephanie.

=)

Kimberly Lynn said...

Thank you for your explanation and testimony. It was beautiful!

Tournesol said...

I'm a practicing Catholic but years ago I worked with a Mormon girl. I asked her a couple of questions and the next day she returned with a book of Mormon and she had gone through and highlighted and wrote little comments just for me throughout it. I was so touched by that and will never forget it.