My blog is a public documentation of my experiences from my mission. It is designed to allow anybody interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the "Mormon Church," to read our beliefs from a member of that faith, as well as read about his experiences sharing his beliefs with the people of Latvia. The hope is that any interested party will see the effects my teaching had on individuals in Latvia [and myself], and feel a desire to learn more. If nothing else, our beliefs will be laid out truthfully and boldly, for any who wish to know them. This blog is a public posting of my letters home. As such, it may not be perfectly chronological, as a letter mailed home one week will arrive after an email sent the next week. Because of this, privacy becomes an issue. Therefore, names and possibly locations will be changed, but the stories remain the same.
First, an introduction. I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Or, will be come the 19th of this month. My job is to testify of Christ and invite all to come unto him, to repent, be baptized, and step onto the path that leads to Eternal Life. Missionaries are given the title of "Elder," and are known by that title followed by their last name. Thus, I am Elder Argyle. I am 19, though will be 20 shortly into next year. I have been a member of this church all my life. I have, however, spent a good deal of time researching other religions, and spend a lot of time with people of other faiths. I strive to find similarities, and build on those a relationship of trust. My philosophy right now for my mission is to find any similarities I can, build on those, and serve the people until I find people who wants to know what I have to tell them. I will not, however, stop testifying of the love of God, of Christ's great sacrifice for us, or of Their plan for us.
If you are seeking to familiarize yourself with the church, then I suggest you read the Book of Mormon, because in the BoM you will find the basis of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (shortened to the LDS church, often wrongly called the "Mormon" church, as "Mormon" is a prophet-historian who lived around 400AD and abridged most of the record that is now called the Book of Mormon, after him). In the Book of Mormon you will find not only the LDS core beliefs, but also a promise: after reading and seriously thinking about the book, if you pray to God, you will be told through the Spirit of the Lord whether the book is true or not. This promise can be found in the book of Moroni, the final book contained in the Book of Mormon. It's in Moroni chapter 10, verses 4 through 7. The notation that is commonly used to reference scripture is: Moroni 10: 4-7. I try to hyperlink these passages to the official website of the LDS church, LDS.org, so they are easier to read in full.
Throughout the rest of my letters, I will use that notation, as well as several abbreviations, listed below (as I don't like typing long things when there's a perfectly good abbreviation out there). For these definitions, I will write the abbreviation, then the expansion, then a brief explanation of what the book is. The explanation will sound a little textbook-ish, but that's the fastest way for me to convey what the book is.
BoM: Book of Mormon - A book of scripture comparable to the bible. It discusses the dealings and interactions between God and the ancient inhabitants of the American contents. It was abridged by Mormon and his son, Moroni, and covers the timeframe of three peoples. One came from the aftermath of the Tower of Babel, discussed in the Bible [you'll note that in those verses, it specifically states that they were "scattered...upon the face of all the earth" (emph added)]. This group lived in the Americas from several years after the Tower through around 140BC. The other group came from Jerusalem during the reign of King Zedekiah, king of Judah, through a little past 421 AD, and split into two peoples. The BoM was translated by Joseph Smith in the 19th century into English, and throughout the 20th and 21st century was/is translated into over 61 languages, with selections in another 38, allowing 99% of LDS members (and 87% of the world's total population) to read it in their native language ("Taking the Scriptures to the World"). The book's purpose is to bring people to Christ, by expounding His doctrine, teaching application of His laws, and living and growing in a relationship with Him. See the introduction of the BoM for more information.
DC: Doctrine and Covenants - A book of scripture that contains revelations directly given to the prophet Joseph Smith when he was alive, as well as a few revelations after him. These revelations are direct communication through authorized representatives in our era. These are invaluable tools for understanding more deeply the eternal laws of Heaven and the purposes of life. Much of the D&C concerns government of the church, and responsibilities of various offices of the church, though many powerful revelations concerning the kingdoms of God (after death and the resurrection), about salvation, and many other topics are also recorded in this book. I cannot explain it's purpose and origins better than do the introduction to the D&C and the Lord Himself. If that's too long for you, read the crux of matter in this selection.
OT: Old Testament - A well-known and widely accepted book of scripture, usually bundled with the New Testament in The Holy Bible, that contains the dealing of the Lord with the ancient Jews (His covenant people through Abraham), and follows their development from the creation through the prophets prior to Christ. Right before Christ came personally, there was a widespread rejection of the truths of God, which were restored, or brought back, through Jesus Christ during his lifetime. Prophesies of this general falling away from truth is smattered throughout the OT, including Isaiah and Amos [please search your own Bible for more as you read in the OT]. The OT covers up to about 300 years before that widespread rejection of truth right before Christ's coming.
NT: New Testament - Another well-known and widely accepted book of scripture, often bundled with the Old Testament in The Holy Bible, that contains four records of the life, miracles, and teachings of Christ, as best recalled by four individuals who served as leaders in the Ancient Church after Christ was crucified, resurrected, and returned to live with The Father again in the Heavens [He continued, however, to lead the newly founded church through revelation, best shown in the book of Acts]. These same four were involved in the ministry of Christ as he lived on the earth, and so each personally knew the Savior. After those four accounts, there is an account of the ministry of Christ through the twelve that He chose to lead the Ancient Church after He left Earth. There are also many letters from members of this group of twelve to various cities or individuals contained in the NT. The volume concludes with a revelation about the history of the world, including latter days (now, or this day and age).
NOTE: The version of the Holy Bible that is usually used by missionaries for the LDS church is the King James version. [However, as of July 2010, the LDS church has only released the Bible together with the church-produced Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide in two languages, so missionaries not speaking English or Spanish buy locally available translations in their chosen language. For example, I have a 1965 edition of the Bible in Latvian through the Latvian Bible Association (Latvijas Bībeles biedrība).]
PMG: Preach My Gospel - This is the instruction manual for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It outlines the basic doctrines of the Church, guidelines for it's application in life, and suggestions for teaching those doctrines and instructions. It is a very valuable read, as are the scriptures listed above. PMG is very good at putting simply the truths of God, and making them very attainable at the most basic level. Some of the doctrines outlined in it will be briefly discussed in the next posting.
( >/°¥< )