This "hands-on" is in the form of what we call a personal testimony.

My personal ideas and interpretations.

I hope it's useful. If not, I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ch. 0: The Sure Foundation

A question that concerns many who hear that we believe in continuing revelation (See the ninth Article of Faith.) is how we avoid going astray. "If truth can change, who is safe?" or some similar concern.

Truth doesn't change.

That doesn't mean that our understanding is perfect from the outset. Of course our understanding is going to change somewhat as our faith grows.

So we need a solid foundation.

One of the many teachings that are found in both The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon is the metaphor of the house built on the rock, as in Matthew 7: 24, 25 and 3 Nephi 14: 24-25.

These are from the teachings we call the Sermon on the Mount, and the comparable teachings Jesus gave in the Americas after his resurrection. Collectively, these teachings form a good touchstone.

If we find a doctrine that conflicts with these teachings, we can be fairly confident that either it is wrong, or our understanding of that doctrine is wrong. Either way, we are safer in setting it aside than we would be in trying to follow or believe it. (See also Doctrine and Covenants 50: 13-20.)

Now, the Sermon on the Mount is a little bit long, and many people unfortunately fall asleep before reading it all the way through. If we had something more concise, it would help. Fortunately, we do.

First, When Jesus was asked what the great commandment of all the law was, we know he answered

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12: 30,31, but see all of verses 28-34.)

And in the Book of Mormon, we have this:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (See Mosiah 2: 17.)

Second, we have this, from the 4th Article of Faith, We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:

  • first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • second, Repentance; 
  • third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; 
  • fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In the New Testament, these principles tend to be scattered about. We find faith, keeping Jesus' commandments, and the Holy Spirit discussed in John 14 and other places. In Acts 26, we find Paul claiming to have preached repentance and the resurrection. Jesus, Himself, often expressed a general call to repentance. (See, for example, Matthew 4: 17.) And, concerning baptism, Jesus received baptism from John to set the example for us, as shown in Matthew 3: 13-15.

We find these four priniciples collected together in the Book of Mormon in several places. My favorite is 3 Nephi 27, starting at verse 13, which also makes explicit the principle of enduring to the end which is implied in repentance.

I have friends who wince at the word, "endure", and I myself thought it was scary until the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that we endure, one way or another. (See, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 93:29,33.) We might as well try to endure in faith.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation that is sure. And when you find yourself concerned about your course in life, these scriptures can help bring you back to that faith.

And when even the sermon on the mount is too hard, and love is too abstract, you can get your feet back on the rock by remembering faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the prescribed ordinance of the laying on of hands.

And then you can remember to love God and to love your fellow human beings.

(Previous -- Index -- Next)

Ch. -1: What Is This "Mormon" Thing?

Some people wonder why we are called Mormons, and some people wonder whether we are called Christians.

We are called Mormons because we tend to believe in The Book of Mormon.

And, yes, we consider ourselves Christian. We believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as our Savior. We accept His teachings and try to follow them.

This bears a bit of explanation.

There is this book called The Book of Mormon. It presents itself as a record of people who lived in the Americas well before they were called the Americas, who believed in Jesus Christ. (See the title page.) And it claims to contain the teachings of Jesus Christ. (See, for instance, 2 Nephi 25: 26, also 3 Nephi, beginning with chapter 11.)

According to the book, there was one ancient American disciple of Jesus Christ, whose name was Mormon, who was directed by God to compile the book from records he had access to in the late second to middle third centuries after Christ. (See Words of Mormon 1: 1.) The book bears his name.

His son, Moroni completed the compilation after his death. (See Mormon 8: 1.)

Now, I am not offering any proof of these fantastic claims. That is not my purpose. I assume, if you are reading these pages, you are interested less in proofs and more in what it means to be a Mormon, what we believe in, and how those beliefs affect the way we live.

Now, as to whether we call ourselves Mormons or Christians, sometimes, when we are being lazy, or when we just don't want to argue with people who call us Mormons, we call ourselves Mormons.

We did not originally call ourselves Mormons. We consider ourselves Christian. (I think Mormon himself would quite disapprove of people becoming his disciples, just as Paul expressed around 1 Corinthians 1: 13.)

Mormon was just another prophet of God, just another disciple of Christ. A great prophet, but not someone that we should be a disciple of.

And the Church is not named after Mormon. Jesus directed us to call the Church after His name. (See 3 Nephi 27: 7 and Doctrine and Covenants 20: 1.)

(The Church has an informational website here.)

Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

(Index -- Next)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I'm Doing Here.

I am in no way authorized to define or establish doctrine for the Church. In no way do I intend to attempt to present an official viewpoint.

Nor do I desire to present an alternative viewpoint. This is simply my personal point of view, my personal opinions, my personal testimony or witness of the things I have experienced and learned.

This blog is separate from my other blogs because I am presently a teacher, and my religious activities need to be separated from my work to a certain extent. Children sometimes have a hard time understanding that they have to pursue their understanding of religion independently of their teachers. So I want to avoid mixing discussions of religion with my efforts to teach English or other non-religious subjects.

I decided to post this as a blog, but I'm also creating an index, here, so it can be read in order.

The URL:

"Guerilla" means small-scale warfare, as I understand it. The term has been borrowed to describe de-centralized, unofficial, grass-roots tactics in a number of fields, including marketing, politics, and biology. 

Well, yeah, unofficial, but with encouragement from the official  organization. The term has internal irony over and above the current contextual irony. The irony is somewhat intentional.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently been encouraging us to share our testimonies on the web in appropriate ways. This blog will be part of my effort to do so. I had considered doing this blog in the past, but, since some of the leaders are encouraging this sort of thing, now I'm going ahead with it.

This is not about warfare in the usual sense, of course. There is a possibly appropriate metaphor that Paul mentions, about the internal conflict we sometimes feel between our lesser desires and our better desires.

This is not about the use of weapons. It is not about attempts to force people to do, think, or believe anything.

It is primarily intended for people who have some interest in understanding this thing called "Mormonism".

The title:
I intend to take a hands-on, practical approach. I do not intend to dig into esoteric philosophy. And I intend, rather, to avoid speculation and theory.

I call it a "lay introduction" to emphasize the unofficial nature of my opinions. I intend to offer perspective, not prescription.

So, one more time, for emphasis:

This blog is composed of the opinions of one man who is nominally a member of the Church. Nothing more.

Of course, it won't be a hands-on introduction unless you read the scriptures I point out, and think about them. Pray about them if you feel inclined. But don't ask whether what I am saying is correct. Ask whether the scriptures are correct and whether you understand them correctly.

My explanations can and likely will go south every now and again. I'm human, still subject to sin, error, and death.

I hope this will be useful to some people, but I assume that there will be some people who will not find it so. That will not concern me. I am only offering my opinions and ideas to those who might find them useful.

(If you missed the link to the index, start here.)