Here is Part 3 of my clarification and expansion of the points made in The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield. The following points discuss eternal progression, the accuracy of the Book of Mormon, the priesthood, temple ceremonies, and the temple garments. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. You can buy the book here.
11 – In the same way that Heavenly Father was once a man, faithful members of the Church may one day become gods. This is called The Law of Eternal Progression and has been summarized in LDS history in these words: “As man is, God was; as God is, man may become.” Most Mormons expect to rule planets with their families once they achieve ultimate salvation.
Members don’t know exactly what will happen concerning the “Law of Eternal Progression” except that we will continue to learn and gain knowledge about our Heavenly Father and the universe. If you ask the missionaries if we’ll become gods with our own planets when we die, they’ll most likely tell you they don’t know, there’s no doctrine on it, and that it’s not our goal anyway. Our goal is just to return to live with our Heavenly Father and to be with our families for eternity.
12 – The Book of Mormon is the word of Heavenly Father. The Bible is also the word of Heavenly Father, but only after it is correctly translated. Mormons believe that the original Bible was corrupted through the centuries and that the Bible as it exists today is missing many “plain and precious parts”. Joseph Smith made a new version of the Bible by revising more than 3,400 verses on the basis of new revelation he had received. Some Mormons use Smith’s version of the Bible today, but the main LDS body uses the King James Version since Smith’s version was never finished.
I think most people would agree that what we have of the Bible today is incomplete and has had things changed throughout time and through hundreds of different translations. If you take Joseph Smith at his word that he used the plates to translate the Book of Mormon, that means he translated almost directly from the source (the records he translated were compiled by other records that were abridged and compiled by Mormon). The book would be pretty accurate. Although, the Book of Mormon has undergone many changes itself (most of them for grammar or spelling).
13 – Joseph Smith was first visited by John the Baptist and then by Peter, James, and John, among others. In these visitations, the authority of the true priesthood of God was imparted. Men, but never women, usually assume this priesthood at the age of fourteen if they qualify. Priesthood authority empowers men to receive revelations and to act in God’s name.
The visitation part of this point is correct as far as I was taught. John the Baptist gave Joseph Smith the Aaronic Priesthood and Peter, James, and John gave him the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood can be conferred upon males as young as 11 years old. The priesthood doesn’t flip a switch that lets you receive revelation like the point makes it sound, though. Everyone is entitled to receive personal revelation from the Lord. This isn’t like receiving some doomsday visions or anything earth-shattering. Just like prayer is how we speak to God, revelation is how He speaks back to us and answers those prayers.
14 – The Temple is a sacred place in which holy ceremonies, such as weddings, sealings, and endowments, are conducted. Gentiles, or non-Mormons, are not permitted in any of the LDS Temples around the world after the Temple is consecrated. Temple ceremonies are kept secret to preserve their sacredness.
I have never heard a member refer to a non-member as a Gentile. Members are weird but I think that’s kind of next-level. It almost seems like a slur. The term “non-member” is most often the one used to refer to non-members. It’s pretty straightforward. On my mission, we were told that’s sort of offensive too (just like everything these days) so we started referring to non-members as “friends of the church”. You’ll quickly discover that not everyone you come into contact with is a “friend” though. Technically, everyone is allowed in the temple after it’s consecrated, they just have to go through the proper ordinances (which includes being baptized into the Church). There’s nothing stopping them from doing that and experiencing all that the temple has to offer. And the “sacred vs. secret” conversation is one I’ve had with my missionaries. The things that happen in the temple are so sacred that you don’t want to spoil them by just blabbing about them to everyone. It’s kind of like in Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks wouldn’t tell the other soldiers about his wife because he wanted to keep those special memories for himself. When I was younger, I thought he was being selfish but I get it now.
15 – One of the Temple ceremonies grants the LDS faithful a “Temple garment.” This is never to be removed except for bathing and intercourse. When it wears out, it is to be burned. This garment reminds the Church members of vows to God and provides spiritual protection.
When I received my temple garments, I wasn’t told anything about not removing it except for bathing and intercourse. The “rule” is that you should wear them as often as you can and take them off when it makes sense to do so such as swimming, bathing, intercourse, and other activities. You don’t alter the garments to fit your fashion. They’re there to remind you of the covenants you made in the temple. They also have sacred symbols on them with meanings that are discussed in the temple. When the garments wear out, you cut the symbols off and can basically dispose of them however you want since they’re no longer garments. You’re basically wearing an American flag.
Learn more about the scared temple garments here and watch the video below:
Buy The Mormonizing of America here