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* All About Mormons Newsletter *

January 1998

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*In this newsletter:

*Focus This Month: We Believe

A lot of people ask me, "Do Mormons believe in the Bible?" The answer is yes. Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God" (8th Article of Faith). Our belief in the Book of Mormon does not take the place of our faith in the Bible. We believe in both. We study the Bible and appreciate the light and truth it has brought and continues to bring to the world. In fact, we as a church are studying the Old Testament this year and the New Testament next year.

Though Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible, we don’t believe the Bible is a flawless text. Does this mean that we don’t really believe in the Bible? Let’s analyze that for a minute. We believe that the original Bible was written by those inspired of God and that it was true. However, it was written in languages most of us don’t read, so translation becomes necessary. Unfortunately, languages do not correspond to each other on a one-to-one basis. For example, in America, someone might say, "You’re pulling my leg." In France, the same idea is expressed by saying, "mon oeil!" literally, "my eye!" While in English, we use the word "love" in a variety of ways—"I love your dress" to "I love my sister" to "I love humanity" to "I love my country" to "I love my husband." In Greek, each one of these sentences would use a different verb! As these simple examples show, translation requires making judgments as to what a word or passage actually means and which words to use to convey that meaning to the reader. Even the most careful and fastidious translator will make some mistakes. Do we have to believe those mistakes are still the truth, just because they are in the Bible? Through the years, the Bible has been translated many times in many different ways. Are all of those translations equally true? What about the translations which takes out every reference of skin color, makes everything gender neutral, only uses politically correct language and concepts, or makes God female instead of male? What if it is translated into the language of the inner city, complete with Don’t dis God and don’t sleep around with someone else’s old man or old lady? What happens if some translations take things out or add things? Though Latter-day Saints get a lot of grief for putting qualifications about our belief in the Bible ("as far as it is translated correctly"), virtually every Christian sect has a similar belief, whether or not it is explicitly stated. After all, many churches prefer one translation over the others. So we’re not so different in that way. The final analysis: Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible. We study it, apply it, and love it.

*Object Lesson: Faith is like a Seed

My husband and I love plants. We love watching them grow. We love taking care of them. Right now, we have two snake plants in the same pot. We named them Anne and Gilbert, after the main characters in the Anne Of Green Gables series. We have a poinsettia plant which we named Maria Therese, which was the name of Marie Antoinette's mother. She was a very good, strong, and admirable woman. After I learned about her, I wanted to name one of my girls that name, but then I thought that many teachers would not pronounce it right, with a French accent, so I gave it to my plant instead. We have an oregano plant that we call Reggie. We had a basil plant, but it died. Now, in Basil's old pot, I planted some wildflower seeds which I got for free at a gas station in Missouri (on the way home from the St. Louis temple open house). I planted them only a few days ago. The package said that I could expect to see plants within 7-21 days. I was careful to follow the directions on the package. I have been watering them and I put them in the best spot for sunlight. Three days later we have 7 sproutlings.

"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

"Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.

"But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.

"And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit." (Alma 32: 28-30, 37)

When I noticed that we had seedlings, I made my husband come and look at them. I was so excited. They looked so delicate and precious. Now that they are sprouting, I know that they are good seeds. But my job is only beginning. I have to make sure that the seedlings have enough soil, enough water, enough sunlight. If the soil runs out of nutrients, I will fertilize it, so that my little seedlings can grow up and become beautiful wildflowers.

This is just what we do when we decide to see if prayer works or if the Book of Mormon is true. The seed is prayer or the truth of the Book of Mormon. We plant the seed by deciding to test the seed—acting on our desire to know. We plant the seed of prayer by praying, we test the Book of Mormon by reading it and acting on what we read. Our hearts determine what kind of soil we are planting the seeds in. Do we really want to know? Are we willing to give the seed time to grow? Are we willing to change our lives to make our hearts more fertile for the seed we planted? If we really don’t want to know, if we don’t expect an answer, if we don’t give the seed what it needs, then the seed won’t grow. That’s the mistake I made with Basil, which did not get enough sunlight—even though it was just for a few days.

But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.

Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.

And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 32:38-40)

That's what happened with Basil. I was excited about cooking with fresh basil leaves when I bought Basil. It was a young plant, so I had to wait until the plant was more mature before I could harvest some of its leaves. However, I did not nourish it properly. Now it is all dried up and dead. I pulled it out and threw it away and planted the wildflowers in its place. Basil was a good plant, coming from a good seed. I did not get to enjoy the "fruit" because I did not nourish the plant, not because the plant was bad.

But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you." (Alma 32:41-43)

Though my plants sprouted quickly, they will not be flowers for a while. If I want to see the flowers and enjoy their beauty, I must take care of them and help them grow. The plants help me know what they need. My seedlings are leaning towards the sun, trying to get as much light as they can. The same is true for faith. Inside, you know that you should be leaning towards the Son of God and trying to get as much light or knowledge of good things as you can.

How is your garden of faith growing? Do you give your faith sunlight, water, and nourishment? Or, in other words, do you pray, read your scriptures, and practice what you have been taught? Have you tried the words of your teachers and parents by practicing what they said to see if it makes you happy? Are you willing to put efforts into receiving answers from God and to wait for those answers? Have you tried the words of your teachers and parents by practicing what they said to see if it made you happy? Are you willing to change your life so that you will be more prepared for answers from God? How fertile is your heart for these seeds of faith? Do you let seeds of doubt and discouragement choke your faith, or do you weed your garden?

Are you expanding your roots by developing faith in many areas of the gospel, or is your root skinny, with only one branch? It is easy to pull out a plant if its root has only one branch. Do you have faith in prayer, repentance, the resurrection, following the prophets, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and keeping the Word of Wisdom? Do you have faith in the power of the Priesthood? Do you believe that fasting and paying tithing and honoring parents bring blessings? What about scripture study? Does studying the scriptures bring joy and peace into your life and do they apply to your life?

If you develop faith in these and many other parts of the Gospel, you can have a strong and healthy plant of faith and knowledge. Remember that all you need to do to develop faith is to compare the word to a seed, and give it place in your heart, and nourish it, and do not cast it out of your heart. Try the word, and I promise that it will grow within you and bring you joy.

*What’s New on All About Mormons?

LDS Humor is continually expanding. Thanks to all those who have contributed so far! Keep on sending us your funny stories, jokes, etc. We want our humor to be enjoyable to all of our visitors, members and non-members alike, so please use discretion when choosing which ones to send. Our Other Good Stuff section is especially for non-religious humor. Laugh With Us!

All About Mormons now has even more information to keep you in touch with the Church, including Church related web sites and internet services, Church phone numbers, and magazine information. Check it out on our Welcome page!

For links to the following articles, check out our What’s New page.

The article Is it true that Mormon identification with Christianity as a whole is relatively new? has been updated.

The Dating and Marrying Nonmembers article has been updated to include some very detailed comments from President Hugh B. Brown.

Michael T. Griffith and Kenneth W. Godfrey answer the question: How can you explain the resemblances between Masonry and the LDS temple?

Michael T. Griffith answers the question: Is the Bible inerrant and complete?

Milton V. Backman, Jr answers the following accusatory question: Do the various accounts by the Prophet Joseph Smith of his first vision demonstrate the validity of that event, or do they cast doubt on the Prophet's integrity?

Have you ever wanted to see inside an LDS Temple? Here's your chance. Take our Virtual Tour. You can see pictures of major rooms in many different temples.

In Changes to the Book of Mormon, W. John Walsh, Robert L. Matthews, Van Hale, Stan Larson discuss the relative insignificance of changes made to the Book of Mormon text in various printings.

In B. H. Roberts's "Study of the Book of Mormon", John W. Welch discusses how critics have used certain writings by Elder Roberts to try and discredit the Book of Mormon.

In an update to The Seer and Jounal of Discourses article, W. John Walsh and Gerald E. Jones discuss the unauthoritative nature of certain historical material

In Is God a Spirit?, W. John Walsh, William O. Nelson, and Stephen E. Robinson explain how we reconcile the passage "God is a spirit" with God's being a personage of flesh and bones.

The article on Passionate Kissing has been updated.

In this BYU Devotional, Elder L. Lionel Kendrick explains how to receive personal revelation.

In Same-Gender Attraction, Elder Dallin H. Oaks discusses the Church's view of same-gender attraction, possible causes of homosexual feelings, and how members should respond to those with these feelings.

In Forum Discussions: Thrown to the Lions As Usual, W. John Walsh discusses his participation [or lack thereof] in an America Online forum meeting on Latter-day Saints.

A wonderful poem on the evils of Hearsay and Gossip has been added.

Anti-Mormon Tactics has been updated.

In Obtaining Help From the Lord, Elder Richard G. Scott explains how to obtain assistance from our Heavenly Father.

In LDS Temples and Catholic Cathedrals: What Makes a House of Worship?, W. John Walsh gives his thoughts about an essay written by a Catholic priest about Latter-day Saints.

*Response of the Month: How can give more meaningful service throughout the year?

1) Want to do service. Begin by praying for the desire to serve others and to love those around you. Then, service becomes more of a joy.

2) Next, schedule it in. Plan it every 3 months on the first Monday evening of that month, or the last Saturday every other month. Making time for service is important. Also, knowing the next time you want to give service allows you to plan it more successfully.

3) Look around your community. Is there a park that needs to be cleaned up, a highway that is littered, a soup kitchen that needs workers, a food bank that needs more canned goods? Would you like to help babies in the hospital, bring toys to hospitalized children, read to the blind, sing to the lonely at a nursing home? Call places in the phone book that offer the kind of service that you’d like to do and find out what days are good for them and what would be the best way to serve there.

4) Forget yourself and serve! Service is fun! Remember, ". . . Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me." (Matthew 25:40)

*Question of the Month: How can I strengthen my marriage?

Let us know what you think. We want your wisdom and input!

Reader responses will appear in the next newsletter. E-mail responses to

See you next month!

John and Jenny Walsh

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