In 1842 Joseph Smith wrote a letter to John Wentworth who was the editor of the “Chicago Democrat”, the first newspaper in Chicago. In addition to a condensed history of the Church, Joseph answers Mr. Wentworth’s Question about the beliefs of the Mormons. His answer has come to be known as “The Articles of Faith.” They are fairly concise as a fundamental belief structure but just as any generally stated principles, they are subject to the interpretation of the individuals that comprise the organization. Most Mormons just accept them as written which is well and good, but perhaps they are missing an opportunity to understand themselves and their relationship to the Church. I like their foundational simplicity but I’ve revised them according to my experience in the Church and my evolving beliefs. I don’t intend this list to apply universally to every reader but I hope they will resonate with some, as well as providing a prompt for you to examine your own beliefs and how you fit within the organization.
“…for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning…” 1 Nephi 19: 23
The list in Joseph’s letter is preceded by this clause, which has come to be known as the “Standard of Truth” and think it’s appropriate to include it here:
“…the standard of truth has been erected: no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
I like the picture this paints of truth, though not necessarily the idea that God’s intent is to make a thing in the world rather than providing opportunities for his children to progress. Here’s my list.
1- I believe in Gods, including a divine director and all who have evolved to that station. I believe in Jesus Christ who achieved Godhood before entering mortality. I believe in the Holy Ghost, The spirit of truth that resonates with us as we choose thoughts and actions, which advance us towards Godhood.
2- I believe that we will experience the consequences of our thoughts and actions, good and bad and that overcoming bad teaches us to think in unity with God.
3- I believe that the atonement of Christ empowered him to succor and support us spiritually and emotionally as we either enjoy or overcome the consequences of our decisions.
4- I believe that the first principles and ordinances of eternal progress are: Faith; an intelligent force, Repentance; change to improve, Baptism; a commitment to follow Christ, solemnized with a covenant, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost who responds every time we seek him.
5- I believe that the Priesthood is an organization designed to regulate the uniform dispensation of information and as such, it needs to be conferred by revelation and authority.
6- I believe that Christ established an organization to support us in our quest to become like God and that he allows us to adapt and administer it as we see fit, under inspiration.
7- I believe that God exerts his creative powers in our behalf in order to assist us in our personal spiritual journeys and that we may participate in this influence to the extent that we have developed Godly abilities.
8- I believe that the Book of Mormon will teach us essential eternal principles in companionship with the Bible and many other holy books.
9- I believe that we are responsible to receive our own revelation as we consider information presented to us by Church leaders and other sources. I also believe that God reveals his will for the Church to The President of the Church, for Stakes to Stake Presidents, for Primaries to Primary Presidents and so forth.
10- I believe that God blesses those who seek him anywhere on Earth.
11- I claim the privilege of seeking truth and spiritual progress according to my own conscience and allow all others the same.
12- I believe in supporting governments and public policy insofar as they are beneficial to humanity. I also believe in civil public discourse, respect for public servants and change through reasonable channels.
13- I believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to everyone. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, I seek after these things.
Now go write your own.