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Author Topic: Questions for/about Mormons
Sampler
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I know there are many members here who are active Mormons so I figure this is as good a place as any to ask some questions. I was reading/hearing about Mormonism lately after Card's latest op-ed piece, and I had some questions:

1. I heard from some Mormon acquaintances at work after I asked about it that poor Mormons are encouraged to tithe from their welfare and unemployment checks. Is this correct?

2. With regards to Baptism for the Dead, I have read that prominent/rich, non-Mormon families sue if they find out it has occurred with one of their deceased relatives. On one hand I can't really see any harm in the practice, but the legality resides around some kind of privacy issue and the actual impersonation that takes place during the ritual? Any info. about this would be helpful.

3. (short and sweet) Is the Mormon version of the Christian god omniscient? (can he see the future?)


I hope noone takes these questions the wrong way. No trolling here, just honest curiosity. [Smile]

[ April 01, 2007, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: Sampler ]

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Clark
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I'll answer your questions in reverse order:

3. The Mormon version of God is omniscient. He knows all that has happened and all that will happen. (Short and sweet answer, too.)

2. Sometimes people do get upset when baptism is performed for their deceased relatives. For this reason, church members are encouraged to focus their efforts on their own ancestors, not random (or famous) people. I'm not sure exactly how forceful the official policy from the church is about this. I agree that there isn't too much to take offense at, but hopefully we all try to err on the side of caution. The only information needed to perform the baptism is a persons full name and birth date and they must have been dead for at least one year, so I don't think there's really any legal privacy issue with that (it's all public record, right?).

1. Mormons are asked to donate 10% of their income to the church as tithing. I imagine this would apply to welfare/unemployment as well, though I've never specifically heard one way or the other. The church also has a large welfare system of it's own, which helps out in times of general disasters (Hurricane Katrina) as well as on an individual basis.

I actually typed out about 3 times as much as what I'm posting, because we could go off on a lengthy discussion of each topic here. Some times the short answer doesn't make a lot of sense, like question 1, where people on hard times are asked to still pay tithing. If my responses answer your question, you've been spared a few extra pages of my explanations. If there's still unanswered questions, keep asking.

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Everard
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One of the major problems with baptism for the dead is sometimes a person lives his or her life with a very definite bias towards his chosen religion. When people die because of their beliefs, for example, it seems to dishonor that person's memory to baptize them posthumously... they died to avoid that.
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msquared
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For example if someone tried to baptize Mother Teresa after her death I know many Catholics would take it as an offense to their religion.

msquared

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Carlotta
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I don't think I would find it offensive. If a Mormon baptized Mother Teresa, that's just saying that they want her to go to heaven, and according to their beliefs being baptized Mormon is the way to do that. None of that is surprising or offensive to me. Of course, I don't think it would do anything for her, but I'm not Mormon.

Which reminds me, do Mormons think non-Mormons can get to heaven?

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Jordan
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I believe that baptism for the dead only counts if the dead person, in their presumed existence in "spirit prison," desires it; the baptised person does not necessarily accept the ordinance according to LDS theology.

In other words, it works a little like telemarketing—only an order of magnitude more innocuous. The most immediate reasons I can see for people complaining about it are a misunderstanding of the doctrine, general dislike of Mormons or that one actually believes in the practise but bizarrely doesn't want to offer some individuals the opportunity for baptism.

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Jesse
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quote:
Which reminds me, do Mormons think non-Mormons can get to heaven?
Yes.

We just don't all go to the same heaven.

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seekingprometheus
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I don't see a valid reason for interference with this practice. This practice is really no different than praying for the soul of a dead individual. It doesn't really impose upon anyone other than those who participate in the performance of the ritual.

I can understand indignation with the arrogance of the practitioners--offense taken at the assumption that only mormon authority is valid for performing salvatory rites--but such irritation doesn't seem a valid reason to try to interfere with the private religious practices of a group of individuals who are not actually doing anything to anybody.

Taking legal action to bar such a practice is as absurd as attempting to bar prayers uttered in behalf of a deceased individual. Mormons may not be doing themselves any social favors by acting in a way that implies that the authority of their rituals is superior to the authority of the rituals of other religions, but they certainly aren't compelling others to accept the authority of or participate in mormon rituals.

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cherrypoptart
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Maybe I shouldn't ask this but that never stopped me before... and notice I'm not singling out any specific religion here so don't jump to conclusions.

Are there any religions that let you eventually become a God and control your own world(s)?

Edited to add: Hmmm... I guess that should be a lower case "G" there, or should it?

[ April 02, 2007, 12:26 AM: Message edited by: cherrypoptart ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Are there any religions that let you eventually become a God and control your own world(s)?
Do you mean aside from mormonism? This is mormon doctrine--the righteous will eventually become Gods themselves.
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pickled shuttlecock
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I had fun with that one on my mission.

We were teaching a follower of Rev. Moon, and he asked us what we'd like to do with our afterlife. I said I'd want to make worlds and put people on them to help them become gods themselves. My companion stared at me like I had just grown another head...

... and the investigator said, "Yeah, that sounds great. Why didn't I think of that?"

[Big Grin]

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cherrypoptart
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Okay, I thought I'd heard that but didn't want to ask directly in case I was wrong.

But it's kind of like Shinto.

Although in Shinto you don't really become a powerful God controlling other planets. But at least your descendants remember and revere you (worship might be a little strong nowadays).

In a way, that's why it's so important to have children if you're a Shintoist. Nobody will remember you like your children might (hopefully), and if there is no supernatural afterlife and this is the only immortality (really only longevity) available, through the memories of those who loved you, then for those who have nothing else, hopefully this will be enough to keep them on the straight and narrow.

At least it works for me.

Of course there are also our writings to remember us by, which is why I am saving mine. Imagine if our ancestors a thousand years ago had forums like these to express themselves. Wouldn’t that be cool to read? Well, I may be optimistic here, but I hope I have descendants reading these posts I’m saving millennia from now, and if they aren’t impressed at least they are occasionally amused.

Okay but one offshoot of that would then be about our own current God. Perhaps he wasn’t the original then but a former Mormon on another planet somewhere, perhaps outside the expanding sphere (or whatever shape it is) of our own still expanding universe. The Big Bang may have been God’s first heartbeat.

They say there is a star going super nova, exploding somewhere in our universe every two seconds. Perhaps in the multiverse there is a pre-Big Bang singularity exploding every two seconds as well, another God taking control of another universe.

By the way, here is just an idea of mine and I wonder if it’s been heard anywhere else:

Think of the pre-Big Bang singularity as a super massive black hole sucking everything into it that it can. But it does have an event horizon, and the outer limits of that event horizon are beyond even the edges of our still expanding universe. Eventually that singularity (and I don’t really like that word because it wasn’t really infinite mass, just all the mass currently in our universe but the word will do for now) reached some critical mass and exploded.

Now the question is why is the rate of our universe’s expansion increasing? Is there an unknown force, a repulsive force that if found could provide a unified theory of everything? I say no.

The reason why our universe’s rate of expansion is increasing is because of gravity. Our universe is being attracted toward, pulled outward into the incredible mass of what we can call the multiverse that was outside of our pre-Big Bang singularity's event horizon. Not only is our universe being pulled outward, but a lot of matter from the multiverse is being pulled inward as well, and eventually we are in for one spectacular collision. Because the gravitational forces of attraction are proportional to the square of the distances between two objects, it means that the closer our universe gets to the matter of the multiverse, the greater the pull between the two, and that is why the rate of our acceleration is increasing.

Now this does give us hope. Instead of all matter being flung apart or a big crunch, eventually our universe will mingle in with the multiverse into a steady state and intergalactic travelers could survive indefinitely as long as they avoided the event horizons of other pre-Big Bang singularities. These beings would be as Gods to us.

Just a thought…

[ April 02, 2007, 02:00 AM: Message edited by: cherrypoptart ]

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Carlotta
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This is an honest question. If people get to become gods and rule their own planets, how do families stay together forever? If a man and his wife rule one planet, but their son and his wife also get to that level, how does the family stay together if they get their own planet?
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Lobo
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frequent flyer miles...
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TheDeamon
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quote:
Originally posted by Carlotta:
This is an honest question. If people get to become gods and rule their own planets, how do families stay together forever? If a man and his wife rule one planet, but their son and his wife also get to that level, how does the family stay together if they get their own planet?

Governance by telecommuting? [Cool]
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
This is an honest question. If people get to become gods and rule their own planets, how do families stay together forever? If a man and his wife rule one planet, but their son and his wife also get to that level, how does the family stay together if they get their own planet?
It's always amusing to see where the suspension of disbelief hits a snag. Religious narratives or straight up popcorn action dramas, it's always the same sort of thing:

Sure, I can accept that an alien from the planet Krypton came to earth, and looks exactly like humans but he can fly and see through things and has super-strength...but if he caught a falling helicopter with one hand by the landing skid--wouldn't the skid bar bend? That's just too much of a stretch for me.

[Smile]

[ April 02, 2007, 09:17 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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DaveS
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According to Clark, "The Mormon version of God is omniscient. He knows all that has happened and all that will happen". In the Mormon faith, are the Gods we can become of a lesser stature than the God who created us all? If so, are they really Gods if The God already knows what they will do?
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Everard
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Just a note: Jordan's statement is only valid under a theology that is mormon, or similar to mormonism. That is, if the theology says the baptism is binding, then the baptism could be more then just an invitation
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DonaldD
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There should be a rule about using Superman as a metaphor in one post followed immediately by another post starting with the words "According to Clark"
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
In the Mormon faith, are the Gods we can become of a lesser stature than the God who created us all? If so, are they really Gods if The God already knows what they will do?
If we can understand "greater or lesser stature" as "greater or lesser glory," then the current God will always have greater glory. (Glory is essentially a pyramid scheme).

But if you refer to authority, then it is important to understand that mormon doctrine posits God as subject to a higher authority--He is bound by eternal laws (no mention of whence these derive). Mormon doctrine explicitly states that God is only God because he conforms to eternal laws. So in terms of authority, current mortals who apotheosize will be subject to the same set of laws as current the God. (In fact, it would seem that the only reason that we are not Gods now is because we haven't attained the understanding/power necessary to comply completely and self-sufficiently with "eternal laws."

Of course, all of this is fairly nebulous. Much (though not all) apotheotic doctrine is based on non-canonical statements by church authorities rather than explicit canonical text.

[ April 02, 2007, 09:47 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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DaveS
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Donald, [Smile] !
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DaveS
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quote:
But if you refer to authority, then it is important to understand that mormon doctrine posits God as subject to a higher authority--He is bound by eternal laws (no mention of whence these derive).
Wow! I didn't realize that Mormons believe thta God is subject to a higher authority! Your post poses all kinds of fundamental issues that I won't ask this thread to explain, not the least of which is that how that is supposed to work is "nebulous".
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Richard Dey
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I vahnt to become a god-dess! - Livia, to Claudius -
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Kent
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1. Poor and rich Mormons pay 10% of their income in tithing. A poor person may approach his/her Bishop and explain that there are more bills than money to pay them. The Bishop then will often pay the bills that the individual cannot pay. As a financial clerk in my ward, I cut the checks and sign them with the Bishop. I assert that those that say that paying tithing is a burden on the poor avoid the bigger picture that help is readily available through their Bishop.

2. One of my other callings is over Family History, which includes baptisms for the dead and other temple ordinances. Members are instructed to only do temple work for their direct ancestors within the last 110 years (give or take). After that time frame, the privacy/legal issues are not applicable. The ordinance of baptism is exactly the same as for any new convert, but with additional words saying that this baptism is performed on behalf of the dead individual. That is it.

3. I believe that God knows all that can be known.

Does God know the future by experiencing time all at once like many Christians believe? I don't know that such a belief is necessary to have faith in God, and may preclude the notion of free will. Do many Mormons believe that God knows the future before it happens? Yes. Is it part of Mormon doctrine? Not necessarily. Here is a blog that deals with the concept of God and timelessness. God is not timeless, deal with it

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Kent
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The whole "gods over other worlds" is the long skinny branches of Mormon belief, meaning, there is very, very little doctrine on the issue and immense speculation. I find the views of Blake Ostler (a Mormon theologian of sorts) persuasive and I will give you my answers with some footnotes if you wish to pursue them. The following is from a blog (linked at the end of the quote) where Blake is responding to the discussion of attaining godhood:

quote:
Richard: Let me begin with an observation. I’m very picky about using terms that have some content (that’s what taking philosophy of logic and language classes did to me). When we say “Bob did X,” and we have no idea what “X” means or entails, I assert that we haven’t really asserted anything at all about what Bob did.

So let me get very clear about what your question seems to me to entail. You say: “Regardless of how spirits are organized, brought into, or adopted into the family of God the Father in their pre-mortal existence, do you believe that individuals married eternally will be able to organize, bring into, or adopt individuals into an eternal family themselves?” So you are saying regardless of what I mean by deified individuals begetting spirit children (= X), do I believe that that they do it (= X)? That isn’t a question — it just doesn’t have content. Do I believe in viviporous birth of spirits from a resurrected female? No. Do I believe that humans as gods must enage in intercourse to beget spirits? No. Do I believe that spirits are birthed from a prior state of intelligences and then become spirit-born-spirits? No — and neither did Joseph Smith.

“Do you believe human beings have to potential to receive or carry the mantle, status, role, or calling of a Priest, King, and Heavenly Father, presiding over a posterity in exactly the same manner in which he presides over his posterity?” Priest and prophet presiding over family, yes — we already do it as mortals. Do we become a Heavenly Father? No, there is already a Heavenly Father and we don’t become that being. Do we take on a role of Heavenly Father? What role do you mean by “Heavenly Father” if you see that term as role? If you mean “Most High God,” the “one more intelligent than all other intelligences,” the “God of all other gods,” then the answer is clearly “no” since each of these roles admits of only one at most that fulfills such a superlative role. Moreover, these scriptural statements provide the reason for my assertions — of necessity there is only one Most High, most intelligent and God of all others.

“Do you, in short, believe that beings now human, when fully participating in the Godhead (and all the rest above), have the potential to become Heavenly Parents, Creators of worlds, Kings, Priests, and worship-worthy in the same way that God the Father is?” Heavenly parents — yes — over the children of our own families. Creator-of-worlds? Yes, co-creators together with the Godhead (we don’t fly out to some part of the universe with our wife [wives] that God hasn’t quite gotten to yet and populate it by copulating for eternity — as much I like the idea). Will we be worship-worthy? No. WE will not be the source of light and life — that is the Father through the Son. Perhaps you could provide just one scriptural source or one statement from Joseph Smith or other Church leaders that says that we will be worshiped? I know that humans sit on the throne of God with Jesus, but those who reign with God join the deified around the throne of God in joyous song and praise in Revelations.

Finally, I believe that we become Gods and that we are already gods who have chosen to have a mortal experience. I affirm that those who are exalted will have a glory which is a fulness and a continuation of seeds forever — whatever that means (and I’m not really sure what it means). I affirm that those who are exalted shall be gods because they have no end and are from everlasting to everlasting because they continue and all things are subject to them and that they are gods because they have power and the angels are subject to them.

Comment by Blake — March 26, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

One of the main differences between Mormon belief and traditional "creedal" Christianity is the belief that humans and gods are not different in substance/nature (HOMOOUSIOS), rather in development. As seekingprometheus alluded to, glory is the main element of godliness that humans lack. We believe that Jesus and his Father have three elements, a spirit body, an incorruptable physical body, and glory. The glory is that element of their nature which is provides access to knowledge and experiences outside themselves (a type of infinite broadband data transference).

Click on the following link for a very brief treatment on the question: Can Humans be Deified?

[ April 02, 2007, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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Zorro Enojado
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I for one as a Mormon would think Heaven would be pretty boring if only Mormons were up there. Also if anyone who is Mormon was paying attention to the last few General Conferences, the message has been to be a better Christian, and not just a better Mormon. That means stop thinking you are better than anyone else and truly care for and love your neighbors (my interpretation).
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Kent
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Hey, I take pride in my humility!
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The Drake
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Just leave me alone, and let me decompose in peace when I die. If there were an afterlife, I wouldn't want to spend it drinking root beer and having to be in charge of a whole planet. [Wink]
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Zorro Enojado
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You could also drink Caffeine free Pepsi and play basketball while you ate Jell-O with carrots in it!!!
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Jesse
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quote:
and play basketball
You forgot "badly".

[Big Grin]

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Zorro Enojado
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I didn't, I just forgot about the prayer before the fight which makes it bad.
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Carlotta
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You know, other than the fact that I can't accept the theology (or the green jello, yuck), Mormon community life sounds pretty awesome. I like how everyone is expected to tithe 10%, and if you're in need you're not excused from it, but the church will actually help you out in paying your bills. My church could learn from y'all.
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gruevy
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It doesn't sound like anyone really answered the question about whether people from other religions go to heaven, so here's the short answer:

Yes - of course they do. Those people who never heard the true religion in life, or never really had felt the Spirit confirming that it is true, have an opportunity after death to accept the true Gospel and Jesus Christ as their savior. We believe that the righteous who die, either some of them or all, are actively engaged in missionary work in the world of spirits, to which one goes after death.

Those people who accept the true gospel in death have the necessary ordinances performed for them in our temples. (We actually have the goal of performing them for everyone who ever lived.) The baptisms for the dead are one part of this. That way, those who accept the gospel after dying are made partakers in the very same blessings that those who accept it during life recieve - there is no difference between a 16th century Chinese person who accepts the gospel after death and a modern Mormon who lives his religion.

As for becoming gods, the scriptures tell us that we become joint-heirs with Christ, recieving all that the Father has, and that we will have eternal increase. What -exactly- that means is up to personal interpretation.

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Lobo
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By the way, I drink Dr. Pepper WITH caffeine and they still let me go to church...
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Jesse
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Hey!!!

I answered it.

[Razz]

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gruevy
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About the caffeine thing, the official church stance is that we are not to drink coffee or black tea. No tobacco or alcohol either. The Lord has never found it necessary to clarify that he meant caffeine, and it is not forbidden in any way by the church to drink it. Every few years, Church headquarters has to release statements to the bishops explaining that they are not to refuse temple recommends to people who drink caffeine because this is such a hugely misunderstood tenet of our faith.
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gruevy
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Ya Jesse, you did, but I thought it could stand to be a little clearer [Big Grin]
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Kent
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Hey, for the most part we completely ignore the counsel to be vegetarians except in times of famine and winter; caffeine is least of our worries with obeying the word of wisdom.
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gruevy
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good point
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Richard Dey
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Kent, if you have 10th-century ancestors who were baptized by LDS, can you get them unbaptized? or do they have to do something really naughty [Wink] ?
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