Some of you are members as well and could say more better than I. Some of you are not, and it is to you I address this. I share this with love and with a desire to let you know what I believe. I have never been very vocal about anything, but especially about my religious views. Even in church I'm the one in the back row whispering answers to myself without wanting to draw attention and say them out loud. I am working to do my religion better justice. The time is here that we must choose what we believe in, what we will live by. This is one step. Please keep in mind I am only qualified to speak for my own thoughts and not for the entirety of my Church. There are other resources for this purpose; www.lds.org or www.mormon.org being a possible first step among them.
I was born into a religious family, and have never been an atheist. I, therefore, don't feel qualified to approach this with an understanding of atheism. For that I refer you to C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity." I am, however, a scientist and an academic. I do not understand the conflict that reconciling religion with academic knowledge presents to most members of the human race, unless its simply that we don't want to admit when we're wrong or that we don't understand. To me nothing makes more sense than God. Nothing is more logical. This one thought, that there is a God, add structure, purpose, meaning and possibility to everything else. What is the meaning of life? Love. The love of God, the love of Christ, the love we have for each other. What is the purpose of life? To learn. To become like God, and through Jesus Christ, to return to Him. All quests for knowledge and truth with lead you to this resounding revelation. I will venture to say that this is what all Christians believe. For me, my religion completes the puzzle. It puts all the pieces of how and why together, and offers an opportunity to know all things. Not just believe, but to know. This doesn't mean that I know everything now. You have read enough of my meanderings to know that about me. But it puts me on the path to learn. Just as in a paint-by-number, if I follow the directions there are no limits as to what is offered me. I can see the big picture through obedience. Everything has a pattern, a structure. To learn an advanced truth you must first learn the foundation that truth is built upon. You need faith that what you are learning, whether it be atomic theory or how to draw, is true. You start with desire and faith, but faith leads to truth.
Some religions wonder why we rely on 4 sets of scripture. Why we trust in modern prophets, apostles and revelation. Why on more than the Bible. Why not? If the Bible is real and true, doesn't that mean that other sources of scripture are real and true too, as long as they originate from God? Would God let you, if you asked him, believe something about him that is not true? No. Never. That would defeat His purpose for us. How can we learn to be like him if we don't know him? If we don't know whats truth and whats not? Before I get lost in my own words let me simplify and be frank.
I believe that we are children of God. I believe that families can be forever. But in order for this precept to be true it must be sealed through proper ordinances by those who have authority from God. Those who have authority are those who hold the Priesthood. The priesthood cannot be used wickedly, the authority of it is taken away if there is wicked intent. Baptism is the first ordinance needed for eternal life. We see Temples as the house of God. There we can perform these ordinances not only for ourselves, but for anyone who has ever lived, if they choose to accept it. I believe that we can return to the presence of God. In order to return, I believe that we must have been with God before coming to Earth. We were with Him, but not like Him. Not perfect. We were spirits, spirit children of God, our Heavenly Father. This life is a period to obtain bodies and to show whether we will follow Him or not. Only by proving ourselves obedient can we accomplish what is required for us to become like Him. Jesus Christ is the living example, and Savior that makes the plan possible. The "way and the light." He is our advocate and teacher. He is the only way justice and mercy can both take place. The only way we, as sinners, can aspire to perfection and return to God. I believe in the Atonement. I believe in the resurrection, that when we die and our spirits leave our bodies they will be united again forever, becoming incorruptible. I believe in the preexistence, judgment and degrees of glory. I believe in eternity. I believe the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are books of scripture and truth from which we can learn the gospel. We have been given all we need to succeed, but we must be active. Faith is not idle. Knowledge without action is wasted; wisdom is knowledge applied. We must learn all we can. We must teach our children with love, as we are taught. We must live what we believe. We must strive to be better. We must try. The living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, is the mouth piece for Christ. Through the prophet, Christ guides His church. There are twelve apostles, just as in days of old. There are revelations today just as in days of old. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever than this must be the same too. If one is true, so is the other. Their purpose, under the direction of Christ and the prophet, is to guide us. To tell us what we need to do. This is Christ's church. That's why his name is in the title. This church is true and good. We are not perfect. Christ said he came to save sinners, and that is what we are. But we have the potential to become like Him, perfected. That is what I believe, and that is what I'm trying to do.
I don't know if any of this made sense, I hope it did. There is a lot I didn't say, but I feel this is sufficient for now. Any more from me right now may be counterproductive. There is always a way to know if what I say is true. Pray and ask. I will close this as we close as testimonies, in the holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen.