A friend sent me a link to the web site of a Latter-day Saint couple. Comprised of the couples’ “Epistles and Handouts,” the web site says,
It is our hope that these materials will be of value to you and your family in helping you be better missionaries and stronger more faithful Later-day [sic] Saints in the same way that we hope it will be a strength to my own children, extended family and friends.
An item listed in the Handouts section is a set Testimony Charts, each one depicting the testimonies of people in different stages of their spiritual journeys. Three of the charts are these:
- Proposed Typical Latter-day Saint Testimony
- Less Active Latter-day Saint Testimony
- LDS Apostate Testimony
About these charts the web site says,
These charts are printed in the Book Getting The Water To The End Of The Row. They were intended to help us see that it is not true that we either have a testimony or we don’t. We have a testimony in different degrees of different things.
Because of my Christian background, I would normally understand a “testimony” to be the story of an individual’s salvation experience — changed from sinner to saint by the grace of God. It was apparent that the LDS testimony charts would have to be depictions of something far different. I was intrigued, so I took a look.
The charts contain a list of 38 items. These range from “Know that Jesus is the Christ” to “Believe it is wrong to do bear hug dancing.” A person’s “testimony” of each belief or behavior is then rated on a scale from one (“You believe that the principle is false to the degree that you fight against it in total rebellion”) to ten (“You have received a ‘PERFECT KNOWLEDGE IN THAT THING'”). At the bottom of each list are the words, “This list could go on and on…”
Of the 38 items listed, only one has anything to do with Christ. There are three items each on the topics of temples, meeting attendance, prayer, and ecclesiastical leadership. There are two each on scripture and giving. There is one topic that has more line-item entries than any other: Sunday behavior. In addition to “keeping the Sabbath day holy,” the list includes:
- Believe it is wrong to shop on Sunday
- Believe it is wrong to see movies on Sunday
- Believe it is wrong to watch TV on Sunday
- Believe in not working on Sunday
I think this demonstrates the importance Mormons place on the necessity of keeping this Old Testament command. One of the “requirements for exaltation” listed in the LDS book Gospel Principles is “Keep the Sabbath day holy” (304). The same book includes a teaching on the history of the Sabbath:
…some Jewish leaders made many unnecessary rules about the Sabbath. They decided how far a person could walk, what kind of knot he could tie, and so forth. (160)
Doesn’t this read a lot like the list from the testimony charts?
The Apostle Paul taught, “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” (Colossians 2:16)
I recognize that the web site promoting the testimony charts (and the book the charts are taken from) is not an official, authoritative LDS source for doctrine. Nevertheless, I think it fairly represents how Mormons understand the teachings of their Church regarding what is required of them in order to please God.
A few weeks ago MRM received an email from a Christian woman. She related an incident she had just experienced as she enjoyed a Sunday dinner with her family and a Mormon guest. Following the meal, the LDS guest graciously thanked her hostess for the nice meal. Making conversation, the Christian woman explained that she had found it necessary to go to the grocery store that morning before church in order to have the ingredients needed to prepare the dinner. “Well, you would have thought I killed someone….” the Christian woman wrote. “[My guest] let me know of her disapproval by telling me I should be ashamed of myself.” The hostess explained to her guest that there is freedom in Christ; we can go to the store on Sunday if need be.
The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry web site puts the biblical teaching on the Sabbath into perspective:
The O.T. system of Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that sense. In order to “remain” in favor with God, you had to also keep the Sabbath. If it was not kept, then the person was in sin and would often be punished (Ezekiel 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Deut. 13:1-9; Num. 35:31; Lev. 20:2, etc.).
But with Jesus’ atonement, and justification by faith (Rom. 5:1), we no longer are required to keep the Law and hence the Sabbath which was only a shadow of things to come (Col. 2:16-17). We are not under Law, but grace (Rom. 6:14-15). The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus because in Him we have rest (Matt. 11:28). We are not under obligation to keep the Law and this goes for the Sabbath as well.
While I look forward to Sundays — I love being in church, worshiping the Lord, and receiving the preaching of His Word — I’m very thankful for the undeniable truth of Jesus’ assurance, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)