I believe in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a Latter-day Saint and a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People who share my belief received a nickname from a book of scripture, The Book of Mormon. I became a member at age eight, and I continue to be so, in spite of provocation and enticement to be otherwise.
To begin to understand me, as I venture to understand others and the universe, my faith and belief cannot be discarded. They stand at my center and periphery, both welcome and intruding, joyful and excruciating. I do not expect everyone to understand, even fellow Latter-day Saints. I do not expect everyone to accept, or even tolerate. I expect myself to tolerate others’ actions, and to cherish their souls with hope and charity.
The following eight ideas illumine what I believe:
I. I believe that I can receive information and knowledge from a Source beyond that of my reason or my senses. I view this Source as the Holy Spirit. At various times in my life, the Holy Spirit provided, and continues to provide experiences and knowledge that I cannot deny. I believe that these did not originate with me, but with that Source.
II. I believe that I am a child of Heavenly Parents, beings of bodies, parts and passions. I believe that I wanted to be like them, so I left Them and gained a body of parts and passions from my earthly parents. I love all of my parents, human and Divine.
III. I believe I labor on a path that leads to a reunion with my Heavenly Parents, and to others whom I have loved and known. The path is called The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
IV. I believe Jesus of Nazareth to be Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son. I believe Jesus Christ was born in the meridian of time, that he lived and taught and suffered and died so that The Gospel could be taught and an Atonement completed. I believe he rose from the dead, and sits on the right hand of God.
V. I believe Jesus established an assembly to perpetuate The Gospel after he departed Earth. I believe that assembly, and the teachings thereof, almost instantly departed from The Gospel in its wholeness and purity. I believe this Great Apostasy began well before the Advent, and continued with increased speed and ferocity after the Ascension.
VI. I believe that to Restore that which was lost, and to begin that which had not, God spoke to a young boy living in upstate New York beginning in 1820. That First Vision reestablished the corporality and personality of Divinity.
VII. I believe that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. I believe it to be an ancient record of some of the people who occupied some parts of the Americas.
VIII. I believe Joseph Smith received authority to act in the name of God, and bind and loose above and below from Heavenly messengers. I believe that he formed again the assembly to perpetuate The Gospel, and that authority continues on the Earth today.
I write these things as a competent witness, having received of the revelations and the Spirit myself. The eight ideas begin my faith — they do not finish it. Nor will it be finished while I remain mortal on this planet. I accept that.
Again, what I wrote above coalesces at the middle of my soul; I hope it also shines in my countenance. I do better some days than others. All of us fall short of the glory of God. All of what I wrote could be, for good or ill, subject to change. Agency does not appear once in a person’s life. I want to always choose the ‘more good’, as Joseph Smith defined the name ‘Mormon.’ May God grant that I may choose wisely, and sit down with you in Their mansions, to go no more out.
In brief: I claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and I accord the same privilege to everyone else. Let all others worship how, where, and what they may.
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Spencer C. Woolley