Updated 6 January 2006 (minor update)
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I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and while growing up I held to the maxim taught in 2 Nephi 25:23 which says: "...for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." As a faithful LDS adult I held many positions in my local ward and taught this truth to teenagers and children, as well as attending the temple regularly. I also read LDS scriptures faithfully, reading the Book of Mormon many, many times, as well as the Doctrine and Covenants, Bible, and Pearl of Great Price.
One day while reading in the Bible, I was reading about individuals who apostatized in 2 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy, and realized that in both instances the key Paul gave them to avoid apostasy was to hold on to what was found in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 2 and 2 Timothy 3).
The scriptures tell us Jesus was born for a specific purpose. He was born to live and die for His people: to reconcile us to God and to build us--His church--into a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, that will honor and glorify Almighty God forever. Those who are alive in Christ celebrate His birth because of the wonderful and mighty things He has done.
The LDS Church holds a different viewpoint about Christ and what He has done. It teaches that one aspect of the very work Jesus left His throne in heaven to accomplish was quickly overthrown by wicked men; in the task of building His church, Jesus failed. This is Mormonism's Great Apostasy doctrine.
During the April 2005 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "This past decade has been a wonderful season in the history of the Church. There has been a remarkable flowering of the work. There have been many meaningful accomplishments." President Hinckley continued on to name several of these accomplishments including the building of temples, additional language translations of the Book of Mormon, and the building of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also mentioned the numeric growth of Church membership, noting the increases in stakes and wards around the world. President Hinckley left the Latter-day Saints with a very rosy picture of the state of the LDS Church.
That's why it was so interesting to read a series of articles published by the Salt Lake Tribune in late July, 2005. Regarding LDS Church membership, these articles tell a decidedly different story.
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