The story of Mormonism Part 3 | Ideas of God and rituals
The Mormons say that their Christian denomination is the only true Church since it was founded by Joseph Smith through divine authority. Yet, like many other denominations, their theology is underpinned by the existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Unlike those other denominations, they believe, all three have separate and distinct personalities. The Father and Son have perfect physical forms, but the Holy Ghost's existence is a spiritual one. Yet, despite their undetached physical properties, they act in one accord, known collectively as the Godhead. This Godhead is the literal father of all pre-mortal men and women, spirits.
In addition to the father, there is a heavenly mother, or the mother in heaven, the mother of human spirits, and the wife of God the father. This belief in a heavenly mother, it is said, is attributed to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. It is one of the beliefs in Mormonism that differs significantly from those of traditional Christian denominations.
The family is complete with all people being children of God. They can be brought to a high, inheriting all that God possesses and becoming joint-heirs with Jesus and can themselves become like God himself.
For that exaltation to take place, pre-mortals must become humans. So, in their spiritual forms, they are given a plan of salvation, an opportunity to be advanced like God himself. They have a choice between accepting and rejecting the plan. Those who accepted the plan transcend to Earth and receive physical bodies with an understanding that they will go through trials and tribulations.
One such trial on Earth then is to learn to choose good over evil. In that process, mistakes are made, sins are committed, and people have become unworthy in the sight of God. Now, in order to be elevated, they must turn to Jesus who paid for the sins of the world with his life. Jesus can save them through atonement - confession, repentance, having faith, living a Christ-like life - and ordinances.
Ordinances, religious rituals, are of special significance. They are performed in the name of Jesus and are led by priesthoods, the power and authority of God given to men. Priesthood holders are leaders in the Church. To attain salvation, people must go through ordinances such as baptism after the age of accountability (eight years old), confirmation, and the reception of the Holy Ghost, performed by laying hands on the head of the newly baptised member.
These ordinances are necessary for salvation, but they are not the end of the story. They are not enough within and of themselves. For example, simply being baptised does not guarantee salvation. The convert must obey God's commandments, repent of any sinful act committed after baptism, and go through other ordinances such as the Lord's Supper.
And for those who have died without going through the requisite ordinances, Mormons, believing that everybody must receive certain ordinances to be saved, perform ordinances on their behalf. It is up to the deceased then to accept or reject these rituals performed on their behalf. These vicarious rituals are performed only after the deceased's genealogical data have been submitted to a temple and correctly processed. Only salvation rituals are performed on behalf of the dead.