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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Infallible Authority, Chapter Five

Like the Nephites of Old
by J.J. Dewey
( To read the previous chapter, click hereTo start this series at the beginning, click here.)

The Council of Fifty was to consist of as many as 53 members, and membership in the Church was not a qualification for being called into the Council. Joseph Smith had several non-members in it.

What was the purpose of the Council of Fifty? The purpose was to govern the dominions in the Kingdom of God in all areas of life, allowing the individual maximum use of his agency.

The number 53 is a composite of three other numbers: 49, 3, and 1. The number 49 is created out of seven sevens, signifying perfection and the end of spiritual evolution in this system. The Council of Forty-nine is composed of seven smaller councils which preside over seven different areas of human endeavor which include, but are not limited to:

(1) politics and defense
(2) philosophy
(3) education
(4) the arts
(5) science
(6) religion
(7) finance and business

The “three” may or may not be positions held by the presidency of the Church to preside over spiritual affairs.

The one is a position held by he who holds the keys of the priesthood or the key to the knowledge of God. This person may or may not be president of the Church. When the Kingdom is fully established, he generally will not be; however, Joseph Smith, through necessity, temporarily held both positions. This person would guide (not dictate to) the whole Kingdom and set in order the lower councils; yet he, himself, could be reproved by the councils, for every man is subject to error as well as checks and balances.

While it is true that God will not let the Kingdom of God fail, this is no guarantee for the success of the Church; for God can shift the Kingdom from people to people according to their worthiness. Each time there is a shift, the faithful few in the former organization become leaders in the next. For instance, the twelve apostles of Jesus were the faithful of the Jews and they became the leaders when the Gospel was given to the Gentiles. In our day, Joseph warned the church that God could pass them by “and bestow these blessings upon another people.” (DHC 5:427 If the Church cannot fail, then why did Joseph say this?

Why did the Lord say, “Beware of pride lest ye become as the Nephites of old”? (D&C 38:39) Are church members becoming as the Nephites of old? Are they full of pride? What did the Lord mean by this? To find out, let us see what happened to the Nephites.

The Nephites lived in peace and harmony for over 200 years - something we have not duplicated. We are told that there was not “any manner of ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the Kingdom of God.” (4Nephi 18) Finally, “they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.” (v.23)

At this time, the people made their fatal mistake: “There began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and the fine things of the world. And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.” (verses 24-25)

Is the church following in their footsteps? Do the rich among them take pride in having more than his neighbor? Do they not boast of their fine homes and cars and their jewelry and their cabin in the hills? Do they not feel that they are more blessed of God because of their righteousness and hard work, and that if a man is poor, it is because he is lazy, or has not paid a full tithe, or is lessor than the rich in some way?

Have the Saints not ceased to even experiment with equality in the material world as the Nephites did? Is this not because members treasure the riches of this world more than the Kingdom of God? Is the church making any attempt to live the United Order today? Nay. The members shrink from it and hope that they will not live to see the day when they will be asked to sacrifice.

They forget that the purpose of the true United Order is not to make the rich poor, but to make all people rich and each man is to be equal in earthly things that he can also be equal in heavenly things; but the rich in their pride want to be above the poor, and even many of the poor want to be rich so they can be above their fellow men.

Today many make excuses for not living the foundation principles by saying that it is not practical in today’s society - that they will not have to live it until the Prophet commands them to go back to Jackson County. These are words whispered into members’ ears by the adversary to “lull us into carnal security” so we will not live the commandments, for the “tomorrow” (when all are supposed to live by that which was written) never comes to the unbelievers, whereas it is always “today” for the righteous.

It is indeed true that many early attempts to live the United Order failed. This was largely due to the “unrighteous dominion” of authority and the lack of free agency to the members of the orders. It is obvious that God is not going to come down here and show us all the details that will make it work. What is needed is experimentation through free will participation. Then when orders are set up that
actually create more wealth and freedom for the individuals as well as the whole, this should then be pursued.

Instead of doing many things of our own free will to bring to pass much righteousness the church has been burying its talent in the ground for over 100 years and waiting for some thunderbolt of a revelation before moving ahead. Alas, the wait will be forever unless the church acts upon what it has already received.

The next thing that happened to the Nephite church was that “they began to be divided into classes.” (Verse 26) Some in the church may say that the doctor and the lawyer are in the same class as the janitor, but if you ask the janitor you will get a different view.

Next, “they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true Church of Christ… there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of His gospel.” (verses 26-27)

The Nephites built up churches “unto themselves.” Is this happening among the LDS today? What does this mean? Basically, it means teaching the doctrines of men and to drift from the revelations of God to relying on the wisdom of men or the “arm of flesh.” The authorities have put away the more precious parts of the gospel and now rely on the wisdom of men for guidance instead of revelation. The principle of revelation has been dropped from the church. No one has presented a new one for generations.
What does this leave us with? It leaves us with the doctrines of men and a church built toward the gain of the men involved.

How does one “build up churches unto themselves to get gain?” Does this mean to use religion to get money? It does, but this is not all. It also means to build up churches to get gain and praise from the world. When the world applauds the church for the beautiful buildings and temples and schools and engraven images, murals, the Olympics, etc, while at the same time the cries of the humble in spirit who walk “in low places unnoticed” ascend up to the Lord of the Sabaoth for spiritual deliverance, then we have the building up churches unto ourselves to get gain.

In the days of Brigham Young, tithing went into a “Common Fund.” If a man was poor and wanted to start up a business, he could borrow from this fund and pay it back later when he was successful. Brigham Young planned on running the entire state of Deseret from the tithing money and he actually took steps to do away with all taxes so he could run the entire kingdom from the common fund. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if he could have succeeded? How would you like to have as your only tax today that of voluntary tithes and offerings?

However, if the church used more tithing money for the benefit of the members today, then they would receive less praise from the world, and besides it would be “inconvenient” for they are in need of large and spacious buildings, and schools, and parks, and apartment complexes, and insurance companies, and orchards, and sugar trusts and hotels and on and on.

Where does all the tithing and donation money go? Not even the press can find it all out. What salaries do the general authorities receive? The salaries of our public servants are published; then why not church leaders? We are told that “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another; wherefore the world lieth in sin.” (D&C 49:20) Thus, all their salaries should be the same, yet they are not. As one progresses higher in position, he receives more pay. This is the practice of the world, but it should not be in the church.

Can you think of a more comfortable position financially than being an authority in the Church? You are guaranteed a substantial salary until you die. No discipline is necessary to pay tithing for it is already taken out of the paycheck, but not to worry for your income rises far enough above average so you will not miss it.

How can one without a financial care in the world have sufficient empathy to help those who are living from paycheck to paycheck?

Alas, the Assyrian (authorities) takes from the innocent and gathers from “all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.” (Isa. 10:14) As prophesied, the lowly members do not raise a peep at any move taken by the authorities, just or unjust, for fear of their eternal soul.

The only one getting any blame in the church is the humble members at the bottom of the totem pole. But does the Lord blame the lowly member? Nay:
“Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; As I live saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 
Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them”. (Ezek 34:7-10)
This scripture applies to the shepherds today as much as any period in history, except they repent. Why, O why do people in every age think that they are somehow different from the past and that this time round they can trust their souls to the integrity of their leaders rather than in the hands of God through his Spirit?

“The more things change the more they remain the same” comes to mind.
Copyright J.J. Dewey, used with permission.
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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered why the G.A.'s receive a salary. For don't our scriptures teach that our Church should have no paid ministry?

We say we don't pay our ministers but then we do, for so many G.A.'s are paid so well, even though many were very successful in their careers & probably could have easily supported themselves.

I see so many widows & fatherless in the Church struggling financially & suffering greatly, who, the scriptures teach, are supposed to come very 1st, even before healthy male church leaders.

True religion is caring for the widows & the fatherless & the poor.

Did Joseph Smith completely expect the Church to support him & his family & all the Apostles & their families too?

I do not believe it was at all right for leaders to keep collecting wives & expect the Church to provide for them all & the man not have to do that himself.

Didn't King Benjamin in the BoM teach that even the Prophet should work with his own hands & support himself & not expect others to support him?

I have never understood why healthy able bodied male leaders with successful careers receive money before, & instead of, the widows & the fatherless, who then are made to suffer.

Jon said...

I thought the scriptures said that paying ministry is OK. I thought it was false doctrine saying they shouldn't be paid. Can't remember where those scriptures are at the moment, otherwise I would site them.

Either way, it has disturbed me that it is a teaching in the church but once you get in the higher ups it's not adhered to anymore.

Tyler said...

Paid or not paid isn't really important to me as much as the following:

1)The church doesn't call it a salary, they call it a stipend so that the general membership can be told that our clergy are volunteers. That, to me, seems completely dishonest. I remember telling people on my mission that our church leadership was a volunteer force. I lied.

2)I'd like to know how many of the apostles, actually refuse their "stipend". After all, you'd expect that since many of them did come from successful careers, where they responsible saved for retirement, that they wouldn't really need the stipend. Assuming the church pays for their travel expenses etc etc, there is no reason why many of them couldn't simple say they don't need the stipend. Overall the concept that the stipend itself is a fixed amount simple suggests that just like the world the leadership of our church views their salary as a indication of the value of the position they hold.

Dead Poet said...

Wasn't the Law of Consecration removed as a commandment from the church because of the failure to live it correctly and replaced with the Law of Tithing?

goingtozion said...

Dead Poet-

The United Order fell apart, which was a system designed to get the people to live the law of consecration. The Law of consecration is eternal. The only place that tithing replaces consecration is mentioned, is in the heading of section 119 and the heading is a contemporary addition that is not scripture. We still covenant to live the law of consecration in the Temple.

“In your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld” (D&C 70:14; see also D&C 49:20; 78:5–7).

Basically, we can’t be saints; we can’t be who we are supposed to be unless we are in Zion, living the law of consecration. Many people have covenanted to do so as they went through a temple, but don’t live up to those covenants made that day.

Tyler said...

The united order was an implementation of the law of consecration and it is my personal belief that it was wrong. I believe that the is a very large misunderstanding surrounding the law of consecration, how it is to be properly implemented and how because of it there will "No poor among them"

While in liberty jail Joseph wrote this.

Again, we would suggest to the brethren, that there be no organization of large bodies upon common stock principles, until the Lord shall signify it in a proper manner. (Millennial Star, 5:69.)

As far as I know Joseph made no other major discussion around the Law of Consecration and based on that quote it seems to me, that the Lord has not revealed the means by which the law of consecration is to be lived. Which means that any organization (including the church) that implements a system intent on living the law consecration is basing those mechanics on the "arm of flesh"

This is made clear if you read a bit more about how the United Order was run.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the law of consecration isn't complete without the inclusion of the term "stewardship".

This is essential to the law. The law of consecration is not intended to protect the weak from failure, it is not intended to "redistribute wealth". It is intended to outline the placement of stewardship over a domain and thereby place responsibility of that domain to he who have said stewardship.

Much like the parable of the talents. The Lord expects that when we are entrusted with a stewardship that we improve it, that we take what has been given and through our effort return more then we were given.

I find it interesting that there is no case in the parable of the talents for the servant who tries and returns less then he was given. There is only 5 returns 10, 2 returns 4 and the servant who returns the same as he was given. He is called slothful and what he is given is taken from him and given to him who has 5.

This is interesting because the scriptural account ultimately states.

"each according to his ability" mat 25:14

there is another famous quote that warps the above statement.

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/karlmarx136396.html

In my opinion communism is a great evil. I find it difficult to believe that we as saints will one day be living "communism" and it won't be evil. Which suggests to me that I've made a grave error in understanding the law of consecration and stewardship.

Andy said...

"The law of consecration is not intended to protect the weak from failure."

Hmmm...someone desperately needs to read King Benjamin's sermon, particularly Mosiah 4:16-26. Without Christ's atonement we are all weak failures destined for a unpleasant after-life in hell.

Stewardship plays a vital part in the Lord's plan for His children, for sure. But stewardship means we do what He wants us to do with His stuff. And His way always includes love, not casual dismissal of the poor as weak failures.

Oh, and they should probably also read Jacob 4:12-21.

Anonymous said...

Tyler,

I agree that we can only trust the things that we can 'prove' Joseph Smith really taught about principles pertaining to things like the Law of Consecration.

If polygamy was evil, as Joseph said it was, then we can't go by anything any leader says or taught who came after Joseph.

Even the temple ordinances & teachings are all very suspect if they can't be proven to be completely from Joseph Smith or the scriptures.

We now need to just wait on understanding things like the 'Law of Consecration', etc., until Joseph & Christ returns & cleanses or restores the Church again with it's true doctrines.

In the meantime we can still do all we can to financially support all the widows & the fatherless (single mothers) around us, so they don't have to go to work & leave their children & homes.

Tyler said...

Andy:

The purpose of the law of consecration is not to protect the weak from failure. It is not to redistribute wealth. The relationship between this statement and my own personal relationship with charity and "protecting" the weak are highly irrelevant.

I don't think the bible could, however, be less clear.

"And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" mat 25:28

No where did I say that the poor are weak failures. I said, let me repeat it again. The law of consecration is not intended to protect the weak from failure. This means if and when a man given a stewardship has proven himself unable to successfully produce from this stewardship his stewardship should be removed and given to one who can. Further more it is clear that once he has proven his failure (according to his ability) he should be cast out, despite his protests.

Anonymous@2:58pm:

Of course we can, and we should. Again the parable , clearly says "according to his ability". Supporting and helping those in need I believe is a separate principle, linked solely on the fact that we are responsible for making some type of intelligent decision as to whether someone is truly outside their realm of ability. A very hard decision to make in some cases and very easy to make in others.

goingtozion said...

I agree that the United Order wasn't a good idea. It was done with good intentions but was set up for failure. It was trying to create a Gentile solution to a Zion system. Consecration can only be done out of desire. Those who have had the change of heart and desire to truly follow Christ all the way, will want to do what they can and in so doing it will naturally live the law of consecration.

Brokenbyclouds said...

An excellent example of the nature of parables: doctrinal and spiritual truths disguised by allegory and metaphor so that the spiritually insensitive can't figure out what they're about.

But no, I'm sure it was meant as a literal economics lesson and not about something else altogether.

Jon said...

I think following the Law of Consecration will be similar to anarcho-capitalism. I think people will have more than another person, but that person that will have more, will hold it in common with the people, e.g., Let's say George has a boat, Jon doesn't want a boat but enjoys going out with George on occasion. George has just lived the Law by sharing what is his. I may have other things that I enjoy and share with others, thereby I live it also.

Living the LoC is different than living in Zion, Zion will have other things attached to it also, that will make it more like a cooperative, where you pay into a central fund, voluntarily of your excess wealth, to help the poor and people that have fallen on bad times, e.g., George's house burns down and he uses the funds in the coop to rebuild, which, one day, he repays. This will be done is small groups, not large groups.

Now excess of wealth doesn't mean that you don't save for a rainy day or use funds to expand your business from monies you earn, excess, means the same wealth that we would give to charitable offerings like most of us already do today (at least I hope so).

At least that's how I see it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jon said,

"excess of wealth...means the same wealth that we would give to charitable offerings like most of us already do today."

I think you nailed it, Jon. The term "excess wealth has been a sticking point for many of us because we have interpreted it to mean "everything we own other than what we require for our basic subsistence." That idea scares us, because if feels like we will end up with next to nothing.

The key word is "wealth." We would be permitted (and "permitted" itself is not the right word because the system would be voluntary) to keep as much of our wealth as we felt to. Each individual would merely donate whatever HE considers excess; pretty much the same, as you say, those of us who tend to be charitable already normally do.

Andy said...

Tyler:

I apologize for misunderstanding your comment and for being snippy. I had a recent conversation with someone who basically dismissed the principle of caring for the poor. So when I saw the line "the law of consecration is not intended to protect the weak from failure" followed by "it is not intended to 'redistribute wealth'" I took it to mean "screw the poor." Because my associate basically says "screw the poor" despite all that scripture says on the topic and because he often uses the term "redistribute wealth" as a kind of arrow to shoot down the Lord's commands I mistakenly projected his attitude onto you. So again I apologize.

Dead Poet said...

goingtozion, thank you. I have gone through the temple and made those covenants, and it has always been confusing to me, because I was taught when I first joined that the law of consecration is not required right now.

Now, a lot of people equate the law of consecration with communism. What about socialism? I don't understand a lot about either form of government, other than that they are apparent swear words and you are a bad person and not a true American if you like the idea of them. But in socialism, is it not possible to have more worldly goods than someone else, yet everyone still has their basic needs met? Everyone has a place to live, everyone has clothes to wear, everyone has food eat, everyone has access to medical care. But someone who makes more money than me is able to buy a bigger house, better clothes, and fancier food, plus maybe an Xbox if they want it. I know that in socialism that all these things are paid for by taxes, and taxes are not voluntary, but is this a better way of looking at it? Not perfect, but better?

P.S. I do NOT want to turn this into a political discussion.

Gary said...

Dead Poet:

"Now, a lot of people equate the law of consecration with communism. What about socialism?"

I would amend your statement with ...erroneously equate the law...

Communism and socialism and most all other "isms" are counterfeits of God's truths. The law of consecration is the truth...communism is the error. Capitalism itself was a word coined by Marx to disparage free enterprise and give it a stigma with the people. I won’t try to go into the whole history, but suffice it to say that most everything God has given man has been corrupted either by Satan or man in its implementation at one time or another.

Tyler said...

Andy:

I understand and felt no ill will toward your response.

In fact your response made me ponder the usage of the phrase "weak from failure". I think I should have written to "protect anyone from failure", weak or strong.

Protecting from failure comes in a much different principle. Which is the principle of repentance.

goingtozion said...

Dead Poet-


I was at the SLC Temple for a sealing this summer and my wife and I spoke with the second counselor in the presidency while we were there. I told him that in the temple interview questions we are asked if we keep the 5 covenants we make in the temple. I told him that if we didn’t keep the law of chastity we wouldn’t get the renewal but no one keeps the law of consecration. How does that work. He said that it was ended (or removed, I forget which). I asked where it said that in the scriptures. He said he didn’t know because he wasn’t a historian. I couldn’t believe he said that. I have taken the opportunities to speak with several temple presidents and they in my experience have been well learned in the scriptures and other good works. How could he not know such an essential and basic principle and part of the temple?

The truth is, it is still in effect. The Lord is waiting for us. What is everyone’s game plan? Wait for Monson or Packer or Perry? It will not happen that way. The scriptures…especially the Book of Mormon and D&C are clear and direct. The Gentiles(adopted into Ephraim for the most part) are to gather the Lamanites who will build Zion. They will take the lead, not us. The law of consecration and inheritance are essential commandments and resultant states of those who go and follow the Savior.

Anonymous said...

an interesting read--

Nobody knows how much general authorities receive? That protects the best and the worst among them, then, doesn't it?

However, those who had humbler positions would need more money, so those who turn down the stipend would be those who succeeded best in Babylon. What a mess.

The church has become highly stratified, of course, whatever stipend general authorities do or do not receive. It is seen as easily on a ward and stake level as on a "general" level. Level. Should be no levels.

Council of 50. Fascinating. Where does one read about that?

Micah said...

He says the press can't figure out where tithing goes and that we don't know what the "stipend" is to the GA's but then assumes he knows and they have more based on their position. I don't understand this logic. Loved it other than this.