Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Actual Message Of The Book Of Mormon

Previously: How To Calculate What You Owe In Tithing

It's no secret that untold thousands of formerly faithful latter-day Saints have been abandoning the faith over the past few years, prompted by the discovery that many of the Church's truth claims appear to have been less than historically accurate. Indicative of this trend is a well-written monograph, Letter To A CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, which outlines many of the problems a growing number of members are currently wrestling with.

Then again, countless other Mormons -myself included- have been aware of these "problems" for decades, yet continue to accept the divine calling of Joseph Smith and embrace the Book of Mormon as quintessentially true
. We are unfazed by what others consider to be damning contradictory evidence.

This dichotomy of opinion recently motivated John Dehlin, proprietor of the popular Mormon Stories Podcast series, to put out a call to those who, although aware of these apparent contradictions, continue to embrace the gospel of the Restoration, and to offer up our reasons for remaining in the faith.  Among those who responded to this request was Brett Bartel, some of whose conclusions mirror my own feelings.

Brother Bartel has graciously allowed me to reproduce his letter below, which I present here as a special Guest Post. As you'll see (and as LDS scholar Daymon Smith has aptly demonstrated), the Book of Mormon provides some stunning insights that many of us have overlooked, and that have been de-emphasized in official Church materials. It will come as no surprise then, that the deeper meaning of the Book of Mormon is often not well understood or appreciated by the general membership of the church. 


What I present below is a slight abridgment of Brett Bartel's letter, the original of which can be accessed here. Because a few introductory statements included in the original were directed to John Dehlin personally, I have left them out in order to adapt the piece to a more general audience. Slight edits have been made for purposes of clarification and formatting, but otherwise what you see below is an accurate presentation of Brett Bartel's remarkable thesis.  Here is that letter:

Making The Case For Belief
Having a testimony is not to be equated with sticking your head in the ground and believing in fairy tales. I do not pretend to have the answers for anything. However, I believe there are legitimate reasons that support investigating the veracity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. And that is what I will attempt to communicate.

First, some background: I have a Masters degree in Molecular Biology. I also have a law degree and I am currently in-house IP counsel for a generic pharmaceutical company. My educational upbringing is critical to understanding my point of view. I participated  in debate from 5th grade all the way up through high school, and I’m a lawyer now. So early on, I have been trained to see both sides of an issue. I believe this skill is essential to discovering truth. I’m also a scientist. I’m comfortable with hypotheses, proving them, and models; and adjusting my model depending on what best fits all data. As data increases, the models adjust.

There are many ways of viewing the Church and the gospel. Some paradigms are closer to the truth than others.

Those who grow up in the church are fed the paradigm that God restored His ancient church through Joseph Smith. That church will retain keys, authority, and will spread throughout the world, will never go astray, and will usher in the Second Coming.  All is well in Zion right? As the Presiding High Priest looks out over us and says, “Aren’t we all a great looking bunch.” (Hel. 13:27-28) We are wonderful aren’t we? However, looking at the corporate Church today, it’s hard to accept that it’s a divine institution. Its behavior doesn’t resemble what’s taught in scripture.

Didn’t we all grow up thinking our Church had angels, miracles, and teachers who spoke to God face to face? Weren’t we told that our Church had this relationship with all other true prophets since the dawn of time? Adam, Noah, Enoch, Peter, James, John, and the 3 Nephites are all on Team Mormon, right? That is what we fell in love with. We were part of the true, ancient organization since the dawn of time.

Now we find out that we are just a registered trademark of a private corporation? Do we see any divinity with the corporate Church? Or do we see media studies, surveys, polls, and overall general lack of knowledge regarding which direction we should head?

Are we Zion, or are we General Motors?

So, what if that is not the right paradigm? Is there a way Joseph Smith could still be a prophet, the Book of Mormon true, yet the Church be a total mess? What if the very things we think we know about the Book of Mormon aren’t what the Book of Mormon is trying to communicate at all? How best do we reconcile the last 180 years?

Here’s one way:

Denver Snuffer wrote a book about how to reconcile the last 180 years. That book, Passing The Heavenly Gift, offers a paradigm in which one who is aware of the Church’s historical issues can happily stay a member and not let the idiocies of the corporate Church or overbearing bishops and stake presidents get to them. I’d like to make it absolutely clear that I in no way speak for Denver, nor am I even attempting to summarize Passing The Heavenly Gift. This letter is not about that. It’s about how I see the Church, how I understand the gospel, and why I still believe in the Book of Mormon. I’m just suggesting that some may have lost an opportunity to reconcile their faith with a workable paradigm. And perhaps it’s because Passing The Heavenly Gift has allowed me to change my paradigm. Or better said, Passing The Heavenly Gift enables me to better articulate my own paradigm, because I have had these questions just hanging out there in an incoherent way for so long.

Reading It Upside Down
What if we’ve gone about understanding the Book of Mormon the wrong way? What if we are wasting our time looking into DNA,[1] artifacts, and names of cities? What if the entire purpose of the Book of Mormon, as understood by the Church, is inaccurate?

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[1] People really need to be patient; scientific models are always changing. According to recent discoveries "nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought."

I would submit that the most important function the Book of Mormon serves is bringing us to deity, helping the individual connect to heaven. You see it on the very first page. In 1st Nephi 1:8, Lehi is brought to the throne of God. We instantly learn that man can dwell in the presence of God. Nephi takes us through his journey and is a witness to God, as well are Jacob and Isaiah. Enos connects with God and receives his calling and election. King Benjamin and Abinidi are ministered to by angels. Both Almas see Christ. Helaman sees Christ. Mormon, Mahonri, and Moroni see Christ.

THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON IS HOW TO SEE CHRIST.

Now.

In the flesh.

It is not a story book. It’s not a morning devotional book; it’s not there to motivate you to feel like a champion. It’s an instruction manual. Nephi gives us all the steps, then the rest of the book fleshes it out.

First it starts with the testimony of someone who knows, Lehi.

Then Nephi,
  • asked to know whether the things his father taught were true,
  • had a desire to believe,
  • received the confirmation of the Holy Ghost,
  • had his obedience tested,
  • received a ministry of angels,
  • pondered over the things he’d received, and
  • received The Second Comforter.
Nephi’s message to us is what he did to connect to heaven. And we ought to emulate that.

So the best way to test to see if the Book of Mormon is true or not, is to follow its teachings and see if you get the results. If the Book of Mormon connects you to heaven, then does it really matter if there were horses in America, or if there was a neighboring town near Palmyra called Zarahemla? (As an aside, why would it be all that terrible if he did name the cities after places he was familiar with? Suppose the way they were really said were: Hangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Makhachkala, Magnitogorsk, Dniprodzerzhynsk -all real cities). I would rather refer to them as Heber, Sandy, Murray, Midvale, and Draper. He may just be trying to communicate ideas, not literal translations. The literal translation of proper nouns will not save you, nor will it connect you to heaven, but he does have to call the places something.

When I say, “connects you to heaven,” I do mean talking to angels, Jesus, and the Father and Mother, not just some really intense experience with the Spirit that could be confused with a spike in dopamine or serotonin in the brain. (Yes, hallucinations are another possibility, but my understanding is that the knowledge one learns from the other side of the veil is the proof that it’s not a hallucination. You learn things your brain just couldn’t come up with on its own.)

The Book of Mormon is filled with so much more than we give it credit for. All the tokens we learn of in the temple are in the first 13 chapters of 1st Nephi. Most of the temple is also in 3rd Nephi. The Book of Enos is all about Enos receiving his Endowment. Temple imagery is everywhere.

One of the biggest proofs to me that the Book of Mormon is true, is the inclusion of all the Isaiah chapters.

Now, you’re thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. That’s just plagiarism. And how is it that he copied the exact structure in the King James Version? That’s not what Isaiah actually wrote. But what if “translation” is more about communicating ideas than a literal word-to-word translation? What if, as Joseph is peering into the hat, he sees the idea that Nephi is trying to convey through the words of Isaiah and so he copies it, so as to communicate the idea?

It’s funny, as a lawyer, I hate it when lawyers play their games. Lawyers can pick apart words to death so as to construe a phrase completely different from what he author intended to communicate. Let’s not get bogged down in words. Words can be ambiguous. I think it best to focus on the idea being conveyed.

So Nephi receives this vision; sees Columbus, the Revolutionary war, and the restoration. He sees the latter-days and the end of the world. But then he says he is “forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard” (1st Nephi 14:38).

So he saw our time. But he’s prohibited from writing about it.

But he figures out a way to communicate a warning to us. He uses the words of Isaiah to communicate an idea to us.

We do this all the time, but we use them for our own purposes. It’s like when people quote Shakespeare and say, “To be or not to be.” Now, usually the person is not contemplating suicide like Hamlet, rather, "do I date this person?" Or "do I take this job?"  If I say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” that doesn’t mean I just left the state of Kansas.

So when Nephi is quoting Isaiah, he’s not giving Isaiah’s message. He knows we already have that in the Bible. He’s giving his own message, but he’s using Isaiah’s words.

Now look at the context. In 1st Nephi he describes his visions, which include the fact that he’s seen our day. Then he gives a whole bunch of Isaiah chapters, and then he gives his own commentary about the latter-days in summary.

(One thing that ought to be clarified: I will discuss many things that we have changed as a church; one of them is the definition of “Gentile.” In Joseph’s day, it was clear that when one referred to gentiles, that term included members of the LDS Church. Even Bruce R. McConkie stated that the LDS church is the gentile church.[2]  In addressing the dedication of the Kirtland temple, it is clear that the LDS church is the Gentile church. D&C 109:60 “Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” Go read the Book of Mormon again, and understand that references to gentiles are references that, at a minimum, include the LDS Church. See how differently you understand the Book of Mormon. I mean it only makes sense right? Mormons are the ones reading the Book of Mormon, the authors ought to be addressing us and not an entire population who will never read the book.)
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[2] "Thus Joseph Smith, of the tribe of Ephraim, the chief and foremost tribe of Israel itself, was the Gentile by whose hand the Book of Mormon came forth, and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have the gospel and who are of Israel by blood descent, are the Gentiles who carry salvation to the Lamanites and to the Jews.” (McConkie, Millennial
Messiah, p 233). “We are those Gentiles of whom Nephi speaks.” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, p 238)



So Nephi uses Isaiah’s words to talk to us. He has some interesting things to say:
"Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness." (1st Nephi 20:1)
This is really interesting because “out of the waters of baptism” is in 1st Nephi, but not in Isaiah 48. So this is different, and it’s clear that he’s talking to those who are baptized—us.
"Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name." (Verse 2)
Hmmm. We tend to call Salt Lake a holy city don’t we? And he’s saying we’re not?!
"And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;" (verse 4)
Great, now he’s telling us that we’re stubborn. I don’t really like where he’s going.

We don’t have time now to go through all the Isaiah chapters, but let’s get to the juicy stuff.
"O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked  ways." (2 Nephi 12:5)
Wait, who’s he talking to again?
"Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots. Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.  And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not." (verses 7-9)
I mean, we’ve all got 401Ks, and nice cars, nice homes, and great careers, but he can’t be talking about us, right? It’s those other guys that are worldly, proud, and idolatrous.
"Moreover, the Lord saith: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet—" (2 Nephi 13:16)
I mean, I know there are a lot of boob jobs in Utah, but that can’t be what this is about.
"And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths." (verse 12)
Personally, I think this is the most interesting. It’s our leaders who cause us to err. We sure hear a lot of “follow the prophet,” but I don’t actually recall that idea in the scriptures. Rather “…the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:41)

(The only support for “follow the prophet, he won’t lead us astray” is in the Official Declaration 1. But if you recall from Daymon Smith’s interview, President Woodruff was not saying that “the Lord wouldn’t allow the President to lead them astray” because it's a true principle, but it was a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, we’re not really giving up polygamy.)[3]
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[3]  And prophets do lead people astray. Aaron was a prophet, and he built the golden calf.

The Lord can’t be deceived, unlike a bishop who can be deceived in a temple recommend interview. And I don’t exactly recall “follow the prophet” as part of the pattern taught in the endowment either. (Pre-1990, there was only one other mortal man in the endowment other than Adam and Eve, and I think the point was to not listen to him, right? Instead we’re to seek messengers from Father.)

Consider Lehi’s vision:
"And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.… as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. (1 Nephi 8:5-7)
So, a man who appears holy, leads him to a wasteland. 
"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me …And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree..." (verses 8-10)
So it’s not until Lehi prays to the Lord that he is delivered from the desolation where the man had led him. Back to Nephi and Isaiah:

After Nephi likens Isaiah unto us, he talks about us a little.
"And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor." (2 Nephi 26:20)
Have we not done this? Our own wisdom? (F.A.R.M.S., FAIR, BYU?)

Gain and grind upon the face of the poor:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Creek_Center
versus:
https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/welfare/2011-welfare-services-fact-sheet.pdf
Chapter 28 is really the best part:
"And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men." (verses 4-5)
Wow! Aren’t we taught we needn’t seek the face of God and search “deep doctrine,” and all we need to do is to sustain our leaders, because they have the keys?  You see, God has given his power unto men through keys.

Doesn’t Correlation kind of “deny the power of God?” I mean, if we all just relied on the Holy Ghost, what need would we have for a correlated curriculum? Couldn’t the Holy Ghost just direct?
 "Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted." (verse 11)
All, huh? Ouch! Sure he’s talking about us?
"Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up." (verses 12-13)
He’s not talking about City Creek and the recent development in Philly, right? Or the land in Florida, and…..
"They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men." (verse 14)
Wow! We’ve ALL gone astray, even you and me. And even the humble err because they follow men. This was so much easier to take when I thought it was talking about Billy Graham and Joel Osteen.
"O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!" (verse 15)
The rich can’t be all that bad!. I mean, it’s not like there are any poor general authorities, right?

I’m not going to go through the rest of this chapter, though it’s a worthwhile read. Remember, Nephi tells us to liken Isaiah to ourselves, which is about a rebellious Israel. What do you think Nephi is trying to say, other than, “Hey, you latter-day guys, you are just like these guys?”

So yeah, we suck.

Or as Hugh Nibley, once said, “Woe unto the generation that understands the Book of Mormon. (An Approach to the Book of Mormon)

A Peek Into The Future
I guess now I’m going to jump right into it. What if Joseph Smith was a prophet, translated the Book of Mormon; but, as Moroni said, we have dwindled in unbelief? (Mormon 9:20) "Unbelief" meaning that we do not believe what we need to believe in order to have miracles and the power of God made manifest in our lives.

I do not doubt that the Saints believe. I’m sure they do believe. They have unbelief because they believe the wrong things, or we lack belief in the right things we need to believe. Our unbelief is because of the traditions of our fathers. (Helaman 15:15)

Look at the Book of Mormon a little more closely. Can you not tell it is entirely written about us? Seriously, the Zoramites and the Rameumptom -that is totally fast and testimony meeting. Most latter-day Saints only concern themselves with God on Sunday, we think we are chosen and better than everyone else, we have to wear nice clothes to church, and we’re hard on the poor.

Look at what Moroni has to say about us:
"Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." (Mormon 8:35)
See, Moroni has to be addressing Mormons. He’s specifically saying, I speak unto you. YOU, the guy reading this bloody thing! If Moroni were talking to the Catholics and actually saw them, he’d see they aren’t reading the Book of Mormon, so it would be silly to address them.
"And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted." (verses 36-37)
We sure have a nice conference center, some great temples, and all our churches are really nice. And we really do love our money: our cars, boats, vacations, granite counter tops, and 55’ flat screen TVs. Come on, I know who we are. 
"O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?" (verse 38)
I mean, who else even makes the claim that they are the “holy church of God”? Maybe the Catholics might, but, again, they ain't reading this book.

“Praise of the world.” Did we not all want Mitt Romney to win? Don’t we all love David Archuleta, Steve Young, the Marriotts and Osmonds, and Stephanie Meyer? And hey, Jabari Parker, how could you not go to BYU?  We want Mormons to get the praise of the world. We’ve been seeking it for 150 years. Damn those polygamists that gave us such a bad rap!
"Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?" (verse 39)
Didn’t we build City Creek so that we could move the homeless farther from the temple and preserve all the beauty that is downtown Salt Lake? Well, that was just Moroni’s opinion. His opinion doesn’t matter too much, he’s the last writer anyway.

Anyway, Jesus likes us. Look how he validates us in 3rd Nephi 16:
"And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them." (verses 6-7)
See, the Gentiles are brought the truth and the fullness is made known unto them. Anyone else but the Mormons fit this description?
"And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall  sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and  priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall  reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them." (verse 10)
Huh? What? The LDS Church rejects the fullness?!

It doesn’t say “if” it says, “At that day when…” So Christ tells us that the Gentiles/Mormons will reject the fullness. What an odd thing for Joseph to write. There is so much of this book that predicts a Latter-day dwindling in unbelief. And our own latter-day revelations reveal the same:
"And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon …" (D&C 84:54-57)
To my knowledge, this condemnation has not been lifted. We always point to how the Israelites messed up:
"Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
"Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;" (D&C 84:23-28)
We pretty much all know that the early Saints tried to establish Zion. We know they failed … cause it’s not here.  Did they harden their hearts? Could they endure His presence? Was Joseph taken out of their presence? (And wasn’t it members who were actually responsible for Joseph’s fate?) So what if we are also only left with the “lesser priesthood?”
"For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." (D&C 124:28)
Wait, huh, what? The fullness was taken away?! When? Was it restored?

It seems like we may very well have less than we presume.

Back to the Book of Mormon and the parallels to the LDS Church. Look at the parallels with Abinadi and King Noah as recorded in Mosiah chapter 11. King Noah had the keys. He rightfully received authority from his father. But he:
  • "had many wives and concubines."
Not like Brigham Young, right?
  • "And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed,"
Tithing the poor on their gross income, that’s not an oppressive tax, it’s faith.
  • "And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom."
It’s not a salary our general authorities receive, and they’re not being paid. It’s a living "stipend." How else are they going to serve the Church and live? They don’t have jobs.
  • "And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;"
That’s not at all similar to City Creek.
  • "And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things."
The Conference Center is for everyone. And surely Noah’s fine wood was not made from the tree of his childhood youth.
  • "And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass."
See, it’s all work on the temple, so it’s okay.
  • "And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold;
Gold seats are sinful. Nothing wrong with cushy red seats, though.
  • "And it came to pass that he built a tower near the temple"
The Church office building needs to be that big…lots of employees.
  • "And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom;"
The Book of Mormon can’t be bashing City Creek again, so it’s clearly not referring to it.

I mean seriously, could there be more parallels than this? I’m going to ignore the very obvious Abinidi parallel.

When Denver Snuffer was interviewed for Mormon Stories Podcast, I don’t think many understood what he meant when he said the writers of the Book of Mormon nailed us. They saw our day and they nailed us. This is not a book about everyone else. It’s about us.

How Did We Get To This?
One reason is we’ve ignored the Book of Mormon. (See again D&C 84:57)
"And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God …And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell." (Alma 12: 9-11)
Alma is saying we should open our heart to receiving the mysteries. But doesn’t the Church teach not to delve into the mysteries? Yet the scriptures seem to tell us we are commanded to seek out and learn the mysteries.
"Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you…" (D&C 11:7)
No, no, no, we need milk before meat, right?
"For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:13-14)
While we start with milk for sure, it seems that those who stay on milk are “unskillful in righteousness” and only those with strong meat can discern good and evil. Are we as a church receiving meat, or are we stuck on milk?

Haven’t we changed ordinances? Haven’t we changed our scriptures?

We’ve changed the sacrament. It used to be wine, which is a much better symbol for Christ’s blood than water (and not just because it’s red). The priest used to pray with up-lifted hands like in the temple, and the congregation used to kneel.[4]

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[4]While D&C 27:3 does command us not to purchase wine from our enemies, and other liquids will suffice, there is no revelation that “ended wine” from being used in the sacrament. We just ought not buy it from our enemies.

The endowment has been changed. The penalties have been removed and the false preacher was eliminated. (Interesting that we no longer are instructed how to distinguish between a false preacher and a true messenger.)

You may like that the penalties were removed. They were uncomfortable for most. But they were trying to teach an idea. Now that idea is lost to all those who go to the temple post 1990. Unless you read the internet, like me.  =)

We used to have prayer circles and altars at home and in stake centers. The scriptures have been changed. We’ve removed, as of 1921, the Lectures on Faith from the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lectures On Faith used to be The Doctrine in the Doctrine and Covenants. Now we literally have no doctrine.

Aren’t we taught that changing the ordinances and scriptures are signs of apostasy?

So my paradigm is definitely unique in that I believe the Book of Mormon is true, but I also don’t believe that we’ve had a Prophet, with a capital “P” since Joseph Smith. Some might look at our present state and say, "see, this Church can’t be the only true and living Church." I would say that because the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon so perfectly predicted what would happen, that that is evidence for its veracity.

My deepest concern in publishing this is that it could be used by some to justify leaving the church. However, this entire letter is premised on the Book of Mormon being true. So, one would be a damned fool to use this letter in support of disbelief.

Most of the problems with “The Church” can be laid at the feet of the leaders of the Church: their discrepancies and contradictions, their racism, sexism, pride, and self-righteousness. You eliminate all that, and the “Joseph Smith Restoration Movement” isn’t all that bad. When you accept that these people are not getting marching orders directly from God, then it’s easy to see why we are where we are.

See, I believe God’s mission for Joseph Smith was to restore lost knowledge about how to connect with heaven. It wasn’t God’s desire for us to have a New Testament church. But that’s what the converted Campbellites and Sidney Rigdon’s congregation wanted. God doesn’t need a church; He needs families. The first many generations were simply ordered in families. The PATRIARCHS led their families. No church. Don’t you see, even the structure of the church was made in the image of the family. You have Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (3) the FATHERS (a First Presidency), then you have the 12 SONS of Jacob (12 apostles), then you have the 70 GRANDSONS (Exodus 1:5) for the Seventy.

So Joseph made a Church for the Saints. It wasn’t precisely what the Lord had in mind, but He often succumbs to what we want. See Ezekiel 14. (Though, next time they mention follow the prophet at church, have a look at Ez. 14:7-8).[5]

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[5]"For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord."


We talk about how the Lord was going to offer all the Israelites the opportunity to dwell with Him, but they didn’t want to go up Mt. Sinai, they wanted Moses to go up instead. Then they would just follow the prophet. The Israelites rejected the higher law and were given a lesser law.

We are no different. The Lord gave the saints an opportunity through Joseph to establish Zion. But we failed. We rejected that opportunity. And we have a lesser version of what we could have had. And we have a prophet now, instead of walking with the Savior ourselves.

We talk down and ridicule the Israelites and Nephites for being foolish. Our own pride and vanity blinds us to the fact that we are doing the same thing. Except we have their histories to warn us. That makes us even dumber than they were.

I mean honestly, are we closer to establishing Zion than we were in 1844, or are we closer to Babylon? I don’t think Babylon is about drinking alcohol and wearing immodest clothes … no, not even once. It’s an absolute shame that we’ve reduced the distinction between living the gospel and following the world to such crap.

Study the succession crisis of 1844 and you’ll see that while Brigham Young may have been appointed to the office of the President of the Church through common consent, that did not make him a “prophet,” nor did he ever call himself a prophet.  Our prophets, seers, and revelators, are such because they are offices in the Church, not because they are actually prophets, seers, and revelators.

In fact, it wasn’t until after Heber J. Grant that we actually started calling the presidents of the Church “Living Prophets.”[6] Before that, they were not called living prophets, but Presidents of the Church. We have exalted them beyond what they deserve. I would have no problem sustaining a man who leads the Church through the common consent of the members, but can we please stop pretending he’s got God on speed dial?

Or if he does, can't he just say so? All the other prophets did.

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[6] See http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/04/traditions-of-men-part-1.html
http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/04/traditions-of-men-part-2.html
http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/04/traditions-of-men-part-3.html


This brings me to the difference between signs and symbols versus the real thing. When we receive our endowments we are not actually receiving those blessings. We are not being pronounced kings and priests; rather we are being anointed, or invited to receive them if we are faithful and worthy.

Nor do we actually receive the Holy Ghost at confirmation; rather we are invited to receive the Holy Ghost.

What if, when a man is called to be a prophet, seer, and revelator, he is only being invited to become such, but he can reject the invitation?

So what is to be done?
“Adam, awake and arise.” First, we have to wake the hell up. But aside from merely waking up and telling everyone every bad thing the Church has ever done, we also need to arise. I don’t think arising means criticizing, doubting, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Once we awake, we arise by gaining faith, repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Ghost (2nd Nephi 31-32). While this may seem too simple and overplayed, each of those principles should be reevaluated. I would suggest that their actual meaning may be something quite different than what is generally taught at church.

The Lectures on Faith discuss what faith really means and how to develop it. There are examples in the Book of Mormon of people who have repented within a very short amount of time. It kind of goes against the 5 R's or whatever the Church teaches repentance is about.

Additionally, there are a few examples in the Book of Mormon of people who have been born again, or have experienced the baptism of fire. It would be helpful to study those accounts to see if one is truly reborn.

Once you have “received the Holy Ghost, [you] [can] speak with the tongue of angels.” Then, “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”
"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do." (2 (Nephi 32:5-6)
This actually sounds a lot like the temple. First, angels come to you (telestial) to prepare you to receive Christ, and then Christ comes to you (terrestrial). And He tells you what to do to receive the Father (celestial).

The Israelites were always focusing on the physical rites and ordinances, and completely missed what it all meant spiritually. There were symbols in their ordinances and in the Law of Moses that showed the higher law. The ordinances that were performed in the temple on the Day of Atonement were extremely symbolic of Christ’s own sacrifice. But they completely missed that. They focused on the bloodshed by the animals and the scapegoat carrying away the sins of the people, etc. (Lev. 16) So when Pilate judged Christ, and the Sanhedrin elected to allow Barabbas to go, they didn’t recognize that they were actually reenacting in real life the ordinance that the High Priest performed symbolically on the Day of Atonement. Man did they blow it!

Our ordinances are symbols too. First, before we come to the telestial kingdom (earth) we covenant to God to obey Him. All who are born may receive the light of Christ. We are to receive the light of Christ, in our temple, in our bodies. The light of Christ is like a gentle hand, holding us, guiding us along the way.

Then if we covenant with the Lord through sacrifice, we can receive the Holy Ghost. We are to receive the Holy Ghost, in our temple, in our bodies. The Holy Ghost is like a firmer hand, holding us, guiding us along the way.

The temple teaches us that true messengers will first come to us undisclosed to see if we are being true and faithful. Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” And Abraham 3 teaches us that there are noble and elect ones that are here proving others.

So suppose an angel were to come to you, undisclosed, and wanted to see if you were being true and faithful and living the law of the gospel. How would he do it? Perhaps as a beggar? A beggar could petition you on the street to prove you, and see if you were compassionate. If you show compassion, then you have shown him that you are true and faithful and have received the token.

Once you have been proven, then the angel may return to you, this time identity known, and as Nephi says, angels through the Holy Ghost will “show unto you all things what ye should do.” Then you are ready to be born again. Then you can enter the Terrestrial Kingdom. If you are loyal to Christ and do not cheat on Him, you receive your calling and election. We are to receive our calling and election, in our temple, in our bodies, and Christ will spiritually take your hand and guide you.

Then once you have shown you will give everything to the Lord, you will receive the Second Comforter and you will see the marks on his wrists and hands, and the Lord will teach you. (See D&C 76). We are to receive the Second Comforter, in our temple, in our bodies.

The temple is all over the Book of Mormon. I don’t really have to go into more. 3rd Nephi has a ton. Prayer circles, washings, anointing. I simply don’t believe Joseph could have constructed all that to perfectly fit what we have today. The endowment was created at the end of Joseph’s life, and all the elements of the temple were already laid out in the Book of Mormon. There's really nothing secret about it to those who bother to look.

While I have yet to see an angel, or the Lord, I know about eight people who have. I have personally met and spoken with five of them. Two of them I would say are friends. I have corresponded online with four others. The common denominator? They’ve all read The Second Comforter. Below are their testimonies:

http://thesecondcomforter.com/ I actually work with Dan. He’s a patent attorney in San Antonio. He’s local counsel for us there.

http://upwardthought.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-witness.html I’ve met the author and we talk through Gchat regularly. I’d call both of these two friends.

http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/p/this-blog-is-fulfillment-of-wish-that-i.html I’ve personally met and spoken with the author here. His blog is pretty much dedicated to helping people connect with heaven.

http://myjourneytothefullness.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/10/ The author of this blog has also seen Christ.

http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=27637 The author of this post has also seen Christ.

John Pontius actually wrote a book back in the early nineties about seeking the presence of Christ, Following the Light of Christ into His Presence. http://www.amazon.com/Following-Light-Christ-into-Presence/dp/1555176437 

Then of course you have Denver. But there are also others that I have not included. I understand if you don’t believe them. I wouldn’t blame someone for not taking a stranger-on-line’s word for it. But I have gotten to know some of them. I find them credible. So I believe them.

This is in fact what testimony is intended to do. It is for those with an actual knowledge to give hope to others to receive the same.

Our testimony meetings are rather vain and stupid. Not many people have an actual knowledge, so little is gained. This is what the role of an apostle is supposed to be. An actual witness who testifies to what they know. Then those who listen may have enough hope to see the same.

Our General Authorities call themselves “special witnesses.” I was told that when a Seventy is called they get an orientation. They are then told that “special witness” is a noun. It is akin to an office. So they can go around telling people that they are “special witnesses,” which is a position for people to bear testimony. But saying that you are a “special witness” is not an adjective describing the type of witness (one with actual knowledge). I find this position particularly troubling and quite intellectually dishonest. Especially when they know that everyone listening to their witness understands it in a different manner.

What about the frequently heard declaration that their experience is "too sacred to share?" Surely all the testimonies I linked to above must be lies because if they really had them, they wouldn’t have shared them.

I think this idea is a false tradition. It’s the excuse you give when you don’t want to tell people you haven’t had that experience. The scriptures are replete with people bearing testimony of their sacred experiences. The one thing I’ve found among those who I know, who have connected with heaven, they only testify that they’ve had the experience. Unless permitted, they do not share the subject matter of what the experience was about. Which makes sense. They are being instructed for what they need to know to progress. And we are all different. What an angel may tell you would likely be different than what an angel would tell me.

As the Second Lecture on Faith put it:
"We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings, and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based which excited the inquiry and diligent search of the ancient Saints to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God. We have also seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this inquiry in their minds in the first instance. It was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers, it having aroused their minds to inquire after the knowledge of God. That inquiry frequently terminated, indeed always terminated when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty." (Lectures On Faith II:56)
See, it is the testimony of others who have an actual knowledge that excites the inquiry for everyone else. Most people do not know people who have an actual knowledge of the existence of God. I don’t blame them for not believing. But I’ve seen too many witnesses to not give it a shot myself.

This is why I believe. Right now, I don’t know. But I hope to know someday. Perhaps if I do everything I know how and it doesn’t happen in a decade or two, I wouldn’t doubt it if I become agnostic.

Not Having All The Answers
Yes, there are many other issues:
  • What is the point of having an innocent man/God suffer and die to redeem everyone else? Why is that necessary and how does it work?
  • Why is the killing of Isaac good? Seems awful to me.
  • What about all the killing in the Old Testament?
  • If every dispensation goes bad, nearly from the beginning, what is it all for? Why is it so hard?
I’ve found paradigms and answers that suit me for now. I personally think it provides me a rational explanation, or at least enough of one to continue my investigation further. And it is likely that as I go along, I will further refine my view, hopefully getting closer and closer to the truth.

So while I am familiar with the issues, I can still find belief, though it’s through a paradigm that is somewhat unorthodox. I cannot believe in the corporate LDS Church. Didn’t we all grow up thinking our church had angels, miracles, and teachers who spoke to God face to face? That is what we fell in love with, right? But do we see any of that with the corporate Church? Or do we instead see media studies, surveys, and polls?[7]

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[7]  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0cHQPe2_G8fUnU1d2tWTFRURGs/edit

Jacob, King Benjamin, and Samuel didn’t need a survey or poll to tell them what the members were thinking; they got their stats from heaven.
"But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God." (Jacob 2:5)
Jacob didn’t need any polling or surveys.
"And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me." (Mosiah 2:3)
King Mosiah didn’t have speech writers. Wait...well, yes he did. But it was an angel. 
"And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me." (Helaman 13:7)
Honestly, I would seriously doubt so many people would be having a crisis of faith if they ever once heard at General Conference, “And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God.”

No, instead we get:
"The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine." (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/race-church)
This is an example of the Church’s “continuing revelation.” And it is definitely revealing.

Why is it coming from the Church’s Newsroom? Why are all these new statements not coming from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?  This really looks more like a corporate structure with a strong public relations arm than a church led by a living prophet.

Do the modern General Authorities claim to be True Messengers from the Father?  Do we believe in a true messenger who is without prophecy, seeing, and revelations, who sits upon the top of a topless throne, whose keys are everywhere and whose authority ends nowhere but fills the world, who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have sworn allegiance and confidentiality to receiving second, secret ordinances, for acts of their own? Do we believe in this great True Messenger?

I do not. I cannot comprehend such a messenger.

Perhaps we believe in a great hell for those without authoritative ordinances into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but are never consumed?

I do not believe in such a place.

I don’t think what we now have is what God would have liked to have given us. But this is what we chose. And don’t you see, that is the most logical explanation. The traditions that have been handed down to us, simply don’t work. Our traditions are being exposed one after another as being totally false. But I believe this because the scriptures said this would happen.

I really felt bad for Tom Phillips. He seemed like such a true believer. I mean, that man was ready and expecting to see Christ when he went in for his second anointing. I imagine all of the apostles are like that. I have tremendous sympathy. It could have been really easy for me to continue along in my traditions, be called to higher callings, and then what if I were called to be an apostle? And I find out that being an apostle is not much different than not being an apostle.

It’s just an office in the Church. You get called in, you’re sustained, and set apart.

However, being an actual apostle is different. It requires sacrifice, faith, a real endowment, and a witness from God.

I like the guys who lead the Church, generally. I have loved Elder Holland’s talks for years. Still do. Elder Bednar, and Elder Maxwell, and wasn’t President Hinckley great? This was a really hard realization to come to. Though I do find Elder Uchtdorf’s talk utterly hypocritical as he welcomes all into the big tent of Mormonism, then the Church excommunicates Denver Snuffer, Brent Larsen, and others simply for their beliefs, and now Rock Waterman is being threatened with discipline.

Of course, Elder Uchtdorf probably never read any of the Excommunication Appeals that were sent to him, so I probably can’t blame him personally. The Church seems to be operated by minions running around in the Church Office Building. It seems out of control. Though we were warned about secret combinations being everywhere, weren’t we?

And on that note, I realize that you must think that I’m utterly crazy. You’re probably right. But I can’t let this thing called Mormonism go. I’m sure you’ve met with tons who say, "I know the corporate Church isn’t true, but I can’t leave. The Spirit kind of wants me to stay."

Sometimes it’s simply peer pressure/family pressure keeping them in. But other times, the Spirit is really telling people, "Yes, there are faults, even lies, but you should stay." I would submit that the reason we should stay is because the important parts are true. The non-important parts aren’t true.

We have made the Church and its leaders into an idol. We rise when they enter. When we have questions, we ask, “Well, what have the brethren said about the matter?” We have become Brethrenites.
We are taught to “submit to priesthood authority,” but what exactly is that?
"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge…" (D&C 121:41-42)
THERE IS NO PRIESTHOOD “AUTHORITY” OTHER THAN PERSUASION. And if you don’t persuade someone, you better be ready to be long-suffering, because you’re going to have to be patient with them for awhile.

We have replaced our worship of the Lord with worship of The Church.

I’m no longer an idolater.[8]  Look, the Israelites apostatized, they had their idols too. But they were still the Lord’s people. He did come to them. While Jesus held no keys or authority in the Jewish religion in His day, He recognized those who did have keys. The Nephites rebelled, but the Lord still came to their temple in Bountiful.

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[8] Well, yes, I probably still am, just not in this regards anymore. Go Niners!!!

Look at all the people who’ve had commissions to teach repentance without any ecclesiastical authority or office: Lehi, Abinidi, Alma, Samuel, John the Baptist, Paul, and Christ. This actually seems to be the way God works a lot. He doesn’t seem to use ecclesiastical hierarchy. Yes, they received a commission from God, they had authority from HIM, but did not have OFFICE in the Church. Few of the Old Testament Prophets were the High Priest.

But we have been raised with these traditions that there’s always a Church and the Presiding High Priest is the Prophet.[9]  I don’t believe that tradition any more. I think the Mormon Church is still the vehicle in which the gospel is best disseminated throughout the world, though it’s capacity to do so is becoming weaker as we draw closer to Babylon.

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[9] 3 Nephi 5:12 seems to indicate that there was no church at all in the Book of Mormon from Lehi until Alma.

In my opinion, we ought to stick with it. The Lord will straighten it out in time. Though, I think it may be unpleasant at first.
"Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.  And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord." (D&C 112:24-26)
Who are the people who claim to be His House and profess to know him? Anyone else making this claim? I have to say I’m rather content that I don’t live in Utah right now.

Everyone is on a different level of progression. That is why the Spirit says different things to one person than to another. The Spirit could very well tell a Methodist to stay in the Methodist church. That is right for that person then.  I don’t believe the Spirit is so much black and white. We are all somewhere in between and the Spirit adapts to what each of us needs.

When I was a sophomore at BYU, I was taking a microbiology class and learning about evolution. I seriously looked into it, the science, what the Brethren had said about the matter. And it was really undeniable to me that evolution was a fact. I made the comment to my roommate, who was also a microbiology major and in the same classes as me, that I thought it was interesting that all the theologians say the earth is 6000 years old and there’s no evolution, and all the atheists say there is no God. How ironic that they are both wrong, and they are both right! God does exist and evolution was the means by which he created man.

I enjoyed watching “The Practice” on TV, which was a lawyer show. On one episode, a judge made a decision that upset both sides, and the judge remarked that he then knew his decision was right, precisely because it upset both sides.

We tend to be a mix of right and wrong. No one has a monopoly on right, and rarely is someone completely wrong. One of the biggest problems our society faces is the right vs left with no compromise. In my opinion, conservatives are right to want freedom/captitalism and shouldn’t be compelled by the government, but the left is also correct; we ought to be more compassionate and more charitable, we have a societal duty to take care of one another and we need not be so self-interested and greedy.

The Democrats wouldn’t get a ton of support if they were all error and no truth. Likewise, no one would be Republican if there was no truth there. The problem is there is truth in both. Even Satan has to deal out some truth to lure people in. He corrupts the truth. But he has to use some. Few people are solely attracted to error and evil.

That is really the hardest part in finding truth. It’s everywhere and no one has a monopoly on it. And it’s mixed in with error. Finding truth is perhaps the hardest thing about life. But at the same time, when you see truth standing right before you, you can’t deny it.

I don’t have time to explain my view on all the known problems, but let me address some of the translational issues with Joseph (Abraham, seer stone, Kinderhook plates,[10] etc.)

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[10]  Joseph never translated anything from the Kinderhook plates that would be considered scripture. In fact, all he did with them was ask someone to fetch his Egyptian Alphabet. He had made the Alphabet while translating the Book of Abraham. When it was fetched, he looked for symbols on the Kinderhook plates that matched anything in his alphabet.One figure matched and it was a figure that indicated being a descendant of Ham, which is exactly what is recorded by Joseph's scribe in his journal. No seer stone, no urim and thummim, no revelation from heaven. All he did was match up a drawing to his attempted Alphabet. It's crazy that people get so worked up over the Kinderhook plates.

It’s one thing to be upset that the Church isn’t transparent about the issue. But remember, I don’t think they have all the answers anyway. What exactly is the concern? Do you worry about how Mormon compiled the record, or Matthew, or John or Moses? If you’re concerned about the means of Joseph’s translation, why aren’t you concerned about the others?

Suppose Mormon stuck his head in a hat as he “abridged the record,” but never actually read the records. Or suppose Moses stuck his head in a hat when he received the ten commandments. I would suggest that the seer stone and papyrus were simply means in which Joseph could be inspired to write scripture. It didn’t have to be those tangible things, the Lord could have used something else. And those weren’t translations in the original sense, but he was translating ideas that a previous prophet had already written.

You can get mad at Joseph Smith for not being frank about the fact that he wasn’t translating the way we understand, but what if he didn’t know at the time? What if the Lord was just using him to disseminate info to us through all sorts of means? He didn’t even use anything to correct the Bible. No one makes a big deal about that.

Getting worked up about all these little issues just baffles me. You were fine with angels and golden plates left in holes in up-state New York, but he sticks his head in a hat and everyone loses their minds? If you’re a cynic, shouldn’t you have been lost at golden plates buried in up-state New York?

See, as a lawyer, all I have to prove is that it’s possible something could have happened. Then the inquiry can still continue. Only when something is impossible is it justified to stop the investigation. (Or if it’s simply not worth it.)

But that’s the problem here. Mormonism offers the most extravagant claims. There is so much that is at stake and could be gained. It really justifies as thorough an investigation as is possible.

I read The Second Comforter four years ago. I’ve given that book out more than any other book. I’ve recommended Denver's other books too. I read Passing The Heavenly Gift, and because it addresses such controversial issues that most members don’t know about, I would never recommend that book to someone ignorant of Church history. But, if they are aware of Church history, it’s the first book I recommend. Passing The Heavenly Gift is the best book that will help you reconcile your faith.

It’s ironic. Now that Denver’s been excommunicated, I have to recommend Passing The Heavenly Gift first, so they can understand why the corporate Church did what they did to him. Then they can read The Second Comforter.

Daymon Smith has written a 5 volume set about the cultural background of the Book of Mormon. Nephi blames our state on the traditions of our fathers. Well, what if we don’t understand the Book of Mormon at all? We assume the Jaredites left the tower of Babel. The text doesn’t say that.  There’s a lot the text doesn’t say, but we simply assume. The Book of Mormon could have a tremendously different meaning than what we understand.

I hope that I have not communicated a dislike for the church. I love the church—the people in it. The church is a great organization to be a part of. There are so many opportunities to serve and help others. There are great friends to be made.  But the corporate Church and correlation? Well, they kind of suck, and I strongly dislike most everything about them.

I don’t like the pride we all have thinking we are better than others. I don’t love the bureaucracy. But you see, I don’t really care about “The Church.” My focus has changed. I’m far more interested in the gospel, and in seeking out Christ. Living the gospel and seeking Christ are more than enough reasons to stay active. There’s an important distinction between the Church and the gospel. (See Elder Poelman’s talk back in 1984.)[11] When you focus on living the gospel and being Christ-like, there is no need for continual guilt trips about home teaching, it just takes care of itself.

_______________________________________________________________
[11] But make sure you watch the original version, not the version the Church replaced it with.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcM7koDc-jg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuUv4nca4Gc


Women and priesthood, gays and sealings, etc. --it’s all just a waste of time. Salvation and heavenly power comes from God alone, not from an earthy institution. Who cares if women lack an office which is only a symbol of the real thing when they could go out and get the real thing? If they get the real thing they can bless and heal their children regardless of whether or not their “ordinance” is accepted by the Church.

Consider the Levite priests. Only the Levites could officiate in the ordinances of the temple. Only they could kill the animals, sprinkle the blood, light the incense, and enter the Holy of Holies, all of which symbolized connecting to heaven. But they were not actually connecting to heaven. The symbols and ordinances only point and teach us how to do the real thing.

The modern parallel is that women really want to get in there and kill the animals and sprinkle the blood and light the incense as symbols. In reality, they can have heavenly blessings, but in meekness and humility as it wouldn’t be “recognized” by anyone. (Real power from heaven administered through men also tends not to be “recognized” by anyone.)

But women can still receive the second comforter and other real spiritual gifts. They can commune with God. They can be brought before the throne of the Father and the Mother. Why covet the symbol? Seek the real thing.

Doctrinally, I have no problem with women holding Church office. I just think we are focusing on the wrong thing. Women were the first to receive the second comforter after the Lord’s resurrection, right? He came to women before he appeared to his apostles. In fact, he came to two disciples on the road to Emmaus before he came to his apostles. Clearly, Church office/hierarchy is nothing to be concerned about.

I believe the Book of Mormon because it causes me to be a better person.  It is true if it connects me to heaven. Studying out its message is far more valuable than any historical or textual criticism. ALL of the authors were visited by Christ. The authors are trying to get you to make that connection too. They are not merely telling stories. There is so much more there.

The Book of Mormon is a sealed book because people can read it and not understand the true message that is in there. It takes receiving the Holy Ghost before one can truly have the sealed book opened to them.

“Okay, fine,” you might say, “the Book of Mormon doesn’t suck as much I thought it did, but what about Joseph Smith? What about the different accounts of the first vision and the polygamy?”

I don’t have time to go into all the polygamy, other than to say, for having 30-plus wives, it’s awfully odd that he never fathered another child with any of them. I’d submit that the relationships he had with them are not the husband-wife relationship one normally has. (Yes, I know there are documents saying he had sex with them; there are also arguments that contest that. Again, I don’t have time to go deeper here.)

What about the visions? Well, I’ve had it explained by one who’s had a vision that when you are taken out of time, and you enter into eternity, it’s initially quite confusing. Multiple things seem to happen simultaneously. It isn't linear. It’s actually hard to know what’s going on while you’re experiencing it. However, you retain a perfect memory of what happened, and then you are able to weed out ideas as they become relevant and important over time.

Consider Nephi. He pondered the things he saw for 30 years before he made enough sense of them to write them down (2nd Nephi 5:30). With that background, it is entirely possible (assuming that’s how visions work; I don’t know, I haven’t had any) that Joseph articulated certain aspects as they become relevant in that moment. All accounts are true. They all happened. He only saw an angel. And he saw the Father and the Son. It all happened simultaneously and it was all distinct. And each account was an attempt to communicate the idea that was important to communicate at that time—or something like that.

I wouldn’t blame you at all if you say, that’s just crazy. Yeah, it might be. But I’ve never had a vision. What if it is like that?

I think it’s dangerous when we assume that our construct, our paradigm, the cultural traditions we’ve been raised in, are used as the lens through which we see everything, especially if we use them to peer into the heavens. Because I think it’s fair to say that the heavens operate differently than our paradigm. Since they’ve been around longer, and are more resilient than our changing culture, it might be a good idea to try and understand a heavenly-based paradigm, rather than forcing it to conform to ours.

It’s also possible that heaven does exist and the idea of visions as I explained above is not what a vision is like. All I’m saying is that there is a paradigm that explains the different accounts. Since it’s not impossible, we can continue the investigation.

I think there is an argument that supports belief. I think it’s reasonable to keep investigating scripture and seeking God. There is nothing in the Letter To A CES Director that proves the Book of Mormon is false. It simply shows that the traditional Church narrative is untrue.

And to make clear, this letter of mine is not intended at all as a comprehensive response to the CES Letter, though I personally have ideas that overcome the letter’s objections.

I want to end on why I think it’s important to seek the face of Christ. I don’t think that it would just be cool to see Christ. I’m not looking for a sign. Many members believe or say, “While it would be nice to meet Christ, I don’t think I really need that. I don’t have to see Him to believe. And I’ll be fine if I don’t see him until after this life.”

I disagree. I believe it essential to exaltation to see Christ in mortality. That’s because Nephi described the Doctrine of Christ as faith, repentance, baptism, receive the Holy Ghost, be instructed by angels, then be instructed by Christ while in the flesh. While in our temples.  Christ has things to teach us while we are in our temples so that we may fulfill them while in our temples. And if we don’t, then we will receive less than we could have.

Again, my purpose in writing this is not to resolve anyone’s issues. It’s to persuade people to start over and look again for answers. I personally believe that if you connect to heaven, you will find them.

Brett Bartel
Marietta, Georgia


   *****

Important Reminder From Blogmaster Rock:
As announced previously, henceforth all comments posting on my blog only as "Anonymous" will be deleted. (This will not apply to the anonymous commenter who just posted yesterday before I placed this reminder.)

I respect all reader's wishes to post anonymously, and you may continue to do so as long as at the beginning and/or end of your comment you use some type of unique identifier so that others can tell you from the hundreds of others posting as "Anonymous." With so many commenting under the name "Anonymous," the conversations have become increasingly difficult to follow.  It has also become obvious that some of those posting anonymously are often among the most uncivil; rather than engage in intelligent arguments, some of these people tend to get quarrelsome.  A civil argument advances the dialogue; petty and immature attacks on other's views do not.

Please note that if you are concerned about your privacy, the drop-down feature that reads "Name/URL" already keeps you completely anonymous. When you post using that method, I don't have the ability to track who you are (not that I would want to) and neither does anyone else. So it makes sense to use that feature if you wish to keep your true identity hidden. All you have to do is place whatever username you wish to go by in the "Name" box and ignore the URL part. Of course, if you want to further mislead others, you can put any link in the URL box you choose, such as Youtube.com, Amazon.com, or LDS.org

Those with Google, Yahoo, Wordpress, and other accounts can choose to post under those accounts, which helps to lead others to your own blog if you have one. But seriously, enough with all these people calling themselves "Anonymous." It's getting to be too much.

That having been said, please join the conversation below.


284 comments:

1 – 200 of 284   Newer›   Newest»
Andre7th said...

I didn't have time to read the whole post, but what I read was worth pondering. It's funny how a simple phrase can completely change meaning depending on who the gentiles are. There's more to the Book of Mormon than I thought, and it's great to have been shown yet another layer of it's meanings. It's good motivation to read it more carefully next time.

Irven said...

This was really cool. I don't agree with him on everything exactly, but his main points are all great and I agree with his message.

It's a joke that churchcorp is after Rock. But, what do we expect from losers who are hoping to get promoted to a higher "calling". That Rock Waterman fellow, watch out for him. He tells the truth and says what he feels. We can't have that. The correlation office never said Rock could think for himself now did they...? They only said they could think for us.

BK said...

I agree we should seek the face of Jesus, but we won't see him by staying in and supporting the church of false prophets and their evils.

You say we should stay in the Church because of what's true? Anything true about the Church can be found in many other Christian Churches much more abundantly.

We can even find far more vital truths in our own living rooms then wasting our time in fancy false temples or churches listening to false prophets & leaders.

Any truth the Church may teach gets completely over shadowed with falsehoods, if not completely distorted by them.

Anyone who would fall for such things as polygamy, submission of women, divorce and remarriage, lying for the Lord, using tithing for salaries, temples & malls, while the poor suffer, 'want' to fall for such things cause they want to partake in those spoils.

Whereas, living the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is complete foolishness to everyone, and far too hard even for prophets to do.

engaged19times said...

THANK YOU Brad Bartell! I ABSOLUTELY detest when people cop out with the "its too sacred to share" line. When we have scripture, Joseph Smith, and now the internet containing many peoples stories of meeting Jesus and angels!

I have not seen Jesus or angels. I am on my 5th try at the BoM. I feel my goal in life is to one day have that visit with Jesus. I will not deny that I beieve that. I expect that visit in my life if I keep at this BoM. I am that big a skeptic that I expect that proof in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. It reminds me of Jacob 7:5, Jacob speaks about Sherem the antichrist.

5 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.

I too have experienced many things, so despite all manner of proofs against Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon and I believe all hell will prove AGAINST both in later days, I have heard the voice of God from time to time, I have dreamed dreams, I have had unseen angels minister unto me (I hope to be worthy of their glory soon).

Bx asked why stay? Simple because the lord has asked you to. If the person has received no such statement than you are probably right, no need to stay. For me I stay because its the will of the Lord for ME (and me only get your own revelation). However did Lehi leave the corrupt society (church)? Yes. Why? Because the Lord told him too but only after he preached the word of God among them. Did Joshua? Did others? Not always. Some are told to stay until they are either rejected and forced out or they are destroyed with the city as a testimony. I will attempt to do what the Lord asks of me. I rarely saw a people leave other than due to rejection or killed. But i would love scriptural example showing otherwise if someone can find one.

I know to that if we ask to seek his face now, he can set things in motion in our lives until the perfect day we can enter into his presence while in the flesh. This is what the gospel of jesus Christ is about.

lemuel said...

Add this scripture to the list of how the Book of Mormon nails the LDS:

Mormon 8:28 Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

Do the Catholics envy their celibate priests? Do protestants wish they were pastors? How many Mormons wish they were bishops, SPs, or GAs?

BK said...

Anonymous 11:26,

Would the Lord tell the Catholics and Baptists and FLDS to stay in their respective Churches? I don't think so.

The LDS Church has no more claim to be 'the true church of Christ' then any of those churches. So if you say yes, he would tell FLDS to stay and continue to be decieved and led astray, then ok, you believe God wants people stay in corrupt false churches. But I don't believe God would ever or could ever do that and remain God, for it goes against his own counsel and eternal law.

There is no reason to think the LDS Church is even remotely close to the same Church Joseph restored or Christ's true Church. None of the early leaders from Brigham Young on had any authority, even the righteous Nauvoo Saints could see that and refused to follow him.

I believe Alma would have left King Noah's Church even if they hadn't chased him out, and same with any other righteous people throughout history who realized they were in a corrupt and false church.

There is no need to stay in a false church, it only makes things worse the longer you stay, especially for your children.

Was the Church in Lehi's day led by false prophets? It doesn't sound like it, it seems the Church was still led by true prophets with true authority, even if most of the members were unrighteous, (kind of like in Joseph's day, he was righteous but most of the Saints weren't, but the Church was still true, at least until Joseph died then the true church died too, for the people lost it cause they weren't righteous).

So Lehi's church seemed much different then the LDS Church, which is led by false prophets and has no authority or Priesthood, for wicked men & leaders like BY can't maintain or pass on Priesthood keys or authority, nor can members who support them.

Joseph Smith sure didn't believe that it was ok to stay in a false church, nor did Christ. They continually warned us against doing so.

So I do not believe God would ever tell anyone to stay in a false church like the LDS Church. Just like I don't believe he would ever want anyone to stay in the FLDS or RLDS or Catholic Church for one second longer.

There are just as many, if not more, people who say God has told them to leave or not join the LDS Church, as those who say he told them to 'stay'. So we must realize God doesn't tell people different things, he tells everyone the same things, for he is not a God of chaos. But the Adversary does give people revelation to stay in false churches like the LDS Church, which most people fall for, for it's just easier then standing for the right.

So we must realize our revelation can, and usually does, come from the Adversary, for his voice and influence is very easily felt, which everyone usually thinks is from God.

So we have to be real careful thinking our revelation is from God, for even Prophets are often deceived by false revelation from Satan.

Joseph taught us to compare our revelation with the scriptures and with what Christ taught to see if something is right or not. Thus revelation telling us to stay in a corrupt church and support false prophets couldn't be from God, for it's contrary to the scriptures and Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

BK,
I suppose it all depends upon what one means by "staying in the church."

I note that author Brett Bartel, when he says he loves the church, makes it clear he is referring to the community, or body of the Saints. He has no need of the structural, corporate Church (with a capital "C") and makes that pretty clear.

In my introduction to his piece, I make reference to remaining in the faith. I don't phrase it as "staying in the Church."

Remaining in the faith does not require a person to attend Sunday meetings if he is inspired not to. It merely means retaining belief in scripture -the core fundamentals of Mormon theology that you and I share.

I certainly don't agree that believers should support a corrupt institution. But those who feel inspired to continue their associations with the community of believers (as defined in D&C 10:67) can accomplish much good by continuing to shine their light among their brothers and sisters if they feel so inclined. "When thou art converted," the Lord instructed Simon, "strengthen thy brethren."

At the same time, I don't personally care to support and encourage those who run counter to the church, such as those described in verse 68 of that same section of the Doctrine & Covenants, where the Lord says "whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church."

I don't wish to be identified with that camp, and I believe you and I are in agreement on that.

Martin Harris Luther said...

Rock, thank you so much for sharing this letter from Mr. Bartel, it was just what I needed right now.

Last weekend, I was in a training for elder's quorum presidents being given by a councilor in our stake presidency. He told us that the stake president has been seriously troubled of late by an increasing trend of young people (many of whom have served missions), who have lost (or are in the process of), losing their faith. He implored us to share any insights we may have about why this is happening, and what can be done about it. I personally know at least three elders from my own quorum who have left the church since I was called as EQP, so I can see where this is coming from. The dramatic irony for me sitting there was, I am also on that path of questioning, though I haven't chosen to leave.

Since that meeting, I have been contemplating writing a letter to my stake president about why young people are leaving the church. I have even considered outing myself as a heretic in dramatic fashion the next time I am asked to speak in a church meeting (like Arthur Dimmesdale fantasized about outing himself in the Scarlet Letter). But deep down, I know that my Stake President doesn't really want to know the real reasons people are leaving the church. Instead, he wants a tool to make them stop leaving. I don't think he's really willing to walk the difficult path that would lead to true understanding. The kind of understanding which concludes that for some people, leaving really is the best thing, or which concludes that all is not well in Zion.

But this post has reminded me that most of these young people (myself included) are not really "loosing our faith", at least not in what matters, that is, Christ. We are loosing our faith in the cultural traditions that depress our spirits. What we crave is a return to the "Pure Mormonism" we believed existed in the church when we were children. And what we need in order to stay in the church is a paradigm like that presented here, which allows us to question all of the cruft without questioning our core faith.

So, I don't know, maybe I'll send my stake president a link to this article, and a link to my blog at Reforming the Restoration. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't do much other than to get my name listed by the strengthening the members committee, but who knows. In any case, for me personally, I feel like I'm back on the path of faith, and I thank you and Mr. Bartel for reminding me that I've been on that path all along.

LDSDPer said...

Rock,

Thank you for sharing this. I am strengthened to learn of others who are on the same path as we are.

Reading Daymon Smith is helping my husband and daughter and me.

We finally feel less alone.

But this young man, Brother Bartel, has a lot of good things to say.
I have to say I agree with most of what he says.
Martin Luther Harris, I FEEL your pain.
I am afraid your SP won't understand.
*sigh*
Because he has a certain mindset. Probably has a good heart, but he's been deceived.
We are living in exciting times, as Mormons. Make or break times.
I feel so strongly about hanging on to the Book of Mormon and coming unto Christ.

So strongly about seeking His Face, even if I don't see it.

I HAVE had a profound experience with Jesus Christ, but I haven't seen His Face.

It was real. I guess it's a personal decision whether I share it or not, and I don't appreciate being mocked for not going into detail about it. Personal choices. Agency. Matter. I have chosen to share it with few people; there are a few people who know about it.

BK,
I have been reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen--

and I read about the infighting among the Orthodox and the Hassidim. (sp?)--

All the anger and angst; how one group believed in Zionism, the other didn't--

and the hatred that came up between them--

such passion; such violence.

Yet, both believed they were 'right'; being 'right' mattered more than being Christlike, though Jews don't believe in Christ, so that is probably silly to say, eventually, the one father did repent of his violence.

BK, I have not told you to stay in the church; I have told you to follow the Spirit for YOURSELF.

Everyone has the right to do that without being told they are following satan.

It's interesting, because, as I read The Chosen I felt that I had met people like that, in the church, and out.

Telling others what to believe.

I think it comes from anger.

I know that when I am angry it is time to be humble and repent.

Trying to tell others how to live--

sharing is one thing, but there is a line that gets crossed.

Funny that I should think of "BK" (and all your other names) when I read about the conflict between members of the two Jewish sects.

I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, and I have had powerful experiences with Him; I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon leads people (and has led me) to Jesus Christ to WANT to see His Face.
Beyond that, I can't go. And I won't be responsible for telling others what to do.
I think you would be wise to consider that yourself. Don't take upon yourself too much authority.
Stop believing YOU know what others should do.

I have taken you seriously and liked you, but you are beginning to sound manipulative, and I suspect there is anger behind that.
Very few of us in the church have not been mistreated or misunderstood. Forgiveness is the key.
Coming unto Christ is the key--
Again, *I* say, just for *me*, that I have been told to remain in the church.
It's not easy; I don't claim that, but I have been told to do so.
So have several of my family members.
I would ask that you extend the same respect to *me* that I do to *you*.
I respect your choice not to be involved in the church. Will you not respect my choice to be involved in the church?
I hope you can see this. If you can't, then--
:(

LDSDPer said...

BK,

I said I suspected anger; your words, the tone, sound angry--

maybe it is righteous anger, I don't know.

I don't want to judge you.

But sometimes our feelings do come across.

Even 'righteous' anger can hurt after a while; I know, from experience.

It is NOT easy to forgive, but it is something I am working on, and I urge you not to stop trying to do so yourself.

Just because; for the sake of the many discussions we have had. I hope you can forgive all the hurt the church and members of it have done to you.

I have not gone into detail about some of the things my family and I have experienced, but I daresay I know enough about it to sympathize.

Peace.

LDSDPer said...

Martin Luther Harris,

I've been thinking about what you said about your SP.

I have had a few true gems (SPs) myself, though I never found myself on the wrong side of them.

Our present SP can be really almost spiritually bipolar:

angry and uncharitable or very loving and understanding.

I think one of the reasons Jesus said--

"be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (I WISH that were in the Book of Mormon!)

is that when people have something said to them that challenges their paradigm they can feel attacked and will defend themselves, to the hurt of the person trying to help them change their paradigm.

Which is why the only thing that works is love, as Alma states it--

(13:28)--

but often those who think they have 'authority' over *us*--

will not take kindly to being entreated--

so it becomes a matter of what is more effective (possibly related to being wise)--

shocking a person's sensibilities with something foreign to him/her--

just often doesn't work.

I believe the Spirit can guide you on this, though.

My husband tried to talk to our SP (who can be very unreasonable) about a simple request; it had nothing to do with testimony or faith in any way--

and he was highly unreasonable--

we prayed for two years, and he finally relented.

*whew*

Hard stuff.

In the meantime, if we had pressed, he probably would have grown beligerant and seen us as a threat--

and who knows what would have happened.

I may be seen as a coward; I am sure I am in many ways, but I do advise caution.

Sometimes it is worth a battle; most of the time it isn't.

I hope this helps.

BK said...

Alan, thank you so much for your response to my post. I agree with you that we can and should support the core fundamentals of Mormonism, as far as they agree with Christ. And that to attend Church here and there may not really be supporting it (like if we go see our grandchild be baptized or blessed or give a talk, etc).

But I just don't believe we can support the core fundamentals or Christ, if we give a corrupt church our money, frequent attendance or a lot of our time in callings, etc. For it gives the impression that we believe in the leaders and in what they are doing.

While if we speak up about our distain for what the LDS Church preaches and practices then we will probably quickly be shown the door. So the only way to attend regularly would be to silently pretend we support it.

I also see how hard it is for children and especially our teens and grown children to listen to us as parents and see the errors or corruptness of the Church and follow us out of it and stop supporting it once we have raised them in it.

So I don't see how it would 'strengthen' them or any 'of the brethern or sisters' for us to silently go to church with them, for that would only encourage them to feel more right about being there & supporting it.

I believe 'letting our light shine' would be to try to awaken them to the errors and corruptness of the LDS Church, while of course reaffirming belief in Christ and Joseph's original teachings.

I believe the LDS Church is as corrupt as the FLDS, so I could never continue attending that branch of the original church either, I would see no point in it and we might even be persuaded by their false precepts to do wrong if we let them influence us long enough, the same with the LDS Church.

So while I totally agree with supporting the 'fundamentals of Mormonism' on our own, in our homes and while talking amongst our friends, I don't believe we can do that by attending or giving money to the LDS Church.

I don't believe we can serve both God and Mammon (the LDS Church) I don't believe there is neutrality, for one foot in and one foot out is really both feet in. We either willingly support something, to any degree, or we are totally against it and let that be known. There is no middle ground with evil, all shades of grey are some degree of evil. Thus God has no tolerance for any degree of sin, nor should we.

I guess I have just seen too much evil going on at all levels in the Church and in every ward I've been in, especially with the leaders, and even with the willful blindness of members, to be able to sit in Church without feeling righteous indignation and outrage at what is being taught, how they are treating people, especially women & the poor, and destroying marriages & families left and right and how they are deceiving and encouraging members to support & do the vilest of evils.

'Strengthening our brethern' to me is helping them awake to the awful situation of being a part of the corruption of the LDS Church, something true prophets have warned we could lose our salvation for.

For the LDS Church is not the Church Joseph set up (despite it's having the BoM), anymore then the Catholic Church is the Church Christ set up just because it uses the Bible.

An LDS baptism is of the same worth as a Catholic baptism. And the LDS Church has as much authority & Priesthood as the Catholic Church, none.

I believe if we want to really support the fundamentals of Mormonism we can really only do that on our own anymore.

Steven Lester said...

Is the Telestial Realm a bad place to be? I ask because my autism won't allow me to ever let me see the Savior. All of that love would only make me squirm and desire to escape it. And seeing and speaking with Mr. Perfect would diminish my self-image to such a low degree that I would become suicidal, except that suicide wouldn't end the pain, because I'd just be going back into the lion's den thereby, and solving nothing. Remaining small and anonymous is the only solution for me. I simply could not abide His presence, not for a second, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of questions:

1. The author mentioned that Rock Waterman is facing threats of Church discipline. Is this correct? Since I have so much respect for Mr. Waterman, this one really bothers me - more information would be great.

2. The author expressed his love of the temple. I have problems with the Masonic origins of the temple ceremony and the millions spent on lavish buildings bearing the name of Christ. Did Joseph Smith reveal the temple ceremony or did Brigham Young and his followers? Isn't it foolish to consecrate everything to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as required by the temple ceremony? It seems that the author is giving a false oath every time he enters the temple if he is also critical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

3. Although I enjoyed reading the letter, doesn't anyone else have difficulty trusting a lawyer who works for Big Pharma that believes in evolution as taught at the university?

Thanks.

-Ben H.

LDSDPer said...

Hassidism and Orthodox Judaism.

I have Jewish relatives. We had to eat in a separate room. That was 35 years ago, before our Jewish family member left his faith and went WAY off the deep end (into drugs, etc.)
What was worse? I don't know; I am not sure even now.

Sometimes the 'black and white' perspectives of commentators makes me realize how like Jews we all are.

Many/most of the Hassidic Jews and even most Orthodox Jews believe they are 'poisoned' by associating with those who do not believe as they do.

Only those within their exact group can have any wisdom or correct thinking. And charity has little to do with it.

I have a 'problem' with the profession of law--

but my best friend from high school is a lawyer and a wonderful person.

I haven't 'read' Denver Snuffer, but he is also a lawyer.

So, what he says must be discounted?

How many people are in 'professions' or careers that don't touch pitch?

My husband has tried, but even then it isn't easy.

There is NO way of knowing, even if working in a very 'innocent' field, what those with whom you work will do--

that might not be innocent, for example.

I am sensing, because I came from a warlike family; my father was in WWII, and he tended to be very defense-centered--

that as long as *we* feel we must 'fight'--

we will not understand the gospel of peace.

"Fighting" consists of taking sides, as well; sometimes it can begin in innocent ways.

We feel 'strongly' about things, and the next thing we know we are either oppressing someone or resisting something, and the temptation for violence is very real.

Sometimes it begins with righteousness.

It's the same way with judging. It often begins with righteousness, but, if our hearts are not filled with the pure love of Christ, it can go terribly wrong.

Anyway, for what it is worth.

I don't believe that any of *us* has a monopoly on righteousness; there is probably as much 'mud' on those who remain in the church as those who leave, and probably as much mud on those who leave the church (whatever it is considered to be) as those who remain.

Self-righteousness is not easy to fight, unless we can see it in ourselves, and it is a sin.

Jesus really did not like the Pharisees.

Decades ago I realized that, as an LDS, I was surrounded by and had a STRONG tendency myself towards the trait, self-righteous people who were very assured that they were RIGHT.

And it was their job to correct the rest of the world.

When I saw this in myself I recoiled from it, and I can't say that I haven't overcome it, yet. But I am, at least, aware of it.

LDSDPer said...

@Steven,

I'm not Rock, and I'm not sure you want to hear from me.

But what you wrote tore at my heart.

I don't really feel very sure about 'kingdoms of glory', to be honest.

But I know that Jesus healed people and will heal people.

I don't understand why everyone can't be healed now. Someone very close to me has a torturous life, because he/she cannot be healed now.

I am sure probably everyone on here will nod and agree and understand.

Because I am not alone in having someone I watch suffer all the time--

But He did heal. He can heal. And when He does, you will be able to bear His Presence.

In the meantime, I understand your concerns about kingdoms.

If I don't see it in the Book of Mormon I pretty much am skeptical about it--

I am not saying I discount everything Joseph Smith said or did or even everything Sidney Rigdon or Oliver Cowdery said or did, I just think we LDS took those kingdoms of glory and ran into a bad/hurtful place with them.

It's seemed like a philosophy more to damn (meant not as a swear word) the righteous as much as to discourage the humble who don't think they are righteous.

Calleen Bataiff said...

JOSEPH SMITH:
We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.

Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595. (Apostle Samuel Richards on Nov. 13, 1852, recorded in the Millennial Star, 14:393-395.)

Jeremy said...

Thanks for sharing this, Rock.

CES Letter author here. This is my response to Brett's letter to John Dehlin:

http://mormonstories.org/other/Response-to-Letter-to-Dehlin-Public.pdf

Anonymous said...

@ Jeremy.

You have many excellent points. I am interested in truth - no matter what the outcome.

However, after reading the Prices' book Defending Joseph, I believe you are mistaken regarding polygamy.

Polygamy could literally be only a lie of Brigham Young and his followers and that Joseph was entirely innocent of polygamy.

There is at least enough evidence there to legitimately question the belief that Joseph practiced polygamy - including the testimonies of his wife and children.

I believe your justifiable anger against the Church has clouded your judgment.

Joseph may be a fraud with respect to some claims, but I believe he is innocent of polygamy.

-Ben H.

Zim said...

This was quite interesting. I've never needed the Book of Mormon to be false or proven false, though.Let's say for minute the BoM is "true" (however one interprets that), I could still take David Whitmer's view that Joseph was called to bring forth the BoM, but nothing else. Or I could go with the fallen prophet angle.

In any case, I think I may reread the Book of Mormon once more just to think of it in terms of the modern church because some of the points mentioned were simply home runs. Thanks!

Jeremy said...

@ Ben,

I'm afraid your understanding of Joseph Smith's polygamy/polyandry is incorrect.

http://cesletter.com/debunking-fairmormon/polygamy-polyandry.html

Anonymous said...

Brett,
I haven't read the other comments, except that I saw one that wanted to argue...so sad!
I have had visions, they are confusing as hell.
I have seen the Lord, briefly, that was frightening and very confusing too...but the overwhelming LOVE was something I will NEVER forget.
I have been told by the Spirit that I should not leave the church, because the church still is fulfilling a mission for the LORD...the net, the Gospel, bringing in fish of every type for Him to sort out.
The Spirit testified to me that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a REAL Prophet, and that Denver Snuffer is a real Prophet...and that all those who have acquired that title in SLC since 1847 were in large measure pretenders and wanna-bees.
Much love dear, courageous brother.
Thank you. God Bless You.
JR

Inspire said...

Calleen makes an excellent point.

I am happy that there is more excitement about truly understanding the Book of Mormon. Denver Snuffer has done a lot to get many people to wake up in that regard. I think, though, that we need to be aware of a few things and not take his approach as the ultimate purpose for the Book of Mormon, because then we neglect the responsibility delving upon ourselves.

Nephi tells us that he delights in plainness, so I think that in order to understand what the B of M is telling us, we have to start with the most obvious and work to the implicit themes. Moroni mentions three groups to which the "abridgment" is directed: the "remnant of the house of Israel," "the Jew," and the "Gentile." More reading in the text lets us know that Israel (including the "remnant" and the "Jew") are currently confounded, and don't know who they are or who their fathers are. So my conclusion is that only the Gentiles will be reading the book at first. If we're reading it, we're probably what Nephi and the rest of them called "Gentile."

So next is to find out what is specifically instructed to the gentiles. What I've found is very specific and mentioned repeatedly: 1) Repent 2) Be baptized in the name of Christ/come unto Christ. That's it. The closest you can find to "seek the presence of the Lord" is "come unto Christ." They aren't undisputedly the same thing.

I have to wonder if we might be getting ahead of ourselves with this quest to have an audience with Jesus. In making that the "goal," then it becomes a fetish/idol, and we are not much different than the cargo cults in the Pacific (do a YouTube search for "cargo cult" and you'll see what I mean). I have to ask, why would I want 'the Second Comforter'? Is it so I can claim to know the true nature of God? So I can feel his love? So he can give me instructions that I'm more sure of? All good reasons, I'm sure. But notice the consistent thing in all my reasons: I, I, I.

If you use the prophecies in the Book of Mormon as implicit instruction to the gentiles, you'll see that there is one more thing that it is said we will do: receive records and bring them to Israel, then tell them who they are. By doing so, THEN we are "numbered among" the Israelites. Moroni had us pegged quite well in expressing his concern that the gentiles would not have charity for his people and mankind in general (see Ether 12).

I would like to see less of the "be obedient" and "we are being tested" mantra espoused by Denver Snuffer, John Pontius, Brett Bartel and others. What if God wants us to break free from being compelled in all things and would rather see acts of creativity spawn out of a desire to love our brothers and sisters? I am, however, on board with the idea of searching the Book of Mormon to see what it is really saying. I think if we can drop all preconceived notions and be willing to grasp the truth that presents itself by its good fruit, then it we will indeed discover what is so plain and precious about it. Perhaps along the way of that road is when Christ manifests himself. Or not. Or maybe in a way different than we think. I don't know. But I can't imagine Him excluding the likes of our friend Steven Lester.

LDSDPer said...

Ben H., you are not alone in questioning Joseph Smith's polygamy--
and what all those sealings really meant--

he died so early that many who were confused (and communications were not then what they are now) had no way of knowing the truth.

Gossip/rumors were as damaging then as they can be now.

It's not easy, once someone starts spreading rumors--or wants to destroy a person's character!

I see how easy it would have been for those who took over the 'reins' to decide that as long as they labeled Joseph Smith as being polygamy-friendly, they could get away with what they wanted.
I don't see the children.
These assertions (that he actually consummated marriages with other women) would not hold up in a court of law, and the certainty of all those who believe he really 'lived' polygamy (and andry)--
make me question it even more.
I don't pretend to be as sure as they are.
I have doubts; *they* (those who are convinced he actually slept with women besides Emma)--
have no doubts, it would appear--
about a man who lived 170 years ago.
And who had more lies said about him than most.
I just want you to know you aren't alone, but I have learned not to 'argue' with those who are so sure he lived polygamy. Can you sense the angry tones even on here? How DARE anyone question Smith's polygamy, etc.? I think many of them want to believe it could have been accepted of the Lord (polygamy)--
as it is almost always men who assert he slept with other women (just saying; don't throw tomatoes at me)
Rare is the woman (unless she has been brainwashed) who thinks it is a good idea to share a man with other women. (yuck factor; sorry)
Those men who don't believe he did are courageous, in my opinion, because for so many years *we* could only be good Mormons by accepting the 'principle' (yuck!)
As for the Book of Mormon, I hesitate to say this, but I think I should.
I am not boasting; I could have read the Book of Mormon much MORE than I have.
But I have been reading it daily for over 35 years--
and if I count the times I read it as a youth and in college (seminary/institute/BYU) and on my mission--

I have read it all the way through over 30 times, and I am starting again--

I read it all the time--

AND I AM JUST BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS IN IT. I feel like an infant in my understanding of the book!

I am astounded when I talk to other members who have read it 'once or twice' or "quite a bit, but not all the way through"--

I don't believe that this is competition to see who can read the most, but if *I* who has read it at least 30 times (I have written down my reading and gone through several sets of scriptures)--
am just beginning to understand it and have a LONG way to go--

(though I admit I am passionate about it)

then how can people give up so soon, so easily.

It makes me really sad.

I could stop suddenly and be no better off than someone who has never read it, but--

give the book a chance.

:(

Inspire, good to see you; I have visited your blog a few times but haven't seen anyone there.

You go over my head (LOL!), but I like reading what you have to say.

LDSDPer said...

@Inspire,

I just realized you might not have wanted to read my entire response (to Ben H. and anyone else who cares)

I give you a "hello!" at the bottom of the previous comment.
:)

Inspire said...

LDSDPer,
Thanks for coming over. I've decided that perhaps a blog format isn't the best way to go for delving into the Book of Mormon. I'm working on something where everyone can help dig and contribute. Stay tuned!

LDSDPer said...

@anyone who talks about seeing Christ or having an experience of some kind that makes His Existence no longer a matter of 'faith'.

I never sought it. I was actually just trying to survive when it happened to me, and even now it is hard for me to understand someone being 'together' enough to make a plan to see the Savior.

When I had the experience I had, I was at the bottom of my life--

and was fighting death, physical and spiritual.

So, even now, I don't think about 'seeking' it, though I feel, on some level, that I should try to see His Face. I just don't know what that means.

I sense it might mean that I am trying to follow Him, more literally than I have usually thought about it.

For what it is worth; it might not be worth much. :/

I think of myself as a very ordinary person who has had some extraordinary experiences.

Anonymous said...

@ Jeremy.

The fact that your article does not address the findings and research of the Prices makes it apparent that you have not adequately researched the polygamy matter.

Again, although a little too conclusory, you may be right with respect to your claims that Joseph was a fraud in several ways. I have no loyalty to the Church, FAIR, RLDS, or even Joseph.

Notwithstanding, Joseph may be undeserving of your potentially defamatory claims that he was having sex with a 14-year old girl at the time that Joseph was 37 or that he was engaging in polyandry and had at least 34 wives.

You owe it to yourself and your readers to at least thoroughly research the matter and not fall for the false dichotomy between the Mormons and anti-Mormons.

If after you research the matter and reach the same conclusion you already have, I would love to hear your argument as to why the Prices are wrong. They, among others, make a very good case. At least then, you won't be arguing from a position of ignorance.

For starters, see: http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm

-Ben H.

Mayan Elephant said...

An old mission friend alerted me of this post and blog. Thanks, man.

I want to dismiss any skepticism of the author because he is a scientist or a lawyer or counsel for pharma. That is a pretty petty and silly set of reasons to be skeptical.

While I haven’t read every detail of every comment on here, in the reading I have done and skimming I have done something seems to really stand out to me – there are very few considerations for the kids that are affected by an adult parent who believes in, or practices, Mormonism in its current form. The scenario described above where a stake leader is asking for some explanation for why people are leaving, and the one comment mentions how three of his elders quorum members have left. I wonder how many of those departures involved families with children.

Asking a child to embark on this path of Mormonism that many of us inherited by birth is not the same as it was for us older peeps. The information available to Generation X, Y and Z is not the same as it was for the boomers. Asking a child to make the Book of Mormon a foundation of her morality and life is ludicrous in this day and age. Even if the above comments are true, and the book offers a path to a relationship with its god, it is not unique in its style, content or motivational value. The style mimics The Bible, Hunt’s The Late War and Modeste Gruau de La Barre’s First Book of Napoleon. The content is perhaps unique because it is set in America, but not unique in its fictional writing of history and war. The motivational aspects have been copied countless times. There are lots of formula books for knowing Christ.

Asking a child to embark on a path with the Mormon scriptures as a foundation is to ask that child to embrace the apologies, defenses and corporate ties that are entailed. And that request is losing traction for good reasons. As long as there are strings attached to believing in the veracity of Smith’s book, good people will walk away. There is not a pleasant path of unorthodoxy in the LDS Church – and that is why people are leaving. It is not fun. It is not logical. It is not stimulating. Membership today involves the shame of watching the Church flaunt its wealth, denigrate women, insult gays and lesbians, and bore us to tears while becoming a large and formidable land owner and property manager on multiple continents. Add to that, Monson and Otterson are trying to export their Utah politics around the globe, which is like asking our generation to support the racial priesthood ban in 1977. Whether you believe the Book of Mormon is a miracle from a god or whether you think it is as miraculous as Battlestar Galactica, the current form of the Church has deviated from any spiritual plan it offers for an individual. Unless the corporations that have trademarked the LDS church change, good people will walk, or run, away.

Jeremy said...

@ Ben,

I understand you're coming from a Community of Christ/RLDS perspective, which is outside of the LDS framework in which my letter is addressed to.

Joseph Smith was a polygamist. This is a fact. Both LDS, RLDS, and non-Mormon scholars agree on this fact.

Joseph Smith married other living men's wives. This is a fact. LDS, RLDS, and non-Mormon scholars agree on this fact.

Joseph Smith married teen girls, including Helen Mar Kimball. This is a fact. LDS, RLDS, and non-Mormon scholars agree on this fact.

Ben says:
"Notwithstanding, Joseph may be undeserving of your potentially defamatory claims that he was having sex with a 14-year old girl at the time that Joseph was 37 or that he was engaging in polyandry and had at least 34 wives."

According to Mormon scripture (which also includes D&C 132, which you appear to not accept or believe), the only justification for polygamy is to "multiply and replenish the earth", "raise seed", and "bear the souls of men". Joseph had no business whatsoever marrying 14-year-old Helen for any other purpose other than to have sex with and children with her.

I am familiar with Price's work. I do not share Price's hypothesis and conclusions.

LDSDPer said...

@Jeremy,

I don't agree with you, but I refuse to argue with you.

However, I want you to understand that I have had NO association (except negative; I grew up in a midwestern area where there were a few RLDS, and the minister's son used to say obscene things to me when he sat behind me in high school; can't remember which class; one day I turned around and hit him over the head with my textbook; that stopped him, and, no, the teacher didn't see it, and I wouldn't have worried if he/she had, because he went too far; my experiences with the RLDS have not, then, been what you could call positive--)

--with the RLDS.

I am 7th generation LDS, and I'm in my 60s--there were no members of any kind of break-off groups in my family, and I have read the Price's arguments.

I had 'devout' LDS ancestors who walked to Utah who weren't polygamists and privately spoke against it and taught their children to disavow it.

One of my parents was upset about this, because it wasn't 'orthodox', but a grandparent continued to teach me behind her back that polygamy was bad.


I won't argue with you. You are young, and you come across very assured of your rightness.

The point is not whether or not Joseph was a polygamist; the point is that not everything is 'black and white', and arguing it is futile. The man is dead, and, unless they have gone beyond the grave and talked to Joseph and everyone with whom he associated, those 'scholars' cannot know. They can believe; they can write that it is true, but they can't know.

It is so easy for documents to be falsified.


I understand that the LDS academic community accept Joseph Smith's averred polygamy; such 'greats' as Bushman, Compton and Quinn do--

that doesn't change my mind.

Please, just don't assume that anyone who thinks Joseph Smith didn't sleep with women other than Emma--

is a member of the RLDS (or other such offshoots of the original Mormonism, whatever it is/was).

Inspire said...

@Mayan:

Well, there goes the baby with the bathwater. It sounds like you haven't looked at the other posts Rock has put up regarding the Book of Mormon and why it would be useful to ape the language of the Bible, to preserve to a day when, as you say, we have access to more information.

What I am encouraging is not to throw our children into all the apologies, defenses, corporate/biblical ties that we have inherited from previous generations. I want to do away with all of that.

What if we actually looked to see what it was saying, void of some authoritative commentary or tangible "proof" of its origins/tie-ins. I would like the cut the strings that you talk about...not in believing in the book itself, but all the junk which has been attached to it.

Let us run away from the Corporation, if that's what we're wont to do. But I think if there's a chance that so many went to such trouble to get the Book of Mormon into our hands, the least we can do is give it a fair shake.

Gina Beutler said...

I find it very interesting that in the title you used the words "Christ Consciousness".
As a scientist do you work with energy vibrations/frequencies?
In studying reconstructed water, its known that it has a high vibration/frequency and the energy from the water puts off a bright light(outside of our visible spectrum.
If very high energy puts off a more magnificent light could you say Christ lived his life at a high frequency?
If so, does that Christ consciousness have a physical, measurable vibration? Would it be possible for others who lived a pure Christ like life to raise their EMF(electro magnetic field)or frequency to match the vibrations of Christ Consciousness? If so, what would it take for us to align ourselves to the Christ consciousness? Do you have to be a Christian to raise your frequency? Could Christ have been an offering from our creator to align ourselves to? Can there be Christ in man without the aligning to it? Or is Christ Consciousness already within us because we are manifestations of our creator we just need to seek ourselves in realization? Could our purpose be to realize the Christ consciousness within ourselves which would mean we would have to relinquish the lower frequencies of fear, judgement, shame and become as Christ himself at his level of frequency?
Could Jesus be a manifestation of the Christ in its fullness?
Have people placed attachments and regulations on themselves to the point where everything has duality(religion, race, gender, ethnicity, culture, money, health, ect)? ok ok.....last question,
did Christ teach Duality, or oneness?

LDSDPer said...

I did it again.

I allowed myself to get angry, because someone pushed my polygamy buttons.

Inspire, how do you remain so calm?

I am listening to a random "expert" right now (non-religious) who just said, "if you want to be disciplined about finding the truth, you have to be willing to say, 'I don't know.'"

Being certain about things that you don't already really KNOW--

will never get *me*/*us*/*you*
anywhere.

A person can only know a few things, really know them. A person can seek--

When will I stop interacting with pro-polygamists or non-friendly-to-Mormons people who blame polygamy for their lack of belief? Because it can go nowhere.

Oh well.

*meep*

Mayan Elephant said...

@inspire

If there is a formula for getting value out of the Book of Mormon, while disconnecting from the corporation and every attachment it has, then great. I do not see that formula yet.

Without these attachments, the book is not much more than Spiritual Warfare by McKenna or The Christ Commission by Mandino.

Perhaps, the method for getting value out of the Book of Mormon without the harm of affiliating with the current company that owns it, is to categorize it, study it, and consume it with the same scholarship and spirit one would invest in McKenna or Modeste Gruau de La Barre. Heck if really know.

Mayan Elephant said...

@LDSDPer

Whoa there hardcharger.

Deep...

....breath.

you are offensive. so anger is going to permeate in conversations with you,
including
your own anger.

whether joseph smith went to bed, and slept near, beside, in the vicinity of, or on, women other than emma, is,

not so relevant.

he married 30 something wives. he endangered them, himself and others with his dishonesty.

whether he consummated a marriage with vaginal intercourse,
again,
not so relevant.

he is still responsible for the consequences of his behavior.

those that tell the truth about him, are not liars, or threats.

william law, RIP.

joseph smith is not innocent of polygamy. nor is he innocent. a court of law standard of proof,
not relevant.

now to the topic at hand - anchoring a moral path in his work,
is risky, and, is losing
appeal.

this conversation is a highlight,
of the strings the Book of Mormon has,
in real contemporary life.

Toni said...

Steven Lester said, "my autism won't allow me to ever let me see the Savior. All of that love would only make me squirm and desire to escape it. And seeing and speaking with Mr. Perfect would diminish my self-image to such a low degree that I would become suicidal,"

It is untrue that autism or any other disorder will not allow one to see the Savior.

Feeling the Savior's love does not make one wish to escape it unless one is wicked (I don't think you are wicked, even though you seem to view yourself in that light).

Seeing and speaking with Him would not make you feel so bad you would want to commit suicide (trust me - I've been suicidal a lot in my life). In fact, unless you were wicked, you would never want to leave that love. His love holds onto a person, makes them feel like they never want to leave it - or Him.

Toni said...

Ben H. said, "2. The author expressed his love of the temple. I have problems with the Masonic origins of the temple ceremony and the millions spent on lavish buildings bearing the name of Christ. Did Joseph Smith reveal the temple ceremony or did Brigham Young and his followers? Isn't it foolish to consecrate everything to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as required by the temple ceremony? It seems that the author is giving a false oath every time he enters the temple if he is also critical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"3. Although I enjoyed reading the letter, doesn't anyone else have difficulty trusting a lawyer who works for Big Pharma that believes in evolution as taught at the university?"

Nothing was written down until a long time after BY. I don't think we know what JS really did, though we may have some records of certain people's perceptions. Since Joseph was attempting to portray what it was like to enter into the Lord's presence, he could have used whatever seemed close enough that the spiritually in tune could "get a clue." Masonic stuff could be a corruption of a once-clean practice.

Lol about the lawyer. I've met Brett and found him to be a very kind man, whose countenance is (was at the time I met him, at least) Light.

Anonymous said...

Interesting mix of words from what sounds like a reformer, an apologist, and someone who seems severely indoctrinated. If the BOM gets you closer to God, great! If you can cast aside all that the Corporation says and does, great! But the rationalization of some issues, and the casting aside of others doesn't do much for most imo. Although I can see the church going in this general direction in the coming decades. This way they can try to confront certain issues and avoid the whole "you never told me" crowd, and at the same time retain the perceived "truthfulness" tagline that they have tried hard to maintain. There is one hang up though... Maybe I missed it but in the post I never saw mention of the book View of the Hebrews. This obviously is an issue that needs to be addressed (danced around) if the "keystone" is the BOM. Now I'm not saying that some of the BOM isn't inspired, truth, and maybe even revelatory because I personally feel that some of it is. But the incessant need to justify and prove that it actually happened historically are beyond me. Take what you need from it. Grow with it or don't. But know where/how it came into being and consider that (yes, I'm in the "you never told me crowd" so color me a tad disheartened). Despite what any religion preaches to you, there are many ways to come to God. Proposing that a certain and/or best way/book is only done to further whatever theology they are promoting. The kingdom of heaven is within, so why are we searching everywhere but there?

-Mark

sfort said...

Thanks Rock. Very nice piece.

Inspire said...

Mayan,
If we must judge a work based on the moral character of the creator (and not even at the time he/she composed it, but as a summary of ther life, including things that happened years later) then I think we can toss out pretty much every work and movement out there. Then that leaves us with the dilemma of knowing how we can come to a knowledge of the truth of anything, because we are all flawed.

I like your idea, though, of disconnecting the Book of Mormon from those who "own" it or have their copyright affixed to it, or even from Joseph himself (works both ways, right?) I'd be on board such scholarly pursuit to see what the real message, if there is one, might be. My question, then, is what's stopping you or me or anyone who is genuinely interested in such an experiment? And why couldn't it be a collaborative effort... Not one person's opinion or blog, but letting the text speak for itself? Maybe it will point to God, or send us looking "within." Or maybe it will prove to a total sham. But until an unbiased search like this is performed, it will always come back to name-calling and finger-pointing. And THAT'S the thing which sends me running.

Frederick said...

I think the real trick with the Book of Mormon is to separate it from the corporation of the LDS church.

The LDS church teaches if the BoM is true, then the church is true. This is a totally false concept.

I think if there is value of associating with the church, it is finding people who actually see the stern warnings to the LDS church and the fallen state it is in, in the very writings that all LDS members claim to believe in.

For those not in the LDS church, I think the Book of Mormon can still be a useful tool to come to know Christ. But there's a lot of scripture that is also useful outside of the Bible. The Book of Enoch, the Ascension of Isaiah, and countless other pseudepigraphical and apocryphal books are of great value. I think there is great value in studying ancient religious texts.

Connecting with God in this life is an event worth receiving for anyone of any faith or background.

I see the Book of Mormon teaching that average people, or even evil people like murderers (Lamoni) can be forgiven and see Christ in this life.

I do not see the LDS church teaching anyone to seek to see Christ in this life, in the flesh. But, the Book of Mormon pretty much says the LDS church will reject the gospel and won't believe in Christ. The Book seems pretty accurate to me in that respect. As such, I find great value in it.

AussieOi/ Provision said...

Great Post- the church is lucky to have people like yourself

I just have to ask though, how do you explain Joseph tapping all that skirt?

Finally, to all my friends, including you Rock, just a courtesy that today, on my birthday, the Great AussieOi and his family sent their resignations into the Registered Trademark that is the Corporate Church.

We are now experiencing god in ALL his/ her/ its colour, in all his languages, in all his sounds, in all his being.

Mo longer is our religious identity prescribed in a very small, crazy, box

To my brother who wrote this letter, I give you 6 months. Tops

Now remember to pay your 10% and scrub their toilets brother

Abigail said...

A quick couple of points:
(1) Brett's explanation of priesthood is the very reason I don't feel drawn into the arguments over female ordination. I'm much more concerned with how quickly we toss our true power aside by being uncharitable one toward another over the issue.
(2) As one who has had visions and visitations, I can confirm that it takes a long time to process completely what you've experienced even when you remember minute details. This is one reason varying accounts of the First Vision don't bother me. How I explained an experience twenty years ago is much different than how I'd explain it today.
(3) The LDS church is scaffolding used to help build the individual soul. Making this temporary, telestial institution into the end, rather than seeing it as part of the means, is idolatry. From such turn away. And yet, we cannot be saved alone. Salvation requires community. I do not stay because the church offers salvation. I stay because it offers unique opportunities to be a better disciple.

LDSDPer said...

@Mayan Elephant,

I admitted my anger.

Will you admit yours? Perhaps our anger(s) is/are directed at different things.

Perhaps I feel anger towards those who assume they know what happened 170 years (or so) ago and make judgements based upon that.

Recently one of my adult children was talking about how a study was done where a number of people were given the same set of facts; I don't know, honestly, if it was in reading (text) or visual or what it was.
Then each person was told to describe back what he/she had read or heard or seen.

Each person's report was different, in fact, very different from that of every other person.

I admit that I am 60 something. I lived through (very literally) the Viet Nam war, and I was one of the few LDS youth I knew (maybe the only) who neither approved of the war (had friends who burned draft cards) nor participated in the 'free love' fest. I kept aloof, but I was angry. I was angry when LDS leaders promoted or supported the war; I was angry about a lot of things. I still went on a mission, and it was hard, and a lot of bad things happened, but I don't regret it.

I am saying this, because I sense you are young, and I was once young, and I was quite intolerant of those who were a generation or two ahead of me.

It has only been in growing older that I have realized that, even if I believed they were narrow, they had life experiences I had not had, and they deserved respect for that, at least.

I admitted my anger. I don't like the things you said to me. Maybe you have anger issues, too.

You see, I didn't address my words to you, though I acknowledge that this is a public forum, and anyone can respond; I know that.
But I addressed my words to "Jeremy" who jumped to a conclusion that another poster had an RLDS perspective, because he had read the Prices.
So, be angry with Joseph Smith; that's fine with me. I have been.

Since you addressed me, I want to ask you if you have done anything to shed all the other corporations from your life?

The "church" is just one; there are SO many others. You might work for one; I don't know. Have you nullified them in your life?

I believe that everyone has been deceived, everyone--

yes, even Joseph Smith. But I still don't think anyone can know what was going on back then, and I found your language offensive.

You didn't have to say what you said.

I'm old enough to be offended by that.

You don't need to talk about women's body parts. Perhaps nobody else noticed, but I did.
I'm a grandmother; I wouldn't let my grandchildren talk like that, not to me or around me.

LDSDPer said...

continued--

I admire "Inspire", because he (she) doesn't get angry. But I still think Inspire has powerful feelings; he is just trying to find peace.

It's my goal, as well, and I'm probably too open about it. So you saw me as a target and shot.

Perhaps you don't see it that way, but I did.

I remember that when I was young I saw the flaws in everyone around me, but not in myself.

Now I see my own flaws, though I still see the flaws around me, but mostly what I see is that people have been deceived.

And, horrific as the LDS corporation is, there are just so many thousands all around *us*, and they are causing much of the heartache in the world.

Even before corporations (though I believe both the Catholic Church and the Town of London were incorporated many centuries ago)--

there have always been those who enslave others and profit from their labors.

So, get rid of the corporations. Don't look to the Book of Mormon for this information, even though it's in there, but--

look for the corporation-free (Babylon-free) world, and make it happen.

You are young (I think; I hope; if a man, I assume you are male, in his 60s had written the things you wrote I would truly be surprised)--

make a difference, but the Mormon Corporation is not the only evil in the world; part of it, yes, but not the only or even the worst.

In my part of the country (far from Utah, rural) a teacher at a private (religious) school was just arrested for being part of an international child p@rn ring--
with the information they found--they were able to locate and 'free' 300 children world-wide. 20-30 children at the school will be receiving counseling.

Unless (always a possibility) the police officers in charge of the case get into the ring themselves (which you know can always happen)--

a very tiny tip of an enormous iceberg was knocked off--

Joseph is dead; you can't arrest him; take your anger against him and do something to make the world a better place.

LDSDPer said...

@Abigail,

Thank you for your words. I think they are wise.



LDSDPer said...

@anyone who is interested in disconnecting from corporations, whatever age--

but this might interest "the young".

http://www.alternet.org/story/151850/8_reasons_young_americans_don%27t_fight_back%3A_how_the_us_crushed_youth_resistance?page=0%2C0

Ponderous said...

Everyone has a right to their opinion and I am interested in hearing them, as long as we are able to express them without getting our emotions stirred up.

Intelligent discussion is derailed by emotional rants. Pride brings us to contention out of a perceived necessity to defend our position as the correct one. We can not be open to further light and truth if we are convinced we already hold the correct perspective and feel the need to defend it to the convincing of others.

If someone offers an opinion or point of view that you do not agree with, disagree agreeably.

Don't get emotionally invested in a tug of war, go take a warm bath, light some candles...

We can not use the intelligent portion of our mind when our emotions are stirred up.

I have begun to scroll past such emotional ramblings, I do not find them constructive.

Perhaps some people need to spend a little more time away from the keyboard. If you have the time and feel a need to comment after every post that's made throughout the day, perhaps you could be doing something more spiritually rewarding, like volunteering somewhere in your community...

I can feel this place devolving into an internet chat room or debate forum,
I have skip every other post to wade through the dross.


Rob said...

Mark,
Yes, the kingdom of heaven is within. However, Jesus, who said that, also said that which comes out of a man is what defiles him, not that which goes into him. If you pick up the "kingdom of God within us" end of the stick, you have to also pick up the "natural man is an enemy to God."

Several texts, including "Lectures on Faith," do a great job at explaining the need for messengers from heaven.

Also, I wonder if you've ever read "View of the Hebrews." Any connection between that and the Book of Mormon to suggest the latter was plagiarized from the former is laughable to me.

A few people on here are interpreting Brett's letter as drawing positive conclusions about the church. I don't see that. Seems to me that is not at all the point. The title of this post is the point of the letter. I'm not sure where these other conclusions are coming from. It seems that those who are disenchanted with the church and have tossed out the gospel have failed to distinguish the two. They are not the same. I think that is one point this letter tries to make.

Martin Harris Luther said...

I'm pretty sure that when we feel we know something, there's trouble coming our way.

engaged19times said...

@Mark....What r u reading about this kingdom of heaven is within business? Dont look outward, not even in BoM? I relate to the "but u never told me" feeling. And I have become so crushed by it....Im like the most cynical person now.

Jeremy said...

@ LDSDPer

You keep bringing up your age and how "experienced" you are. You must be very proud to be an AARP subscriber.

When you're done being condescending and waving around your AARP membership card as if it means anything in this discussion? Let us "young ones" know.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Okay, guys, can we get back to discussing ideas, and stop throwing barbs?

LDSDPer is a friend of mine, and I don't like seeing her smugly attacked because of the way she expresses herself.

My friend is one of the kindest people on earth, but she is also frail and sickly so I wish you would all leave her be.

Inspire said...

LDSDPer,

You are sweet. I enjoy how you express yourself.

We've all been shaken by our various initiations into this strange new world. I feel for everyone involved. I can't say that those who are bitter don't have a right to be so. But there is no reason to spread the angst to others who are just trying to figure things out in their way.

If I could sum up what I think Christ was saying in Bountiful (or even in Jerusalem), it would be: "You're all in this mess together. Can't you have compassion on each other while you figure it out? What if you were to give each other the benefit of the doubt? Please, just get along."

Some might say that Book of Mormon or Bible is hogwash. That's fine. But I think most would agree that they know what it means to be a decent person, and getting along with each other is a "good" thing. Perhaps that is the place to start, maybe even reside.

Vaughn Hughes said...

Brilliant summary, Brett. Okay, yes, perhaps longish for a "summary"--but it would be impossible to do otherwise.

I have to say one of the subtleties I had a good chuckle at was the "Do we believe"/"I do not" questions & responses, mirroring the protestant minister's discussion with Adam in the pre-1991 temple endowment. Quite humorous, but which is central to how we should understand the endowment: *you* are to consider *yourself* as if *you* were Adam or Eve. When Peter asks how this community is accepting the false teaching (philosophies of men--mingled in with just enough scripture), and Lucifer responds that it is going very well, "except *this* man [Adam] does not seem to believe what is being taught", isn't that what we should expect to be presented with by the priests of our Church? (after all, the Antagonist looks the LDS audience pretty squarely in the eye, making it clear whom he's talking to, doesn't he?) So Adam is (*you* are) supposed to realize it's false and reject it! And the suit-wearing priest is presenting it to you. If Adam (and thus also Eve) is the pattern, then what the temple endowment teaches & warns of is as damning of us as is the Book of Mormon or the Book of Isaiah, isn't it? It *nails* us and, once again, it isn't pretty. To me, that alone is strong evidence that despite much of the obvious Masonic framework, the LDS endowment (though now severely altered, neutered, etc.) was prophetic in origin--even if only symbolic of the reality we should be seeking and not actual. (which Brett articulates so well) There's a lot more to the endowment, just like there is a heckuva lot more to the Book of Mormon. These messages are trying to help us wake up and get ourselves out of this mess the only way possible: through individually connecting with heaven. Following men & women of flesh only damns us.

And I acknowledge how difficult it can be to believe it all, especially sorting through all the truth vs. error. As Jeremy points out in his response to Brett's letter here, that's a pretty underperforming god on the success scale of numerosity! Or perhaps He is far, far, far more respectful of our agency, including our often rebellious & deviant desires, than we want to allow him to be. (which is also objectionable for a god!) But didn't the Book of Mormon see this unbelief in us Gentiles coming, too? (Again, thanks for including this point, Brett.) This whole prophetic side to the Book of Mormon, the LDS endowment, and the Book of Isaiah is a dang persuasive witness to me. How did some charlatan liar kid with peep stones looking in a hat so perfectly capture our dire situation 180 years into the future?

And no, I don't buy the argument that Joseph originated the corporatism & idolatry (leader worship) we see today. As Bret once again highlighted, Joseph's repeated preaching of Ezekiel 14 demonstrates that. Denver covered the rough outline of our history that included how all that developed--"fourth phase" as he refers to it. (as do Quinn and others) Joseph's form of Mormonism was so completely different from ours today, I'm not sure if any of us would even recognize it were we to look back in time.

I do believe, however, that an earnest attempt to uncover/recover what the Lord was really attempting to do via Joseph (as confusing as it can be to get past all the alterations and nonsense) is key to our repenting from our collective LDS condemnation and getting on with what needs to happen.

Fusion said...

We can go back and forth forever with the he said she said garbage. We were not there in Josephs time, so everything is speculation and hearsay. The only true guide is the spirit and if you don't have that then you are left with darkness. I am saddened by the fact that people have been hurt by the Church. Doesn't mean the gospel isn't true. Joseph would be the first person to stand up and say that a person can believe what they want to believe. We are all going to be led by the true spirit or a false spirit from time to time. My testimony is that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet that was instrumental in the restoration. He was just a man and had the frailties of a man. I don't know about you, but I have no experience in translating ancient records, especially ones that were hid up by God. If it took a rock in a hat to translate, then so be it. That doesn't make me ignorant or stupid to believe that. God's ways are not our ways. When we start to think for God, then we become anti christ. If I say that the spirit told me this or that, no man can tell me that I am wrong. That is between the LORD and I. I am still trying to figure this all out, but my testimony above is still true and no one can tell me I am wrong for that. Let the spirit be you guide. Seek the Second Comforter.

BK said...

Frederick,

I don't believe the Book of Mormon is talking about the 'current' LDS Church when it says 'The Holy Church of God' will reject the Gospel and Christ.

I believe the "Holy Church of God" that the BoM mentions becoming completely corrupted, was the Church Joseph started, which I believe even Joseph saw happening and tried to stop it's corruption but that's what most of the people wanted, thus they lost their prophet and authority & keys.

I do not believe the current LDS Church today is even remotely close to or a continuation of Joseph's Church, for it's so completely opposite to it & Joseph's & Christ's teachings.

One could practically pick any other Christian Church today and it would be far closer to the true Church that Joseph established then the current LDS Church, which is one of the few Christian Churches that teaches evils like polygamy, time wasted away from family in doing false temple worship and ordinances, and it's demands that the fatherless & poor support it's rich leaders & their projects (instead of the poor) or they won't go to the highest heaven, have an eternal family or see their relatives marriages, etc.

I don't know any other Christian Churches (that aren't breakoffs of the current LDS Church) that teach and do such vile evils as those.

But I agree, whether the BoM is true or not, it certainly pegs today's situation in our nation and gives us much to consider and learn from.
I

It seems the 'Holy Church of God' hardly ever lasts more than a few short years before it's leaders and members go astray and become wicked.

engaged19times said...

@ Vaugh Hughes, So what i gather from my internet reading of the illuminati/nwo, is the Masons do occultic rituals. R u saying the LDS endowment really is occultic after all??? I have this fumbling understanding that somehow mormons miss the point enough that it is almost like a satanic thing. If I am not understanding correctly will someone please spell this out i cannot take crptic messages and riddles anymore!

Steven Lester said...

I'm sorry, engaged19times...it's too sacred to talk about. (I jest)

Calleen Bataiff said...

I just listened to the Tom Phillips interview in Mormon Stories Podcasts and I feel so bad that he had to experience that, however, by experience I know that ordinances don't come through the arm of flesh and that the hierarchy of the LDS is now nothing but flesh. I have had blessings come straight from God and he is the only one they can come through.

Although all is not lost with him. I had to go through my own set of experiences before I was brought into Gods presences.

In reading scriptures I have come to understand that in these days not one man holds the full truth, and I have some reservations concerning all the folklore on both sides of the issue about Joseph Smith. You know he only acted as a prophet when the Spirit of God rested upon him and no other time. They make mistakes and are natural men as well and we need not listen to them in that state, only as God talks to them. The only way we can know when God is talking to them is through personal revelation. It takes a prophet to recognize a prophet.

BK said...

engaged19times,

I believe Satan is definitely the source for the temple teachings, ceremonies and ordinances, no matter who or what group it originated from.

Except for maybe, 'maybe' 'baptism for the dead'. Not sure on that one yet. But it doesn't seem necessary either, for the righteous dead can be baptized themselves very easily when they return to earth in the Millenium. We have much more important things to worry about as mortals, like keeping our own marriages together and staying righteous ourselves and not deceived by all these false doctrines (like the LDS temple) and false prophets.

I believe Satan certainly inspired Brigham Young to come up with the whole 'temple experience'. I do not believe it came from Joseph, and like polygamy, BY just said it came from Joseph. But if we ever find real proof it did, then that would just prove Joseph was influenced by Satan too.

For I do not believe temple teachings or ordinances are of God, for the temple teaches so contrary to the Gospel of Christ and the scriptures warn us against being involved with secret oaths and anything secret, etc. and sealings are totally a false precept of men, not necessary at all to have eternal families and marriages. Everyone ever born with have an eternal family, whether they were righteous or religious or not in this life.

The real Gospel of Jesus Christ is so very pure and simple, you can explain it all in 1 sentence, the things Moroni stood & fought for: 'Protect everyone's freedom and natural God-given 'equal' rights (women & men) & provide for single mothers, children, elderly & other poor, and protect women & children from abuse, neglect & abandonment. Oh, and have charity, which is to love, serve & forgive your enemies (which doesn't mean continue to let them hurt you).

If we do those things, everything else falls into place.

The Gospel may be a tall order but it's very short & simple.

Christ said the 'essence of religion' (the main reason for churches) was to visit (take care of) the fatherless (single mothers & their children).

Even Pres. Hinckley admitted in conference that his #1 responsibility as leader and as a Church, was to protect members from abuse & neglect.

The Gospel has nothing to do with things like what goes on in the temple.

Unrighteous men try to change the simple Gospel of Christ into confusion, hard to understand doctrines, oppressive requirements & secret rites, for the leader's own gain & control over the people.

Isaiah Explaineddotcom said...

The Struggle within America—Isaiah Saw It All! (BOM message)

by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

Many regard Isaiah's prophecy as a sealed book. Who does it address, only people in the past? A key to this mystery exists in the linear and synchronous structures that govern the book of Isaiah. These enable us to read it as a prophecy about the past but also as a prediction of the future. The book of Isaiah, in other words, serves a twofold purpose. Without taking anything away from what happened in the past, it uses the past as an allegory of the future. In that case, persons and nations of Isaiah's day typify ones who perform similar roles at the end of the world. The names of past persons and nations function as codenames for their endtime counterparts.

The importance of understanding Isaiah's message increases daily as world events line up like planets for the fulfillment of his prophecy. Under the codename “Egypt ”—the great superpower of Isaiah's day—America is predicted to suffer spiritual decline, political ineptitude, economic collapse, internal anarchy, and invasion by a foreign military world power from the North—a latter-day “Assyria.” On the other hand, a community of covenanters in “Egypt” will turn back to Jehovah, who will send them a savior and deliver them. In the end, at the commencement of the millennial age, America will again become “my people”—a covenant people of God (Isaiah 19).

5. 20. 2010
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/120-Shorts/001.%20The%20Struggle%20within%20Americal.html
Dewey Olsen Posted by.

Isaiah Explaineddotcom said...

End-Time “Assyria”—A Militaristic Alliance (BOM Message)

by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

Featuring prominently in the book of Isaiah is a militaristic superpower that seeks to conquer the world. Indeed, God commissions its king figure—an End-Time archtyrant—to punish God’s people when they turn to evil and apostatize: “Hail the Assyrian, the rod of my anger! He is a staff—my wrath in their hand. I will commission him against a godless nation, appoint him over the people [deserving] of my vengeance, to pillage for plunder, to spoliate for spoil, to tread underfoot like mud in the streets. Nevertheless, it shall not seem so to him; this shall not be what he has in mind. His purpose shall be to annihilate and to exterminate nations not a few” (Isaiah 10:5–7).

Following the pattern of ancient Assyria, this ruthless world power and its alliance of nations will commit genocide on a world scale: “Hark! A tumult on the mountains, as of a vast multitude. Hark! An uproar among kingdoms, as of nations assembling: Jehovah of Hosts is marshaling an army for war. They come from a distant land beyond the horizon—Jehovah and the instruments of his wrath—to cause destruction throughout the earth. Lament, for the Day of Jehovah is near; it shall come as a violent blow from the Almighty” (Isaiah 13:4–6). Although all nations in their wicked state suffer destruction, it is the apostasy of God’s covenant people that is the catalyst.

11. 23. 2011
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/120-Shorts/066.%20End-time%20Assyria-A%20Militaristic%20Alliance.html
Posted by Dewey Olsen

Isaiah Explaineddotcom said...


End-Time “Egypt”—A Superpower in Decline (BOM Message!)


by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

Isaiah's use of types of ancient world powers that foreshadow End-Time ones extends to the great superpower Egypt. As with all nations and persons who appear in the book of Isaiah, their true identity emerges when we observe how Isaiah characterizes them, not when we apply historical or archaeological data, though at times that may help. In searching the world today for a nation that matches Isaiah's description of “Egypt,” the sole candidate is America. That connection is further strengthened by the fact that God’s people anciently dwelt in Egypt, that Joseph ruled Egypt, and that the birthright tribe of Ephraim sprang from Joseph and Asenath, an Egyptian woman.

Isaiah's “Egypt,” however, is a superpower in decline: “The ministers of Zoan have been foolish, the officials of Noph deluded; the heads of state have led Egypt astray. Jehovah has permeated them with a spirit of confusion; they have misled Egypt in all that it does, causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit. . . . Manufacturers of combed linen and weavers of fine fabrics will be dismayed. The textile workers will know despair, and all who work for wages suffer distress. . . . I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians; they will fight brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state” (Isaiah 19:2, 9–10, 13–14).

11. 16. 2011
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/120-Shorts/065.%20End-time%20Egypt-A%20Superpower%20in%20Decline.html
Posted by dewey olsen

Isaiah Explaineddotcom said...

(BOM message for LDS Leadership)

The Role of Ephraim in Isaiah's Prophecy

by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

Isaiah's prophecy concerning Ephraim consists mostly of censure. Ephraim lives in the past, acting as if former glories were current ones: “Woe to the garlands of glory of the drunkards of Ephraim! Their crowning splendor has become as fading wreaths on the heads of the opulent overcome with wine” (Isaiah 28:1). The king of Assyria—a new Flood (Isaiah 8:7–8)—will invade Ephraim’s land: “My Lord has in store one mighty and strong: as a ravaging hailstorm sweeping down, or like an inundating deluge of mighty waters, he will hurl them to the ground by his hand. The proud garlands of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot” (Isaiah 28:2–3).


Ephraim plows the same ground over and over, never moving beyond the basic principle of “line upon line and precept upon precept” to personal revelation (Isaiah 28:9–13, 24–29). Its prophets, too, are drunk: “These too have indulged in wine and are giddy with strong drink: priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor. They are intoxicated with wine and stagger because of strong drink; they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions” (Isaiah 28:7). When God “lays in Zion a stone,” many don’t believe it: “Scoff not, lest your bonds grow severe, for I have heard utter destruction decreed by my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, upon the whole earth” (Isaiah 28:16, 22).
2. 22. 2012

Posted by Dewey Olsen

Inspire said...

We throw out words like "occult," "secret combinations," and "illuminati" like they are the apex of all Satanically evil deeds in the world. Maybe they're even embedded in the church and culture.

But it seems to me that Christ taught us to look at things at a more personal level. My impression is that he is telling us that we are to watch out for "contention," "cursing our enemy," and "saying 'thou fool'," and that these are the things that "cometh of evil." Probably because these are the things which we can actually control.

I'm sure we can find "satanic" things in the temple and in the church, but what about how we interact with each other? I don't think there is anything cryptic about what that can look like. He is pretty clear in proclaiming that it is his "doctrine"to do away with such things as contending with each other. While I may be baffled and confused by the other "evil" things, I can at least control my own thoughts, words and deeds, which is a much simpler proposition.

Robin Hood said...

I read this article with interest. Although I can see why he interprets some things the way he does, I have to say I am far from convinced by his argument.
For example, he uses the same argument others, including Rock, use fequently; namely that Moroni must have been addressing us LDS in Mormon chapter 8 because we would be the only ones reading "the bloody thing". Afterall, the reasoning goes, why warn those who don't know they're being warned. But those who believe this way have a major problem when they get to ch.9. In this chapter Moroni addresses his remarks to "those who do not believe in Christ"!(Mormon 9:1) Therefore the logic of the argument is inconsistent and falls apart.

I have noticed he also consistently skips over verses which are less helpful to his position. In short, as a lawyer he presents only the information which reflects best upon his "client". No wonder lawyers get such a bad press in the Book of Mormon!

Robin Hood said...

I remain entirely unconvinced too, by the argument that we LDS are the Gentiles referred to in the BoM. We are Israel; many of us by actual lineal descent. Those who are not "from the loins of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (the words used in my PB) are adopted into Israel at baptism and are therefore no longer Gentiles. Joseph Smith may well have said that we were "identified with the Gentiles", but that is not the same as saying we are identified as Gentiles. There is a major difference and I'm surprised more people can't see that. I identify with my favourite football team but that does not mean I am my favourite football team, or that I am in the lineup. If Joseph had meant to say that we are Gentiles I think he would have said just that. But he didn't, he used a different wording and he did so for a reason. We are Israel in a Gentile nation living amongst the Gentiles - therefore we identify with them. But we are not them.

Gary Hunt said...

Robin Hood,

There is an obvious shift in who Mormon is addressing between chapters 8 and 9. Chapter 8 deals with those who claim to believe in Christ. Verse 33 gives us a clue. In chapter 9 Mormon shifts his comments to those who do no believe in Christ. It's "bloody" obvious he talking to different people. You better read those chapters again.

engaged19times said...

Robin Hood, i truly mean no disrespect. But i sincerly hope we dont have 49 comments squibbling over the semantics of "numbered with the geniles" or whatever. Anyone who is LDS who excuses themslves from this warning is a friggin fool. End of discussion. Please, lets not have a bunch of commenters on that. Its a moot point anyway. Mormons think they are chosen. And guess what? They are! Chosen for their foolishness and stiffneckedness, putting ordinances above the real thing.

PNW_DPer said...

All this discussion about whether we are "Gentiles" or "Israelites" reminds me of what John the Baptist said when he was approached by those who were sure they were chosen because of their lineage, the Pharisees and Sadducees; "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Matthew 3:8-9.

In other words, whether we be "Gentiles" or "Israelites" does not mean anything, only if we individually "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance."

Jeff Baird said...

Rock,
Thank you for again posting valuable information for helping guide us to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have to tell you that when I read that the Church may be seeking to discipline you my eyes filled with tears. Not tears of sadness that you could face discipline from this corporate entity but that you would have to defend yourself in light of all the good you accomplish. I truly mean that. As I told you in a recent email, before I found your blog I was on the verge of abandoning the church and everything associated with it. The information you share here has helped me to salvage my belief in God, the Savior and the Book of Mormon. I wish you the best in your future dealings with the Church (and I do not confess to know what "the best" might mean, but God does and that's what matters). Thank you again for all the good you do, and please keep up the good work!

Brett said...

There have been a few comments here along the lines of, "I can't be part of a dishonest organization anymore, why should we stay if it's this bad, etc."

The theme in sacrament meeting today was getting prepared for General Conference and "Follow the Prophet." One speaker listed all the ways we could find/listen to a prophet's word: lds.org, the church magazines, conference, and the manuals, etc. He didn't say the scriptures. And he seemed to forget that we have scriptures full of prophecy, nor was there much spoken of about Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testify. And while many of the talks were utter darkness and error, the only thing I could think of is how can I help my friends here?

I'm not sure I'm any good to them if I leave. And I do care a lot about them. I'm fortunate enough to have friends in the church. In Christ's day, the leadership fought against him, yet he still worked among them teaching, and persuading those who would listen.

So while I usually can be found reading a book in Sunday school or EQ, I still perk up once or twice to bring the lesson back to Christ, because inevitably it has tangented off into irrelevancy.

The worth of souls is great in the eyes of God, and I'd be content with persuading just one. So I'll stay.

Arch Stanton said...

Ok, you talked me into it. I've been avoiding Snuffer's books for a while, but this convinced me. 2 Nephi 32 is my absolute favorite scripture. I talk about it all the time. I've been saying for a long time that the whole gospel boils down to the first (aka 4) principles and that it's all about discerning the spirit.

My interpretation up to this point though has been that the spirit is strictly a 6th sense of sorts and that the heavenly communication comes through this medium, which can also cause us to have other types of experiences through our minds, like dreams and visions.

In my view the Spirit/Holy Ghost is the vessel through which we partake of the atonement. Whatever Christ did as far as the atonement goes, that miracle of learning the human condition, that knowledge becomes available to us through the Spirit. Christ gained knowledge that we need for salvation, our own personal road map out of the wilderness. The Spirit is the communication medium that we receive this knowledge from.

Honestly I had never thought to seek out Christ himself. This is an intriguing idea.

Not sure I agree with Bro Bartel's interpretation of 2 Nephi 32 though, that we are to literally receive visitations from angels. It talks about speaking with the "tongue of angels," not having them knock on our door and speak face to face normally. Tongue of angels implies we are speaking in an abnormal way. Not that we couldn't talk to angels literally, I'm just not seeing where it says that. Not really sure how that plays in with meeting Christ either.

I do agree though, clearly there is a lack of inspiration in the church these days. And I also wholeheartedly agree that nobody should be dependent on another for their salvation. Whatever the nature of the spirit, in a technical/scientific sense, each of us must receive personal revelation in order to be saved. It's not about following Obi Wan into battle, but becoming a Jedi ourselves.

I'm regularly surprised by how many people in the church really don't get the gospel at all. Basic concepts like the nature of god, nature of sin, repentance, etc., they don't get it at all. The point isn't to apologize for some arbitrary thing. You really think God cares about that? The point is who you are, who have you become. Have you grown or not? But as Bro Bartel says, we're absurdly focused on cultural rules, like alcohol and modesty. If only it were that simple. It's such a profoundly trivial perspective too.

Arch Stanton said...

Brett,

I assume you're the author of the letter? Howdy. I would agree with you re staying vs leaving the church. Going to church shouldn't just be about me, me, me. Frankly it should be more about service. We have a responsibility to try and right the ship.

Also, I would say there is a difference between the church and the priesthood. As you said in your letter, someone can be called but that doesn't mean they fulfill the calling. The church being under condemnation or out in the wilderness, that doesn't mean the priesthood is illegitimate or that the true gospel can be taken from the earth. It just means we're in the wilderness.

One of the things I've been studying recently is the nature of progression. I think it's a team sport. We have a lot of attitudes today that is a result of knowledge passed down to us, passed down to us from our forefathers who had to learn things the hard way.

This is my reaction when people bring up issues like slavery. For instance, how could the founding fathers have been inspired if they were slave owners? Well, for one, slavery back then wasn't actually how we imagine it today with all the media spin. But regardless, society was different. We are more "enlightened" about race only because of all that history that was passed down to us. Same can be said about science and technology. We're all blessed with electricity because of work other people did. Were it not for them we'd be in the dark right now.

I think this is simply the nature of progress. Humanity is such a complicated thing it takes many lifetimes to learn certain lessons. And often those lessons must be repeated before they really sink in.

Anyway, just because we're in the wilderness doesn't mean the priesthood authority isn't legitimate. I also don't think the powers that exed Snuffer are all in agreement with each other either. I happen to know that there ARE a number of leaders in high up positions who DO get it. They ARE receiving real revelation and they are just biding their time moving up the ladder to try and impact things for better.

Be the best member you can be. Be vocal at church. Open your mouth, plant seeds.

BK said...

Arch & Brent,

I believe it is impossible to 'right the ship' just like it's impossible to right any false church. Would you tell a Catholic to stay in their religion and try to right their ship?

We can't gain any true 'Priesthood' in a Church that is apostate. We will finally gain Priesthood power like Alma or Joseph did, straight from heaven once we leave a corrupt church and really start living the Gospel and standing up for it.

You can't live the Gospel while having one foot in a corrupt church, for you can't serve God & Satan at the same time. You either support one or the other.

And I have found that I can do far more good to help people see the light by 'leaving' and thus having the freedom to speak up to them about what's right & wrong.

When we stay in the Church we are only allowed to say so much before we are shown the door.

But if we leave then people start wondering why and most ask us why, and then we are free to really explain how the Church is not following Christ.

If we are good people then they will listen to us and it will cause them to start thinking and studying themselves and many will follow our example to leave.

But by 'staying' we don't have the opportunity to speak up as we need to to really awaken people and help them see the light, and they don't have our example of leaving to take courage to follow suit.

Arch,

I have to disagree about the slavery thing. There were plenty of people back then who understood just how evil and wrong slavery was. (People in every age of time actually since Adam)

I believe everyone actually knew deep down slavery was wrong, and they will be accountable for it, including our founding fathers. People back then are like members of the Church today, who go into denial about or ignore the evil being done around them, in order to enjoy the perks of whatever evil they are supporting or going along with.

Members of the Church get a lot of perks for going along with the Church's evil, even though deep down everyone knows that polygamy is wrong, especially men and leaders, who would never put up with it the other way around, so they know they shouldn't do it to their wife.

The Golden Rule reveals the truth about any precept or principle. Men would not want done to them what they do to women when it comes to polygamy, priesthood, suppression of women in church, home or society, etc.

Brett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brett said...

When I go to church I'm not trying to right any ship.

I'm also not serving "The Church," I'm serving my friends.

Calleen Bataiff said...

You are a better person than I Bret. I find it very hard to go to church and listen to all the garbage that is being taught there. For years I've gone in and tried to help people understand what the point of the lesson is, which flies straight over their heads without understanding. I moved to S.E. Idaho where the community is primarily Mormon and I have found the people here are like those people in the BofM that like to pat themselves on the back and talk about how righteous they are. It drives me nuts. I, on one occasion, answered a question my relief society pres. asked me, on whether I believed Pres. Monson was a prophet. I had to truthfully answer "No" and then proved my point. She was shocked, couldn't refute my proof and merrily continued in her path. I've discovered most people in this religion don't really care about the truth. It's just a social club. It's disheartening and I have chosen not to attend church any longer. I usually come home frustrated and depressed.

On the other hand, when I engage in conversation with those of us who love God and seek to know the truth, I rejoice in the spirit of God and the understandings I come to by it. I believe this church will be cleansed and one will come to set things back in order and I would like to be a part of that scenario.

Thank you Rock for this blog. It has been very enlightening.

Calleen Bataiff said...

One other thing. The spirit kept impressing upon me that I needed to keep my distance from this community, which is a very small town that almost completely makes up 2 wards, to avoid the plagues this people were going to experience, which I listened too. About 6 months later as I was reading in the New Testament I came across this verse:
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

(New Testament | Revelation 18:4)

It cemented my understanding of what I was being asked to do. This is just an FYI for others to ponder on. I wouldn't suggest anyone follow this, but listen to the promptings and follow them.

Arch Stanton said...

BK,

I think we'd have to talk about degrees of apostasy. I don't believe the priesthood authority has been lifted from the earth. If that's what you think, then it's all a waste of time. Nobody is perfect, period. So no church will ever be perfect. So what is the line in the sand when "apostasy" becomes too much? As Brett points out, there were a lot of people in the OT that were clearly in a state of apostasy, but they were still the Lord's people, they had the "authority" and he let them stumble. Saying the ship can't be righted demonstrates a lack of faith to me. If a group of people can't course-correct, then how can an individual course-correct? By that logic all hope is lost, let's just kill ourselves, game over, done, what's the point. The ship absolutely can be righted. And the Catholic ship could be righted as well. It could merge with the LDS some day. The difference is the LDS church has a relatively short distance to travel to get back on track. The level of apostasy is not that great to me.

Gary Hunt said...

Robin Hood,

I need to apologize. Here's my correction of a couple of things I said in my last comment. It was Moroni speaking and not Mormon and it should read "not" instead of "no".

swplaza said...

Evolution is the way that God created man??! Ridiculous and uninformed. With a huge and fundamental error like that, how can any of this be taken seriously?
Evolution requires death, lots and lots of cruel and deadly death! Death did not enter this world until Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit. So many are easily fooled by the "wisdom" of men re evolution. Sad. Just sad.

Calleen Bataiff said...

Arch,

You need to read D&C 124 and pray about it.

28 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.

(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 124:28)

31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.
32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
33 For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me;
34 For therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.

(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 124:31 - 34)

45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.
46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them.
47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.
48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord.

(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 124:45 - 48)

Then knowing what happened in Nauvoo history. They were moved out of their place. Their follies did follow them even to Salt Lake.

Not to be rude, but it's said that ignorance is bliss, however, only in knowledge can one be saved.

In the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, he says:

Section Four 1839-42, p.217
The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.
Section Four 1839-42, p.217

One needs to consider these things and pray about them and receive understanding for themselves.

Rob said...

These comments are the best I've ever seen on this blog. I'm glad to see that.

I would remind some folks that it is not a good thing to make a man an offender because of a word.

I happen to disagree with Brett on evolution by common descent, but agree with him on many other points.

You are as much of a fool for ignoring everything a man says who once made an error as you are for accepting everything a man says because he once said something right. Remember that.

All truth comes from heaven. There is no law that prevents any old knucklehead from quoting something true. Likewise, to my knowledge, only one man ever managed not to say something stupid: Christ. Those facts stand despite countless examples of men ranging from the wise and inspired to the foolish and ignorant.

Robin Hood said...

I have noticed something which I believe to be very significant regarding Mormon chapter 8.
It seems the concensus on here is that Moroni was addressing us (the LDS) in this chapter. The reasoning goes that whoever he is addressing is accused of polluting the "holy church of God". That must be us, right?
Well, not so fast.
After identifying the day in which the record (BofM) shall come forth, and the conditions prevailing at the time, he then turns his attention to those he is addressing.
Some examples: "I know your doing"; "ye do walk in the pride of your hearts"; "ye do love money"; "why do ye adorn yourselves" etc.
Notice anything? It is all present tense. The whole chapter is present tense, which is consistent with addressing the people he is watching.
However, there is one notable exception - "Why have ye polluted the holy church of God?" This statement is past tense. From the timeframe of his vision, it has already occured. The only sensible interpretation as far as I can see is that the pollution of the church occured before the day in which the BofM came forward.
It seems to me he's talking about the great apostacy here (for which, of course, the Gentiles are responsible), and pointing out how far they have gone astray from the teachings of Christ in the day the BofM comes forth.

David said...

Any amount of contention is not of the Lord! Any amount, period.

Joseph tried to establish Zion twice and failed miserably because the hearts of the saints were just as the hearts of the Israelites, they wanted to trust in the arm of flesh.

Sidney Rigdon (the spokesman) was being prepared just as Joseph (the seer) was, Joseph and Oliver were led to Sidney's ministry not the reverse.

When we have our Ether824 experience an realize how corrupt EVERYTHING is that does not mean run from it and shut down. It's not possible to avoid Satan/State/Corporations, they rule this existence we are in.

We are to seek the face of God/Christ/Holy Ghost because we are instructed to gather and meet the gatekeeper who employs no other so that we can be "Lifted Up" to meet Him in the clouds upon His arrival.

The Book of Mormon is absolutely necessary in the development of a child's faith because it contains the Gospel of Jesus Christ, period. The church has only been true or "The only true and living church" for 3 1/2 years long ago.

The Atonement Statute that was mentioned in the piece has much more significance than the author noted. The Atonement Statute Scapegoat doctrine is why we are even here breathing oxygen with pulses! I submit to all who read these comments to study the deep doctrine in the Word to know for sure, the "truth in all things! All things is "the power of the Word!"

By reading the Word and taking the Spirit as your guide you will insulate yourself with the Arm of God and see clearly the arm of flesh and it's AGENDA!

I chose to leave the church because I had a hard time with all of the vomit and did not want to spew out mine. "To each his own" "suit yourself" staying active is purely a choice and NO ONE should comment one way or another on ones own choices as long as they do not interfere with another's choices, period.

We are all on the same ship, some of us are awakening, some of us are arising, and many want to keep their heads in the saltless unsavory sand of Corporate deceit. Again, a choice! The only way the ship gets arighted is when the servants return.

Yes, Joseph was murdered and has been away for 170 years, but he along with many many others are returning to "set His house in order" to right the ship because they were called, chosen and prophesied by many ancients to do His work. First by laying the foundation, seeing if they were willing to live the higher law.

They, all accept Enoch were not able to establish Zion. To bring again Zion requires the pure in heart, hearts that have been able to repent and overcome (Passover) CONTENTION, period! To become one, to be equal, to be united, to have all in common with another(s).

The Holy Word of God a d the Holy Ghost are the keys to the Mysteries of God and the keys to the Kingdom because the Kingdom is ours!

Awake, Arise with Awareness, and Ask God to Verify and Validate All Truth!!! Do not believe all that you read in these books that this author quoted! There are threads of truth accompanied with many lies that can and will do damage to an awakening, arising an asking soul.

One of the greatest gifts one can receive in the flesh is THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT. Another great gift is TO BE AWARE OF THE SPIRITS. Joseph taught us to discern the spirits because there are many that can communicate to your heart!

To receive the Holy Spirit of Truth one must neutralize ones heart from ANY notions and approach God with an OPEN HEART, open mind and a spirit that is OPEN to Verification and Validation of All Truth from the one and only Holy Spirit.

Oh yeah, and there should not be ANY CONTENTION! The author of contention, his invention, alters intention into IN TENSION and has practiced his craft longer and very successfully for far too long! DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THAT AUTHOR!!!

How beautiful upon the mountains those who PUBLISH PEACE. Peace.

Ponderous said...

@robin hood

Nice grasping there, I would like to refer you to Calleen's comments just 2 posts before yours.

On D&C 124, I guess he was referring to the new testament church there as well?..

"they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them."

Sounds like the Lord was well aware that we would pollute his holy church.

engaged19times said...

@David....I'm curious why u brought up Joseph and Oliver being led to Sidney and not the reverse. Do u think that those ppl were actually the.remnant or the REAL lamanites? Or maybe Joseph was just flat out wrong? If they were the real remant why did they fail? Can u explain this using the BoM?

LDS Anarchist said...

David,

It sounds like you have been reading the One Who Is Watching blog and have accepted his ideas as the truth.

Am I right?

Brett said...

So have we gone from being Mormons who are not to be seen with people who have tattoos, drink, smoke, or dress immodestly because they're sinners and we don't want their sin to rub of on us, to Awakened people who don't want to associate with the abominable Mormon church?

Are we moving from one form of judgement/self-righteousness to another?

If the Lord sends down noble and elect, what is it that they do? In addition to proving, do they not serve? Are we not to serve our fellow Samaritans? Those who've rejected the covenant.

If the Lord tells you, that you that He wants you to serve and minister outside the church, I believe He could do that, and you ought to. But perhaps make sure it's the Lord requiring it rather than our own judgement. In my opinion.

BK said...

Anonymous 12:42

Great point.

For those who believe in Joseph Smith, God has already given his commandment that we should not join any apostate, corrupt churches led by false prophets and leaders who teach false doctrines, for it is so easy to fall for them & thus lose our Celestial standing (D&C 76).

And since God is not a God of confusion, he would not give anyone revelation 'contrary' to what he told Joseph.

Joseph even said that if we receive revelation that is 'contrary' to what God already said, then we know it's wrong and not of God.

So God could not and would not contradict himself and tell people to join or stay in corrupt churches, but the Adversary always does.

It's hard enough to not be deceived when we are trying to follow Christ on our own, but it's much harder to not be deceived when we continually sit & listen to false prophets & false teachers & leaders & their falsehoods.

And even if we aren't deceived, our children probably will be and it is often impossible, in this life, to ever persuade them to believe in the truth instead.

That is one reason why I believe God commanded us to not join any false or apostate churches, for our and our children's sake.

engaged19times said...

@Brett, BK, I'm (fortunately) married to a nonmember. So I'm lucky in that I can show up at church if I want to, but if I dont ppl assume Im not that *serious* about my mormonhood anyway so...I fall on the side of wanting to at least be on the sidelines of the LDS Church really for the social aspect of it. Its something wholesome to do, but like the rest of my life.church isnt the be all end all. So I figure this is going to be one of those choices in life that one day when I answer to Jesus for it, Ihave good reason to stand behindmy decision. The same goes for the rum and cokes i enjoy from time to time. And the cup of coffee i hqve every morning. And the occasional ciggy. If Jesus really needs me doing something diff then He can come down or at least send an angel to tell me otherwise. Til that happens, my life is my own.

engaged19times said...

@David LDS Anarchist, If Sidney's group was the real lamanites...what does this have to do with Jesus maybe having offsprings who wound up in the Uk? Could Sidney's group be the descendants of Jesus' offsprings?

BK said...

Brett,

It is not self-righteous to not want to be apart of or support a false church, false leaders and their errors.

We don't have to join or attend false churches in order to serve and help awaken our fellowmen.

We can minister among those who commit serious sins and it doesn't have to rub off on us. But we don't have to join their churches or support them in their errors.

We can lovingly speak up and try to help them see their errors, deceptions and sins and encourage them to repent.

Veracity said...

I enjoyed the article. I will now read the "Book of Mormon" with new eyes.

I have not seen the face of Jesus. I do receive revelations.

I studied about tithing and prayed. I received a revelation and handle my tithing accordingly. I don't have a temple recommend anymore because our Bishop does not agree. Oh well, so much for following the words of God. I will receive blessings for following Gods instructions instead of mans.

The leaders of the church are just men. Just like me, they are likely to make mistakes. The church will not be perfect until Christ himself reigns upon the earth. Until then it is good to be your own prophet for yourself and your family. So many of us abdicate the responsibility to establish our own communication with God. That's because we worship the leaders in the church more than God. We would not want to contradict the leaders of the church or the correlation committee.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone in the church felt empowered to receive doctrinal answers to their honest inquiries of the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were all talking WITH God? Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us received revelations about what to believe and what to do that led to our happiness in this life?

Robin Hood said...

Ponderous, no grasping here mate!
I'm just saying what I see. The holy church pollution comment is out of place because Moroni uses different language. It is past tense and that is very, very significant in the context of the chapter. Very significant indeed. It cannot be ignored and to dismiss this observation as "grasping" betrays a closed mind in my view.
Frankly, I can't understand why no one else appears to have spotted this.
It becomes even more significant when we understand that, according to Daniel's prophecy, the great apostacy wasn't completed until 570AD. This was after the time Moroni was writing. So at that time church wasn't dead or destroyed, but it was polluted.

The picture is not as clear cut as many on this blog seem to think and that makes them uncomfortable. They would much rather believe the church is in severe trouble than the alternative.
Many, rightly or wrongly, have some gripe with the church and it is they who are grasping, in my view. "Tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine!"

Martin Harris Luther said...

Robin Hood,

In the same chapter (Mormon 8), look at verses 34 and 35. He says:

"Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me ... that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing."

He switches to the present tense in the very next verse. I think it's clear that he "getting up in our grill", trying to make things more personal for us, speaking "as if we were present." He just saw us in vision - we are real to him and he knew we would be reading his words.

I can't see how or why he would be addressing the people of his own time, who were losing a war and almost extinct, and who would never read what he was carving on the plates anyway.

Little John said...

Robin Hood,

I would be interested in hearing your take on the "Letter to the CES Director" and your English buddy Tom Phillips? you seem to have strong opinions about Rock and others, i'd like to hear your opinion on this stuff as well.

Robin Hood said...

Martin Harris Luther,
thank you for your comment. If Moroni had been consistent and writing in context, he would surely have said "why are you polluting the holy church of God" or "why do you pollute the holy church of God". However, he didn't say that, even though that is how many on here read it. He was speaking in past tense for a reason.
If, as many here contend, he was describing us, the presnt day LDS, and the conditions we are experiencing (present tense used throughout) then there is a problem because it appears from the scripture that the polluting of the church had already happened. It is a past event.
There is no getting away from this. Moroni is describing a conditions at the time the BofM comes forth, and one of those conditions is that the holy church of God had ALREADY been polluted.
This may not fit with the sentiment of this blog, but it is what the scripture says.

Robin Hood said...

Little John,
I don't know enough about the letter you mention to make any meaningful comment at present.
I come from a part of England known for "calling a spade a spade". In this spirit I would describe Tom Phillips as an idiot.

Some people can leave the church, but it seems they can't leave it alone.

engaged19times said...

Robin Hood, it is u who is grasping at straws in order to find an argument. Have u had visions and visitations with angels and Jesus about this matter? If not, have several seats. In coach.

Gary Hunt said...

Robin Hood,

You have a very narrow view of the time period Moroni is describing. It is true that Moroni is describing the conditions which existed during Joseph Smith's time. However, the understanding you fail to recognize is that we are still living in that time. If you do a careful reading you will see that his description of conditions exist today and will exist until the second coming. This is abundantly obvious.

It is true that christianity, in general, fits into Moroni's description. However, the LDS people also fit into Moroni's description of conditions today. This is also abundantly obvious.

Robin Hood said...

Gary Hunt,
You haven't said anything I disagree with. Yes, we are still living in Joseph's time. I understand that completely. That is my point actually - the pollution of the holy church of God is described as occuring BEFORE that time. It had already happened by Joseph's day. That is what Moroni is plainly saying. Any reading of the scripture other than that is, to my mind, wresting the scriptures to make them fit a pre-conceived idea.

Robin Hood said...

engaged19times,
Have you?

Anonymous said...

Actually, if we want to use the tense of Moroni's words to define who Moroni is referring to, he's not using past tense. He's using perfect present tense.

This means that the actions/conditions established by the 'ed' suffix of the verb (polluted) are still relevant in the present, the established condition remains in effect. This is further evidenced by the fact that Moroni is using direct addresses (ye, you) as opposed to indirect (they, them).

If he were describing a past condition, no longer perpetuated by the audience he's addressing (modern BoM readers), he would have spoken about how "they have polluted" the holy church of God. This would also make his discussion of the subject gossip rather than prophecy, as it would no longer pertain to our present condition. By addressing "ye" and "you" throughout, only switching between present and perfect present tenses, he is addressing the reader of his words the entire time, and therefore attributing to the modern reader at least partial involvement in continuing the established condition, that of being "polluted."

MJH

PNW_DPer said...

The Book of Mormon was compiled, written, and brought forth for us in our day. Also, my take on who Moroni, as well as the Savior in 3 Nephi, was describing has always been much the same as Gary Hunt's, to include both the "apostate" Christian sects and the Latter Day Saints.

engaged19times said...

Robin Hood, No angels and Jesus havent visited me either. But I'm also not sitting here picking apart sentences in order to weasel out of a message obviously written for mormons. And even if it is directed at catholics too that doesnt absolve u from anything. Anyone would be wise to take it to heart and discuss.more.important things than trying to spread responsibility. Feel free to have the last word in this discussion. U have pissed me off by harping on this nonissue, thus taking this cnversation into lala land, so u have done what u set out to do in the first place--irritate ppl.

Ponderous said...

I would like to hear Robins interpretation of the revelation in D&C 124, regarding the Nauvoo temple and the consequences of it not being accomplished in time.

I guess when you're too busy distracting over a words intended meaning you can not see what plain and precious truth is right before your eyes.

BK said...

Moroni aside, just by personal observation and study, anyone can see that the 'Holy Church of God', either in Christ's time or Joseph's day, both went into complete apostasy and disintegrated and all authority was lost.

Today we don't have a 'Holy Church of God' it is long gone.

If you can even find 1 person who really believes in and lives the pure Gospel & teachings of Jesus Christ than that would be a miracle in and of itself.

For everyone I know in & out of the Church believes the teachings of Christ are foolishness and not relevant, valid or required today.

Today we only have apostate fragments (LDS, Catholic, Baptists) that have no authority or resemblance of the original 'True Church'.

But, the 'Kingdom of God' as Joseph taught, is still on the earth as long as there is at least 1 righteous person who can receive revelation from heaven.

And heaven may still give righteous men & women the Holy Priesthood even, but there isn't a Church authorized by God to bare his name & authority today, that I am aware of.

Martin Harris Luther said...

MJH,

I agree completely with your analysis. Based on that, I think we should conclude that Moroni is talking to some group in our time, and that all of his words (present and present perfect) apply to that same group.

I also appreciate Robin Hood's point, however, that we shouldn't force the scripture into the conclusion we like. It is possible, as I think mainstream Mormons would agree, that Moroni is addressing the "apostate" Christian churches of our time (Catholic, protestant, etc.). I think it is probably a good idea to maintain some margin of doubt either way. For me personally though, I lean toward Brett's idea that Moroni is talking to members of the LDS church. In any case, that message is more useful to me (whether I stay active or not) because it motivates me to try to be better or help others to be better. If it applies to the other churches, it only furnishes me with an occasion for pride and sloth.

I wish people would refrain from personal attacks here though. It does nothing for your argument but it does reveal a lack of substance, and a deficiency of charity.

Robin Hood said...

Ponderous,
I have a similar understanding of D&C 124 as most people appear to have on this blog.


Engaged19times,
Oh dear!


Everyone,
Regarding Moroni's comments I just have a question I would like to throw out there. Does anyone know of anywhere else in the BofM where the church is described as "the holy church of God"? I am very interested in why Moroni used that term when it appears to me that "church of Christ" is a more commonly used phrase in the book.
Are the church of Christ and the holy church of God the same thing?

Fusion said...

I personally think that " the Holy Church of God " means the Church of the Firstborn. We as a people keep polluting every attempt at ZION and will never attain it with the way that we are going.

Robin Hood said...

MJH,
Many thanks for your well written and easily understood explanation. I can see what you are saying and it makes sense.
Thanks once again.

Robin Hood said...

Fusion,
Food for thought.
Thanks.

Frank E. said...

Rock,

People in this thread have mentioned that you are facing disciplinary action from the Church. Are you able to provide any confirmation about this?

Also, I'd love to hear your personal thoughts or "rebuttal" of the Letter to the CES Editor.

Thanks!

Peeved said...

Rock,

Have been praying for you and your wife and other family members for a while now. And will continue to do so.


It is BS that certain high profile people who were once believing members, quit the church, have been openly hostile to the church and SLC leaders, are now Atheists, and admit they work to lead people out of the church, still members on record, and yet the church has not taken any action against them,
they have not been ex'ed, and yet the church goes after believing members such as D. Snuffer and now you. Unfrickin believable!!
What is wrong with these people and where is their common sense!

We should all Anonymously mail letters to the COB protesting what happened to Snuffer and now Rock and complain about the others NOT being exed who should be exed. Yes, Phillips and Dehlin. Double standard here.

Robin Hood said...

Little John,
I have now read the "Letter to a CES Director". Although it's more than a letter to be sure. It's really a statement of unbelief based on information the writer decided to believe. In the end, to believe or not believe is a choice.
Regarding the contents of the letter, I admit to being underwhelmed.
There is nothing new in the letter, no damning evidence, no smoking gun, no clincher. Just the same old arguments trotted out; only this time the presentation is a little more slick. The most disappointing, though not surprising, aspect of the whole effort for me is that none of the evidence presented is original. The writer has simply used other people's research and adopted their conclusions as his own.
I feel sorry for people who come across this for the first time and suffer shaken faith syndrome as a result. Fortunately, I was first exposed to much of this information many years ago and was able (through God's grace) to get past it with a stronger, though more realistic, testimony of the restored gospel. It was touch and go at first but I found that the key is to keep your head and not react as you are tempted to at first. There are answers, good answers, out there and they can be found. Patience is a virtue for a reason.

Little John said...

Robin Hood,

Thanks for responding mate! i actually agree with you on this. I think you ought to go a little easy on Rock at times though. :-)

Little John said...

is it possible that Robin Hood is Rocks alter ego? :-)

Pierce said...

I think it is a very strange trend to interpret the gentiles in the Book of Mormon as strictly meaning the LDS, and specifically the restored church. The author says that the term includes others outside of the church, but the intent of the article is to show how out of the way the current church is. To me, Snuffer, this author, and others are ignoring a greater context of the word gentile and who it refers to, and has therefore drawn some false conclusions regarding the current church. If Mormons have been guilty of putting too much emphasis on gentiles out of the church (a valid point), the author and others are guilty of placing too much emphasis on the current LDS church.

The term gentiles has always indicated those who are not descended from Jacob. It was "the outside world." It was those outside of the covenant. All of the references we see in scripture that was written by ancient people had this in mind. And it seems that the word was used to distinguish god's chosen people of the old covenant (Israel) and those of the new (gentile), as found in the New Testament. There does not seem to be any scriptural warrant for interpreting this in any way to exclusively mean modern day LDS people.

For example, the author quotes 2 Nephi 13:16 for and compares it to boob jobs in Utah, because it is his contention that this scripture is specifically speaking about LDS people right now (I understand he may have been playful here, but it represents his other ideas surrounding this citation). But 2 Nephi 13 is Nephi's quotation of Isaiah 3. Is it really reasonable to believe that the prophecies made by Isaiah were really referring to Mormons in 2014? Or is it more believable that he was really speaking about Judah and Jerusalem (as it even says in the chapter heading) and their worldliness, lyings, murders, upcoming destruction, etc? I think that is more sound.

The slippery slope is found in the next part, where he superimposes Nephi's quotation of Isaiah onto current church leaders. Again, I think that Isaiah was seeing what was going on around him, or even Jews around Christ's time leading people astray rather than Tommy Monson.

So, in order to reconcile this, the author puts forth his interpretation that Nephi himself was applying this to the LDS people. At a stretch, this may be implicit, but what is explicitly stated is found in 2 Nephi 25:1-12, where he is explicitly speaking about his own people, the current conditions, and their eminent destruction. Nephi's thoughts were on the Jews and their eventual recovery.

But let me put forth a more plausible way of looking at the implicit. Let's say Nephi was applying Isaiah to the gentiles in the latter-days, then the gentiles and their goings-on mentioned apply to the state of things prior to the restoration, as well as those outside of the covenant still. These verses were meant to bring people to believe in the Book of Mormon and those who were bringing the church out of obscurity.

Consider this language from Joseph's First Vision, where God is speaking about the religious world around Joseph's time:

"I was answered that I must join none of them [churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."

Does that not sound like similar to the gentile language throughout the Book of Mormon? It's important to remember that Christianity descends from Christ's actual church. They are those who Nephi was talking about when he said "the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible..."

Pierce said...

I think that gentiles means what gentiles has always meant. Are Mormons gentiles? Yes and no. Yes because at the time of Joseph Smith, they were not part of the house of Israel, and in some ways we still aren't (consider the book of Revelation). NO, because we are part of the covenant people, as we have the same promises given to Abraham, have been adopted in, etc. Can we liken these scriptures unto ourselves? Yes. Do Isaiah's words as related by Nephi relate to us? Yes, but they were originally NOT a prophecy about Thomas Monson and our church leaders. At that point you begin to use assumptions to support your bias. You lean on ideas such as "the Book of Mormon is really just written for Mormons, so these things are about them," instead of the context. The Book of Mormon has been used as a tool of conversion to bring ALL people to Christ and to prove the restoration. Its message extends beyond a narrow interpretation limited to Mormons. Its purpose and application has been used to bring the remnant of the house of Israel, as well as the gentiles, into the true covenant. Its purpose is NOT to support biases against the restored church and current leadership.

Pierce said...

On a positive note though, I agree with so many things in this article. I also question the title of "Prophet" given to those who do not prophesy, reveal, or give a true witness as a prophet or apostle traditionally has.

Reading some of this stuff does actually motivate me to be a better disciple, and try to achieve more than a warm fuzzy feeling. And for that I thank you and Snuffer and others. Going to church isn't a marvelous experience like God's church should be, and it is mostly due to the attitudes of people in it. We really are almost as secular minded as our secular neighbors. And, our culture and traditions often get in the way of real doctrine and discipleship.

I just feel that this important message can be taught without some of the assumptions, interpretations, the bending and stretching, and the rather severe (and often misplaced) condemnation.

Robin Hood said...

Pierce,
Thank you for your very well reasoned comments. I concur with much of what you say but you put it much better than I could.
The idea that the BofM is addressing us and us alone just doesn't sit right with me and never has. It is such a narrow and limiting view in my opinion.
Thank you once again.

Brett said...

Pierce,

I think all the effort you put into determining who the gentiles are is somewhat wasted effort.

The point that I'm trying to make is that we need to liken the scriptures to ourselves. Too often we read 2 Nephi 28 and point to all the things the other guys are doing, justifying our own righteousness.

The same could be said of Moroni's criticism. We read "And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel..." Well, are these the other guys who shop at Saks and Neiman Marcus, or perhaps can this also be applied to us who maybe do too much shopping at Macy's or Dillards?

"O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?" Is this the other guys who build megachurches, or is this us who also build extravagant buildings and have for-profit entities.

"...churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches." Is this the other guys, or is this us? Honestly, I dont know many other churches where the membership actually envy the leaders like the Mormon Church.

It shouldn't be so much of an exercise of figuring out who the gentiles are but accept that this message is to all, and we ought to make sure that our sins have been washed from the blood of this generation.

The actual status of the LDS Church before God (whether it's condemned or not) is less important than simply applying these scriptures to ourselves and changing our behavior.

But for those who insist that this can't be talking about us, well, then there wont be repentance, will there?

Pierce said...

Thanks for the responses.

"The actual status of the LDS Church before God (whether it's condemned or not) is less important than simply applying these scriptures to ourselves and changing our behavior."

Brett, I completely agree with this statement. I concurred that we seem to be pretty close the secular world, when we should be separate. But the article goes to great lengths trying to compare the actual status of the church to the BOM gentiles (and Jews for that matter), and therein lies the problem.

I wouldn't give two licks about determining who gentiles are, but the importance of understanding it are made manifest by the article (and Denver Snuffer's doctrine) because it can lead--in my opinion--to false conclusions.

You read 2 Nephi 13:12 as meaning that it is our current church leadership who leads us astray-- based on your interpretation and application of the premise that Nephi is directing this at the Mormon church. The credibility of our Apostles and church President is important, and these condemnations stem from a false premise.

With the verses you quoted, I don't see a need to try to pinpoint who it is referring to. But as I pointed out in my initial comment, the context of these really seem to suggest the general condition of the world, especially at the time of the restoration. Megachurches? Maybe, but look at what God said to Joseph. That seems to be more aligned with that verse than an unwarranted application to the restored church. It might be well interventioned, but there is a huge fundamental difference between explicit and implicit teachings in the Book of Mormon.

Again, there is a difference between these two points:

1. The Book of Mormon contains a message about how God's people have brought condemnation upon themselves in the past, and we are not immune to it--although we treat it like we are--and we should use the BOM as a way to make ourselves better than we are.
2. The gentiles mentioned in the Book of Mormon are referring to Mormons--therefore, the prophecies made are referring to the actual condition of the church, and refer to actual things that will befall the church. This means that x in y verse means z in the church now.

These two lines of thinking lead people down two different paths, including excommunication for some of those who walk too far down #2.
And it's not excommunication for simply believing it, but for how eventually it changes your perceptions ("I believe the LDS church is corrupt," "Church is just a big corporation," Apostles are just bureaucrats). It changes attitude, how things are taught, temple worthiness, etc. It could also really confuse weaker members and those we're trying to bring into the faith.

So what is the message you prefer to convey, and how is it going to be read and interpreted by your readers?

Ponderous said...



Robin Hood said...

"Little John,
I have now read the "Letter to a CES Director".

Seriously?.. you wait until after 120 comments have been made (including your own) before you even read the subject we're posting on?..

To me, this indicates the type of personality that is so indoctrinated in their belief, that they don't even feel a need to read opposing views, they're just here to argue and defend what they see as the truth, not to consider other points of view.

They've already decided that they have the full and pure truth and it would be a waste of time to discus it any further.

When you pull your head out of the fog, take a step back and look at all the evidence, there is something very wrong about the way this organization is being run.
This is undeniable if you believe the words of Christ.

The Lord would NOT manage his church the way that these Men do.
It is run like a for profit organization, not the true church of the living God. Charity never falith, it is the manifestation of the pure love of Christ. It is a condition of the society of God That there be NO poor among them.

We can NOT achieve a Zion society while we spend billions of dollars on shopping malls while requiring the poor to pay 10% BEFORE they even pay their bills.

I do not think a God that requires us to all be on equal ground, that no man be above another, so that none shall be in bondage one to another, would milk the poor and the widow for their pittance just to turn around and throw billions of dollars on a luxury shopping center, just as the economy tanks and everyone is hurting financially. I guess Jesus didn't think that one through to well, huh?..

"All's well in Zion". What Zion?...


Pierce said...

I've seen so much mud slung at the corporate entity of the church here. How can you be successful in this world and in this day in age without an organization? How do you have a church in Cambodia if you can't afford to send missionaries there, build churches, give them resources, etc, without currency to do so? How do you conduct any legal business without a business entity? Circumstances are a little different now than they were when Jesus was walking from town to town teaching. The few thousands of his disciples are much different than the billions we are seeking to reach. If administering the gospel and pushing our boundaries requires an organization, why would we go to great lengths to do things less effectively just to avoid the moniker of "corporate church." Didn't Joseph try dipping into economic affairs with the Kirtland Safety Society. Wasn't he going to run for President? Why is it so difficult to understand that if the church has a way to raise more capital by building a shopping center (without tithing, mind you), then it would be imprudent not to? The money seems to be going toward some pretty great things, from what I have personally observed.

It seems like many here are looking at supposedly ancient meso-American village societies and are saying "Hey, this church doesn't look like that, it must love mammon!" Jesus said to make friends with mammon. It doesn't mean that it worships it. I don't think you can criticize temples, with so and so sitting at the top, and all fine woodwork, etc, without criticizing Joseph and his fancy temples, where the first presidency was literally at the top of a hierarchy, surrounded by fancy woodworking.

I just don't get the small village church structure mentality. I don't see why a a living church wouldn't grow and adapt to an infinitely larger world audience, especially in the transportation and information age. If you're going to do that, why wouldn't you use successful structures familiar to your time to administer what need to be administered? For heaven's sake, Joseph referred to himself as PRESIDENT Smith.

I owe my understanding and beliefs to the "corporate church." Because of it, I was sent on a path of discipleship. It's not the end-all. But because of it, I am here. It doesn't mean that if Jesus were here things would be different--I'm sure it would be. But He isn't yet.

And yes, the "corporatism" is often a stumbling block. My grandmother was told that she could no longer be a temple worker because she does not have a right hand (to administer ordinances). That to me is so inane and absurd, and is indicative of policy getting in the way of logic and the true gospel message. But, it doesn't mean that it should be condemned, ridiculed, and set aside. The good far outweighs the bad. And yes it can and should get better, and it could learn a thing or two from the early church. But let's not forget that most of this stemmed from the early church.

engaged19times said...

Yikes u just said u owe ur understanding and beliefs to the corporate church. Wow. If that is true then that is really sad.

engaged19times said...

Ponderous, Robin hood is a troll. And probably posting under Pierce as well.

Robin Hood said...

Ponderous,
Have I missed something? You said this thread is "all about" the letter to the CES director, but I thought it was about Rock's latest blog in which he posted comments from Brad Bartell. From all of the comments it certainly appears that way.
The letter you describe has not really had much of a mention. The author of the letter posted early on but that was when the thread was well underway, and the conversation didn't go in that direction anyway.

I was asked by Little John on the 25 March whether I had read the letter. That was the first I had heard of it. I hadn't read it and said so. But now I have.

Ponderous, why are you so angry? Why do you appear to be so intolerant of those who have a different view than you?

As for me being a troll, that has been said before on a previous thread and Rock (who knows who I am) intervened to confirm that I am not.

Robin Hood said...

Ponderous,
......and as for me and Pierce being the same person, I'll take that as a compliment as he/she writes much better than I do. Thank you.

engaged19times said...

Concern trollin.

Pierce said...

You're too kind Robin.

Engaged,

I watched a seminary video once where a man in the UK found a partially burned or messed up copy of the Book of Mormon. It didn't have a cover on it, so he didn't know the title. But he read it and was converted. This story may have been about you, but for me, and everyone else I know personally, it is different. My testimony isn't based on the administrative methods of the church, but of the gospel found within it. I was raised in Arizona and in the church. Went to church on Sunday and to seminary in high school. Served a mission. Brought people into the gospel and they were fellowshipped by the Saints in the area on my mission. Yes, this "corporate church" that is so belittled here was where I learned what I did and helped me to build a firm foundation. I say foundation because I have learned so much outside the corridors of a church building. And I'm not talking about a building or the administrative practices that run it. It was where I learned the gospel, which we all agree is the most important thing to us. This does not discount the role the scriptures and the Spirit play in conversion. But it is not conversion ex nihilo for most. For most, it was the administration of that gospel that initiated it.

I think it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to separate the gospel message and the church, and to justify the church being ineffective at doing on a massive scale that which is required to spread the gospel globally. It does NOT mean that each cog in this machine does not need oil. It doesn't mean that parts don't need to be replaced. It doesn't mean that what is happening is ideal.
But it's absurd to say that the administrative efforts of the LDS church (the "corporation") cannot result in bringing people to Christ.

Brett said...

I find it humorous that twice my name has been slept Brad.
My third child was born 3 weeks ago today. We named him Brad. =)

engaged19times said...

As ponderous stated, what decent church asks the poor to give 10% before they even pay ther bills, only to take that $ to build malls.

What kinda church engages in strange rituals/chants in "temples". Ur temple ceremonies look like the end of rosemary's baby where they sit and hail satan.

And maybe god actually is satan. IDK, im still trying to get to the truth.

But im here to tell u, the mormon church is2nd only to scientology in strangeness, elitist-ness, and yes occultism.

Robin Hood said...

Pierce,
I think you're right on this.
I see the Church as the mechanism used to deliver the gospel. It isn't perfect because the church (whether the corporation or the saints themselves) is not perfect. The gospel however, is.

It's ok for people living in Mormonland ie. Utah or other such place with a high concentration of LDS, to rail on the church, examine it's navel and point out it's faults etc. But here in the UK it is the "corporate" church which brought the gospel to me as a 14 year old boy. I had never heard of Mormons, the BofM, or Joseph Smith etc before that. Neither did I understand who Jesus was and what he did for me. The church delivered this information to me.
That was a long time ago but is something for which I remain grateful.
I believe that, irrespective of our callings and responsibilities in the church, we should all have a personal ministry. Something we do that is not a programme of the church but is instead a direct response to the teachings of Christ to minister to each other. It could be as simple as a regular phone call or visit to a neighbour, helping out at the local food bank, even writing a letter etc. Just something that we do without being asked to. But this should be something we do in addition to our temporary responsibilities to serve in the church and assist with it's gospel delivery system.

I have seen people's lives turn around 180 degrees as a result of the efforts of the "corporate" church to deliver the gospel. I have seen drug addicts become clean, I have witnessed sexual deviants become whole, I have seen people with no hope or aspirations become new creatures in Christ. In short, I have seen miracles in peoples lives. One of those lives was mine.
Unfortunately, when I read some of the posts on here I am reminded that "any fool can criticise, and most fools do".

engaged19times said...

Blah blah blah blah.

Inspire said...

All of this chatter about who the Gentiles are and "likening the scriptures unto us" is just evidence of our condemnation, that we have taken the Book of Mormon lightly, and don't understand what it is really saying. So let's take a look at both of these things.

Gentiles: If we were to reverse things around, and point to... say, Moroni... and exclaim, "You are among the Nephites spoken of in the Book of Mormon, so you must be wicked! Those Nephites engaged in secret combinations, you know." Wouldn't that be absurd? Like the Nephites, there are many descriptions given about the "gentiles." I would say that the best way to identify them would be to look at the individual descriptions and see if they match up with us (and let's not forget that there are plenty of "good" things said about the gentiles).

Have we come out of "captivity" never to return? Probably not, so my guess is that we aren't "those" gentiles who we proclaim are the Pilgrims and Columbus. Have we become white like the Nephites before they were slain? (I don't think this is referring to skin color, but what happened to them when the Lord visited) There aren't too many glowing people that I know of, so my guess is this is a different group. Do we carry a "book" which is "convincing" to other Gentiles, the Remnant of Lehi and the Jews of the covenants made by the Father, and plain and precious truths? The fact that we're arguing here is evidence to me that the Bible and even the Book of Mormon are not that book which is carried by this group of Gentiles. Do we grind the face of the poor with our fine sanctuaries, loving money more than helping our fellow man? There could be a match with this one. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point: you can't blanket every statement said about "gentiles" on us, but need to look carefully at the context of each declaration.

(to be continued)

engaged19times said...

Brett, Think I was one of the ones who called u that. Sorry bout that! Congrats on the newborn! And i love the name:)

Inspire said...

(continued)
Likening unto us: We have been taught that we need to copy the things in scripture and "liken" them to ourselves. After all, Nephi did it... that means we should.

Again, it's all about the context. When Nephi made the statement "for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning," he was talking about the Brass Plates (they being the only "scripture" he had), and that they were written for his people, who were of the house of Joseph. Specifically, he was referring to Isaiah. Previously, he had qualified the "likening" of Isaiah in regards to "all men":

"And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men."

All men can rejoice. That is how it is likened, or applied to us. Pretty specific in this case. I think, though, that we get into trouble when we do the whole "blanket" thing. Why would we want to "liken" everything in "scripture" to ourselves? We are in a unique time and have access to a lot of information. Should we go back to the Law of Moses? (It seems like we do practice much of it in the church). Should we have the exact same hierarchical system that they had in the New Testament church? (It seems like that was corrupted rather quickly. We want to copy that?)

So getting back to the "gentiles." It is said that whatever it is we (assuming you count yourself as one of them) deliver to Israel, it will be the "standard" for them, and will be the thing which brings them out of their "confounded" state. This thing appears to be new and different (or else why wouldn't Israel be the "standard" for us?) We don't have the records of Enoch's day, so we can't "liken" what happened there to our day. If we liken what the Nephites did to ourselves, wouldn't we get the same results as the Nephites? Yes, the Lord visited them, but a few generations later they were obliterated. The prophecies about the gentiles say that our liberty will be enduring... "forever" in fact. Which indicates that it isn't something which will have already been tried and have failed.

I'm not saying this is the right or only approach, but I also don't necessarily agree that we should believe everything we're told... whether it comes from the "corporation" or Denver Snuffer... just because someone with "authority" said so. We can reason through these things. I think once we let the words speak for themselves, instead of attaching a third-party voice on top of them, the message will become quite clear.

Pierce said...

Now that is well said, Robin Hood.
There is a lot of merit to what is found on Pure Mormonism (though I am a new-comer) in the way of criticism. A lot of it is constructive and is shared by me, or else I wouldn't care to be here.
However, you can go too far down the rabbit hole to the point where what you are saying either doesn't make sense, is not fully true, or you are relying on biases and assumptions to support your statements. Take this fellow's railing against the City Creek mall. The church has stated that no tithing was used to build the mall, and that it provided 1700 jobs in the area--something that is more preferable to just charity (which the church does). Does that change anything for him? Well I'll let him speak for himself, but I'm going to guess probably not. I hope that it will expand that to poorer areas as well. Or there's the doctrine of the Gentiles as discussed earlier, and how it means that current leadership is out of the way, illegitimate, or that temples are worthless, etc.

The lines between reality and fantasy start to blur--the fantasy of an invisible church that hasn't really existed but one that some folks build up in their minds based on how it "should be," or the way it was in the old days.

There is merit to the premise that we are not collectively living a "pure Mormonism." We should be exploring how to live the gospel the best way we can. I am one who thinks beer is prescribed in the Word of Wisdom, if that can legitimize my acquiescence to this point. But extreme criticism is misguided, not useful, and even damaging.

engaged19times said...

Pierce/robinhood, i'm criticizing u not for ur beliefs but instead for monopolizing the conversation into an argument over who the gentiles are. This conversation has been done to death. I cant with ppl who still want to argue about it. And btw, if ur such a nice person why would u irritate ppl by cornering the conversatipn on ur own selfish interests?

BK said...

The problems in and with the Church are far from just a 'squeaky wheel' or a 'few parts that need to be replaced'.

The foundation, teachings & practices of the LDS Church, since Brigham Young took over, are completely corrupt and evil, which extend to this day and all leaders uphold it.

Anyone who studies and lives the teachings of Christ can easily see that the Church does not follow Him, but preaches and practices just the opposite.

The Church is anti-Christ.

LDS members who don't want to face and admit the truth about the Church and it's history and their evil leaders remind me of the FLDS lady in court (in today's KSL News) who still supports Warren Jeffs, and thus put her fingers in her ears as another woman was testifying about his sexual assault of a 14 year old girl. She didn't want to hear or accept how evil her prophet was, she just wanted to keep blindly following him.

But we reveal what kind of people we are by what and who we support.

That is why we will be judged by God one day according to what church or doctrines or leaders we supported and went along with.

The righteous are not deceived to support or go along with evil, no matter how much good evil people may do to cover their sins and look good.

Christ warned that false prophets/wolves always dress up and pretend to be 'wonderful, righteous & kind prophets/sheep'

And Joseph warned that most everyone falls for them and can't or won't discern or admit their falseness & evil.

BK said...

Robin Hood,

All Christian religions, not just the LDS, have examples of people turning their lives around and becoming righteous and miracles happening.

It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is generally responsible for those examples, it doesn't mean that the Church they belong to is right or righteous.

Many people in corrupt churches still manage to find and live the 'Gospel' and change their lives, then they begin to see the corruption and distance themselves from it.

Christ and Joseph Smith had no problem identifying and criticizing corrupt people/leaders and their evils.

We are commanded to identify such evil people and things and try to warn and awaken others of them.

It is the Adversary and those who support evil that don't want anyone to criticize the Church or it's leaders or any false church.

If you pray sincerely for understanding, the 1st thing God will do is to help you realize just how evil Church leaders are.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pierce said...

That's a lot of use of the word evil, BK. Seems counter-intuitive that God would let His restored church become "evil" so he can judge (read "punish") all of the Saints for being blinded. Sounds evangelical, but nevermind. The people at my church do not teach the opposite of Christ's message or evil things. Thanks BK, you're completely wrong but I'll leave it at that now and forever.

Engaged, I'm sorry that your church hating parade is being rained on by some cogent thoughts. I'm a new-comer this blog so I don't know what has been done to death or not. I've recently read Denver Snuffer's stuff and am seeing the groupthink here, so I'm trying to explore it. This article is the most recent one on the blog, and a great majority of the points in it rests on the gentile theory--so it seems like this discussion is pretty relevant, especially if you're going to boldly title it "the Actual Message of the Book of Mormon." You'll understand the scrutiny of the premise. And I have yet to hear a good rebuttal of the more traditional viewpoint. I actually want to choose to believe what is more accurate, so I've made these comments in hopes that I will make the best decision on what the text means.

Sorry if you choose to be irritated by it. You're welcome to ignore my comments if you don't want to respond. BTW, I never made the claim that I am nice ;-)

BK said...

Pierce,

The word 'evil' is hardly even sufficient to describe how vile the leaders and church are, but it will have to do.

You seem to think that the present LDS Church is the same Church that Joseph restored. Do you also think the RLDS or FLDS Church is part of the restored Church too? They had just as much if not more right to continue the restored Church as Brigham did. But they are all just apostate break offs of the true church, which was lost when Joseph was taken, because the people refused to live the Gospel.

And yes, God would and has let his true Church and authority become corrupt or broken up or lost, it has happened every time in history, except for the City of Enoch.

God cannot thwart the agency of men or prophets to fall or be unrighteous and reject the truth, like most of the Saints and leaders in Joseph's day did and like most of the Saints in Christ's day did too.

Even most true prophets throughout history have eventually fallen, usually from whoredoms like polygamy. So there is no guarantee that even a Prophet can't or won't fall.

Even Joseph taught and did a lot of wrong things, but maybe not on the magnitude of losing his place. I do not believe he ever lived polygamy, I believe BY just said he did to justify his whoredoms. But if Joseph really did fall for polygamy then he wouldn't have been the 1st prophet to fall for such evils and lose his salvation.

Very few men or even prophets can maintain faithful exclusive true love for their one wife their whole life and thus gain Eternal Life.

I don't know anyone in the LDS Church today who really believes in and follows Christ and I have been looking for years for someone who does.

And yes, as hard as it may be, one of God's major tests of this life is to see who can be 'blinded & deceived' by false prophets and false doctrine and who will see through them and follow Christ instead.

God has warned us over and over about all that, but as Christ & Joseph taught, only a rare few that will see through the false prophets and their falsehoods.

The scriptures and teachings of Christ and Joseph Smith are full of such warnings and that our salvation does depend on us not being 'blinded' by such things.

If your Church is the LDS Church then I believe it does preach and practice contrary to Christ, even if you may not see it, for most members don't. Just like the FLDS don't see a problem with Warren Jeffs and his Church.

Though I always saw problems in the LDS Church since I was a teenager, and saw more and more the older I got, I didn't see all of it either until I really started looking in all the right places and really studied and tried to live Christ's teachings.

Every LDS leader I have known of, all the way to the top, have been unrighteous and supported evil and false doctrine.

I don't believe it's possible to be a Bishop or higher in the LDS Church and not go along with it's evil and falsehoods.

Mike O'Farrell said...

You all realize how crazy this sounds, right? I mean the same justifications could be used to support the FLDS church and it's practitioners. Warren Jeffs also claims to be communing directly with God. The only way to avoid being conned is to be skeptic and smarter, this post seeks to ensnare the minds of men back into a time of magic and fantasy, where nothing matters as long as you are "following god" and looking to the skies for answers. We now have answers, it's time to accept them, for all of you who know the truth about the church and reject the reality of its falsehood, imagine how much harder it is going to be for all these Jihadists who can do just as many mental gymnastics to justify their disgusting religion. And make equally compelling claims to have seen deity to buoy up their delusion. Here's the truth, any one, and I mean anyone who claims to have seen Deity, and there are a lot, are diluting themselves, whether they know it or not is their own deal, but no one and I mean no one has seen god anywhere outside of their own heads because he is a figment of mans imagination. God is an atheist and if he were real is trying to figure out where he came from, so stop looking to him in the sky for answers and start looking in reality, our future depends on it.

Brett said...

engaged19times

No worries. And thanks.

engaged19times said...

Well peirce/robin hood im.sorry ur late to the party but arguing ur point here only inflames ppl. But being the internet troll u r, Im sure inflaming ppl by monopolizing the conversation is more what u wanted to do anyway. So well done thou good and faithful servant!

Mike Farrell what do u know about ppl's visits with Jesus/angels being figments of their imaginations? Could normal ppl who have jobs and families really make that up? Its harder to believe someone would make that up than it is to believe it really happened! But what have u read about that?

Pierce said...

"You seem to think that the present LDS Church is the same Church that Joseph restored"

I haven't made the claim, but it depends on what you mean by "same." I believe the current church is least a continuation of that church and recognize its priesthood.

That God would put on a big restoration production only to let his church flop so instantly so that millions of LDS people would become "evil" by its deception, and not provide a decent alternative, with the outside world also allowing themselves to be deceived, only to save a "select few," as you put it, meaning those who take a Mohammedan view of recognizing only one true leader in recent history, because they somehow managed not to be deceived, is so incredibly unbelievable to me. That was really his plan? How is that more believable than a global church that is spreading the gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and exaltation to the four corners of the earth, albeit through an imperfect institution?

Your view, to me, is no different than the evangelical view that my salvation depends on whether or not I accept their version of Christ as opposed to just accepting Christ. No thanks, I don't believe that was the message of the restoration. But my views are probably more pluralistic than yours. It is indeed a different philosophy. At the end of the day, I am sure we agree about what the core gospel is and that it will make us into godly people through the atonement. And that, brother or sister, is what it's really all about.




BK said...

If you believe the LDS Church is a continuation of the Church restored by Joseph, then you must believe Brigham Young & his co-leaders who headed the Church in Utah were righteous men, for wicked men can't maintain or pass on Priesthood Keys & Power, nor can they change the laws of the Church contrary to what Christ & Joseph Smith taught, as BY did.

Thus you must also believe polygamy is of God. So if that's so then we don't have much common ground to discuss anything and I now understand why you think the Church is the true church.

But Brigham was never given authority by Joseph to continue the Church, you don't seem to be very familiar with Church history on that. If you read church history, it appears Joseph did not have any faith in Brigham Young anymore and was about to excommunicate him and other apostles who were living polygamy secretly.

The LDS Church is just like the Catholic Church, claiming to have authority but no real proof of it or proof that it was passed from the previous legitimate leader (Joseph Smith). Brigham took over by vote or people's vague imaginations that he looked like Joseph, which it's God's way to pass on authority and doesn't guarantee the person or voting public was righteousness.

God cannot force people to be righteous and follow Christ or even a true prophet. Only a very few people throughout history or in Joseph's day were willing to do so. Most everyone else refused to live the Gospel, so of course they lost their prophet and fell for false prophets like Brigham Young and all his false doctrines that sounded good to them.

We see the same today, most people don't want to hear the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, they want a watered down version that doesn't require so much from them and that allows them to sin and still be accepted by the Church. The Church says alot of good things but then doesn't really live by them.

How can God provide a 'decent alternative' if the people refuse to follow even true prophets like Joseph?

God can't force people or prophets to be good, and as the Book of Mormon show and predicts everyone is wicked through most of history and in the last days today and falls for false prophets, except a rare few.

Joseph Smith taught that only those with pure charity won't be deceived, so that is the real test. Everyone else is nothing and won't make it Christ said. And few there be that have true Charity, pure Christlike love.

You seem to think the people of Nauvoo were righteous. Joseph could see how they were falling right and left for falsehoods and wickedness and how they refused to listen to him.

You don't seem to see how most of the apostles even fell and became wicked (living polygamy & abusing women and wives, etc.), except Joseph's brothers and a few other leaders, who could see how evil polygamy was.

And hopefully we do agree about the core of the Gospel, but how many people do you know who really believe in and follow Christ and have pure Christlike love (Charity)?

How many people do you know who stand for Christ's teachings and don't believe in church leaders being supported by the Church (let alone by widows & the fatherless), or in any divorce or remarriage, or in polygamy, or subjection of women and their right to the Priesthood, and who believe that tithing should go 100% to the poor, until there are no more poor among us?

It seems even you believe in abusive things like polygamy and in men who would do such things to women.

I don't know anyone who stands up for those things that Christ taught. And those who do would be disgusted with the leaders of the Church who don't.

Pierce said...

Pretty much anything that begins with "you seem..." needs to be taken with a grain of salt, especially when I haven't agreed with the statement or the conclusions or implications you have included with it.

I could pick apart what ones I don't care for, but nobody here want to read that. I will just say that not everyone has to interpret the scriptures or the writings of Joseph Smith the way that you do to be considered a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is not a dogmatic checklist, as you indicated at the end. Christ declared his doctrine in 3 Nephi 11:30-38

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

That's why I said that we have a common belief in Christ, His atonement, and his purpose for us. The other doctrines we're talking about here, ultimately, are peripheral and don't jeopardize our salvation as much as has been indicated.

"How can God provide a 'decent alternative' if the people refuse to follow even true prophets like Joseph?"

That's your burden to answer. I think He did, and I think there are many people who were and are willing to follow true prophets like Joseph, and I think you can find them in the LDS church. I also reject that God throws it all under the bus because people are imperfect and obey imperfectly. On the contrary, those Saints needed the church and leadership more than ever. You are the one who would need to figure out God's supposed short and inefficient restoration.

"but how many people do you know who really believe in and follow Christ and have pure Christlike love (Charity)?"

Maybe just you, BK. It sounds like that's the answer you are suggesting. I know many people who fit this description, even if they are at different points in their understanding and discipleship.

engaged19times said...

Also Brett, I esp liked ur likening of BY toKing Noah. Ive been following these kinda blogs for 4 years now and am on my fifth reading of the bom and hadnt thought of that. Who is abinadi?? Drop the name!!!

b said...

Pierce,

I don't mean to say I have Charity either, I'm trying and I understand how vital it is to have it, but it's pretty hard, bordering on impossible to gain. But we must keep trying and maybe one day we will gain it. For we either have it or we don't.

But I disagree that most members of the Church would follow Joseph Smith. Most all the members and leaders I have known don't even believe his testimony when he said he was innocent of polygamy. They would rather believe hearsay and rumors that he was a constant liar to his wife & Church, and an unfaithful abuser of his wife and women, running around after other women behind his wife's back.

With prophets like that who needs false prophets.

But I don't believe he really did those things, I believe him and his testimony and teachings, but I don't know hardly any members or leaders who believe him, they all seem to want to believe the worst in him and that he was a vile abusive adulterer, and that God allowed it and even commanded it. Go figure. With God's like that who needs devils.

So no, I don't believe most members would ever follow Joseph, let alone Christ, nor did most back follow them back in Nauvoo. But many did follow the likes of Brigham Young, for his new whoredoms sounded good to them, especially the men.

I believe that if and when Christ & Joseph return again to establish Zion, most LDS members and leaders will reject them and believe they are false prophets, for they will teach things that are so contrary to what the Church has taught that they won't even recognize the truth or truly righteous prophets or Christ.

I believe I have already figured out what happened to the true Church, it was 'you' who questioned what happened. I believe it was totally lost and was only trying to share my perspective.

But one things for sure, God wasn't the one who threw it all under the bus, the people and leaders themselves did that.

God just has to stand back and let people do what they will and then stand accountable for it. He knew very few people throughout history would ever accept him and live his Gospel. He knew the truth doesn't stay on the earth very long before people corrupt it or cast out true prophets. That was not a surprise to him, he knew what would happen in Joseph's day long before it even did.

engaged19times said...

b, Beautiful comment!

Who can speak to this? Joseph Smith and Brigham as Abinadi and King Noah? It must be likened to that case! Now that i see it that way i cannot unsee it now. My mind us blown!! BY had Joseph offed to get the power! Wicked wicked BY now with university named after him. Despicable person. Concubines galore. Glutting off the followers backs. The idea of his rings so true to me now!

BK said...

Thank you engaged. (I hit a wrong key and it put up 'b' instead of BK.)

I totally agree that Joseph & Brigham are like Abinadi & King Noah. Brigham and King Noah were the same kind of men.

Yes Brigham wanted power, riches & women, and it seemed he was willing to do anything to get those things. But Joseph warned that we would be damned if we let ourselves be deceived to follow or support men/leaders/false prophets like him.

Emma spoke the truth about him too and could see through him and called him out on his evils, that is why he hated her so much and said such horrible things about her, which everyone easily fell for. For most people never bother seek or study the 'other side of the story'.

Ponderous said...

In case anyone would care to "seek the other side of the story"

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html


http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm

Becky W. said...

This is such an amazing blog post! Thank you so much! I especially enjoyed reading the links of the people who have received the second comforter. This is life changing.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I have been asked to offer more information regarding my being called in for "discipline."

At this time, there's really not much to say, but be assured I'll blog more fully when and if something gets further underway.

What has occurred so far is that I was called in for a talk by my bishop, who indicated he had received communications wondering why he had not done something about me until now. I got the distinct impression those communications came from outside the ward, so any action taken on such rumors would be a violation of church law. But as we know, the September Six were booted out on the recommendation of Boyd Packer, not a member of any of their wards. Denver Snuffer was given the boot on the urging of a couple of GA, also, so I don't expect protocol to be strictly observed in my case, either.

We spoke for a good hour, and he told me the Stake President will also be wanting to see me. I have heard nothing more since that meeting, which took place some weeks ago.

The controversy surrounds my questioning the gifts of the leaders, particularly what I deem the absence of revelations in a Church that boasts of continuing revelation.

My strong testimony of Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the teachings of Joseph Smith apparently are not sufficient in a day when following the prophet appears to be proof of one's devotion.

I like my bishop. A lot. But we differed on this question; his question being, why am I a member of this Church if I don't believe in following the prophet?

I told him I was still seeking evidence that Thomas Monson WAS a prophet. His position was that Monson receives revelations all the time, to which I responded, "then I'd like to read one, so that I can pray about it and receive a witness of the Holy Ghost."

I also reminded him that revelations must be brought before the whole church to be voted on before they can be binding on the church.

We went round for awhile on this, the upshot of it all being that he and I differed on the definition of the word "revelation."

I invited the bishop to search my blog for any errors in doctrine and point them out to me, and I would correct them. This is the standing invitation I hold out to all readers, as most of you know. I have no desire to cling to falsehoods.

He told me he did not read my blog. So we didn't really discuss much in the way of particulars.

Since he would be reporting to the Stake President, I asked him to recommend the SP read two of my pieces, the ones titled "My Testimony of the Church"
and "Who You Callin' apostate?" before we meet. I told him I welcome the opportunity to meet with the stake president and bear my testimony. I have never met the man.

And that's where things stand as of now. I'll be interviewed soon by John Dehlin for his Mormon Stories Podcasts (both he and I have been trying to find a time we can both get together on this) and I may go into further detail then.

Meanwhile, if a high council court is held, I'll be sure and report on it in detail on my blog. But first I'll probably devote an entire entry about my meeting with the Stake President once that occurs.

I don't fear confrontations like this; I consider them opportunities to share my views and testimony of the gospel of Christ.

Neither does the prospect of excommunication concern me, because in spite of what some may believe, no man or group of men has the power or authority to "unbaptize" me, or to expel me from the Church of Jesus Christ as defined in D&C 10:67. My membership in the true church will remain unaffected, and nothing about my life or my testimony will be any different than it is now.

If I am invited to a court of love, I expect I'll be told that what is said in that court is to be held in strictest confidence. But I think that rule is intended to protect the confidence of the person being disciplined, and I have no reason to keep secret either the things I say in court, or what is said to me.

I have a blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In spite of what some suspect, Robin Hood is neither my alter ego, nor a troll. He is actually someone with whom I have communicated privately quite a bit. I consider him a friend, and agree with him a lot more often than I disagree.

I was asked about my opinion of the CES letter. The author of that letter is also someone I consider a friend, and outside of his religious views, he and I share some common interests. Although he and I have come to different conclusions regarding Mormonism, I like him and respect him.

Which is to say, I see no need to take up the baton and argue further his points. As Brett so aptly summarized the controversy in his original post, the CES letter does not disprove the Book of Mormon. But it does show that the conventional Church narrative has been false.

I feel that some in top leadership of the Church for the past fifty years (at least) deserve a good deal of the blame for the current exodus we are seeing on the part of thousands of good people. These leaders have openly declared that the Church is either all true, or it's all false.

Well, some of it's true, and a lot of it turns out not to have been true. Those brought up to believe that one crack in the story means the whole dike has to crumble can hardly be blamed for coming to the conclusions they have, since they have been brought up with an "all or nothing" worldview.

I am familiar with the arguments regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and have been for some three decades. Yet, when I read the book itself, what resonates with me is the teachings within the Book of Mormon. What is contained within the Book of Mormon rings true for me.

Others may choose a different path, and I won't try to reconvert them. Let the internet missionaries take on that job.

I prefer to expend my efforts on those who, like me, recognize the truth contained within the gospel, yet are having trouble reconciling that truth with the things they currently see going on within upper management of the LDS Church.

That's who I'm speaking to: regular members like myself. My writing is not geared toward converting non-Mormons or reconverting ex-Mormons. I'm writing to believing latter-day Saints, and sharing those discoveries I've made that assisted me in understanding that the gospel of Christ is what matters and where we should keep our focus; not on the organization, structure, or leadership of the institutional Church.

Ironically, some of the most heated arguments that have been directed at me come from those who take offense at my not worshiping at the feet of the Brethren. These types seem to consider me some kind of traitor.

Fine for them; I respect every individual's right to their own religion. I used to be an idolator myself. But now I've chosen a different path.

: P said...

I guess by having a blog it makes any mistakes by this organization, your fault simply for pointing them out, or for bringing anyone's attention to them.

Shame on you, for shining light on the truth, you evil doer. Don't you know it's morally just to conceal, obscure and ignore the truth if it protects the weak minded among us from having to ask questions?..

We simply can not allow the more simple minded members of the herd to think for themselves. The risk of them coming to a conclusion that does not agree with what we promote is simply too great.

We must continue to spoon feed them what they should believe to protect them from their own stupidity, their eternal salvation may depend upon it!!!

It sure is a good thing that we have such wise people doing the thinking for us, we could never be trusted to come to the proper conclusion on our own using just the scriptures, prayer and the Holy Ghost for our guidance.

Well, it is exactly what God's chosen people wanted, a leader to compile a list of rules that they can't break so they can just do the minimum required while maintaining the lifestyle they're living.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not difficult to understand, It's just uncomfortable for us to make the sacrifices he asks of us to follow him. We make it overly complicated, and confuse ourselves with it so we have an excuse to fail.

Honestly, charity is not complicated, it's just uncomfortable for us to make a sacrifice. so some put it off until we have the more important things taken care of, like the required ordinances and callings of the church.

I am convinced that nothing is more important to God then charity towards our fellow man. We are all beggars, and It is his charity we are depending upon for our salvation. He said If we loved him we would have charity towards even the least worthy among us and it would be the same as if we had done it toward him. I don't think we will have any claim upon his charity at that day if we do not have it for each other while we can.

I wonder how many will have the confidence to stand in the presence of the Lord and ask for his charity, when they look back upon their lives and realize all the opportunities to help others that they ignored and turned away from.

I believe it will be the honesty of our own conscience that will condemn us.

But, maybe I'm wrong and there is a secret handshake or sign I can learn so that I won't have to do, that which I know he expects me to do if I truly loved him.


engaged19times said...

Will.someone direct me how can I find this actual data that church members are leaving in droves? I know a while back Denver said the reason they build more of he 'little' temples is so more ppl will want to go, this more *profit* in the form of tithing.

I just want actual numerical proof ppl are getting out of he church. Cuz one of the things they told us mormon kids growing up was, "this is obviously the right church because its so successful/growing fast etc. So what do they say to kids now???

BK said...

I just read the entire letter above by Bro. Bartel. I had only skimmed it before now.

And I disagree or have issue with many, if not most, of his points.

He seems to hold up people, and believe them, who say they have seen Christ and angels, etc. & received the promise of Eternal Life. He doesn't seem to consider if they are living the Gospel or not or if they may be deceived by a false Christ or false angels (which I believe is rampant today, as the scriptures warn).

I have also made it a point to listen to and look closely at those who claim to have received the 'second comforter' and seen Christ, and none of them appear to have true Charity, or understand it, nor do they seem to be living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in fact, usually they all are living opposite to the Gospel in many ways.

I find that very curious, for it seems that if they really have seen Christ and gained the promise of Eternal Life, then many of us are working way too hard at living the Gospel, if all we have to do is live at the level these people are living at in order to see Christ.

Now I don't believe people have to be perfect to see Christ, but I would think that they would have to at least 'believe' in his teachings and be at least 'trying' to live them and not living totally contrary to them, as I see everyone I know of does who claims to have seen Christ.

I have never found anyone, who makes that claim, that I believe really saw the 'real' Christ. I believe they all have been deceived by false Christs and false angels (along with those who believe them), for their fruits and actions and beliefs are opposite the teachings of Christ.

Also, Bro. Bartel seems to think a church started or continued by wicked men just because they were voted into the office of President makes the Church they continue
'true' and God's Church.

Does he not realize that Joseph was probably just about to excommunicate Brigham and other apostles for adultery, but died before he could do it?

And of course we see similarities in the temple to the Book of Mormon, for Brigham mixed in some true ideas with his falsehoods when he wrote the temple ceremonies and text, but that doesn't mean the temple or it's teachings are true or of God. The temple is filled with falsehoods which lead the people into sin, which he didn't seem to want to address or explain.

There is no way God would expect us to believe the temple is of God.

And we don't have any proof that Joseph ever heard of the temple ceremonies or text or ordinances that Brigham came up with. And even if we did that wouldn't prove the temple is true either, for Joseph was wrong and deceived about many things.

There are so many other things I disagree with in the letter above, but the real problem is until we start to look for and understand the real sign of truth, which is 'Charity', in leaders, in scripture, in a Church, or in those who profess to know Jesus, then we will always just see whatever we want to see in books like the BoM or in teachings by men like BY.

Until we know what a 'true church of God' would really look like and what a 'true prophet of God' would really do and say, we will never be able to recognize it or not be deceived by false one's like the LDS Church. (For 1, a true Church wouldn't be patriarchal, for women would hold as many, if not more, top positions as Prophetesses and Apostles as men do, just like the true family structure is not patriarchal either, both husband and wife are equal leaders)

Has Bro. Bartel not studied Joseph and Christ's warnings about following or supporting false prophets like BY? If so, how can he stay in the LDS Church then? For all the LDS leaders today are just as false as Brigham Young and Joseph warned we will be damned if we support or follow them.

BK said...

Continued-


The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all in the New Testament. And every Christian Church today has the fullness, the LDS Church has no monopoly on the fullness of the Gospel, in fact preaches & practices much less of the 'fullness' the most Christian Churches. Though I don't know any Church or person who truly preaches or practices the fullness of the Gospel, to think the LDS Church is somehow God's Church takes a huge imagination and a thousand excuses for evil.

I wonder too if Bro. Bartel believes Joseph practiced polygamy. And if he does, then that would explain why he gives Brigham and the other early leaders and today's leaders such a pass and thinks God would honor anything such wicked men would do.

If he doesn't believe Joseph was guilty of polygamy then I wonder how he could ever think such men like Brigham Young could ever maintain or pass on one ounce of Priesthood power or keys, let alone continue God's true Church even if he could get some of the original Saints to vote for him and follow him?

God would never want or ask us to follow, put faith in or listen for one second to wicked men and their Churches, no matter how many people voted them to be President of the Church.

God has commanded us to 'prove all things and persons', and only follow those who prove they are true disciples of Christ. He would never want us to give wicked men the time of day or attend their church.

And BY and the leaders today prove they aren't true disciples of Christ, but just the opposite.

God gives us 1 way to prove if someone is a true disciple of Christ, by if they have Charity or not. That is the one sure way to detect a true follower or disciple or prophet or president of God's Church.

For 'Charity', the pure love of Christ, is only possible for those who are truly righteous, it's the one thing that is impossible to fake and it's also the one requirement of gaining the 'second comforter' too and discerning those who really have received it.

Anonymous said...

I,like BK,am worried that people may be "deceived by false Christs and false angels". I have known people who were heavily into new age and confessed to have seen Christ. I guess we need to make sure we are being led by Christ and not some other "spirit". But also, I disagree with BK because there are those that saw Christ with out having displayed the fruits first.(but they did display them after the event!) Such as Lamoni and Alma the younger. I would say that we can not force the Lord's hand to reveal himself to us. That is a theme I saw in New Age, a forcing of spiritual experiences instead of waiting on the Lord. I am not saying Denver Snuffer is wrong(I have not read enough of his writings to make a judgement call). I just give a word of caution.
Homeschool Mom

BK said...

Homeschool Mom,

I agree with you, there are some people who seemed to have been visited by Christ who were not righteous, but they 'repented' afterwards and lived his Gospel, 'unlike' everyone I know of who has claimed to have been visited by Christ and received the second comforter or their calling & election.

Also, it is one thing to see Christ (like in a near death experience or vision) and quite another to be given the promise of Eternal Life (which would require strict righteousness to the Gospel).

One does not guarantee the other. Often Christ appears and calls or inspires people to repentance, but whether they do or not is another matter.

As the scriptures say, if we are righteous it will be as easy to tell the 'righteous from the wicked' (and those who truly have received they calling & election VS. those who have been deceived by false Christs) as it is to tell the night from the day.

So it need not be hard to tell who has been deceived and who hasn't. We just look at their actions, beliefs and life, we don't have to buy and read their books, for the proof is in their daily life not in their books.

Joseph Smith was either a true prophet or not because of how lived his life and how he treated his wife and others, not by what he wrote or published, for even wicked people can write wonderful true and inspiring books.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Engaged19Times,

ABC News 4 In Salt Lake City did a story on the exodus. I couldn't find the clip, but here is the transcript:

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing a record number of its membership. A new report quotes an LDS general authority who said more members are falling away today than any time in the past 175 years.

At meetings like General Conference, Utahns may be used to seeing members of the LDS Church show up in record numbers. But according to a recent Reuters article citing LDS General Authority Marlin K. Jensen, for the church as a whole, the record in going in a different direction.

Elder Jensen told the news outlet times have changed, and "attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years." Some church members ABC 4 talked to said they see the faithful leaving.

"I'm from Chile and a lot of people just stop attending, they take it a little bit too casual," said Francisco Jerez, LDS Church member.

So how bad is it getting? Right now there are more than 14 million members of the church worldwide. But according to the article, sociologists estimate active membership may as few as only five million.

Elder Jensen told Reuters that's the biggest departure since before the days of Brigham Young.

"If people are leaving it's really a mark that maybe we need to get deeper into our faith," said Ross Booth, LDS Church member.

"When life is going good and we don't have as many challenges we don't turn to God," said Babbi Hill, LDS Church member.

These members said it doesn't worry them about the church.

"I know the church is going to continue to grow and develop," said Booth.

But it is a wake up call to be their brother's keeper.

"It does come down to us as members of the church to do our part," said Jerez.

And LDS leaders are hoping they bring their friends back.

The LDS church declined to comment on the article. But Elder Jensen told Reuters, the church is attempting to reach out to the less-active church members, update its manuals on sensitive church doctrines, and improve the amount of accurate information about the church on the internet.

]End of Transcript]

As you can see from the comments, most of these interviewees had no concept of the problem, or what really needs to be done about it.

Here are some Graphs and Tables citing declining membership since growth peaked in 1989:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Engaged19 Times:

And here are a handful of newspaper articles:


SL Trib; Peggy Fletcher Stack: Keeping Members a Challenge for LDS Church

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2890645


USA Today: Why Mormons Flee Their Church

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-06-17/mormon-lds-ex-mormon/55654242/1


Religion Dispatches, Joanna Brooks; Mormon Numbers Not Adding Up:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/5611/mormon_numbers_not_adding_up/


Reuters: Mormons Besieged by the Modern Age

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-mormonchurch-idUSTRE80T1CM20120131

There's lots more; just do a search.

The church was growing so fast when I was younger that the Anaheim First Ward split into 6 additional wards while I was still in my teens, then the things got so big the stake itself split into the Anaheim Stake, and the Anaheim West Stake. All in the time it took to put on a few Roadshows.

The ward I'm currently in was dying so fast when we got here that they actually moved an entire ward from another building to combine with us before this ward shrank to nothing. So somehow we have gone from splitting wards to combining them. Whatever you want to call it, that ain't growth.

Remember all that much vaunted growth we all heard about taking place in South America? A few years ago Dallin Oaks traveled personally to Chile to close down twenty stakes. TWENTY ENTIRE STAKES!

It turned out that the attendance level in some of these stake was as low as 79 people total.

We can't keep our converts. They leave an average of 9 months after joining. We are a church in decline, and it's largely because the Church is run more like a corporate business than the church of Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Engaged19Times,

You are correct that when we Baby Boomers were growing up in the church, the growth numbers were pointed to as evidence that this was indeed "the true church."

"By their fruits ye shall know them" was the scripture commonly quoted to indicate that the rapid growth in converts was the fruit that provided the proof.

But growth in numbers, money, and influence are the methods by which a corporation boasts about its growth to its shareholders. If we were really willing to point to the fruits of a church that included continuing revelation as its defining factor, then we should have been able to provide "fruit" in the form of actual revelations from God.

We did not. We continued to differentiate ourselves from other denominations -and gain converts- because we were able to boast of having a prophet of God in our midst. But if that prophet never provided the actual "fruit" one would expect from someone with that title, i.e. prophecies and revelations directly from God, our boasts were hollow.

All those years of pointing to our stupendous growth as evidence of our "fruit" is now backing us into a corner. What do we claim now as the fruit by which all men shall know we are God's one and only true church? Declining numbers won't convince anyone.

Oh yeah, I forgot. We build temples and we send out missionaries. That's pretty much all we've got.

But neither the temples nor the missionaries are bearing any fruit. We're back to where we were in the days of pioneer Utah. The only real growth is occurring as children are born into the faith.

But what happens when those children grow up and leave?

: P said...

Of course they leave once they learn what it all means to live as a Mormon. We try to baptize them without being fully aware of everything that this church requires.

Our church today is only interested in numbers. When people open their doors to missionary discussions it's like they walked onto a used car lot.

"whats it gonna take to get you into this religion today?.."

I wonder how well the law of tithing is going over on people who can't afford to feed their families. People in these places join because they are desperate and need blessings. They are promised that the windows of heaven will open and blessings will rain down upon them if they join and sacrifice to the church.

I'm sure they see images of church leaders in large beautiful buildings dressed in their fine apparel, while their children sleep on the floor.

How long would you continue to have your face ground when the help doesn't come?..

Inspire said...

BK,
You said: "Joseph Smith was either a true prophet or not because of how he lived his life and how he treated his wife and others, not by what he wrote or published, for even wicked people can write wonderful true and inspiring books."

Might I suggest that we shift our paradigm in thinking about this? The mantra of "it's either all true or it isn't" has been used in the church for generations. The result is that we have neglected the responsibilities delving upon us individually to understand truth and know the nature of God. It also has created this structure of "authority" where one person supposedly speaks for God, and then bosses everyone else around. We know what happens when someone gets a little authority, as they suppose.

We are so caught up with the whole "true prophet" idea. Assuming Joseph was this thing called a prophet, a whole lot of good it did us. We destroyed him from our midst (see Ezekiel 14). And now we spend all our time debating whether he was "true" or not. How can we ever know that? All it does is create contention among us. And what happens when we find out he was true (or false)? Then what do we do?

What if are meant to do things differently than has been done in past generations? Rather than looking for another person to be the gatekeeper of our salvation, we find out for ourselves the nature of God. Then it really won't matter if Joseph or Thomas or Denver is a prophet, because that word has no relevance to us individually.

The Book of Mormon tells us that there will be no kings who raise up unto the Gentiles. That statement can be interpreted different ways, but I don't think it means that the Gentiles won't have their kings. Look at King Brigham. My reading of it is that it won't be kings who bring them out of "captivity." There is only one King, and it is the Lord. So what will be different about the Gentiles when they get it right, is that they will finally reject the failed methods of Israel, which were meant to take them in circles, and will come to understand what it means that Christ has fulfilled every "whit" of the Law, and it is done away.

engaged19times said...

The mormon church does such a number on youth. The *worthy* the *chosen ones* and all the other nonsense. There are more neurotic messes of mormon women than u can shake a stick at. Me included. It was a blessing i married a nonmember who didnt grow up with his head filled with worthiness nonsense.

Thats why i no longer feel the desire o be worthy of a visit with Jesus. I mean seriously, am i really gonna save the world cuz im worthy? Ugh, i dont need the mormon induced worthiness neurotics again.Im not going ther again in life. So i hav eto hope He visits me in all my crass glory.

engaged19times said...

Anyone ever been in a ward where they have the YW do that obstacle course hold to the rod thing while blindfold each girl. Then they have leaders and other youth try to keep them from holding to the rod and not finish the course

Well i did that as a youth. Got pulled off. For weeks i thought i wasnt strong enough to go to the celestial kingsom! The horror!!!

Years later, i served inYW as a leader. The girls did this obstacle course at camp. Some of themFREAKED OUT that they thought they werent goin to kin the cel kingdom!

This church is truly led by either insane ppl, or simply ppl who enjoy suffering. Cant tell which. Even mother teresa was a.sociopath it turns out.

BK said...

engaged,

I know what you mean.

My husband's whole side is non-LDS, they are all of different religions, or no religion, and most of them have such a clearer view of the Gospel then most any my LDS relatives on my side (except those who have awaken and left the Church, who can see better now too).

Most of my LDS relatives are generally full of fear and afraid to talk to anyone who is non-LDS or who questions their beliefs.

Most LDS don't seem to even want to discuss religion at all, but just avoid the subject & yet still blindly and almost robotically attend their meetings on Sunday, with no real desire to understand or seek truth or make sure they aren't being deceived, they never seem to even consider it a possibility.

The LDS seem just like the FLDS, who seem afraid to talk to any outsiders. Yet the LDS can't see this.

While most of my husband's non-LDS relatives back east, have no fear of those from different religions and can and often 'want' to talk all day about religion and comparing notes and beliefs.

I also am so grateful to have a whole side of relatives who haven't been blinded by LDS doctrines, but who can see and discuss the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most non-LDS I know are far more Christ-like in how they treat other's of differing beliefs.

While most LDS I know seem to shun and cast out even their closest family members, no matter how good & righteous & kind those family members may be, just because they believe differently.

They forget the scripture that says, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of a sound mind..."

If LDS really had strong & sure testimonies they wouldn't fear talking to and reasoning together with others of differing beliefs.

And as Joseph said, if they thought others were wrong they would lovingly try to reason with them & win them over, they wouldn't shun or be afraid to talk to them.

And engaged, none of us are worthy of a visit from Christ, but if we have sincere desires to progress, He will meet us at whatever level we are at and lead us til we can behold his presence, whether in this life or the next.

engaged19times said...

BK, It's a strange tradition among mormons to *shun* anyone with slightly diff views. Mormons are kind of a mix of Amish, wanna-be Jews, and little scientologist with heir elitism.

We had a goody 2 shoes mormon neighbor while back. She came over to flirt with my husband and his brother when we moved in and brought cookoes. I made sure she knew i like wine. She never bothered us again.

Mike said...

This is a fantastic article Rock, thanks much! Brett, what you said about the meaning and purpose of the Book of Mormon literally blew my mind! Thanks so much!. One thing I wanted to chime in on was the part where you wrote:

""And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths." (verse 12)

Personally, I think this is the most interesting. It’s our leaders who cause us to err. We sure hear a lot of “follow the prophet,” but I don’t actually recall that idea in the scriptures."

It seems to me that this scripture is targeting women and children as the thing that we allow to "lead" us astray, so to speak, instead of the brethern in this particular instance. It's only because I recently heard someone talk about how the emphasis of the family was not all that Christ-like recently that it jumped out on me.

Isaiah may be saying that (the wantonness of) women rule over us and that is destroying our paths, (or our ability to follow the path).

LDSDPer said...

@Anyone who wants to read the rantings of an "old woman"---

A lot happened in the 10 days I had no access to the computer; it's been interesting--

but a few notes first to "Jeremy":

Jeremy,

I am not a member of AARP. I don't have an AARP card, though I am aware of AARP and what it stands for, because they aggressively recruit 'seniors', and I vote against them. When they send me the cards I burn them.
I'm not on SS or disability (though I qualify for disability); I really don't believe in the things AARP stands for--
but your speech was 'cute'.

I just wish someone older had tried to help me when I was young and earnest and "all or nothing", and I want to help young people now, awkward as my attempts might be. It's apparent that I don't reach everyone.
I feel a little like Ammon who wanted to be an angel--
I want to declare to people to stop focusing on image and reach out to those who are in need, WHEN they can and HOW they can--and where they are.
So, the 'age thing' is because of my own regrets--
and I'm sorry if it offended something in you.

Rock is correct; I am very ill.
I can't 'go out and volunteer'--
I just WISH someone had awakened me when I was still young enough to help me see that it wasn't about "achieving righteousness" or what people wear or SO many things humans use to type each other--
that it is being Christlike and compassionate and full of charity that is what matters, ALL that matters--
and I lost a lot of time doing worthless/busy (as I believe) things in the church--
I don't encourage people to leave the church; I will encourage people to stay; it's my bias. I admit it.
But I have been supportive to many who have left.
The internet is one of the few places I can have influence--
the women my age in my ward--oh, WELL--
I have NOTHING in common with any of them; there is one I have a few slight things in common with, but politically we disagree so violently that conversations with her are like walking on mined fields.

LOL!

My husband and I don't live as many our age do; we are not remotely typical 'boomers'; we are especially not typical LDS 'boomers'--

But, though you started out with wanting to divide us by talking about AARP, about which we seem to agree (that it is an evil), we can talk about what we have in common--


Rock's blog is successful, in part, because Rock looks for things he has in common with others.
I found out about Pure Mormonism, because Rock linked it from a political site to which we both belong. Then I talked with his wife extensively.
I think he realizes that there are people trapped in all sorts of situations in life where they can only really talk to people on places like the internet, and he found a very important niche.
I have young people, very loved, my children, in my life, and they have all struggled with the corporate church, various aspects of it; one gave up a long time ago, and, frankly, I am amazed that he held on as long as he did.

So, IF you read this, Jeremy, please know that I am opposed to AARP and will continue to fight it from my computer station--

LDSDPer said...

Robin Hood,
I don't believe you are a troll, and I like much of what you say.

I know a few LDS who are self-assured about being righteous LDS/blood of Israel, and it is disturbing to *me*.

I think that the person (b?) who spoke of the meaning of tense has validity to what he says.

Pierce and Robin (both), I've actually enjoyed your discussions. :/

Inspire made a point earlier about throwing the baby out with the bathwater--
Inspire is one of the few people on here who points out the danger of generalizing/collectivizing; I think he uses the word "blanketing"--

However much 'fluff' (or evil) there may be in the 'church', we (husband and I) would be lost without the Book of Mormon (my husband, as a convert, feels this keenly; I as a 'lifer' believe that holding on to the Book of Mormon has made a big difference in my relationship with Jesus Christ), and it was THIS church that brought the Book of Mormon to us.


Engaged; I have enjoyed their discussion. Maybe you could say, "*I* don't like what you are saying", because I may not be the only person who has appreciated their discussion.

And, Engaged, when you speak about 'worthiness' and the unwholesome 'activities' that try to 'teach' YW, I completely agree with you! I know some young people who are dear to me who have been hurt by all of that; you have some important things to say on that topic, and I hope you won't stop.

As always, Fusion, I appreciate what you have to say--

There are others who said things I appreciated; I always learn so much on here.

Gary Hunt, I like it when you 'weigh in'--

Arch Stanton, you've said some good things. Arch is one of the ones who thinks I say too much, and he's right, of course. Someone should start a new blog that excludes 'people like LDSDPer on "Pure Mormonism" who is too wordy and uses dashes'--LOL! Only those who are brief and concise and who use no experiential references would be welcomed on such a site. Ha.

I have found that there is an internet subculture that can be brutal. Maybe a person like myself can be a test of the compassion of the young and strong and swift whose minds are sharper than mine?

Brett, again, I really like what you have to say. I didn't think it was too long, but then I wouldn't. :)

I really don't spend much time thinking about the men in Salt Lake.
I do believe I need to have charity when I think of them, though--

I have been dismayed at the 'celebratizing' that has gone on in the church for so long--

sometimes some of them (few, I am afraid) give talks I can appreciate--
but then I appreciate a lot of people who are not LDS.

BK,
I value the New Testament. I believe there are things in the Book of Mormon about Jesus that are not in the New Testament; I believe the Book of Mormon is richly Christ-centered.

I know people who have had the Bible in their families for centuries who have little to do with Jesus--

it's the 'all or nothing' thing again--

focusing on individuals really helps. There have been, obviously, some dastardly and evil individuals in your life who have been or who ARE LDS, and they will account for their evil deeds--
but, please, don't write off everyone who is LDS, just because they are members of that organization--

LDSDPer said...


Quote from Inspire:

The Book of Mormon tells us that there will be no kings who raise up unto the Gentiles. That statement can be interpreted different ways, but I don't think it means that the Gentiles won't have their kings. Look at King Brigham. My reading of it is that it won't be kings who bring them out of "captivity." There is only one King, and it is the Lord. So what will be different about the Gentiles when they get it right, is that they will finally reject the failed methods of Israel, which were meant to take them in circles, and will come to understand what it means that Christ has fulfilled every "whit" of the Law, and it is done away.

Thank you.

LDSDPer said...

Quote from Robin Hood:

I see the Church as the mechanism used to deliver the gospel. It isn't perfect because the church (whether the corporation or the saints themselves) is not perfect. The gospel however, is.

Thank you.

I would add, however, because I am one who 'adds'--

"gospel (of Jesus Christ)"--

it's just being nitpicky--

some people mean one thing by 'gospel', and others mean another--

some people think it means that a person who doesn't wear a white shirt on Sunday is condemned. *ha*

Others know exactly what it means--

that it refers to Jesus. Who saves.

Anyway--

I once had a gentle argument with my husband on this; we went through the Book of Mormon and found every 'gospel' we could find. There were few places where it didn't say "of Jesus Christ" or even "my" (referring to Jesus Christ).

I realize this may seem insignificant, but one other thing you said--

about how Moroni (or Mormon; I am confused today)--

was speaking to those who don't believe in Jesus Christ--

in our ward there is a man who has a 'high' stake calling--

*sigh*

who won't talk about Jesus Christ. He openly is annoyed when anyone mentions Jesus Christ.

He believes the LDS church is a good association for those of a certain 'type' who want to have a wholesome code for living--

he admits there might be a God, or not.

and he claims that nobody can know anything about Jesus Christ.

He is aggressive about this, but he is very wealthy and 'successful', and nobody will stand up to him, except my husband, who does so quietly and gently. Others have privately thanked my husband, who always comes back and says, "no, this is about Jesus Christ, Brother _______"--

Brother __________ believes in the 'gospel of prosperity', very literally; he admits it; he believes that anyone who is poor or ill or not doing well in any way--

has somehow not been righteous.

So, yes, Mormons sometimes don't believe in Jesus Christ.

Anyway, I could have said about half of that, but thank you for indulging me.

:)

"calling a spade a spade"--

I grew up with that saying--

:)


And, by the way, I do know some other LDS who are agnostics, but they aren't hostile towards those of *us* who believe in Jesus Christ and like to testify of Him.

engaged19times said...

LDSPer, ur perspective brings balance to the discussion. Cynic that I am i consider myself lucky in that I can keep a foot in with the churchy stuff and maintain my independent views cuz Im not married to a mormon and well, lets face it. Ur average mormon isnt going to think Im that spiritual because of that.

Here's how sacreligious I am. Yesterday during our tikes' naptime me and my husband watched parts of the temple ceremony.thats on youtube. It was actually a nice thing as a couple to do.My husband was surprised Eve partook of the fruit first. He didnt know that (they didnt go to church as a kid). We had a loong convo after that, kinda like the long convos we had back in the prekid days.

engaged19times said...

I admit the prayer circle part reinforced my opinion that its occultish. We r ppl who try to keeep things casual...and elaborate rituals with secret handshakes dont appeal to either of us.

But...we did have a *touchy feely* convo afterwards so it cant be all bad. Still, not something i need to pay to go do so i can think im going to heaven.

HE is seeking to be AsTonisHed said...

Pierce @ March 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM

I have often wondered on this scenario too, Pierce. I couldn't imagine that God would move in such a wonderful way and then let the people reject his great effort...but alas, would I characterize the work of Christ among the Jews as less than Joseph's? and yet, in not many generations it fell apart. The work of Christ among the Nephites met the same end. And so it seems that God continues to condescend to bring to pass his marvelous work over the ages to convert 'some few' at a time to the Way of Life and Salvation. My fear is that we are too proud of the legs we stand on.

Seeking

Pierce said...

Good thoughts, Astonished. I'm not sure it's really a matter a possibility of us rejecting His efforts as much as it is that He would really, ultimately be the one responsible for the collapse after Joseph's death. You've announced a restoration of all things to prepare the world for the Second Coming, but not a way for the church to continue after Joseph's sudden demise? While there is a lot of controversy and differing viewpoints on how that succession happened, I still find it much more feasible to believe that God is working through an imperfect organization today than believing that another great apostasy has occurred. I don't see why He would convert "some few" rather than the masses. I just see the LDS church, despite big flaws, doing more good in the world than the alternative proposed here. I just can't buy into an "all or nothing" point of view.

HE is seeking to be AsTonisHed said...

Pierce,

We are fortunate not to be in a GREAT APOSTASY. For one, we have the actual records from a prophet in the Book of Mormon and D&C -- they haven't been taken from us or translated into a language we don't understand (ie. Latin). The Book of Mormon is quite a bit more liberal in its teachings regarding authority and how that authority comes (and what it means) than the definition the modern church has created.

We are hardly afflicted because of what we believe -- we have more freedom to believe and act on our beliefs than in any era of human history. The church does not embrace that freedom in actuality -- rather it stifles it -- today a Mormon is more likely to be persecuted by his church for believing different than by Caesar.

I see where you are coming from. I actually think the discussion regarding "all or nothing" has been enlightening and helpful to me. I too see good being done in the church -- my question is, "Does the good of spreading the message of the Book of Mormon (for example) get undone by the curse of correlated doctrine that is at odds with the very message they are spreading?" I wonder if we at they very least are taking one step forward and one step back -- maybe two back. That doesn't mean we aren't moving forward...but are we making any progress?

As has been stated, the Church buys into the all or nothing...this is a problem when one realizes that it isn't so black and white...

Seeking.

LDSDPer said...

Thank you, Engaged. I try to be balanced (it's a big effort--LOL!)

As for sacrilege; I'm not even sure what it means. I certainly don't want to blaspheme against Jesus Christ, but as for the temple, I'm not sure that would qualify; not sure. I have struggled with the 'secret versus sacred' aspect of the temple, so I am not a good person to talk to about that. I have, however, erred on the side of caution.

LDSDPer said...

@ Pierce and Astonished:


For decades I have had questions about what really happened when Joseph Smith received and translated the Book of Mormon. I believe he did. He was, at least, a seer, and I believe he had prophetic gifts.

I got the whitewashed seminary version of church history, and much of it didn't ring true.

I won't even present the version of "what if Joseph Smith was a charlatan", because I don't believe he was--

However, I don't believe Joseph Smith was ever meant to 'restore' anything, and I have found support for my beliefs from Daymon Smith.

It's the Book of Mormon that he was meant to bring to the world, and, in spite of everyone, that has happened.

I do believe Joseph Smith had prophetic gifts; a few others (Cowdery, perhaps) did, as well--

but as one other person who really admires Joseph Smith has said (hi, Rock!--:))--

Joseph was not a good judge of character. He was too open, too accepting, too "Catholic"--

My personal belief is that the movement was hijacked in a major way even before his death; I believe he was exhausted spiritually and physically (the man spent SO much time in prisons)--
and his family had suffered a lot--
And the Lord let him be done.

I believe that he was often led to misuse or overuse the powers given to him--

as for restoring anything, read Daymon Smith's book and see how off target everything was from the beginning.

It was about the Book of Mormon from the beginning. I don't believe it was a bad thing for there to be a church, but there were ambitious men who saw how easily Joseph could be used, abused and lied about from the very beginning.

I do believe that he was allowed to see that there was something to sealing, possibly temple 'education'--

his sealing himself to many people (including men) led to all the heartache and confusion over polygamy, which other men used to have what they wanted--

The thing that impresses me most of all is that SO many histor(ies) have been revised after the death(s) of great men and women--the victor writes the history, and Brigham 'won'. Brigham didn't spend time in jail (or very little); he was never tarred and feathered, etc.

Joseph couldn't answer after his death, and it was extremely easy for someone like Brigham Young (whom I believe was an opportunist, though I believe God used him, in a minor way, to play a minor part he thought was quite big--:)) to say what he said about him:

Joseph told me this; Joseph loved me; Joseph said that; Joseph taught this--

Other men with more integrity but still a lot to lose didn't say that, but they also didn't contradict Brigham.

God can't interfere with agency; He won't--

but the Book of Mormon has always been there for those who want it, need it and are humble (or humbled) enough to accept it--

no matter what else happens; that is the beauty of it--

All those men who were against polygamy or who believed Joseph was being used/manipulated or who believed he didn't 'live' polygamy--

were excommunicated, and three of his brothers were dispatched, two through death and another by excommunication, so there was never the 'other side' shown--

Most of those men did not stay with any church, including the reorganized; they simply disappeared, but they never denied their testimony of either the Book of Mormon or of Joseph's gifts--

but people were simply not ready. Most aren't now--

So it's not God who threw anyone or anything under the bus.

He still holds out His gifts to us, especially the Book of Mormon, a special gift to the Gentiles (us) and anyone else, Jews, remnant of Jacob (f you want to believe some Mormons are that; some are descended from Jacob), who will read it--

and apply it and want something better--

want not to be shackled by Babylon.

HE is seeking to be AsTonisHed said...

Thanks LDSPer, good food for thought...

LDSDPer said...

continued, and if there are any grammar experts on here, sorry about the "i" I left off of "if" above--



Whatever the corporate church (or other churches/governments/organizations) does/do ultimately doesn't matter, because--

as Hegel's dialectic states, though Hegel doesn't mention satan or evil--

the 'adversary', evil one, satan--

pretty much has the entirety of humanity 'locked up'--

and it's difficult, when you realize it.

But Jesus already won. He triumphed, and He can free us. He will free us ultimately. The gift of resurrection, the real restoration, is just that. We can live forever and be made completely whole and unblemished. WOW!

Just as satan thinks he can grab us no matter which way we turn, Jesus has an answer to all of it.

Even in the corruption of religion, there will be good, if the heart of the individual is good and seeking truth--

and that person will find it, sometimes even after much suffering and maybe even death. But it won't matter, because of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

So God gets 'around' Hegel and his dialectic, and He has vanquished satan, though satan still has rule in this world, because most can't see what he is doing--

IF the LDS people could share the Book of Mormon, in its simplicity to the world, without all the other things that the church attaches, how beautiful it could be--

but even with those attachments, it can still be beautiful; it is, and it will be.

He reigns. And He vanquished death.

And that is what matters most.

Thank you, if you read.

In my opinion, without a lot of the other 'stuff', the Book of Mormon teaches this in a purity that no other book can, including the Bible, of course.

Not everyone 'gets' Daymon Smith, but for me what helps about what he has written is that--

culture shapes our beliefs, and once we understand culture we can find the pearl inside the oyster.

But I realize that it has taken me decades of intense Book of Mormon study and a desire to know the truth--
to get to where I can 'see' this, and I don't expect everyone to be at the same station as I. Some have gone on ahead of me long ago; others may not have reached where I am, yet.

And for all I know my path has been designed for me and me alone--

but the Book of Mormon has reached me in my doubts and suffering.

And that is enough. As long as I remain true to my testimony of Jesus Christ (through the Book of Mormon)--

then what else is there to worry about, really?

I do recommend Smith's book; he is an anthropologist, and he tries to represent truth about culture. Yes, he has some biases. He didn't really respect Sidney Rigdon, though he understood what was going on with him; Rigdon was not, always, very mentally stable, apparently; it's obvious he preferred Oliver Cowdery as a spiritual man--
I never understood Sidney Rigdon, and I know many really admire him; I always had a good feeling about Cowdery, so maybe my own biases are why I like Smith's writing. Joseph was very indulgent of Rigdon, and Cowdery was a big help to him. But Cowdery struggled with Joseph's tendency to be more people-centered. If I like to read things that ring true to me, am I a true seeker? I don't know. I don't accept everything Smith says, but then I had had many of the same questions he has had--
so when I read him, I feel integrity.

Those who have already 'thrown out' the Book of Mormon won't really want to read what I have to say.

Many decades ago I was taught by my father that the church was (as Robin Hood says) simply an instrument, a vehicle, and a somewhat broken down one, at that--

but he was a wise man and wasn't prone to throwing babies out with the bathwater.

:)

engaged19times said...

Well Im not too afraid of what Jesus will do.to me for watching the utubed temple ceremony. I mean what can He do? Throw me down on a planet to try to get back to heaven, with only an elitist church and a book of riddles as my guide?

Pierce said...

Astonished,

I am willing to take it step further and say that Mormonism today is beginning to be more tolerable of concepts such as pluralism, and is relaxing its position on what doctrine is and isn't.

It seems like a great apostasy to me when there are a "select few" who are able to recognize Joseph's restoration and deny the current LDS church. Those people number in the--how much would you say?-- Hundreds, a few thousand? Compared to the billions on the earth?

"Does the good of spreading the message of the Book of Mormon (for example) get undone by the curse of correlated doctrine that is at odds with the very message they are spreading."

The answer is an emphatic "no," especially when it is an opinion that correlated doctrine is a curse and undermines the gospel. As much as you may disdain the church (I don't know your position, but most here do), I am willing to bet that you would not have heard of or began believing in the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith without the current LDS church administration.

LDSDPer,

I love the Book of Mormon and its teachings, but the black and white thinking that some of these theories promote requires adherents to put ultimate trust and authority into a book, which is what other Christian churches have fallen back on. I haven't read anything by Dayton, but I am fairly certain that Joseph Smith didn't "preach" the Book of Mormon. They used it as a conversion tool to convince people of the restoration and to come to Zion. If the Book of Mormon was his mission, then he must not have known it. The Doctrine and Covenants would have been unnecessary, but I don't believe that based on the wonderful doctrines fount explicitly in there as opposed to the Bible or Book of Mormon. Anyway, I would just contend that Joseph preached more about Zion, living together as disciples, organization, and receiving instruction from living oracles than he ever did about the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

BK said...

engaged,

I believe we come under far greater condemnation by entering the temple and performing it's secret & false rites then we ever would by watching it out of curiousity on youtube.

God would never ask or want us to support or pad the pockets of arrogant unrighteous dishonest rich leaders in order to get into their large and spacious temples in order to get to heaven.

The last thing true disciples/prophets of Christ would do is use tithing to support themselves or build a church, temple or mall or even support missionary work, while there remains even 1 widow or single mother & children who suffer from neglect.

LDSDPer said...

@Pierce,

I don't agree with you, and I could explain why, but I've said enough for today.

I do believe the Book of Mormon is more than a tool of conversion.

Joseph Smith never called it that; I believe it was Parley Pratt who called it that.

Joseph Smith had little to do with what the church has become.

But, as I said, I have said too much already--

HE is seeking to be AsTonisHed said...

Pierce,

I hope you are right about the church becoming more tolerable…I believe it would be a more effective tool in God’s hands if it continues that trend.

You are right, I owe my knowledge of the restoration to the Corporate church. This fact has made my faith crisis more difficult. I am still an ‘active’ member of the Church – at least from an outside appearance. I pay tithing, I attend meetings, I teach Primary from the correlated manual, and I am raising my 8 children in the church. I am still working through where I stand in relationship to the church and how that relationship affects my relationship with God. I have spent 10 years working my way through histories, biographies, original documents and the scriptures – I continue that process. All the while working on finding a way to walk with Christ, day by day, as my life passes.

I agree with Rock when it comes to the Book of Mormon, it speaks to me. I don’t know how else to describe it.

I have read all Daymon Smith’s books. In this I agree with LDSPer…they resonate with me. He has asked the same questions I have – he is postulating some interesting ideas. Again, many which resonate with me. In his most recent book, Volume 5, he states, “I think by this decade, however, we can say; what was promised to us has not happened, been given, or received—if we are reading our books correctly, inside Mormon traditions. So, either the Book of Mormon is bunk or our readings are incorrect.” This really is the crux of his 5 volume series – which is really difficult to read but worth it. His thoughts resonate with me.

The Book of Mormon is full of prophecies. Do we understand them? Are we fulfilling them? Since the church has really had nothing to say on the matter in the past 170 years (except President Benson, he had lots to say, but that has pretty much been swept under the rug – haven’t heard anything about the condemnation since his presidency)…where do we stand as a church?

So, we belong to a church that holds up the Book of Mormon as our keystone…yet, few know what is in it…other than the stories. On the outside, I look like a Mormon, but on the inside – because of my reading of the Book of Mormon – my beliefs differ from other Mormons. But I look around bewildered and wonder, “don’t we all believe in the writings of the same book?” This shouldn’t be a problem, that we have differences of belief – but I am not welcome to share mine – or I will come under censure and public humiliation. So I remain quiet…and wonder...is this what God intended?

I appreciate your thoughts Pierce…

Seeking

LDSDPer said...

I am going to regret this, especially if Arch starts reading and calls me out--

*lop-sided smile*

@Pierce,

I don't want to argue, and sometimes I don't know when I am doing that.

So, I'm really watching myself here.

I got caught by your words and was afraid I would say something indignant or defensive.

"disdain the church"; wasn't that what you said?

All right, now, I'm taking a deep breath, and I will be calm; I've been praying to be calm. WHEW!

You formed the words, and so the response is formed by your words.

First, disdain. What does it mean?

New Webster: "a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior."

Now, church--

what does that mean?

New Webster, again, has three definitions:

a building that is used for Christian religious services or

religious services held in a church or

a particular Christian group

You formed the answer when you made the statement--

but I can't answer it that way.

First, disdain. I don't disdain the church at all. Whatever the 'church' is.

In my case, our building is used for services, but it was out of use for weeks this spring, due to the fact that there were some major problems with it; it has also been deemed a toxic building by some within the 'church' (my ward) who know.
There are people in my ward who can't attend church in the building because it makes them so ill.

So, disdain? Hmm, maybe, for the building.

Church means SO many things. It's loaded for Mormons. But each of us has a different feeling when we hear the word.

Little primary children (even memories of someone older) with gentle teachers and sweet songs--the sun streaming through the windows--

ah.

Or other things, sad, hard things--
that I won't mention.

So--

that is a problem.

It's not disdain, Pierce. It's hurt or heartache.

It doesn't even have to be offense.

Brigham Young and a recent church authority (Bednar?)--

both told *us* that we can't be hurt or offended.

So we can't be. So what are we when we are bleeding, and nobody wants to even put a bandaid on it, or we are hemorraging, and someone thinks a bandaid is good enough, when it's obvious we need something amputated or we need a transfusion?

*We* (the hurting ones) can't say anything, because Brigham and Bednar (I think) told us we were unfaithful if we did.

We've been turned into ciphers.

Obviously at some point in the Book of Mormon those who were hurt by others in the church were able to have some kind of voice and tell someone.

Yes, for those who are spiritually mature--
it's good to know that if we are hurt for Jesus' sake (although it's not clear what that kind of hurting is)--

we will be blessed.

But for those who haven't gotten there yet, even if their hearts are pure, they might throw it all away, because they hurt, and nobody cares.

Or those who could do something don't care or don't even want to know about it.

Poverty. Mental problems. Physical health problems (possibly more especially if they are unusual). Cognitive problems. Abuse. Rejection and shunning.

Who wants to know about it, if it stems froms someone in the church or if those in the church who could help don't want to for some reason--?

There is nobody in the 'church' to whom *I* can turn, so I turn to Jesus, and I'm not just talking about *my own* concerns and issues at all.

TBC

LDSDPer said...

continued--

I'm talking about those I've seen hurt deeply, scarred.

People I have tried to help and felt so useless. All the prayers in the world--

and just hoping that help will come from heaven, soon, sometime, any time.

So, Pierce--

Sometimes I think these things are a blessing; I know that trials are a blessing, but the end is not always in sight; sometimes the end won't come, not in this life. And if those who are hurting don't know Jesus, ah, the pain!!!
How do you frame the concept that sometimes those who love Jesus and want to know Him are hurt by those in the church who really don't know Jesus but who are really 'good' at church?

I have no doubt that Jesus was well aware all this would be happening long, long, long ago and has tried to warn *us* in so many different ways, but the answers just aren't always in the 'church', but they are in the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon warns about those who say, "All is well in Zion"--

Decades ago I would sing this hymn:

and think, "eh?"

"Come, Come, Ye Saints"

And I began to wonder, really wonder, what it was all about.

All is well? Really?

It takes people acknowledging that they, themselves, have flaws and sins--

and being able to see when others are about who are dangerous--

after all, Nephi had to leave his brothers to save himself and his people--

though Nephi was certainly not perfect--

at what point does a person say,

"I need to leave"--

at what point does a person say, "I need to stay and be hurt"--

?

I can't answer that for any other person; it's something that only each person can answer.

But if a person relies on the arm of flesh (good, old Book of Mormon concept there! :))--

and depends upon other people or upon an organization and does not seek Jesus out--

he/she is pretty much lost when this sort of thing happens.

A talk by Bednar about not being offended won't help. Being told that being offended is a sin (Brigham) won't help; after all, Brigham may not have had any feelings to hurt anyway. *sorry*

The church is a test. I can see that and have seen it for many, many years. I put up with that for decades, and I was all right with that.

But when innocent ones began to be hurt, that was when I cried to the heavens--

that is when I realized that if a person doesn't have a STRONG relationship with Jesus Christ (and the Book of Mormon is the best 'tool'; I used your word, Pierce--:) for that I know)--

he/she is pretty much sunk for the time being.

And that is all I can do, urge people to read it, ponder it, pray over it, apply it--

and seek for Jesus.

And not just on Sunday. And not just by listening to conference talks and going to EFY and reading the Ensign and going to meetings.

Those things just can't do the heavy work needed. Sometimes they are nice; sometimes when the going is all right, they are all right--

but when there is severe damage, they are not enough, and sometimes they hurt--

sort of like, when a person is lying on the ground and almost dead, and someone rushes up with a casserole. Nope; it's not going to do the job. And it hurts to see the smiling face that doesn't realize that if you don't get help NOW you are dead, standing there with the casserole--

Need more than a casserole at that point.

So, Pierce, was I mean?

I hope not.

I hope you understand.

God is good; His blessings are abundant, and He is not a Mormon.

*wink*

But I think He loves Mormons as much as He does anyone else, and I think He is pleased when they love Him back.

Astonished, I hear you, loud and clear.

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