Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not Quite The Same

Previously: How To Become An Apostate In One Afternoon

We latter-day Saints can be as bad as some Baptists when it comes to quoting scripture out of context when it seems to support a position we favor.  Never mind if that position is questionable, or the scripture we're using doesn't mean anything near what we think it does. We'll still use it to settle an argument.  Take, for instance this one tiny phrase near the end of a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants that reads "Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

Those words are frequently batted about in the Church today to "prove" that anything that comes out of the mouth of a general authority is the same as if it came out of the mouth of God himself.  And that goes double if those words are spoken during general conference. Here is how Henry Eyring, First Councilor of the First Presidency of the Church put it during October conference of 2010:
"I know the servants of God who will speak to you during this conference. They are called of God to give messages to His children. The Lord has said of them: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
And here's Russell Ballard in October session just last month:
"When the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time. The Lord reminds us, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.’"
By and large, both these men's talks had much to recommend them. They bore sincere testimonies of Christ.  I share their belief in a loving God and the gospel of the restoration as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  But their use of a statement God made under circumstances different from where they intend to apply it promotes a common falsehood, one which we all deserve to re-examine.  This false teaching is one we are all intimately familiar with, even if only one out of a thousand has taken the trouble to read the rest of the revelation that contains this phrase.


Is context important to understanding God's revelations?  I would suggest it's very important.  "An awareness of the background of Joseph Smith's revelations allows us to better understand their significance...The form in which we find the revelations today is the product of a complex process of revelation, recording, editing, publication, and prophetic revision." (The Doctrine and Covenants Revelations In Context: the 37th Annual Sperry Symposium at BYU)

I might add that the form in which we find the revelations today is oftentimes misunderstood. But that's not God's fault, it's ours. If we're going to go around quoting God, we should be paying better attention to what it is He was actually saying.  So with context in mind, here's some background on the verse in question.

These Commandments Are of Me
"Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" is a phrase found in the next to last verse of section one in the Doctrine and Covenants. The first thing we get to understand about section one is that although it's first in the book, it was not the first revelation Joseph Smith received from God. By my count, Joseph received 74 revelations between 1828 and 1831 prior to that one.  Typically, after Joseph received a revelation, he would disseminate it to the church by publishing it in the Church newspaper, The Evening And Morning Star.

In 1831 the Lord commanded Joseph to publish a book containing 64 of these revelations, and on November 1st of that year the Lord provided one more revelation which he instructed Joseph to use as a preface to that book. This book, known as the Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ, was published in 1833, and the Lord's preface appeared as the first chapter. Two years later, another book was published and given the title Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected From the Revelations of God.  As the title suggests, the book was divided into two parts. Part One was "Theology On the Doctrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints" which consisted of seven lectures, known collectively as the Lectures on Faith.  The second part of the book was titled Covenants and Commandments of the Lord, to His Servants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and was essentially a revision of the Book of Commandments.  The revelation from God that had served as the preface to the Book of Commandments was retained as Section One of this second part of the book. As before, that revelation served to introduce the reader to God's reasons and purposes for promulgating the revelations that followed.

In this preface, the Lord makes it known that the revelations are addressed not only to the fledgling church, but to all the inhabitants of the earth. When reading this preface, you'll note several things pertinent to our conversation here. First, He's telling us He's back. This is God's way of announcing to the world that the heavens are open once again. Second, He's not fooling around. He makes it clear in no uncertain terms that He means business, and that time for repenting is short. This book of commandments and revelations is to go forth to all mankind, that they must prepare against the day when judgment is meted out; that all will be recompensed according to the measure in which men treat their fellow man. The Lord reiterates that He is fully aware of the calamities which are to come upon the face of the earth, and that just because many prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, we should not be complacent and think they never will be. This, he says, is why he called his servant Joseph Smith and spake to him from heaven, and gave him these commandments: as a voice of warning.

Now, I'm simplifying and summarizing here, so I'm leaving out a lot of important stuff. What you might want to do is read this entire section yourself, and read it the way it was intended to be read: as a preface and introduction to the revelations, prophecies, and commandments in the sections that follow in the original Book of Commandments. I'd suggest you get yourself a facsimile of the original, because reading it in it's original format is key to understanding what the Lord was getting at in verse 38. In this introduction God is telling his people that all the prophecies foretold in the chapters that follow will come to pass. Why? Because He had spoken it, "and I excuse not myself."  Those who doubt the veracity of his word and fail to repent and prepare will be caught up short. He speaks not only of those calamities foretold in the Book of Commandments, but all that was written by the prophets anciently shall also be fulfilled.

In what we have now as verse 37, the Lord gives specific counsel:
"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled." 
Note the Lord is counseling us to search these commandments -the ones in the revelations in this book. No reference is made in this chapter to anything a Church father might one day say in the future. This is important in understanding the next verse:
"What I the Lord have spoken I have spoken, and I excuse not myself."  (He is God; he makes no apologies for the predictions he has made. We should note that God is speaking here in the past tense. What He has spoken He has spoken.  He is not saying anything about what some future leader of the Church might say in a conference talk in 2014.  He's referencing HIS words here, and his words only.)

"And though the heavens and the earth may pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled." (If God said it; you can count on it happening.)
 Now here comes that part where a lot of us get tripped up:
"Whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
This is where we should ask ourselves the question "what is the same?" What is it God is talking about here that is the same as His voice?

Well, it should be obvious to anyone reading the revelations as given. He is talking about His word as revealed in this book. His prophecies. His predictions. The calamities He assures us will certainly come to pass. And the servants he is referring to are those men to whom these particular revelations were given and recorded: Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, John, David, and Peter Whitmer, et al. How could anyone miss the clear reference in verse six to "my servants" being the ones instructed by Him to publish these words? These are the "voices of the servants" he speaks of again in the penultimate verse of that chapter: the men who wrote down these revelations, and whose "voices" in this book are to be considered as valid as God's own.

We get to ask ourselves, "is God referring here to anything even Joseph Smith might say or teach at some future time as being "the same" as if God said or taught it? How about Hyrum? Rigdon? Cowdery? David Whitmer? What about John Whitmer?  All these men are, after all,  the servants of God referred to in the revelations contained in the book. Does that mean their voices are to be thought of as the same as the voice of God whenever they open their mouths? Or is God here referring to just these particular revelations which he revealed through these servants at this time, and which are now being published in this book?

The answer should be obvious. God is making a specific claim regarding a specific set of revelations given at a specific time.  He is not giving carte blanc to any of these servants to speak for him any old time they feel like pontificating. Not even Joseph Smith presumed to have that privilege or ability. How could anyone possibly read this and assume it gives some kind of blanket authorization to random Church officeholders in the future?

If we think we can extrapolate out this idea that the voice of God is inherent in any official pronouncement of a future Church president, we need only consider some of the things Brigham Young taught from the pulpit before we're ready to run away from that notion.  Here is just one official pronouncement Brigham made that instantly comes to mind:
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind . . . Cain slew his brother.  Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.  This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).
Today we recoil from those words. We wholly reject them. The LDS Church, on its official website, has repudiated these beliefs as not having come from the mind of God.  Yet if we are to promote the prevalent teaching that "whether it be by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" we would be forced to concede that God himself must have said those words, and that Brigham Young was merely acting as God's vessel in repeating them.  After all, didn't Brigham also say that when his discourses "are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God "?  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264)

Yowza! Brigham Young claiming to know and convey the mind of God? We may have a problem here.

Well yes, you might say, but that was a long time ago. And well...er...um...that was Brigham Young, after all, so he doesn't really count, right?  We've had to learn to put up with owning Brigham; the best we can do is keep him in his room when company comes over. We love Brother Brigham the way we love Gary Busey; he is what he is.

Well then, how about a statement from a modern apostle? Here's Mark E. Petersen, who served the Church with distinction during half my lifetime. Elder Petersen presents a kinder, more gentle view than what we often heard from Brother Brigham:
"Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves." (Mark E. Petersen, “Race Problems as They Affect the Church,” Speech at BYU August 27, 1954).
Show of hands: how many of you reading this would be willing to attest that what Peterson said there "is the same" as though God himself had spoken it?

If we in the church continue to teach that whether something is spoken in God's voice, or the voice of His servants, it is the same, we are going to paint ourselves into a corner we won't be able to get out of.  Such a ridiculously transparent falsehood would cause God's word to be subservient to the words of a man or group of men not yet born.  Have we forgotten that even Joseph Smith (an actual prophet) warned the church to be aware that "a prophet is only a prophet when he is speaking as a prophet"?

Well then, what does a prophet sound like when he's speaking as a prophet?  Good question. When the people of Moses wondered how they would recognize a true prophet once Moses was gone, God gave them the answer through Moses:
"I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
That was Moses' voice, but those were God's words. That's the important distinction. Moses was speaking, but God put those words in his mouth.  It was God speaking through Moses, saying some very precise and specific words as though God himself had spoken them.  This is one of those cases when "whether it be by mine own voice, or the voice of my servant, it is the same" actually applies.

They Have To Be God's Words
When we read something as precise as "whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same," we should be able to tell God is talking about something quite separate from simple inspiration.

When I'm reading the first part of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the Lectures on Faith, I'm reading  inspired words,  just as most of the excerpts of his speeches and writings that have since been collected in the book Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith are inspired. These teachings may have been inspired of God, but they come to us in the "voice" of Joseph Smith.

On the other hand, when I'm reading the second part of the book, the "Covenants and Commandments of the Lord to His Servants," I'm reading revealed words.  The inspired words are things Joseph spoke or wrote down under inspiration from the spirit.  These revealed words may have been written down by Joseph Smith (and others), but they are in the voice of Jesus Christ, speaking in the First Person. In the first instance, it is Joseph speaking. In the second instance, it's the Lord. Only when speaking in the Lord's "voice" is it the same as the Lord himself having spoken it. Notice how he phrases it. He says "by (as in "through the medium of") the voice of my servants," not in the voice of my servants.

The Lord's hand is present in both sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, but only in the second part can we say we are actually hearing the voice of the Lord.  I have little doubt that much of what we hear in general conference comes by way of inspiration.  But almost none of it comes through revelation. How do I know that? Because if, say, Thomas Monson was delivering a revelation from the pulpit, he would make it clear to us all that, although it is his voice we are hearing, the words are coming from God. The rules of revelation require he identify the Savior as the author of any true revelation.

Am I saying that nothing the general authorities of the Church present to us in conference is of any  benefit to us? Do I make the claim that the general authorities in our day are incapable of delivering a message in God's voice?

Of course not.

What I'm saying is that those revelations God introduced in the Book of Commandments provide us a template for recognizing when someone's voice is to be considered the same as God's, and when it is not. Since "the word of God" consists of the words that God speaks, the person claiming to speak for God should inform us in no uncertain terms whose words it is we are hearing. Whenever the Lord has spoken to us through a latter-day revelation, he has made himself known. He introduces himself by using some variation of  "Thus saith the Lord."  Our Doctrine and Covenants is riddled with examples:

"Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God" (Section 51); "Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word" (Section 13);  "Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your redeemer, the Great I AM" (section 29); "Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, Even Alpha and Omega" (section 35), and so on.

Do you want to see an example of a "revelation" that did not come from the voice of God? Crack open your scriptures to D&C section 20. The introductory paragraph states that it is a "revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet," but those italicized introductions were written by a committee that compiled that edition of the scriptures in 1981. The committee was mistaken. Nowhere in there does Jesus Christ identify these words as coming from him.

We now know, thanks largely to the Joseph Smith Papers project, that section 20 is a hodgepodge thrown together by up to a half-dozen early Church leaders in a hurry to get it ready for publication. Joseph Smith the Prophet may have been among them, but the original document also shows "voices" in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whtimer, Sidney Rigdon, and possibly others. All of these men would have been considered the same "servants" God referred to in his preface to the Book of Commandments, but in this particular case the voices were the voices of God's servants only, and not "the same" voice as God's.

Does this mean that section 20 is invalid? Not necessarily. That section contains many of the patterns and theories for governing the operations of the church. But it's important we be clear that these were the patterns created by men (parts of it suggest a decided Campbellite influence), and not necessarily the pattern for government of a church laid out by God Himself. [1]

There are some in the church who feel it is not necessary for our modern Church leaders to preface their comments with "thus saith the Lord" in order for it to be taken as scripture.  To those people I would respond that if it's good enough for a heavenly being to follow that pattern, it should be good enough for men.
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[1] In his series, "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon," Daymon Smith demonstrates that not everything we assume to be distinctly "Mormon" was obtained through revelation from God. Quite a bit of our belief system was actually brought into the church by the earliest converts, who came from the early frontier Campbellite tradition. This is one reason it's important to distinguish between bona fide revelations and those we merely assume to be such.

Pulled Over By An Angel
Section 27 is a revelation I find quite intriquing.  Here is a revelation given in the voice of one of God's servants, and that servant is not the prophet Joseph Smith. It seems that one day Joseph had hitched his wagon and set out to buy some wine for the sacrament. On the way he was stopped by an angel, who warned him he was about to purchase the wine from his enemies, and that he might want to think twice about doing that.  What is interesting about this angel is that he didn't warn Joseph in his own words. Instead, he started right out by saying "Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful."

From there the angel dove right into the message he had been sent to deliver. He recited it word for word just as if it had come from the mouth of God Himself, and then he departed. That is what it means in D&C 1:38 when God said "Whether it be by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants it is the same."  The angel, one of God's servants, recited the precise message God had sent him to deliver, and in the exact words God would have used had He been there in person.

But there's more to this story. The angel's recitation wraps up pretty quickly. He delivers the message and gets out, closing out with (and again, these are the words of the Lord) "for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you, on the earth, and with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world."

That's the version we get in the Book of Commandments.  Short and sweet.  The entire revelation took up less than one small page in the Book of Commandments, and the Book of Commandments is so small it can fit in your pocket.

Now pull out your modern set of scriptures and see for yourself what happened to that revelation by the time it got reprinted in your D&C.  In the middle of verse 5, that angel seems to suddenly shift gears and say, "I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni..."

Wait...What?! How did Moroni get in there?  There was no mention of Moroni when the angel spoke those words the first time! Two years previous, the revelation was winding down to a close at that point, but when it's published later in the D&C, the angel appears to have gotten a second wind, blithely changes the lyrics, and proceeds to ramble on for another 13 lengthy paragraphs about things that have nothing to do with what he had been talking about originally. In this second version, more ancients show up to the wine tasting, including Elias, John the son of Zacharias, Elijah, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham; Michael/Adam; also Peter, James, and John. This was originally framed as God offering to raise a glass with his friend, but it's become a crowded Bacchanal. And the text shows effusive commentary on every one of these crashers to the party.

What in the world is going on here?

Oliver Cowdery. That's what's going on here. Oliver Cowdery got hold of the revelation prior to its second publication and is suddenly beset with uncontrollable logorrhea. Effusive embellishment was Oliver Cowdery's Modus Operandi; he just couldn't help himself. And so he free-styled it until he finally ran out of words, or out of paper, or the quill wore down.  (Daymon Smith describes Cowdery's proclivity for purple prose as "full of circumlocution and biblical cliche.")

Now, it should be pointed out that Oliver Cowdery had every right to dictate scripture -surely more right than anyone in the Church hierarchy today. As the Second Elder in the early church, he was next in rank to Joseph Smith himself, and yes, he did often receive bona fide revelations from God just the same as Joseph did. So if he felt inspired to throw in with his two cents, well, who's to say he shouldn't?  Nothing he wrote was doctrinally incorrect. Just curiously out of place.

But let's be honest. Nothing Oliver Cowdery added in section 27 could, by any stretch of the imagination, obtain the status of "by my voice or the voice of my servant."  That angel who appeared to Joseph Smith spoke in the voice of God. Oliver Cowdery did not.

This brings us back to those modern general authorities who insist they should be held in deference because the words they speak are equal to the words of God. Remember what Henry Eyring said of his brethren in the hierarchy?  "The Lord has said of them 'What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

But is Eyring correct? Is that what the Lord has said of them? Or did the Lord actually say those words about a different group of men, in a different time, regarding a specific set of revelations received directly through Him, and echoing His voice?  These men, the ones Henry Eyring is referring to, hadn't even been born when the Lord made that statement a hundred and eighty-odd years ago. Neither had their fathers, and neither had their grandfathers and most likely their great-great grandfathers. So I don't think that in the verse Eyring is quoting, God was talking about them. Maybe the Lord has, since then, said something similar regarding the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, but I have never seen a revelation saying so, have you? The Lord's words in D&C 1:38 can't be shoehorned into fitting the modern scenario Eyring intends.

What about Russell Ballard's claim? "When the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time."

I don't know how quick God is to take offense when people try to put words in his mouth he never said, but if it was me I'd be annoyed with that one.  In ancient times "taking the Lord's name in vain" meant representing God as saying something or taking a position on something which He never intended. Does Ballard even realize how arrogantly offensive his declaration is?  Vox Populi, Vox Dei is the exact opposite of how God operates. The word of God must actually come from God, not from a committee of men.

As author Rob Smith recently wrote,
"In order for words to have the power of God, they must proceed from the throne down, not from earth up.  Therefore, taken in conjunction with what God said elsewhere in the scriptures, the Lord can only be saying in D&C 1:38 "if someone speaks the word of God, it doesn't matter whether that someone is me or someone else; I will own those words because they came from me."

"Note that this is not the same as saying, "whatever a church officeholder says, I will consider that as if I had said it even though the words did not come from me."
"He explicitly says 'what I have spoken.'
"In fact, he says it twice. The 'whether by mine own voice' is not variable in the source of the word, but only variable in terms of which messenger (the Lord himself, an angel, or a man) delivered it. The word "servant" here does not indicate an office, but simply a role that can as easily be filled by a child,[2] a patriarch, or a heathen, as a saint. The only qualification for a true messenger is that the word they carry, as brief as it may be, originates from God. It is supremely important to heed God's word no matter who the messenger may be.
"The origination from God is critically important. Even Joseph, whose words God commanded us to receive as his own (an endorsement I am not aware of any man having received in this dispensation) had a limitation placed on his endorsement.  God explicitly limits his commission as a messenger to his word: 
'Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me.'  (D&C 21:4) Thus we call these people messengers, and not, say, authors. No man can dictate God's word independent of God giving it to him."  (Robert Smith, Commanded In All Things: Understanding the Power of the Word of God, 2014)
Did you get that? We are not commanded to heed Joseph Smith's words and commandments; we are to heed the words as Joseph received them from God.
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That's right. A servant can also mean a child. "And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned." (Alma 32:23)

Darkened In Our Minds
Carol McConkie, another speaker at last October's conference, also engaged in unwarranted fawning over the Brethren when she singled out President Monson, his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and said "in their words we hear the voice of the Lord and we feel the Savior’s love...The Lord Himself has spoken: 'Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.' "

Sister McConkie is confused. We're not supposed to "hear the voice of the Lord" in their words. If these men are receiving revelations, we should be hearing them delivering a message in the Lord's words. 

So why don't we? Why don't we hear revelations from the pulpit anymore? I believe in continuing revelation; we are a church founded on continuing revelation; the men in top positions in the church are continuously hinting that they are privy to revelation. So where are the revelations?

With all this talk about how fortunate we are to have a living prophet on the earth to tell us God's will, wouldn't you expect the prophet's conference talks to be totally awesome? We're constantly assured that listening to his voice is the same as listening to the voice of God, so witnessing an experience like that should be unforgettable, shouldn't it?

Can you even recall what President Monson talked about in conference just three years ago?

Well, I can. But only because I wrote a blog post about it at the time. Otherwise, it would have slipped into the memory hole just as so many of his other talks have. I remember this one because in the piece I wrote I imagined what it might be like if suddenly the whole world took us at our word and tuned in to conference to see and hear the word of God as revealed to his prophet on the earth.

After watching that session, I'm fairly certain that, had the the rest of the world tuned in that day to listen to our prophet, they would not have been persuaded they were listening to a message from God.  I could be wrong. Decide for yourself.

Thirty years ago the president of the Church at that time hinted at the reason God is no longer communicating to His church through its leaders. President Benson told us the whole church was under condemnation, and would remain under condemnation until we repented as a people. But nobody really wanted to hear that, and once Benson was dead, the subject never came up in conference again. President Benson's prophetic warning has been replaced by a penumbra of thought that feels vaguely like "all is well in Zion -or it will be once we all learn to follow the Brethren."
 
Prior to his death, Joseph Smith warned the people on two occasions that they were depending too much on him, and hence were becoming "darkened in their minds."  Now mind you, this is the one guy we Mormons believe had regular conversations with God, and even he was telling the people to back off because the more they looked to him for guidance, the stupider they got.

Have you ever wondered what it means to be darkened in your mind? I've observed it first hand. It means your priorities are so confused that you can't see truth when it's staring you in the face.  I had an online discussion with a woman not long ago who typified this phenomenon.  It was a rather lengthy chat, so I'll distill it here to its essence:

Her: It is absolutely vital that we follow the counsel of our prophet and apostles.
Me: Why?
Her: Because they can teach us God's will for us.
Me: The scriptures also teach God's will for us. What are the leaders teaching lately that is more valuable than what I can find in the scriptures?
Her: They teach us that it is vital that we follow the living prophet.

That was pretty much the gist of the conversation, though we kept going round and round, and I never could get her to give me an example of something the leaders are teaching that is so profound and revealing that I can't find it anywhere else. Her entire argument could be summarized as "we need to follow the prophets and apostles because they teach us the importance of following the prophets and apostles."

And you know, I had a hard time arguing with her, because whenever I tune in to a conference session that is exactly what the speakers seem to be saying.

Do you want to ruin your family's thanksgiving this Thursday? Try this with a relative and see if you don't get the same result.

Truth Number 17
I sincerely wish the men at the top of the Church hierarchy were still receiving revelation for the church. When God again deigns to pour out his word through them, I'll be first in line to give heed.

Meanwhile, we do ourselves a disservice if we allow our wishful thinking to inform reality. This does not mean we should abandon the church. It also doesn't mean God has ceased to operate in our individual lives. It only means we should recognize our need to repent so that God will once again accept us as His people.

In his remarkable book, 77 Truths, author Bret Corbridge has this to say:
"Several decades have passed since doctrinal revelation was received by leadership and
disseminated as scripture to the church. The reality that the Church is not providing additional prophecy and scripture is self evident. Contrary to popular belief, reviewing teachings offered by previous prophets in general conference is not "new revelation." ...During this time of "silence" members are required to turn to the Lord and His Holy Spirit for additional revelation.

"Those who love the gospel hope the day will come when God will again provide additional revelation through the leaders of His church. Until that time, the wheat of the church are to seek learning, "even by study and also by faith." (D&C 9:7-8)
Here's an idea. What if someone compiled a book of recent conference talks which would include all the examples they believe represent the best in the category of "whether it be by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same"? Then we could compare that book with the examples we know God endorsed in the Book of Commandments and see how well those modern talks compare to the ones from 1833.

I wouldn't attempt to guess whether a book like that could fill very many pages. But I can suggest a preface to it, and it's one the Lord has already written and has ready to go:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." -Amos 8:11
                                                                     *****








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134 comments:

France said...

Hi Rock,

Thanks for the post. I agree with the major thrust of what you're saying - that what current leaders tell us does not have the same weight as something directly from God's mouth.

As a matter of history, though, I believe you're giving too much credit to the D&C as being directly from the mouth of the Lord. You know, of course, that many of these revelations were later edited not only by Joseph, but by others who were not the Prophet. If they had come directly from the Lord's mouth, there would have been no need to subsequently edit them. A much more tenable position is that the D&C represents the Lord's revelations to Joseph, but written in Joseph's own words.

More broadly, your post touches on how far we can generalize the scriptures. Are they meant for the very specific context in which they were given? Are they meant to be generalized to all subsequent generations? Therein lies an eternal interpretive puzzle.

I would also suggest that for many people - even prophets - distinguishing between inspiration, revelation, and personal emotion is one heck of a challenge. I believe in a history that includes prophets who thought they were hearing God's voice, but were actually mistaken. This obviously opens a whole new can of worms for those of us trying to heed their words.

Nate said...

France

Thank you your comment in many ways mirrored my thoughts while reading.
Oliver cowdery was not the only one guilty of embellishing and changing, joseph smith did it many times! The book of commandments was a conglomeration of revelations given to different people who are all dead now.
The current doctrine and covenants looks nothing like it but frankly, who cares? The doctrine and covenants was a bunch of revelations given to a bunch of people who lived almost 200 years ago.
Sure some of it is true, and can enlighten me as much as any other inspired book, but when anyone likes to think of it as official dogma or guiding scripture they have no idea the trap they are walking into that the devil has laid out nicely before us.
The Book of Mormon was written for us all. We are promised if we accept the truth of the Book of Mormon, (not any other damn book on the earth), than we will receive the greater things contained IN THE SEALED PORTION. That is it, that is all, no exceptions.
Now I receive revelation all the time reading many many different books, but that does not make the book scripture or all true. Same goes for the Book of Mormon, and we can know with a surety that unless the sealed portion is revealed, the world has not been given any of the "greater things" promised. Joseph smith said the doctrine and covenants was the most important book of the day. That was a damn lie!
David whitmer prophecied that if joseph and oliver published the book of commandments to the world, that their printing press would be destroyed and the saints would be driven from Jackson county. Guess what, his prophecy was proven true by God. We were not even supposed to have the book of commandments and it has hurt the people of the church to have so many philosophies of men lumped together with the Book of Mormon and satan has laughed the last two centuries as no one has figured it out. I hope we are getting close though.

Rob said...

Rock,
I believe this is the most important post you've ever written---and I thought that before I got to where you quoted me. I appreciate the plug. By the way, that book is available for free download here, so people need not buy it to read it (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6t-rQr3iLAsa3NiU3RZN0JfYmM/view?usp=sharing)

Nate said...

Her entire argument could be summarized as "we need to follow the prophets and apostles because they teach us the importance of following the prophets and apostles."

Priceless! Still lmao. That really is the only argument that could be given, unless only having one piercing in the ear and no more is a principle of God that will change everything.

Frederickson said...

This is the clearest discussion I have yet seen of the crucial distinction we must draw between bequeathing (as if we could) a carte blanche divine imprimatur on future pronouncements by general authorities of the church and the word and mind of the Lord.

It is difficult to think of any verse of modern scripture that has been so distorted and contorted as D&C 1:37-38. This MUST stop.

In saying this, I do not intend to diminish in any way the uplift that many of us sense during some of the talks we hear at General Conference and elsewhere. Clearly, the Lord is inspiring many to the degree that we allow Him to do so.

karl waterman said...

Rock: You keep writing such great articles and I may just have to come back unto Christ.

Jared Mata said...

Maybe I'm being out of topic, but I really need a counsel; suppose you're the son of the Branch President and as such you are expected to support him. You then are called to teach in Church meetings; but you know that the manuals often contain wrong interpretations, false doctrine and man-made traditions. What do you do? Your heart of son tells you you should teach those things, but your heart of believer tells you to not do it. In this situation I'm in. Any comments?

Log said...

Ask of God instead of men what you should do.

After all, if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach, and ye receive the Spirit by the prayer of faith.

Second Jeff said...

Hey Rock

So how does Benson's "prophetic" statement re condemnation of the Church reach that status if he didn't deliver it in the words of God?

If it's not a revelation, then maybe things aren't as bad as you think they are in Zion?

Anonymous said...

I probably won't choose to ruin thanksgiving, but it will be on my mind nonetheless.
Rebecca C

BK said...

Rock,

I admire your valiant & well educated effort to try to make sense of the phrase "Whether by mine own voice or... it is the same" but I consider it false doctrine, and thus impossible to make sense out of it.

For I do not believe God ever wants us to trust anyone but him to speak for him, except Christ. Christ is the only person God ever sent to speak for him. Prophets just repeat what Christ said and point us to search & follow Christ's words, not theirs.

There has never been a man or prophet who was so perfect we could trust him to speak for God. True prophets especially know how fallible they are and would never presume to be so perfect as to tell anyone to believe a word they say as true. They would teach what Christ taught, to test & prove all things they do & say, before believing it to be right or true.

For true prophets understand how easy even they can be and often are deceived by false revelation, they only 'thought' came from God.

That statement "Whether by my voice... or my servants... is the same" proves blatantly false just by reading it, for surely God knows that all mortal men, every mortal man, including all who claim to be prophets, especially men like Joseph Smith, Hyrum, Oliver, Sidney, David, etc, were all very fallible, untrustworthy & often deceived men who often did & taught very incorrect and even evil things.

It's an incredible thing to believe that God would expect us to believe that Joseph, Hyrum, Oliver, Sydney, etc. couldn't have been wrong in what they thought God revealed to them, or that they couldn't have been deceived by false revelation from the Adversary or their own mind, we even have proof that they were often deceived about things.

So how would we know when they were speaking for God and when they were deceived and thus teaching false doctrine? God would never ask or want us to put such blind faith in mortal men.

I believe it's preposterous to think these men were so near perfect as to consider their words the same as Gods, even if they claimed them to be. Does anyone know of any man today who is so perfect that they are never deceived by falsehoods from men or Spirits? Why would we think those men to be better then any today?

So the last thing God would ever say is to give any mortal man's words the same weight as God's (Christs).

Christ was the only person anyone could ever trust as being a spokesman for God. Every other man or women who ever lived cannot claim enough righteousness to be a spokesman for God, but at best can only teach things in harmony with Christ's words. They only prove themselves false if they try to add or take away from the things Christ said.

BK said...

Part 2-

The only words from God that we have are the words of Christ, found in the New Testament. All other scripture in the New & Old Testament or in any other book written by so-called prophets in any religion (including the BoM & D&C) are not the words of God but the words of men, that must be compared closely to the words of Christ to see if any part is true or not.

All books of scripture ever written (except the words of Christ in the Gospels) are filled with only the words of fallible & untrustworthy men & prophets, who claim to speak for God, but who usually didn't even prove they followed God, let alone could speak for him.

What God would really say & what Christ did say, is to not trust the words of any man who claims to be a 'servant of God'. But prove such men & women 1st, watch what they do not just what they say. Watch if they really keep all the commandments of Christ and if they have Christlike love or not. Then test all their words before believing them, compare them to the words of Christ. If they are in harmony then they may be true followers of Christ, but if they are contrary or are more or less then Christ words then consider them false prophets.

And even if they prove they are true prophets, they would only repeat the words of Christ, they would never ask anyone to follow or obey them, they would direct everyone to Christ and teach to only follow Christ's words not theirs.

True prophets would never start a church or ask for people's money, let alone expect anyone to support them so they don't have to work. They would tell people to give all their excess money to the fatherless around them.

And true prophets would never build a temple (not til there were no more poor among them at least, which has never happened) or ask you to join their church and give time to their causes.

They would instead teach you to spend your excess time in visiting the sick & the afflicted, the sinners in prison, the fatherless and find out what they need so you can do all you can to relieve their sufferings.

True prophets don't start churches or claim authority to teach or baptize, they just repeat the words of Christ and tell you to go to God directly for all the revelation you may need.

True prophets above all, tell us to not take their word for it but only Christ's.

BK said...

Part 3 -

I believe it's vital to realize that just because Joseph or Monson or anyone past or present might claim to be speaking for God & even say 'Thus saith the Lord', doesn't mean they are or that God is speaking through them. In fact if someone is saying that they almost always are a false prophet, for true prophet repeat or point to the words of Christ, not tell us to believe in them or their words.

False prophets are notorious for claiming they are 'in no uncertain terms' speaking the words of God.

It's impossible to tell 'just by claims or by hearing 'Thus saith the Lord' that anyone is really speaking for God or not. For any false person can claim that and often do.

All around us today and throughout history & even all through the Bible we find false & fallen prophets who claim to be speaking for God, but who are clearly not keeping his commandments and thus can't be trusted or taken seriously to be in tune with God.

And "Moses' voice but God's words"? I don't think so. Moses still didn't show how one would know the difference. Again, we can't just take Moses' word for it. Moses' answer to the people on how to tell a true prophet just left them & us just as confused as ever, on how to tell a true prophet from a false one. For how does one tell if Moses or anyone is speaking the words of God? Just because he said he was? That again makes no sense and can easily be said by false prophets too.

Joseph Smith at least got it closer when he said true prophets won't teach anything 'contrary' to the scriptures, especially Christ. But even Joseph taught things contrary to Christ and the scriptures, so he didn't even catch his own falsehoods, but at least he gave us something more concrete to judge by then Moses' idea of 'just take my word for it' that I'm speaking for God.

Correction, 'Joseph', not God, was making that specific claim about that set of revelations in D&C. We only have Joseph's word & belief that it was God who told him those revelations, and he could have been very wrong & deceived, as I believe he was.

I believe the only wise thing to do is test & prove any & all revelations out (by comparing them with Christ's words) before accepting that God approves of them, and never believe anyone, especially if they say they speak for God, for only Christ spoke for God.

And I don't believe the heavens ever closed & thus never needed to be re-opened. God never stopped giving people revelation, visions or his Spirit IF they were worthy of them.

There have most surely even been prophets in every age and country since the time of Christ til today, though they have probably been so rare as to be practically unheard of by the masses and probably kept a low profile.

I don't believe there was any complete apostasy, or total loss of Priesthood, or absence of true prophets, or loss of the doctrines of Christ, or loss of the Church of Christ, in the last 2000 years.

It was just that so few people have ever studied or kept Christ's commandments and thus few ever were in tune enough to receive true revelation & true visions.

Though most everyone has received plenty of false revelation & false visions assuming them to be true, like people like Joseph Smith & other religious leaders past & present.

Russell said...

BK,
You said: "I believe it's preposterous to think these men were so near perfect as to consider their words the same as Gods, even if they claimed them to be. Does anyone know of any man today who is so perfect that they are never deceived by falsehoods from men or Spirits? Why would we think those men to be better then any today?"

"Christ was the only person anyone could ever trust as being a spokesman for God."

I respect what you are saying. Mankind is notorious for advancing himself in the eyes of his peers. There is almost nobody who is truly trustworthy in all things. However, it makes me think of Helaman 10:4.

The Prophet Nephi was told by the Lord, "I have beheld how thou hast with unwearingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people."

The Lord was speaking to the people through Nephi. So, it seems to me that the point isn't necessarily to distrust all men. But, rather, for men to rise up and become prophets in their own right (as per Moses' wish). To become dependable like unto Nephi and receive the sealing power.

Then what comes next is to afford everybody else the opportunity to discern whether or not people are truly speaking for the Lord.

When Nephi returned to preach unto the people, it is easy to imagine that he may have had some "Thus saith the Lord" moments.

The Lord trusted Nephi to say nothing but what He (the Lord) wanted said. The goal, as I understand it, is for us to do the same. It's all about learning how to truly discern the Lord's word, from whatever source it is communicated to us.

Russell

France said...

There seem to be 3 strains of annoyance with the "follow the prophet" mantra on this blog:

1. "Follow the prophet? What prophet? We never get any revelation!" This implies that the real problem is the lack of revelation. (But even then, you will note that the prophet usually tells us to follow Christ).

2. "Follow the prophet? No way! I'm not following any man. I'm only going to follow Christ." Plenty of people say this - it sounds great - yet then go ahead and follow things Joseph or a biblical prophet said.

3. "Follow the prophet? No way! I'm not going to follow any man, unless it was Joseph or a biblical prophet. Even then, though, I'm going to focus on Christ." These are the people here who reject BY and onward, but often think Joseph walked on water and was clean-as-a-whistle (history be damned!).

I find "follow the prophet" talk so absolutely annoying. Yet, when I actually listen to what the prophet says, he says to follow Christ, which is what I would have done if I were in the "follow Christ, not the prophet" crowd. So I'm not sure there's a huge difference at the end of the day. Honestly, I think the "follow the prophet" is mostly a marketing ploy to separate us from other religions.

Robin Hood said...

Very good post Rock. I am in agreement with much of what you said.
I would like to point something out that occurred to me a few years ago. D&C 136 is the very last "thus saith the Lord" revelation recorded. It was given through Brigham Young - the only one he ever gave. Much of it deals with the specifics of moving west etc but then goes on to deal with other matters such as the need for the US to repent speedily and so on. But what I find so interesting about this section are the last two verses. Remember, these are the very last "thus saith the Lord" words recorded in modern times.

D&C 136
v41. Now, therefore, hearken, O ye people of my church; and ye elders listen together; YOU HAVE RECEIVED MY KINGDOM.
v42. Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. SO NO MORE AT PRESENT. Amen and Amen.

It strikes me that there is real meaning in these verses. To me he is saying "Everyone listen to me. The kingdom is now yours to roll forth. Make sure you keep all of the revealed commandments (Note: that is surely what the GA's endeavor to encourage us to do these days at general conference)and be content with that because there isn't going to be any more for a while" The double "Amen" seems to have a finality about it.

Something else of interest to me here is that the phrase "listen together" appears in only one other place in the D&C, and that is the Preface (D&C1).
Just some thoughts from across the pond.

BK said...

Russell,

I appreciate your response. And I agree with you that we all need to become prophets for ourselves, if we are ever going to keep from being deceived by false prophets. For it takes one to know one.

I also agree it's our responsibility to be able to discern all truth from error from whatever source. For even the BoM teaches many true & wonderful ideas, along with many falsehoods that seem to outweigh the good unfortunately.

But I was asking if anyone knew of any 'real' person today that is so near perfect they would think their words are as good as God's.

I consider Nephi to be a fictional character from the mind of Joseph Smith or others or sources that I believe helped him write the BoM. There are far too many errors, vital missing truths & things contrary to Christ in the BoM for me to believe it came from true prophets, let alone God.

But even if Nephi had really lived, he killed Laban unnecessarily, that means he did not follow Christ's commandment to not kill. It wasn't even in self-defense. I do not believe a Christlike person, or true prophet would ever do such a thing or that God would ever ask it in those circumstances.

And the reason Nephi gave for doing it was bogus too, for if Nephi (or Joseph) had been a true prophet, he (they) would have known that they didn't need the plates of Laban to keep their people from 'dwindling in unbelief'. For Prophets can receive all the same commandments & teachings again directly from God through revelation that would have been in those plates. If Nephi had been a prophet he could have instructed his people sufficiently in Christ's teachings so they wouldn't go astray.

So Nephi or Joseph clearly did not understand how true revelation works, thus a clear red flag for them & even Moroni & Mormon for even including such an idea in the BoM.

Also, Nephi included his father's dream of the Tree of Life, which just so happens to be the same dream that Joseph's Father had and that he retold to Joseph over & over while he was growing up. Interesting that Joseph or any other LDS leader never mentioned that huge fact that Joseph Sr. had the same dream the Lehi did. I think there's a reason they didn't mention it, cause they knew Joseph just used that dream to say Lehi had it. I think all the leaders of the LDS Church from Joseph to today know it's all made up.

Dean said...

Jeff,

President Benson's statement regarding the condemnation of the church comes from D&C 84:54-57, which was given in the voice of the Lord. Benson wasn't declaring the church's condemnation, but reiterating the Lord's own words.

Dean

Benjamin Shaffer said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Voice of the Lord is heard in the voice of his servants all the time, be those servants human, animal, angelic etc. With a little discernment we can receive great insight and even revelation from our interactions with this world. I often receive insight from sources that are wrong, fallible and even evil. I simply gain those insights and revelation through contrast rather than from emulation. I remember gaining insight into the nature and power of emotion from an encounter I had with an angry rabid dog. This "voice" was the voice of the Lord to me, and I have learned a great deal from this experience. This voice was the snarling of a rabid Dog, and yet it was the voice of the Lord to me. Does that mean that I respect or revere the messenger? NO! I understand that the messenger is just a dangerous animal and should be put down! Likewise the General Authorities have taught me lessons Good and bad, and these lessons are the voice of the Lord by means of the Holy Spirit. Some of these men I admire, some I detest, but both have at times been servants of the Lord to bring me insight. So I think these verses are trying to show us a deeper truth: that wherever and however the word of the Lord comes to us we must learn to recognize that voice and heed it. This is only possible with the discernment of the spirit. So I feel like this scripture "Whether by my voice or the voice of my servants it is the same." is admonishing us to study all things with discernment. As such even if the resurrected prophet Joseph Smith (Or Moses, Isaiah, or even Jesus Christ) walked right up to you and said "Thus saith the Lord unto you..." it would still be your imperative duty to listen to those words with the discerning lens of the spirit, or you will fail to receive the actual "Voice of the Lord" into your soul, and also that if a dog, apostate, murderer, or even the devil himself tells you something that if you have discernment you can hear the "voice of the Lord" spoken even by him, and benefit from it. So the key is to get the spirit and keep it, or you will never hear the word of the Lord for yourself, and if you have the spirit as your constant companion that you will be able to hear the word of the Lord even if he doesn't speak to you directly all the time, because the entire world will become the catalyst for your spiritual edification as the world itself speaks the word of the Lord to you as his servant. I hope that makes sense. With discernment I'm sure it will...

James Lloyd said...

BK -- please don't use Rock's comment forum as a place to pontificate your theories. Write your own blog. We are tired of you taking up all the room. Thanks for the great post Rock.

Vaughn Hughes said...

Fantastic post, Rock. So, not only is there a lack of revealing, seeing, prophesying, and translating, but there is a whole lotta talk recycling going on. Seems like someone in the bloggernacle posts after every general conference some thoughts about who recycled what.

More to the point: recently the Church held simultaneous stake conferences in every stake in the state of Oregon. The first 20 minutes or so were local matters then a broadcast from SLC with a seventy, a sister, Elder Anderson, and then President Thomas Ess Monson. Because I had to leave the completely darkened chapel in order to take care of my toddler daughter in the foyer, I left my phone recording the audio for me to listen to later. (the foyer is a tough place to hear with toddlers) As I listened at home later, the though popped into my head "Google that phrase of President Monson's". I did. Up popped his 1971 talk on the "Lost Battalions", both the video and the text. (courtesy of LDS.org) I listened along as he read his own talk word for word from 1971. (skipping a paragraph every once in a while, including his previous focus on the handicapped and on the life of Christ) Then, halfway through he suddenly switched topics, it sounding a little more familiar this time. I googled again. This time it was his 2001 "To the Rescue" talk. Again, word for word. I was really amazed. I contemplated posting the links to the two talks on Facebook so friends and families who couldn't make it to stake conference could catch up on the urgent prophetic message for our moment. My wife persuaded me to wait for now. But how interesting that even without revelation & prophecy, there was really no new message to share. Just read your old Ensigns! (that, with wars, rumors of wars, plagues, intrigues, signs in the heavens & earth, etc. all around us)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Wow, Robin Hood has found something I wrote we can both agree on! Mirabile Dictu!

Thanks for your insights on section 136, my friend. The things you point out about that scripture had entirely escaped my notice before now.

Your input is always insightful.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

France and Nate,
Some of the changes made in the revelations from the Book of Commandments to the D&C are indeed problematic, but I chose not to focus on those particular issues. (Isn't that post long enough as it is? Any longer and Oliver Cowdery would have nothing on me.)

I agree fully that the Book of Mormon trumps either of those books; and there is no question that not all of those revelations were meant for us today; nor can they all be said to be applicable. If we try to make them fit in every instance we are only asking for trouble.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Rob Smith,
Thanks for providing the link to your book and offering it for free. Readers may be interested in knowing that although they can obtain epubs for free, you are selling the hardcopies at cost. I think I bought the book I quoted you from for as little as five dollars. It would have been a bargain at four times that. Let me rephrase that. Your chapter on section 1:38 ALONE would have been worth the price at FIVE times as much.

Without your clear explanations I would not have been able to write this post, and I thank you sincerely for your excellent work.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jared Mata,
I can't improve on the advice Log gave you for how to teach a lesson you don't fully agree with.

But what I would do is take the general topic and go off-manual. Teach the subject as you know the truth to be. If the manual teaches falsehoods such as that members should follow the prophet, why not ask the class where and when the Lord Himself ever offered that instruction. Use the socratic method: ask questions, so the class is forced to think for themselves rather than parrot what the manual wants them to think.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Second Jeff,
There are two reasons I referred to Benson's statements as "prophetic."

First, he was quoting an actual prophecy given to Joseph Smith by the Lord informing the Saints that the church was under condemnation.

Second, His words proved to be prophetic in the sense that some thirty years later the church is indeed in decline. The fact that he was right doesn't infer he was speaking through revelation; he clearly was not. But I believe he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to teach those things he taught.

Years later, many of the things he taught have been proven to be prophetic. Does that mean he had the same identical gift of prophecy Joseph Smith did? No. Neither did Brigham Young, but there were times when even Brigham said things that were 'prophetic', so I give the man his due.

Ahuizotl said...

Well done Rock. By far your BEST work. You were able to concisely boil it down to a head.

About section 27. I’ve looked for where the rest of that revelation came from. I’ve even spoken with my friend who works over at the Joseph Smith Papers about it and she didn’t seem to have a clue since it wasn’t in the original revelation book. Only the first 5 verses as you pointed out.

Robin Hood,

Section 136 is a false section written by the inspiration of man and not God. The Kingdom of God had long been lost on the earth by the time the Saints left Nauvoo.

France and Nate,

For a complete understanding on the differences between The Book of Commandments to the Church of Christ and The Book of Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, you’ll want to read this post…

http://onewhoiswatching.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/crushing-david-whitmers-stumbling-block/

In it One Who is Watching (known as Watcher) tells why and how the changes were inspired of God.

And Rock, I have to disagree with you on one of your comments. The Book of Mormon does NOT trump the Doctrine and Covenants. That book (D&C) is inspired beyond measure and written specifically for our day to us now. More so than that Book of Mormon is/was.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Vaughan,
Very interesting. We're all aware that conference speakers quote each other all the time, but you've shown us that the "prophet" has now been reduced to quoting himself!

Nothing these guys do surprises me anymore, but I'm surprised by this.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ahuizotl,
I guess I should have said the Book of Mormon is more important to me than the doctrine & Covenants. I'm not sure it's fair to say one book trumps another.

The Doctrine & Covenants contains revelations from God, so of course large parts of it are beneficial. The same with the Book of Mormon, and even when the Book of Mormon prophets are speaking, they invariably make mention that they are delivering the words God gave them to speak.

(For a list of the prophets making note of that and where, I refer the readers again to the chapter I quoted from in Rob Smith's book "Commanded in All Things".

I appreciate your link to the Watcher's piece explaining the changes in the D&C. That man is a trove of knowledge. I look forward to reading it.

Toni Bate said...

Thanks, Rock. I like to read your posts because I usually learn something.

And thanks for posting the flier to the spring gathering.

Anonymous said...

Very good post.

Regarding what Jared Mata said: be very careful if you deviate from from the manual.
I was Primary President. At that time the wife of the First Councillor of the Bishopric's wife did not like me, and I know why. But, I did some deviation, even though I was still teaching true principles! I was released after only seven months. The Bishop never bothered asking me what I was doing, what I was teaching and why. The Bishop was believing the wife of his First Councillor and her little minions. I will never again accept any position that I may be called to do. I know that is a sorry attitude but I am not going through that humiliation again and the lies that were told about me.
Mormons are the worst when it comes to gossip, self righteousness, self importance and self worthiness. At least in my ward.
The Stake Primary came in to observe and they had no problem with what I was doing. I even asked them if my deviation was alright, and was told that as long as I was teaching correct gospel principles, which I was, there was no problem.
I taught more of Christ than anything else. Go figure.

EeeGee

Ahuizotl said...

Rock,

One more thing about this post that glares me direct in the face is that Wilford Woodruff said when swapping out polygamy for "follow the prophet" he used "I say to Israel" instead of "Thus saith the Lord."

spektator said...

Rock,
I had a good friend who, a number of years ago, was excommunicated for apostasy. When questioned about who had made the decision, the topical verse was quoted in an effort to give legitimacy to the pronouncement by the stake president.
I take a little different perspective on the meaning of the verse in question. I believe that "whether it is by my own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same" is tied to the description of the words of Christ found in 2 Nephi, chapter 32:
"2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
If one is truly under the direction of the Holy Ghost, they can speak the words of Christ; the angels speak the words of Christ and we can also.
It is true apostasy when men try to use the scripture that you discussed in this post to put their words into the mouth of Christ. That is not how it operates.
I would also suggest it is important to see how personal revelation as described in the Book of Mormon as the word of God. An example is the dream of Lehi in first Nephi, chapter two where Lehi had a dream in which the Lord commanded Lehi to take his family into the wilderness and "...he was obedient unto the word of the Lord." I believe that dreams, visions and revelation to us personally can be the 'word of God.' In the same chapter, this personal revelation is contrasted against the revelation given to holy men as characterized in verse 13, "Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city would be destroyed according to the words of the prophets."
The word of God here is given to a person directly, The words of the prophets are received vicariously through those who are commanded to speak. There is a big difference in my opinion.
I see the church's use of this scripture no different than that demonstrated by the Holy Roman Church where the pope had the ability to give indulgences to those who paid for them. Again, putting words in the mouth of God is what is meant by this scripture.



JB said...

Hi Rock,

I consistently enjoy your blog and for the most part really agree with the messages you are sharing.

A question I have is: do you feel that the lack of continuing revelation in the Church (for example, the lack of it in General Conference) is primarily due to the unbelief/condemnation/not living to their fullest potential of the general Church membership? Meaning specifically, it is not the fault or lacking of the current apostles/prophets that is the cause of this lack or further light and knowledge, but rather the lack of the general membership to fully live the light they have, which prevents further revelation? It seems that in many cases in scripture the prophets had "the spirit stop their utterance"/etc, due to the unbelief of the children of men. I'm curious your thoughts on this, if the blockade to further revelation is primarily the general membership, and not the Church leaders.

Thanks

Veracity said...

I had a bishop who tried to counsel me not to believe in the doctrine of the church on the subject of tithing. He wanted me to believe in the opinions of men including his own opinion. He added the phrase, "whether is by my mine own mouth or by the mouth of my servants, it is the same.", then he wanted me to do what he told me to do. Wouldn't it be nice if they would follow the doctrine? It would be nice if bishops did not think of themselves so highly.

--Veracity

BK said...

Veracity,

I would say to such a Bishop or anyone who used that line, that 1st they have to 'prove' they even are 'the Lord's servant', before they can even use that verse.

Christ explained how to prove if people are his true servants/disciples or not, by if they have Christlike love & keep all his commandments.

I have never known of any Bishop, leader or member of the Church who can pass that test. I can't even pass it.

So they can't claim to be 'servants of the Lord' & expect anyone who believes in Christ to believe them.

Claiming such doesn't mean they are a true 'Servant of the Lord', even if that scripture was true.

MrHFMetz said...

Dear br Waterman, let me put my opinion among the other comments.
This D&C 1: 38 is a very interesting part of the scripture: . . mine own voice or by the voice of mine servants, it is the same.
The Brethren in SLC to be these “servants” or not to be, that is the question. In my opinion they are not, because some evidence suggests that these brethren no longer hold the keys of the priesthood. And that is required, I think, in this passage. Allow me to not go into this evidence any further; only compare the doctrines, the church, the kingdom of God, as these were introduced by the prophet Joseph Smith, and what we see today, and draw your own conclusion.
Yet something else; again Brigham Young is mentioned in this connection, of course, and as usual he is under attack. You mormons don't seem to like the man.
You write: “Brigham Young claiming to know the mind of God? We may have a problem.”
I think you have.
I am not really charmed by all his utterances, but we should keep in mind that the Lord has kept him in office as the president of His church as well as the president of the high priesthood, for more than 30 years.
In the Journal of Discourses we can read the following passage: “The voice of the Lord came from on high, and spake to the Council (= the twelve). Every latent feeling was aroused, and every heart melted. What did it say unto us? 'Let my servant Brigham (here it is: servant) step forth and receive the full power of the presiding priesthood in my church and kingdom'.” (JD 8; 234)
Another interesting quote from BY: “I do not care who leads this church, even it were Ann Lee; but one thing I must know, and that is what God says about it. I have the keys and the means of obtaining the mind of God on the subject...”(HC 7: 230)
(quotes from The keys of the priesthood illustrated, by L. and S. Bishop, 1971, still one copy available on Amazon-a must read)

Rob said...

Thanks, Rock. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. Even the least worthy of us get a little revelation now and then (like Caiaphas did in John). I'm happy that someone found the Lord's voice in the book. I guess that's not too hard when most of the book is scriptures.

Dale B said...

Jared Mata

My two cents: I teach primary to 11 year olds. I typically read the manual to know what scriptures the lesson is to cover. I do this so that, when team teaching, I won't stomp over next week's lesson. Then I teach the boys from my understanding of the scriptures. Since the boys are at an age where they can read, I have them do a lot of the reading while I try to provide context and meaning. I've been doing this for years and have never had any trouble, even when my ideas are far from mainstream. I try to teach the message of the scriptures themselves rather than any of the canned crap.

Such a great article and good comments! Rock, you are truly inspiring!

Dale B said...

JB

I'm afraid that if we are willing to put aside our biases, that the Lord is not too happy with either the Church or the leadership. There are several places in Isaiah and Ezekiel and I think, Jeremiah which, in speaking of the last days, talk of how displeased the Lord is with his shepherds. He expected them to feed his sheep and they have not. We tend, in the Church to think he's talking about everyone but us, if he's saying something bad, but that he's talking about us when it comes to the good things. Both are about us, but first he will chasten us.

Members and leaders are put on notice that they will be punished for their shallowness and unwillingness to reach out and succor the poor and less fortunate. The scriptures teach that the destruction in the Latter Days starts with us: "on My house shall it begin, and from My house it shall roll forth". I don't think the Lord is going to punish us unless we have reason to repent, and I don't think he's talking about our home teaching stats.

In almost every passage in this connection, he talks about how we treat the poor and about how arrogant we are. I think we all need to repent. None more than I.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JB,
I was just about to respond to your question, when I see that Dale has crystallized my own thoughts perfectly.

Who is guilty, us for being lazy, or the Brethren for misleading us? The answer is both.

Had our ancestors taken Joseph's counsel to stop depending so much on the prophet, we wouldn't fall for the false teaching today that our safety lies in following the leaders.

And the Leaders would know better than to preach that claptrap.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Spektator, thanks, as always, for your insight.

For those wishing a complete analysis of how "apostasy" is being misapplied today, as well as a history of its true meaning, The Spektator has provided an essential overview here in "The Latterday Apostasy - A Scriptural Perspective":

http://justandtrue.com/?p=554

JB said...

"Had our ancestors taken Joseph's counsel to stop depending so much on the prophet, we wouldn't fall for the false teaching today that our safety lies in following the leaders.

And the Leaders would know better than to preach that claptrap."

Thanks, this one gave me a chuckle =)

JB said...

Though one thought I might add is that (perhaps) interestingly for me it's a somewhat odd dichotomy - the blogs on Pure Mormonism definitely resonate with me, and I've felt that the Church has for a long time been stuck in "spiritual kindergarten", so to speak, with the continual rehashing of basics, watering down of doctrine at times, etc (especially contrasted w/what Joseph Smith taught). Yet at the same time, when I watch General Conference, while I may not get a whole lot out of it for the above reasons, nonetheless I still feel the Spirit confirm it's God's Church, and with certain leaders (especially Elder Eyring) a get a strong spiritual sense that he is very connected with the Savior.

So for myself it's a bit of an odd duality of having a testimony the Church is led by God, and that at least several of the leaders are humble and exemplify Christ, and at the same time we have the "spiritual kindergarten", lack of new revelation, cultural teaching/flaws like excessive "follow the prophet" rather than "come to know the Savior yourself", etc.

I read Max Skousen's book series "Looking Beyond The Mark" (it's on Sribd) and it was great, it largely illustrated these themes that we look "beyond the mark" of the Savior in our religion, largely because we don't have faith to approach the Savior directly ourselves (Snuffer taught this also).

But what was interesting was that despite knowing this, and the shortcomings of the church, Skousen said that he received a revelation showing him that concerning the church "everything was on track and as it should be". I found this very interesting, he could see the flaws and shortcomings, yet apparantly understood the reasons for these shortcomings.

I have thought much about this, I'm not sure, but it's possible that if people are taught prematurely to bypass the need for a prophet (who really is a "middle man" between man and God), and instead seek their own revelations/calling and election made sure, it may be too much for them, and due to their spiritual blindness they fail. We can see this ourselves - many of us gained a testimony of the Savior first through a "middle man" of the scriptures, or Joseph Smith, etc, rather than us seeing the Savior directly at first without any use of any prophets (scriptures or living). And it's possible that if one progresses enough spiritually the need for formal religion/commandments/etc may disappear entirely, if one is sufficiently close to God and Jesus.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is I can see the shortcomings of the Church and the incessant plea to "follow the prophet", but I'm not sure if for some individuals at their level of progression the "safety crutch" of a prophet is in fact still a valid necessity.

BK said...

JB,

If we could have perfect 'middle men', then maybe it would be a good idea. But what middle man has not taught & done things that lead people astray?

Christ was the only perfect & safe person to listen to. His words are clear & easy enough for even children to understand.

It's when we don't want to do what he teaches that we pretend to not understand his words & desire 'middle men' who will teach an easier Gospel.

Patty said...

JB,

As a Gospel Doctrine teaching working through the Old Testament this year I've been impressed as never before that during those times apostasy started from the top down whether in prophets or kings. The Book of Mormon story of King Noah and his hand-picked yes men priestcrafters would fit this pattern as well. The entire chapter 23 of Jeremiah is the Lord's indictment against false prophets--they were accused of adultery, stealing from the poor, idolatry and colluding with the corrupt political leaders. When I brought this up in class several folks seemed to go into denial mode as they connected the dots to the possibility that our leaders today really are mortal men subject like the rest of us to poor judgement, pride and arrogance, not to mention out and out rebellion against the word of God.

None of this excuses us from receiving light and knowledge directly from the spirit ourselves. Given the power of example, persuasion and position exercised by our leaders, however, their influence cannot be overlooked.

Log said...

There is a reason the Church is the way it is, and without a commission from God, one is very well advised to leave the Church alone, both for one's own sake, and for the sake of the membership.

I wrote something on it here.

JB said...

"If we could have perfect 'middle men', then maybe it would be a good idea. But what middle man has not taught & done things that lead people astray?

Christ was the only perfect & safe person to listen to. His words are clear & easy enough for even children to understand."

I certainly agree that Christ is the only perfect and safe person to follow, no doubt there! However, I still believe that prophets (i.e. Nephi, Joseph Smith, John the Baptist, etc) were called by God to teach the people. In the truest sense a role of a prophet is to "point man unto Christ". Buddhism has a saying, in which the spiritual teacher is the "finger pointing at the moon". Yet too often the spiritual student will mistake the finger for the moon (hence prophet worship, excessive emphasis on follow the brethren, etc).

Despite all this, I do feel that prophets have a valid role, IF they point people solely unto Christ, and if the people rather use the testimonies of prophets as a "stepping stool" to their own relationship with Christ. I believe in the earlier stages of spiritual growth prophets are more important (also commandments and guidelines). In later stages reliance becomes more upon the Holy Ghost for direction, then in later stages one comes to know the Savior personally, and eventually know God. So it seems to be to be a spiritual progression of sorts, with prophets needed in the beginning, but less necessary as one progresses.

BK said...

JB,

I agree that if all prophets did was warn people to repent & point them to Christ and teach his same commandments then that would be helpful.

But Nephi & Joseph Smith taught things contrary to Christ (give $ to church leaders not poor, murder, test truth by praying rather then comparing with Christ's teachings, etc.)

Those things may seem minor but taking care of the poor was one of Christ's main concerns for religion and it's not happening in the LDS Church except just a little to look good. Churches, temples, malls & paid ministry come before the suffering of the fatherless. That is totally contrary to what Christ taught and causes people to come under condemnation not matter how much they may pray or go to Church.

And the idea from the BoM & Joseph that we should 'pray' for confirmation of truth is one of the biggest falsehoods of all. Christ said to judge by fruits & facts, not feelings & warm fuzzies.

The fall back answer is always "I prayed and know 'so & so' is a prophet or that this is the true Church." Instead of "I know he's'/it's true because he/it follows Christ's commandments & had Christlike love".

False prophets preach mostly true & wonderful things, but just put in a few falsehoods that totally lead people astray. It doesn't take much. That's why even a little falsehood can lead people totally off course.

True prophets would probably not even claim to be prophets and never ask people to follow them, cause they know they could be wrong too, but they would just humbly hand people Christ's words to study & follow on their own.

JB said...

BK,

Good points you made, definitely agree with the need to help the poor, and that this is probably the primary way any surplus of money beyond meeting our basic needs should be used. Agree also that Christ very much emphasized this.

One point I would differ a bit on is how one comes to ultimately know the truth - I would say in my experience it is definitely through the witness of the Holy Ghost (which often came after prayer as well). For example, when Christ was ministering on the earth, how did his apostles/followers know He was the Son of God? It was through the spiritual witness they received. They had no previous facts to compare Christ to, He was a wanderer that "came out of left field", and it took incredible faith for them to trust in the spiritual witnesses they received and follow Him.

I would say ultimately it is the same for us. For example, at times I will read writings by Buddhist teachers and others, and the spirit of truth will also confirm their veracity to me (even though they make no mention of Christ, as they are not Christian). So in my experience the Spirit ultimately is the barometer of truth, it is certainly how I gained a testimony of the Savior (through repentance and overwhelming spiritual confirmation of the reality of Christ's atonement).

I would agree with you also that true prophets would mostly just point to Christ, unless in the rare circumstance they received a bonafide revelation/prophecy from God and explain it to the people exactly as such.

Matt said...

Wow. The sifting of the church has really begun. I'm amazed. I can't believe so many of you support the false doctrine that this blogger posts. I'm not writing this to attack anyone personally. But I will defend my Saviors church, as it is my responsibility. Those who support these articles better not have temple recommends or raise their arms to sustain the brethren. If so, consider what backbiting and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed really means. I'm sorry for seeming so harsh, but this really needs to stop.

First off, if you don't believe that President Monson is the prophet of the Lord today, then you believe he's quite the opposite. That he's a liar and manipulator. If you believe that he speaks his own mind and not the Lord's then you have to believe that he's selfish, greedy and all about the money and power. If so, I can recommend 90 thousand other christian churches that you can sift through.

But if you do believe that he's a prophet, then by golly you'd better believe that his councilors and the twelve are also called of God. If President Monson is, then so are they.

Again, if you don't believe that they have the priesthood, (which they wouldn't if they were liars and manipulators), then you can't believe that you or anyone else in the church is authorized to have it. Because all priesthood ordinations are authorized under their direction. If they are false, then we all have false authority, and we can say goodbye to the restoration and hello to another great apostasy.

But you and I both know deep down what the truth is. Each of you (hopefully) once had an experience earlier in our lives where the Holy Ghost whispered to our hearts that this is Christ's church. Just because we have questions and concerns, doesn't mean we should doubt the truths that we've already felt. But we must always remember that we can know if the personal revelation we receive is correct when it matches up with living prophets, and the scriptures.

When I served a mission I went with guns blazing! Until I came upon some literature such as this that made me question. But I remembered something my dad taught me. First, that Joseph Smith taught that when we speak against the brethren it's the first sign of apostasy. I made sure to follow that teaching. Second, instead of doubting my faith, I doubted my doubts and sought with real intent to know for myself that the things I was being taught to teach were true. It took me about 5 months to receive the answers that I was seeking. But may I say, that when the answers came, I KNEW without a doubt, that I was a missionary for Jesus Christ, and that I was called by His prophet to teach and testify. I know that what we are taught over the pulpits today are true.

Matt said...

Today's test is to see whether we will follow President Monson. Hasn't that always been the test in every era of the world? To follow the prophet that the Lord gives to the people of a particular time? Let's not be as the children of Israel and miss out on important blessings that the Lord has available to us. Yes the church may still be under condemnation, but that doesn't mean that we individually will be. Why was the church under condemnation in the first place? Because they treated lightly the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. When we read those with zeal and a desire to become what they teach, then we personally will become Zion people. We will be filled with charity, which is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil (of anyone). Who are we to judge whether the Prophet and leaders are under condemnation? I don't know about you, but I think I have enough work to do with myself. But I know, that they are righteous men, called for us in our day of many challenges.

Also, Joseph Smith taught that the Lord would never allow the records of the church to fall into apostate hands. Where are the records? Yep, in this church. He also said that this church would fill North and South America, and would fill the world. This church has fit that description and is continuing to do so. I am using more of a intellectual standpoint right now, but how can these be true if the leaders of today are mislead and false? A good tree doesn't bring forth evil fruit. This church began good and is still good. We are imperfect, but the ordinances and priesthood is still intact, led by men who are under the direction and authority of Christ. I know this to be true.

If you have doubts, do this one thing that will always yield results. Study, ponder, fast and pray. Don't quit until you receive a definite and sure answer. Pray daily. If you already have received a sure witness of the Book of Mormon, I would recommend asking for a testimony that President Monson is called of God as our prophet today. And DEFINITELY don't seek out literature like this that only diminishes your faith. But REMEMBER THIS, when the Holy Ghost speaks, it's undeniable and impossible to doubt, BUT He can only speak to someone who is humble and contrite. Someone with an open and honest heart.

I know that President Monson is a prophet of God. I personally have seen and witnessed miracles from the priesthood. I know it is real, and I know it is under the direction of our prophet on earth, who follows our Savior. I know that Jesus Christ leads this church.

For those who have sincere questions and concerns, you can email me at mjaxforev@gmail.com and I will be happy to respond to anything you want to discuss.

JB said...



"when the Holy Ghost speaks, it's undeniable and impossible to doubt, BUT He can only speak to someone who is humble and contrite. Someone with an open and honest heart"

This is a good point Mike, thanks for sharing, I also believe the Spirit is the key to knowing truth, and that faith and humility very much are the keys to receiving a witness of the truth by the Spirit.

For different people at different phases of their spiritual journey the Spirit can teach them different things though, for example for myself, while I continue to attend Church regularly/read BOM/etc, (surprisingly) Buddhist/Taoist teachings have been of great help to me the past few years. I'm not saying the Church isn't true, I believe that it is, but rather I'm saying the Spirit can lead people down different paths of truth at different times depending on where they're at in their journey, who they are individually, etc. It's a more personal, complex, and varied process than I once thought it was. What on a surface level can appear to someone to be a lack of faith, or going down the wrong path, can in fact at times be a valid part of one's spiritual journey. One must know the intent of another's heart to verify this, which is why it is generally very difficult to pass judgement accurately.

BK said...

JB,

I used to believe and feel as you do. And I agree the Holy Ghost can & does teach us truth, but I just believe no human being is righteous enough, at least none that I have ever known or heard of, to always know which Spirit is giving them information or feelings.

Everyone I have ever known, including myself, seems to be deceived by alot of false revelation or feelings that were not really from the Holy Spirit.

Even some of the greatest people who ever lived fell for false revelation, thinking the Holy Spirit was telling or confirming things to them, when it was just the Adversary or their own mind. Like Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, David, probably Moses, etc., and Joseph Smith, etc.

How can anyone say they are more righteous and in tune then some of those men were at one time?

We may think the Holy Ghost is relaying truth to us, or giving us a good feeling, and we may be right, but to be sure I believe must test & prove the information coming to us before believing it, by comparing it to what Christ taught.

For again, people in every religion are just as sure as you or me that the Holy Spirit taught or confirmed to them 'opposite things' then what we think the HS told us, and that their church or leader or belief is true. And we know God is not a God of confusion. It is pride to think we can't be deceived and are right, while others are just deceived.

If we are humble we will see & acknowledge how easy it is for us & everyone to be deceived by what they 'thought' was the Holy Spirit.

We come to know Christ was the Son of God not by revelation, but mostly by proving his doctrines and words to be true by living them.

No one can prove things by the Spirit for they are never completely sure it came from the right Spirit. We prove things by facts, common sense & love. And if we are honest at heart we will see clearly what is right and what is wrong, according to the Golden Rule, not warm fuzzies.

Matt said...

BK,

I definitely would recommend reading Matthew 16 again. Peter received knowledge of Jesus Christ being the son of God by revelation. Interesting thoughts tho.

From my personal experience, when the Holy Ghost speaks, I have no doubts. Joseph Smith taught that we can know the Holy Ghost from other spirits because He will take away hate and malice from our hearts and replace it with Christ-like feelings. He's the only one who can testify to our hearts and create feelings of absolute certainty, peace, and love. No other spirits can copy that. (Galatians 5:22-23, D&C 50:14-15) Common sense works wonderfully, but I've found many people have different "common sense". I personally first gained a testimony through logic and reason, but realized that was not sufficient because it doesn't sustain through difficult trials. A Spiritual witness is much more powerful and gives us the strength to follow with full purpose of heart.

And Jb, I didn't mean to sound judgmental, I just noticed from past posts, and on other blog posts, that there seems to be a lot of negative talk about the brethren.

Nate said...

Matt

Thank you for your zealous defense of your leaders and church. To let you know about me, I am no longer a member of the LDS church. I was very active and temple worthy but I began to do exactly what you suggested (by the way I have to disagree that it "always yields results"). There must be faith and the will of The Lord to yield results. I have prayed and the Holy Ghost has told me plainly that thomas a monson is not a seer or revelator. I have been told many many things that are wrong with the LDS church by the power of the Holy Ghost. This was no mere feeling or emotion. This was the burning of the Holy Ghost my friend. The same power that has witnessed to me of my Savior Jesus Christ.
Yes the sifting has begun. I used to think that being in the LDS church was the right side of the fence because I felt the Spirit every week in church and in the temple etc etc. I was converted to Christ as a member of the LDS church. Now I can say with the utmost assurance that the LDS church is not anything close to what the leaders claim it is. None of them have seen Jesus Christ and none can be called His apostles at this time.
If you feel it is a test to see whether you will place your trust in a man (thomas a monson) or in the Spirit of God you are spot on. I have chosen to always obey God over men.

Log said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

JB

Good for you my friend. The Tao Te Ching is just as much scripture as the doctrine and covenants and perhaps has a better truth/falsehood ratio. Taoism is really in touch with the feminine side of things. Very cool I would recommend studying it to anyone.
Buddhism has a ton of truth too but I believe quite a bit has been corrupted over time. The Spirit once told me that the bodhi tree represented Christ teaching Sidhartha. Sidhartha taught the golden rule as well as anyone and taught basically the same moral code that Jesus taught. Even the idea of grace is not foreign to Buddhism but again I think a lot has been lost. Oh and an interesting tidbit is the gold plates of Buddhism that found buried not too long ago. More evidence for the use of metal plates anciently I record sacred writings. Pretty cool stuff

JB said...

BK,

"If we are humble we will see & acknowledge how easy it is for us & everyone to be deceived by what they 'thought' was the Holy Spirit.

We come to know Christ was the Son of God not by revelation, but mostly by proving his doctrines and words to be true by living them."

I would definitely agree it is VERY easy to be deceived by what we think is the Holy Spirit, there is ample evidence to this fact (in my own life too). So, having another set of "proofs", such as facts/etc like you mentioned, I do think is very important.

Still, I wouldn't "throw the baby out with the bath water" and completely write off the importance of the Spirit bearing testimony (whether it be my visions/dreams, burning spirit of fire, or inspiration in the mind). These still are valid forms of revelation, but it almost takes a person completely giving up their own will (and thus their own emotions/thoughts become much more quiet and still) so that it becomes easier to tell when it's the Spirit or just ourselves. But yes the Spirit is a very general guide (at least as far as burning in bosom and inspiration to mind is concerned), it is almost like "looking through a glass darkly", it does not have the absolute clarity that eternal visions/dreams/visitations do (these forms of higher/more specific revelation are a lot more powerful and direct from God).

JB said...

Nate,

"Buddhism has a ton of truth too but I believe quite a bit has been corrupted over time. The Spirit once told me that the bodhi tree represented Christ teaching Sidhartha. Oh and an interesting tidbit is the gold plates of Buddhism that found buried not too long ago. More evidence for the use of metal plates anciently I record sacred writings."

Agreed! Yes, interesting that all religions started out pure with the founder (Christ/Buddha/etc), but over time became more corrupt. Certainly evident in Buddhism as well, that's why I like to read the words of the founders/original people (Buddha/Christ/etc) the most.

A fellow named Osho Rajneesh (I like to read his writings as well) once said that "it's beautiful to be a Christ or a Buddha, but ugly to be a Christian or Buddhist", or something to that effect. He was explaining that to have a direct/personal/close connection to God/experience is beautiful (ie Christ/Buddha), but to merely follow doctrine/dogma (Christianity/Buddhism) will cause one to lose the point.

Interesting about gold plates for Buddhism being found! Do you have a link/etc where I could read about this? I hadn't heard about it before.

Nate said...

No link but they are called the Korean diamond cutter sutra gold plates. I think they were from the Mahayana persuasion of Buddhism.

I agree with everything you said. Reminds me of Ghandi saying that Christ was wonderful and the ideal but "you Christians, you are not like him". I find the more God blesses me with grace that I don't deserve, the more I find beauty in all religions.
Saying that we MUST be careful to only trust what the spirit confirms. There are so many falsehoods mixed in with everything and the adversary would always like is to trust more than the truth when it comes to anything written.
You should check out the Kalki and Maitreya prophecies if you haven't yet. It is cool to see prophecies from all the different religions and how they all will match up in the end.
Ha ha ok sorry Rock my goal is not to steer people away from Mormonism. I do have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I just also have a testimony of a lot of other things that would cause most "mormons" to label me as a heretic.

I. Willet deVale said...

Methinks Matt is darkened in his mind.

This is why I can testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet: when I see evidence of his prophecies coming true in the vigorous "testimonies" of people like Matt. Joseph warned the people that they were depending too much on the prophet, and hence were darkened in their minds. So here comes Matt, with a lengthy declaration giving evidence of how that darkening is manifest in some members today. It bothers Matt that some of us here believe we should heed those words of Joseph's, and not let our minds be darkened by depending too much on the arm of flesh. Matt, though, is bothered that we are not depending ENOUGH on the modern prophet. And so his mind is darkened.

Evidence of his dark confusion is everywhere in his response, beginning with his belief that it is of paramount importance that allegiance to the leaders of the Church is of utmost importance, or we cannot be good latter day saints. I can find no instruction anywhere in the word of God to confirm that belief, yet it is firmly held by Matt, as if a testimony of the Brethren is as important as our testimony of Christ. A darkened mind feverishly at work.

Matt may feel it his responsibility to defend the Church, but I find nothing in the scriptures that would give the rest of us charge to come to the defense of the institution. But I do find plenty of scriptures warning the opposite.

Oh well. That's his testimony, and he is entitled to it. Some of us would prefer to testify of Christ and His gospel, others bear testimony of their dependence on the arm of flesh. To each his own.

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Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
You accuse me of disseminating false doctrine in the post above, but in your lengthy comment I did not see you mention what specific false doctrine(s) it is you are referring to. If there is something in that post that is not doctrinal, I would hope you would point it out to me so I can correct it.

I would note first that your understanding of "doctrine" appears to differ somewhat from my own, so I would first refer you to the words of apostle B.H. Roberts:

"The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to THE THINGS THAT GOD HAS REVEALED, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”

And here are the words of President Harold B. Lee on the subject:

“It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works."

I appreciate that you may have an opinion that differs from mine, but if you feel I am actually teaching contrary to established doctrine, I would ask that your examples be consistent with what we know to be doctrinal. If there is something in my post above that is contrary to the revealed word of God, I will immediately correct it. I do not wish to be teaching falsehoods.

You also imply in your comment above that somewhere in this post I engaged in evil speaking of the Lord's anointed. If so, I would appreciate your pointing out where I am guilty of that sin.

"Evil speaking" means to tell lies about another with the intent to defame his character. I consider evil speaking of anyone to be a serious sin, Lord's anointed or not, so if you would kindly point out where you feel I have engaged in such calumny on this blog I would appreciate the opportunity to correct it.

I'm also interested in more information on something you say your father told you, "that Joseph Smith taught that when we speak against the brethren it's the first sign of apostasy."

I would certainly like to see where Joseph Smith spoke those words. I don't wish to impugn anyone's father, but are you certain you heard him correctly?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
There is an instance where Joseph Smith warned the leaders not to get so full of themselves that they thought they could lord it over the members, but that was a far cry from what you quote your father as saying. Please note when reading the quote below that when Joseph Smith referenced "the church" he always used that term the way the Lord defined it in D&C 10:67. "The church" meant the church MEMBERS as a whole, or the body of people.

On July 2, 1839 Joseph had gathered the 12 and a few seventies as they were about to depart on missions, and gave these newly called leaders this stern warning:

"That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the church [i.e. "the members"]saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy, and if he does not repent, he will apostatize, as God lives."

The prophet knew what he was talking about, as fully half of the original twelve apostles had recently apostatized, and the ones he was giving the warning to had been called to replace those who felt their positions qualified them as better than others. The prophet's speech goes on for 9 pages in the TPJS, and is largely concerned with warning THESE MEN to be humble and not get full of themselves. Had the prophet intended to warn the members to watch their step and not piss of the Brethren, he would have told them as much at a meeting where the church would have been present.

Matt said...

I don’t want to make this an argument so let me explain what I was getting at in my earlier post. The false doctrines, if you will, are these. First, you explain how we need to read the scriptures in context, I get that, but private interpretation is just that, it’s private. If you want the true meaning of what was meant by the Lord, you need living prophets and apostles to be the ones to interpret the scriptures for the church (2 Peter 1:19-21). But Rock, if you feel that what they were teaching in conference is wrong, then you must also feel that they are not men speaking as mouthpieces of the Lord.

I can list more things that you’ve said in this post and other past posts, but before I do let me ask you a question. Do you believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God? Do you believe that he’s also a seer and a revelator? Do you believe the Apostles are also seers and revelators? That’s the question. Because if you don’t, then I don’t want to slam your opinions. I enjoy learning the different views of other people. But based on your writing above, it seems that this is more than just an opinion, but is a belief, which doesn’t support the called leaders of the church. And that’s fine. That is why I brought up the temple and priesthood and everything in my response earlier. If you believe these things, it’s obvious you support things which are not in line with the brethren. Because your post above states that when they are saying that they speak as mouthpieces for God, it’s false, and that only applied to those living in Joseph’s time.

Do you understand what I’m trying to get at? If you feel the twelve speak inaccurately then you don’t believe their words, just as you said about Elder Ballard.

I don’t want to play “who knows the most scriptures” game to compare opinions. That is exactly how the apostasy began. No Apostles + misinterpretation = Apostasy. If you’ve been to the south and tried teaching the gospel there, you will understand why it’s so crucial to have living prophets, not just dead ones. Teaching becomes a merry go round of “well I think the spirit is teaching me this and you’re wrong”.

As for Willet, read D&C 20. Especially verse 59.

Matt said...

Joseph Smith taught the importance of sustaining our Church leaders: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, . . . that man is in the high road to apostasy.”

Heber C. Kimball, while serving as a counselor to President Brigham Young, reported: “I will give you a key which Brother Joseph Smith used to give in Nauvoo. He said that the very step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of this church and kingdom, and that whenever you discerned that spirit you might know that it would lead the possessor of it on the road to apostasy.”6

Wilford Woodruff, while serving in the Quorum of the Twelve, said:“Brother Joseph used to counsel us in this wise: ‘The moment you permit yourselves to lay aside any duty that God calls you to perform, to gratify your own desires; the moment you permit yourselves to become careless, you lay a foundation for apostasy. Be careful; understand you are called to a work, and when God requires you to do that work do it.’ Another thing he said: ‘In all your trials, tribulations and sickness, in all your sufferings, even unto death, be careful you don’t betray God, be careful you don’t betray the priesthood, be careful you don’t apostatize.’”7

Wilford Woodruff also said: “I remember Brother Joseph Smith visited myself, Brother [John] Taylor, Brother Brigham Young and several other missionaries, when we were about to take our mission to England. We were sick and afflicted, many of us. At the same time we felt to go. The Prophet blessed us, as also our wives and families. … He taught us some very important principles, some of which I here name. Brother Taylor, myself, George A. Smith, John E. Page and others had been called to fill the place of those [apostles] who had fallen away. Brother Joseph laid before us the cause of those men turning away from the commandments of God. He hoped we would learn wisdom by what we saw with the eye and heard with the ear, and that we would be able to discern the spirits of other men without being compelled to learn by sad experience.

“He then remarked that any man, any elder in this Church and kingdom, who pursued a course whereby he would ignore or, in other words, refuse to obey any known law or commandment or duty—whenever a man did this, neglected any duty God required at his hand in attending meetings, filling missions, or obeying counsel, he laid a foundation to lead him to apostasy and this was the reason those men had fallen. They had misused the priesthood sealed upon their heads. They had neglected to magnify their calling as apostles, as elders. They had used that priesthood to attempt to build themselves up and to perform some other work besides the building up of the kingdom of God.”8

I fail to see how this only applies to the apostles of God. Sounds to me like a teaching each one of us needs. If I were to think this only applies to apostles, then I must also think that the teachings of the Savior to His apostles, in all of scripture, applies only to them. Makes no sense.

I agree and believe that yes an apostle can fall away if he so chooses, but what I do know is that God won’t allow His church to fall into apostasy again, especially the living prophet. He would die before he reached the pulpit. Members may leave, leaders may leave, and I feel that will happen in the future, but we’ve been given a living prophet and scriptures that we can use to guide us safely home. I personally have had experiences with a member of the 70 that I did not agree with and felt was uninspired. But I moved ahead and followed what I felt was right, knowing that no matter what mistakes leaders made, I was in the right place, with a living prophet who actually has seen and talked with God.

Matt said...

In Joseph Smith's time, if you wanted to come to know Christ, you had to come to know Joseph as well. If you didn't believe him, then you didn't believe in the living Christ. Does that not make sense? Joseph was the first one in our time who truly knew the character of God completely and accurately. So what about today?

There actually is a lot of revelation coming from the mouth of President Monson and his Apostles, but they have been speaking in parables lately. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. They testify of what Joseph Smith testifies of. Many of them, if not all, have actually seen the Savior. And let me also ask, if you don't believe that they are who they say they are, where will you go? Do you have another church or restoration you are looking for? I'm not being sarcastic, this is a serious question. The only other options would be the RLDS or FLDS and we both know how they've been holding up. I would sincerely ask that you really consider what I'm trying to say. I know that my writing may not come through very clearly, but will you honestly look at what I'm trying to say and really consider if what I'm saying is true.

Matt said...

Oh and here's the link to the above quotes:

https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-27?lang=eng

Tammy said...

Matt, I'm just a bystander reader but I was curious about your communication with Rock about the apostles and prophet having seen Christ. Would you direct me to where you know that from? I myself haven't ever heard any of them proclaim that. And I would think that would be important to Christ to have witnesses of him testify f him. Thank you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
I have invited you to correct me, as you are convinced I am doctrinally in error, Yet instead of being responsive to my invitation, you write, "I don’t want to play 'who knows the most scriptures' game to compare opinions."

Neither do I. For one thing, I don't know all that many scriptures, so pretty much anybody can beat me at that game. What I want from you is for you to simply tell me where it is I have erred, and how you support your conclusions? Once I understand, I can then go back into the post and correct my errors.

I am sincere about this. This has always been an open invitation to everyone who reads my blog at all time. I do not wish to be guilty of teaching falsehoods or contradicting the Lord, so I welcome constructive criticism. I am not a scriptorian, so I depend on those who are to set me right when I veer away from true doctrine.

But I don't feel it's enough for you to accuse me of misinterpreting scripture if you are not willing to show me what specific scripture you feel I have misinterpreted. At least you should be able to provide me with an idea of what your interpretation is, and how you arrived at it.

There are very few scriptures cited in my post, so it shouldn't be asking too much for an explanation as to how you would have interpreted what I cited differently. I am willing to be corrected, but I don't think you are doing a very good job of furnishing me with the information I need to make those corrections.

You have, however brought up additional arguments. I will attempt a response to some of them, but after this, can we stay on point? The accusation is that I am doctrinally in error. You need not PROVE your point, but it would help if you would at least provide evidence to support your argument that is derived from the word of God, and not the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Fair enough? In the meantime I'll try and venture a response to the points you made in your recent comments, even though they are taking us further from the original problem I would like to see resolved.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
your questions about whether I believe Thomas Monson is a prophet presupposes that "prophet" is merely an office or title, and not a calling with attendant gifts. I believe prophecy is a gift, not a mere title.

Suppose twice every year you introduced me to an audience as a world famous juggler. Each time I came onstage, I told some interesting stories and provide moral lessons, but never got around to tossing any balls in the air. Would it be fair for the audience to eventually conclude that I might not be an actual juggler, but instead someone who just had "juggler" attached to his name on the marquee?

Because Joseph Smith was both the president of the church AND he repeatedly demonstrated the gifts of prophecy, somehow we have been conditioned to believe that everyone holding the title of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator actually IS a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, even though generation after generation has passed while NONE of those men ever personally claimed the ability. Heber Grant went so far as to say he didn't even WANT to see the Lord in this lifetime, and he was not aware of any man since Joseph Smith who had.

It comes down to fruits. By their fruits ye shall know them. A seer should demonstrate the fruit of translation. A prophet should prophesy. A revelator should reveal the word of God directly. A Prophet, Seer, and Revelator should be able to do all three.

In this dispensation there has been only one man who had all three gifts. Yet we hand out the title to everyone who steps into the shoes of president of the corporation. Why? Anyone but us Mormons can see these are hollow claims.
How can they see that? They tune into conference and get nothing that would convince them otherwise.

Okay then. Can we at least sustain the president of the church as having the KEYS of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator? I believe so. I believe it's possible any or all of the presidents since Joseph Smith may have held those keys. But until they actually exercise those keys, we can't really KNOW if they are Prophets, Seers, And Revelators, because those are gifts that must be demonstrated in order to be worthy of the name.

So to recap: There are titles of office, then there are gifts. I can go around with the title of "Juggler," but until I actually juggle, I'm not really a juggler, am I? I might secretly know how to juggle, but what I am is just some guy who is CALLED a juggler but has not yet exhibited the fruits expected of a juggler.

I respect your sincerity. If I understand you properly, you believe Thomas Monson is a prophet, a seer, and a revelator right now, and his been ever since he took office. May I ask you to provide me with just one or two scriptural citations that will help me to understand why you hold that belief so strongly?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
I'm aware of course of the quotations you provide, and though your quotes from Wilford Woodruff support my position that no one in the church is in a position to Lord it over any other, the quote from Heber Kimball did not accurately convey the words Joseph Smith preached. It's like a game of Chinese Telephone, where in this case Joseph said one thing, and Heber passed it along as if it meant something else. You have provided those quotes side by side; one need only compare them and see if Heber is accurately quoting Joseph Smith, or if he spun it in the retelling.

I think Woodruff summarized and even expounded on the prophet's words quite well, but then you wrongly assume I think that being faithful to one's duty and not attempting to build oneself up is something that applies only to apostles. I made no such claim.

I said Joseph was addressing the apostles when he warned them that the misuse of the offices they now held had been the very downfall of those they were now replacing. Yet you seem to still be of the opinion that Joseph was warning the Saints to not talk trash about the those at the top.

Pride of place was not much of an issue with the rank and file Saints in that day, but it was a big problem for some in leadership who found fault with others and felt those of lesser rank were "out of the way, while he himself [was] righteous. (See the recently published book "Lost Apostles" for the history of what happened to the original Twelve.)

The reason we see that quotation misapplied so often today, as you just did, is that in modern times we have become accustomed, when speaking of "the Church" that it means the structural institution, or the leaders. But when Joseph Smith spoke of the church, he was speaking of ALL the members, not just those at the top as is common today. We cannot therefore quote Joseph Smith as if he were addressing the rank and file and warning them about what will put them on the high road to apostasy, when that was not who he was referencing. It was rarely those members on the low end of the totem pole who apostatized; it was almost ALWAYS those in high office who, as D&C 121 put it, had a little authority, as they supposed, and began to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Who is it who exercises unrighteous dominion in the church? Is it Molly Mormon sitting in the pew? Or is it more likely to be those, as the apostle Mark put it, "who sit in the chief seats of the synogogue?

Who is more susceptible to pride? Put another way, who was Joseph Smith issuing his famous warning to? We know it was a small group of newly called leaders, because on page 155 of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that is what we are told.

Minerals Liberia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt,
You pose this question to me regarding the current prophet and apostles: "if you don't believe that they are who they say they are, where will you go? Do you have another church or restoration you are looking for?"

Why should I go anywhere? This is the church of Jesus Christ. Or were you of the opinion that it was the church of Thomas Monson and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

I am not an employee of the church who is dependent upon remaining in the good graces of the board of executives in order for me to be saved by Christ Jesus. Those guys have nothing to do with my qualification for membership. Jesus says "all who repent and come unto me, the same is my church." So I'm in, regardless of what those in the hierarchy do -or fail to do- with their sacred trust.

I'm a member of Christ's church, on equal footing with every other member. There would be no reason for me to leave the church of Jesus Christ, even if every member of the hierarchy were to apostatize and leave themselves. Nothing they say or do is relevant to my salvation, nor am I dependent upon them for my relationship to Jesus Christ.

So why do you ask me where would I go? Unless you yourself believe that membership in Christ's church requires us first to kiss the ring of the pope.

This is not their church. It carries the name it carries for a reason. It is the church of Jesus Christ AND it's the church of the latter-day Saints.

Where else would I go? What a weird question.

Log said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Log said...

Rock,

Did my comment offend?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Log,
I'm glad you brought that up. The dubious nature of that supposed quote by Joseph Smith was first brought to my attention by Adrian Larsen, and the evidence he provided for doubting its veracity (which you summarize) is compelling.

I think some time in the future I'll address this controversy from all angles. I had considered bringing up the dubious provenance of the quote in this discussion with Matt, but did not feel that explanation would have satisfied our friend. So even if we assume for argument's sake that Joseph Smith actually did make that statement, it's clear from his use of the word 'church' that he did not mean what he is often assumed to have meant.

That fact, along with our knowledge of the audience he was addressing, the other portions of the speech that have been preserved, and the recent circumstances under which that speech was given, all combine to strongly suggest that he would NOT have been warning the members not to criticize the leaders.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh man, Log, I accidentally deleted your comment!

As you can see from my comment above, I was responding to and thanking you for it. And then I went and hit a wrong button.

Any chance you can recreate what you wrote a moment ago? It's a bit awkward, seeing as I've just responded to it, but do what you can, will you?

Log said...

Let me see if I can recall.

When bandying Joseph about, it might be profitable to consider the question of whether he said what has been attributed to him.

This quote, for example: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, . . . that man is in the high road to apostasy," does not have a provenance that can be traced back to Joseph Smith, as the man who recorded it was apparently on a foreign mission at the time and therefore apparently could not possibly be a firsthand witness to the statement.

Is it possible that the Mormon diaspora was, like the early days of the Catholic church, characterized by the falsification of history (including the taking of liberties with the sayings of Joseph) in order to solidify and cement religious claims to power?

See Nibley's "The Passing of the Primitive Church: Forty Variations of an Unpopular Theme," as well as "The Way of the Church," and, for that matter, "The World and the Prophets."

The parallels between the ancient Gentiles and the modern Gentiles are obvious, and I would be very surprised to find out the period from 1844-1914 was not characterized by the composition of fraudulent history.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you, Log. That was nearly word perfect.

As I showed in my piece "Why Mormon History is Not What They Say," it was not just Mormon history that suffered from fraudulent revisionism. Fabricating history was pretty much the way things were done even by many of our most revered historians. Although we know that Reverend Weems made up the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, and that Betsy Ross most likely did not sew the first American flag, I was devastated to learn that George Bancroft, whose ten volume History of the United States I had spent years accumulating one volume at a time, admitted to fabricating events if he felt it would inspire patriotic feeling in the reader.

So yes, Mormon History is rife with "exaggerations" whose purpose was to promote faith. The seagull miracle, Brigham Young transforming into Joseph Smith, the Founders appearing to Wilford Woodruff, the story of the Willie Handcart rescue, and others. The problem with fabricating history in order to inspire is that eventually the truth is exposed, and rather than inspiring faith, many feel betrayed and the result is they abandon everything about the faith that was true and good.

Nate said...

Minerals Liberia

What prompted you to call someone an idiot for sharing religious beliefs? BK is far from being an idiot. I am sure you are not an idiot either, even though I disagree strongly with much that you have shared.
Why are BK's beliefs any less valid than most peoples? Heck she has some good points. Now days I read contradicting claims of revelation almost every day. People really believe they are receiving revelation about things that others really believe they are receiving revelation against all the time.
Scientists can prove the physiology of every spiritual experience we can come up with, NDEs come back with people being converted from Christianity to Islam, from religion to a carefree life, and almost every contradiction imaginable.
To say people aren't having legitimate spiritual experiences in all religions is just naïveté. The point is that BKs argument, although disagreeable to some, is not idiotic in the least, although you and I may not agree with it.

Heck if everyone lived according to the way BK said we ought to live, including the "prophets" we would live in a damn utopia!
I think we truly can show a little more respect in our different views.

Matt,

You are in a phase that I am sure everyone on this blog has been through, it is a phase that God has planned you to go through. I want to tell you that I know that you have the ability to be just as spiritual as any of the leaders of the LDS church. Anything they have experienced, no matter what great things you think they may have experiences, you can experience the same and more, and it has nothing to do with what title you have been given in a church. Right now you have limited what you can spiritually acquire because you think other men must have experienced more because of their position, and therefore you should trust them because they have experienced more etc. The dirty secret they don't want you to know is that you can go get revelation they haven't experienced! But they want you to think you can only learn truth as fast as the president of the church reveals it to the world, otherwise it must remain a mystery.

Good Will said...

Rock,

What can I say? You write with such clarity, insight and "good will", I'm going to have to get another screen name!

That post was brilliant! Essential reading. I wish EVERY Latter-day Saint would read this post. You have spoken INSPIRED words, my friend. I am honored to know you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

A Reminder To All Readers:

On this forum, we operate under the Golden Rule. Therefore when we disagree with another person's religious views, we refrain from calling them idiots.

That is all. Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Stop it, Will! You're embarrassing me!

BK said...

JB,

I think we agree for the most part, for I also don't think we should 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' and disregard personal revelation, for the Holy Spirit surely can teach us the truth of all things.

I just believe we also need to add common sense to what we 'think' the Spirit is teaching us and compare all revelation, ours & other's, to what Christ said, or at least the Golden Rule & love.

And yes, many people have different 'common sense', but those who are living Christ's commandments & have love have 'true' common sense and won't be deceived, at least not for long before they start to see clearly on any subject.

And I wouldn't clarify 'greater' forms of revelation like dreams, visions, or visitations, as being easier to discern then ideas coming into our minds, for I believe far more people have dreams, visions & visitations that are 'not' from God then those who do.

There are alot of people going around today who claim to be having visions, dreams & visitations, even by Christ & God, but I haven't known of one who really seems to believe in or be truly keeping Christ's commandments and thus I don't believe their manifestations are really from God, no matter how wonderful & convincing they may seem to be to them.

For Christ said that only those who keep his commandments and believe in him are righteous & will see him. He said beware of people who come to us who claim to be Christ or claim to have seen him.

I think most people greatly underestimate Satan's power to deceive and appear as Christ to us and make us 'think' we are full of peace, joy & love while we are in fact in the midst of sin, for his counterfeit feelings are so near the real deal that I don't believe any mortal can tell the difference.

Thus the need to always prove by facts & behavior that we or anyone is living or teaching according to the words of Christ.

Adulterers are just as sure they are as happy, peaceful & full of love for one another', as truly married people are.

Adulterers rarely think they are committing adultery, they usually think they are following God's will for them.

Revelation or even visions & visitations are a tricky thing.

How would one know if the true Christ appeared to them verses a false one? We think we would just know, but plenty of people have proven it's so easy to be deceived.

Kyle Kopitke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle Kopitke said...

Blogger Kyle Kopitke said...

I have found that as I follow the counsel of the living Prophets, I am so Blessed. We are supposed to "take it to The Lord" in prayer if we have questions.

What has worked for me is reading the Holy Scriptures each day; pondering over them brings in The inspiration of The Spirit; as Nephi said, spirituality is brought forth by reading the Word of God and pondering her intent.

You would enjoy my Indie movie trailer; "Sisters Go Ye Trailer 2" on youtube.

Praise The Lord,
Numbers 6:22-27,
Brother Kyle

Snidely Whiplash said...

That's quite a unique trailer you've developed for your movie there, Kyle. Since your description of the movie says it's a 4 hour and 19 minute "epic musical drama," I wonder why you didn't put more scenes of the production into that trailer.

Surely scenes from the movie would be more exciting to watch than an 8 minute credit crawl listing the names of the 50 actresses playing the sister missionaries, dont you think?

Oh well, I shouldn't complain. That Youtube trailer was highly entertaining in its own way, what with your wife's vibrato warbling in the background as the credits slooowwly creeped their way to the finish. What I don't understand is why I can't find any place online to purchase this Indie masterpiece. All your websites are nonexistent, and the one button that invites me to buy the film spins around endlessly without ever directing me to a shopping cart.

Help me out here, Kyle Kenely Kopitke! I'm a potential customer. It so happens I have a spare 4 hours and 19 minutes to spend watching an epic musical drama about 50 sister missionaries. Just tell me what I gotta do to get me a copy of this thing.

Minerals Liberia said...

Yes...I mean "possibly uninformed" the other word is too strong and arguably offensive.

Been on too many other forums today dealing with some very ridiculous people...

now having said this: I believe we can all agree even the "words of Christ" are a characterization of what some person wrote 2000 years ago....and not a tape recording of Christ (if there be a Christ).

I need more faith.....to start connecting the dots! and that's all we have are Dots.

Even in ancient times "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"

It is simple to deduct that if this be true "Whether by my voice... or my servants... is the same" Wouldn't it be true throughout all scripture. "Surely the Lord... reveal his secrets {Mysteries} through his prophets"?

I really don't have the time to go on....but I believe you get my drift.

Love on another ...sorry

BK said...

Minerals Liberia,

I agree that Christ's words in the New Testament were just written down by men from memory or notes, but they are supposedly the quotes from a perfect God, which is very different & of far greater weight & value then all the rest of scripture that is just mortal man's (or even very imperfect, fallible prophets) interpretations of his own opinions, revelations or imaginations or dreams, visions, visitations, etc, which could have more easily & likely come from the Adversary then from God.

The supposed words of Christ are what we judge every other word of scripture or person by. If the words of Christ are not correct or true then we have nothing to judge by and everyone is left to their own luck or righteousness to be able to receive true revelation directly from God, which is possible but very tricky to tell true revelation from false without something to judge from (like Christ's words).

I believe we can test & prove that the words of Christ are a true guide by living them and seeing their effect, in our lives & across society. Only if we have love will we know if his teachings are true or not.

I have not found any of the 'supposed' words of Christ to be untrue, but I believe there are many errors and falsehoods in every other book of so-called scripture in the New & Old Testament, BoM, D&C, & BoA, who's prophets often teach contrary to Christ.

But I agree, all we have are dots, the dots Christ supposedly gave us & whoever keeps Christ's commandments enough & has love will connect those dots correctly, but we won't know anything for sure til the next life.

Log said...

BK / Lilli / AmoreVera / et al., the problem is that by your own standard of judgement nobody anywhere should listen to you on any topic at any time unless you are Christ.

Self-negation is not a sign of truth, but rather its opposite.

JB said...

BK,

"Revelation or even visions & visitations are a tricky thing.

How would one know if the true Christ appeared to them verses a false one? We think we would just know, but plenty of people have proven it's so easy to be deceived."

This is a good point, surely there is evidence of true revelations/visitations, and also people claiming these things that have been deceived.

I would say humility is a huge part of this. Pride goeth before a fall, and in my experience is the gateway for Satan to start deceiving us. Like you said, judging one's behavior by Christ's standard/teachings is a way to tell this. A true revelation/visitation will draw one closer to God and Christ, make them more humble, more peaceable, more full of love for fellowmen, etc.

To accurately judge these things is one of the tests of mortality. We have to learn to cultivate the spirit of Christ-like love, and become "peaceable followers" of Christ, as we do this our spiritual eyes can begin to see more clearly. But we always must remain humble and teachable, ever willing to admit if/when we are wrong or mistaken. It is a great test of mortality to learn to cultivate and discern the true Spirit of Christ, this is a lifelong effort.

Jared Mata said...

I'm really sorry for not having responded (I was 7 days with no internet!) I appreaciate the comments you all have made regarding my situation. I feel I have a duty to God of come to know Him in a way very different than the rest of the membership in my local branch do. I've had troubles with some of them. I don't want my dad to be blame for my conduct, he's a wonderful leader but I don't share many of his beliefs. I feel I'm alone in this path to knowledge. I think this is my test. I hope the day never come when I'll get excommunicated but even if that happens, I don't think I'll regret to follow the revealed word of God. Thank you all.

Dale B said...

BK
You appear to prefer Christ's words in isolation and put other prophets down as necessarily less trustworthy. While I think that Christ is definitely a notch above all other prophets in terms of power, authority and message, I think it is a mistake to approach it in the manner which you have.

The whole tradition of prophets as spokesman for Jehovah is one in which their words form an interconnected whole. Christ, when he was on the Earth, himself quoted the other prophets whose words had been written down as scripture. By doing this, he confirmed that this pattern is a true pattern. Christ can only be properly be seen as the Messiah as he fulfills those scriptures which testify of that role. That is why those who wrote down the words and actions that Christ performed in the gospels were careful to note when that word or action fulfilled some prophecy related to the Messiah.

I'm not sure how you understand the role of prophets relative to each other, but it's pretty clear to me that true scriptures represent the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. As such, all prophecy/scripture is really one whole communication rather than a bunch of disparate stuff that needs to be weighed and given an individual value or rating. True, some scripture may have more value to an individual in a given situation than another, but all scripture represents the mind and will of the Lord, and as such are equally valuable to man.

The question then becomes whether a given writing is truly scripture. Was it inspired of the Holy Ghost, was it faithfully preserved, was it translated correctly? We have good evidence that the majority of the Bible meets all 3 conditions. The Book of Mormon talks about the Bible as being conveyed to us by the Jews. Although it warns us that there have been some errors; the fact that the Lord did not condemn it wholesale confirms that most of it is inspired and therefore true scripture. I think that you disparage it with a broad brush at your peril.

Clearly I believe that the Book of Mormon qualifies, as I believe you also do. In addition, I accept the Pearl of Great Price, although I believe that Joseph was mistaken when he said that he thought that what he "translated" was contained on that papyrus. (My guess is that he put his head in his hat and dictated whatever the stone showed him, rather than coming to understand it's meaning in one language and then re-creating those meanings in English.) Whether it was contained on the papyrus or was just a revelation, makes little difference to me. I believe the content inspired, regardless of it's actual source or the manner in which it arrived.

For the most part, I accept the Doctrine and Covenants in the same way. I am reserving judgement on specific passages as I try to understand them better, such as section 132, but in these cases, as with some portions of the Bible which seem uninspired (Songs of Solomon) and other books outside the traditional canon, I think we need to try to study them and gain an individual revelation as to whether they are true scripture.

By saying that you cannot accept something from some individual because you require that the messenger be an exemplar of all teachings as YOU understand them seems to be putting the Lord into a very small box. In the Book of Mormon, Alma the younger tells us that he was a wicked, wicked man when he was contacted by an angel. Do you accept his words? If so, then you must admit that you allow for the possibility of repentance in the life of the messenger.

The other problem that I see is that your own understanding of the important precepts of the Gospel may be in error, and this may color your view of the truth. I think it is dangerous to give undue weight to a particular thesis or doctrine that is not universally supported by scripture. I think there are a number of things in the scriptures which at face value seem to contradict, but which can be resolved if looked at in a particular light. That is our challenge.

Minerals Liberia said...

The Woman in Red represents temptation/sin, its alluring, and it looks beautiful and its feels good, but its bad and distracting and leads to death

Don't get distracted from the truth

Dale B said...

Rock
What about the Willie company rescue is not true? This is the first I've heard of that. Could you point me in the direction of some fact?

Dale B said...

Jared Mata
I understand how lonely it feels to have beliefs which are different from those that have been your family, neighbors and brothers and sisters. I think almost everyone on this site has been there or is there now.

You are probably less alone than you think, though. I have been surprised to discover that there are pockets of seekers springing up. It is tempting to fall in with those of like mind, but as we do we may be repeating the errors that have caused the Church to drift from it's moorings. My advice is to study on your own, seek your own gospel truths while testing the ideas and precepts of others.

I think that one day soon God will call another true prophet. As I understand it, he will be largely rejected by the Church. My goal is to be in tune so that I can recognize him even when those around me are urging rejection. There will be plenty of false prophets around at the same time, so we will need to be especially careful.

Nate said...

Dale

Thanks for your comment. Another thought is that there will be true prophets who still teach things that are not true. That may seem odd but I believe there have been and are many prophets on the earth (people who receive communication from heaven), but then they mix in their own ideas and understanding.
It is a very difficult test for some people to share things and then admit they don't understand it all. It is difficult for some to not embellish and add to their revelations. I think these type of things have literally confused the whole world because people feel the spirit about all sorts of things and then they interpret it to mean more than it does.
There have been wars fought over religion when they same God has told people of both belief systems different things, and yet they interpret those different things to be in opposition to others when in all reality the revelations in there pure form coincide.
I think the world will bow down in shame when we learn of all the false judgements made and those we have exalted who didn't deserve it, and those we have murdered psychologically who were in the right.
Only God can bring all of the pieces together. But who is open to it? Could a person be open to the Lourdes Bernadette visions, Joan of arc, and at the same time accept Laotzi and joseph smith? People don't realize things like how highly joseph smith thought of Mohammed. There is truth all around us but people love to systematize their beliefs into a box (the point of which is to unite people with orthodoxy and to help people feel like they "get it"), when in all reality this damns them and stops the expansion of the soul and the acceptance of more and more truth that exists outside of the realm of their religion. It will be beautiful when we bow to the Buddhists and Hindus and native Americans and they in turn now to us in respect and we see the truth contained in their systems of worship, many truths of which have not been found in Mormonism, which is said to contain "a fulness". Ha ha ok done with my rant.
No one is alone, but I think God likes to teach us all differently so we have to learn to stand alone, and so we all can learn that love is the greatest truth of all, and differences of opinion or perspective must be set aside. Too bad it will take a series of crises before we are compelled to do so as a human race.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dale B.,

Regarding the utter catastrophe of the handcart companies I would direct you to historian Will Bagley's new book, "South Pass."

About a year before the book was published, Bagley gave an interview to radio broadcaster Paul Duane that left me utterly astonished. You can listen to it here:

http://www.paulduane.net/2013/10/historian-will-bagley-and-his-beef-with-brigham-young/

Also see this Denver Post piece by another historian who shows how Brigham's plan to bring converts over (and his true reasons for bringing them)are not our proudest moment:

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_11198729

I think if you were to do a search using terms such at "truth about willie handcart company" you should be able to find plenty that differs with the standard faith promoting fare we were brought up to believe. Bagley also has a piece in Journal of Mormon Studies, I can't recall the title right off, but it's a revisionist look at this terrible ordeal that we have come to celebrate as if it were a victory.

Patty said...

Dale,

Here is a link to Bagley's paper on the fiasco of the Willie and Martin handcart companies.

http://user.xmission.com/~research/central/handcart.pdf

There's a wistfulness in learning that one of our dearest parts of the Mormon mythos—the rescue of the stranded handcart companies—is intertwined with the very mortal motivations of Brigham Young.

If you haven't read it yet, you might find Rock's essay on the Church embracing beer and wine up until Prohibition. The enterprising Brother Brigham built his mansion on the profits of brewing beer and making wine and selling it to anyone he could find.

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/06/too-bad-i-dont-like-beer.html

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, Patty. That's the one I was trying to remember: "One Long Funeral March: A Revisionist View of the Mormon Handcart Disasters."

Patty said...

When my fellow sacrament meeting speaker and I chose material from the same conference talk by Elder Bednar recently, we and others in the ward agreed we were guided by the spirit to emphasize a useful concept. (Bednar's observation that life's challenges give us spiritual traction needed to return to God and when we enter into covenants with God we yoke ourselves with Jesus Christ who does all the heavy pulling)

When I read Adrian's excellent blog post on the Old Ship Zion I had the sense that this also is more than just coincidence. God is tag-teaming us with you guys on this one. Indeed, each post reinforces and informs the other.

If you were somehow trying to attract folks to your respective boats we'd conclude you were captains who'd had a bit too much Priestcrafter's Port to drink. As it is, you both refuse the title of 'captain' or the possibility that you even have boats. The Master's words alone are worthy of our heed, whether he utters them or his servants utter them it mattereth not. When he invites us to seek him directly, walking on water is not an unreasonable possibility.

feet on the mountain top said...

Rock-

http://daymonsmith.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/gencon14-the-power-of-the-text-itself/

Have you been reading the "general conference" taking place on Daymon Smith's website? If you haven't you are missing out on brilliant reading by some authors Daymon has invited. The latest post is absolutely beautiful. Stunning writing and the points the guy makes are just fantastic. Do yourself a favor and
read it!

Earl

Log said...
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Dale B said...

Rock, Patty
Thanks for the links! As usual, I'm left aghast at the unabashed greed that Brigham exhibited. I used to think that spin-doctoring was a new phenomena, but I can see that the Church has been a practitioner since...well, forever.

My great Grandmother and Grandfather were members of the Willie company. In later years she became disgusted with Brigham after making the trip from Brigham City to Salt Lake and seeing the luxury that he lived in while they were digging up roots to survive. All part of family lore.

I doubt that many people in either party knew of the steam engine boondoggle. They were simply grateful for whatever assistance they received. There's bound to be a special place in Hell for people who commanded so much loyalty, respect and honor yet returned only contempt.

It would probably be fun to make a youtube video about this little episode. Dramatizing the angst that Brigham surely felt as he worried about all that booze and tobacco, oh and those poor unfortunates freezing on the trail, but mostly the booze and tobacco.

One of my favorite old movies is the Hallelujah Trail, about a wagon train consisting of 40 wagons of whiskey headed for Denver and the problems they had getting it there. It's nice to know that movies like that were based on fact instead of some absurd fiction that I've been taught all my life.

Gary Hunt said...

Rock,

A good book about the Mormon Handcart Disaster is "Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy", by David Roberts. I read it several years ago and found it to be a fair and balanced evaluation of what happened. Mr. Roberts is not a Mormon or an Anti-Mormon.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Earl,
Yes, I've been following those excellent posts by Daymon, but thanks for providing those links so that others may check them out.

Gary Hunt,
I had never heard of Devil's Gate before reading that piece in the Denver Post, but glad to get your recommendation. As usual, you're way ahead of me in knowing what's out there.

Calleen Bataiff said...

Okay, I'm tuning in late here, but I have had an experience that may help some of you who are having issues with family members that hold beliefs different from yours. I just read DS latest post and I have a small problem with it. Of course, who am I to have an opinion or problem about anything, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

At any rate, I went into the waters of re-baptism last Friday right off the shores of Utah Lake by Orem Utah and let me tell you it was chilly to say the least, thank heavens it was a warm springs, however, the preceding Sunday we attended a tithing meeting with a group of ppl who are attempting to live in a manner after the ways of God and inspiration given them by DS. My husband, who seemed excited about what was happening with this group and leaving the group that Sunday wanting to be re-baptised, changed his mind. I on the other hand, feeling the Spirit in what was happening, but wanting to wait for my husband, was instructed to proceed with my re-baptism and told that my husband would follow in time.

Ok, my point in conveying this to you is that nothing is written in stone. I don't care who is saying what and whether or not they proclaim to be in communication with God, when it come right down to it, the individual who is seeking to find out God's will has to find out for himself about his circumstance with his or her own family. Believe it or not, family is not the most important thing there is, but God is all important and He will not tell you to do something if it is not in you and/or your families best interest, no matter if you completely understand it or not.

While I'm here I may as well spout off about my views on the D&C. I know BY was a lustful man, who was living the life of Reilly off the backs of the poor who he had no regard for except to practice unrighteous dominion over. That man didn't just lord himself over others, he took it upon himself to change history to favor his lusts and lifestyle. He and others of his friends in high places took it upon themselves to change doctrine to manipulate the beliefs of those who believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and then use those lies they had instituted as Joseph's revelations to build their own kingdom on the earth in Salt Lake City where it persists today.

I'm not saying that everything in the D&C is wrong, in fact, there is a lot of right in it, but just beware. I also have the "original" D&C that Rock is referring to in his article, and believe it or not that book has been tampered with as well. The only person, book, institution, or whatever, a person can trust is the Holy Ghost. Read, listen, and watch whatever you want,but unless God is instructing you on the matter don't believe it completely.

I apologize for spout off. Rocks comment section is one of the only places I can completely speak or type my mind.

Patty said...

I'm glad you're sharing here, Calleen. Your experiences and those of anyone else who is inclined to explore DS' suggestions are of great interest to those of us still in the system but looking for better answers. Are you considering attending the reunion in Colorado?

I used to believe that Brigham was full of cool answers to many cosmic things. I'd still like to believe that but I've learned so much nonsense about the guy that I automatically take his pronouncements with a grain of salt followed by a bucket or two more, depending on the topic. I like this Brigham verse someone made up for the song, 'Follow the Prophet".

I don’t claim to be a prophet, so said Brigham Young,
I’m just a Yankee guesser, on a lower rung.
Brigham fathered many, was a mogul fine.
He built a dandy mansion, serving beer and wine.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don't go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!

Calleen Bataiff said...

Patty,
Thanks for your supportive comments, and yes we are planning on attending the retreat. I'm excited about a number of things that are going to be offered there.

Don't get me wrong! Just because I don't agree with everything Denver has to say, yet I greatly appreciate all his hard work to get those truths out to us searchers. I've learned a lot and continue learning.

In fact, I felt very strongly to sit down and write my feelings on a couple of things that have been on my mind, and low and behold things were revealed to me that I can't prove, but I know to be correct. I love the Lord. He is my friend, my teacher, and my provider.

I've talked to people who tell me it's very difficult to completely rely upon God, and just really scarey to put their complete trust in Him. But I not only can't but wouldn't trust anything or anybody else enough to rely on. If this world has proven anything to me, it's that it is not reliable. God on the other hand has only my best interest at heart and wants to abundantly give whatever I need and a lot of what I desire. The world has proven to destroy, while God builds up and supports those who love Him.

Boy, can I ramble or what. Anyway, thanks again for your supportive comments.

MarkinPNW said...

I told a friend a few years ago that I have Three sources for truth and knowledge: 1) Clear Reason, 2) the Scriptures, and 3) the Holy Ghost. His answer is that those three are not dependable (or at least our interpretation) ,so we need to rely on prophets, leaders, etc.

Well, if I cannot be teachable enough to have my faulty reasoning corrected, likewise my faulty or out-of-contest interpretation of the scriptures corrected, or humble enough to be in tune with what the Holy Ghost is trying to teach me, including to correct my faulty reasoning or scriptural understanding, then relying on another man to make up for it will not, actually, do any good. In other words, if I cannot get in tune with what the Holy Ghost is trying to teach me and do what he says to do, I'm pretty much screwed no matter who else I may follow.

Oh, wait, yes it will help. The Savior will indeed prepare me a mansion for relying on these apostles, prophets, and leaders, in the very glorious telestial kingdom (D&C76:98-101).

As far as the subject of Rock's post here, in order for it to be the same (what a purported servant of God says being the same as what God himself says), it actually has to agree with and be consistent with what God has said.

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

Scripture is both binding and only understood by the Spirit.

A justification for hashing out official interpretations of the scripture is purportedly for the benefit of those who lack the Spirit.

The problem is this leads to an infinite loop, since if the interpretation or explanation can be understood without the Spirit, then it is not binding, and if the interpretation or explanation is scripture, then it can only be understood by the Spirit.

Thus the justification for issuing official interpretations of scripture is seen to be self-contradictory.

Of course, another reason for issuing official interpretations is to enforce someone's beliefs on others. But nobody is typically forward enough to admit this purpose, for that too would negate its own authoritative basis, since the only way to do it is to claim it by priesthood, when priesthood cannot be used for compulsory means; therefore compulsory means, such as enforced assent to creeds, is necessarily not done by priesthood, and therefore it is not of God.

If we ever see doctrinal councils in the Church, I believe that would be a negative sign.

BK said...

Dale,

In response to your post, Yes, I do believe & have found that Christ's words in the New Testament are the only 'true' scripture we have and that all other books of scripture in the NT & OT are just the opinions & interpretations of mortal men who wrote some truth and some error.

I don't believe the BoM, D&C or BoA are true scripture, nor that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, but even the books he wrote have much truth in them, along with many very misleading falsehoods. Just like most all religious books in the world in any religion.

I agree that Christ quoted some former prophets, for I believe there have been true prophets on the earth and probably are today.

But as 'MarkinPNW' just said, that doesn't mean that everything even true prophets say or write is correct. We see all through the Bible that even true prophets often fall to the natural man & fall for false revelation from the Adversary, thinking it's from God.

The so called 'scriptures' from Prophets are filled with falsehoods that teach people to do things that are totally 'contrary' to Christ's commandments and the 10 commandments; like sacrifice your children, marry adulterous abusive men to save your people, commit adultery & abuse your wife by polygamy, racism, sexism, submission & abuse of women and the idea to base your beliefs on feelings & spiritual experiences rather then on 'reason, facts & outward fruit' as Christ taught, etc. etc.

I agree that people can repent and become true prophets at any stage in life, I just don't believe there was such a person as Alma, but that Joseph made him up, but he does teach us a good lesson in that story.

I agree that Christ put himself & us in a very small box and told us to only trust people or prophets to be true disciples of him 'IF' they keep 'all' of his commandments. I don't think a person would have to be perfect but pretty near. And I haven't met or heard of anyone who can fit Christ's bill of a true disciple yet.

I can't even find anyone who seems to even 'believe' in all of Christ's commandments, let alone 'lives' them.

Most everyone seem to prefer prophet's words over Christ's because they are much easier to live then what Christ said, for again, Christ painted a pretty small box for us and few there be that are willing to live that way.

Anonymous said...

Log said...
"Scripture is both binding and only understood by the Spirit".

Who said? Much of scripture is historical, and needs no interpretation whatsoever.

"A justification for hashing out official interpretations of the scripture is purportedly for the benefit of those who lack the Spirit".

There are literally millions of people that claim to have the "spirit"...which of them is right, and which is wrong?

"The problem is this leads to an infinite loop, since if the interpretation or explanation can be understood without the Spirit, then it is not binding, and if the interpretation or explanation is scripture, then it can only be understood by the Spirit".

"Thus the justification for issuing official interpretations of scripture is seen to be self-contradictory".

Why? It is the duty of the general authorities of the church to clarify doctrine. Otherwise, you could have a million different people saying a million different things. Why do you think Paul wrote so many epistles?

"Of course, another reason for issuing official interpretations is to enforce someone's beliefs on others. But nobody is typically forward enough to admit this purpose, for that too would negate its own authoritative basis, since the only way to do it is to claim it by priesthood, when priesthood cannot be used for compulsory means; therefore compulsory means, such as enforced assent to creeds, is necessarily not done by priesthood, and therefore it is not of God".

No one in the church is trying to coerce anyone else. The GAs speak for the church. You are free to believe or disbelieve them.

"If we ever see doctrinal councils in the Church, I believe that would be a negative sign".

Joe

BK said...

Joe,

I totally agree that millions claim they have 'the Spirit' & that God revealed opposite things to them. Thus God is either a God of confusion or everyone is deceived by false revelation & false visions while believing they are right and everyone else is wrong.

But the LDS G.A.'s, past & present, (even church leaders throughout the scriptures), contradict each other just as much as everyone else.

No one can trust LDS G.A.'s to always teach correctly or even to teach according to Christ.

Just take 'Joseph Smith & Brigham Young', they taught completely opposite religions & doctrines, both claiming to be right & inspired of God.

No one needs 'the Spirit' to understand Christ's Gospel. Most of Christ's words are written so plainly that even a child can understand them. Everyone understands the Golden Rule & Love & knows right from wrong deep down.

Most children can teach the basics of the Gospel, often without any prior experience with it. "Out of the mouth of babes".

It's adults that don't usually want to accept the plain & precious words of Christ & thus add to or take away from his few words to come up with an easier more acceptable Gospel that people will pay to be apart of.

Log said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

What I think should have never ever been done is to "canonize" anything.
I would love to have all the religious texts laid out and just say, "learn what you can", but trust nothing unless the spirit teaches it to you.
Then we could all learn and share and if people believe differently so what? Even moroni in the Book of Mormon repeatedly taught that the Book of Mormon didn't contain it all. It was not a closed canon. One writer in the Book of Mormon said that there were no errors he knew of. Leaving the possibility open that errors could exist.
Doctrine and covenants is a conglomeration of revelations purportedly given to over a dozen different people. It has been changed and added to multiple times.
The book of Abraham was not what joseph smith claimed it to be apparently. Not a literal translation, and the facsimiles are a joke and it appears when compared to others of the same nature that they were doctored.
Like someone mentioned Paul was trying to clarify doctrine and other scriptures in many of his epistles. Shouldn't what the spirit speaks to us as individuals be the only "binding" thing there is? If someone tells me the spirit tells them something that opposes what I have received good on them. I trust God to lead sincere seekers to the Truth. If people try to teach things and admittedly have received no revelation on the subject then they have admitted they have trusted in their own brain which is the wrong thing to trust in.
Whoever said to trust in "reason", or "scripture" that is dangerous as well. "The wisdom of God is foolishness to men" and much that is called "scripture" may not be so. Only the Spirit can tell us the Truth.

MarkinPNW said...

Yea, I forget to make clear that of the three things I mentioned above (clear reason, the scriptures, and the Holy Ghost), in the end the Holy Ghost takes precedence and is the final authority, for many of the reasons (oops, here comes reason again) that my friend expressed, and has been expressed here.

This comes from my experience with trying out Moroni 10:4-5 over 30 years ago, and being told by the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true because the principles it teaches are correct principles. Of course, some of what the Book of Mormon says is pretty straightforward as in other scriptures, but some of it can really be understood in context only by thoughtful study and prayer, and instruction from the Holy Ghost. This leaves it up to each of us to learn to set aside our own pride long enough to let the Holy Ghost actually teach us truth and how to come unto God.

As far as leaning on men, such as Apostles, prophets, bishops, inspirational speakers, self-help authors, etc. they can all offer valuable insight, but they cannot replace getting your own teaching and revelation directly from God through the Holy Ghost.

Nate said...

I agree. We can glean truth (new teachings that the Holy Ghost will confirm) from people all around us.
And the craziness is very apparent when any human being will say to trust the spirit when it tells you that the Book of Mormon is true, but do not trust the spirit if it tells you something that does not fit the mold of a particular religion.
As long as someone is not a hazard to other people's rights, how can we be anything but hypocrites if we do not encourage them in their individual search for God? Even if there ideas and revelations they claim from God are contradictory to what we have received.
Us humans are nothing. We are unworthy and wretched creatures and which of us can say we know everything not only that we need to know, but everything someone else needs to know to return to God?
All truth, goodness, and righteous power come from God, never from any man or group of men.

BK said...

Actually, Christ's & his ancient Apostles, and even Joseph Smith and many other LDS Presidents through the years have said that neither a Prophet or 'the Spirit' or even 'an angel' or even a personage claiming to be Christ, is 'not' the final authority on truth, for such can often, if not usually, be wrong or from the Adversary or our own imaginations.

They all taught that Christ's words in the New Testament were the ultimate authority and measuring stick to discern if anything said or done by a person, prophet or personage or the Spirit was true or not.

They all said that if anything said or done was 'contrary' to the words of Christ then that is sure proof that it is wrong, even if and especially if, such was from an angel or the Spirit.

While 'our reason' can be as risky to trust as 'our revelation', Christ still pointed to 'reason' as our greatest source to discern truth from error by telling us to compare all people & principles, from man or Spirit to what he taught.

But the more we keep Christ's commandments, the more correct our reason will be.

So even our own revelations & visions & visitations by angels or someone claiming to be Christ or God, must continually be tested & compared to the words of Christ to know if what they teach is true or not.

I have known so many people who claim to have received revelation from God or even visitations from angels or Christ, yet they teach and believe and live opposite to Christ's teachings, which Christ said is impossible if people were his true disciples, receiving true revelation. So we can know for sure that they were just deceived.

Christ's words have always been the Church's & Christ's ultimate measuring stick to discern all truth from error.

The Holy Ghost can definitely teach us many truths, if we are righteous and in tune, but we must make sure nothing ever revealed to us is contrary to Christ, so we know we aren't being led astray by false Spirits, which I believe happens to everyone of us to one degree or another, even the humble followers of Christ. For deception happens because of lack of knowledge, and none of us know all things yet, so we easily fall for falsehoods from men or Spirits. Thus the need for Christ's words as our measuring stick.

But the more knowledge of Christ's Gospel we can gain by living his words, the less we will be deceived by man or Spirit & the more we will awake to the deceptions we have fallen for but don't realize it.

I used to believe the Book of Mormon was written by true prophets also and I thought that 'the Spirit' confirmed to me it was all true, until I started studying & following Christ's words and proving all things and comparing what the Book of Mormon teaches to what Christ taught, which I found many things to be completely 'contrary'. So it could not have been written by true prophets for Christ said they can't teach or act opposite to him and really be true prophets.

Christ continually warned us about falling for false prophets and thus gave us an easy way to detect them.

If we 'prove all things' before believing anything or anyone, I believe life will be a continual awakening, line upon line, from all the deceptions we have been taught from people, prophets & Spirits, throughout our lives, until we finally gain a clear understanding of the truth of Christ's teachings & how to gain Eternal Life, which is all in the New Testament, though the Spirit can teach us things that are like the frosting on the cake.

Log said...

BK - Nobody should listen to you, by your own stated standard of judgement, unless you are Jesus.

Are you Jesus?

Nate said...

BK

Please explain to me how Jesus and His apostles could have possibly been teaching anyone that the New Testament was the standard of truth. THAT would have been miraculous indeed.

Log said...

BK,

I'm going to assume you're not Jesus.

(No, I'm actually not being sarcastic, because if angels are among us in the guise of the poor, asking for our signs and tokens, why cannot they be among us in the guise of the poorly-reasoned, doing likewise?)

BK, if you're right that only Christ should be listened to, then if you are not Christ, you yourself should not be listened to, yet you keep talking.

Either you want us to listen to you, in which case you are speaking against our interests because by listening to you we go astray inasmuch as you are not Christ, or you want us to ignore you, in which case your speaking is self-defeating.

Which is it?

BK said...

Log,

True, no one should listen to me or anyone, except Jesus, That's what I'm saying. To just follow Jesus and what he said. I was just recaping what he taught.

Nate,

Jesus and His Apostles said to use Christ's commandments and teachings as the standard of truth, and they happen to be only found in the New Testament.

BK said...

I believe God wants us to point each other to the words of Christ. That would be the one thing to listen to others about.

Log said...

BK,

Are you Jesus?

Would God want us led astray?

If no to both, then the problem is the same whether you deflect responsibility for your speaking back onto God or take responsibility for your words upon yourself.

Either you lead us astray because you are not Jesus, thus working against God's will by getting us to listen to you when you are not Jesus, or your stated purpose is a lie because you contradict it by speaking.

Until you can resolve this contradiction, very few will accept your words, and rightfully so. There is no shame in doing something different when someone points out that what you're doing doesn't work, or if you notice it's not working.

BK said...

Log,

Thanks, but we just disagree on the matter.

I don't believe anyone would have a problem with anyone pointing others to Christ, if they truly believe in Him.

Log said...

BK,

I'm trying to understand where we disagree.

You said we should only listen to Christ.

If you are not Christ then we should not listen to you.

Are you Christ?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oy!
You two stop your bickering or I'm turning the car around.

Unknown said...

Jared,
Many of us are in similar situations in the church. My own solution has been to try and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost (as has already been suggested), teach only what you strongly feel to be both true and important, and leave out the portions of the lesson that you believe are flawed. If some eager beaver is compelled to try and "course correct" your lesson by bringing up the material you have purposely omitted, I suggest something like, "I really don't know about that, (perhaps insert a soft version of your doubts about the point), does anyone have a better understanding about this than I do?". In this scenario the party line will either be rehashed for the umpteenth time, or (God be praised), an actual interesting and important discussion may well break out in your class!

Ryan Nickel said...

Rock,

It's not the same. Not the same at all. The verse has been wrested. The punctuation even cries for it's readers to understand.

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."(D&C 1:38)

The Lord says that what He's spoken He has spoken.

He then says it shall all be fulfilled--whether by his own voice or the voice of his servants it's the same.

He did not say that what he or his servants have spoken it's the same. He states it very clearly that it will be himself or his servants who fulfill it not declare it. The punctuation even supports this.

Rene Swanepoel said...

I am new at these blog readings. Rock by reading your blogs it has come clear to me that I was not just being "rebellious" as being accused of for years.
My problem is that after being an active "brainwasher " for 36 years and not talking much to others about my doubts -
I taught many classes and was forcefull about the fact .... follow the prophet.... blah blah.
I am embarrassed about my participation in brainwashing people, I am embarrassed for having had the attitude to others of ... If u not a temple recommend holder u need to work harder.
I got on these blogs after stopping going to church due to not being able to put my questions aside.
English is my second language
These blogs helped me realise I am not this wicked women who asks to many questions

My problem now is .... I am stuck .... I don't even want to read scriptures anymore. I feel so much like drift wood.
Anybody out there that can help me through this fase?

I am in a small third world country, small town, small ward that should be a branch cause attendance is down to less than 60.