Sunday, January 24, 2016

Did Russell M. Nelson Take The Lord's Name In Vain?

Previously: Essential Mormon Books of 2015

(Note: The somewhat cynical tone of this post may lead some readers to dismiss it as some kind of anti-Mormon screed. So if you are new to this site, please be advised that the author is a devout believer in the restored gospel of Christ; that I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God; and I believe in the literal truth of the Book of Mormon.  What I am not keen about is corruption and guile, or what the apostle Paul referred to as "spiritual wickedness in high places."  So there's the disclaimer. Enjoy the rant.)

By the 3rd century B.C., Jewish tradition had succeeded in completely overturning the meaning of the third great commandment. So concerned were the Jews at the possibility they might inadvertently take Jehovah's name in vain, that over time it was ruled unlawful for anyone to utter God's name at all.  Today most orthodox Jews will studiously avoid saying "God," even in theological discussions about God; instead they will substitute the Hebrew "HaShem," which means "The Name."

This tradition of avoiding the name of the Creator had become so ingrained over time that even our Christian bibles came to reflect the practice.  Where most variants of God's name, such as "YHWH" or "Jehovah" appeared in the early texts, the King James translators substituted "The LORD" in capital letters to avoid doing what they felt might give offense to the Creator.

But merely speaking the name of God was never what Jehovah meant when he commanded his people not to take His name in vain. Neither does that commandment refer to using His name as a swear word, as most of us were taught as children.  If you think about it, if God was issuing only ten of the most essential commandments; why would he stop on the third one to dwell on something as petty as mentioning His name out loud?

It took centuries for the original meaning of that commandment to become lost in the fog of dogma, but the people in Moses' day understood fully what God meant when he first issued that commandment. Taking God's name in vain referred to the sin of misusing God's name; specifically by attaching God's name to an act or a decree that had not come from God.  In other words, God's people are strictly prohibited from claiming God said something that God never said.

Which brings us to the controversy currently surrounding Elder Russell M. Nelson, Senior Apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and next in line to become president of the whole shebang. Did Russell Nelson actually make the claim that God said something that God did not actually say? In other words...

Is Russell M. Nelson A Blasphemer?
Happily, no.

According to reports, during a talk Elder Nelson gave to a group of young adults in Hawaii on January 10th, he disclosed the news that what had been presented two months earlier as a a Church "policy" barring children of gay parents from being baptized, had actually come about as a revelation from God.  Yet a careful reading of the transcript of that talk reveals that Nelson did not actually say as much -at least not in so many words.  Had Nelson actually said what everyone thinks he said, he would have been guilty of taking the Lord's name in vain, since the Lord has not seen fit to communicate any such revelation to the body of the church.   So that's the good news. The other good news is that Russell Nelson is not a liar.

Well, technically he's not a liar.

To put a precise point on it, Elder Russell M. Nelson is a prevaricator. (Which, I concede, makes him arguably worse than a liar.) A lie can often be detected on its face. But prevarication involves a very clever form of twisting the truth, as the prevaricator deliberately misleads in order to create an incorrect impression on the listener -an impression the speaker actually hopes the listener will take away from the encounter.

Think of the portrayal of Satan in our temple endowment ceremonies: Adam is awaiting messengers from God, when the devil appears and tries to trick Adam into believing he is that messenger.  That is how a prevaricator operates; he speaks in a manner deliberately designed to fool his listener into thinking he said a certain thing, but if he is caught in his prevarication, he can always say, "that's not what I said."

A close reading of Elder Nelson's words in that talk of January 10th demonstrates that his words were deliberately chosen with the intent to deceive.  The result is that his audience -and by extension the entire membership of the church after that talk was promulgated in the media- is left with the impression that Jesus Christ himself has openly contradicted an earlier revelation.

We'll analyze those words in a moment, but first let's take a quick look at the events that led a high ranking officer in the Church to commit such a foolish act of desperation.

How A Lie Becomes A Law
Some time around the end of October or first part of November 2015, bishops and stake presidents throughout the church were mailed a new page to be inserted into their looseleaf copies of the Church Handbook of Instruction. These local leaders are strongly cautioned to keep the contents of these handbooks out of the hands of the rank and file members, as they contain operating procedures that the corporate officers wish to keep confidential. This particular policy contained instructions that local leaders were expected to quietly implement, which can be summarized as follows:
Any member of the church discovered to be in a same-sex marriage, or in a same-sex relationship with another person, is considered to be in apostasy against the Church, and subject to excommunication.  
Whether or not God cares about this particular issue is a topic I have weighed in on already here, and to some extent here, and a little more here; so I don't intend to take up the gauntlet on either side of the debate again, and certainly not in this post. Suffice it to say that until this past November's policy change, it appeared as though the LDS Church was officially extending the olive branch toward people some of us might think of as a bit different.  But fine. The structural LDS Church (as differentiated from the church which Christ defines in D&C 10:67) is a private organization, and it can decide who it wants to include on its membership rolls.  You can quibble about that til the cows come home, but that's not my hot button issue.  My hot button issue is the second part of the policy change, so that's what I'm concerned with discussing today:
Any child of a parent in a same-sex relationship will not be permitted to be given the traditional name and priesthood blessing in the church; and any child of a parent involved in a same-sex relationship will not be permitted to be baptized until that child attains the legal age of 18 years; and then only after that grown child has renounced any same-gender relationships his or her parent has been involved in; and even then only after the child's application for baptism has been approved by a general authority of the Church.
So those are the controversial new Church policies.  It was not intended that these policy changes be revealed to the church membership at large, but within days someone had leaked these pages to John Dehlin of the Mormon Stories Foundation, who made those policies public.  As word spread throughout the church and these policies were reported in the national press, the reaction of most members of the church was disbelief; this had to be some kind of anti-Mormon lie, because we know Jesus Christ himself commanded in a revelation given in 1831 that all children in the church were to be baptized upon turning eight years old.  No one in leadership has the authority to institute policies that contradict the word of God. Eventually though, the Church PR department confirmed the validity of the policies. And that's when all hell broke loose.

Throughout the 70's, 80's, and 90's, if a young man went to his bishop and confessed to having homosexual proclivities, invariably he was counseled to find a nice girl and marry her in the temple. The thinking of Church leaders in the hierarchy was that homosexuality was a mental illness that was easily curable through marriage to a person of the opposite sex.  Find some sweet thing to share your marriage bed, get naked next to her, and nature will take its proper course. Eventually you'll have children and everything will work out fine.

A sizable number of young LDS homosexuals, both male and female, believed what they were hearing was God's counsel given through his servants. So they obediently complied, and got married to people they were not particularly attracted to in a sexual way.

Today most of those marriages have ended in divorce, as one spouse, or both, found they just couldn't keep up the charade and make it work. After these divorces, the spouse with a same-sex attraction might then move in with someone they were more compatible with, and custody of the children from the first marriage was often shared.

After faithfully obeying their priesthood leaders by entering into a marriage they never should have contracted into in the first place, now the Church is telling these hapless people that their children from that first marriage cannot be baptized because one of its parents is gay.

The Church PR department scrambled to "clarify" the policy, claiming that the rule on baptism would only apply to children living primarily with the gay parent. But that was no solution because it raised all kinds of custody issues that were already precariously in play. Rather than help families sort out their problems in peace, the Church was becoming the cause of further difficulties within various sets of families that were already struggling to keep things amicable.

Church PR put together a hasty "interview" with a junior apostle who attempted to explain that the policy was motivated by love, but no one was buying that story. The carefully crafted interview was intended to mollify the concerns of the members, but how could the members be satisfied with those screwy answers when the leadership had taken it upon itself to reverse a clear commandment of Christ?

Russell M. Nelson To The Rescue
It would appear that leadership expected the controversy to die down, but it hasn't.  As Jamie Hanis-Handy noted on a recent episode of Mormon Stories Podcast, the leadership were caught by surprise. They hadn't expected this thing to go public, and when it did go public they were forced to respond, and they took too long to do that. Then when they did respond, the more they tried to explain the need for these policies, the more transparently ridiculous the explanations became.

Things only got worse. Church leaders couldn't reverse the policy, because it was clearly instituted to protect the financial wealth of the Church from possible legal challenges.  Besides, how would it look if they admitted they hadn't really thought this thing through? This is the true church after all, and the true church doesn't botch things up.

So after two months of outrage and continued questioning from the lay membership as to how the leaders could have possibly instituted such an unworkable policy that stood in clear violation of God's previous commandment that all should come unto Him and be baptized, it looks like Russell Nelson thought the best way to get the Saints to shut up and fall in line was to pull out The Revelation Card.

It was a long shot, but what else could leadership do?  Naturally at this late stage, after all the discussion on how this policy had been debated and crafted and worked out in meetings among the hierarchy, it would be ludicrous (not to mention highly suspicious) if President Monson suddenly claimed the whole thing had originated with a revelation he received personally through Jesus Christ. Thomas Monson has been conspicuously AWOL throughout this entire ordeal, while flacks from the Church PR department have become de facto spokespersons in his place.  How would it look if Monson suddenly popped up to claim a revelation, especially after all that talk of how it was really such an important Church policy?

Plus, there's that sticky matter of protocol.  The prophet can't just announce he's had a revelation, then just hope the congregation will take his word for it when he fails to produce one for examination.

Open up your Doctrine and Covenants and take a look inside. Except for the Articles of Faith, a handful of essays on Church government, and a couple of manifestos, the rest of the contents -about 87 percent, by one estimate-consists of revelations given in Jesus' own words as he dictated them to His prophet, Joseph Smith, or a handful of others such as Oliver Cowdery.   Joseph Smith always followed the protocol the Lord instructed him to follow, which was to immediately publish any revelations given to him. Each of those revelations you see in your D&C was originally printed in the church newspaper so the members could pray about it and get a witness from the spirit that the words they were reading were an actual revelation from God.  Almost every revelation you see in that book is there because the membership voted on them individually and approved their inclusion in the canon.  Every man-jack who has followed into the presidency since Joseph Smith knows that if he were to receive a revelation from God, he is required to follow that same protocol. Why? Because that procedure is mandated by revelation given by the Lord Himself.

This is how these things are supposed to work: The Lord speaks to the prophet in the first person, His words are written down as they are received, then those words are published and made available to the membership of the church so they can read the words of the Lord and pray for a confirmation of the spirit to know those words did indeed come from the mouth of Jesus Christ, and are not just the opinions of a man. The membership then gathers at the next general conference session to vote as to whether they believe the revelation actually came from God, and whether they wish to accept that revelation as binding on them as a body.

So sorry, Elder Nelson. President Monson would not be able to fake something as monumental and controversial as the claim that Jesus Christ reversed himself on a commandment he originally issued by revelation in 1831.

But it looks like Russell Nelson thought he could.

Not in general conference of course; that might have met with some resistance.  If any one of the general authorities of the Church were to get up in general conference and announce this policy had originated with a revelation from God months after it had already been declared a policy change decided in committee by the leaders, there might be too many knowledgeable oldtimers who would expect to see the actual written revelation.  But what if Monson's wing-man Russell Nelson simply inserted a teaser into the text of the talk he was scheduled to give to a bunch kids in their twenties?

Worth a try, right? How many kids that age are even aware there are scripturally mandated requirements leadership has to follow when announcing a new revelation? These dumb kids have been taught from childhood to follow the prophet and not ask questions; they'll probably accept anything they're told by a general authority at face value.  Yeah, that's the ticket! Tell 'em the prophet received a revelation on the subject and that's the end of it. Maybe that will shut everybody up.

I think this was leadership's last best hope for selling this policy change and quelling the controversy swirling around it. There was too much resistance to this appalling ruling, and it looked like it would never quiet down. The members had to be convinced somehow that this decision came from above.

That's why I think Russell Nelson tried it out on those kids to start with. Nelson's talk in Hawaii, which he titled "Becoming True Millennials" was a flatter-fest centered around telling these young people how special they were, and what a wonderful time it was for them to be in the Church.  "You are a chosen generation," Nelson told them, "fore-determined by God to do a remarkable work-to help prepare the people of this world for the second coming of the Lord."

If those words sound eerily familiar to people of my generation, it's because we Baby-Boomers were told the exact same thing, right down to the part Nelson tells them about "living in the eleventh hour."

Except for one glaring difference: When my generation was repeatedly told how special we were to be sent to the earth at this time, it was also constantly stressed that we would be present to see the LDS Church experience massive popularity as it grew and grew until eventually the Church would fill the whole earth in our lifetimes.   Nelson's Millennials, on the other hand, were cautioned to brace themselves to expect something less celebratory. "Pray for courage not to give up," Nelson told these poor saps, "You will need that strength because it will be less and less popular to be a Latter-day Saint."

Bummer, man. Sucks to be you guys.

How To Succeed In The Revelation Business Without Really Trying
If you were to read or listen to Elder Russell's talk to the youth, you would be struck by how much of it rings true and valid.  You may wonder how I can possibly accuse him of prevaricating when there is so much in his words that are true and good.  Well, surely you've been taught the maxim that the devil will tell a thousand truths just in order to slip in one little lie?

"Whoa, wait a minute Rock!" I hear some of you exclaiming, "Are you saying the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the devil?!"

No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm merely saying he's operating as a tool of the devil.

In retrospect, Russell probably wishes he had picked a different Halloween costume to wear at last October's opening session.
So let's take a look at Nelson's weasel words.  Near the end of his talk to the Millennials, Russell is counseling the youth to be open to personal revelation from the Lord.  He continues by describing how that process works for himself and his colleagues:
"We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators.  When a thorny problem arises-and they only seem to get thornier each day-these 15 men wrestle with the issue, trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action, and they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord.  After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned.  And my Brethren have the same experience."
So far, so good. We are taught by the Lord to work out our problems in our minds and hearts to the best of our abilities, and then come to Him for the answer we seek.

But wait a minute. What was there to work out in this case? If the Lord had a message to deliver to the Church directing the leaders to stop baptizing the children of Gay folks, he would have simply issued the revelation through His prophet and that would be it.  There would be no weighty issues for the Brethren to struggle over.  It seems to me the only "weighty matter" the hierarchy had to deal with was a matter of their own making: "Now that same-sex marriage has been declared legal by the Supreme Court, what the fetch are we going to do about all these homos? And how do we make it so the children of gay people don't grow up in the Church sympathetic to gays?"

At the risk of repeating myself endlessly, if any of this was the Lord's idea, he would have explained His reasoning in the body of whatever revelation He issued.  But let's continue with Elder Russell's lame attempt at explaining things:
"The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel individually and collectively. And then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord's will. 
"This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in the minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries."
Wait a minute. Back up there. Is Nelson implying that the decision to lower the missionary age came through a revelation from God? I have watched Monson's announcement of that decision, and nowhere does he suggest that it was anything other than a change in policy.  President Monson himself delivered the news from the podium, but he did not stand there with a revelation in hand which he read to the congregation.

The leaders of the Church are entirely authorized to make minor Policy changes such as this. The minimum age at which a young man chooses to volunteer to serve a mission is not, I don't think, the kind of thing that requires an actual revelation.  Prayerful inspiration would seem to be sufficient in cases like this.  So why would Russell Nelson Announce five years after the fact that this policy change was instituted as a result of the special "prophetic process"?  This seems like revisionist history, and totally unnecessary.

Unless...

Nelson may be using that inference to bolster his suggestion that the recent policy change on baptisms was delivered in the same divine manner.

But that's not my biggest problem with what Nelson has just said. He speaks of a prophetic process, of the Lord moving upon the president of the Church to proclaim the Lord's will, but then he glosses right over it.  He doesn't tell us anything about what that fascinating process looked like or how it worked.

Tell us, Brother Nelson! What actually happened when the Lord moved upon the president?  Did Monson's face seem to glow? Was the room filled with light? What really happened here?  If the Brethren didn't witness any supernatural manifestation, then what was it that Russell Nelson claims to have witnessed? Did Monson start quoting the words God placed in his mouth? In what manner, and by what method, did Monson "proclaim the Lord's will"?

If he really did proclaim the Lord's will, didn't anybody think to write those words down? It's been ages since the Lord has spoken any words through His appointed prophets, and now, in this monumental moment when a decision is being made to refuse baptism to innocents who desire it, Russell Nelson neglects to quote for his listeners any of the words he presumably just heard come from the mouth of the prophet.

But never mind. Perhaps Nelson will clarify as he continues:
"Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord's will in this matter. Ever mindful of God's plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation.  It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson."
Well, that sounds really great, Russell. But again, you forgot to mention precisely what it was that was revealed to President Monson. There's some nebulous stuff in there about "when the Lord inspired His prophet," but nothing more.  And what were you wrestling about with all these concerns about the children unless you had already decided on your own that these children of gay parents would not be permitted to be baptized? Whatever it was you claimed President Monson was inspired about didn't occur until after you had done all this internal struggling and wrestling and faux compassion about "the children."

So come on, Russell. We're waiting. You've got the floor. This is your chance to make The Big Announcement. What was it the prophet was inspired to say?

Or did you simply mean to say that President Monson expressed an opinion on the matter?  Okay fine. So what was his opinion?  And if this was merely Monson's inspired opinion, it wasn't an actual revelation then, was it? "Inspiration" is not the same thing as a revelation, so don't go trying to trick us into believing Monson sat there receiving a bona fide revelation from God of the type regularly received through the prophet Joseph Smith, unless you are prepared to tell us what the revelation said.

And another thing, Brother Russell: You say you all "wrestled at length to understand the Lord's will in this matter" and you appear to have now been satisfied you completely understand it. So how come you've all done such a gosh-awful horrible job of helping the members understand how this obvious cluster-bomb is actually God's will?  I have a suggestion, and you can pass this on to President Monson: quoting God's actual words to the congregation might help.

But I guess just like everything else you guys do these days, it's all gotta be kept to yourselves.

Let's remember that although the prophet Joseph was frequently inspired in the sermons he delivered, he never once attempted to reverse and contradict a commandment of God.  Yet that is exactly what Russell Nelson is attempting to persuade his young audience has taken place during "that sacred moment" with Thomas Monson which he conveniently fails to describe.

What sacred moment? What did you see take place at that sacred moment, Russell? What did you hear?  All you do is make reference to some nebulous "sacred moment," but what the heck happened in that sacred moment that so impressed you?

I submit there was no such "sacred moment," otherwise Thomas Monson himself would be obliged to relate his epiphanous experience to the church. Certainly if the Lord revealed his will to Thomas Monson, Thomas Monson himself would have passed it on to the rest of us by now.  But as noted above, the purported Prophet of the Lord has not even been heard from on this matter, even though it's now been over two and a half months after the Church's legal department tried to slip a devastating policy change past the members in hopes nobody would notice.

Some revelation.

So here's where Nelson clearly prevaricates, and why I wouldn't trust this guy to sell me a Lime Squeeze at the Orem Arctic Circle: You'll notice that not once in this talk does Nelson come right out and declare that Thomas Monson actually received a revelation from God in this matter.  The closest he comes is with his use of the word "revealed" to describe what a privilege it was to watch Monson have  something -he doesn't say what- "revealed" to him.  And we still don't have a clue what that meant, other than the suggestion that Monson was somehow "inspired."

But then in the very next sentence, Russell pulls out the 'R' word, but in a way not at all related to what he has been implying: "Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process," Nelson tells the youth, "and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation."

Well yeah. Both of those statements are true.  But neither part of  that sentence has any direct relation to the other. And the first part of the statement, "revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process" is a statement not related at all to the story Nelson just described (or more accurately, failed to describe) wherein Nelson suggested something astonishingly super-duper had taken place in that meeting with President Monson.

But here's what that sentence did accomplish. By using the word "revelation" twice in the very next sentence after the words "sacred moment," Nelson successfully planted in the minds of his listeners the idea that he had been privileged to witness a full-blown revelation from God through His living prophet.

That, Brothers and Sisters, is prevarication. I guarantee you that every young twenty-something walked out of that meeting fully believing an apostle of the Lord had related to them a miraculous event, when in reality he had told them nothing. He manipulated them into accepting a presumption that he and the other leaders of the Church desperately need the members to buy into, if their claims of authority over the people are to remain unchallenged.

I encourage you to read the entire talk Elder Russell gave to those unwitting young Millennials, and I hope you'll carefully parse the section where he's hoping to pass off this abhorrent policy change as if it came from God Himself. Then after you read Russell Nelson's hogwash, click on over and read Mike Ellis' essay titled Silent Revelations, which provides all the source material and scriptural documentation you'll need to understand how revelations are supposed to be received and disseminated in this church.

And while you're on Mike's website, take a gander at this analysis of the evidences the Lord expects us to see in any man claiming to be a prophet, a seer, or a revelator.

There is so much more I could write about the fallout from this deliberate fraud, but most of what I might have said has already been written by fellow blogger Adrian Larsen on his insightful site, To The Remnant.  Here you'll read about the strained efforts some in the Church hierarchy have stooped to in order to manufacture a fraudulent "revelation."  Read that analysis, then you tell me how you think Jesus Christ is truly guiding these men in their efforts.

One of my favorite parts of Adrian's post is where he quotes from a mutual friend who concisely summarizes the awkward quandary the Brethren now find themselves in. I was planning to use that quote myself, but Adrian beat me to the punch.

Aw, what the heck; I'm going to quote it here anyway:
"I find it interesting that we now find out this was a revelation received by Monson, which was declared by Nelson, after being "clarified" by Church PR, after being explained by Christofferson, after being published by an apostate, after being leaked by an anonymous source, after being published in a document most member's can't see. 
"God's work is mysterious indeed."
Or, as Sir Walter Scott memorably phrased it, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

What We Have Forgotten About Baptism In This Church
I should wrap this up, but I can't help mentioning that this matter wouldn't even be a controversy if Mormons did not improperly conflate baptism with membership in the church.  We have somehow come to confuse the terms "getting baptized" and "joining the church" as being essentially the same thing. And our leaders don't appear to be any better at telling the difference than the average member.

I covered this point in a previous post three years ago, but the gist of it deserves repeating here:
I don't think the importance of baptism in this church can be overstated. It is a fundamental tenet of our faith that Jesus Christ desires everyone to be baptized. That was the prime directive he gave to his apostles prior to his ascension. Our founding prophet considered baptism a "holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost" and that "there was no other ordinance admitted whereby men could be saved." We Mormons consider baptism of such importance that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on temples and untold thousands of man hours in an attempt to make sure everyone who has ever lived on the earth gets the chance to have this ordinance performed for them, by proxy if necessary.
It's clear our leaders no longer understand the true purpose of baptism, or they would not have introduced a policy that denies the ordinance of baptism to some because of the supposed sins of the parents.
We have come to think of it as a rite that initiates a person for membership into our Church. It is no such thing. Gaining membership in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ancillary to baptism at best, but the ordinance of baptism has little to do with "joining the Church" as we often erroneously conflate it.
"Always keep in mind," Joseph Smith preached, "that it is one of the only methods by which we can obtain a remission of sins in this world, and be prepared to enter into the joys of our Lord in the world to come." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 262) "It is a sign," the prophet taught, "for the believer in Christ to take upon himself in order to enter the Kingdom of God." (ibid, 198) 
And in case you need reminding, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the Kingdom of God. One of the primary purposes of the Church is to provide saving ordinances such as baptism, in order to prepare us for the coming Kingdom; it is not the Kingdom itself. As Brigham Young pointed out, a person need not even be a member of our church to have a place in the future Kingdom of God. (See my post, Where Did The Oracles Go? for an analysis of the what the Kingdom of God is, and what it is not.)
We make a grave mistake in placing baptism for the remission of sins on par with entrance into our particular denomination, for such assumptions inevitably lead to tests regarding whether we think certain persons are good enough to join our little club. John the Baptist did not conduct interviews to determine the worthiness of those who entered the water. Neither did Alma, who performed hundreds of baptisms quickly and in secret to keep knowledge of those baptisms from the unapproving eyes of governmental authorities. The only actual requirement for baptism is repentance, and a desire to be baptized.
We deserve to change our thinking on this. As Charles Harrell writes in This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology, "Scholars note that baptism was initially performed by John the Baptist and Jesus's disciples as a cleansing rite to prepare them for the coming kingdom of God, which was perceptually distinct from the Church."
It appears that equating baptism with joining our particular denomination is something we picked up in the 19th century from the protestants, as it was not an issue in the primitive Christian church. As LDS religion scholar Kevin L. Barney explains, "[Baptism's] full significance as a rite marking formal initiation into the church is a later Christian innovation." (Quoted in Harrell, ibid.)
In other words, if a person was "saved" through the efforts of Methodists, he tended to be baptized by Methodists and naturally joined with the Methodists after being baptized. If he was converted and baptized by Presbyterians, he tended to become a Presbyterian. Thus, when candidates are converted by Latter-day Saints and baptized by Latter-day Saints, they usually end up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the ordinance of baptism is a separate thing from membership in the Church, as evidenced by the confirmation process which is a separate ordinance that often isn't even performed until the following Sunday.
If, as Joseph Smith taught, "there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to him and be saved, and enter into the Kingdom of God" (TPJS 198), what then are we to make of a mission president who orders the missionaries under his control to deny this sacred ordinance to those who might desire it? 
If you see baptism primarily as a means of initiation into a particular church denomination, and yourself as the gatekeeper to prevent the riff-raff from getting in, the next step is believing you have a sacred charge as to who you'll accept and who you won't. 
Well, that's fine. After all, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the trademarked name of a private religious association. It has the right to refuse membership to anyone it pleases. 
But what we are not permitted is to deny baptism to someone who desires it. Baptism is an ordinance we are commanded to extend to all mankind, living and dead.
I would not want to find myself in Russell Nelson's shoes when he goes before the judgment bar of Christ, trying to explain how he and his cohorts colluded to deny baptism to innocents who desired it.  Nor would I want to find myself trying to justify fooling members of the church into believing that a policy that was instituted to protect the financial holdings of the corporation had been secretly revealed to us by the very being I was now standing in front of to be judged for that trickery.

If I was Nelson, I think I'd try to blame it on the lawyers. I'm pretty sure those words were carefully crafted for him by the shysters over at Kirton & McConkie.  But something tells me pointing the finger at others isn't going to get our favorite Senior Apostle out of the hot water he's gotten himself into.  God tends to hold us all accountable for our actions.

As Joseph Smith reminded the Saints two months before his assassination,
"If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an impostor...Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches."
(Times & Seasons Vol 5, pg 490)
No, I sure wouldn't want to be in Russell Nelson's shoes.  In fact, I wouldn't want to be anywhere within a hundred miles of that guy when God decides He's had enough.

153 comments:

Log said...

To Elder Nelson, anytime the top 15 agree, that's revelation (this viewpoint was elucidated by Elder Packer as well). See Nelson's October 2014 Sunday Morning Session talk.

And the reader might profit from reading book 7 in the Chronicles of Narnia - The Last Battle, by C. S. Lewis.

President Monson is seeming more and more like Puzzle to the COB's Shift.

SB said...

“Unlike prophets, churchmen are the product of institutions. In the safety and permanence of institutions they put their trust. They resolutely oppose the prophets whom they accuse of disturbing their repose and rocking the boat” (Nibley, The World and the Prophets, p. 175).

14000feet said...

Rock,

Whew, there is an Arctic Circle in Orem. I thought you were trying to mislead us. : )

Great post. Thanks.

BTW, what's the status of your appeal?

As to baptism... It is separate from joining the Church. Take a look at D&C 20:68. People are supposed to be baptized, and then have time to learn _before_ they join the Church.

Peace.

SmithFamily said...

All to the hurt and confusion of the innocent little ones who are "unworthy" of baptism for the sins of their fathers - where's a mill stone when it is apparent enough for its use?

Milo Jury said...

I am already wondering about this talk he gave...
"A True Millennial is one who was taught and did teach the gospel of Jesus Christ premortally and who made covenants with our Heavenly Father there about courageous things—even morally courageous things—that you would do while here on earth."

Did these kids really make convenants? I mean, covenants are pretty serious things. And now each of these young people are at a disadvantage because the veil of forgetfulness means they do not know what they promised to do. And there was no way they could have known what life would be like down here. Would a loving Heavenly Father let his childen do something like this?
I'll keep reading.

Milo Jury said...

Another one from Elder Nelson!

"Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey. I know this is true! I have experienced it for myself over and over again."

So, it was obvious to most of us that the SCOTUS was going to rule against laws banning same sex marriage. Shouldn't this policy have been 'inspired' or 'revealed' before the decision so that the church would have been ready for this change?
I know seers can see what is coming, but I am not sure this was the case in this instance.

John Crane said...

You are absolutely right to point out that baptism does not constitute membership in the Church. Neither does receipt of the Holy Ghost, though confirmation. And, yes, the church and the Kingdom of God are two separate things. This can be easily seen in the D&C, and also, especially, in the revelations given to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, as published by Fred Colier in "Unpublished Revelations".

However, the idea that all the revelations in the D&C were dictated verbatim by Christ to Joseph Smith is not correct. A couple of the revelations were given to Oliver Cowdery. A couple of the revelations were combined. And wording was added to increase the role and calling of Joseph Smith and marginalize Oliver Cowdery. And the revelations were not always immediately presented to the church for a vote, I agree that they should be, but the fact it they don't. Otherwise, a very interesting and informative post.

Gayle Hendricks said...

Rock, I have been struggling with this issue since the first time I heard about it. I have too many people in my life that have sexuality issues to just accept a ruling from the church that sounds more like it came from narrow minded old men than a loving God. I am ready to have my name removed from the records of the church and and join you apostates. Thank you for your insightful remarks.

Gayle (Hubbard) Hendricks
Phoenix, Arizona

Adrian Larsen said...

Rock, excellent post! Thank you for the link. All I can say is I aspire to be as cogent, organized, readable, and yes, even sarcastic as you. You're doing great work, my friend.

Nathan said...

Wendy Nelson is a provicator as well I was shocked at this insinuation:

So, now a question as I conclude: What if you learned that the Savior had already returned to this earth--that He, as part of His Second Coming, had already met with some of His true followers in several marvelous, large gatherings--gatherings about which the world, including CNN and the blogosphere, knew nothing. If you found out that the Savior was already on the earth, what would you desperately want to do today, and what would you be willing and ready to do tomorrow?

Only, Jesus said:

"Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not."
(Matthew 24: 26

Brent Hansen said...

Great work Rock! I'd never considered the baptismal practices of John the Baptist or Alma before, pointing out their lack of 'baptismal requirements' certainly makes the modern-day worthiness interviews of the LDS church seem quite trite.

By the way, my own daughter-in-law was denied baptism by an overzealous mission president because, get this, she had TWO earrings in one ear (oh no!). Forget the fact that she was previously an atheist, and now had a relationship with the Savior. She was literally denied baptism for a month until she removed one of the two earrings, and committed to leaving it out.

Senex said...

They also thought they could see who the POTUS was going to be, which is why they changed the missionary age.

James Lloyd said...

Another great post! When LDS Living posted an article about Elder Nelson's claim that revelation was received on this subject, I tried to comment with a quote from the LDS.org website which said "Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints". They refused to post it, which I thought was rather rude.

Ben said...

Log,

I was also troubled by that recent statement from E. Nelson during General Conference where he explained that if all 15 agree, then it is revelation. Mr. Nelson explained the reason is all fifteen are highly opinionated people, so it is a difficult thing for all to agree.

However, I find myself in this bizarre situation surrounded by family and friends who buy this nonsense from their leaders!

Gregory Hemsley said...

What we are talking about is a fundamental shift in defining what revelation is. What Ben is describing is consensus. The 15 don't move forward, or make changes until everyone in that group of 15 is on board. To me, consensus is not revelation in the classical sense at all. How many members of the Church are aware that the founding principal of the restored church, it's bedrock claim to truth: modern revelation, from a prophet of God, has been so bastardized?

Once the definition of revelation is changed to consensus, they can really do whatever it is they want to do. Rock is right, the church is being run as a US corporation, an entity beholden to rules, regulations and laws, and tax consequences and other legal obligations of the state or government from which it is registered with.

I knew about all of this for years before I began to wake up and realize the pablum I have been spoon fed, little by little, bit by bit, until you don't even notice it's not even close to the same church anymore. You can't change the defining mission of the church and still have it be "The" Church.

Marilyn Duch said...

I just wanted to add to your comment. LGBT do not have sexual issues. They are who they are.

Marilyn Duch said...

OMG we're her bare shoulders out for all to see too! Lol

Log said...

It's worse than consensus, too. If you throw in the concept of "stewardship," the claim that God shall never give anyone revelation for anyone one doesn't have "stewardship" over, then you may realize "revelation" may only ever "confirm" the Word of the United 15 Apostles, and never disconfirm it. After all, if you got a disconfirming answer, that revelation would violate the principle of stewardship, since your revelation must necessarily be valid for the whole Church as it would imply the dictate(s) of the U15A was in error.

But that would imply the Word of the United 15 Apostles was not revelation. Which is impossible since, of course, God would kill any leader who was going to lead the Church astray. Therefore, any who claim disconfirming revelation are, by definition, themselves astray, or apostate. Vox Apostoli, Vox Dei.

Now, what if the Word of the United 15 Apostles contradicted scripture, which has been accepted by common consent as binding upon the whole, from the least to the greatest? That, by the way, is not a hypothetical question. They have, in fact, contradicted scripture, and turned Jesus into a sinner by dictate (see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/top-church-leaders-counsel-members-after-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-decision - search for keyword "alcohol"). That, to me, seems to present certain problems, but that's just because I prefer a God of truth, who cannot lie. If God countenances a useful deception, you know, "lying for the Lord," then there's no problem at all, is there?

Liberty Ghost said...

Great Post as usual Rock!

I think you were being a bit disingenuous yourself when you said that the majority of the church was upset by the announcement. The majority of the church pays no attention to it whatsoever, since only about 1/3 are active. And of the active group, I'm pretty certain that most of them reflexively backed whatever the brethren said, which was certainly the case in my family. I think there is a very small minority who actually have given themselves permission to think critically about any thing in this church.

I grew up within the church accepting as standard procedure that we would be interviewed for baptism. As a missionary I never questioned the premise and I suspect most other members are in the same boat. There never was any hue and cry about essentially the same prohibition against polygamist children, although I understand it's been in place much longer.

But, I think you're right. The interesting thing is that by far the majority of baptisms performed within the church receive no interview and have no restrictions at all. Of course I'm speaking of baptisms for the dead. I suppose that's because very few of them could pass the interview. It's okay that we baptized Hitler and Stalin, but how could we possibly extend that to some polygamist kid? Unthinkable!

Dale B

Log said...

Huh, Dale. Hadn't really thought of that angle. We love dead mass-murderers more than living scion of sinners. Ouch.

Robin Hood said...

I think you are a little off on this one Rock.
The process Elder Nelson is describing is clearly the same one the church leadership used in new testament times when trying to figure out what they were going to do with, and require of, all the Gentile converts.
They all brought their ideas and impressions to the table, discussed them back and forth, and then James made the decision or judgment, as it called in the Book of Acts.

It's important not to dictate to God. He can reveal anything he wants to in any way he wants to. He doesn't have to stick with a D&C model just because we say so. Take his healing ministry as an example. Have you noticed that he used different ways of doing the same thing? Some he healed with a touch, some with a word or command, some with spit and mud etc. So to place restrictions on God and say he has to do things in a certain way, at all times, without exception, is a dangerous approach.

Personally, I think the new policy is both wise, sensible and inspired.


P.S. The CHI is not loose leaf.

Gregory Hemsley said...

If revelation comes from consensus of 15 men, and in order to move forward and determine if it is a revelation from God, all 15 men must recieve the exact same revelation. That's a horribly inefficient way to run God's only true living church. It also smacks of politics. This is not the blueprint for what we learn in the temple or any teachings. We learn about keys and authority. Only 1 man on earth holds all the keys. The other members of the presidency and apostles might have information in which to enlighten each other for discussion and running of the church affairs, but revelation meaning "commandment"? That better come from one source...God, and if the 15 are lobbying and attaining consensus that sounds like a human run organization to me. Could you imagine if the Pope relinquished his power to the cardinals? I mean why is there a Pope or a Prophet if they all have the same vote? Consensus is a good rule of leadership for business but is it God's way? I think not, maybe someone can convince me.

Either God is compeltely hands off and let's these 15 call the shots as they best understand them, or else, this, and other policies are not revelations, they are just men making policies for the membership based on their personal beliefs and life experiences. I have to ask why do we as members feel bound to obey "the best understanding" of 15 men? Especially when the 15 men are placed in power by each other with no input at all from membership. And let's not forget, almost every one of them is from...Utah. We can't even place a simple "no" vote anymore without "sin" attached to motive.

I know there is more emphasis in the last 25 years of Prophets/Seers/Revelators attached to every one of the 15 men. In fact that's a constant theme, obey your leaders, only they know what is best for me, members can't lean on their own understanding, When personal inspiration, understanding and knowledge conflicts with the 15 members, we are told there is no other choice but to obey, repray, repent, then go back and get the correct answer once you are more worthy to recieve it. If your answer still varies from the 15, you are wrong, prideful and stiffnecked, basically a sinner. So much for personal revelation, agency and personal acountability. I mean, if we are not free to choose, without force of penalty, then we are not free to choose. What's the point?

I guess if it's 15 men, why not 100? Why not run the church via membership vote and consensus? Why not a democracy? Because what the Church is putting forth now is not scriptural or historical. It's watered down, appears to be political, and I think it's a slippery slope for the entire Church going forwards.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Robin Hood,

You can't equate Jesus's various ways of healing with receiving revelation. The Lord never said He has only one way of healing people, and it is recorded that He healed in different ways. God's revelations were always written down and given to people, and it has been recorded that they have been, since the time of Adam up to Joseph Smith. Why would He suddenly change it? I'm not going to tell Him what He can and cannot do, but I'm going to be wary of anyone who claims a revelation that contradicts a previous revelation.

In the case of the gentiles in the New Testament Times, the Lord while He was physically present on the Earth, told his disciples not to go and preach to the gentiles. Then after He ascended to heaven, He revealed to Peter in a dream, that they are to preach the gospel to the gentiles. That vision was recorded and given to the members of the church. Sure, it seems like a contradiction, but Peter stated that he received the revelation, and besides, the scriptures had stated that the gospel would go out to all the world. How else would Abraham's promise be fulfilled?

Miguel Aveiro said...

The other thing to consider of course, is all the bogus things that have come out of leaders of the church. There have been many contradictions. First God loves unconditionally, then He doesn't. First unmarried persons are counseled to raise their children, then they are counseled to put them up for adoption. At one time Adam was said to be God, and anyone who openly disagreed would get excommunicated (as Denver Snuffer related in the first few minutes of his first lecture). Now it's no longer doctrine that Adam was God. I can understand, "don't go to the gentiles" then "go to the gentiles." The first wasn't a "never do it" kind of thing. But how can Adam be God and then not be God?

Unknown said...

I have some additional questions regarding this policy/revelation. Isn't the church making a huge mistake by baptizing children at 8 years of age? What is unknown is how many of these children are LGBT? In most instances, orientation is not being declared by the candidate for baptism (although many or most know they are "different"). The church is allowing the baptizing of gay people, knowing full well that they are future apostates. Wouldn't it be better to wait until age 18 for all? That way sexual orientation would be known in most instances and LGBT kids wouldn't have to go through the trauma of church membership/discipline/excommunication. This would be better for straight kids too, as they could party and have indiscriminate sex, get baptized and go on a mission pure and clean rather.

brotherjr said...

Rock,
You have talked all around the central issue, as I see it.
The central issue most of us are having serious trouble with is that we are appalled to discover that our leaders lie, and we are coming by the hundred and thousands to see that our leaders have been lying to us for decades!
The closer one looks, the more lies we see...LIES, LIES, and DAMNABLE LIES!
So much for a church that claims to worship and embrace all truth.
We are witnessing the unraveling of a once highly respected religious institution.
James Russell Uhl

Gary Gibson said...

To me the worse crime was to equate defending the church with Abraham sacrificing his son. Really Russ???? When these millennials defend the church on facebook, will they receive the same reward as Abraham for his faithfulness?

Ben said...

Consensus and revelation are not the same thing.

In fact more often than not they are the opposite of each other.

Robin Hood said...

I stand by my comparison between this policy being decided by the brethren and then ratified by the leader of the church, and the situation in the NT church.
If we look at the Gentile policy announcement we see the brethren at that time declaring that Gentile converts were to abstain from fornication (no argument there).
No eating meat from animals sacrificed to idols - really? I'm quite sure the Rock's and the Puremormonism bloggers of the 1st century would be saying "Why? the idols aren't real so what's the problem? Seems a waste of good food, and the scriptures tell us not to waste flesh. And what about the children of pagans who have joined the church. Do they have to disobey their parents and not eat their dinner?"
And then there is the "no blood" declaration from the apostles, followed by the eat nothing 'strangled' rule.
"What kind of revelation is that", I can almost hear them say?
"When Jesus was here we would get revelation from the horses mouth so to speak. But now these apostles are declaring binding policy without any revelation at all. Perhaps Bro. Denverus Snufferus has a point!"

As Mark Twain pointed out. It's not that history repeats itself necessarily, but it usually rhymes.

Log said...

Did the NT apostles claim their dictates were revelation?

Log said...

And while you're working on the answer to that one, Robin, let me also ask: do you see no problem in my citing the United 15 Apostles unitedly declaring that the consumption of alcohol is contrary to the law of God, which renders God a changeable being?

For Jesus, be it remembered, who is the law and the light (3 Nephi 15:9), both produced (John 2) and consumed (Luke 7:34, Matthew 11:19) alcohol.

If, therefore, the consumption of alcohol is contrary to the law of God, then that means the law has changed - which means God has changed.

But it is written that God is unchangeable (Moroni 8:18).

How do you resolve this contradiction?

Log said...

Same as it ever was.

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!

Brian Zang (The Zang Family) said...

A council is entitled to have their decisions be considered righteous decisions if they meet a certain standard, and hence have it called the "inspiration" of the council, implying that it is truly from God. They are also entitled to receive revelation from God in addition to inspiration. We see this all over the Doctrine and Covenants. If the LDS Church is calling inspiration revelation, let's let them concede the point for the sake of argument.

But, in addition to this, the revelations say: "The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision" (D&C 107:30-32).

The use of "a general assembly of the several quorums" doesn't seem to be talking about General Authorities in these verses, but any gathering of the LDS Church's priesthood and quorums from the general church membership. It is the members' right to test the decisions of any quorum for the criteria listed in the above revelation, which means that past consensus on what was righteous, virtuous, etc. is already in the scriptures and provides another litmus test for present decisions to be weighed against. The definitions of those criteria ought to be understood on their own and by how the scriptures define them as well, so decisions can be weighed properly. It is a long list, and even if a decision qualifies in some criteria, the absence of any of the other criteria makes it a worthless decision. The revelation says "all righteousness", not just part of those requirements.

If the membership doesn't use its right to veto decisions, there is no appeal, and they have to live with the consequences of unrighteous judgment, and the council thus deciding would be denied being "fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord".

Brian Zang (The Zang Family) said...

Joseph Smith had this to say about councils and what made them effective in ancient days...a strict standard by any stretch of the imagination:

[On 12 February 1834 Joseph taught the following about ancient councils:]
"In ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or the voice of the council by the Spirit, was obtained, which has not been observed in this Church to the present time. It was understood in ancient days, that if one man could stay in council, another could; and if the president could spend his time, the members could also; but in our councils, generally, one will be uneasy, another asleep; one praying, another not; one's mind on the business of the council, and another thinking on something else. Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in council upon the soul of your brother."(History of the Church, 2:25-26)

What does that say about a gerontocracy and the many reports of sleeping apostles in council meetings? (see The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000, Edited by Devery S. Anderson, Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books 2011...see entries about Joseph Fielding Smith). And the contention of the Quorum of the Twelve before Brigham wrestled a vote for him to be President, and throughout his career?

Remember, the truth impressed on the Seer Joseph Smith was: "Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express," almost as if the future failure of the LDS Church was present in Joseph's mind prophetically.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I appreciate your correction on the CHI not being looseleaf, Robin Hood. I checked with two of my friends who are bishops, one of whom sent me a photograph of volume 1, and though it is bound with three fasteners along the edge, I suppose it is technically not a looseleaf binder of the type of corporate handbooks I am used to from my days working for the man, or what most of us had in school. It is, however, bound in such a way that pages could be removed and replaced, and that is, of course, how I assumed ammendments were handled. But apparently there was no strict method of dealing with changes, as when I called both these guys last night they each told me their system was haphazard at best.

One explained that he kept his CHI in one of those larger gray binders, but that additional pages ended up in a pile somewhere, or were filed. He conceded that they could have been tucked into the CHI itself aproximately where the page should have gone, but seldom did it that way. The other bishop told me one of his counselors placed the amendments in a separate binder. Neither one seemed to give a lot of thought to the official organization of these instructions, as they came quite often, and as one told me, "I didn't have time to worry about how perfectly they were inserted by subject matter. For instance I'd get some letter instructing me that told us that a child molester should be dealt with in X manner, and it would go on the pile with the rest of the letters.

So it would appear that Corporate has a preferred method of organization they would like their bishops to adhere to, i.e. the new policy pages are numbered so as to be inserted into the CHI within the proper chapter, but bishops rarely undid the fasteners and put them in the appropriate place. I suppose if the CHI was indeed a looseleaf binder as most of us are familiar with, it would be easier to do so, but my guess is the most a bishop might do is to fold the page into the book in the proper chapter and leave it at that. Every few years or so the manual undergoes a complete revision anyway, so local leaders get new copies before you know it.

I don't have a way to post the photo of the handbook here, but I'll find someplace in the body of the post to stick it so you can see that I know of at least one bishop who was given a copy that had hole punches in the margin and could be taken apart if needed. But I won't get to that until tomorrow.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

As to your other concerns, Robin Hood, you say "It's important not to dictate to God. He can reveal anything he wants to in any way he wants to."

Of course I agree with you. But when he reveals something he has given us a method by which we are to know the instruction actually came from HIM. It is not enough, for instance, for a president of the Church to simply declare, "The Lord will not permit the president of the church to lead this people astray." We have to be able to that message delivered in the God's own words before we can assume such a statement represents God's instruction.

Neither are we to simply accept that anything a president says constitutes instruction from God and we don't need to know anything more about it. "I said it and I'm the prophet, so sit down, shut up, and don't question me" is not consistent with how revelation works.

In D&C 68 the Lord set out the process as it pertained to Joseph Smith. In the Lord's voice we were commanded to heed the words spoken through Joseph Smith as he received them. That last part is key. We are not commanded to heed everything Joseph Smith ever said. Only those words he spoke AS HE RECEIVED THEM FROM GOD.

The saints today seem too ready to accept every word spoken by a general authority as though it is the voice of God. To my knowledge, the Lord never repeated what he said in section 68 about anyone other than Joseph Smith, but I notice general authorities today are only too happy to apply that scripture to themselves, without paying attention to the qualifier at the end that counseled the people only to heed those words that were received by the prophet FROM God.

I don't see how anyone can ignore the clear subterfuge he employed by dismissing it with "God can reveal anything he wants to in any way he wants to." Okay, so where in that story Nelson told DID God reveal anything in ANY manner? What did the revelation consist of? That "you guys made the right decision to refuse to baptize certain children, and I'm signing off on your scheme -but don't quote me"? Because that's the closest we can come to what Russell Nelson is trying to get his young listeners to accept.

ldsawakening said...

Rock,

I have been reading your blog for several months now and I have to say that I absolutely love it. I may not always agree with you but you definitely make me think and make me laugh. Thanks for the work you do and for making me rethink the beliefs and teachings I've accepted at face value my whole life. Your blog rocks!

I think the situation with the recent changes to handbook 1 and the mayhem that has followed is complicated. It's definitely not a black and white issue. I don't believe that the brethren have bad intentions, but I think they may have screwed up, at least in the way they handled the situation. The fact that the brethren have flaws and make mistakes is pretty obvious to anyone who takes the blinders off. They don't appear to exhibit the gifts of being true prophets, seers, and revelators, at least not as far as I can tell. The church is in a state of apostasy and has been for a long time. In my opinion things have continued to get worse and worse over the years. Many teachings of the early restoration have been lost or changed. Until the one mighty and strong comes along to set the Lord's House in order once again, all any of us can do is the best we can to follow Christ and listen to the Holy Ghost. I believe this applies to the brethren as well. Even with their flaws and the apostasy that the church is in I believe that the Lord still recognizes their positions and callings to lead the church. I do believe that they receive inspiration from time to time from the Holy Ghost on how to handle issues and problems in the church, even if it isn't true revelation by the voice of God.

I guess the real question is what their intent with the policy change is, and if it is right in the eyes of God or not? What the the world and even the apostate church membership thinks is not important, it's what God's will is that matters. If the brethren truly believe that that this is what Christ would have them do then they need to do it regardless of what anyone else thinks. I think a strong argument can be made that they are mostly in the right on this issue. I'll explain.

I know that you believe that God has not declared one way or the other what His view is towards homosexual relations. While it is true that there is no modern revelation through Joseph Smith that clarifies the issue for us, there is ample evidence available that God views homosexual relations as serious sin. The Old Testament is very clear about it being a grievous sin (worthy of death under the law of Moses) and the New Testament says it is a sin as well. While it is true that the Book of Mormon states that the Bible is imperfect and that there were changes made to it, that doesn't mean it isn't a reliable source of finding God's will. Joseph Smith stated in the articles of faith that "we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." Joseph Smith re-translated the Bible under the commandment and aid of the Lord. Unless Joseph Smith changed those passages that condemn homosexual relations (which he didn't) then we can safely assume that they are correct; after all Joseph had declared the translation finished, even if it wasn't published in his life-time. It's also worth noting that Joseph Smith frequently quoted and preached from the Old Testament throughout his entire ministry. He certainly considered it to be a dependable source of God's word.

I'm not at all suggesting that we should still put people to death for the various sins that it was required for under the law of Moses (among which was homosexual relations). Of course we should love everyone equally regardless of what sins they may be plagued with (all of us are sinners after all), but just because we shouldn't condemn people that doesn't mean we should condone sin (in all of it's forms). If the brethren feel that it is God's will that they excommunicate people for homosexual relations and marriage then by all means they should do it.

ldsawakening said...

The main issue that most members take offense to is the withholding of a name and a blessing and the ordinance of baptisms for children living in homes with cohabiting same-sex parents. I have mixed feelings about this myself, but it's a difficult situation. The truth is that parents can and do bring unwanted consequences upon their children when they engage in certain types of sins. If the brethren feel like it is best to have the children wait until they are 18 to be baptized in those situations that is their call to make, not ours.

I would also like to point out that there is the distinct possibility that none of us should be automatically baptizing our children at age 8 any way. That commandment in the D&C about baptizing our children at the age of 8 has to do with Zion, when children will grow up without sin. It's obvious that the church today is not Zion, at least not the true Zion. Someday Zion will be redeemed, but that day isn't today. In the mean time we all have to do the best we can.

As far as President Nelson's comments two months after the fact alluding to the change being a revelation, when it appears that it was no such thing, that is wrong. But hey that sort of revisionist history has been going on in the church since the death of Joseph, if not before. It's nothing new. If President Nelson is stretching the truth (which it appears he is) then the question is why? What is his intent? If his intent is to convince the members that the brethren really believe this change to be the will of God, and this is in fact the case (that the brethren truly believe this is the will of God) then I don't have a major issue with what he said, even if he's embellishing.

Robin Hood said...

Log,
I think you know the answer to your question.
The Law of Moses represented a change by the "unchangeable" God in the affairs of man.
God doesn't actually change, but his requirements can and clearly do.
This is basic stuff Log!

Log said...

Robin,

I would suggest paying particular attention to verse D&C 89:2, though the rest is good too - in particular the bit about wine for sacrament and mild barley drinks. Nowhere did God change his "requirements" on the relevant topic - he never made any to begin with.

This is, as you say, basic stuff. One loses a game of Simon Says by doing what Simon didn't say, or by not doing what Simon did say. It is just that simple.

Will you, therefore, please give an actual answer this time, instead of deflecting?

Log said...

Nevermind, Robin.

I understand that for you, for some reason, the Brethren's dicta supersede scripture. I'm not sure why homogamy would change anything to you - it makes no principled sense to me.

Gregory Hemsley said...

LDS awakening said:

"Of course we should love everyone equally regardless of what sins they may be plagued with (all of us are sinners after all), but just because we shouldn't condemn people that doesn't mean we should condone sin (in all of it's forms)."

Denying baptism is condemnation. Think about how it would feel to be denied baptism because your parents divorced, drank coffee, or had an affair, or cohabitated. But children of parents of only one particular sin are singled out. This is in effect a death sentence for their spirituality. And it's horrifically worse because they are condemning the innocent, who, through no choice of their own are now being faced with expulsion, shunning, second class citizenship, and judging. What else are you to do with these children who aren't baptized and won't hold the priesthood, will not be allowed to participate in all of the activities that are "crucial" for LDS youth? The message: Your parents can be murders and adulterers, blasphemers, drug abusers, cohabitators, blatant full-on campaigning apostates, and none of that affects your membership or ability to be baptized.

It's just not consistent with scripture and the message that we are all valued as children of a loving Heavenly Father, all people are invited to come unto Christ and all are commanded to be baptized. Forget about God will punish men for their own sins and not for the sins of Adam and that all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. THis policy flies in the face of those 2 tenets of faith.

Either God got it wrong or the bretheren got it wrong. I have a pretty good idea where this policy came from. It won't be the first and it won't be the last time.

zomarah said...

On the topics of being punished for the sins of the parents. there are plenty of times in scripture where generations are condemned because of the actions of the parents. I suppose that that could come with an asterisk that each person is responsible for their own salvation and thus can come out of condemnation through their own actions. But to say that the actions of parent never have any consequences on children(granted, possible over-simplification), is not scriptural.

On the issue of revelation/inspiration. I am just now able to put into words how members view the words of the brethren. I would say that most members view the brethren as having divinely informed opinions. What i mean is that since the brethren have close communion with God, their opinions are shaped by that higher spiritual knowledge. Therefore any opinion from a leader, has been influenced by greater (revealed) knowledge. So even if it was only President Hinckley's opinion, as a mortal man, that women shouldn't wear two pairs of earrings; that opinion was influenced by his greater knowledge. Which means it's safer to follow it anyway, even if was is just his opinion. His divinely influenced opinion is better than our mere mortal, erroneous, opinions.

I think that could be one of the biggest hurdles we face. It's easy to show that prophets are only prophets when they are speaking as such. It's easy to point out when brethren have said "Thus said the Lord," and when they haven't. But it's harder to show that their opinions are not influenced by their experiences with God and that are by nature more right than anything we can come up with.

Miguel Aveiro said...

zomarah,

I see what you're saying. Rock discussed this in relation to Joseph Smith's teachings. He had close communion with God, so his opinions could be seen as better than ours. Still, they had to agree with God's actual words, to be binding on us in any way, or to simply be considered true. JS did expound on a lot of things, I don't think everything he said was right (especially when he apparently contradicted himself.) Most of the counsel and teachings of GAs are good and no-one is arguing against these things.

I'd like to believe the apostles have met and talked with God and I've heard rumours and urban legends that say that they have. However, there have not been any definitive statements from any apostle or prophet that they have met with Him. If they don't wish to share personal, sacred experiences, that's fine. Maybe they are meeting with God and He has commanded them not to reveal such things at this time. Fine (well not fine, because, as I understand it, this would liekly be due to the church's unrighteousness and unbelief). Still, without anything definitive, I can't say that they have met and communed with God. Elder Bednar has alluded to the apostles having some kind of connection to God that we ordinary members do not have, but that's all I've heard.

One more thing. When the scriptures say that we can meet God, it doesn't stipulate that only apostles and prophets can. Neither does the church say this. Therefore, anyone can have this experience and this close relationship with the Father and the Son. We should be striving for that, as well.

ldsawakening said...

Gregory,

I agree with you that at least on the surface there appears to be a contradiction when we don't allow children living primarily in same-sex led homes to be baptized until they are 18 years old, while we allow children of parents with other grievous sins to be baptized.

You have to remember though that each sin is different and same-sex relations, cohabitation, and now marriage are very unique. Of course there are other very grievous sexual sins, and even ones much worse (such as rape or child molestation). The real problem is that same-sex relations have become more and more acceptable by not only society as a whole, but within the church membership as well. This is a very serious issue. The brethren have an obligation to do do all they can to keep this evil from becoming accepted as okay in the church. I believe that they have the greater good in mind with this policy.

It creates a very difficult situation if we allow children living in same-sex led homes to become baptized and have full fellowship in the church. These children will in all likelihood see nothing wrong with their situation at home. When interacting with other children in primary or later in the youth program it opens up a can of worms, for both them and the other children in church. It could easily be the means of making same-sex relations more acceptable to the children and youth of the church. I'm not saying these children should be shunned, but until they are legal adults who can move out of that sinful environment and make their own choices baptism may not be appropriate, both for the greater good of the youth of the church as a whole and for them individually.

We have to keep in mind that the parents are primarily responsible for teaching their children the gospel and insuring that they receive the saving ordinances, not the church. Children living in a same-sex led home will in all likelihood not have the support and structure at home to be able to properly keep their baptismal covenants or the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Should we baptize children and give young men the priesthood, knowing that we're throwing them to the wolves because of their situation at home? If one or both of a child's parents are living in a same-sex relationship, and the children live with them primarily, then they have created this situation not the church.

It is also very important to remember that the church is not forbidding these children to be baptized, but is rather postponing their baptism until they are of legal age and can move out of the situation they are in and have the maturity to keep these sacred covenants without parental support.

Log said...

To those who agree that by baptism / endowments / sacraments they have made sacred covenants - your bill is coming due.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As Miguel notes above, I have expressed the opinion that Joseph Smith's opinions were often divinely inspired even when he was not delivering a revelation, because for one thing he met God, and when he did he said he was told MANY other things. He said the same about additional information Moroni said to him.

However, we have never gotten a straight answer from a modern general authority when asked if he had communed with Christ -until now. Very recently Dallin Oaks took a question from the audience when speaking to a congregation of youth:

Youth Asks:
What should we pray for to receive the same testimony and/or conversion that Alma the Younger experienced, for our friend who are not members?

Elder Oaks answers:
I’ve never had an experience like that and I don’t know anyone among the 1st Presidency or Quorum of the 12 who’ve had that kind of experience. Yet everyone of us knows of a certainty the things that Alma knew. But it’s just that unless the Lord chooses to do it another way, as he sometimes does; for millions and millions of His children the testimony settles upon us gradually. Like so much dust on the windowsill or so much dew on the grass.One day you didn't have it and another day you did and you don’t know which day it happened. That’s the way I got my testimony. And then I knew it was true when it continued to grow.

Of course, our scriptures teach that the baptism of fire is nothing like that, and those of us who have had the First Comforter, which is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, can testify that it is anything but a gradual experience that settles like so much dust on the windowsill. Boyd Packer also admitted to not having anything resembling an epiphany, though others like Bednar seem to have liked strongly hinting they had, without really admitting to it. In other words, like Russell Nelson, Bednar prevaricated when asked about it, but that shouldn't surprise us about Bednar.

Now I'm only talking about the first comforter here, the witness of the Holy Ghost. If the best analogy Oaks can give about the witness of the Holy Ghost is that it settles gradually like dust on a window sill, it goes without saying he is not admitting to a face-to-face with Jesus Christ. Yet growing numbers of ordinary members are testifying to having that experience once they understood that the scriptures teach us we should expect that experience.

Heber Grant admitted in a private letter that he knew no one since Joseph Smith who has ever seen the Savior face-to-face. So I don't credit these guys with having divine inspiration of any sort any better than the rest of us.

Without putting words in Zomarah's mouth, I don't think he was as clear as he could have been about his own opinion. I'm pretty sure he doesn't personally believe the modern GAs receive this mysterious "divine opinion." He is explaining what the average Brethrenite assumes must be the case: that they have communed with God, and so now have extraordinary spiritual insight.

Of course nothing of the sort is supported either in scripture or in their own statements. It's obvious as hell that these guys are winging it, and doing a clumsy job in the process.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In my response to Robin Hood above I promised I would post a photograph of Church Handbook number 1, which shows it is bound in hole-punch fashion so that amendments can be inserted as policies change. That photo is now in the body of the post.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's an excellent post that log links to above. I hope everyone here will look it over. It dispels a lot of misconceptions most of us have carried.

Log said...

Behold what Jesus had to say about those who offend the children.

=====

JST Mark 9

39 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

40 Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.

41 For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

42 And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off.

43 It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched.

44 Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.

45 Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive.

46 And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.

47 It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

48 For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.

=====

It is, of course, legally impossible to cut off our "eyes," the prophets and priests who have offended. But one may certainly vote against them, and be excised from their society therefore. Jesus counsels us to not trust them anyways. Leave the Brethrenites to the Brethren, and the Brethren to the Brethrenites.

zomarah said...

Yes I apologize if I was not clear in my comment. While I certainly think a person's interaction with the divine would color their opinions. I do not believe that it make their opinions better than any other person's. They are still just opinions.

It seems to me that for a "brethrenite" as Rock put it, they prefer to err on the side of caution and follow any opinion of the brethren. Their belief being, that a leader's opinion must be better an theirs because they believe the leader to have had interaction with the divine.

So no, I do not hold this view. I am just glad to finally be able to describe my observation. Which I would probably condense down to the phrase: a belief in Divinely Influenced Opinion.

To summarize the modern L-DS view: We don't need much revelation like Joseph Smith, Jr. had. We have divinely influenced opinion.

ldsawakening said...

Log,

Who are the ones offending these children? Is it the church, who requires them to wait to be baptized until they are legal adults and are hopefully mature enough to keep sacred covenants without parental support or is it the parents who are living in grievous sin and indoctrinating their children that same-sex cohabitation and marraige are justified and right in the site of God?

ldsawakening said...

Rock,

I disagree with your assessment that handbook 1 is hole punched for the purpose of making ammendments easier to add. It looks to me as if it is hole punched to make it more convenient and easy to keep in a three ring binder together with other leadership resources.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LdsAwakening,
The amended pages I've seen are marked with section numbers and subsections which would indicate they are clearly intended to be inserted into the handbook at a certain place. But as I said, at least two bishops I spoke to said they never got around to placing those pages in their proper places, so the question of what Corporate intended and what actually happened at the point of delivery would seem to be moot anyhow.

The point of all this is that I wrote in my piece that the Handbook was in looseleaf form, and Robin Hood pointed out that it is not. So point taken, but you can certainly see why I would think that pages printed with a three hole punch might be intended for a looseleaf binder.

If someone wants me to admit the CHI is not in the form of a looseleaf binder, I've already conceded that point. It appears to be a book bound together with some kind of three hole punch and grommet-like fasteners that could be inserted into a binder if desired.

Are we done with this yet? I don't think this teeny tiny bit of minutiae warrants an ongoing debate.

Log said...

13 ¶And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein


=====

13 ¶Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


=====

15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.


=====

25 And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

=====

52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

ldsawakening said...

Rock,

I agree. There's nothing to debate. We don't know the intent behind the handbook being hole-punched. I was merely giving my opinion as to what it looks like to me.

ldsawakening said...

Log,

You didn't answer my question. From the scriptures you quoted I'm going to assume you think that the brethren are the ones offending the children, feel free to correct me if I misunderstood your point. First off the scriptures you quoted about the disciples not letting the children come unto the savior during his mortal ministry really aren't relevant to the current situation. Christ isn't currently among us in the flesh inviting all children to come unto him, while the brethren deny children living in same-sex homes to come forward. This is not at all the case. Your comparison is at best apples to oranges.

This new policy doesn't keep children from coming unto Christ. The children effected can still pray, have faith, etc and feel close to Christ. It doesn't diminish their ability to have a personal relationship with Him. Joseph Smith wasn't baptized until he was an adult, while he was in the process of translating the Book of Mormon. He certainly didn't have any problem having a close relationship with Christ prior to be baptized. Clearly being baptized as an adult, and not as a child, is fully acceptable to the Lord. Though children do begin to reach the age of accountability at the age of 8, being baptized at that age is not required. In the apostate church today we baptize them at 8 more out of tradition than necessity. The church is not currently the true Zion. Who knows if the baptism we offer in the apostate church is even acceptable to God, and won't have to be redone at some point?

Even if the brethren screwed up with this new policy delaying baptism for these children until they reach adulthood, you can't honestly tell me that you think they bear the lion's share of the responsibility for the suffering the children in these homes go through and not the sinful parents who put the children in this perilous home environment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LDSAwakening,
Though I get your point in your note to Log above, I would argue that the invitation to "repent and come unto Christ" includes partaking of the ordinance of baptism. Being baptized it actually what it means to "come unto Christ."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Liberty Ghost,
By way of clarification, a couple of days back you took me to task for asserting that the majority of the Saints were upset with the baptism ruling; you made the point that only about a third of the Saints of record are even active, and that the majority of them weren't paying attention to the controversy.

While I agree with you for the most part, I wish to make it clear that I never said a majority of the members were upset with the ruling. I have always maintained that the majority of active members are asleep. What I did say was that for the sizable number of Saints who were concerned with this policy change, the noise didn't die down as the Brethren apparently hoped it would, and the controversy hasn't gone away. If they didn't do something to quell the dissatisfaction, I think they were afraid more members would awaken to the fraud. So rather than backpedal and renounce their decision, they piled fraud upon fraud in a vain attempt to fix it.

ldsawakening said...

Rock,

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins by one holding the proper authority is absolutely a requirement for salvation. The scriptures are very clear on that. Baptism by immersion is one of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. The question is can one come unto Christ without being properly baptized? I believe the answer is yes. As I noted Joseph Smith wasn't baptized until he was an adult. Prior to his baptism I believe that he had come unto Christ. He had even had his sins remitted on at least several occasions ( at the very least at the first vision, the visit of Moroni, and when he was forgiven for losing the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon). It is also clear that extremely faithful and inspired men such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, and others were very close to Christ, without ever receiving a proper baptism in this life. I'm not saying we shouldn't get baptized or that we shouldn't baptize our children. I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying is that one can come unto Christ and be close to him even without being baptized. Let's not forget that faith in Christ and true repentance are to proceed baptism. And as I've pointed out from the life of Joseph Smith one can be forgiven of sins through faith and repentance alone.

This brings me to my next point about the commandment to baptize our children at the age of 8. This is what D&C 68 says about the subject:

25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.

27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.

First off, as I pointed out in previous comments this commandment is for "parents who have children in Zion". Is the church today Zion? Maybe in some sense it is, but it certainly isn't the true Zion. We are not all pure in heart, we don't live the law of consecration and we certainly are not all of one heart and one mind. The true Zion, the New Jerusalem, which will be built upon the American continent, has not been established yet. So in my opinion this commandment in the D&C is not binding on us. I believe that we all have to decide for ourselves what we think is best for our own children on the matter, until the time for the redemption of Zion arrives.

If we decide that the commandment to baptize our children at the age of 8 is currently required by the Lord, then we also have to take into account what else the Lord has to say about the matter in verses above. It is the parent's responsibility to first teach their children the doctrine of repentance and faith in Christ, then have them baptized. Are parents who are living in open sin and making a mockery of the divine sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman and engaging in sexual sin in way that is completely unnatural, qualified or even able to properly teach a child the doctrine of repentance to prepare them for baptism? Regardless of the answer to that question D&C 68 is quite clear that the failure to teach a child faith and repentance and have them be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost will be answered upon the heads of the parents. Nowhere does it say that the church is in anyway responsible; the parents are responsible and will be held accountable before God for neglecting to raise their children in righteousness.

Ben said...

ldsawakening,

You are talking around the issue: if a child — let's say a 14-year-old — repents and desires to be baptized, is it the right thing to withhold it from her because the only parents she knows are gay?

Is it Christian in any way to deny this child baptism for the remission of sins? Are you really willing to deny the kingdom of God (baptism is the gate to that kingdom) to the repentant 14-year-old child of gay parents?

I'm not willing to do that. In fact, I applaud anyone who turns to Christ and seeks baptism.

For the love of God, let *everyone* who turns to Christ and desires baptism to be, well, baptized! Bond and free! Male and female! Child of straight *and* gay parents!

Ben said...

ldsawakening,

I do wish to add, it is one jacked up view that the very act that will save the child is the act that should be denied her.

Log said...

Ldsawakening,

Your question has been answered.

I find it interesting that offending the little ones who believe in Jesus is closely related, in Jesus's teachings, to cutting off the leaders who so offend.

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

3 Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

4 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.

5 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

6 Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!

7 Wherefore it thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; for it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

8 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

9 And a man's hand is his friend, and his foot, also; and a man's eye, are they of his own household.

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

11 For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost, and to call sinners to repentance; but these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them.


And if homogamous parents are willing for their children to be baptized, according to the children's desires, into the Church, and the leadership forbid the children, contrary to the doctrine of Christ, they are to be cut off.

Here is the relevant portion of the doctrine of Christ.

3 Nephi 11:23
23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.


Are they the Lord's disciples who deny the Lord's commands?

2 Nephi 31:14
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.


Are they the Lord's disciples who say that the Lord hath contradicted himself?

3 Nephi 11:40
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Robin Hood said...

Rock,
I have Handbook 1. I am looking at it right now.
It is a bound book, not loose leaf.

Log said...

... because that's a terribly important thing to be talking about.

"Ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel; who make yourselves appear unto men that ye would not commit the least sin, and yet ye yourselves, transgress the whole law."

Henrietta Mayhew said...

That's why I love Acts 8:35-38 so much as of late-what a true baptismal interview should look like!

ldsawakening said...

Ben,

You make a valid point. That's definitely not an ideal situation. As I said in my initial comment, I haved mixed feelings myself about this policy change. I have mixed feelings about it for the very scenario you just described. The situation is complicated. What is best for the children living in these homes? What is best for the church as a whole? It's very problematic. I'm glad I'm not in the position to have to decide the church's policies on it. My belief is that the brethren have good intentions and are genuinely doing what they think is best, which is why I'm defending them on this issue.

I should also like to point out that Joseph Smith was around 14 when desired baptism and the Lord told him to wait. Why didn't the Lord have Moroni or another angel baptize him right away? Joseph had fully repented and desired to be baptized yet he was told to wait. Was the Lord denying him entrance into his kingdom by having him wait? Of course not. I know it's not a perfect comparison, but you get my point.

Miguel Aveiro said...

ldsawakening,

I don't remember Joseph Smith desiring to be baptized at 14. But in any event, I believe the Lord can tell someone to wait. Did the leaders of the church receive this commandment from the Lord or not?

What about children who grow up in a home where the parents are "living in sin", or with one parent who has temporary partners over every now and then? Should these children wait until they're 18 before they get baptized?

Log said...

Or what of the children of parents who have incorrect doctrinal views? And who decides what is correct? On what grounds?

ldsawakening said...

Miguel,

There's no question that Joseph Smith was desiring to join a church and wanted to know which one to join. The churches he was investigating in the area where he lived were all baptizing their converts, so I would say it's safe to assume he desired to be baptized. Regardless, he was told to wait and wasn't baptized until he was 22 I believe. Again the point is that he wasn't baptized as a child or even a youth and there was no problem with that.

As to your questions about the authorization to make this policy change, no I don't believe that the brethren received a commandment from the Lord telling them to have children in these circumstances wait to be baptized. Elder Christofferson said that the brethren believed this is what the Lord would have them do. Apparently they believe this action is right, but haven't had an actual revelation about it. Let me clarify my position on the policy change. I believe that the brethren have the best of intentions with this policy change. They are trying to protect the members of the church both as a whole and individually, as well as protect the church as an organization. With or without a revelation, by virtue of their callings this is their decision to make not ours. We can debate whether or not their decision is correct, but their motives appear to be pure.

I'll answer your other question with a question. You don't actually believe that heterosexual cohabitation is the same as homosexual cohabitation? The two are very different. One is worse, it is unnatural and mocks the sacred institution of a marriage between a man and a woman much more severely. Children especially younger ones likely can't tell the difference between heterosexual cohabitation and marriage. Having said that, I do think we should be more careful in baptizing children living in homes where the parents are engaging in serious sins other than homosexual relations. Children are greatly influenced by their parents and home situation and it is important to consider if they will have the proper support to keep sacred covenants before entering into them. So yes there are other situations were I think it would better if the children wait until they are adults and have removed themselves from a bad situation to be baptized.

ldsawakening said...

Log,

No you haven't answered my question. You haven't stated your view as to whether or not the parents of the children in question are responsible for the consequence that the children need to wait until they are adults to be baptized, or for every other negative consequence that comes from their bad example. Since you won't give me an answer I'm going to answer for you. You obviously don't think the parents who are living in a same-sex relationship and raising the children in that environment are harming their children. If my assumption as to your view is wrong please enlighten me as to what your position is. To be perfectly clear I'm stating that it harms children to be raised in an environment where they live with two men (one of which may be their biological father) who are pretending that they are married in the same way as a man and woman are married, when in reality they are living in grievous sin and engaging in unnatural sexual intercourse with each other. Please tell me you don't think this environment is what God wants for his innocent little ones.

This takes me to my next point. The scriptures you keep quoting about not offending children don't apply to what the brethren are doing by postponing the age of baptism. These passages seem to be talking about people who are abusing children (whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually). Any correlation between religious leaders offending children has to do with this type of abuse. For example the molestation and rape of boys by the catholic clergy. Of course even though the Catholics are guilty of that so are many other religious leaders including priesthood leaders from with the LDS church. The bible was not just written for LDS people. The warnings contained in it apply to all Christians and indeed to all people.

I also have a question that maybe you can enlighten me on from one of the verses you shared.

11 For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost, and to call sinners to repentance; but these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them.

The little ones Christ is talking about need no repentance and are automatically saved by Christ. So are these children under the age of 8 then? Or are they older than 8, but still not in need of repentance and therefore not in need of baptism?

Ben said...

You might think that about the word "offend," but only if you don't look at anything but the KJV.

It means something much closer top what log is saying. Here is the NRSV:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Temptations to Sin
6 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!

8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell[a] of fire.

And I see no reason why both the parents and this policy cannot be guilty of causing the little ones to stumble.

Steven Lester said...

I'm glad that all of you are straight, and thusly have no idea what you are talking about. Do you know why religion is so popular in the world? Because it justifies both bigotry and judgement.

ldsawakening said...

Ben,

I just looked at those verses in the original German Martin Luther translation, which I believe Joseph Smith once said was the best translation. Martin Luther used the word arger which translates to offend. Having grown up in a bilingual (English/German) home and having served my mission in Germany, I can assure you that arger doesn't have any relationship to stumbling block. It is sometimes used synonymously with anger or harm. We could debate various translations of the Bible all day, but I'll take my chances with the three translations Joseph Smith prefered (the King James, Inspired, and Martin Luther). All of which say offend.

Ben said...

The word is Strong's G4624.

http://studybible.info/strongs/G4624

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4624

http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G4624/skandalizo.htm

Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

skandalizō

1) to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaphorically to offend

1a) to entice to sin

1b) to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey

1b1) to cause to fall away

1b2) to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority

1b3) to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another

1c) since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed

1c1) to cause one displeasure at a thing

1c2) to make indignant

1c3) to be displeased, indignant

ldsawakening said...

Ben,

Here's the definition of offend from the 1828 Webster's dictionary (which though not authoritative should give us a pretty good idea of the what the word offend meant in those translations):

OFFEND', verb transitive [Latin offendo; of and fendo, obsolete to strike, hit, meet, or thrust against. We use the simple verb in fend, to fend off, to fence.]

1. To attack; to assail. [Not used.]

2. To displease; to make angry; to affront. It expresses rather less than make angry, and without any modifying word, it is nearly synonymous with displease. We are offended by rudeness, incivility and harsh language. Children offend their parents by disobedience, and parents offend their children by unreasonable austerity or restraint.

The emperor was grievously offended with them who had kept such negligent watch.

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Proverbs 18:19.

3. To shock; to wound; as, to offend the conscience.

4. To pain; to annoy; to injure; as, a strong light offends weak eyes.

5. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend the laws. But we generally use the intransitive verb in this sense, with against; to offend against the law.

6. To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble.

Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165.

7. To draw to evil, or hinder in obedience; to cause to sin or neglect duty.

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out - if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. Matthew 5:29.

OFFEND', verb intransitive

1. To transgress the moral or divine law; to sin; to commit a crime.

Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all. James 2:10.

In many things we offend all. James 3:2.

2. To cause dislike or anger.

I shall offend either to detain or to give it.

But this phrase is really elliptical, some person being understood.

3. To be scandalized; to be stumbled.

If meat make my brother to offend - 1 Corinthians 8:13.

1. To offend against, to act injuriously or unjustly.

Nor yet against Caesar have I offended any thing at all. Acts 25:11.

2. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend against the laws of society, the laws of God, or the rules of civility or propriety.

We have offended against the Lord already. 2 Chronicles 28:13.

One of the many definitions is to place a stumbling block (so you're right about that), but overwhelmingly and in every instance when scriptural passages were sited the word offend had to do with harming or hurting someone, committing evil, or causing someone to commit evil. That's how it is defined when used in the verses from Matthew 5. Perhaps the brethren did make a mistake in this policy change (we don't know God's position on the matter), but it appears that the scriptures condemn the parents who are setting a poor example and putting their children in a very bad spiritual situation.

ldsawakening said...

One more thought about the policy change. Whether or not the brethren made a mistake in this change, we have to look at why they even felt compelled to take this action. Is it not because society has come to accept something evil as good, and that this acceptance of something evil being good has begun to take a strong hold on the hearts of many church members, especially the youth, young single adults, and millennials? Same-sex marriage and civil unions have been legal in other countries and even some of the states in the U.S. for some time now. Why didn't the brethren make this change when same-sex marriage first began being legalized? Previously local Bishops and Branch presidents made their own calls on the matter, but now this very damning acceptance of evil as good has taking hold of society and is threatening to take hold of the church membership. Bishops and Branch presidents are not immune to the sweeping change in accepting same-sex relations as normal and not sinful. Roughly half of the church's membership, and I believe over half of it's active membership, reside in the U.S., where this has just recently become a major issue. Right or wrong the brethren felt like they had to do something to curtail this evil. I believe they are justified in taking action. Whether what they did is the right way to do it or not, in my mind something had to be done. Unfortunately the church today largely follows terrestrial laws and not celestial ones, because we as members can't handle the higher laws. It would be great if every individual situation could be handled on a case by case bases by a Bishop or Branch president who is completely in tune with the spirit. It would also be great if our children and youth where being fed more meat not just the milk of the gospel and weren't so easily swayed to accept evil as good, just because society accepts it as such. Sadly this is not the case. Most members have to be told what to do and be led in almost all they do. As I said the situation is very complicated.

Ben said...

Your argument would carry more weight if the source of the text was English, but it isn't. There are many hundred years of better bible scholarship that we can turn to, not to make a final authoritative pronouncement, but to help us understand what the verses mean, what is involved, and in what sense the words are being used.

You refer to Matt 5, in which nearly all modern translations do away with the misleading "offend" and use in its place:

"cause thee to stumble"
"be a snare to thee"
"cause thee to sin"

My point is that your comment:

"These passages seem to be talking about people who are abusing children (whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually). Any correlation between religious leaders offending children has to do with this type of abuse."

is not correct. Of course anyone doing such things to children is going to feel His wrath, but the verses in Matt 18 and Matt 5 have more going on than that. It is legitimate (and in fact, the most accepted reading) to view these verses as Log has above.

Whether YOU ultimately accept that reading or not does not diminish the legitimacy of this sense of the reading.

ldsawakening said...

Ben,

It appears we were both researching the definitions at the same time lol. We could continue to nit pick which of the different definitions are more fitting for these verses, but that won't accomplish anything but contention. I think we will have to be content to agree to disagree on this issue. Perhaps God holds the brethren accountable for harming children by this policy change and perhaps he doesn't. I guess the brethren will find out on the other side of the veil or when Christ comes again, which ever comes first. At least we can both agree that the parents of these children are harming them by their lifestyle and the environment they create for their children.

I've said pretty much all I have to say on my position on the matter. Thanks for the lively debate. All the best!

Miguel Aveiro said...

ldsawakening,

If the leaders who made the policy change only had good intentions, then I don't criticize them. I usually think that God won't condemn people for doing what they think is best. The possible exception is if someone would have known, had they did their part in learning what the right thing is: e.g. by reading the scriptures. Either way, I don't want to judge someone, as I have done wrong myself, both when I should have known better and when I could have known if I learned the right thing to do.

My default position on homosexuality, would be to not engage in such behaviour. But as Steven says, I don't know what I'm talking about. It would be wrong to do so before marriage, but then if they can't married then they can never do those things at all? So what do they do? We haven't received any revelations on it.

If you want to use the Old Testament laws to condemn it, then you have to apply other laws as well, because we don't follow other laws. For instance, the Law of Moses (as we have it today) doesn't actually condemn sex before marriage (for straight folk) as long as the couple get married. Indeed having sex was one of the three ways to initiate a marriage. It was considered a gross thing to do, however, and it was likely advised against by teachers of the law. If we don't follow this law, why the one about no homosexuality? Again, I'm not saying it's ok to do that, just that we can't rely on the Old Testament as evidence against it.

It's funny how an Old Testament law is actually less strict than the way we have it today!

alamogal said...

While the back-and-forth discussion above has been MILDLY entertaining; I'd just like to point out the following to ldsawakening:

I don't think most folks in this venue need 'enlightening', or persuasion to recognize and judge the bottom line of this issue: It is the wrongful (read SINFUL) usurpation of Christ's invitation to ALL to be baptized. Anyone in living relationship with Jesus Christ knows that He would NEVER countenance the refusal of baptism (even for a moment) to an innocent, willing individual; much less punish and exclude them (by delaying their ordinance) because of the actions of others which are completely out of the petitioner's control.

Say what you will about all of the justifications currently circulating (the criteria to lift the ban upon reaching majority and refuting the 'offending' parent and lifestyle, etc.); This corporate 'policy' is DEFINITELY not of Christ. Hopefully, a clear, instinctive gut-check told you as much the first time you heard the news (whether you can now admit it or not).

In this instance, it's a pretty binary equation. Since this policy is obviously not of Christ, I and MANY others, are left to determine that it must have originated from some other source.

From what I can tell, D & C Section 112 is already fully in play. Because of that, I employ a simple rule for determining how to navigate all of the BS that has been coming out of Salt Lake: 'What would Jesus do or say?' That simple filter has helped me see through a lot of what the 15 have been dishing out as of late.

ldsawakening said...

Miguel,

I never knew that sex was allowed between heterosexual couples as an act of initiating marriage under the law of Moses. Very interesting. It kind of makes sense if you think about it. If a man and a woman have sex then they're married and if a man and a woman are married they can have sex. I can see the justification for that.

I'm totally with you on trying not judging others when we don't know their intentions. When I first woke up to the knowledge of the church's apostasy I was very critical with the brethren and looked at them as pharisees. It took me a while, but I realized it wasn't my place to judge them. Only God can do that. So now I try to look at what their intentions are and to see the good in them. Of course they have their problems and the overall state of the church is bad, but they do a lot of good, too. Are the guilty of hypocrisy, yes I believe they are in much of what they do, but who among us isn't a hypocrite to one degree or another. My point in my defense of the brethren on this particular issue is my belief that the whole situation is very complicated and not as simple as "the brethren are delaying baptism for children based on the sins of their parents and so they are bad", which what everyone and their dog keeps saying.

ldsawakening said...

Alamogal,

D&C 112 contains a lot. What in particular do you believe is already in play? Is it the vengeance of the Lord upon the inhabitants of the earth that begins upon His own house (the church)? If so you could be right and it has already begun. Or perhaps it hasn't quite begun but is very, very close. I have a feeling things are going to get interesting very soon. I think your rule for judging what comes out of Salt Lake is a good one, though it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what Christ would do or say in every situation, or let alone what he would have the brethren do. I guess we all have to do our best to understand God's will from the scriptures and through the Holy Ghost.

alamogal said...

ldsawakening,

Yes, D&C 112 contains a labyrinth of things to consider. My particular reference was to the rot that will begin from within 'His own house' -His resulting vengeance is simply a response to our betrayal. However, in perfect honesty, I also feel we LDS are a little self-absorbed in figuring this scenario applies only to our own 'brand' of Christianity. Since the Lord himself has stated that His church consists of every single soul who has repented and taken Him into their heart (and to fully consider that, we have to get real about our ideas of 'authority' and organizational exclusivity, which is a whole different topic), we can extrapolate that we are not the only Christians who are wandering in the weeds at this point in time.

I agree with you that Big Things are right around the corner. The companionship of the Holy Ghost -along with the Savior's living example and influence in our day-to-day lives- is the only 'true north' we can cling to in these precarious times. May His peace be with us all.

Miguel Aveiro said...

The thing is, someone in my ward mentioned that when the Lord will cleanse the Earth, he will begin with His own house, and this was in reference to cleansing those who aren't agreeing with the brethren. The brethren are always above correction (unless it's by another member of the brethren who is senior to him) and we are to just shut up and go along with everything, or the Lord will hold us accountable for our criticisms. I agree we shouldn't do it in a mean way and I think photoshopping a picture of Elder Nelson so that he's wearing a devil outfit to be disrespectful and new comers to this blog are going to be put off by it. But if no one speaks up, all these incorrect things are gonna keep creeping in, little by little.

We've already lost our right to vote on those called, or vote on revelations and policy changes. The word "vote" has been altered to mean something different and so if we read in the scriptures or church history of any instance of the word "vote" it carries the new meaning, which is that we agree for a person to have that calling. In my ward a couple of weeks ago, someone gave a talk, in which various GAs were quoted, and one of the things said was that we don't "vote" and we don't elect anyone (even though the Lord told us to elect people by voting.) I don't understand how that works with people being called by God though. Does it mean that God doesn't actually call anyone? Even Brigham Young was quoted, when he said other things that would disagree with the statements given in the talk. It was selective picking of quotes to fit the idea that we are to simply trust the leaders, because they were called of God and not elected by us, and whenever they give "counsel" it's the word of the Lord to us and we should abide by it.

All this happens when we let leaders rule over us (incidentally, the church uses Hebrews 13:17 to justify this.)

Miguel Aveiro said...

The thing is, someone in my ward mentioned that when the Lord will cleanse the Earth, he will begin with His own house, and this was in reference to cleansing those who aren't agreeing with the brethren. The brethren are always above correction (unless it's by another member of the brethren who is senior to him) and we are to just shut up and go along with everything, or the Lord will hold us accountable for our criticisms. I agree we shouldn't do it in a mean way and I think photoshopping a picture of Elder Nelson so that he's wearing a devil outfit to be disrespectful and new comers to this blog are going to be put off by it. But if no one speaks up, all these incorrect things are gonna keep creeping in, little by little.

We've already lost our right to vote on those called, or vote on revelations and policy changes. The word "vote" has been altered to mean something different and so if we read in the scriptures or church history of any instance of the word "vote" it carries the new meaning, which is that we agree for a person to have that calling. In my ward a couple of weeks ago, someone gave a talk, in which various GAs were quoted, and one of the things said was that we don't "vote" and we don't elect anyone (even though the Lord told us to elect people by voting.) I don't understand how that works with people being called by God though. Does it mean that God doesn't actually call anyone? Even Brigham Young was quoted, when he said other things that would disagree with the statements given in the talk. It was selective picking of quotes to fit the idea that we are to simply trust the leaders, because they were called of God and not elected by us, and whenever they give "counsel" it's the word of the Lord to us and we should abide by it.

All this happens when we let leaders rule over us (incidentally, the church uses Hebrews 13:17 to justify this.)

Miguel Aveiro said...

Here's Hebrews 13:17 for your convenience:

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

So we are accountable to the brethren; they are not accountable to us, as Brigham Young said. We all just need to submit to the brethren, who watch over our souls. If we don't, then we are going down dangerous paths.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Hmmm, so should I be wearing a devil outfit then?

Robin Hood said...

Rock,
Even the picture of handbook 1 in the body of your article is a bound book, and not loose leaf!

Peachy. Just Peachy. said...

OH My Gosh! All these comments ! I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored . . .

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Someone in the comments above -I've long since forgotten who-asked if there was any further word about the appeal from my excommunication.

Well, it's finally come through. No surprise, the Powers That Be in Salt Lake have affirmed the decision of the local leaders. I'm still considered an apostate, and I remain a pariah within the local society of the Saints from which I was expelled.

I can say with every confidence that the Lord Jesus Christ has NOT affirmed their decision.



Ben said...

I think ldsawakening may be onto something. Perhaps there are those who are so quick to point at the admittedly corrupt and apostate LDS church that they will jovially point fingers without thinking things through.

That said, my original stance on this issue was that the bigger deal will be that it will look even more bizarre when the church flips on this policy and fully accepts homosexuality all while claiming that prophetic and seer mantle.

malkie said...

I haven't read all of the comments, so please forgive me if anyone else has asked this question.

Where is the wording of the revelation received in 1978 to end the discrimination against people with negro blood?

I've never seen the words, and I don't expect to ever see the words that commence another discrimination, this time against the children of gay parents.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No revelation appears to exist on that matter, Malkie, although the wording of the Declaration contained near the end of our Doctrine and Covenants clearly implies a revelation should be lying around somewhere.

Many members of the Church mistakenly believe that declaration IS the revelation, but of course it isn't. In the first place, it is titled a "declaration," and it clearly is a document declaring that a revelation has been received. Secondly, nowhere in that document are the words of the Lord quoted, as clearly evident in every revelation ever received through Joseph Smith.

If the Lord truly spoke a revelation on this matter, President Kimball was obligated to read it to the members and publish it, not merely hint that he's seen it while no one else need bother themselves about it.

Linda Gale said...


Miguel Aveiro said:

"All this happens when we let leaders rule over us (incidentally, the church uses Hebrews 13:17 to justify this.)"

http://www.truthguard.com/Articles/solving-the-hebrews-13-17-dilemma-a17.html


Here is an interesting article about Hebrews 13:17, in which the author shows how this translated word ‘obey’ contradicts several scriptures which basically state that you should not trust any man to be your master.

He also shows that the word ‘obey’ was one of a long list of words which could have been used in the translation, the majority of which imply that we consider the counsel, not implying that we be subjected to a person.

Log said...

Rock,

Now that you're off the Good Ship Titanic, will you be swimming for it?

Miguel Aveiro said...

Thanks for that Linda.

Funny how you don't get that clarification in church manuals, or other publications, even though you can find such corrections for other words in the scriptures.

I'm not an expert of Greek, but looking at the list of words that 'peitho' can translate into, and the chapter it is found in, it would seem to me that the author of Hebrews is saying to obey the word of God that they teach. Verse 7 says the ones who rule have spoken the word of God. We are not obeying the messenger, but the one who first spoke the message.

Miguel Aveiro said...

If I can play devil's advocate again:

The church leaders use the term 'repentance' to mean that one stops doing bad things and does good things instead. On top of that, we change our thoughts and beliefs, to comply with God's word.

So before a person can get baptized, they must have faith in Jesus Christ and repent. In order to repent, they must stop doing sinful things and start doing good things.

As it says on Preach My Gospel p. 64:

"Before Baptism

"Ensure that [investigators] have developed faith in Christ, repented of transgressions, and made sufficient changes in their lives to qualify as commanded in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. Investigators should live the principles of moral worthiness, the Word of Wisdom, and commit to pay tithing. If missionaries feel additional preparation is needed, they should postpone baptism until the investigator meets the standard.""

That's taken from a First Presidency Letter, dated 11 Dec 2002.

If you read D&C 20:37, it shows there's a lot more required before baptism than just saying you're sorry and desiring to be baptized. You need to have a broken heart, a contrite spirit, be willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and have the determination to serve him until the end, and to manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.

That's why the leaders are saying that you must live the word of wisdom and tithing, before you're baptized.

Now, it only speaks of the individual's sins; there's nothing about rejecting your parents' sins. I understand that a child of 8 years old is going to find it difficult, perhaps, to obey God's commandments when their parents are not. However, there's nothing in the revealed word of God that would indicate that they would not be able to be baptized.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"That's why the leaders are saying that you must live the word of wisdom and tithing, before you're baptized."

I realize you're playing devil's advocate here, Miguel, but it's worth noting that the requirements for baptism laid out in Section 20, verse are about serving Christ. The modern interview questions are intended to elicit commitments from the candidate to serve the Church.

I would submit that the requirement to obey the Word of Wisdom has nothing to do with serving Christ, as it has become a commandment of the Church; it was never a commandment of Christ. Further, we serve the Church when we pay tithing, as the Lord makes clear in section 119. Nowhere in the law of tithing does Jesus imply that those funds serve any other purpose than to build up the temporal needs of the Church. On the other hand, as I noted in my blog on tithing, the Lord has told us explicitly how we serve him. We serve Christ when we directly assist those individuals who are in need.

Too bad candidates at baptism are never questioned about what manner they have come to serve Christ. They only have it hammered home to them the importance of loyalty to the earthly organization. I wasted most of my life in serving the Church; only now am I learning the joy in serving the Lord.

Robin Hood said...

A number of contributors on here, including Rock, have made statements to the effect that the church has no right to prevent someone being baptised. This is not true and never has been.

For example, the church has never permitted murderers to be baptised. This is based, among other things, on the comment of James in the NT.

I know it isn't the same thing as the new policy, I am simply pointing out that the church has always had rules and regulations about baptism qualifications. This is nothing new.

Miguel Aveiro said...

I couldn't refute all the rules for getting baptized, as in I realised there were not all these requirements during Joseph Smith's time, or in the ancient church, but I couldn't think of a correct answer as to what sins one must give up and what commandments must they agree to keep before being baptized. I suppose now, that there isn't a list, much less an exhaustive one. Alma the elder and John the baptist both spoke about how one should not treat others unkindly, but instead help others carry their burdens and mourn with those that mourn. So include the taking upon yourself the name of Christ, and all that it entails, and you get a picture of what is required. Still, I spent two years focusing on helping people keep commandments X, Y, and Z, and it's hard to get out of that mindset, and it would feel almost like an offense to God to do so.

I've read your word of wisdom and tithing posts, at least once all the way through and then parts of them a couple of more times. But I didn't think of tithing as serving the church and thus should not be a requirement for baptism (I still think of it as paying the Lord. Maybe I'm a little dense lol.) Still, I can fully accept that it shouldn't be a requirement for baptism and like you said, the word of wisdom wasn't given as a commandment. I re-read D&C 89 after the missionaries that taught me had gone and I was trying to be a good follower of Christ. I noticed that the Lord said "not by commandment or constraint" and found online that Joseph Smith used to go to the pub for a beer. I asked a member "how come he did this?" and was told that the Lord reveals line upon line and precept upon precept and so he revealed later on that it should be a commandment. Since I was new, and had all these standard works and teachings of the modern prophets that I was yet to learn about, I just assumed the revelation was in there somewhere.

As you said, Rock, we pay the Lord by giving to the poor. So if anything, and I've thought about this for a long time, people should be asked something like "will you give of your substance to the poor?" before they are baptized.

Robin,

When did James write that murderers are not permitted to be baptized?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I don't know that anyone is making that assertion, Robin Hood; least of not me. But I do say the Church has no right to deny baptism to any who repent, come unto Christ, and desire to be baptized.

As to whether someone who has committed murder can be baptized, I would submit they can if the murder was committed because they were deceived. Example:

A young man joins the military and goes into the borders of another country to kill that country's inhabitants because politicians have deceived him into believing that in doing so he is acting in defense of his own country. Yet we know that going into foreign lands for the purpose of killing people there is strictly prohibited in our religion (i.e. all throughout the Book of Mormon, as well as in D&C 98:32). Yet it's clear the Lord made allowances for Lamanites who had murdered Nephites due to the false traditions of their fathers, recognized their repentance, and approved of their baptisms, and we know of massive numbers of American soldiers who regret their participation in America's wars of aggression who have since turned to Christ and been baptized; some of whom subsequently joined our church after being baptized by latter-day Saints.

The requirements of baptism are adequately laid out in D&C 20:37 as noted by Miguel above, which consist primarily of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should not read our own presumtions into those requirements.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I would make a qualification to my comment above. As I have stated before, including in my blog post above, that any religious denomination has the right to exclude membership to anyone it so pleases. They expelled me from their society, even though I met all the requirements the Lord Himself has laid out for membership in HIS church.

So if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wishes to exclude ANYONE from participation in their society, it has every right to do so. Where the problem comes in is when they specifically deny baptism, especially when they claim they are the only ones on the earth who have the authority to baptize in the name of Christ. In that case, they should be very careful about telling anyone who comes to Christ that they cannot be baptized, although I see no reason the members of a congregation cannot refuse to confirm that person a member of their particular denomination. Let that person be baptized and go on his way.

But if your claim is that you represent the only place that person can go to receive that ordinance, you should be very careful before refusing to perform the ordinance.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Never forget that members of this church stood in for the proxy baptisms of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun more than once, and never was either of those persons interviewed to determine if they were worthy, given that they were well known to have been living together outside of marriage.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Like that was Hitler's worse crime!

I believe that God can forgive murderers who repent. I was referring to repentant ones, in my question to Robin. Brigham Young added the doctrine of murderers having committed an unpardonable sin. Jesus said someone can be forgiven for all sins, except the unpardonable sin, which is denying the Holy Ghost. From what Joseph Smith said about it, and also the BOM, those who deny the Holy Ghost are those bad enough to murder innocent people, as they were the only ones mentioned as having done that. I don't believe Sherem counted as one of them as it only said he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and I'm not sure how reliable someone's fear is as evidence. I'm sure his state was awful before God, as he said, but I can't say he's going to such kingdom or to outer darkness.

Anyway, I hate this topic, but I bought it up because I believe God has infinite mercy and anyone who repents can come unto him. I know it says in D&C that the unpardonable sin is shedding innocent blood, but it continues with saying how they assent unto Jesus's death. So it's about their rejection of Him, and would want to murder Him if He was right there with them. The sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger considered themselves to be the most vilest of sinners, yet rejoiced when the Lord forgave them and snatched them from hell. One of them went to teach a king who felt he had done wrong in killing his own servants. I don't consider that not murder because he was the head of his local government. Nonetheless, God still forgave him.

The verses about David not being forgiven for his act of murder (contrary to what the Bible says) are in the same section of D&C that advocates plural marriage and says that David and Solomon had many wives and concubines, which was acceptable in the sight of God (again, contrary to what the Bible says, as well as the BOM). Oh, and I just checked and found the teachings on the unpardonable sin and the shedding of innocent blood are also found in section 132.

So many shady things are found in this one section which Brigham Young supposedly pulled out of a locked drawer, written by Joseph Smith but only revealed after his death.

ldsawakening said...

Yeah D&C 132 is puzzling. Is it an authentic revelation from God or not? There are several doctrines in that section that appear to contradict other scriptures. The one I have the biggest problem with is the doctrine that when a man and wife are sealed they can commit any sin (save the shedding of innocent blood) and still become Gods. It doesn't even mention the need for them to repent.

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and beverlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them.

Maybe there's more to these verses or we're missing information, but on the surface it certainly contradicts many other scriptures and just feels wrong. Maybe there's more to it and something more will one day be revealed to clarify this apparent false doctrine.

I have spent hours upon hours studying D&C 132 and researching it's origins. I know the age old conspiracy theory that Brigham Young made it up has regained significant traction in recent years (largely thanks to the very convincing work of Richard and Pamela Price in their book Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy), but for what it's worth at this point from what I've studied and researched I believe it originated with Joseph Smith. That doesn't make it a true revelation from God of course. Joseph Smith could have been deceived or perhaps the Lord was testing the saints to see if they would blindly follow their prophet instead of Him. Or it could have been something else. And then of course there's always the possibility that D&C 132 contains celestial laws that the saints had taken away from them because they had broken or corrupted the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. It's hard to say. If D&C 132 is an authentic revelation and contains higher laws of the celestial kingdom then we will one day be required to live them again at some point when the Lord commands them again.


Robin Hood said...

My mistake, it was John not James who said "a murderer hath not eternal life abiding in him" (John 3:15 if my memory serves me right).

Miguel Aveiro said...

Robin,

Oh yeah, 1 John 3:15. It says:

"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."

I really don't think hating your brother is a unpardonable sin. Start loving your brother and you'll be fine. This is similar to other scriptures about continuing in sin and you can't get to heaven by continuing to do these evil things and have evil intentions in our hearts. Thanks for bringing it up.

ldsawakening,

It says "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise", which isn't referring to being married in the temple. It's an ordinance, sometimes called the second endowment, or second anointing, whereupon the couple receive an ordinance in the Holy of Holies in the temple, in order to have their calling and election made sure. A bishop in Sandy explained it to me. It's funny how he lived right on the other end of the town to Denver Snuffer and both were interested in and believed in receiving visits from the Saviour. He couldn't tell me if one meets the Saviour during the ordinance, he said it was too sacred to go into.

ldsawakening said...

Miguel,

It sounds like that Bishop in Sandy was alluding to the top secret second endowment that is given to general authorities and their wives. You can read all about it and many other aspects of the temple at

ldsendowment.org

This website is not antimormon or offensive. Everything is explained very tastefully by what appears to be an active member of the church.

It doesn't appear that the couple are introduced to Christ in the second endowment. Denver Snuffer draws the same conclusion in PTHG for what it's worth. (since you brought him up) Though I agree that those verses say sealed by the holy spirit of promise, I still tend to think that it refers to a temple sealing and not the second endowment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"He couldn't tell me if one meets the Saviour during the ordinance, he said it was too sacred to go into."

That's GA Speak for "No, I didn't see the Savior but I'm hoping you'll believe I did."

ldsawakening said...

Lol! Amen Rock, that's exactly what it means!

Miguel Aveiro said...

Ok, I'm done reading that. There is no mention of meeting Jesus Christ. It's very interesting though. I wonder what the relation is between that and the baptism of fire as well as the meeting with the Saviour. So how many steps are there to gain eternal life? How many and which ones are ordinances, requiring a temple otherwise? The baptism of fire is one of my next lot of topics I want to get into.

Something else that bishop said was that he worked in the Salt Lake Temple and had a meeting in the Main Assembly Room there, with all the workers and President Monson (maybe there were other apostles there too, but I don't remember). President Monson said the apostles meet in the Counsel Room every Thursday to partake of the sacrament. If I remember rightly, Monson talked about them meeting with the Lord in that room. They do apparently meet on a Thursday, because I was in Temple Square to see the Christmas lights, and saw there was a light on in that area of the building. So that part may be true. I would like them to be able to meet with the Lord, but I doubt that now.

Another little bit of trivia: you can see in the plans for the original Salt Lake Temple that the Counsel Room and the other meeting room on that floor, were not in the original plans. Neither were there any Endowment Instruction rooms and there were two Large Halls, one on each of the upper floors, instead of the single, larger one on the top floor. There were no balconies in them, like there are now, where the brethren sit up and down them, with each one representing the two divisions of the priesthood. There were also four "Special Rooms" in the original plans. I wonder if these changes have anything to do with the changes in church organisation, doctrines and ordinances?

Miguel Aveiro said...

Here's where I got that from:
https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/salt-lake-city/4-design-construction-and-role-salt-lake-temple

Evolution of temple practices:
http://saintsherald.com/2013/03/05/evolving-temple-practices-early-church-and-today/

I found a site somehwere, made by a member of the Community of Christ, that showed the Kirtland or Nauvoo temple held dances and other social events. As they were used for education, they also received non-members in them to learn and I think even give their own lectures.

Anyway, sorry to go off topic, but I just found it interesting.

ldsawakening said...

Miguel,

Yeah the first presidency and quorum of the 12 do meet every Thursday in the Salt Lake Temple. As far as I know the 12 meet together in one room for a couple of hours and then the first presidency joins in for two more hours. I know they take the sacrament in that meeting and I believe they also pray around an altar together similar to in the endowment.

There's no way Christ is literaly in that meeting each week. Even Joseph Smith only claimed to have seen Christ a couple of times. In fact I doubt Christ has ever been in those meetings in person. It is possible that He has been present on occasion, but I find it pretty unlikely. I do think there have been latter day apostles who have seen Christ, but there's no way they all have. Those that claim to have seen Christ would have had to have seen Him alone. Several apostles and even church presidents have said that they never saw Christ. I think among those are Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber J. Grant. In fact I would suspect only a small percentage of the 100 apostles who have served since the church was organized have seen Christ, but who knows. That doesn't make President Monson a lier (provided that he even said that the brethren meet with Christ). Christ can lead them by the Holy Ghost, which I'm sure He does (at least on occasion), just like He will lead anyone if they let Him.

It would be nice if the brethren would be more straightforward in how they say how they know what they know or whether or not they've seen Christ. They're vague comments make it hard to know what really goes on at church headquarters or even in those sacred meetings in the Temple each week.

I'd be happy to discuss this topic further or any other ones you care to talk about. Instead of tying up the comment section on this blog you can click on my screen name ldsawakening and it will take you to my blog (which has only 1 post) that I created for the purpose of discussing the gospel with other individuals likemyself who are searching for the truth.

Robin Hood said...

Rock,
I think you're probably right about the "too sacred to go into" comment.

Jimbo said...

Rock, you rocked the house with this blog. I loved every single bit of it. Keep them coming. You are great.

Sam said...

What a stupid thing to say:

Blogger Alan Rock Waterman said...
Never forget that members of this church stood in for the proxy baptisms of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun more than once, and never was either of those persons interviewed to determine if they were worthy, given that they were well known to have been living together outside of marriage.

February 1, 2016 at 1:49 PM

You're calling it "this church" as in separate from you. Funny as you try to pretend you are a TBM. Calling BS. Church made mistakes, no need to re-publish and smear. SLC was right on not letting you back yet.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No no, Sam, it's actually true!

Eva Braun did live with some guy she wasn't married to. History doesn't tell us much about her boyfriend other than he really rocked one of those Oliver Hardy mustaches. Eva Braun must have gone for that style of facial hair, because she is known to have put out for him on a regular basis.

Eva was also not worthy of baptism because she smoked and even drank coffee on occasion. Plus, she had been seen in sleeveless dresses, so you can't really blame the guy for coming on to her. She was clearly asking for it.

Robin Hood said...

Actually Rock, this is rather silly.
Sometimes you don't do yourself any favours.

Miguel Aveiro said...

We should therefore summon up ghosts, like the witch of Endor (no, not the place with the Ewoks) and interview them before we baptize them. In the case of Eva Braun, we should politely ask her to come for the interview correctly dressed in modest clothing.

This makes me wonder, what does the church do with South American natives (the perpetually nude ones)? Are they required to wear clothes in order to be baptized? What if they're not, but they then get endowed? I imagine they need to start wearing clothes then, because they need to wear garments at all times but they can't walk around in public only wearing garments. On my mission, in my first area I was a third wheel to a pair of zany zone leaders. We discussed how women wear garments, as we didn't really know how they wore them. Do they put the vest on over the bra, or underneath? I still don't know what you Americans call the top piece of the set of garments. I know that vest means something different over there. Anyway, due to this missionary experience (which I'll probably tell my children and grandchildren and some other children I'll confuse as my own progeny, especially if I contract Alzheimers) I know that other people have wondered what the church will do with nude South American natives. So I'm not alone in this.

So, Robin, how silly is that?

Miguel Aveiro said...

I had a conversation on the facebook "Latter-Day Saint Freedom Group". We were talking about one world governments. I shared the Venus Project on there and I was trying to say why it would be a good idea for there not be any money and machines provide for our needs. You know, today machines do a lot of the work that humans used to do. So a lady on there argued with me. She thought it would be wrong for humans to not have to work for their survival. It's not freedom unless we have the right to work or die for not working, as it is written, "the idler shall not eat the bread of the labourer", or something like that. Nevermind that machinery was very primitive in the time that was written. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with machines growing and harvesting all our bread. Then we can be free to work in the pursuit of other endeavours. We could be solving the world's problems, like what's really going on inside an atom, how do we help young people keep the law of chastity - do we need more clothing guidelines?, and how many questions should we ask these ghosts that we have summoned, so we can baptize them.

Another reason she had a problem with a moneyless society, is, get this, we wouldn't be able to pay tithing! So we develop a system whereby we're able to live the United Order, but we have to worry about how we're going to give a tenth part of our earnings back to the Lord. I thought tithing replaced the higher law of consecration (the united order) because we couldn't live that higher law. Wasn't tithing instituted by the Lord to pay off church debts and fund the church's activities? In a society such as the Venus Project, where people have access to all the world's resources, we won't have to pay for anything anymore.

See, I believe that God's commandments serve functional purposes and aren't just for us to be obedient to rules. It's up to Him to remove the laws, we can't just say we don't need them anymore. But if we make it impossible to pay tithing because we found a way to keep the united order in a highly efficient way and removed the need for debt and servitude, wouldn't the Lord be okay with that?

Log said...

Rock's point is cogent. We LDS, by our works and words, demonstrate that we love long-dead fornicating mass-murderers more than living, innocent children who believe in Jesus.

Log said...

I wonder if we might find Roman emperor Caligula somewhere in the ordinance database - hell, I wonder if we might find Cain, Pontius Pilate, Herod, or even Caiaphas.

But The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot suffer its membership rolls to be besmirched by the names of children who believe in Jesus and desire to be baptized but have the wrong parentage.

Y'all are building a society I do not know that I wish to participate in eternally and throughout worlds without end. But as long as you're happy with it, you can have it.

Robin Hood said...

That's fine then Log.
Suits me.

Log said...

Robin,

I believe you that Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler are to be preferred, in your estimation, over innocent children.

NET Jeremiah 5:31

The prophets prophesy lies.
The priests exercise power by their own authority.
And my people love to have it this way.
But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!


Same as it ever was.

Rock: you realize Robin's attitude towards you, as well as the other Brethrenites' attitude towards you, comes about because they're closet atheists - even as their Pharisee forbearers - who view you as a hypocrite and contentious pretender seeking status and power just like themselves, don't you?

They think you're engaged in a game of words to spoil their great kingdom. They think you're merely trolling or harassing them, just as they are you, because the alternative cannot possibly be true in their minds - there is no God, they think, after all.

They don't realize you're shaking their blood off your garments, because they don't believe in God and don't believe in the world to come - so they're trying to take their victory over their enemies in this world, and you are one of them.

There is no epithet strong enough to express the depth of foolishness they display here and elsewhere.

Log said...

And if it is not atheism that leads to preferring long-dead fornicating mass-murderers' society to that of innocent children, then what manner of god must they believe in, who saves fornicating mass-murderers but excludes innocent children from his society?

But to ask the question is to answer it.

Miguel Aveiro said...

You can't compare the two. I don't believe they would baptize fornicating mass-murders if they were alive. Ordinances, like baptism, are performed for the dead, but they have no effect unless the individual has faith in Christ and repents. The Lord hasn't given any commandments concerning which dead people we can perform ordinances for. The likes of Hitler would have a hell of a lot of repenting to do, for sure, but unless God tells us not to, we will perform ordinances for them. It's not for us to judge them.

As for innocent children, God told us we can baptize them at age 8. Some may reason that if they were baptized, they may grow up holding the erroneous views of their parents, and live in sin like them. But then it's still human reasoning. What we need is to listen for the voice of the Lord on the matter.

Log said...

But I can directly compare the two. We demonstrate, through both word and deed, we love long-dead fornicating mass-murderers more than we love innocent, living children who believe in Jesus.

The point of comparison is whether we will perform the ordinance of baptism for them, thereby opening the gate of the Kingdom of God for them, and receive them into our society.

That's all one needs to know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: we demonstrably love Hitler and his mistress more than we love innocent children who believe in Jesus.

zomarah said...

Perhaps just as strange. We allow Adolph Hitler a chance to have faith in Christ and repent; but wont do the same for all the Jews he killed.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Robin Hood said...

Log,
I guess I'm just not as perfect a judge as you. I tend to leave these things to God. You seem to think you can tell God what to do.
Good luck with that.

Log said...

1 And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ.

2 Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation--behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God--then will ye say that there is no God?

3 Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?

4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.

5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.

6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Log,

Do you believe those who wish to be baptized need only ask and then they are baptized? No questions asked of them to see if they understand and have met the requirements laid down in scripture? If you do, then I can see how you can directly compare baptizing a living person with a dead person. But I say that you cannot compare the two because people need to show that they have faith and have repented before they are baptized. We can't communicate with the dead before then because we have no way of knowing their worthiness.

Actually, in any case, you can't compare them. This is because a baptism by proxy is done regardless of whether the person is worthy or not, but is there waiting for them once they are ready. It's like for living people, we print out a ticket to heaven and give it to them, once they show they are worthy. But for the dead, we print them out a ticket but they can only use it once they're ready and worthy. We're only commanded to print the tickets, not to judge if the dead are worthy of them.

Log said...

Miguel,

You have the scriptures before you. It's up to you whether you will keep society with men who contradict the scriptures.

I wish you well of your choice, whichever way you choose.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Log,

What do you mean by "keep society with men"?

I don't think I've contradicted the scriptures, and I'm not saying these men didn't. Yes, I have the scriptures before me, but I haven't found anything in them that contradict what I wrote above. If you know any please let me know.

Log said...

Miguel,

"Keep society with men" means to remain in their company, identify with them, hang around them, and so forth.

I'm not here to do your homework for you - if you are interested, you'll do your own. You might start with where you said words which aren't in the scriptures concerning baptism.

Good luck.

Log said...

53 And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.

54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.


Closet atheists, I tell you.

Diana said...

Clearly the same? How do you know?

Log said...

Hey Rock,

If prevaricating (as you have defined it in your post) is arguably worse than lying, how do you absolve the Lord, and Abraham, of the charge of prevaricating in the incident where the Lord instructed Abraham to tell Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister?

Abraham 2:22-25
22 And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon;

23 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say--She is his wife; and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise:

24 Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live.

25 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me--Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There are more than one instances when lying to save lives was looked upon favorably by God. The Hebrew Midwives is an example. Also Harlots who lied and the bible says the Lord blessed them.

Quite a different thing from what Russell Nelson did: deliberately trick the Saints into believing the Lord said something the Lord never did.

Log said...

Rock,

I don't think your response is adequate.

32 And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.


And...

11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.


So which is it? Either prevarication is not lying, and also not sinful, or God is a lying liar who lies.

A standard of judgement that condemns God seems problematic if one is seeking to enter his society.

Log said...

Because if you look at it dispassionately, God instructed Abraham to trick Pharaoh into believing Sarai was not Abraham's wife, but this is precisely the kind of thing for which you have condemned Nelson.

Log said...

I use the word "trick" because that is the word you used.

Dox said...

Indeed, it could be shown pretty readily that God "prevaricates" (speak or act in an evasive way).

D&C 19:


6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.

7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.

8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.

9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—

11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.

12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

BurntPunched said...

Would like to see a post on this Rock

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A97odud60o

Miguel Aveiro said...

Log,

I did some searching in the scriptures and did not find anything about interviews for the dead, whom we baptize in proxy. Neither is there anything about interviewing a living person before baptism. It's just a way that one finds out if they have "truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins," as it says in D&C 20:37.

There is also nothing about forbidding baptism to somebody based on what the parents of the individual get up to in their romantic relationships, or for anything else they might do. However, the LDS church won't allow baptisms if the child does not have the parents' permission, and this is a legal requirement. Are we to say no to that legal requirement because the Lord said He doesn't deny them baptism? Maybe that requires a revelation as well just to make sure it's OK with God to try and obey the law. Personally, I think God understands and won't condemn us for that.

Baptizing children of gay and polygamous parents is fine with the law and doesn't go against any scripture. So unless God reveals otherwise, we're all clear for the go ahead.

I can understand the concern when, in striving to fulfill God's will in providing saving ordinances for the dead, we come across the likes of Hitler and we don't find them worthy by a long shot. It's not for us to judge who may repent and come unto Christ so, unless God says otherwise we should perform the ordinances and let God sort out if they are able to accept them. That's just going by the cold hard facts of the scriptural text we have. However, if we're unsure about performing an ordinance for Hitler, based on our understandable feelings towards him, we are able to (or should be able to) take it to the Lord and He will answer us.

Miguel Aveiro said...

And for the record, no I don't love fornicating mass-murderers more than innocent children who desire to come unto Christ. Judging by the works done in the body, I would say these children are worthy of Him while the others are not. What happens to each of their eternal souls? I don't know.

As for keeping society with men who contradict scriptures. That's a difficult one. I hang out with people who aren't even Christian, let alone Christians who don't follow everything in the scriptures. If I were to not associate myself with anyone unless they fulfilled my views on what is right, then I'd have to constantly try to be on my own. I'm quite good at avoiding people, but I don't think I'm up to such a task.

Log said...

Miguel, I am unsure why your default position is to justify the Church, even while admitting baptismal interviews are an innovation and that forbidding baptism to minors whose parents disapprove is contrary to the scriptures. It seems you think contradicting the scriptures is a light thing, or that "keys" means "heaven must approve us" even if what we are doing is in violation of God's word.

The commandment is that all who repent and desire baptism shall be baptized.

You get to keep the society you prefer, Miguel. If it is the society which publicly demonstrates it loves long-dead fornicating mass-murderers more than it loves innocent children who believe in Jesus - and I am referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - you're welcome to it. Worlds without end, even.

Miguel Aveiro said...

I was just saying that we can't go baptizing children under 18 without the permission of their parents. Parents are responsible for their children, as the scriptures teach. Were we to do that, we would get into trouble with the law and it would make it more difficult to baptize others.

In any case, whatever my default permission, we can, or we could in Joseph Smith's day, take matters to the Lord and receive an answer. There were times when people got in trouble for the sake of the gospel, so maybe the Lord would like us to? See this is what happens when we don't have the clear revelations, like we did back in former times.

So, you're implying I should not have society with those who don't take matters to the Lord and don't receive, or at least don't transmit revelations? In other words, that I should leave the "Church", including removing my records?

Log said...

We can, actually, go baptizing children under 18 without the permission of their parents. It is true that an incorporated Church (note the big "C") cannot do anything without the permission of the state, but that's not my problem, and it's not one that is contemplated in the scriptures. Why is that, one wonders out loud, pointedly? Is the Church still the bride of Christ, one wonders? Or has she put him away and married another, one who she serves with far greater precision and alacrity than she ever served the Lord?

I'm saying you get the society you're willing to settle for in the end. If you are of a type to exclude the innocent while welcoming the wicked, then that's the society you get in the end. If you aren't of that type, do you wish to remain in the society of those who are - supporting them, justifying them, making their priorities your own, and so on?

Do you believe them?

MrHFMetz said...

This new "policy" (that's what it is, not a revelation) is a bizarre and unwise decision that will not be accepted by the Lord, because it is illegal: the law of God says that children should be baptised when they get the age of eight years; if they so desire of course, and have been prepared for the ordinance.
Let's get to the practical side of the issue: what these parents should do - unless they are prepared to wait ten more years – is to have their kids baptised by themselves or others who hold the Priesthood. This will involve some excommunications and also these baptisms will not be recognised by the LDS church, but they will certainly be registered in Heaven, because baptism is an ordinance of the Priesthood, not of the church. Are not all Mormon children from all LDS sects baptised by their own people? Who would question the validity of all these baptisms? As long as it is a priesthood ordinance, performed by the proper authority and in the proper manner, there is not much to object I should say. Only God Himself can determine our priesthood and its validity, and if the Lord agrees, the baptism will be valid. That is in my opinion the only way we can follow the law of God in this regard, and that is what I would do.

ERICK SOSA said...
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ERICK SOSA said...
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ERICK SOSA said...

"Rock,
With the amount of hatred you spew out of your so called true blue Mormon mouth you'd make Satan blush. Yeah I called it.

Milo Jury said...

Dagnabit, Rock! I was just heating up some popcorn!