Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Metaphysics of Mormonism

Most of us recall Joseph Smith's description of the power that controls the universe. This force, he said, is what gives God his power. “It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the universe together.”

Okay, so those aren't the precise words of Joseph Smith; I more or less cribbed that from Obi-Wan Kenobi. But Joseph Smith actually did teach a Theo-philosophy quite similar to what George Lucas presented in the Star Wars films.

As is well known, Lucas adopted the idea for what he called The Force from the East Asian philosophy known as the Tao. I like the description of the Tao given by Anne Collins Smith, Professor of philosophy and classical studies at Susquehanna University. She defines it concisely in a way that would be familiar to any Jedi, and should be -but most likely isn't- familiar to most Mormons:

“The Tao,” says Professor Smith, “is kind of a force that pervades the universe. It is the source of the universe, but it also is the universe.”

If that sounds more like Buddhism than Mormonism, well, what can I tell you? Similar teachings do exist in Mormon theology, but most people overlook them. In addition to restoring many of the fundamental truths of Christianity, Joseph Smith also restored pure and true doctrines that would be easily compatible with Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. His mission, after all was the restoration of truth.

You may not remember seeing the philosophy of the Tao or the Jedi in Mormon scriptures, but it's in there. If you didn't notice it in your reading, that's not surprising. My first experience with reading through the standard works was a goal set for me in seminary. The idea was to get through the scriptures a chapter a day until...Yay! I'm done!

I caught most of the narrative, but little did I know I was missing a boatload of philosophical gems. Goals are useful when you want to get something accomplished and out of the way, but when striving for enlightenment, I've found it's better to slow down and take your time.

Many of the theological treasures of Mormonism once commonly understood by the early Latter-day Saints have all but vanished from Church teachings today. Ever since the philosophy of top-down correlation captured and took over the programs of the Church, rarely do we encounter any of the meat of the gospel in our meetings Nothing gets into the Sunday School manuals these days except milk.

I've noticed that even the scriptures assigned from the lesson manual often skip over the verses containing the really interesting stuff in favor of those sections which contain things the leaders feel we should be working harder at. We always seem to be getting counsel and instruction; rarely any real theology or religious philosophy.

Today, few members of the Church under the age of thirty have even heard of Joseph Smith's Lectures on Faith, but those short lessons contain information that the early Saints considered essential to an understanding of the attributes of God and the workings of the spirit. These lectures were considered important enough to have been published as part of the Doctrine and Covenants at one time, but were inexplicably dropped from later editions.

Of equal importance -and similarly forgotten- are Orson Pratt's Key to the Universe, along with his Brother Parley's Key to the Science of Theology, both which eloquently expound on Joseph Smith's far-reaching teachings on the workings of the universe and the spirit of God that fills it. Many Mormons today can rattle off a recitation from memory of the basics of how the restoration came about, but have little understanding of the theological mysteries that restoration was meant to deliver to the world. It's like a schoolchild telling how the founding fathers all gathered in Philadelphia to found a new nation without any mention or analysis of the founding documents created there.

LDS author Denver Snuffer has commented on the result of this loss:
“We are raising a new breed of Latter-day Saint today whose familiarity with doctrine is negligible. They understand only a fraction of what has been restored, and for many of the doctrines, their understanding is incomplete, or so skewed that they are incorrect...More and more of the saints grow up inside this new environment and have never even gained a fundamental command of the doctrines which Joseph Smith restored.”
It's Alive!
I first got a hint that there was much more to my religion than I had ever imagined one Sunday evening when W. Cleon Skousen came to my home stake in Anaheim to present a fireside to the Young Adults which he titled “My Personal Search for the Meaning of the Atonement.” Brother Skousen related to us how, when he was a young man, he wondered why Jesus had to be tortured and killed. Why in the world was something like that necessary? What purpose could that possibly serve? And who wanted that?

Those are good questions. Until brother Skousen brought the matter up, it had never occurred to me to wonder exactly how and why the death of the Son of God would “satisfy the demands of justice,” whatever that meant. Now that Skousen had me thinking about it, the whole thing seemed futile and unnecessary. If God was God, why couldn't he fix whatever the problem was with simply a wave of his hand? Why was it necessary to allow himself to be killed? It made no sense to me whatsoever.

Skousen told how he took his questions to Apostle John Widtsoe, a noted LDS scientist and intellectual of his day. Over time, Widtsoe directed young Cleon to those scriptures that contained clues to the answers he was seeking. I won't go into his findings much here, because I hope you'll listen to the talk yourself, which you can find here on YouTube. Skousen walks you through his early epiphany, providing complete scriptural references to his findings, so have pen and paper handy.

A part of what Skousen learned was that the scriptures of the restoration teach that the entire universe is literally alive; that every tiny, quantum particle is made up not just of matter, but also a substance that Joseph Smith termed “intelligence.” Although the intelligence these particles are infused with is a lower form of intellect than we humans obtain, it enables all matter to fulfill the measure of its creation. Sub-atomic particles bond with other particles and in so doing hold themselves together and hold their places in the universe. Without intelligence, the elements would have remained unorganized, and if that universal intelligence were to abandon its duty, all would fly back to chaos.

This “intelligence” apparently infuses all matter in the universe with a sense of balance, or justice, which the elements are constantly struggling to maintain. Hence the saying “the universe bends toward justice.” It actually does.
In 1908, Elder Widtsoe had authored a booklet entitled “Joseph Smith as Scientist: a Contribution to Mormon Philosophy,” which was a collection of essays expounding on what today we might call The Metaphysics of Mormonism. Widtsoe reminds the reader that Joseph taught that God did not create matter; it is as eternal as he is. Every particle of matter that exists in the universe today has existed here from the beginning with God. Creation consisted of God organizing the elements that were already in existence. Through Joseph Smith, mankind learned that matter can change its properties, but it cannot cease to exist. Likewise with energy. As Widtsoe points out, “when any form of energy disappears, it reappears immediately in another form.”

So Why Mormonism?
Last month I was interviewed on Mormon Expression Podcasts where I was invited to explain my reasons for founding this blog. Much of what I expressed as my personal beliefs seemed so far removed from current LDS teachings that I was asked, “So why Mormonism? What does all that have to do with Mormon teachings?”

Well, not much, if your definition of “Mormonism” consists of the set of rules and dogmas that have filled up our lesson plans in recent decades. These days, you have to look pretty hard to find those core theologies that enthralled the early members of the LDS church.

In that interview I did with the good folks at Mormon Expression, I'm not sure I did much more than yammer, stammer, and ramble on, but one of the points I was trying to get to and never seemed to arrive at was that by “pure” Mormonism, I meant those doctrines and teachings that we have largely forgotten, or that have been de-emphasized in the modern LDS church. If what I expressed sounded more like Buddhism than Mormon theology, that shouldn't surprise us. We are inching away from what made us unique among all Christendom. And one of the things that makes us unique is the implication in our theology of the possibility that God is not completely omnipotent.

That statement right there would get me expelled as a blasphemer in most sectarian churches. According to their dogmas, God is all powerful. He can do anything. Anything at all.

Can he really? Then how come he couldn't prevent his own son from being tortured and killed? Why did he have to allow that? Whose big idea was it, and why did Jesus have to go through that awful experience? No Catholic or Protestant that I've ever met seems to have the answer to that one.

But Mormon theology does.

Our scriptures teach us that what makes God all-powerful is that the elements choose to obey him. Why do they obey him? Because they honor him. His honor is his power. Those little intelligences will do absolutely anything God asks of them, because they love and honor Him so much.

What would happen if those little intelligences suddenly stopped obeying God? Could anything get them to revolt? Well, if the elements decided to stop obeying God, he would cease to be God, wouldn't he? Isn't the fact that he can control all things the very attribute that makes him God?

And what could possibly cause the elements to stop honoring God? We learn in Alma 42:13 that if the work of justice were to be destroyed, “God would cease to be God.” That is, if God were to stop playing fair, the elements would cease to obey him. The universe demands justice. God must be just; there simply can not be an unjust God.

Well, you can stop holding your breath because the demands of justice have been met. All those tiny intelligences recognized and honored God's sacrifice. So now God can never cease to be God. This is all explained more powerfully in Skousen's talk, which I believe is essential to understanding the theo-cosmology inherent in the restored gospel.

The Tao of Mormonism
What Old Ben Kenobi described as The Force, Joseph Smith referred to as the Holy Spirit. He describes this spirit as not merely the spirit of God. It's more than that; a substance, a light, that reaches throughout space. It is made up of all consciousness. It fills and permeates you and me and all solid matter, and it connects us not only with God, but with each other. In section 88 of the D&C we're taught that this “light” proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. It is in all things. It gives life to all things. It is the law by which all things are governed, “even the power of God.” (D&C 88:6-13)

Sounds a lot like The Force, doesn't it?

Joseph Smith did not use the language of science; he had only the vocabulary of his day
to describe the things he was trying to get across. Thus he used the word “intelligence” to describe something we might today call “consciousness.” To describe the spirit, which he tells us is made of matter, but in a finer and more pure form, he uses the word “light.”

In their book, Science and Mormonism, Melvin and Garfield Cook define this light as more than physical light. It could be, they maintain, more accurately called enlightenment. The scriptures, they say, “explain that light, truth, spirit, and enlightenment are all intimately related” and that all consist of a form of matter, or at least intrinsic properties of matter.

In short, the Spirit, this “light,” permeates everything. Absolutely everything, on earth and in space.

As I sit at my desk writing this, my home office is filled with light from outside, yet I can't even see the source of that light. The sun is not directing its rays through my window. I would actually have to get up and go outside and look around in the sky to find out where the source of this light actually is.

This room is filled with light even when I can't tell where that light is coming from. What's more, the room is also filled with air that is apparently sharing the same space as the light. There is no shortage of air just because light is filling the room. The light is not displacing the air. Both light and the air are somehow sharing the same space on a molecular level.  One does not crowd out the other.

Not only that, but the light is somehow coming right through my window, which is supposedly a non-permeable object made of solid rock. At some point that rock had been pulverized to sand, and through some magical process I don't pretend to understand, the sand was heated and converted into a clear substance that, though solid, still allows the light to fully penetrate, day after day, without breaking or even puncturing.

I am intrigued by all this, as I am by the fact that I can hold a strong magnet underneath the table and use it to control a piece of metal on top.  Whatever invisible rays are penetrating the wood are imperceptible, and don't seem to be harming the table. Although benign, it's undeniable that there is some very powerful force at work here.

The Invisible Ether
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of the great scientific minds hypothesized that, in addition to matter and energy, the universe must contain some additional unseen, all-pervading substance. This invisible substance they dubbed Luminiferous Ether. By the mid eighteen hundreds, scientists determined through tests and observation that this ether was, in fact, undeniably real. Ether exhibited all the properties of that which the Prophet Joseph Smith had described as attributes of the spirit. It was believed to fill “the pores of wood, soil, lead, gold, and the human body.” Everything was filled with ether: air, space, you, me, everything.

The eponymous Lord Kelvin, after whom we name measures of heat units, declared, “One thing we are sure of, and that is the reality and substantiality of the luminiferous ether.”
It is something that the planets move through with the greatest ease. It permeates our air; It is matter prodigiously less dense than air -of such density as not to produce the slightest resistance to any body going through it.”
Sounds like spirit matter to me. Or in terms of the Tao: “It is the source of the universe, but it also is the universe.”

The Quantum Revolution
The Ether hypothesis fell out of favor somewhat following Einstein's theory of relativity. Ironic, as Einstein spent the last thirty years of his life attempting to come up with a Unified Theory of the Universe that would explain how everything works together. The old-fashioned theory of the ether, a substance which had been said to permeate everything in the universe, would have fit the bill, but the Ether Hypothesis didn't fit well with Einstein's new gravity-based theory of the universe.

Once it was learned the atom could be split, a whole new scientific discipline was born. Physicists experimenting with matter at the sub-atomic level found that the known laws of physics no longer seemed to apply. The smaller the particle, the less consistently it behaved. In the famous Double Slit Experiment described by theoretical physicist Fred Alan Wolf, electrons behaved as if they had minds of their own; as though they possessed some kind of intelligence. “It was here,” says Dr. Wolf, “That physicists stepped into the strange netherworld of quantum events. What is matter?”

A “quantum” is defined as “the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction.” It is really, really small.

It's just about the smallest thing you can think of. Much smaller than a molecule, way tinier than an atom. The only thing that's smaller than a quantum is a quark.

You can't see either one. The only way we know they exist is...well, we don't know. We can only surmise their existence by observing their effects. We certainly have no way of knowing what either one might look like. It's impossible to build a microscope that can show us.

Considering quarks and quantums from a theological/metaphysical point of view, we might think of a Quantum as “that which acts,” while a Quark might be “that which is acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:14).  In other words, a quantum seems to be a quark with an intelligence attached to it.

This is as good a time as any to admit that I don't really have any idea what I'm talking about here.

At least I'm in good company. Quantum theory is just that: a theory. No one can do anything but hypothesize about how this stuff works or why particles behave the way they do. In the words of Richard Feynman, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics.”

Quantum theory can really take you down the rabbit hole. When you're dealing with matter that seems to have a mind of its own, anything goes. But to the person seeking evidence of the spiritual workings of the universe, quantum mechanics represents a fascinating playground. Here's Brian Greene, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos:

Quantum Mechanics implies that something you do over here can be instantaneously linked to something happening over there, regardless of distance.”

By the nineteen eighties,” says, Greene, “researchers confirmed that there can be an instantaneous bond
between what happens at widely separated locations...Long range quantum connections can bypass spatial separation. Two things can be far apart in space, but as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, it's as if they're a single entity.”

Or, to put it in theological terms, The “spirit” of God can be in God, and it can be in you -or, for that matter, you and everybody else- all at the same time. Put another way, you can transmit your love and light to someone from here and that person will receive it over there. Sort of how prayer works, I would think.

Your thoughts are not traveling through empty space, they're traveling through the connective spirit matter (“All spirit is matter,” the Prophet taught, “But it is more fine or pure”). Your thoughts and prayers are conveyed through the spirit ether and are received instantaneously by God, the one you're praying to, as well as to the person you are directing your prayer at.

Quantum Theory appears to be the nexus where science and sprituality can comfortably intersect. Notice I didn't say “science and religion.” Both science and religion are populated by partisans who tend to be rigidly dogmatic, in spite of claims by either side to be involved in the search for truth. (“Don't make the mistake,” cautions physics professor John Hegelin, “of thinking that the scientific community is scientific.”)

Of late, researchers in quantum theory have made dialogue with philosophers and theologians. There is a fascinating film called What The Bleep Do We Know?, which was somewhat of a phenomenon when it came out in 2006. It features interviews with theoretical physicists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, psychologists, biochemists, molecular biologists, philosophers, theologians, and at least one 35,000 year old mystic. It is not to be missed. You can see it on YouTube, but I recommend you get the expanded version, which is entitled What the Bleep/Down the Rabbit Hole: Quantum Edition. Where the original film will give you a taste of the metaphysical, the expanded version includes three double-sided DVDs with extended interviews and insights. This is essential viewing if you are at all interested in this kind of stuff.

Another Shot At The Unified Theory Of Everything
Then there is the relatively new subset of particle physics known as String Theory, another attempt at arriving at a Unified Theory of the Universe. Some also see string theory as a viable explanation for the workings of the all-pervasive universal spirit; replacing, in effect, the Ether Hypothesis. 

According to string theorists, all matter is ultimately made up of one-dimensional, sub-atomic oscillating frequencies of energy, or “strings.” According to the theory, when you get down to the smallest quantum bit, there's no solid matter there, only vibrations. Everything in the universe is made up of these vibrations, which can pass through any solid object. Like the mystical ether, these sub-atomic strings fill and permeate you, your furniture, your friends, the rocks and trees, your shoes, socks, and underwear. Everything.

Planets? Yes, everything. The sun? Of course. Everything. Strings permeate and travel through all matter. According to string theorists, these strings are the essence of all matter.

Which makes you wonder why they don't just go back to believing in the ether.

Do we really know these so-called “strings” exist? Not really. According to Andrew Zimmerman Jones, author of String Theory for Dummies, “String theory is a mathematical theory. It's based on mathematical equations that can be interpreted in certain ways.”

Some critics say the math is based on faulty premises, and that the theory is a real stretch. And, let's face it, from the point of view of LDS theo-cosmology, matter can't ultimately end up being just a bunch of empty vibrations. All matter has to ultimately be some thing. (D&C 93:33).

Nevertheless, string theory could possibly explain how everything and everyone is connected with everything and everyone else, and how all of us are connected to God.

However, there is a growing movement in the scientific community that suggests we take a look back at the Ether hypothesis. Rather than developing convoluted mathematical formula that are impossible to test or observe, these maverick scientists are examining the possibility that the workings of the universe can best be understood by the view that we live in a universe based on electro-magnetic activity rather than the common assumption that the universe is gravity-based alone. 

The gravity-based theory of the universe necessitates mathematical formulas that require weirder and weirder assumptions such as the existence of unobservable things such as dark matter and parallel universes. Pretty soon you've got science relying on faith much more than the religionists ever did. Why not, say these dissenters, look at the evidence that makes all the pieces of the puzzle fit together nicely, and provides that elusive Unified Theory of Everthing?

Why The Universe Is A Vast Electric OrganismOne reason the Electro-Magnetic View of the Universe was rarely given serious consideration in mainstream scientific circles was that one of its earliest proponents, George Woodard Warder, tended to publish his findings under such non-scientific sounding titles as “Why The Universe Is A Vast Electric Organism,” “Man Is a Soul Clad in Air: A Spirit In An Electric Organism,” and “Why Love Is the Electric Law Of Life And Why All That Live Must Come From Loving.

Titles like these would be intriguing to theo-philosophers, but they didn't fly with Warder's scientific peers.  Although Warder was not the only advocate of the Electro-Magnetic thesis, he didn't make it easier for those theories to gain traction in the mainstream. The work was ignored without investigation, and Warder dismissed as a kook.  But now his research, and that of other proponents of the electro-magnetic view, are all getting a second look.

It was actually all that high weirdness attendant in quantum physics that got the science guys willing to give this previously abandoned theory of the universe another look-see. After all, solar wind is not really “wind,” but electrical particles in space. So maybe there's something to all this electro-magnetism after all. For those of us interested in the Theo-cosmology of Mormonism, it's another reason to perk up our ears. 

Everything Is Plasma 
If I understand all this correctly (and I'm not saying I do), the electro-magnetic theory maintains that the visible universe consists of 99.999 % cosmic plasma (hint: that's a lot!). Plasma, they say, is the fourth state which matter can attain to (the other three are, of course, solid, liquid, and gas.)

This plasma consists, as far as we can tell, of tiny charged, ionized particles called Neutrinos. Neutrinos are not unknown in quantum physics, but in the electric universe theory they behave a bit differently. According to Wikipedia, a neutrino is “an elementary particle that usually travels close to the speed of light, is electrically neutral, and is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected.”

The difference in neutrinos under the electro-magnetic theory of the universe is that they are not limited by the speed of light. They don't seem to be limited by any field. (Remember Greene's description of something happening in one location immediately having an affect in another?) 

And that invites the question: Could this actually be a more accurate explanation than string theory, and a better description of what nineteenth century scientists referred to as the ether? Here's a description from Dave Talbot and Wallace Thornhill, two of the leading proponents of the electro-magnetic view of the universe today:
"From the smallest particle to the largest galactic formation, a web of electrical circuitry connects and unifies all of nature, organizing galaxies, energizing stars, giving birth to planets and, on our own world, controlling weather and animating biological organisms."
That theory would certainly describe the universe God lives in, where spirit matter permeates every one and every thing.

Perhaps the most prominent champion of this view of the universe as it reflects LDS theology is Anthony Larson, author of “And The Moon Shall Turn to Blood” and several other books of Mormon cosmological exegesis. Brother Larson maintains a fascinating website, Prophecy, Ancient History, and the Restored Gospel. He also conducts regular online seminars which bring together ancient prophecy with ancient mythology, cosmogeny, history, and astronomy, and ties it all in with the teachings of Joseph Smith. I've attended five of these webinars so far and I'll tell you, this stuff is mind-blowing. All the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place when looked at through the lens of this discipline.

I highly recommend you sign up for the next series of webinars if you are at all interested in a fuller understanding not only of the teachings and prophecies of Joseph Smith, but also of the deeper mysteries of the cosmos. It's all completely consistent with LDS theology, and I guarantee you'll know more than you ever did before about your own religion. If you attend the start of the next series, I'll probably attend again with you, as I really eat this stuff up. (If you can't attend a regularly scheduled class, Anthony will put on a private one-on-one session for you. All you have to do is email him and suggest a time.)

Thought Vibration And The Latter-day Saints
It's pretty apparent from a reading of early church history that the gifts of the spirit were readily apparent in those days and really quite common. Healings were instantaneous, visions were common, and the bond of community among the Saints was both intimate and strong. When the Saints addressed each other as “Brother” and “Sister,” it was not the formality it is today. It reflected a spiritual familiarity.

These days, we Mormons get along fine with each other, and we even have close friends at church, but we don't really see the gifts of the spirit readily apparent among us, at least not like they were in the old days. The experience of being overcome by the spirit is so rare in our meetings, we don't even come to church expecting it anymore.

When we give a blessing of healing to a sick member, we pretty well know from experience that it's going to be a crap shoot. Maybe the healing will take, maybe it won't. Most likely the person gets better after a few days anyway, just as they would have, blessing or not. We often even qualify our blessings by adding words such as “conditional upon your faith” just to let the sick person know that if he doesn't get well, it's not our fault, it's his.

In D&C 130:20-21, we learn that “there is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated, and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

This is another one of those scriptures that we all know, but have probably completely missed the meaning of. I think the problem is most of us attribute modern meanings to those words that aren't really there. We take those verses to mean that if we want blessings, we have to be obedient, because God says so. He's the boss, so if you want good things, you better straighten up and fly right.

When we think of "law," we usually think in terms of statutes and ordinances; arbitrary rules made up by men, and which can be changed or altered by political will. But when we're in the arena of God's law, "law" tends to mean something else entirely. We are taught that God commands the elements because he understands the laws of the universe and works with them. He never works against those laws. This definition of “Law” when used in scripture, usually refers to “the way things are.”

A common example of a law of nature is if you were to step off the top of a tall building, your body will travel downwards toward the sidewalk below. That's an example of “the way things are.”

This scripture states that there is a law -simply the way things are- that existed from the beginning. It doesn't say that God decreed it, it just says this is the way things have always been, not just since this world began, but before the very foundations of this world were begun.  So this goes way back to before the beginning. The way things are can't be changed or reversed, not even, presumably, by God. If God could change the way certain things are, those things would not be irrevocable. But this specific law cannot be revoked. It simply is what it is.

So, What Does It Mean?
This scripture tells us that if we want good things to come our way, we have to be obedient to the law. Here again, I think we normally interpret obedience as “doing what we are told.” But instead of thinking of "blessings" coming about as a result of our being “obedient to the law,” it might be more helpful if we think of it as “being in alignment with" the way things are.  Being one, as it were, with the universe.

So this is what I think is being taught here:

There is a way the universe works, and it cannot be changed. This is just the way it is, and here it is: If you want any particular thing to happen, it's absolutely necessary that you are in alignment with the way things are so that what you want to come to pass, can come to pass.”

In other words, like attracts like. Good attracts good. Love attracts love. Fear will bring you more things to be fearful about. Whatever you send forth into the universe, you will call forth more of that back to you. 

It's the law of the universe. And it's the way things are.  

By all accounts, the universe seems to react best to two great expressions: Gratitude, and love. Those who go through life radiating these qualities seem to attract more good things to themselves. Since the great law of God is the commandment to love, If we demonstrate pure, unconditional love to everyone, the gifts of the spirit will flow to us and through us.

I submit that one reason we as Latter-day Saints may be experiencing a dearth of the spirit is because we are failing, on the whole, to hold in our hearts sincere, unconditional love for all our fellow beings.

[What?! Is he crazy?! There is no more loving group of people on the earth than the Mormon people. Everyone knows Mormons love everyone equally. We are the salt of the earth.]

Judgment Call
May I offer a truism? It is not possible to love any person or group of people unconditionally at the same time you are holding them in judgment.

Now, we may not like it, and we may be baffled by the accusation, but the rest of the world sees us as among the most judgmental of all religions.
That's how we are perceived, and as the saying goes, perception is reality. A couple of years ago I was visiting in Utah. I had lived there in my twenties from the late 1970's to early '80's. But in the time since I had left and come back, something felt different. Something had changed. I sensed a disturbance in the force.

Under the surface of Utah society I could discern a tacit undercurrent of hostility between the Mormon community and the growing number of their non-Mormon neighbors of an intensity I had not noticed before. Most of this hostility seemed to emanate from non-Mormons, some of who told me they felt the disapproving eyes of the Mormons on them pretty much all the time. They knew they were viewed as lacking and inferior by the members of the dominant religion, and that feeling of disapproval has made many of them bitter and suspicious of Mormons in general.

Now, you may feel you don't have a judgmental bone in your body, and be convinced that whatever problems these people have, it's all in their imaginations because you adhere to the teachings of Christ who taught us to all love one another.  You ignore the problem because you don't think it's about you. 

If  your friends and co-workers were telling you all day that you had a piece of spinach in your teeth, at some point maybe you would want to check yourself in the mirror. If we are perceived as judgmental, it's because many among us are judgmental, whether we want to believe it or not.

8: The Mormon PropositionIf you can view the recent documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition without weeping at how cruelly some of our people are treating their own children, then you are a hard case indeed.  It's one thing to oppose homosexual marriage; it's quite another to put your own child on the street where he is forced to subsist on nothing because you hate who he is.  No matter what side of this volatile issue you fall on, it goes against the spirit to treat those who take a differing position as enemies who must be defeated at all costs.  Administering a gleeful beat-down to your opponent does not contribute to the harmony of the universe.  We as a church and as a people are in serious need of repenting for this ungodly attitude.

I knew of a young couple here in California who began attending services at a local LDS ward for no other reason than they felt the need to start attending a church, and our building was located a few doors down from where they lived. During the break between Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School, they took to going outside for a cigarette, because they were unable to last three hours without smoking. Many of the members, watching them from the foyer inside, were horrified at what they saw.  Didn't those two realize that people in the cars passing by would see them smoking on the front steps of a Mormon Church?!

The couple continued to attend church the following weeks, each Sunday heading out front for a cigarette break between meetings.

Question: How long do you think it was before some well-intentioned member strolled outside and suggested to them that perhaps it would be best if they worked on getting their habit under control before they returned to church again?

I guess that couple never got control of their bad habits, because they never did come back.

I also know of a woman, a one-time neighbor of mine, who was taking the missionary lessons and desired to be baptized. According to Church decree (not revelation, mind you, simply church policy) she could not be baptized because she wasn't married to the man she was living with. Unlike the early LDS church, the modern LDS Church(TM) doesn't recognize common-law marriages, only those marriages sanctioned by the State.

This neighbor, having heard I was LDS, sought me out one day to express her frustration. “All I want,” she told me, “is to be baptized, to show God I am committed to him. I just feel this need, that's all. I don't necessarily want to join your church, or even any church; I just want to be baptized. The missionaries convinced me that it's important and that they are the only ones who have the proper authority to do it, and I want to do it, so I don't understand -why can't I just be baptized?”

I didn't tell her the answer, though I knew it, of course.  It was a judgment call. Like that young couple who smoked, she wasn't good enough for us.  

Oh sure, John the Baptist didn't stop to interview those who desired baptism and run through a list of rules for them to commit to, and neither did Alma when he baptized the multitudes at the waters of Mormon. Ditto with Joseph Smith regarding the early nineteenth century converts. The only thing that has ever been required for baptism was a desire to be baptized, to wash away one's sins and take upon one's self the name of Christ.

But things are different in the LDS church today. Unlike most other Christian denominations, when we baptize a person, that baptism comes bundled complete with membership in our particular club. Converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(TM) don't merely covenant with Christ, they have to be willing to follow the rules of their new Church. Since members are seen by the world as representatives of that entire body, we have to be careful to protect the Church's image. Sinners need not apply.

Who's Being Undoctrinal Here?
The true power of the universe are can only be accessed by those who carry in their hearts an attitude of unconditional love for all mankind. Few of us can completely qualify.  But it is possible to come pretty close.  What that means is simple respect and acceptance of other people and their chosen lifestyles, even though the paths they choose to trod may not resemble that which you would choose for yourself. Many members today never obtain that simple divine quality.

And why would they, when their leaders now dismiss as deceptive and undoctrinal the most divine of all attributes of the Almighty, the doctrine that God's love for his children is unconditional? Such was the news from Apostle Russell Nelson in 2003, when he officially condemned the concept of God's unconditional love as an anti-Christ deception. Here's more from a 2003 Sunstone Magazine News Update:
"Sunstone has learned that the question of whether God's love is unconditional was discussed by the Church's correlation committee five years ago and submitted to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve for direction. The highest governing bodies in the Church replied that God's love is not unconditional, and the expression, “God's unconditional love” has since been eliminated from all official publications.”
This is an astonishing reversal of a well established doctrine. Never mind that a search of officially published Church addresses during the last thirty years alone shows over 840 matches in support of divine unconditional love; the concept has now vanished down the memory holeThat reversal did not come through divine revelation from God, you will note, but as a result of discussion in committee over time. In days gone by, an unprecedented about-face like that would have been considered heresy.  Now it's just Church policy.

Is it any wonder the once prevalent gifts of the spirit are all but absent in the Church today?

The apostle Paul taught that when God's people reject the love of truth, God will send them what they seem to want: stronger delusions to assist them in going along with their comfortable falsehoods. I can't think of a bigger delusion this people engages in than the ongoing belief that the Church is still led by a prophet who receives direct revelation from God, while at the same time they cannot point to a single prophecy or revelation that has been received in their entire lifetimes. 

The Awakening 
At a time when darkness seems poised to envelop the earth we are simultaneously witnessing an amazing spiritual awakening across the land.  More and more people are walking away from structured, organized religions, yet embracing a deeper spirituality that better suits them.  This includes Latter-day Saints who are leaving by the tens of thousands each year because they no longer find in the religion that once nurtured them any compelling reason to stay.  We need not be overly concerned by this. To all those seeking greater spiritual fulfillment than they have been able to find among us, I say, God speed you on your journey.  

Nothing in the teachings of God or Joseph Smith have ever implied that the LDS Church was intended as the final stopping place for truth.  All evidence shows that the doctrines of the restoration were meant to be a starting place, a jumping off point from which God expects us to lift off into greater light and knowledge.  This church is a safe place from which to take our baby steps, but we are not meant to use it as a protective crib that keeps us from seeing beyond.  We can be sustained on milk for only so long.

The myth that nothing is valid unless it is channeled through the proper Church "authorities" is antithetical to the word of God, and it is contrary to wisdom.  I think many disaffected members would continue to embrace the Church if the leadership had not abandoned the metaphysical theology once known and appreciated by the early Saints.  Instead of a religion that expands the senses, a stodgy culture of control seems to have settled on this Church, resulting in an atmosphere that stifles free inquiry rather than celebrating it.

It was not long ago that I read an editorial in the Church News attempting to discourage members from looking to the internet as a source for researching gospel principles.  If research materials for an assigned talk or to teach a lesson are desired, the counsel went, the approved Church manuals contain all the information a person needs. 

The manuals! 

(I knew you wouldn't believe me.  I tried to find that editorial so I could reference it here, but alas, I've been unable to locate it.)

[Update: Eagle-eyed reader "Young Lion" has provided the link to that editorial. Here it is. ]

The Key to the Science of TheologyIn The Key to the Science of Theology, Parley P. Pratt defines "theology" as "the science of all other sciences and useful arts, being in fact the very fountain from which they emanate.  It includes philosophy, astronomy, history, mathematics, geography, languages, the science of letters; and blends the knowledge of all matters of fact, in every branch of art...It includes all that is useful, great, and good; all that is calculated to sustain, comfort, instruct, edify, purify, refine, or exalt intelligences."

If this doesn't sound like the Mormonism you know, if your mind and heart are not being edified, instructed, and exalted by your religion, maybe you're stuck in a brand of "Mormonism" that was never intended by its founder.  Maybe it's time to expand your sources of knowledge beyond that useless, dumbed-down Sunday School manual prepared by the correlation committee that keeps you in a state of perpetual stuckness.

As Joseph Smith said, "We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true 'Mormons.'" (DHC 5:517).

How To Come Out A True Mormon
If you're interested in treasuring up all "the good and true principles" as Joseph Smith advised, I would suggest expanding your consciousness in ways consistent with pure Mormon Theo-cosmology.  I would start with the late Cleon Skousen's The Meaning of the Atonement, which is not only edifying, but Skousen is always a delight to listen to.  You can find it in nine parts on YouTube, or download it here in its entirety

Next, I'd check out Anthony Larson's website: Prophecy, Ancient History, and the Restored Gospel, and schedule an online class at  By the time you reach lesson three, it'll blow yer mind, dude.

Don't miss the documentary What The Bleep/Down The Rabbit Hole for a fascinating presentation of quantum theory and thought creation. And again, if you don't watch the three disc, six-sided compilation, you're missing the greater part of the film.  There is also a hardcover book. Keep in mind that not everything I recommend here contains information that I agree with completely or that is all 100% consistent with gospel principles; I make these recommendations because I found much that is of value in them, and I think you may too. Check things out, and decide for yourself  how much of it is of worth to you.

Connie and I have been very much impressed with The Immortal, a book by J.J. Dewey which is framed as fiction but contains more profundities between two covers than anything else I've read in the past twenty years. Three more books follow in the series, each one building on what went before.  Connie and I can't recommend these books highly enough. The information contained in them really resonated with our souls. If you want to be challenged and edified, read all four. You can get the first book for free, or you can download the free Mp3 audio version.

I've found some of Eckhart Tolle's stuff helpful for learning to quiet the mind, which assists me when I wish to ponder things in my heart.  There is a bounty of tools available out there. Look for books that deal with the intersection of Quantum Theory and spiritual consciousness.  Get ahold of those books I mentioned above that deal with Mormon Theo-cosmology, and click on the links I provided to the sites on plasma and spirit. Follow the spirit to see where it leads you. You can type the word "consciousness" into the YouTube search engine and follow the endless number of videos there until your eyes red up. 
Don't be afraid to look into unusual claims from unusual sources.  Sometimes that which most resonates with the soul can come to us through the unlikeliest people.  If a book or a video seems at first glance like hippy-dippy new-age nonsense, don't let it scare you off.  Neither should you be intimidated by authorities who counsel you to avoid non-approved sources of information, no matter whether the "authority" comes from the realm of science or from religion. Both are often biased against truth.  Sometimes that which is of greatest value is found not in the comfortable center, but out around the fringes. The spirit within you will confirm whether something is of value or not if you follow the advice of the apostle Paul: investigate everything,and hold fast to that which is good.  The rest you can let go of, and no harm done.

The Brethren Invent A Boogeyman
Not long ago a reader informed me of a letter sent from the First Presidency to all bishops and branch presidents to be read in Sacrament meeting.  The letter warned members that they should not participate in "so-called 'self-awareness' groups sponsored by commercial enterprises that promise heightened self-esteem, improved family relationships, and increased spirituality."

I must say, it takes a lot of chutzpah for an organization that is failing on all those fronts to forbid its members from seeking self-improvement anywhere else. Since the letter did not mention any of these organizations by name, I won't either, but I believe I have an idea who they might be talking about.

The fact is, I'm somewhat familiar with one such organization based in Utah, and I am close friends with many who have participated in it.  Unlike the Brethren, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the people running this service.

If I'm right about my suspicions, and I believe I am, the Brethren are approaching this topic from a position of jaw-dropping ignorance.  In the first place, the outfit I'm thinking of does not refer to itself in any way as a "self-awareness" group, nor does it make any such promises as the letter charges.  The program consists of a series of three or more four-day seminars in which participants sometimes re-arrange their chairs to face each other.  Sometimes the seminars run at night.

And that, apparently, is what so alarms the Brethren.  They counsel the members not to participate in programs that run into the night, or require married people to pair off with others of the opposite sex who are not their spouses.

People of the opposite sex not married to each other actually (Gasp!) sitting across from one another in chairs and talking. Goodness Gracious! There could be a danger of the two of them running off to a motel together!  (Never mind each person's spouse is there in the same room, talking with other participants.)  If we all took such ridiculous warnings seriously, we'd have to take our children out of primary when they sit in a circle facing each other.

But here's what I find to be the kicker: the Brethren forbid the members from participating in a forum that "fosters physical contact among participants."  I assume that means no hugging.

It all sounds so frightening the way the letter is worded, but I happen to have many friends who have been through this program.  The husbands were "paired with other partners" (the way the letter puts it sounds so nasty!), the meetings were held at night, and they often fostered physical contact among participants.  Four "graduates" of this program happen to be in my ward here in Sacramento: two couples, husbands and wives.  And they are hands down my favorite people in that ward.

For one thing, while everyone else stands arms distant from me to shake my hand at church, these good people have no reservations about greeting me with a hug.  They also happen to be incredibly spiritual, and deeply devoted to the Christ.  Like other program graduates I know, they are people of honor, integrity, generosity, and light.  These two couples are at church every Sunday, sharing their inner light with the rest of the ward.

The impact of these trainings has been undeniably positive on those who attend.  Invariably Mormons who go through the program emerge as better Mormons, Baptists as better Baptists, and atheists as better...well, actually, atheists who go through the program tend to no longer be atheists by the end of the week.  They are transformed.

That's because this program and others like it that the institutional Church so derides, actually assist people in getting in touch with their spirit selves.  Once people learn to shed their emotional garbage and to align themselves with the spirit, they are never the same again, you can take my word on that. They often "experience the mighty change" our scriptures so often refer to and so few of us ever actually experience.  Too bad the church doesn't offer some kind of "self-awareness" program of its own. It might slow the hemorrhaging of those thousands of new converts who leave the church just months after joining because they find insufficient spiritual sustenance at the meetings.

We like to quote the saying "by their fruits ye shall know them."  Well, Utah is filled with tens of thousands of graduates of this unique program, and their lives testify of the good fruit.  The testimonials from those whose family and personal relationships have improved beyond measure fill page after page on the program's website.  Some of them are, or have been bishops, counselors, Relief Society presidents, and others who hold positions of responsibility in their wards, and they are people who truly know how to shine their light.  Former participants I have talked to scoff at the ignorance displayed in that First Presidency letter.  I can virtually guarantee that no member of the First Presidency that endorsed that letter has ever so much as driven down to see what the program is really all about.  They've likely heard a few rumors, and assumed the worst.  

This is the kind of uninformed scaremongering the corporate Church(TM) refers to as "counsel" these days.  Further proof to me that the leaders of that institution are almost completely lacking in the power of discernment.

But perhaps these bureaucrats are smarter than I give them credit for.  Because for every forty or fifty graduates of the program who return to their wards with renewed vigor, there's one or two who arrive at the conclusion that the Church no longer serves their needs.  They find they have grown past the need for that type of structure in their lives.  And that, I think, is what the leadership really fears. They are threatened by members who are able to change themselves and the world utilizing something other than approved Church programs.

My point in all this is to remind you not to let anyone claim authority over your own search for truth and meaning, even if they hold title and office and station in the Church.  Let the Holy Ghost be your adviser, and no one else.  Otherwise, you could miss out on the experience of your life.

We should never be intimidated away from our personal paths of enlightenment. I find richer counsel from the earlier leaders of this Church than I do from the current crop of flaccid usurpers. A hundred years ago the leadership actively encouraged members to seek for truth no matter the source, as witness this excerpt from the Millennial Star from the year 1901:
"Anything that is true in theology, philosophy, literature, science or art; in any discovery, invention or project, we accept and it blends into the truths of religion which the Lord has revealed in these latter-days, just as separate drops of water unite in one mass as soon as they coalesce. For "Truth is truth where'er 'tis found, on Christian or on heathen ground." There are some great truths in oriental non-Christian religions as well as in the sects that call themselves "Christian." None of these comes into repulsion with the system now revealed from heaven, and which is commonly dubbed "Mormonism" -Millennial Star 63 (August 22, 1901), p. 549-551. 
On the few occasions that Joseph Smith used the word "Mormonism," he usually meant it more as a philosophy than a religion.  "Mormonism" was a way of looking at the world in terms of truth and wisdom and unconditional love. It was an idea put into practice. "One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism," declared Brother Joseph, "is to receive truth; let it come from whence it may."

That's the Mormonism I like.  And that's the Mormonism I miss.


Stake Pres. said...

Brother Waterman as a stake president I find this to be a very interesting post. Some will conclude however that you are teaching the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. I have long been a fan of Skousen.

Anonymous said...

Those who don't believe in 'Christ-like Unconditional True Everlasting Love', just don't want to have to do what it takes to possess it & give it.

Porter said...

Mormons judgmental? I'm shocked!

Rock, every time I read one of your posts I feel like you have been reading my mind. I have been struggling with these issues for years now, but I feel stuck. Attending church just drives me nuts these days. I haven't heard a truly stimulating talk or lesson in years, and all I hear now is rehashing of the same dumbed-down stuff I was taught in primary years ago. Even conference talks have become a repetitive rehashing of each other's quotes in a painfully predictable format. President Monson ran out of new stories to tell long ago, and even the tone of their voices sounds all the same!

But here is my problem: there is no alternative! If you believe in the essential gospel as taught by Joseph Smith and want to take the sacrament, attending your local LDS church is really the only option. Its the only game in town.

So what is your solution, if any? Go inactive? Grin and bear it? Start the Church of Rock? Join one of the the faster-growing evangelist churches? I'm stuck.

Alarmingly, I don't think the Church(tm) sees this as an issue at all. Nothing will change, and its certainly not getting any better. Eventually they might actually acknowledge the growing exodus of thinking saints, but I doubt that will happen as long as the total membership number continues to grow (now overwhelmingly from overseas converts).

If this post gets you called into the bishop's office it will be a good sign that at least someone up there in the Great and Spacious church office building is paying attention. I believe that you speak for a very large number of saints. Larger than anyone knows.

Dave P. said...

I actually don't have much to say because nearly everything that I wanted to say ended up showing up in the next section of the essay.

The one exception is a blurb from a church sign that I often see when going out to lunch: "God loves you whether you like it or not!"

I'm also glad you posted this when you did because I'm sure the content of everything you recommended in this will be far more enlightening than conference this weekend. I can already predict what it'll cover:

* They'll continue the acclaimed "All is well in Zion," attitude.
* There'll be at least one talk on tithing, porn, and one to boost the egos of the youth.
* Monson will repeat one of his many "warm fuzzy" stories while Uchdorf will incorporate planes into his talk(s).
* There will be no new revelation nor calling the world to repentance.
* The false doctrine of "follow the prophet" will abound.
* In short, it'll be just like the last one and the several before it.

I don't know about anyone else who reads this and other related blogs, but I fully intend to raise my hand in opposition Saturday afternoon when it comes time to sustain "the brethren." The line has been drawn and the Lord is the one who drew it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well Dave, I hope you're home alone in front of the TV when you do that. Caution, my brother; go slowly.

Dave P. said...

I'll be listening to it on the radio in my room, so no problem there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'll probably address some of your questions in my next post, but that's weeks away. Meantime, Please email me at

Anonymous said...

Thank you for voicing the many things I was feeling myself over 20 years ago, Alan, but didn't have the gift of written expression as you do. I hope you and every LDSer reading this finds solace and solution / 'soulution' here, or at the very least, a thinking/feeling catalyst to assist each of us in more fully being in touch with our best and truest self.

As a Temple-married, former Relief Society teacher, Laurel advisor, Church Nursery leader (for years on ;-), and current Mom of six lovely children, I sound like a genuine, approved, card-carrying member of the Church, duly & diligently livng 'the gospel', right? ;-)

Been there, done that, and found my greatest inner and outer happiness, life-progress, and upward spiral occur when I acknowledged 'The Church' (almost sounds ominous, doesn't it! ;-) as a stepping stool to higher knowledge, and made may way out.

Upon finding my true voice 24 years ago after being a 'faithful member' for over two decades, I was both amused and amazed that the 'Holy Ghost' was still with me (imagine that! ;-), God still answered my prayers and guided me through some wonderful life adventures, and I felt/feel at greater peace on all levels, with a most pure connection to my Heavenly Father.

Perhaps best of all, there is no more of that famous energy-sapping Mormon guiilt for not doing just seems like life was an ongoing treadmill in Mormonism, as members are kept so darned busy there's barely time to breathe!

Oh, that's's to keep them out of trouble or out of Satan's clutches from having too much idle time on their hands...or so I use to (errantly?) hear. When you think about it, that speaks volumes about the Mormon Church's own trust and faith in the veracity and efficacy of their own teachings if members can't even be trusted to 'righteously' manage their own free time. Is the Church currently past the habit of managing member's time for them? Hope so! ;-D

And, as an added bonus, after stepping outside of the Church, no more need to 'conform' as a good little sheeple, to preach or mastermind ways to get my neighbors interested in the Church (ugh...felt manipulative), to inadvertently judge as only the 'one true church' can do, or to run myself ragged living up to all that an outer-organization 'expects' of me, often to the detriment of being too darned tired to listen to my own inner needs and voice!

I realize this doesn't directly have much to do with the facets so beautifully explored in your post, but suffice it to say that the 'pure' teachings of Joseph Smith and others like him are principles that work, in or out of the Church, whether it be labled quantum, new age, self-awareness, whatever.

I have sincerely asked The Divine numerous times since then if I should return to the Church, and what I always receive spiritually, in a way I recognized as my guiding light in and out of the Church (and I capitalize "Church" out of respect to members here), is that I am progressing juuuuust fine, and God is pleased with me, confirmed by that all over warm, spiritual 'hug'. Hey, what more can a girl ask for?

Thanks again, Alan, for being uniquely you and sharing these precepts with us all...always does my heart and soul a world of wonder!

Here's to me, Mrs. to all your love-centered pals here, "Brother Stake President" included! ;-p

Lynn said...

All I can say is Wow! This is what I have been feeling for quite some time, and, in fact I've been saying this on some of the forums I'm involved in on Facebook. On one of the many "ministries to Mormons" they are having Free Speech Week, and I am taking advantage of it, almost "spamming" their Wall with what I really feel, and think, and a lot of more metaphysical stuff too, which they don't have a clue about, and all they do is practically accuse me of blasphemy and not truly seeking after Truth, because I keep trying to tell them that God doesn't fit in the box they try to keep Him in, and that the Truth isn't in just one book or one church.

Young Lion said...

This is a great blog, and one of the best posts I've seen on it. Praise be to Jesus, or the flow, or whatever state of congruence with the universe brought it about. It's all semantics anyways.

Part of what was written here reminded me of a brilliant article by Jahnihah Wrede reproduced by ldsanarchist:

By the way, I think I know the church news editorial you were referring to: Amazing doctrine in there! Thrilling to know all the thinking has already been done for us. Thank God. My personal salvation is too much to risk to my flawed spiritual paradigms. Cue "Follow the Prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, dun dun dun dun duh-un."

I love my heritage with the Mormon church, I love the insanity of the corporate organization that helped shed light on the insanity of my obedience to it's asinine laws, and I love the freedom to pursue my relationship with God independent of (i.e., not attached to but not set against) any organization or rigid set of dogma.

Anonymous said...

Regarding 'metaphysics' and the 13th Article of Faith, an amusing li'l anecdote...

My best friend, a devout LDSer (Primay Prez and Mom of ten), was going to attend Eric Pearle's "Reconnection" a few years ago, but was a little conflicted as she wasn't sure it was in alignment with Church doctrine. (Dr. Pearle started receiving practical esoteric information on 'string and strand theory' in the 90's, long before such things came to light to the general public via physicists).

She asked her High Priest dad, a known 'stalwart' in her ward and a veil worker for decades, to give her a Priesthood blessing before she left for the conference. She just said she was going out of town to a workshop, and didn't tell him much else, as she didn't want to give him a coronary as he was extremely traditional.

Unasked for...unsolicted...he said, "Your Father in Heaven knows you are feeling a little uneasy about learning about things outside of approved Church doctrine, but be aware that there are many great and beautiful truths and processes coming to earth right now through many inspired souls, all with the express purpose of bringing greater harmony to earth. Go in peace, and remember the open door provided by the 13th Article of Faith!"

The funny thing is, Dr. Pearle is gay. Hmmmm...her High Priest, veil worker dad just inadvertently endorsed esoteric teachings of a gay man...well, he must've just been having an 'off' night, right? ;-p

Or maybe...just maybe...there might just be a few little things slipped into Church doctrine that don't belong? Nahhhhhhh...his 'personal revelation' for her DID NOT COUNT, right? Right??? Hmmm. Guess so...or not.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Young Lion,
Thanks for the link. I updated the piece and added it in.

P.S. The LDS Anarchy link didn't work for me, but I'll search it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Just goes to show that sometimes God will make his will known even if he has to work through devout LDS priesthood holders.

bradlee said...

First time on your blog and you blew my mind. I will be back

MarkinPNW said...

I've read the majority of your entry, very interesting. When I first saw the "Star Wars" movie when it first came out, I thought the "Force" related very well to the "Light of Christ" as described in LDS scriptues. Also, I've thought for some time that "intelligence", or at least directed intelligence, is the counter force to entropy and chaos that keeps the material universe in order.

In regard to the First Presidency letter and workshops, my own experience from decades ago is seeing mixed results from these kinds of "self-improvement" or "enlightenment" workshops. I think they tend to be a mixture of the "philosophies of men mingled with scripture", and what you get out of them depends on the experience and attitude that you bring to them. My mother gained a lot of value but she had many years of gospel study, service, preparation and spiritual seeking ahead of time that prepared her to get a lot of good. For myself, it was more like a flash-in-the pan; exciting and enlightening temporarally, but didn't really last (I was, of course, much younger and less mature than my mother, with less life experience). When my dear wife attended a similar workshop, it actually proved quite damaging to her because of unresolved childhood traumas - for her, the warning of the First Presidency letter is spot-on. These workshops often seem to promise a fast shortcut to high levels of enlightenmnent, but I don't think there are any real shortcuts. Those who actually do get a lot of enlightenment out of them, like my mother, are those who have already been deeply searching, seeking, and learning in the years previous, otherwise it really won't make a lasting impression (my case) or can do damage or lead you astray.

TruthSeeker said...

I must respectfully disagree with you here. There are newer self awareness programs that have a lasting impact on everyone who finishes them. But they have to finish them.

Maybe you and your mother went through something like Transcendental Awareness, or some other such program like this? I don't think that is what Rock is referring to. What you describe sounds different.

I have seen atheist, and others who did not believe in any kind of higher power come out of the program that I did with a renewed hope, a lasting love and light for their lives. I am almost 5 years out,and my life continues to get better by the day. I have met people who are 20 yrs out who are absolutely the light of their family's life and everyone who knows them. But I've seen people who did not complete the program, and they do not seem complete. They did not get it, and they probably think the time they did put in was wasted. It's like walking out of a movie before the twist ending and then complaining that you didn't get it. I saw other people quit who thought they could not finish who came back later and they are the ones most effective.
Rock, I want to personally thank you for this most enlightening essay!!! I am so excited about this and I am excited for your life! It will never be the same. I hope people post this all over facebook and email it to all their friends.

Love and Light to you and your beautiful wife who you speak of so lovingly.

Anonymous said...

Just to offer a minor correction, it was Nelson who said that God's love is conditional, not Ballard. But then, of course what else could you expect from the man who performed the operation that turned Ezra Taft Benson into an invalid after Benson dared tell the truth?

Anonymous said...

@MarkinPNW: Of self-awareness programs you say: "I think they tend to be a mixture of the 'philosophies of men mingled with scripture.'" How is that any different than what we hear at general conference, what's written in church manuals, and what we hear in sacrament meeting? Whether the words come from a self-proclaimed prophet or a self-awareness program, we must trust the spirit to discern what is truth and what is not. The warning of the first presidency ought to be applied to the words of the first presidency themselves.

karlwaterman said...

Excellent my older jedi brother. What makes up all the "space" in "space"?

I always enjoyed Pratts Book.

The mental field, that allows more than one person to come up with the same invention/thought. know the phones going to ring and from whom, the 100th monkey theory.

Then there is the Morphogenic field of the dead. I had the priviledge to participate in Family constellation work for our us siblings and relationship to dad as well as strangers at the retreat. see link below for more info.

Family Constellations are an effective way of revealing unconscious connections with the fates of family ancestors.

Events such as the premature death of a parent or sibling, the exclusion of a family member, a murder of or by a family member, or victimization of others by a family member can all lead to "entanglements" which disturb one's life and relationships. Severe consequences may result, such as feelings of isolation, depression, mental and physical illness, accidents, financial or relationship issues and even suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Love you bro, and Connie too.

Dave P. said...

Being the gamer I am (and I also expect to get a fire and brimstone speech about that at the upcoming conference) I recently played through a title where the idea of those Morphogenic fields that karlwaterman just mentioned are an enormous driving force for the plot- though how they're used in the game is slightly different from the real-world theory.

The premise is a sadistic experiment wherein 9 pairs of siblings were forced to participate in an identical game in two separate locations. The first group called the "transmitters" were to solve the puzzles and finish the game while broadcasting the information to the "receiver" group through the morphogenic field in order for both to survive. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up and a set of unfortunate circumstances, one girl who was a transmitter got put in the receiver group and is trapped at the final puzzle that's in the middle of a dormant incinerator. So, in order to save her own life, she uses the morphogenic field to set up a recreation of the game in the future and get her childhood friend to participate in order to save her life in the past. It sounds confusing, but making the right choices and getting the true ending where she's saved was a very satisfying gaming experience.

Jon Hall said...

If you are going to merge science with your religion, it would be wise to at least understand what a scientific theory is. Referring to a scientific theory as "just a theory" shows that you misunderstand what science means when they call something a "theory". Do you doubt that germs cause certain illnesses? Well you should, after all, it is only the "Germ theory" .

In fact, I don't see why you bother. Science is about pointing to an explanation that describes both your observations, and then formulates theories that describe them and make predictions. You can't even begin to describe any god in a way that everyone can observe, so it remains unscientific. Notice I am not saying "You are wrong" but merely that using science to support Joseph Smiths teaching is rather odd, because Mormonism is not a result of the scientific method.

It would be a lot like me trying to convince Physicists that the universe rests on the back of a giant turtle by pointing to ancient scripture. It's not the way science works.

Newton said...

@Jon Hall--science is spirituality and spirituality is science. The scientific method is a religion, just like Mormonism is a religion. We find more truth, peace, and happiness in life as we focus on spirituality and science instead of religion and the scientific method. Like religion, the scientific method can only take us so far. Religion completely fails to explain so much of this universe, and so does the scientific method. Not that either of them don't have a place in our lives, but worshiping the scientific method in the way you are is just as silly as worshiping Mormonism.

Newton said...

@Jon Hall--and by the way, I'd like to see you use the scientific method to prove that the universe does not rest on the back of a giant turtle :-)

Anonymous said...

Rock, you've just hit another level. While the current attitudes of the Church leaders certainly need adjusting, this is truly what the world and especially the saints need to know about Mormonism.

Though I'd just as soon say "the wife" for brevity's sake, the primary reason I converted was because of Joseph Smith's incredible insight into early Christianity's beliefs and practices. Most of the points Rock brings up here and elsewhere were not first brought forth by Brother Joseph; his knowledge of esoteric Christianity, Gnostic theophilosophy and the elements of the ancient Church that proved inconvenient for authority and found their way out of official dogma (sound familiar?) without a formal education or even a sympathetic public point to one source: the one he claimed.

Without this turning into an(other) argument about the role of Masonry in Mormonism, I believe this, rather than the arguments of conspiracy theorists, is why Joseph became a Mason: he recognized the treasure trove of ancient information in the fraternity and realized its potential for the saints. Truly incredible stuff here.

--Anthony Bennett

LovelyLauren said...

I love your articles, I've been waiting for another one.

Rock, I have the same questions as Porter. Lately I have been feeling institutionalized every time I've attended church. If I were to tell some members what I really think about the church today, I would be condemned without a second thought. The more I've studied Mormon history, the more I feel like this is not what Brother Joseph intended and the canned, corporate experience I feel every week is lightyears away from what I'm looking for. The more I learn, the less I want to keep doing this. My most recent revelation was learning that the brethren no longer consider God's love unconditional.

It's not that I don't think there is no value in being Mormon, because I think there is, it's just that what I'm being given isn't working for me. What am I supposed to do? Keep going to church? Let my brain turn to dust being so bored during another repetitive, uninspiring General Conference? I've considered looking into other churches, but I doubt I'll find what I'm looking for there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous @6:36 a.m.
Thanks for the correction. I'm forever getting those two Nelsons confused. No sense calling Ballard on the carpet for something Nelson did. The correction has been made.

Jean said...

♥→ LOVE - this blog. You have no like button, so I created a love one. I would like to add my 10 cents worth. No book, no one Hebraic God, no Hindu teaching has all the answers. Some of them, I believe, were written by enlightened individuals who, like you, have reached for the stars to find answers. People are always looking for answers and this is what leads them to put their trust in organizations that claim to have the answers. Politics is another arena for this kind of thing. “This party has the ‘right’ methods and ideals, so I will back them and defend them all the way.”

No individual can take your journey for you or tell you how to take it; it is your life and it is up to you whether you sit in a stuffy class room hoping to find knowledge and the wisdom to use it, OR you may choose to go out and commune with nature. The Buddha tried many ways to reach enlightenment including leaving his wife and newborn child and I wouldn’t recommend that, but it was HIS journey not mine.

I have some theories, and that is all they are - about Joseph Smith and his esoteric teachings and will share them with you sometime soon. You are a deep thinker and an intelligent human being – what if we all decided, “This is an enlightened man; we should follow him.” Is it possible that your power would go to your head and you would start to do what is warned of in the Doctrine and Covenants 121:39
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” I believe that Joseph nailed it on this one. We must not give a person that kind of power and authority over our lives and our own personal search for truth. Amen

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I agree, Jean, that we should make no man our guru (that's one of the greatest dangers I see in the current "follow the prophet" mantra). It's most healthy to learn from many sources, but never to put all your focus on one, whether that be Buddha, Mormonism, or any other "way."

I once read a saying, "Always support the person who claims to seek for truth, but be wary of he man who claims to have found it."

BTW Jean, I WISH there was a way to put a "like" button on this site. Maybe there is, and I don't know how.

Anonymous said...

Your essay is LDS theology and cosmology that I learned as a young man. I was so depressed when I got home from my mission in 93' and found that the Church had changed so much. I spent a year working at Deseret Book after my mission. During that time I bought up everything I could in relation to the New Mormon History (most of which I had to special order).

These were the things I pondered as a young man. Deep doctrine was discussed in Priesthood Meetings when I was young. What a wonderful thing it was to sit outside in the spring, under the stars, and ponder the deepest doctrines of Mormon Theology.

What happened? Correlation and fear of being a peculiar people.

Thank you sir.

John Wilcox

Eliza R. Snitch said...

Another great post! I love the way you explain things, Rock. You are like the Mormon C.S. Lewis. Write a book, ok?

Non American said...

Another fantastic post and well worth the wait. I suggest you become a hermit and lock yourself away in an attic and keep churning out these posts!!

If I were to write anymore it would be a combination of what Poster and Lovely Lauren wrote. I think the main reason I'm still going to church is so that I can attend my daughter's temple sealing when the time comes. Lame, I know.

Keep up the great work Rock. Please know that we are aware of how much work and time this takes up and I think I speak for everyone on here when I say that we truly appreciate it and your effort doesn't go unnoticed.

Say a thank you to Connie also for sacrificing the time you could be speding together to free you up to do this.

Steven Lester said...

Some thoughts from a child, if I might share them.

We need to be careful about who we mean when we talk about God. Do we mean the being that created the universe and for whom all organized creation feels love and honor, the first God or do we mean the God to whom we owe familial love and honor in the form of Jesus? Joseph taught that there were many Gods in the universe and that our own God was once a man on some earth at some earlier time somewhere in the same universe wherein we live ourselves and that as He became a God so could we. A God is a God is a God, and once you've seen one you've seen Them all. They all look alike for Perfection is an Absolute and its own definition. I sort of view Godhood to be like the organizational structure of Amway. There is a level that almost everybody is trying attain: that of Direct Distributor (Godhood). Once you achieve that there are different glories (diamond direct, double diamond direct and so forth) but all of them are still just direct distributors equal to each other in rank, if not in wealth. We know then that our Father did not create the universe wherein He attained His Godhood, so when we talk about the God which organized the Universe and who brought balance to it we are not talking about our Heavenly Father at all, but somebody far older and greater than He is, in the sense that those two guys who started Amway a long time ago are at the apex of the Direct Distributors list, all equal when talking about rank but hugely segmented when talking about wealth. The God which fills the immensity of space with His light isn't just our Father. There must be others as well, including the Big God Himself, God The First, wherever He lives at the moment.

Anyway, as I said once to a friend, I'll give our Father a galaxy to run, which is a big enough job for any God to handle, but a whole universe? No. I can't logically go that far.

Steven Lester said...

I was also thinking when you said that all creation is held together and obeys the Big God out of love and honor for Him because He maintains reality's balance that, like Saint Francis before me, there is then the imperative to love all of what surrounds me in nature just like He does for them and they for Him. ("brother sun and sister moon") If I do that enough and really feel it, would reality respond to my requests if I made them in the service of others? Well, I wonder if I could. Why couldn't it work? Satan and his cohorts do it all the time, even without loving and honoring the reality that surrounds them. How do they get away with that? I don't know.

I was thinking about asking Rock just which group it was that was transforming lives that way, but then I began to realize all of that hugging and intense bonding between people would be way too much for my autism to handle, so I decided not to ask after all. I really don't know how other people are able to cope with all of that closeness and joy, I really don't. Indeed, they seem to crave for it. I can not understand it except intellectually. I don't want it, myself.

I don't practice religion at all now. Why? It is because after reading close to a thousand reports of the Near Death Experience I realized that not one time did anybody ever report that anything resembling religion existed on the other side. It was evidently completely unnecessary over there. Complete understanding existed there instead and all reality was revealed in its entirety. Why guess when you can know all things fully automatically?

Jesus is real too. I also keep Him at a distance, quite deliberately. I fear Him. I don't want Him anywhere near me. I don't need to be reminded by His presence of how insignificant and worthless I am in comparison to Him. He's the golden boy whereas I'm the cipher. Fine. Let Him go His glorious way and I'll go mine, and may our paths never ever meet.

These are some of the strange thoughts that came to my mind as I read your wonderful article Rock. I'm sorry that they might sound strange to you, but at least they are honest. I check your blog every day, several times a day. I've read everything you've ever written for it and us.

Water said...


I lost another comment, but we'll try to rehash it.

Part of my own spiritual journey has included a necessary turning away from the controls of the institution and toward unconditional love. This turn has been a fascinating one, both for the fact that it's released from me a lot of imposed organizational guilt and because of the backlash I've received from it from family. An impartial observer would probably find it fascinating, though I find it incredibly annoying. I've been threatened with divorce and taking the kids away to "protect them" from my beliefs, accused of apostasy, sent to my bishop in order to correct my "weird beliefs" and on and on.

When I look outside the institution for knowledge, I'm accused of "intellectualizing" the gospel. When I study church history, I'm accused of "intellectualizing" the gospel. When I ask questions that either go against church teachings or raise issues no one really talks about today, I'm told I'm "intellectualizing" the gospel and that I just need to "focus on the basics." When I look at books, I'm asked if they come from "approved sources" (meaning written by/for the Church/Church leaders).

I've been stifled, shut down, restricted and governed simply because of the teachings of the modern day Church. The Church has preached the doctrine of deception (i.e. if you look too deep, study too much, or get information from sources outside the church, then you're deceived by Satan himself) for so long that people are afraid (though it's largely unknown) to study. Gospel discussions have to happen inside the church building, or else the Spirit is gone.

With that in mind, I'm asking for some Karmic love from the readers here... specifically at 9pm CST (8pm Mountain time) on April 6th. I have a meeting on these issues that night which will influence the coming weeks in no small way.

Rock: I love the journey you're on (Romans 14) and hope you have continued freedom to explore these issues. When I'm sick of slop this weekend from Conference (though I still hope for some enlightening talks), I'll return here to read something that genuinely resonates with me.

Water said...

Lester and others:

I meant to post this in my original comment, but was semi-worried it is what caused my comment to wander into the lost corners of the digital fiefdom.

Part of my turning point (or a turning point) was when someone directed me to Wayne Jacobsen's work. He is a non-denominational Christian writer who is more than worth his weight in gold. I would pay money to see him stand up in general conference and expound on the love of Christ. An integral book in this quest can be found in following the link above.

Whereas organized religion generally seeks to increase its grip and control, there is a freedom we can feel when we accept the idea that unconditional love is real, that no matter how good or how bad we think we are, that love doesn't change.

Dave P. said...

Water, the scriptures and the spirit will be your best friends. Some other friends of mine were able to refute the charges brought up against them via the scriptures and, in the end, the only "charge" that could have been levied against them was basically "disagreeing with the brethren." You're not alone out there.

Steven Lester said...

It is true, guys and ladies, that when you click the Post Comment button what you write might be posted or it might not. After losing again and again my original posts (which the universe is obviously trying to spare you from) I always copy them into my computer's memory before hitting that evil button. It has saved my bacon (can you really call it bacon?) more than once.

Bryan said...

Water, the corporate system cannot box you in, cannot define you, and cannot define your relationship with it or anyone or anything else. You are an anomaly in the Matrix. The system does not have the programming to deal with those like you. Those who humbly seek truth, but see issues with the system and are willing to speak their minds. The system wants us to worship it, either by deifying it or demonizing it. The system tries to pigeon-hole people in one direction or the other.

But what of people like you, who carry the spirit of truth and love in speaking boldly against prophet worship and other idolatry? The system fears condemning you just as much as it fears not condemning you.

You and others who have been willing to speak out risk much, not unlike the protestant reformers. Know that your journey has been an inspiration to at least one fellow wanderer.

Damn the fear that grips the hearts of the leaders of the Mormon church! Damn it to hell! And cast it out with the love of people unable to be silenced by fear any longer, unwilling to stagger about like drunkards, sick of feasting on their own vomit.

My brothers and I will be holding a vigil of celebration for you on April 6th. We aren't really into solemnness, so our vigil will involve food, games, lighthearted mockery of the insanity we expect to hear at general conference, and hearts full of hope for you.

Godspeed brother!

Dave P. said...

Sounds like fun, Bryan. Count me in even if I can't be there directly.

TruthSeeker said...

I find that the comments here are really almost as fascinating as your essay. The truth is, is that you are a major "force" of the GREAT Awakening that is going on all around the world today.

Also, to those who wonder and are waking up to their own personal truth, I would use caution and follow the wise counsel Rock gave, to "move slowly". If you can, do your best to BE your own personal Light and Loving selves to everyone around you.

My own personal journey out of the church was extremely difficult and painful. Thankfully, my children were older and have now all left the "corporate" church on their own.

It has been a pleasure to watch your journey Rock, in your own awakening; as you have progressed in becoming a "Jedi brother", as karlwaterman wrote so lovingly! What a great brother you must have!

You are an amazing force in this world! You really DO get to write a book! I many people, who read your blog, would buy a book from Rock here? I know I would!

Rock, a Commenter has reflected the judgment and lack of balance in the "need" to correct a layman who is waking up to the truth. I believe that Rock gets that "theory" and "just a theory" means the same to most people, so nitpicking his semantics does not seem necessary.(He knows who he is. No judgment here! I am truly sending him Love and Light!)

Keep up the good work! I feel that you have just begun to tap into your full potential.

With Light and Love and Gratitude!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Be assured that Connie and I will be among those joining our prayers, love, and light toward you on the 6th.

Water said...

Bryan: if this is the Bryan I think it is, is the man responsible for pointing me to Wayne Jacobsen. I've been listening to a number of his podcasts recently, and they're quite refreshing. If only ... .

"You and others who have been willing to speak out risk much, not unlike the protestant reformers. Know that your journey has been an inspiration to at least one fellow wanderer.

Damn the fear that grips the hearts of the leaders of the Mormon church! Damn it to hell! And cast it out with the love of people unable to be silenced by fear any longer, unwilling to stagger about like drunkards, sick of feasting on their own vomit."

That same fear grips the hearts of most members, afraid that their carefully crafted world view might just need some needed retweaking. While I appreciate your kind words, my wife might have more than a bit to disagree with you on. She keeps me humble by constantly reminding me how deceived I am. ;)

In all seriousness, Bryan and his brothers are truly good examples of Zion-like living, two of whom have been evicted from his parents home, and one of whom had his Bishop raise his hand to the square to rebuke him in the name of Jesus and curse him with a sickness which, if I'm not mistaken, never occurred. Fortunately, he lived and was able to return to the Bishop to call the Bishop to repentance. A few brothers yearning for little more than Zion...

Me? Just a solitary wanderer doing all I can to smile.

P.S. The "meeting" is not with Church officials, if that's what it read like, but rather a therapist of sorts whom I hope brings some sanity to the table. If not, it'll be just another voice of authority telling my wife how screwy I am. And, if that's the case, then Bryan and I might need to begin exploring the live music scene once again. Any more details than that would probably be one too many.

Until then, we shall see what this weekend brings and just how much more it gets heaped on. Otherwise, I hope all join in because it's apparent that there is nothing I can do by myself, and perhaps the Lord is working on something bigger.

~Clint~ said...

This is a little off track, I apologize in advance, feel free to skip if you want to avoid a bit of a tangent.

A few years back there was a TV show called “Sliders”. The principle was that a group of people would "slide" between different parallel universes where slight historical differences caused alternate histories and social norms.

I often wonder if we made just a few changes to Mormonism (not historical changes, mind you, just perspective changes) that we could easily end up in totally different church. Here is the change I would make for Episode One, so to speak. That we not use anything that Joseph Smith supposedly said, that he did not confirm, as church doctrine.

For example, “The King Follet Sermon” was given a couple months before Joseph’s death and was never printed until after his death. Also his secretary James Whitehead said “I heard what is known as the "King Follett" sermon preached. That sermon was published. Joseph Smith did not in that sermon teach the plurality of gods.”

As far as I know, if we did not treat the “King Follet Sermon” in its current incarnation as a “true" teaching of Joseph Smith, (as well as other documents he could not confirm the correctness of) the doctrine of plurality of gods (and god once being a man?) would be very weak, or not exist. Please, someone can correct me on this if I am wrong.

The main reason I bring this up, is that the teachings that are espoused from “The King Follet” sermon, to me, directly contradict “The Lectures on Faith”, which we know Joseph approved of. OK, so I am finally coming to the point I want to make and/or get feedback on?

Regarding Steven Lesters comment about Plurality of Gods, God being a man and Rocks comment about God being able to fall, I would like to add my two cents, which I acknowledge may not be all correct, but here goes anyway.

I think that these are all detrimental concepts to exercising proper faith in God. Summarizing some of the content of the 3rd Lecture on faith I would emphasize these points: We could not exercise perfect faith in God if He was not the same yesterday, today and forever, if there was a God greater than Him, or if God was a man, that he could lie.

Now, I suspect that Rock wasn’t really saying that God could fall, and I don’t interpret Alma 42:13 to say that, but I think there are a lot of people in “The Church” who wonder if such a thing might be possible. And no wonder, we have God changing his mind on “polygamy”, “blacks having the priesthood”, “whether the Word of Wisdom is a commandment”, etc ... as core tenants of the LDS religion. The LDS version of God doesn’t seem to follow the pattern of “the same today, yesterday and forever” very well. Sadly, I genuinely believe these kinds of things are a big obstacle that can prevent one from exercising perfect faith in Him.

At this point I expand on what may be a secondary concept related to plurality of Gods. I think the confusion of plurality of Gods stems partially from the fact that the word “Elohim” in the bible is actually a plural. Here is what I think about this.

~Clint~ said...

When we consider the spirit world we have to realize it does not exist in (and is not subject to) space-time. Thus, when we look at the concept of distance between two spiritual objects, measurements of time or physical distance become meaningless, instead, distance between spiritual objects is defined by their similarity or difference. Very similar spiritual-objects would be considered close, and perhaps even overlapping in part, like two circles that partially intersect with each other.

The goal of man is to move toward God, seeking to be similar to Him, and as he succeeds in aligning his spiritual attributes with God in small degrees, he is able to receive more and more of God’s light, allowing him to develop similar attributes and continue to move toward Him. When the spiritual attributes align enough, this spiritual similarity allows man to merge with and align to Gods will. Although I would not personally phrase it in terms of man becoming God, I think that this general model is the basis from which such phraseology descends. Certainly, in this model man does not take on the roll of “The Creator”, he simply merges spiritual attributes so that his will is aligned with Gods.

As for the recommendation on “The Lectures on Faith” I agree that they are great. But I am somewhat curious about the the statement “Of equal importance -and similarly forgotten- are Orson Pratt's Key to the Universe, along with his Brother Parley's Key to the Science of Theology.”

Perhaps I wonder about this because in the past I treated Mormon Doctrine as the 5th standard work and to my shame espoused it equal to scripture. I think this is not unheard of, but also I came into possession of a rarer volume (at least harder to get at the time, I think) which was “The Seer” by Orson Pratt. I now feel that this work was highly speculative, and it is extremely difficult to separate speculation from truth in it. I think somewhere in my mind I have now made a connection between the intellectualized certainty regarding spiritual speculation that Bruce McConkie had, as similar to the way Orson Pratt approached things. However, this may be categorically incorrect and only based on my own falling out of favor with the two formerly mentioned books.

I know that we are supposed to able to differentiate with the spirit, but I sometimes find it difficult to filter partial truths reached in what I would term as speculative doctrine.

Well, usually I read these blogs and the comments, and think about responding, but then decide not to because I realize my words are far from perfect. For some reason this time I just decided I wanted to join the dialog even if I may not be in harmony with all of it. I will end my ramblings by saying that I enjoyed reading this blog-post very much and I love that there is this open forum for discussion and thoughts.

Bryan said...

Water, the hex the bishop placed on my brother never took. I think the bishop did take-backs later when called on it :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Right you are that the Pratt's writings are not equal in importance to the words of the Prophet. Perhaps I could have worded it as "Also of value" rather than "equally important." The message I was attempting to convey was that those writings expounded upon and elucidated the words of the Prophet, with whom both were intimately acquainted.

Orson's writings can often enter into the realm of speculation, but I like that sort of thing. One of the wonderful things about our theology is it allows for speculation.

I share your embarrassment at taking McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" as well, actual Mormon doctrine. Some one back then should have let us know he was full of it.

Your points are well taken about the impossibility of God falling. What Alma 42 is telling us is that the reason God cannot fall is because he is just. Implicit in that, however is the POSSIBILITY that the elements would not obey an unjust God. But the PROBABILITY for that to happen does not exist because our God IS just, which, I think, is what Alma 42 is telling us.

I'm glad you decided to weigh in here after all, Clint. Your insights are most welcome.

Steven Lester said...

Well, then. If there is only one God and He gets His power because He IS just and He can't be any way other than that because He is perfect and thereby unchangeable because the only way a perfect being can become imperfect is by way of a conscious act that was fostered, no doubt, by perfect reasons, then The Atonement is completely unnecessary and that whole Jesus On The Cross epic is just so much kink for those who get off on blood and agony. I can prove this logically.

The first argument is that God is Perfect (self-described as such) and can not do anything imperfectly except deliberately, although His reasons would be perfect which would have the effect of turning the imperfect act into a perfect act automatically. Perfection is an absolute and is its own definition.

One of the attributes of Perfection is knowing what Perfect Justice is and how to apply It across the board without acception.

Sin is, therefore, essentially being imperfect and living the laws of the Universe equally imperfectly. Perfect Justice requires that such imperfection be rebalanced, however that might be accomplished, but here there is an quality of Justice that is usually missed when seeing it work its little magic upon everything that exists. Justice is more than punishment, It is also the acknowledging of whether it was possible for the law breaker to be the thing he or it should have been but wasn't. If it wasn't possible than there should be no punishment because the inerrant was only following his or its nature. Perfect Justice has built in to it automatically the quality of mercy for those who can't help themselves.

The second is that if the Perfect can not be anything other than Perfect, than equally, the imperfect can not be anything other than imperfect as well. If Perfection is a state of being, then so is imperfection. Because I am imperfect I can not be otherwise. Because God is perfect, He can not be otherwise. Because I am imperfect, I can not be otherwise. Therefore, the mercy part of Justice is mine to claim because I was just following my nature.

But what of choice?

Steven Lester said...

Well, what of it? People make choices for all kinds of reasons, many of them unconscious ones. What does the reptile within us want and what does the ape within us want and how is all of that filtered through the frontal lobes into our consciousness? We may well have been little perfect intelligences floating about God in the ether somewhere in the Pre-existence where love and glory were our birthrights, but here on this earth we've got a lot of animalistic tendencies that will have their voices heard within the heavy politics of choice and so what comes out of all this conflict is almost always a lot different than what we might have chosen before we became human. We knew only perfection on that side of the vale, but here we only know imperfection.

So, I can't help but sin, but it isn't my fault because I couldn't help myself. I'm a human being after all. Perfect Justice must then acknowledge this and say to the Universe that because I am imperfect I can not be judge by the standard of Perfection and that I am not to be punished in any way...because it is justice that speaks.

The Atonement is completely unnecessary because it was already built in to the system.

I'm so proud of myself for figuring this out. I ain't worried at all about my judgement when I die. Neither should you. When you are at the bar and all of these stuffed shirts are looking at your life in minute detail and it then comes your turn to speak, you don't have to claim that you are washed in the blood of the lamb (although you can if you want to). All you have to say is, "I couldn't help myself because I am essentially imperfect!" and then there will be a murmur in the peanut gallery and the stuffed shirts will look between themselves and then look down on you and say, "That is correct. Go your way in peace." And everything will be cool.

I have it all worked out. I'm not afraid of the Final Judgement at all. Neither should you.

Now to listen to Skousen and find out why I'm full of it.

~Clint~ said...


I think you make many valid points, but I am trying to figure out why you feel these points are applicable in mono-theistic system, but not in the afore mentioned many-God amway system?

Still, I would like to open part of this question up to the readers here and ask if I am wrong in my previous statement that if we take away doctrines which Joseph Smith was not able to confirm that he taught, do we have the same poly-theistic - god was once a man- system?

If I am way off base on this point in regard to Mormonism please correct me?

Steven Lester said...

Well, in answer to your first question, my claims are as applicable to Amway as they would be to a One-God-For-All system because under both systems the little people belong to their own God (or DD) and He is all that counts as far as they are concerned.

In answer to your second question, I would submit that if Joseph Smith had not actually spoken those words at King's funeral, he certainly should have. One of the reasons our faith grew so fast in decades past was that it really fulfills the ego to know that we all are actually little embryonic gods in training instead of mean intelligent apes. And the whole of our faith these days seems to be based on Snow's clever couplet about how we can become like God because He was once one of us, who knows how many billions of years ago that might have been. Just about everything we do and say and pay is based solidly on this premise. Without it in our lives we'd be just like another version of Them, the other Christians of the World. With it, we are set apart from Them and we know ourselves to be their superior too, because we have a glorious hope that they do not. The Community of Christ, the old Reorganites, pays absolutely no lip service to this claim, nor do they ever study or speak of the Book of Mormon because they are ashamed of it apparently. They never talk about Joseph Smith either and certainly never refer to him as an authority. Just try to find his name listed on their website. Just try. They are an example of what we would be had we not the belief and hope of our eventual godhood by and by. We'd be just another splinter of the stick of Judah.

But where else do we find the god-hope explanation other than what was "recorded" during King's funeral? Nowhere that I can think of, and without it we would not be Mormon as being Mormon is defined today. There is simply no way around it.

TruthSeeker said...

I feel that you all get to remember here that love and light are major forces in our Universe!

Love one another and love yourselves enough to not judge others as you judge yourselves. The Christ said this as you know!

Love everyone on their path, whatever they believe. This is simple, yet sometimes so hard to do. Do not judge yourselves, yet once again, we judge others.

The path to enlightenment can many times be a very difficult path. My own was very difficult. I have family who are still Mormon. I love them. Each in his own way has found their way back to loving me, after my departure. It is all good.

Just love. It can be very simple.

Ron Madson said...

I finally took the time to read the entire post--carefully this AM. I needed some meat this weekend. Again, I want to tell you that I very much appreciate your voice and contribution to our faith community.
I have not read the comments above but wanted to express some thoughts.
When I was 11 my Sunday school teacher (Walter Pyper--if you are out there let me know) gave me a copy of Widstoe's "Joseph Smith as a Scientist." I was so flattered that I took it home and read it, underlined it and even though I did not grasp much at that age, I did grasp that this is a wonderful world of inquiry and in the words of Widstoe "God's intelligence is organic and must, of necessity, continue to grow." That I caught when I first read it---ever learning and increasing in light and knowledge--awesome.
SOme other random thoughts. I love the Tao approach. I believe in unconditional love and our interconnectedness. That I have felt at times and the foundation of my faith and I believe that is what God is. Also, I have felt this past several years our church being more and more judgmental and more "us v. them" tribal mentality. We are the judgmental "virgins" with the oil in our lamps condemning those that do not have what we think we have; we are the mean landlord seeing that those without a good "return" are losers and to be cast out (I do not mean to stray into politics but we grind the face of the poor and resent their complaining); and thus, when the Lord comes he separates the sheep from the goats and the sheep did it unto the "least" (least in our faith is those who are poor, welfare, gay, Muslims, non-orthodox, etc. etc.) while we are becoming more goat like and persecuting those "others" or cutting them off.

back to the cosmos. I read Skousen's Meaning of the Atonement and strayed into quantum physics stuff, but I will tell you that another tectonic shift in my understanding of the atonement occurred when I started reading all of Rene Girard's writings. It has revolutionized my understanding of the atonement. Girard is, in my opinion, the Darwin of anthropology, the SHakespeare of religion. Once read, he can be challenged but not ignored. As a teaser, I have come to the conclusion that it is not God's will that we kill our gods, but we kill them and call it God's will and form a religion around it. It is the God's will and the universe's justice that we quit engaging in the scapegoat mechanism. When a Messiah comes and we do not kill Him/her and call it religion then we enter a new age/ higher plane of existence.

anyway, your post/thoughts resonate with me. This is what Mormonism should be--totally free to search all truth and unconditional love for all. awesome. And I do not conflate the church with the Kingdom of God. The former can assist us to become the latter but it does not necessarily follow. For in the end "they" will come into the kingdom from all walks of life for "more are the children of the desolate then the married wife."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ron, than you for making me aware of Rene Girard. I intend to look into his work immediately.

Jeff said...

Another like-minded LDS friend sent me your blog which I’ve been reading. Two words: “Thank you!”

FYI, given the open-minded tenor of your site, you and your other readers might be interested in this most intriguing volume which I just finished reading. Talk about the early “Pure Mormonism” of the restoration! It’s incredible. None of the modern diatribe or philosophies of men mingled with scripture garbage either.



Sunbeam said...

"Many Mormons today can rattle off a recitation from memory of the basics of how the restoration came about, but have little understanding of the theological mysteries that restoration was meant to deliver to the world. It's like a schoolchild telling how the founding fathers all gathered in Philadelphia to found a new nation without any mention or analysis of the founding documents created there."

Too funny!

We are generally all as enlightened and follow the admonition of Paul (believing all) just as you Rock.

Upon reading the comments here I see "birds of a feather" like to gather here and be impressed by their shared overanalyzing to the point of missing (or plain old losing) the point entirely.
You seriously think you are that much smarter than the average bear?
The amount of scripture that we now have left in our possession is just too much for us all to handle.
We struggle over and over to live by these very simple precepts.
As evidenced by your "crap shoot" faith in priesthood itself.
You know these garments used to be down around our ankle and wrists and due to the continual striving to lower the bar we will see this come back any day now. lol
Here's a thought. How about we try to actually raise the bar?
Maybe even live the portion of the gospel that we have been blessed to keep instead of searching elsewhere for further "enlightenment" :)
Simplicity is key.
Line upon line, precept upon precept

James said...

Question for you Rock: While God's truth has extensive breadth which can be found in all religions, there are other doctrines and dogmas which any religion or person may espouse that just aren't correct. So any person or religion will be correct in some things, but incorrect in others.

One of the comfortable ideas for me in modern LDS doctrine is that there is a uniform structure for knowing what is true and what is not. That God has leaders that ensure doctrinal purity. I'm lazy and that is a very nice idea to rely on.

If LDS leadership is not in authority and receiving God's word for the rest of us, what is the alternative? We all seek answers on our own? It seems impossible to me that everyone would be able to agree on much of anything. How would there be any doctrinal consistency? How would ordinances be performed? Would there be Temples and how would we know how things were to be conducted there?

Steven Lester said...

The problem with relying solely on the authority of one group of men to instruct everyone else on what they view as truth is that there would no way to know or verify whether they are telling the truth or not. It has been declared by the founder of our faith (who, if he were to appear today would be declared a fraud even by his followers since so much of what he said has been buried in spurious philosophy) that what is declared as God's truth must be confirmed by the touch of the Holy Spirit, and the miracle of that authentic touch is the amazing cohesiveness of His message among hundreds and thousands who seek the truth from Him. Nothing else proves His existence quite so firmly.

So yes. We should all seek answers on our own through the Spirit's touch whenever what is purported to be revelation is uttered as authoritative. With His touch everyone would be able to agree on the truthfulness of something, and this has happened in the past and will in the future. There are men who are chosen for the leadership of a faith and to spread the words of God, but they must be confirmed in everybody's heart by the touch of the Spirit before they are accepted, not just blindly accepting them because they wear suits and hold certain titles. This is what the Mormon leaders require of us today, this blind and automatic obedience, which is contrary to what our founder required even of what he himself spoke, and because they do it lends credence to the suspicion that they may indeed be false wolves in sheep's clothing, warned against within the Scriptures. Those of us who read and write of and on the blog have received Spiritual confirmation that all is not right within the leadership of our Church. Hence, the cohesiveness of our belief and message.

Rock wil probably say something different, I'm sure. He is much more aware of truth than I am, I am equally sure.

Dave P. said...


First, I invite you to study the difference between knowledge ("smarts") vs. intelligence.

Second, the reason why we "birds of a feather flock together" is exactly because there's too much out there for each of us to learn, gain and understand all on our own. Nephi has urged us to "feast upon the words of Christ," but even if we give it our all, there will be some things that we as individuals will not understand or points to be missed entirely. However, people who have a different point of view and look at the same things at a different angle will be able to gain insight in new ways. Thus the people who combine this knowledge are all enlightened in the end. Remember Paul's analogy of the body to the church? The same applies here.

Third, from what I've learned the garments weren't originally worn 24/7 and wearing them was more symbolic than anything else. However, there's also the little point of Joseph Smith telling the leaders in Nauvoo to burn their garments while he was in the process of his pre-death repentance for his various carnal lusts and desires.

Fourth, you are exactly right about simplicity being the key because that's how the Lord established the pattern of line upon line, precept upon precept. We're here on this earth to learn, grow, exercise our agency, stumble, fall, repent and get back up again. All the Lord asks of us is to repent, be baptized, and offer our broken hearts and contrite spirits while following His example to offer unconditional love to our fellow man. As we seek knowledge with pure hearts then we will have the spirit as our guide and teacher to know what is truth and what is not. The way I look at it, how much favor did the pharisees gain in the eyes of the Lord by their continual "raising the bar?"

James said...

Thank you for your reply Steven. It is perhaps most indicative of my being weak spiritually, but I don't yet trust my ability to be lead so much by the Spirit without letting my own biases and mistrust get in the way. We all of course have seen many examples of people that think they are being led by the Spirit to do one thing or the other when it may be obvious to us that they are just doing what they want to. It sounds amazing to me to have an entire church body united in seeking the truth of each doctrine and seeking to know the heart of each person they call a leader. That sounds to me like what God would really want of each of us--to be self-reliant and be capable of knowing the truth independent of 'leaders'.

At the same time however I am not able to see past the possibility of complete chaos. Even take this blog. Rock has written on a wide variety of topics. In the comments I can see that among those that don't agree with the status quo in the LDS church, there are some that agree whole-heartedly with Rock, and others that don't. Some agree that we have deviated from the truth Joseph Smith restored, others don't agree that Joseph Smith was even right. As a body of Christians, how is doctrinal cohesiveness to be achieved with so many individual thoughts, traditions, and biases influencing our ability to follow the Spirit's guidance?

In my own reasoning, it seems logical that God would provide a way to ensure doctrinal purity such as a leadership hierarchy. Was that not what Christ organized in the New Testament, in the Americas, and again with Joseph Smith?

Sunbeam said...

@ Steven Lester
"Those of us who read and write of" ?
and there has always been and will always be those that "read and write of" and distort truths due to some agenda contrary than the Lord's.

There will always be those who twist simple ditties sung by children as "dogma." ( haha hilarious how you try to make this out to be brainwashing ) "dogma" haha
Primary children have always been and will always be taught to follow Christ.
The ditty "Follow the prophet... he knows the way." references this very principle. The prophet does know the way to follow Christ and encourages us all to do so.

This ridiculous notion that the prophet would ask that anyone "blindly" accept "them because they wear suits and hold certain titles" would be laughable if not presented by one who supposedly has some knowledge as to the desires of these men's hearts. This misinforms seekers of the truth and is done at one’s own peril.
I tire of people enamored of their own superior intellect, (lol) prone to leaning on their own understanding attempting to paint with a broad brush a group of people whom they have not an inkling as to how they function much less believe.
In actuality these people strive to follow Christ because He is the way. They are well aware they are mere mortals who struggle daily with basic instructions. Unlike some who walk away from the very core laws we must observe to progress to a greater light and knowledge and go off the rails searching for light and knowledge beyond their ability to truly grasp given the foundation has not first been built.
They strive to live by strict obedience as He did.
It is unfortunate that you skew this as "blind obedience" and says more about you than others as we all know we view the world from our own limited perspective.
“By strict obedience Jesus won the prize with glory rife.” Strict obedience to the Father, this is what the prophet counsels us to do/be and you are well aware of it.
This prize however is not exaltation as the entitled mindset desires. Salvation and exaltation are quite literally worlds apart.
The laws are not of our choosing.
They are The Father’s.
He is the same yesterday and today.
Lower your own personal bar all you desire. Do not defame others who know THE BAR has been duly placed by Him and will be lowered by no man. We will all be measured to this bar no matter how you rail against it my friend.

Sunbeam said...

@ Dave P
In my first comment I was referring to our own personal bar that we might want to raise.
As I just commented above (before reading your response) we have no control over THE BAR.
This bar may not be reached by circumventing the line by line, precept upon precept method that the Lord established. To attempt to grasp meat before milk leads many off the rails as they get forever lost in semantics such as knowledge/smarts/intellect. haha
It is preferable to humble oneself and seek earnestly, with simplicity the path that Christ walked which after laying a firm foundation rooted in strict obedience to correct and true principles leads one to further light and knowledge which when then received is also grasped with pure simplicity no pontification required, needed or desired.

Dave P. said...

I definitely misread your original comment then. Though I was out in the mission field when Elder Ballard announced "raising the bar" for missionaries and it wasn't much longer after that that I had a nervous breakdown from trying to be the "perfect missionary" and came home. Thus hearing that term elicits an eyebrow twitch now and then because it took a long time to realize that God still loves me even though I "failed at my mission," which is something my own family told me.

However, I've since learned to expand my horizons without feeling the need to rely on anyone except the Lord because He will teach me at the rate I'm most able to absorb. One of my favorite points made in the D&C is when the Lord tells us that the spirit will speak to us in our own language and to the degree that we are able to understand. Thus even a child can learn from the spirit.

To add to your comment to Steven Lester:

Indeed a prophet can know the way to follow Christ except, you know, when he doesn't. The "follow the prophet" mantra came into being when a man named Wilford Woodruff announced the end of the practice of plural marriage in 1890 after having spent the previous years talking about how it was necessary for exaltation. Despite the fact that the Manifesto was written by his secretary, what was his excuse? "The prophet will never lead the people astray." This is ignoring the fact that the Book of Mormon says that plural marriage was always an abomination in the eyes of God and the church shouldn't have even been practicing it in the first place. I felt a loss of the spirit several times during the recent general conference when the brethren made false statements. Whether or not they were made intentionally is currently up in the air.

The Savior set the bar when He said, "Come, follow me. Repent and be baptized." He set the example we're to follow and as we continue to draw close to Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, approaching Him in prayer and repenting daily, He will guide us. As He told the Nephites, "This is my doctrine. Anything more or less than this comes from evil." So, in short, the brethren have just as much of a right to "raise the bar" as anyone here has the right to "lower it:" none at all.

God gave us our agency and He expects us to use it. Anyone who advocates surrendering agency in any form- blind obedience, debilitating substances, control through threat of force/excommunication, etc.- is not of God. The truth, no matter where we learn it, doesn't shackle us down to rote rituals and stringent rules. It makes us free!

Even those who aren't baptized are still credited in the eyes of God for doing good works. I recently realized something that I'm going to start sharing with people: Do we worship a God who watches over us and waits for opportunities to issue a strike against us when we sin, or do we worship a God who watches over us and waits for opportunities to bless us for when we do good, avoid evil, and even help us turn our weaknesses into strengths? You wouldn't believe the flak I got from my own family a week ago because I *GASP!* made a purchase on Sunday! This is despite the fact that I was in and out quickly enough to make it to church for the entire block for the first time in months. It's that kind of judgmental attitude that Rock mentioned at length in the original post. It doesn't matter what others are doing, we should love them anyway because it was the hypocrite pharisees whom the Savior rebuked the most (Peter being a close 2nd). The analogy the Savior gave is a beam in our own eye, and it's something that other people can see, thus we're the ones who look bad when we're too busy pointing out the mote in another.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Another great post. This has brought together a lot of what I've been thinking abour recently.

I recently read a Sunstone article about the Three Grand fundemental Principles of Mormonism.


Truth - Joseph Smith taught that we should accept truth from where ever it comes. To me this stands in sharp contrast to the unwillingness of L-DS to accept anything that has not come through "official channels." After all if a nother book do scripture is to come forth it will come through the leaders of the church.

Friendship - Joseph Smith remarked about how Christians, Jews, Muslims all have a we're right everyone else is wrong attitude. What I got from his statement is that we should all recognize the validity of a person's beliefs in their own lives. The minute we start thinking we are right or more right than others then we loose the friendship of pure mormonism. It reminds me of the scene from Megamind. After blowing his cover and being dumped by Roxanne, Megamind returns to his lair. His sidekick Minion had previously told him it was a bad idea for him to be dating Roxanne. Megamind's voice echos in the darkness, "Minion you were right, I was...less right."

While L-DS opinon today is one of bring your truth and we will add to it. This still reeks of we are "more right than you." Rarely do we hear that we should learn from the truth of others religions.

Relief - We need to help those who are less fortunate.

Zo-ma-rah said...


"Upon reading the comments here I see "birds of a feather" like to gather here and be impressed by their shared overanalyzing to the point of missing (or plain old losing) the point entirely."

I think that is usually the result of anything. People who agree with such a view will gather around and discuss that view. Those who disagree will usually find something they agree with.

"You seriously think you are that much smarter than the average bear?"

In my conversations with Rock, he has never come across as thinking he is smarter than anyone else.

"The amount of scripture that we now have left in our possession is just too much for us all to handle."

Why? I would conjecture that the scriptures we don't have yet is what is too much to handle. What we have is perfectly within our grasp to handle. But it seems to me that a large portion of our inability to live by scriptural standards is that we either don't know how or have been told be leaders we don't need to. In either case it is our own fault for not reading the scriptures and finding ways to apply them.

For example the Law of Consecration. We are taught by leaders that it was revoked and we are to live tithing. Yet there is no place in the scriptures that tells us it was revoked. This fact alone should send an alert that not everything we are taught is as it should be. Anyone who has been through the endowment has covenanted to obey the Law of Consecration "as explained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants."

Another point about this is that whenever someone does want to or tries to live according to scriptural standards they are told they are becoming apostate. If we are trying to overcome the problem of not living by the scriptures, by living the scriptures. What sense does it make to tell someone that their attempts at living the scriptures are leading them astray. That doesn't make sense at all.

"Maybe even live the portion of the gospel that we have been blessed to keep instead of searching elsewhere for further 'enlightenment' :)"

Remember your use of the word Gospel here.

"The ditty "Follow the prophet... he knows the way." references this very principle. The prophet does know the way to follow Christ and encourages us all to do so."

So if the Spirit tells me to practice Plural Marriage but the 'prophet' tells me not to, which one is right? Do I trust what God has told me personally or do I trust another person to tell me what God wants me to do?

"This ridiculous notion that the prophet would ask that anyone "blindly" accept "them because they wear suits and hold certain titles" would be laughable if not presented by one who supposedly has some knowledge as to the desires of these men's hearts."

I personally have never heard Thomas Monson say thatwe must all accept him as our leader. However the point that I think is trying to be made here is that we are asked to sustain a man as a prophet, seer, and revelation who has never given any prophecies, revelation, or visions. So in conference when someone says something like, "we should listen to the words of our prophet" to people like me that comes across as, "ignore the fact that this man has never given any prophecies, revelations, or visions, and listen to his divine instruction." Basically, for many of us who are looking for the fruits of prophets, seers, revelators, and translators, we feel we are being told to not look at(be blind towards) the fact that our leaders don't bear the fruits.

That to me is what is meant be people say our leaders want us to blindly follow them. While they do say we should take things up with the Spirit we are told that if our conclusion differes from that which is expected then we are being led astray.

You might find this interesing:

Zo-ma-rah said...

@sunbeam(part 2):
"Unlike some who walk away from the very core laws we must observe to progress to a greater light and knowledge and go off the rails searching for light and knowledge beyond their ability to truly grasp given the foundation has not first been built.

They strive to live by strict obedience as He did."

I think we should all strive to be obedient to what God commands us. The problem comes when God commands someone to live Consecration, or Plural Marriage, or the United order, or to be rebaptized, or any number of other principles. When God commands a person to do these things the Church(tm) tell us to ignore it and follow what program the Church(tm) has in place.

Again this comes across as being told to turn a blind eye(theres that word again) to God's personal instruction, and follow the program established by leaders.

Zo-ma-rah said...


"Question for you Rock: While God's truth has extensive breadth which can be found in all religions, there are other doctrines and dogmas which any religion or person may espouse that just aren't correct. So any person or religion will be correct in some things, but incorrect in others."

Granted I'm not Rock but I hope you wont mind me adressing this issue. You and Sunbeam both referenced the same concept. Sunbeam use the term "the portion of the Gospel." You used, "there are other doctrines and dogmas."

I would like to refer you to 3 Nephi3 Nephi 11:28-35, 40

28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
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.

In these verses we learn that Christ's doctrine is Faith, Repentence, Baptism of Water, and Baptism of the Fire and Spirit. And in verse 40 we learn that anytime anything more or less than this is declares and the Gospel or Doctrine, it come from evil. Temple work, Tithing, Word of Wisdom, etc. are NOT the Gospel.

There is no such thing as "the portion of the Gospel that we have been blessed to keep." There is no such thing as "other doctrines and dogmas."

Belief in anything outside those four things is not essential to salvation and should be approached as dictated by God to the individual.

Zo-ma-rah said...


"One of the comfortable ideas for me in modern LDS doctrine is that there is a uniform structure for knowing what is true and what is not. That God has leaders that ensure doctrinal purity. I'm lazy and that is a very nice idea to rely on."

And that is the problem. It is easy for us to sit back and let others decide what we should do. We cannot gain a string relationship with God if we let other people communicate with Him for us.

Numbers 11:29
29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, [and] that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Our goal should be to become our own prophets. The leaders of the Church(tm) cannot give that to us. The can't say,"we now instruct you to become your own prophets." It has to be a personal journey.

"If LDS leadership is not in authority and receiving God's word for the rest of us, what is the alternative? We all seek answers on our own?"

First of all if they are receiving God's word then where is it?

"It seems impossible to me that everyone would be able to agree on much of anything. How would there be any doctrinal consistency?"

That's the thing. The only doctrine that matters is Faith, Repentence, Baptism of Water, and Baptism of fire and the Spirit. That's it. Everything else should be left up to the individual.

"How would ordinances be performed? Would there be Temples and how would we know how things were to be conducted there?"

If you are looking to L-DS leadership for consistency on these things then you are looking in the wrong place.

- The Initiatory(aka Washing and Anointing, or Kirtland Endowment) has been greatly changed from its original form.
- The Endowment(aka Nauvoo Endowment) has been majorly changed since its inception.
- The Ordinance of Adoption has been lost.
- The Ordinance of rebaptism for healing has been lost.
- Plural Sealings are no longer performed(sorry, I know the regulars readers are pretty anti-plural).
- Temples are not built according to the established manner(Basement(Nauvoo), first floor meeting hall, second floor meeting hall, Attic offices/ordiance area.
- Temples no longer used as public meeting places(i.e. dances, councils, schools, public weddings, offices, etc.).
- Temples being build around the world instead of Cities of Zion.
- Baptism for dead performs only in Zion, her stakes(cities of Zion), Jerusalem, and places appointed for a refuge. Not acceptable by saints scattered abroad.

Now that's just temples. We can go on about other ordinances:

- Smidgens of bread and specklets of water.
- The preference for water rather than wine.
- The congregation does not eat until filled.
- Congregation does not kneel when prayers are said.
- Teachers and deacons participate in administering(yes that includes passing) the sacrament.(BTW if administration does not include passing then why not let the young women or relief society participate as well?)
- Priests administering the scrament when an Elder is present.

Other ordinances that have been lost are:
- Rebaptism as a re commitment to Christ
- Animal sacrifices as a remembrance

I'm sure there are more I can't think of.

Basically if we are looking to L-DS leadership as our sole source of instruction then we are missing out on these other practices that were part of the restoration. Are they the Gospel? No. But if a person has a witness they are true how are they to practice them today? Not through the L-DS Church(tm).

Zo-ma-rah said...


"It is perhaps most indicative of my being weak spiritually, but I don't yet trust my ability to be lead so much by the Spirit without letting my own biases and mistrust get in the way. We all of course have seen many examples of people that think they are being led by the Spirit to do one thing or the other when it may be obvious to us that they are just doing what they want to."

I think that is all of our problems. But we have been given the scriptures to use as a measuring stick. Allowing Christ to be our leader rather than another man is amazingly fulfilling. But at the same time it is much more difficult.

"At the same time however I am not able to see past the possibility of complete chaos. Even take this blog. Rock has written on a wide variety of topics. In the comments I can see that among those that don't agree with the status quo in the LDS church, there are some that agree whole-heartedly with Rock, and others that don't. Some agree that we have deviated from the truth Joseph Smith restored, others don't agree that Joseph Smith was even right. As a body of Christians, how is doctrinal cohesiveness to be achieved with so many individual thoughts, traditions, and biases influencing our ability to follow the Spirit's guidance? "

And this is exactly what I talked about. The only doctrine that requires cohesiveness is faith, repentence, Baptism of Water, and Baptism of Fire and the Spirit. Think how much unity we could acheive if we could just wrap our heads around this idea. christianity and Mormonism with all our different sects and subsets could be united by four basic fundemental principles. All it requires is that we seek our own personal guidence and that we respect what God has spoken personally to others.

As christ said in 3 Nephi: 30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

With only those four things as our doctrine all the borders and divisions melt away. The Three Grand Principes of Truth, Friendship, and Relief and have a huge unifying effect.

"Was that not what Christ organized in the New Testament, in the Americas, and again with Joseph Smith?"

Yes but all of these were loose organizations. The church was the local congregation loosely bound with other congregations. It wasn't a strict heirarchy. Infact if we read section 107, it says that the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, The Seventy, The High Council of Zion and the combined quorum consisting of all other High Councils of stakes in Zion; are all equal in authority. There should be no heirarchy. We should all be brothers and sisters, equals.

Just one last quote about doctrine:

Joseph Smith: "I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (History of the Church, 5:340)

Anonymous said...

Dave P.,

Those who believe that Joseph fell for polygamy & lived it & then repented right before his death, don't understand the huge implications of indulging in such great sins, like spouse abuse, adultery & polygamy.

It is impossible for one to indulge in such sins, especially to the depth it is said Joseph did, & come back & repent from it in a matter of days, weeks or even months.

Though a person can come to themselves quickly & realize they are sinning, (though that is very rare & usually takes some intense & very painful experience that causes them to wake up), but even if it happened, the person would have to fight those feelings & inclinations for a long time to overcome them completely, they don't just go away because one realizes it's wrong. The person also must prove over time their repentance & worthiness of certain blessings to be restored to them again.

After serious sin, 'time' is the only & real 'proof' that one can know if one has really changed & repented. A person must prove they can go a long time without returning to the sin, to prove they are really righteous now. That is why we don't believe in 'death bed repentance', for there isn't time to prove the repentance to God or self or others.

Plus, if Joseph had committed adultery by living polygamy he would have been excommunicated by the Lord & released from his calling as Prophet. Immediately. Even if no one else ever knew he was released by the Lord as Prophet or not. Just as anyone who sins greatly immediately loses the Spirit & Priesthood.

He would have lost his position & Priesthood & authority & would have had to take the long road back to membership that anyone else does in that circumstance.

And when he decided to finally repent he would 'not' be reinstated back to being the Prophet without any glitch, for he would have confessed his sins to other leaders & would have been excommunicated or severely disciplined for a time & not been placed back as Prophet.

It takes a lot of time to get the Spirit back to the degree that one would have to have it to be a Prophet again.

So that story you are believing, that I know many are recently, is false & can't be true if you understand these things.

Anonymous said...

Dave P. (cont.)

I believe that Joseph did not practice polygamy at all & I believe those who are saying he did & then repented are completely deceived & do not understand serious sins like spouse abuse & adultery (which polygamy is both) & how it works & affects a person who indulges in it, physically, emotionally & spiritually.

Nor do they understand what kind of 'near perfectness' it takes to be a true Prophet & to have the spiritual experiences, visitations & gifts he was given to have.

And Joseph Smith said that it's impossible for a person who possesses 'perfect love' to fall & be deceived. I have studied perfect love for a long time & I know that Joseph was a true Prophet & he would never have treated Emma the way he did or would have acted with other women the way so many said he did. It is completely out of character of a righteous man. It is blatantly false to anyone who understands these things.

Any true Prophet would have to have such perfect love, for it is a 'prerequisite' for all truly righteous people & especially a Prophet. Thus a true Prophet could never fall, because he has the Holy Spirit to strong within him & could easily & quickly detect all falsehoods (like polygamy).

Don't be deceived. It might be hard to believe how there could be so many people who say he did & so many journals & writings about how Joseph supposedly lived polygamy, but even that all makes sense when you understand the mindset of those who spent the remainder of their days trying to justify & cover up their sins & by tagging it on Joseph.

That is what deceived, abusive adulterous people do, their #1 objective in life is to continually lie, & take great pains to go back & cover their bases & try to turn the minds of everyone around them to believe that what they are doing is ok, lest they be found out.

All abusers & adulterers in the church today are hardly ever detected & do the same thing. And they usually succeed at fooling everyone, including all leaders, to support them in their devilish deeds, even & especially their weak & desperate spouses go along with it all, & say whatever he wants them to say (or write in their journals).

People who live in fear & denial because they are going along with evil, are usually willing to say anything or write anything, to hide from having to wake up to the ugly truth of what they are doing & lose the perks of their sinful situations.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are alone in determining what is true or not. We are accountable & responsible to receive revelation ourselves on any & all subjects.

It is impossible to follow any leader or person blindly & not fall or be deceived. If we follow blindly we will always be deceived.

We must be able to tell if a Prophet is speaking truth or not, or we can be lead away by Prophets who are not leading correctly.

Personally being able to discern 'truth from error', 'right from wrong' & 'devils from saints', is the grand test of this life & determines whether we are worthy of Exaltation or not.

There is no such thing as following a Prophet all the way to heaven. They can only help us if we can tell if they teach the truth or not.

The 'Holy Spirit' must be our guide if we are ever going to get there.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, even the wicked usually think they are following the 'right' Spirit & are righteous.

If we are deceived by revelations & inspirations from the Adversary, we will probably never know it until it's too late.

Thus, only those who truly are Christ-like in their hearts & desires, will have the 'real' Holy Spirit as their guide.

Of course though, even the most wicked usually think they are Christ-like.

It's so very easy to be deceived & thus, everyone is today, except a rare few.

To be safe we should just assume we are deceived & continually be rechecking our beliefs, choices & actions to make sure they are based on 'Unconditional Perfect True Everlasting Love' (especially for your spouse), which is the only 'proof & mark' of any true disciple of Jesus Christ.

And 'polygamy' for one thing, is completely opposite & against True Christlike love for our spouse.

But Satan loves polygamy, for it destroys the marriage, family & children quicker than almost anything else. Thus Satan is continually trying to deceive everyone into believing in it. And he is succeeding today in doing just that, just as he has got most people to believe in it throughout the history of the world.

Dave P. said...


Here's what I can say I know for sure: Joseph Smith was warned early on that he needed to trust fully in the Lord and not give in to his own carnal lusts and desires. The D&C is full of rebukes given to Joseph for fearing man more than God, and in the end, that is also what made him lose the protection of the Lord by not heeding the command to flee to the Rockies.

In 2 Nephi 3 Lehi quotes the prophesy of Joseph of Egypt and that the Joseph, son of Joseph whom he prophesied about "would be like me." From the time of the church's restoration until his death, Joseph Smith lived for 14 years. Like Joseph of Egypt, he had 7 year of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. When you look at Joseph's life during those two 7-year periods there's a stark contrast between what he taught in Kirtland vs. what he taught (or things taught that were attributed to him) in Nauvoo. I've been taught and believe that, under those first 7 years he was more highly influenced by God whereas in the second 7 he was more highly influenced by satan. The key here is that, during this time, he was protected by the Lord for three reasons: 1. Because the Lord had promised to protect him until he finished his mission (See the account of The Last Charge wherein he gave the priesthood keys to the 12). 2. To allow the prophesy to be fulfilled. 3. To allow Joseph to exercise his agency and learn the lesson that needed to be taught with him making those mistakes.

I can't pretend to understand the horrible implications of being involved in a polygamous relationship, but I forgive Joseph either way. Even if polygamy wasn't included, he began to realize just how far he'd gone astray during his final few weeks and did his best to correct the course. Sadly he once again feared man more than God and, no longer having the Lord's protection, was murdered before he could get things cleaned up. And because the Lord respects free agency, He allowed people like Brigham Young to really steer the church off course.

YIKES said...

@Anon says "After serious sin, 'time' is the only & real 'proof' that one can know if one has really changed & repented." That is a diabolical belief, not endorsed by the Jesus I believe in. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Dave P.

I have heard opposite reasons why he came back to Nauvoo & that he instead he knew he was coming back to probably sacrifice his life for others & to help save the Saints. It was very noble & righteous of him to come back. He put others before himself, even though the Lord told him he could choose to save his life if he wanted & go west, but Joseph made a higher choice & gave his life for others.

It just seems to me that you are reading alot into heresay. Trying to understand a Prophet & what happens to such a pure man, is very difficult if you do not understand the sacrifices that his level of person usually is asked to give. Most all, if not all, true followers of Christ live lives of near constant persecution & abuse. If you don't know what that is like, it's would be hard to understand why he did some of the things he did.

No one living that level of righteousness & sacrifice falls, for they go through too much to give it all up for things they know are so foolish. Like 'polygamy', which was very easy for him to resist & see how evil is was.

Joseph had true love for Emma. Do you know how that feels? Do you have true love for your wife, assuming you are married. Is your 1st desire all day long to make her happy & serve her every wish? And protect her from every care & harm & evil with your life?

When you understand true love you realize that it is absolutely impossible for a man with that kind of love, like Joseph had, to ever commit a serious sin, especially on the level of abuse, adultery or polygamy. He remained faithful & true all his life until the end, to God & Emma.

Though there may have been times where he grew weary or made bad choices with business or errored in judgment on some things, I don't know, but these are not sins, just part of being human. Of course Joseph wasn't perfect, he had small natural weaknesses like everyone does but he never committed any serious sin.

I have read where it says he said he thought he was deceived, etc. at the end of his life & wanted to repent, but that again is just more heresay that doesn't make sense when you understand what kind of man Joseph was.

If anything he may have been hard on himself at the end, seeing how astray the Church had gone, & feeling maybe partly responsible in some way for it, though not because of some great sin, but just maybe he thought he could have done something different or more to help strenghen the Saints. I don't know, but I do know he did the best he could against incredible odds that will amaze us someday when we learn what he was up against. I'm sure the Lord was very pleased with his life & efforts & sacrifices.

The foundation of all judgments of Joseph must be made with the understanding of how near perfect he was in spiritual matters, while still being human. I don't think any of us have ever known or heard of any man today in the Church who even comes close to Joseph's stature, so it's hard to understand him & why he did the things he did & said.

Truly righteous people are almost always & easily misunderstood & misjudged because their intentions, thinking & desires are so much higher than ours. We just can't understand how they think & why they do certain things. So we usually see them wrong. Just like Christ was & is misunderstood by most everyone.

Bottom line, Joseph was faithful & true all his life, & just because the Lord warned him of something, as he does to us all, does not mean Joseph was having a problem with that particular thing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Dave P.,

One more comment.

On the protection thing. Though the Lord protected Joseph many times, He couldn't protect him all the time & from every persecution. As Joseph grew stronger in the later years of his life, his trials became harder.

God must usually allow the wicked the agency to do what they will do. And just because Joseph seemed to not be protected anymore doesn't mean it was because of his own unfaithfulness. It was almost surely because it was a trial or persecution he choose (before this life) to endure to gain the understanding & blessings that he sought in the next life.

Hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Anon. Methinks you protest too much. Do not worship Joseph. Worship God.

Inspire said...

Anonymous said: "The foundation of all judgments of Joseph must be made with the understanding of how near perfect he was in spiritual matters, while still being human."

Check out D&C 76, where a description of those of Telestial Glory is given:

98 And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;

99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas (or Joseph or Thomas).

100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;

101 But received not the GOSPEL, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.

Does it really matter if Joseph was "faithful and true all his life" if we are living the GOSPEL (aka the DOCTRINE of Christ, or His CHURCH) which is to become as a little child, repent, be baptized and come unto Christ? Does what one PERSON did or didn't do really matter to our own individual journey if we are solely striving to come unto Christ?

Steven Lester said...

But remember what that guy said after Joseph was shot, died, and buried. He said that nobody else in the entire history of the world and mankind had ever done more, save for Jesus Christ Himself, to redeem humanity (or something like that). Don't you have to be the greatest man who ever lived who wasn't also a god in order to pull that off? The only reason that Jesus Christ was greater was because He had a better dad and glowed in the dark (some said) from the presence of the angel on His shoulder. Ya gotta be practically perfect to measure up to that standard, Mary Poppins not withstanding!

I rest my case.

Steven Lester said...

Oh, look. It is April 6th and Elder Packer is STILL ALIVE! We continue to be blessed by his august presence. There is a God.

Anonymous said...

Not very Christlike Mr.Lester. (no sarcasm intended). I love this blog but comments like that are not the kind of stuff that makes me like coming here.

Anonymous said...

Hey, not to thread jack, but "Truth Hurts" blog is back up. :)

Steven Lester said...

Mr. least I have a name!

~Clint~ said...


That guy would be "Jonn Taylor" and even if what he said about Joseph Smith was accurate (and I find that pretty difficult to quantify, although Taylor expound a little) it's still a pretty big difference.

In fact I would probably say if this is the case there is an infinite difference between first and second place.

Still I think much of this is mute. I'm pretty sure he was just expressing his own opinion in support of an organization that he was not really in a place to be objective about.

Ditto Inspire said...

Inspire, AMEN to everything you said!

Anonymous said...


I am the anon you quoted & Yes, I do believe it is very important that we find out (from the Holy Spirit) whether Joseph or any Prophet was & is a true & righteous Prophet their whole life or not.

For our Exaltation depends on us not allowing ourselves to be deceived, especially by 'false or fallen prophet'.

If we can't tell a true prophet from a false or fallen one, we will easily & surely be deceived to do evil & lose the Spirit &our Exaltation, yet we will probably be the last to know it & still feel & think we are righteous.

So yes, if we are going to make it, we must know for sure we are following a true & righteous prophets, today & back then.

Pondering said...

Rock, have you read M. Catherine Thomas' "Light in the Wilderness?" It has shaped my life in a profound way. Much of what you have written here was touched upon briefly in her book.

If you have read it, what did you think?

If not, I think that you would appreciate much of what she says.

whitehusky said...

//their understanding is incomplete, or so skewed that they are incorrect//

Yes, that's for sure. Quite a few Mormons don't even understand that Jesus Christ is Lord, as in Lord God Almighty. I can't believe the stupidities they come up with in order to define the Lord in scripture as someone other than Jesus Christ. Then they call it "Mormon" doctrine, as if that makes it infallible. Let me tell you, the God of Mormon is Jesus Christ. Mormon would be the first to fall down on his knees and worship Jesus Christ in humility and gratitude. These modern "Mormons" who deny Christ is God are so far from being like Mormon that they ought to call themselves Korihors.

Dave P. said...

Actually, whitehusky, I'd say they're more like the Zoramites at this point.

~Clint~ said...


Stupidities like "The First Vision" in the Pearl of Great Price? Now, I understand that some people have doubts that this interpretation is 100% accurate, but to debase the members of "The Mormon Church" for believing a core tenant in one of their standard works, seems a bit overboard to me.

If you were a baptist trash-talking Mormons I would totally get it, but for a "Mormon" raised person to come to this conclusion actually takes quite a round about path. At least it did for me. As far as scriptures, for every one that seems to make the issues clear, there is another that seems to confuse it, often even within the same scripture.

Then again, maybe the people who say that knowing the exact nature of God is the most important thing are right, including Steve Davis who says if we get it wrong we become "Sons / Daughters of Perdition" since he says not knowing who God is is denying the holy ghost.

I probably shouldn't be commenting on such things though, since I am full of doubt about my beliefs and am not confident that I personally do not share some of the sins of the zoramites.

Seems like there is no way to live up to the perfection demanded by either the main-stream-Mormons or the fringe-Mormons who believe it started out right but then went wrong. All are sure they have the answers and that makes them better than the other group.

Dave P. said...


The problem is that the account of the First Vision that's in the PoGP wasn't the one given by Joseph Smith. Out of the nine various accounts, only the one in his 1832 journal was a first-hand account and in it he says he saw one person, the Lord. What we have in the PoGP wasn't added to the standard works until well after his death.

The original Book of Mormon and Lectures on Faith also testify that the Father and Son are one God. While the later editions of the BoM were altered to change that, it still exists in Mosiah 15 and Ether 3. The introduction of many Gods was done by the infiltrators who, like satan's plan in the longtime war in heaven and earth, wanted to establish themselves as false Gods and rule through blind obedience, force and control. When Paul said, "There are gods many and lords many," he was referring to the countless idol gods there are out there.

The Lectures on Faith are also very straightforward in stating that, in order to be able to worship God, one must also understand His true nature. What's the best way to do that? Seek, study, learn, and ask Him for yourself.

~Clint~ said...

Dave P.

My “current” personal beliefs align closely with your statements above, also earlier in this thread I posted a comment that I lean strongly away from the concept of plurality of Gods.

Where I part paths, is that I do not believe that people who adhere to things taught by the “LDS Church” are stupid or are anti-Christ’s for believing them. I do not think it is as clear cut as you and whitehusky seem too, and I do not think that a direct moral superiority is determined by this view-point.

As far as “The Lectures on Faith”comment of: “in order to be able to worship God, one must also understand His true nature.”, are you saying that once you decide that Jesus = God you have discovered His “true” nature?

Regarding the consequences of improper belief in the nature of God, I understand your views tend to align strongly with those of Steve Davis, and we know where he stands on this matter. I am likely a minority opinion here, as Rock has also weighed in on this issue with the comment: “Most Mormons would assert that they know Jesus, but how can they have any kind of a relationship with someone they never talk to?”

This is all probably indicative of a big flaw on my part, which is that unlike many of the people here, I have never been able to move from the surety that my previous beliefs were correct to the surety that my new beliefs are.

I’m am honestly not trying to be condescending when I say that in response to your comment of “ask Him for yourself” I do not know whether I am skeptical or envious that you have received a firm and direct answer on this matter from God.

PS. Where does one see/get the 1832 journal account?

PSS. Rock, I think I have posted this comment about 10 times and it doesn’t seem to want to stay, is this the spirit telling me that I should not be posting?

Dave P. said...

You can find the journal entry in the Personal Writings of Joseph Smith compiled by Dean C. Jessee.

~Clint~ said...

I don't suppose their is a place to find this online?

Dave P. said...

I bought my copy off amazon. It's definitely been an interesting read so far.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The spirit is telling my your comments are too long.

No, not really, though this business the system has of arbitrarily giving some commentors problems has been an occasional irritation across the entire Blogspot universe. The tech guys say they are working on it, but it's happened to me, too. Sometimes it tells me my comments are too long, and other times it publishes comments that are much longer without any trouble. So go figure.

I recommend copying your comment before you post it so it doesn't get lost in space. Sometimes it works if you close the program and then come back in (another reason to be sure and copy what you've written first). Sometimes when you reopen the blog, you'll find your comment actually did post.

Note to everybody: my email address can be found in the About Me box, so if you lost an entry, email me and I'll see if it got delivered to my email box. Most posts end up there even when they don't post here. I'll put it right up.

Per the current conversation, Clint, I'm with you when you imply that it should take more to know God than simply recognizing that Jesus is the Father (a corner of Mormon theology that I admit to trying to sort out myself). I can't say I'm anywhere close to being able to claim that I truly know God, but I believe that if you are striving to know Him, and he knows you want to know him, He'll eventually manifest himself one way or another.

This is not to say you'll get a personal visitation or glorious vision, though some have claimed such and I have no reason to dismiss such claims. I may not have come to "know" God in a way I could claim was a surety, but I have had spiritual experiences and feelings and sensations that satisfy me that His love and presence are real, and that whether I "know" him or not, He clearly knows who I am.

Chris said...

Holy crap Alan. You did it my friend. You made Mormonism awesome. Even after all your earlier posts (which are all great) this is the one that makes me think Mormonism is potentially kick @$$ at its core. Thank you for this. I might actually start to like my religion now :)

When you speak about it in this way it makes me recognize that, even if you struggle with the founding claims of Mormonism, there is still substance to this theology. There is something to enlighten your mind and soul. I have felt that about many Eastern traditions and, at the same time felt no pressure to accept the more dogmatic or traditional embellishments that accumulate over the centuries.

I have struggled to understand whether or not Mormonism is a net positive for a long time. Unfortunately this culture will not validate a view that considers certain aspects to be negative, or (gasp) untrue. It's all or nothin with these guys.

This helps me see the value in this religion that I wrestle with. Wherever my path takes me, from here on out Mormonism will seem a lot cooler to me. Thanks

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Chris, if I ever write a book, I'm going to quote a slice of what you just said as a blurb for the back cover.

Jared said...

It may seem tautological to say that a religion that incorporates the best of every religion ends up as the best of religions, but this genius does exist within Mormonism (even though now it is pretty much never applied).

Imagine if the prophet said 'I have prayed about these principles present in other religions and cultures (everything from meditation, to Reiki healing to joyful ways of worshiping) and God has confirmed it is a true and beneficial principle and He would like us to institute it'"

Oh, this is the Mormonism I believe in. Hallelujah. :)

Anonymous said...

Rock, that Church news article you link to at the end says this:

"President Thomas S. Monson said there is peace that comes from teaching with the spirit of obedience. 'As we teach others, may we follow the example of the perfect teacher, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," he said. "He left His footprints in the sands of the seashore but left His teaching principles in the hearts and in the lives of all whom He taught.' (Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Great Teachers," Ensign, June 2007.)"

That's funny, because Jesus did NOT follow the Jewish correlation program. He taught unofficial doctrines, and as a result, they gave him the most severe form of Church discipline: Death.

Dave P. said...

Not to mention the fact that Jesus derided the Pharisees as liars, hypocrites, and basically the most dangerous people in the country because of their leaven/teachings. And what did they advocate? Blind obedience to the leaders and strict adherence to the letter of the law while completely discarding the spirit of the law.

History isn't repeating. Nah!

Homey said...


Can you point to a couple of instances where the Pharisees were advocating "blind obedience to the leaders"?

Steven Lester said...

I was always taught the Pharisees were the common folk party and that the Saduccees (spelling, I know) were the aristocratic ruler party. The Pharisees did not like those other guys in Jerusalem and so would not have advocated "blind obedience to the leaders", assuming that what I was taught is true. At least, this is how Talmage (again, spell checker never heard of Talmadge) put it in Jesus The Christ.

Dave P. said...

It's simple deduction, really: Obey the Law of Moses according to their interpretation or be cast out.

Homey said...


You're reaching with that assumption. If you're going to cast some stones, at least give me an interpretation that is based on something, anything, other than "simple deduction."

It's one thing to say that is what they did, another thing entirely (and much more compelling) to offer something verifiable that that is what they did. At worst, offer me some evidence of their oral traditions to support your argument, but as is, you just "saying" so doesn't make it so.

Dave P. said...

Think about it this way: The pharisees took every chance they had to pounce all over Jesus, his disciples, or the people he healed for whatever reason they could: healing on the Sabbath, stating a man's sins were forgiven, or even one man carrying his bed beyond a doorstep. But while they decried Him for blasphemy and violating the law, what was the primary reason they wanted him dead? People were listening to Jesus instead of the pharisees. He was undermining their supposed authority, calling them out on their hypocrisy, and they didn't want to hear that. But because they didn't have the truth of the good news of the gospel, they had to regain their position by the classic means of any figure who demands blind obedience: snuff out the opposition and either try to discredit the evidence or make it disappear.

In the end, it can definitely be summed up as, "Do what we say, or else," a threat used by controlling people since the beginning and can still be seen today both in and out of the church.

There is also a difference between assumptions and deductions. It's a process of taking the bits and pieces of what's given to us and then formulating a theory as to what makes them fit together. In another case, look at Laman and Lemuel: They weren't just simply bitter about losing their inheritance and having Nephi "rule" over them, they were also lazy. There are three instances that support that: They didn't want to return to Jerusalem for the plates of brass, they did nothing to help in order to obtain food after Nephi broke his bow, and they certainly showed no interest in building a ship.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately blind obedience is what is stressed very strongly in the Church today. The philosophy that the Prophet can never be wrong or lead us astray encourages this blind faith.

Who is going to work hard enough to gain the Holy Spirit as their guide, when they are assured that if they will just follow the Prophet, all will be well.

Prophets have often been wrong & deceived in the past, more modern Prophets have had to correct many past Prophet's teachings. Thus we can't put blind trust in even Prophets.

Personal revelation from the Holy Spirit must always be the only one we follow or we will surely be easily lead astray.

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can tell us if what even Prophets say is right or not. We must be able to tell by the Spirit a true Prophet from a false one.

False Prophets look like true ones, it's often impossible to tell the difference unless you have the Holy Spirit as your guide.

Homey said...


You're argument doesn't line up. You stated:

People were listening to Jesus instead of the pharisees. He was undermining their supposed authority, calling them out on their hypocrisy. ... they had to regain their position by the classic means of any figure who demands blind obedience: snuff out the opposition and either try to discredit the evidence or make it disappear.

There are at least two sides to the "authority" issue that you've glossed over. Jesus did not undermine their [leaders at that time] right to preside, but he did undermine their supposed right to interpret scripture. That is an inherent difference that is important to understand. The leaders tried to regain their place by appealing to authority - which they had - because people are quick to assume all authority is the same, when Christ distinguished between their [scribes, Pharisees] right to preside (which He did not challenge), and their assumed exclusive right to teach and interpret scripture (which He utterly rejected).

The leaders in that day weren't demanding blind obedience, at least in how you word it, but they were making statements that they had the authority to make the decisions they were making. Having people make decisions based on a supposed righteous authority is different than demanding that people follow the prophet, even if we know he's wrong.

I'm not saying that the leaders in Jesus' time weren't advocating blind obedience, but I am saying that the records I've seen (principally in the Bible and other commentaries) denote a following based largely on spiritual authority. The leap from spiritual authority to blind obedience isn't that great a jump, so I would guess there were segments where it did happen, but I would argue that the most prevalent from of spiritual abuse was in the misunderstanding of authority (Luke 11, among others).

Again, if you have any proof of "blind obedience", I'd welcome it.

whitehusky said...

About blind obedience ... it's not recommended when you're following man instead of God.

I have to say that there are too many Mormons who think that men's opinion is more important than God's truth. I actually saw one online today arguing that Jesus Christ is not the Almighty God. Yep. And he tangled himself up something awful in order to do it.

This guy considers himself to be an authority on Mormon doctrine. He lives in Utah.

Yes, there's nothing quite so damning as being a Mormon who denies that Jesus Christ is the Almighty God, is there?

Anonymous said...

I don't have sufficient time to read through all posts and details within, but one thing I'm curious about is the Higgs Bosun subatomic particle that is close to being "officially" discovered via the massive particle smashers in Europe and the US. Said particles will complete the subatomic particulate structure, provide the missing piece to gravity, and put a near finite closure on several other theories (including string, I believe).

I guess where I'm going with this is what happens when, at the end of the day, the deductive processes of scientific "secularism" find conclusive evidences against metaphysical theories?

doyle_megan said...

I'm just wondering ... aren't some Mormons too metaphysical? Don't they want to make the gospel into some amorphous blob into which they can insert all kinds of speculation sprinkled heavily with blasphemy? That's the whole thing about Jesus Christ, the Everlasting God, suddenly being demoted to "spirit child." Where did this come from? If you ask someone, he'll probably say something about Jesus only doing the things that his Father did. Do they even know that Jesus was referring to the Father of Israel, Jehovah (himself), who gave Moses the power to part the Red Sea? Nope. Instead, they drum up some weird idea about another member of the Godhead also being a Savior on another planet somewhere else. This completely ignores that the atonement is infinite and eternal. We have but one Savior, and he is our Eternal God.

2 Nephi 9:7 - "Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement--save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption."

whitehusky said...

If you try to come up with your own explanations instead of listening to the Holy Spirit, you can easily fall right off the precipice of blasphemy, weighed down by your love of heresy. I'd say the whole spirit child idea qualifies.

Noah said...

Hi, Rock. First time poster. Have you ever heard of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin? Is this interesting,

"Teilhard described the noosphere [knowledge-sphere] on Earth as a crystallization: "A glow rippled outward from the first spark of conscious reflection. The point of ignition grows larger. The fire spreads in ever-widening circles,' he wrote, 'till finally the whole planet is covered with incandescence.'" -

in relation to this?:

"This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s." - D&C 130:9

Probably a coincidence, but it got me thinking about what "Crone Earth" might really be about.

whitehusky said...

I am of the opinion that the comparison of the earth to a Urim and Thummim is symbolic of the earth being purified ... pure and holy. All will be run by the Lord's law. There will be no more going against it.

As for the earth's literally becoming an oversized white crystal, I don't think that's even remotely accurate.

Anonymous said...

How long is it going to take mormons to realised that they are not a western religion but rather and eastern religion make that link and a whole lot of stuff falls into place.

Anonymous said...

I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it.
I've got you book marked to check out new stuff you post… you may like the .pdf piece written by : Scott Tucker
on father of quantum physics
Also visit my blog post - Scott Tucker

Anonymous said...

I want to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of
it. I've got you bookmarked to look at new things you post…
Here is my weblog ... Scott Tucker

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Your piece looks interesting, Scott, though some of it was too much for my tiny dinosaur brain to absorb. Thanks for the link.

Cheri said...

Really great post! You may be interested in reading "Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Christian Science involves metaphysics and Christian healing as demonstrated by Christ Jesus. I believe that more people are turning from outward institutions and instead looking for the more substantial kingdom of heaven within as they work out their own salvation. I find your writings to be refreshing, uplifting and Christ-centered. Looking forward to reading the rest of your stuff! :-)

Catt Hamm said...

I am a Doctoral Candidate in the school of Metaphysics and I have to admit if the Mormon church followed the doctrine that you laid out in your essay, I'd join the LDS today! I am not a Mormon but for the the Mormon Church. Keep posting these spiritual truths. I will follow.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Why thank you, Donny! Nice to have your input.

Anonymous said...

Great article. One of my favorites on your blog. Is there any way you can tell us the name of that seminar that salt lake was so afraid of? It sounds great!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Since this outfit is doing such good work, and having their reputation smeared because of it, I am reluctant to "out" them publicly for fear that an endorsement from me would taint their reputation. I am, as you may have noticed, thought of as an apostate in some quarters, and I would not want my bad boy reputation to spill over to others who are doing some actual good. But if you will private message me, I will tell you what I know.

Tom H said...

Sorry to come so late to this blog, but if anyone is still monitoring it and wants to add an utterly mind-blowing read try

It is something I would encourage everyone to read and ponder.

Anonymous said...

I was doing research and came upon your blog. I was curious if your website was of those that obey God or those that Rebel- and would constitute Apostates.

MY RESPONSE IS IN 4 PARTS re word limits

Let me share a short example from my life to illustrate the need for litmus tests to see who is and who is not on God's Side (so to speak)
A woman I met said she was talking to God. After sending long letters with statements made by this person/being/entity claiming to be God. I mailed her a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked her to ask this 'person' if Joseph Smith was a true Prophet and if the Book of Mormon was true? and contained the Gospel of Jesus Christ? She returned the Book and said NO. I had told her that "I had prayed" and "I received an answer that Joseph was a true prophet and the Book of Mormon was true and contained the Gospel of Jesus Christ" Then I told her I had made sacred promises to my God that I could not associate with apostates and if she continued with this entity/person I could no longer be her friend. I ended the acquaintanceship.
I do believe there are true ‘litmus tests’ of our FAITH.
So I wanted to see if the author of this blog/website was True or in Rebellion
So I looked for a current Tradition of the World "a precept of men" and what did I find? I found one of the features of Lucifer's "Orthodox Religion" and that is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
And as a caveat to my remarks may I presume that most of you are or were
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So I will speak frankly and from my heart. I will not exaggerate or be purposefully derogatory-- but I will be bold and speak truth. Please allow me the courtesy to speak frankly.

This idea of a love that has "no conditions" for that is the meaning of the word "unconditional" -- is anathema to Truth - Wahrheit (auf Deutsch) the way things /were/ /are/ and /will be/ i.e., Truth. ALL TRUTH exists and is connected by conditions of spirit of power of godliness and those creating the fabric of the ‘eternities’. There is only one thing that exists with no conditions and that is the IDEA of CHAOS. For only the nightmare of an irrational Chaos is without conditions. For in the Universe after God destroys a planet, sun or solar system—all of that is by conditions with conditions existing in ‘the un-organized’ state. Nothing in reality is without conditions. (((getting the clue of how nefarious this concept is???? !!!)))
First each of you that have this current day fever surrounding this idea of "unconditional love" assume that this 'unconditional' is somehow the same as eternal, everlasting, celestial, or abounding Christ-like Love. IT IS NOT
Please pay attention-- pretty please.
The idea is that the love you espouse and desire
is something that is contrary to the entire Universe, the entire realm of existence
(whether it is this or multi-verse or multiple dimensions -- or whatever and however you consider the immensity of existence.
THERE IS NO WHERE IN ALL THIS SPACE / ether / emptiness of space whether organized OR dis-organized destroyed and waiting for re-construction by an Creator and an future Adam to create another world for the Mortal Test of celestial children of the Gods and Goddesses each of you may/can/should be seeking to become.

ALL of History found in this realm of mortal life-- all of the scriptures by the chosen of men by God The Father; Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost that make up our 'Godhead'-- ALL OF THAT has conditions / requisite requirements that must be followed that by which all things and all people must abide by -- in order to have a particular blessing.
Whether biology (life) physics (forces) astronomy (stars systems & galaxies etc.) ALL THINGS have laws and those LAWS have parts elements features requirements that when activated, used, followed and fulfilled create specific !! actions and results.

Anonymous said...

FOR EACH OF YOU that think that the power of love or the LAW OF MERCY can exist or grow by 'no conditions' by a state of 'unconditional' anything-- TO THINK THIS YOU MUST THROW OUT THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE -- all physical laws, all inter-relationships of particles, waves, forces, chemistry, electromagnetism EVERYTHING.

THE SIMPLE FACT is that this realm to which we aspire to understand and take into our lives and change us -- THE SPIRITUAL REALM-- is as much bound by and governed by LAWS as anything in the physical (seen heard touches and experienced by mortal sensory processes).
The Atonement could never NEVER NEVER been even an option-- If Jesus had not satisfied obeyed each (and I mean each and every) demand law provision and 'condition' of JUSTICE. HE did live a perfect life. He was half God and half mortal (from Mary). He had the keys to accomplish the Atonement to find see experience and suffer for every act of sin against Justice against freedom and against chastity and against innocence & life. BUT HE DID THAT by first and foremost OBEYING the LAW OF JUSTICE. That means that MERCY could never NEVER NEVER have come into the world or be applied to the spirits of good in Paradise or the evil as a message to embrace submit obey and be transformed for the spirits of men and women in spirit prison (Hell) IF CHRIST HAD NOT FIRST submitted to Obeyed and Fulfilled each and every 'Condition' of JUSTICE.
And when He (Jesus) did that-- he opened the Gate- created by God the Father (Elohim) to have a Plan of Redemption whereby men & women might Repent and Return into the Presence of the Godhead and with live with them in a state called 'Eternal Life' and as parents with never ending increase (sex & children) called 'Eternal Lives'.
BUT THE ENTIRE PLAN OF MERCY under which is the Infinite and Eternal Atonement resides and operates-- and under which The Gospel of Jesus Christ exists. And that Gospel is a plan/ process of commandments tied to blessings. And lifestyle requirements to follow and mirror that of its author and finisher- the chosen Savior from the Pre-Existence -- 'The Word' later called Jehovah; then 'Jesus of Nazareth' who was the 'Anointed One' which means 'The Christ'

And what does that plan and process of The Gospel of Jesus Christ teach. Well first we have the law of obedience then the law of Repentance and then come the ordinance of baptism and confirmation by Priesthood and later by Fire as administered by The Holy Ghost. Then all the covenants and ordinances that are the 'mysteries of godliness' -- ALL THOSE keep to and follow the same rules as does the Law of Obedience and Law of Sacrifice -- And what do we know of Repentance -- ????
Well if you are Saints or were Saints you have a book that was not violated and corrupted with wild abandon as was the book so quaintly called 'The Bible'-- And that book is The Book of Mormon.
And what does this sacred volume transcribed by Joseph Smith from Reformed Egyptian to English say about Repentance and this idea about Conditions????

Alma 42:13
Therefore, according to JUSTICE, The Plan of Redemption could not be brought about, only on Conditions of Repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these Conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of JUSTICE. Now the work of JUSTICE could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.”
See Samuel the Lamanite- (who I would venture to say exceeds the righteousness and holiness of all of us combined) Helaman 14:11 ‘hear my words... that ye might know the Conditions of Repentance” AND Helaman 14:18 ‘the Condition of Repentance’;

Anonymous said...


And speaking of Jesus Christ—[He] hath power given unto Him from The Father to Redeem them from their sins because of Repentance; therefore He [God] hath sent His angels to declare the tidings of the Conditions of Repentance,
which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.” [emphasis added] (Helaman 5:11)

And I would submit to you (the author of this website) and all you that ascribe to this
very dangerous idea of ‘unconditional love’ you are in the same state of affairs as the Lamanites that Mormon declares in the record of Alma (circa the events of the Sons of Mosiah and their actual confession/turning away/submission and obedience & REPAIR and enduring to the end as evidenced by their mission to the Lamanites to bring souls to God to make up for all those they destroyed by their evil when they acted in their Rebellion and Wickedness)
What does Mormon write of those to whom Ammon and his brothers sought to ‘redeem’? He said: (Alma 17:15) “Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the Conditions of Repentance.”
Now before you get all riled up—the word is ‘indolent’ that means lazy
And what was the Missionaries to teach? “Conditions of Repentance”
WHY? Because they were LAZY—“they supposed that whatsoever they did was right” (Alma 18:5) They had listened to the evil spirit and those led by such to utter their cunning lying and flattering words—So they believed in a Great Spirit but did not care what they did – therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren. They did not believe in the Repentance for their Sins. Neither do any of the Ant-Christ nor any that follow Nehor and end up burning alive women and children. THIS IS THE PURPOSE OF The Doctrine of No Conditions – to create a rejection of ‘No Repentance’ no real action to know each condition and DO Each of those
Confession, turning away, submission to the real pattern and laws; living/obeying them; REPAIR restore/repair/fix or replace with a ‘fruit meet for Repentance. ALL OF THAT is rejected and destroyed by an adherence to the idea of “no conditions” of “unconditional”.
IT IS MOST VILE and dangerous for it denies the very being (nature life and being of our GOD) it denies and rejects the Atonement based on exactitude (every jot & tittle Jesus declared in His resurrected body to the survivors in Bountiful) that He and done. EACH of the powers gifts blessings come by satisfying conditions:
For CHRIST himself has declared (D&C 130:20-21)
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience
to that Law upon which it is predicated.

OBEDIENCE is a condition
BLESSINGS are fixed 'predicated' on those conditions -- what?
'Obedience' to each part of element of each law!

Unconditional Love – is the opposite of Life—It is the opposite of Jesus Christ
It is the opposite to the holiness of God. It denies all the Covenants from the Waters of Baptism to the entrance to Celestial Kingdom and Eternal Life manned personally by Jesus Christ (who cannot be deceived) (2 Nephi 9:41)

Anonymous said...


You must know that this idea is repellent to Elohim. You must know that it is the slick, flattering and totally vain doctrine of Lucifer to create the ‘indolence’ ‘all you need is love’ and doctrine of His “Orthodox Religion’ – you are ‘saved by Grace, and not by any work you do’!

That is the same Lucifer used in the Pre-Existence that drew away and everlastingly destroyed the future of 1/3 of the Host of Heaven. AND YOU Are Again Tempted by the Father of Lies

To Reject The Sacrifice hard work – indeed the Cross – ‘to deny yourself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust’. And one of the lusts is this ‘desire’ to make easy the Olympian Struggle to follow and become like Christ and be one with Him and The Father.

Your Unconditional Love will not take you anywhere but to one of the ‘forbidden paths’ seen by Lehi and Nephi in the Vision created by Jehovah to show the dangers and death to those that stray from the ‘Straight and Narrow’ the Iron Rod. There is no honor in unconditional. There is no exactness of obedience in unconditional—by its very nature it Rejects any ‘condition’ any rule any and all Covenants. And how can you be ‘true and faithful in all things’ if what you think, dream, live and aspire has ‘no conditions’. THAT IS NOT GODLINESS.

The Olympian has muscles from rules, hours, pain, discipline –not the sloth of ‘unconditional’
The man who dies for his wife and children draws no power, no strength from ‘unconditional’

No woman can accept the Order of Heaven; the Order of the Priesthood and be a helpmeet to her husband based on ‘unconditional’

She will reject Eve's example.
She will not make a sacred covenant to her husband. She will not live the pattern following him as he follows Christ—

Why would she? -
She believes in the LIE of unconditional.
Why would she make the effort? - that would be work, sacrifice, it would take pure commitment—
and most of all FAITH that there is a pattern- rules and 'conditions' she must abide and fulfill.

Such 'unconditional' women believing that 'doctrine' will never ever, ever in all Eternity be the wife of a Godly man
let alone the wife of a God.

[See D&C 88:22-24 and D&C 132:21]

Those who not abide this law- (as Christ said) cannot abide where He is!!! That is fact !!!
“That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law,
but seeketh to become a law unto itself,
and willeth to abide in sin,
and altogether abideth in sin,
cannot be sanctified by Law,
neither by Mercy, JUSTICE, nor Judgment.”
Therefore, they must remain filthy still. (D&C 88:35) [emphasis added]

And NO WOMAN can even approach the vista and path of true selfless joy and life with no jealousies with other sisters
and no rivalry that exists in “pure plural marriage”
(That so demonstrably most of you reject as evil.
For it is holy and meant only for great men and glorious women –
not the haters and evil like Emma or Hagar of Old
whose poisonous fruit brought the ‘Reorganized Church’
and the entire nations of the Arabs and pagan jihad of Islam –
Lucifer’s most favored Ant-Christ tool.
{receptively i.e. Emma & Hagar}

Your love affair with ‘no’ ‘conditions’ will lead each of you
to be sent away into darkness and suffering of Hell.
And if (this lie) is held in bitterness through the ordeal of anguish for sin – [Hell]
will grant you a just Retribution and Restitution to the darkness it is—
to that final destiny of ‘outer darkness’ for the fallen hosts and Lucifer.

Here my simple humble little voice—and turn from this most dangerous LIE
And learn the ‘conditions’ – seek in humility and meekness to observe (learn) and keep (obey) them and I promise you can have the Blessings of Life Eternal.

Your brother F. Scott

BK said...

Brother Scott,

I disagree with your ideas about unconditional love, but I understand why you feel and think the way you do.

Those who don't 'want' to have to have unconditional love never believe in it (for it requires too much sacrifice, service and complete faithfulness to just one spouse (wife) their whole life & all eternity)

Those who would rather live polygamy, never believe in Christlike true unconditional love. They are polar opposites.

Unconditional love is not chaos, it is not without laws and conditions. Unconditional love is very ordered and exact and deliberate. It requires great diligence of mind and body. It is near impossible to gain and maintain, for it goes completely against the natural man. It is based on the highest of laws that only those with true love understand.

But I realize your philosophy is very popular, it seems almost everyone on earth agrees with you and lives by your ideas, including the Adversary, he of course does not believe in or understand or agree with unconditional love.

I. Willet DeVale said...


Good response, BK. This guy's essay was insufferable. He seems to have no conception whatsoever of the meaning of Charity.

Minerals Liberia said...
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Minerals Liberia said...

I find it so illogical when this person (writer) takes many known truths and then comes to illogical conclusions and theories.

We should all start out in the beginning:

1. faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
2. Repentance (important)
3. Baptism for the remission of sins
4. Laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

(auto correct sometime changes the word I type, therefor the repost)

Steak Presedent said...

Hey Rock

Great article. I was taught some of this stuff by the guy who introduced me to Mormonism. I thought it was taught and understood by the church at large, but unfortunately it isn't.

By the way, a quantum isn't a particle, it's a unit of measurement. It derives from the Latin word "quantus" meaning "how much?". So basically, a quantum of, say an electron, is the smallest amount of electrons you can have. So it's the number 1. Physicists say a quantum instead of "one electron" or "one neutron" because it makes them look smart and we give money to smart people. This is how smart people make money.

Drune said...

Rock -- I really found the "metaphysics" part of your article interesting and faith promoting (and I thank you for pointing me to that Skousen talk). Granted, since the translation of “metaphysical” implies the existence of a realm that transcends nature and physics (as surmised by Plato and company, then adopted by post-apostolic Christian theologians), perhaps that term is not a perfect fit for the principles restored through Joseph Smith?

Smith taught us another indispensable ingredient to controlling the elements, when he said: "Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity?" (LoF 1). Knowing this principle of power was inherent within each of us as children of God, Christ constantly implored his followers to increase their faith, illustrating its immense potential by teaching that faith the size of a tiny mustard seed was enough to lift up a mountain and drop it into the sea.

I think it's safe to say one of the great purposes of the Fall was to provide us the opportunity to develop faith, since it would be difficult to experience any real growth if that big separation from God had never occurred, and we remained in a paradise where everything came easy. Just like with weightlifting, we often grow by overcoming resistance, working "by the sweat of our face" for the results God promised. And faith certainly IS hard work for humans, since it's in our nature to be more like doubting Thomas—trusting our own human opinion instead of God’s. Many see faith as counterintuitive because it feels more like weakness to surrender your own opinion for that of another (even if it’s God’s), so as dumb as it sounds, we must have faith that faith begets unfathomable strength, not weakness.

It’s in this context that I have trouble with the doubts you frequently express about the LDS church and its leaders. If I had to sum up the impression I often get from blogs like yours, it’s that whenever a church position doesn’t agree with the writer’s personal opinion, it is deemed incorrect or uninspired. This to me just shows a lack of faith in God—faith that He is actually directing the church through His chosen leaders. If you un-rack a bench press bar, then expend little or no effort to overcome its resistance, the result will be very unproductive (not to mention painful). When a church position challenges your human sensibilities, the equivalent to lifting that bar would be to humbly accept it with a trust that God is at the helm, and He knows what He’s doing (always remembering that His ways are not our ways).

I recently read a Wikipedia list of ways the RLDS differs from the LDS—which included ordaining women to the priesthood, acceptance of same-sex marriage, rejection of 10% tithing, polygamy not commanded by God, no temple sealings/ordinances/genealogy, rejection of Book of Abraham, repudiation of the one-true-church claim, acceptance of the Trinity, etc. When I consider each of these, I can see the human thinking (not always excluding my own) that would lead to each of these choices. We know that in the LDS church, some members fight for similar changes. But no matter how reasonable or intuitive they may seem, human opinions don’t matter in the end—only God’s does! So no matter how strenuous it may feel to go against our human instincts, we have faith that He is the one driving the boat.

Drune said...

(Cont) Not to say that prophets are infallible in this fallen world, but if a mistake squeaks by we just have faith (and patience) that God will fix it “in His own time, in His own way”. For example, it’s possible that the priesthood ban on blacks was solely Brigham Young’s idea (or maybe God had a higher reason for it, we don’t know). Why God waited so long to change it, only He knows--maybe He simply saw it as a random opportunity to make us squirm—to test our faith and patience (adding more weight to the bar). Many subsequent prophets expressed faith that the ban would someday be lifted, but they knew they had to patiently wait for a revelation. So again, I don't see an excuse to succumb to strength-sapping doubt.

In the end, it’s up to us whether we buckle under the weight of whatever happens to try our faith, or we fight to overcome that resistance and get closer and closer to moving mountains and beyond.

Suzie said...

I'm a bit late to the game, but I thought my favorite scripture might be applicable here:

Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

This blog generally and this post specifically have certainly helped me become transformed and attempt to align my will with God's.

Reticuli said...
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Reticuli said...

If Joseph Smith was some kind of prophet, he would have done relativity himself. The universe is not all plasma. The universe as all electromagnetism does not hold up at all. It can't even deal with rotating high-mass bodies out in space. It fouls up the force geometry. This universal plasma stuff you're going on about is long-debunked pseudoscience. The revolution of Einstein, besides the fact he revolutionized our understanding of electromagnetism and won a Nobel Prize for it, is that the geometry itself morphs. The math only begins to work when the space-time is distorting back and forth to ensure information conservation. As for quantum mechanics, what Einstein was trying to do was figure out how gravity works in the quantum realm. Physicists are still trying to figure that out. However, many weird quantum effects like the results of the double slit experiment are now understood (and proven) to be an outgrowth of Information Theory mathematics having to do with statistical probability and observation/measurement. It is not that the electron is intelligent, but rather that a conscious observer or measurer (you) is causing this effect.

Reticuli said...

And it is not in the dominant human nature to be doubting Thomas, though one might argue there is a dollop of something else vying for attention. It's mostly the exact opposite. The constant good fight has been to resist that natural urge. From animism & astrology-on, humans have imbued at various times everything and everyone, real or imagined, things or persons, from many deities to fewer, with assumptions of supernatural consciousness and increasing anthropomorphism. If that wasn't the case, the scientific method, peer review, and the use of the written word to bridge the mortality gap (that the efforts and understanding of mere mortals will eventually come to an end) would not be so necessary for the progress of knowledge.

R. Metz said...

This was an interesting post, in particular the thoughts on justice and atonement. Having pondered on this subject myself for years, I was happy to be confirmed in my ideas by Skousen (and John Widtsoe of course).
I remember reading a story about Albert Einstein visiting Orson Pratt, on one occasion, and seeing the book "Key to the universe" he opened it and on investigating the contents he said that there were just a few people in the world who could write that book. Joseph Smith having people like Orson and his brother Parley Pratt and Orson Hyde and others, coming to him (sent to him) as his associates in that particular time and place in the wilderness, is for me additional proof of the divine origin of the restoration.

R. Metz said...

One correction; Orson Pratt had already died of course, but Einstein did visit the library of Orson, while making that remark.

R. Metz said...
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R. Metz said...

I come back just one more time, after reading the post for the second time, now including all the comments. It is all really impressive, and deep. I guess you have to live a long time before you get some understanding of the atonement as an infinite reconciliation - as the BoM calls it - for the fall, to bring about justice and balance, as was laid out in this post. This includes not just the physical world in our part of the universe but also the spiritual;including God(s), angels, spirits, mortals, and what we call devils; if you want to believe all that stuff.
Much of this is also covered in a lovely book written by John A. Widtsoe, "a rational theology", a Mormon classic from around 1920/1930, valued so much that it was even translated into the Dutch language, a very small edition of course, but that is how I got to read it, and in fact brought me to the LDS church, way back in 1967. No matter our standing in the church, this theology is what we should be looking for and never let it go, once we have found it.

Kuudere-Kun said...

Do you believe in the Cosmic Pluralism of Brigham Young, or The Trinity taught in The Bible and the Book of Mormon?

ALJ said...

I read with some interest until you got to the story of a woman wanting to be baptized while not living the commandments. A person cannot be baptized while blatantly violating something as serious as this. And as for your reference to the "corporate church" & messages from the first presidency, either the leaders (especially the president of the church) ARE prophets of God, or they are not. If they are not, why even belong to the church? If they are, then perhaps it is YOU who is lacking in understanding. I admit that quite a few members (probably myself included to some degree) are too judgemental. But there IS a difference between being judgemental & exercising good judgement. Also, the reason for the stress placed on the very basic doctrines is because far too many of us try to look beyond the mark. We would seek "enlightenment" while neglecting the essential & basic things. If you cannot accept God's prophets AS prophets then surely any perceived enlightenment you may find in the teachings of the prophet of the restoration are being picked through & parsed to serve your own ideology. Either there IS a living prophet on the earth today who holds the keys of the priesthood of the true & living God or there is not. If the prophets & leaders of the church ARE, in fact, prophets then they are due far more respect & consideration than you are willing to extend.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

What commandment do you believe that woman was not living? Did you conclude she was living in sin? I thought I made it clear she was in a committed COMMON LAW marriage, a marriage recognized as LAWFUL and valid in every state of the union. The LDS Church, however, insisted that she seek a license from the State before IT recognizes her marriage as valid; othewise they refused to baptize her.

So who broke the commandment here? The MARRIED woman desiring to follow the commandment of Christ and be baptized, or the judgmental men who denied her attempt to follow that important commandment?

This is not God's way. I addressed the strange practice the modern LDS Church promotes of placing man's statutes regarding marriage above the law of God in this post:

I submit that if our founding prophet was able to get married without a license as did EVERY SINGLE LATTER-DAY SAINT living in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo; and that by being so wedded they were breaking none of God's commandments, why then would you deign to judge the woman of whom I spoke?

You further wonder why I cannot accept God's prophets as God's prophets. I do. I accept every prophet mentioned in the Book of Mormon as God's prophets, as I accept those in the bible. I also accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, not only because he exhibited the gifts of a prophet, seer, and revelator, but because we have scriptural evidence that he was so ordained.

If you expect me to accept the modern Church leaders as prophets, you might be kind enough to provide me with two important criteria: Show me evidence that any of them have received and disseminated any actual prophecies and revelations, and second, name the dates they were ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators as was Joseph Smith.

Brigham Young did not claim to be ordained of God. If you believe he was regardless, I ask you to name the date and time of that ordination.

If Brigham was never ordained a prophet, seer, and revelator, how can we claim those keys and abilities were handed down to his modern successors?

I believe in living prophets. What I don't believe in is the worship of false prophets. The true prophets had a word for that. They called it idolotry.

Not long ago I asked the question, "Where Did The Oracles Go?" Perhaps you know something I don't about it; if so I hope you'll return and fill me in on what I missed because heaven knows we could use some actual living prophets in this church today.

Annie said...

i can't believe i've never heard of this. i have found small "clues" to the nature of the holy ghost, god, consciousness, like in d&c 88. but never in church. only one time have i heard someone mention the possibility, before i was a member, in an offhanded comment at a relief society dinner. i just, can't, believe this is not talked about more. i would love to talk about this in church, and sometimes i slip it in a talk now and then, but i always get the feeling people are uncomfortable talking about god so deeply. holy crap. we get the most watered down dang skim milk in church sunday after sunday after sunday. how refreshing would it be to taste...something...else. and i'm not an apostate. i just want the church to be someplace where we can actually learn, and not just count metrics, and not feel good about memorizing the "right" answer to the same dang lesson we hear over and over. i've heard they are going away from the lesson books next year? maybe?

lovely-flower said...
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lovely-flower said...

Please do not quote sources that are only half true. For example, you said that the "light" mentioned in D&C 88 was the Holy Spirit. That is false. That "light" is actually the Light of Christ. says that the Light of Christ is "the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things." That is starkly different from the Holy Spirit, who is a member of the Godhead. It is also commonly referred to as your conscience. It is certainly NOT a separate entity within the universe, separate from God.
Second, there is a difference between judgement and RIGHTEOUS judgement. Certainly, it was not righteous judgement to tell the people who smoked to not come to church until they quit smoking. That shows the imperfect judgements of church members. However, just because someone lives with another person long enough to have it be called a "common-law" marriage doesn't mean that they are worthy to be baptized. It also seemed like she wasn't in the right mindset for baptism. As you stated, "I don't necessarily want to join your church, or even any church; I just want to be baptized." She obviously didn't realize the commitment or implications associated with being baptized into this church. It requires a whole lot of responsibility, but if understood correctly, it also brings many more blessings that we would otherwise receive.
We need judgement to decide what is moral and of God, and what is immoral. That does not mean we get to shun others for their decisions, but we are allowed to look at others' choices and decide that it would not be good for us to partake in that same choice.
Third, Russel M Nelson's article in 2003 would make a whole lot more sense if you quoted more than what seemed like a harsh sentence. What he was saying was that there are consequences for your actions. You are not going to receive the same amount of God's "love", or blessings, if you are acting contrary to His commandments. This statement of "unconditional love" can easily be taken to mean that you are saved no matter what actions you partake in. That is simply not the case. God will not bless you for cheating on your partner. He will love you, but His love will not save you unless you repent and accept Christ's Atonement and try to live like Him.

lovely-flower said...

Fourth, saying that "all evidence shows that the doctrines of the restoration were meant to be a starting place, a jumping off point from which God expects us to lift off into greater light and knowledge" is simply not true. Joseph Smith and other prophets and apostles have indeed said that we should seek after truth. Yes! We should seek after truth! However, the "greater light and knowledge" of meta-physics is not truth. It is theory, and it is a way for you to slowly retract your faith from God and discovering real truths. These truths that the prophets have stated are sciences, education, revelation, and so forth. Not the "enlightened state of mind" you receive from taking LSD, or from those "unnamed" "self-awareness groups" you mention.
It's funny, because you did mention it. You said "The impact of these trainings..." Yeah, I caught that. Very funny! The things you said about this "self-awareness group" make me think that you are actually a part of Impact Trainings. PLEASE, to anyone reading, DO NOT JOIN IT! It is legitimately a cult and will try everything it can to take your money and your time away from your family, religion, and the rest of your life. These so called "self-awareness groups" that the First Presidency said to stay away from are the very things that will destroy your faith in God. There is nothing wrong with seeking out truth for yourself. In fact, it is highly encouraged to seek truth for yourself with scriptures and prayer. However, trying to seek other knowledge from unofficial LDS sites, like yours, leads many, many people down a rabbit hole that sends them flying to confusion and misunderstanding. Your website is one of the very sites that the Church was talking about when they warned people from seeking truth from Anit-Mormon sites.
The Church is true, the prophets are ordained of God, and God knows INFINITELY more than we ever will in this life. So why think that we should "move on" and try to seek out "truth" in other places when we can literally ask God the truth? We do not know why God does some of the things we do. But having faith will help us understand, little by little, that there is so much more than what we see. There is more than science, more than "ether", more than quantum physics. There is more than "energies", more than the light of Christ.
I plead with you to please rethink your mindset. Exercise a little faith, and read the scriptures, whether it be the Bible or Book of Mormon. Your loving Heavenly Father will show you the right way.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

If you read my piece and took away from it that I was teaching that the light spoken of in D&C 88 "is NOT a separate entity within the universe, separate from God", then I either did a poor job of conveying my thoughts, or you grossly misinterpreted them. We learn in verse 12 of that chapter that this light proceeds forth from the presence of God and fills the immensity of space. The following verse tells us it governs all things, even the power of God who is in the midst of all things. Note it doesn't govern God Himself, but it governs the power which proceeds forth from His midst.

You then proposed that the young woman who smoked outside of the church building between meetings may have not been worthy to be baptized at that time, clearly indicating your belief that she may not yet have been worthy of joining the church.

But baptism has nothing to do with becoming a member of our particular denomination. As the prophet Joseph 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).

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 come unto God and 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 early church of Christ. 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.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Lovely-Flower, (Continued)

You back up your support of Russell Nelson's heretical teaching by referring to Nelson's expanded opinions, which contradict scripture rather than expound upon them. He would have done better to cite a scriptural source for his view that God does not love his children unconditinally, and you would have done better not to place his views above the word of God. I'll repeat a statement I often quote by President Lee:

"I say we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren't able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false -it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think therein is one of our biggest dangers of today."

"The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed His word: 'Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.' " D&C 42:59 (First Presidency Message, Ensign, December 1972.)

Finally, you disparage a program I indicated I had personally benefited from by writing, "PLEASE, to anyone reading, DO NOT JOIN IT! It is legitimately a cult and will try everything it can to take your money and your time away from your family, religion, and the rest of your life."

Lovely-Flower, "Impact Trainings" is not some kind of cult or anything else a person can "join." The trainings consist of up to three seminars a person can choose (or choose not to) enroll in, after which like anything else a person chooses to do after hours such as attend a gym or take night classes at school, they go home to their families, churches, and normal lives somewhat improved by the experience. Like a gym membership or any educational program, yes, it does cost money. But your alarmist reaction to the very idea of anyone seeking to learn to improve themselves by going outside what you consider the "approved" channels would be met with chuckles and a sad shake of the head by those who have actually attended any of these seminars.

Our religion teaches us to seek to continually improve ourselves -intellectually, spiritually, and in every other way. I agree with the prophet Joseph Smith who taught that "we should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true 'Mormons.'" (DHC 5:517).