Sunday, September 11, 2011

Speaking Truth To Power

If you’ve ever read the “About Me” box located somewhere down on the right side of this page, you’ll recall that a prime motivator for my starting this website was my interest in the little-discussed LDS scriptures which prophesied of our future apostasy from the foundational truths of the Restoration.

It's been my observation that this prophesied departure is typified by three notable phenomena:

1. For a people who claim a religion based wholly on divine revelation, we seem to have adopted, adapted, and accrued a heck of a lot of beliefs that can’t seem to be traced to any actual revelations or scripture.
 2. Conversely, a great many of the expansive teachings that actually were introduced to the world by revelation through our founding prophet are now largely forgotten, abandoned, or ignored.
3. The very suggestion that the LDS Church, either as a people or as an institution, might be remotely capable of apostatizing from its foundations is so inconceivable to the average member, that the typical reaction is an emphatic denial of the mere possibility. Indeed, anyone attempting to point out the many evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies is often accused of apostasy himself.

It is the evidences of this drift away from our roots that have often been the subject of my rants here, but I have not been alone in recognizing that something about the Church today seems a little bit askew.  As I mentioned previously,  I often come across articles written by fellow Mormon bloggers that so echo my own thoughts and feelings that I find myself wishing I had produced them myself here.

From the beginning, I’ve intended this forum to be a springboard for open discussion, and that's why the comments are free flowing and uncensored.  Every one is welcome to participate.  Still, I felt the primary voice on the blog itself should be mine alone.

I’m moving away from that idea beginning today. What motivated me was yet another great piece that, though written by someone else, captures my own sentiments perfectly.  As it addresses a specific example of where we as Mormons have gone wrong and describes how we can get ourselves right again, I think presenting it here will advance the dialogue of the main theme of Pure Mormonism.

This post first appeared over at The Mormon Worker two days ago, and I've asked the author, Ron Madson, for permission to repost it here. I’m thinking that in the future I may do the same with posts from other bloggers that I feel are pertinent to the motif of Pure Mormonism. Since I am lately only finding time to post something of my own on this site once a month or so, I’m thinking I’ll spotlight a guest blogger here between times, under a series I’ll call “I Wish I’d Written That.”  When such a piece appears, you can be assured that it is because I consider it essential reading.  I won't waste your time feeding you milk.  For that, we have Sunday School.  Here at Pure Mormonism, our motto is "All meat, all the time."

So, Get On With It
Today, as the government/media establishment is commemorating its version 9/11, Ron Madson has addressed the subject from an angle pertinent to us latter-day Saints.  As Randolph Bourne aptly stated, "war is the health of the State."  Corallary to that is the truism that "the healthier the State, the weaker the nation."

There can be little argument that the the State has enthusiastically latched onto the horrific events of 9/11 and used them as an excuse to increase its power and curtail the liberties of the citizenry. For the past decade, we have been witnessing a fall of the Republic, and in its place an emerging police state that if unchecked, could easily rival those of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

But Madson takes us back in time and reminds us of what our role as latter-day Saints should have been immediatley following that tragic event.  By and large, we failed to react as our religion commands, allowing ourselves instead to be led by the nose in doing the devil’s work.

Here then is Brother Madson’s dynamic -and still timely- call to repentance.  I’m putting his words in bold font to distinguish them from my own.

By Ron Madson

In early 1943, hundreds of German women did the unthinkable—they confronted machine gun wielding Gestapo agents and demanded the release of their Jewish husbands who were part of Hitler’s final roundup of Jews that were to be transported to Auschwitz. Even more remarkable, their Jewish husbands (approximately 1,700 in number) were released.

This incident, now known as The Rosenstrasse Protest, was appropriately dubbed “The Day Hitler Blinked.” This story has, until recently, been largely ignored by Germans because the consensus has been and remains that the average German was powerless against their government and its anti-Semitic policies.

Such thinking appears to be confirmed, as a practical matter, when focusing on individual martyrs such as the German latter-day Saint Helmuth Hubener and the occasional principled monk, priest or clergyman who defied his government’s policies of war, torture and genocide. However, what set these acts of civil disobedience apart from the Rosenstrasse protest is that these latter individuals were abandoned by their own faith community, and in particular, their church leaders.  

Then again, the Helmuth Hubeners of this world were responding to a higher authority and an audience unseen in this world.

Christian Nazis

My father told me that he observed that the German soldiers wore a Christian cross on their belt buckles during WWII. Their faith to the church and their country had converged into one. But consider what would have happened if every single Bishop, Priest, Pastor, and spiritual leader in Germany had denounced Hitler’s invasion of Poland? What if every single Sunday the German chapels and cathedrals rang with strident denunciations of even the earliest persecution of the 
Jews under Nazism?

If the united voices of a few hundred women could cause a hardened Gestapo to back down, then what effect could tens of thousands of German spiritual leaders condemning Germany’s wars of aggression have on Germany’s general population—especially if their local clergy were supported by an edict from the Pope and the leaders of all other major Protestant faiths in Germany?                                                                                                
I submit that Hitler and Nazism would have been rendered powerless. The masses emboldened by their spiritual leaders would have isolated and paralyzed the few sociopaths that were at the core of this great evil.

After reading some of my anti-war papers, a good friend asked what I consider a highly relevant question: “What is the point of all your anti-war writings and lectures?"

“Or in other words, at the end of the day, what do you or anyone protesting our nation’s wars expect to accomplish or change as a practical matter—within our nation, our church, or even personally?”

“And how does this help build the kingdom? How does it make you or any of us better members of the church?”

I will attempt to answer that by considering our nation’s war policies during the last decade in light of what I believe could have been, what is, and what I believe will be if we do not repent of our current rejection of Christ’s words to us in our generation as it pertains to the use of violence; and how that will play out for each of us individually as well as collectively. 

What Could Have Been

Imagine it is now Sunday, September 16th,  2001.  It’s been five days since the devastating attacks of what will come to be known as 9/11, and our nation is still in deep shock and in the early stages of mourning over that horrific tragedy.

Holy men who lead our respective Christian faiths search their souls to find the words of Jesus to teach us how to respond to our enemies. While giving comfort, they exhort us to not become the very evil we deplore. Demonstrating a mature faith, they teach us that we must begin to pray for our enemies and even search deep within ourselves for ways to do good to those that hate us.

Week after week, they seek to teach us to not give into our fear and anger which leads inevitably to a desire for vengeance. They exhort us that the price of discipleship is great at such times, but the promises are sure that if we will trust our God enough to follow the example of Christ, He will consecrate such faith and pour out a blessing to us, and even soften the hearts of those who we might believe worthy of our vengeance.

Having laid such a foundation, then when those in our nation insist that we seek vengeance by first invading one nation and its citizens, and then engage in a pre-emptive attack on another nation in order to send a message, how would those tutored on a gospel of non-vengeance respond?

Among faiths that take literally the words of Christ such as the Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anabaptist sects, and Seventh DayAdventists, there is a top-to-bottom collective belief that they must conscientiously object (ex: how the Amish responded to the massacre of their children recently with charity toward the family of the killer).

But what if all leaders of all the Christian faiths in our nation had renounced any wars of aggression and vengeance as antithetical to one’s claim of a faith in Christ? Could those political leaders -the Neocons and warmongers in high places who insisted on pre-emptive invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq- have succeeded in marshaling enough public support for such wars?

Not if every pastor and bishop had denounced such attacks, confirmed by an edict from their highest leaders informing that position.

Our nation’s “Decider in Chief,” who had told us during the Presidential debates that Jesus was his greatest hero, would have had to weigh the collective teachings of those entrusted to share the gospel each week against whether there was any popular support for commencing the works of death and destruction among the citizens of two nations who had done us no harm. 

Then let’s suppose we, as a nation, get carried away even further with a Christ-inspired model when it comes to our perceived enemies and we spend just a tenth of what we have squandered in these two wars on direct humanitarian relief to these benighted countries we attacked. How would the narrative have changed? How many schools and hospitals might we have built and how many fewer Madrassahs would have sprung up teaching anti-American hatred for the next generation?
Did the three thousand deaths from this incident...
...warrant taking revenge on hundreds of thousands of innocents like these?
"When moral contempt for a form of violence inspires so explicit a replication of it, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: The moral revulsion the initial violence awakened proved weaker than the mimetic fascination it inspired. – Gil Bailie"

"Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace..." -Doctrine and Covenants 98:16

"And again, this is the law I gave unto mine ancients [which is still in effect today], that they should not go out unto battle against any I, the Lord, commanded them...And if any nation...should proclaim war against them, they should first raise a standard of peace unto that people..." -Doctrine and Covenants 98:33-34.

So let’s narrow this script and rewrite history as to our Mormon faith community. Suppose that after 9/11, our priesthood leaders instinctively turned to D&C Section 98 and raised the standard of peace and renounced commencing any wars. By “renounce” I do not mean they simply say that war is not nice and we prefer peace to war. Or worse, proclaim that we are peace loving, and like Jesus we believe in peace, while openly responding to an invitation to march to war. 

No! To renounce means to declare an emphatic NO! 

It means one unequivocally rejects a war policy that involves retribution—and especially when it involves pre-emptive acts of aggression.

If the President of the Church and the Apostles had stridently and without reservation renounced our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, then what would have happened in our faith community?

The main body of our faith community would have heard the clarity of the denunciation and added to the chorus rejecting the call to endorse these wars. Believing parents would have discouraged children from enlisting. Section 98 would come alive to the believing saints and they would recognize the voice of the Lord in that immutable covenant. 

What difference would this make? As far as immediate effect, how many of the more than one hundred LDS soldiers who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have enlisted, or in the alternative claimed status as conscientious objectors? 

We will never know for sure, but at many of their funerals, friends and family testified that their desire to enlist and "serve their country" had been rooted in their religious faith.

What about those injured physically and mentally? What about the lives of those “enemies”? Do they even count in the equation?

But I believe there is something at risk that goes beyond this sphere of existence. I believe that if we embrace the words of Christ in His revelations, then the heavens are opened for the ministering angels to pour out an even greater blessing as promised not only in Section 98 but in all our revelations. 

What is that blessing? Beyond peace and prosperity, there is the promise of further light and knowledge. There is the unsealing of the heavens as we receive even greater revelations and blessings, which I believe are sealed up until we actually live those revelations which we have been given.

So what would happen if, as a people, whether speaking from the Chief Seats down to the smallest primary class, we were to teach the words of Christ with conviction, utterly renouncing all forms of retributive violence?

I believe we would find our voice.

And I further believe the throngs of heavenly beings would join us. And who knows but that we, like the few hundred women at Rosenstrasse, could cause miracles to occur?

And would our united voices renouncing these wars not give courage to other faith communities and like minded people? Then, like the women at Rosenstrasse would there be enough collective refrain that those who sought moral support for their war plans would have not only “blinked” but frozen long enough to arrest what has proven to be so evil on so many levels?

We will never know.

What Happened?

There is no need to rehearse our unfortunate ten year odyssey in Iraq and Afghanistan at length in this submission. We engaged in wars of aggression against two nations, both of which had never come against us, and both of which raised the standard of peace and we rejected it

We have murdered hundreds of thousands of their civilians over these past ten years, causing an irreparable cost in lives, treasure and the spirituality of our nation.

In our Mormon faith community we have praised, encouraged, and elevated military service in these wars by framing it as a conflict between good and evil when in fact, as the prophet Mormon astutely observed, "it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.” We have excused and ignored our own wickedness by conflating these wars of aggression into the slogan that by invading and occupying other people's homelands, we are somehow “fighting for our freedoms.” 

Following 9/11, many young LDS men and women enthusiastically enlisted in the military, knowing they had the full endorsement of our church leaders and their faith community.

So what difference did that make? What about those whose lives we placed on our altar of war?

Alyssa Peterson returned from her mission and felt it an extension of her spiritual sacrifice to then enlist in the military, only months later to find herself forced to participate in our government's own program of torture.

Then there is Sergeant Cawley, one of the first LDS casualties in the Iraq war, who served a mission in Japan, married, and fathered two children. We know of his death because President Hinckley made sure we knew that when Brother Cawley was called to serve his nation he did so “without hesitation.” Of course, how could there have been any hesitation when we as a people had once again rejected Section 98 in both word and deed?

How could there have even been a pause to ponder among those of our faith enlisting to serve in these wars, when our authorities invited Dick Cheney and Condaleeza Rice, co-conspirators in fabricating the evidence promoting both wars (as well as endorsing a program of torture), to speak at “The Lord’s University” while rejecting the Dalai Lama’s request to speak at the same forum?

What has happened -and continues to happen- in regard to these wars, and our institutional silence in not renouncing these wars, is reprehensible; yet it is historically predictable once a church has placed its allegiance to empire above the commandments of God. Once that wall is breached, the practice of a people sacrificing their own children on the altar of war inexorably follows. 

So, what are the consequences beyond a few of our children being delivered to the fires of Moloch? No big deal. Let’s move along and stay focused on building the Kingdom of Jesus on earth.

What Follows?

Again, what good does it do to create bad feelings by being critical of our faith community? Of, as some call it, "attacking" Church leadership? What’s the point of spending so much energy diverting us from our “real” mission to share the gospel’s good news, which is that you too can overcome your addiction to coffee, tea, and tobacco. You too can become a holy, chaste, commandment keeper, personally worthy and feeling really, really good about yourself as a member of The All Is Well For You & Me Club.

Yes, you too can know those warm feelings that come from reading the scriptures, praying three times a day, attending church, wearing white shirts, excellent hygiene, home teaching, taking cookies to the new neighbor—all wrapped up in the warm blanket of personal spiritual health.

All these things are nice, but if in the end one’s spiritual development never matures beyond the pharisaical narcissism of “personal” self-righteousness, then what do we have?

What we have are members of a Church, but nothing remotely resembling The Kingdom of God. 

One graduates spiritually when one takes off his or her church training wheels and becomes a contributing member of Jesus’ Kingdom by doing as Jesus did -standing in the breach for the least among us, denouncing the evil done to others, giving voice to His words on behalf of the Samaritan, the sinners, the outcasts and yes, even one’s enemies.

That is the price of admission to his Kingdom and the beginning of genuine discipleship, even if it means unpopularity within one’s religious community or national tribe.

And what is the price if we reject His teachings and support the latest “Christian” crusade? Does it really make any difference to us individually or collectively? 

It made all the difference in the lives of those individuals who have suffered grievously in these wars—even if we only count those of our own faith such as Alyssa Peterson, Brother Cawley and last week’s obituary. That is enough reason to renounce these wars, is it not? 

But there is, in my opinion, something more spiritually cosmic at work here. Latter-day Saints believe that the original church of Christ began to drift into apostasy when they deeded their allegiance to the Roman Empire and engaged in what is referred to as “The Constantine Shift.”

Bishops, priests, and then Popes all began to consistently set aside the words of Christ and endorse nearly every state sponsored war—and in fact taught that it was one’s Christian duty to enlist. Is it any surprise that the heavens became brass, and revelations ceased despite the Catholic church’s claim to legal priesthood pedigree? Why would the Heavens commune with such a church and its leaders lest such manifestations of charismatic gifts be considered lending its imprimatur of approval on such behavior?

 Of course the medieval catholic church continued preserving the truths from its origins but preservation is not the same as “true and living.”

Do we really believe that we latter-day Saints are exempt from the sealing up of the heavens if we engage in our own Constantine Shift? Can we pay lip service to the words of Christ found in our sacred texts, but in actual church policy blatantly reject His “immutable” covenant and expect further endorsement from the same God? 

When we trust in the “horses” and “chariots” of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1) do we not “err in vision” and “stumble in judgment”? (Isaiah 27:7). If we reject His words found in our “doctrines” and “covenants,” can we then expect the same blessings as a church found in the same body of revelations that includes specifically “receiving angels”, “opening up the mysteries of heaven”, “communion with the Church of the First Born,” and “being in the presence of God”?

How can we expect to lift the condemnation that is upon us if we continue to “treat light the things (we) have received” and do not “do according to that which I have written”? (D & C 84: 54- 57).  

More to the point, if we do not repent by renouncing our State sponsored wars, how can we expect the Lord to bless us?  If the Lord were to send through our church leadership ministering angels as well as His direct presence, would we not interpret that as approval of our current actions?  If the gifts of the spirit were again to pour out upon this church as they had in the early years of its founding, would we not assume from observing these gifts that we were on the right path?  Wouldn't such marvelous gifts and healings as were abundantly experienced by the church in the Missouri-Nauvoo period serve to comunicate His approbation on our church and its current leadership?

What does it then tell us when we look around us and notice the near complete absence of these spiritual manifestations in the Church today? 

Does this plunge toward failure we seem to be heading as a nation (not to mention as a faith community) not stand as a witness of God’s disapproval of our new policy of pledging allegiance to empire over His words and teachings as found not only in D&C 98, but throughout the New Testament and Book of Mormon? I believe so.

Like the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, we have rejected the continued presence of God and his ministering angels and have chosen mortal icons to lead us as we seek to conquer Canaan—a conquest that had the audacity to teach that there is spiritual immunity when we kill every man, woman and child who stands in the way of our “freedom”—and that when we commit these abominations, it is God’s will.

Where are we now as a people? 

This past year I was with a group of protestors outside the Marriot Center, protesting Condeleezza Rice’s appearance to speak at BYU (essentially the same group that protested Dick Cheney’s speech at the same forum three years earlier). While we were gathered outside, she was in the Marriot Center telling the full-capacity stadium how our nation "had" to engage in pre-emptive wars. To speak plainly, I interpret such doctrine as “let's get them before they get us”—which includes, if necessary, dubious "evidence" obtained through torture.

Her words were received by what the press called “vigorous clapping”—while our small group of no more then thirty dissidents stood outside in the cold denouncing her message justifying our nations’s unprecedented pre-emptive wars. I believe that the ratio of those applauding her comments to those who protested her remarks no longer reflects the same ratio of those of our faith who endorse our nation’s current pre-emptive war doctrine. In fact, I believe that increasing thousands in our faith community privately believe that it was a great sin to endorse in any way our current State sponsored wars.

I believe that we first need to decide individually where each of us stands as to these State sponsored wars. Then if we believe we must renounce these wars, decide whether we are willing to do so publicly— no matter how few join with us in the renouncement.

For some of us, that personal decision was made a long time ago and it is, in the end, irrelevant as to whether others join in or whether it appears we “made a difference.” We are witnessing to an audience that is beyond this veil—whose approbation means everything in the final spiritual equation.

What is the point of protesting our faith communities’ current relationship to State sponsored wars? What will happen the next time a Dick Cheney is invited to speak or the next time a church leader endorses either our present state sponsored wars or the next wars which will surely come? What if, as the wives in Rosenstrasse, there are hundreds -no, thousands- of outraged mothers in Zion defiantly protesting? What if they, in moral outrage, say “NO MORE of our sons, our daughters, our husbands will be placed on your altar of war.” 

And they do not say it in wilting, primary voice tones typical of church meetings. No, THEY SCREAM IT! 

Could we as a faith community have an impact?  Would we force our leaders (both political and spiritual) to "blink"?  Would our refusal to give the Mormon stamp of approval at least cause some of our fellow citizens to pause before offering up any more of their own children to these false gods? In the words of Martin Luther King, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” 

A decade of relative silence in our faith community is enough. We must choose to obey the Lord's commandment and publicly renounce these wars in the most emphatic means. I believe it will make a difference.



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LDS Anarchist said...

No, I don't believe you fully understand my view, Rock, but that's okay.

Let me ask you some things. Based upon your "factual" rendering of what "the most correct of any book on earth" signifies, would you say, then, that Mormon's words about Moroni in Alma 48:17-18 were factual? In other words, that they are fact and not just opinion?

Also, when Moroni writes on the Title Page that the Book of Mormon was "written by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation," do you think that is an unqualified statement? Or, do you think that some of the Book of Mormon was written under that spirit, while other parts (such as Alma 48:17-18) were not? And, what are you basing your views on?

Also, would you say a simple book of basic arithmetic facts is less factual (less correct) than the Book of Mormon?

Finally, would you say that the writers of the Book of Mormon believed that the book was free from error or mistake? For example, do you think Moroni thought of its inerrancy (your word, not mine) when he stated, "We know of no fault"? Do you think he had a better vantage point to judge whether the record was error-free, or do you think we do?

LDS Anarchist said...

"It leaves you unable to consider or give validity to even a little of Josh and Ron's suggestions, because you are locked into that narrow way of looking at the message."

A couple of things with this statement, Rock. First of all, how is it that my view of the Book of Mormon, which is that the whole thing is prophetic, revelatory scripture, from beginning to end, is considered the narrow view, whereas Josh and Ron's view, and your own, that not all parts of the Book of Mormon are equally inspired of God, is the considered by you the wide view? My canon is BIGGER than your canon, so I have the NARROW view? Does that really make sense to you?

Let's start on the proper footing, shall we? and state correctly that my view is the wide view, the more accepting view, because I'm willing to accept more as being the word of God than you are and your view and that of Ron and Josh is the narrow view, since you guys ascribe man as the source to some or much of the Book of Mormon.

Now, with that established, let me ask you: would you say that Ron and Josh's view (and your own) leave them (and you) unable to consider or give validity to even a little of my suggestions, because they (and you) are locked into their (and your) narrow way of looking at the message?

Who is narrow and who is wide, Rock? Who is fighting the text and who is passively accepting it as it reads? Come on, you're a smart guy. Figure this out.

Steven Lester said...

Whoever told me about the Hopewell Culture (or Tradition) as being the true Nephites and that they lived mostly around the Ohio River down through the South along the Mississippi (which was the River Sidon, I was told), I read about the culture in wikipedia. It seems that they date the culture as existing between about 200 BC to around 500 AD (or BCE and CE if you dislike mixing religion with science). So, kinda close enough. They maintained a trade network that spanned the entire North American continent, and built those mounds which took so much work to pile up, which were proved to be closely alined with the movements of the Sun and Moon, as well as the seasons.

But it is too bad they didn't know how to write anything down. Apparently, the Nephites were illiterate. Interesting.

LDS Anarchist said...

Here, I'll give you an example. Nephi slays Laban at the Spirit's command. That is how the text reads.

I am open to believing that Nephi slayed Laban as the Spirit's command. I passively accept the text as it reada.

Ron and Josh are not open to believing that Nephi slayed Laban at the Spirit's command. They consider it murder. They fight the text as it reads.

Now, whose view is narrow and wide, the man who is open to the possiblity of the text being inspired of God and accurate or the men who are closed to that possibility? Who is fighting and twisting the text as it reads?

Which mind is more open, Rock, the one who considers it a possibility that the Spirit could command such a thing, or the one that cannot consider such a possibility?

So, what is it, Rock? Which is the narrow and which is the wide approach? Is LDS Anarchist open-minded or close-minded? (Btw, thanks to Inspire for calling me close-minded. That was a first for me! I got a real kick out of it!) How about Ron and Josh, are they open-minded or close-minded?

Jon said...

This discussion reminds me of the quote where the prophet says something to the effect that a prophet can't lead the people astray. I used to have qualms with that statement until I thought of the qualifier for that statement, i.e., that if the saints listen to the spirit they will reject any bad council. I think likewise about the scriptures, the only way to know the truth about anything, including the scriptures, is through the HG. Now the hard part is being able to recognize the promptings of the spirit.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Not intending to speak for Ron or Josh here, but I thought what they were presenting were suggested interpretations, a fresh way to look at the scriptures from a direction many of us had not heretofore considered. That, it seems to me, is an invitation to be open-minded. What you are offering -nay, INSISTING the rest of us accept as the only version -are your fixed beliefs.

Whether those beliefs are right or wrong, I see fixed beliefs as leading to a parochial view, shutting out the possibility of new or alternate insights. That, I interpret, as closed-mindedness.

"I know the Church is true" is an example of a fixed belief. A person (such as myself until only recently) with such a fixed attitude toward the corporate institution is liable to confuse the message with the messenger, accepting everything promulgated by the messenger without question, refusing to entertain even the possibility that the Church(TM) may be involved in some activities that are not directly sanctioned by the Lord himself.

Further, the fixed belief that "the Church is true" leads one to the belief that if ONE thing about the Church is true, it then follows that EVERYTHING about the Church is true. This is syllogistic thinking, and can lead to error.

I like to entertain new ideas, whether I accept them in the end or not. And whether or not you see this Captain Moroni controversy presented by Ron and Josh as valid, I do. It seems like something our higher selves should embrace, even though I admit that my current self would probably react as Moroni did and just kill the bastards.

J Madson said...

LDS anarch,

After reading most of the comments since I left this chat it seems that the conversation has at least reached the stage where you have offered an actual position touching on my argument. I think Rock has pointed out the real issue here, inerrancy.

This is the reason I did not engage your arguments before and bowed out. I did not see the point in using the scriptures as a inerrant rule book to prove a point when I reject the very premise underlying such use. I have often told Ron that I while I think he is correct in his reading of D&C 98 legally (and in fact I think he did show that if D&C 98 is Nephite Law than there was another higher option contra your position) that this engages in the same inerrant legalistic readings that I find problematic. This is why I rarely discuss D&C 98 in any legal manner.

So I am clear, this is not because I think we should ignore the scriptures, because they are not true, or any other reason you might concoct. I ignored such because we cannot even approach such issues without first discussing what is a fundamental division in how to approach the scriptures.

This is the point I made earlier, namely that you seem to read/approach the scriptures so fundamentally different than me that I doubt we will bridge this divide. I do not see all scriptures, verses, statements etc as being equally authoritative for example. In fact, I see scriptural authority in an entirely different way than you.

This is why when you attack certain conclusions (stemming from my main argument) you really haven’t attacked my position at all. You haven’t even addressed it. Im not sure how lengthy lists of scripture citations, word searches, etc. cited in a legalistic fashion to oppose my conclusions proves anything since my position has always been that the scriptures shouldn’t be read that way in the first place. I was not critiquing your views per se but the entire way you approach scripture.

I reject inerrancy and therefore many of your arguments prove little unless I first accept your appeals for inerrancy. I bowed out because you seemed more intent on proving a straw man or some caricature or my views wrong than actually addressing or even attempting to understand what I was saying. Now, this is an example of how far the divide. You state:

“I shouldn't be using the scriptures, 'cause that is proof-texting and legalism.”

No one is saying we shouldn’t use the scriptures. What we are saying is that you are proof texting the scriptures and using them legalistically. Let me be more clear. Using the scriptures is not proof texting. Proof texting is simply how you are using them. Legalism is simply the way you use them. There are other ways to read the scriptures. Im not sure what makes you so certain that this is the correct way to read them. Now having said all this fore matter, Im hoping we at least try to have some dialogue absent accusation.


J Madson said...


Without writing a lengthy post on how we should read the scriptures (Rock has already provided some clue as to how I read them anyways), let me suggest that truth is not constrained by the boundaries you prescribe it. One can believe everything in the book is true (as Rock again pointed out, C Moroni did say and do things) and yet completely disagree with you. It is an immaturity to ascribe to state others do not believe in a text when they simply do not agree with you. You are nor I are the text or the scepters of truth.

The issue is not, for example, whether scripture is authoritative but the manner in which it is authoritative. In other words, citing verse after verse will prove nothing until you have grappled first with the “how” of reading scriptures. When one reads the scriptures as an inerrant rule book, we are almost always guarantees discord. As NT Wright explains there is a tendency to think we have it right:

“we imagine that we are ‘reading the text, straight’, and that if somebody disagrees with us it must be because they, unlike we ourselves, are secretly using ‘presuppositions’ of this or that sort. This is simply naïve, and actually astonishingly arrogant and dangerous.”

Inerrant legalistic reading also lead us from theology to ideology wherein we make idols of our own inerrant readings and even the scriptures. No one is disregarding passages of scripture but only your interpretation that fails to be open to the possibility that you are not reading a law book but a story. It is not a rule book to bash over other people's heads but a grand sweeping narrative inquiring after the semantic content of the word God and his relationship to his children.

The scriptures do not exist in a list of rules or doctrines but in story. When we read inerrantly and legally we bring the world’s models of authority into it; devaluing the narrative character of the text, thinking of it as a place you could go to for a statute or authoritative ruling. Inerrant approaches also end up accusing others of altering the meaning of the texts? Whose meaning? Your personal interpretation of course, not the text.

No one is disputing that the text incorrectly states mormon said and believed a, b, c or that Captain Moroni did x, y, z. What they are disputing is the meaning of said text. Innerancy worships at the idol of nouns and verbs while missing the larger sweep and flow of the text.

Eternal life is not in the text. The text is just an approximation of the truth pointing externally to the Word, the one in the beginning with God. If you run around trying to find justification in every word, sentence, period and comma you will never find the Word. Stringing together decontexualized verses proves nothing. Law of Moses, Law of Mosiah, Law of Nephi mean nothing without the surrounding text, events, and history. You cannot reduce the grand sweeping narrative of God's relation to his children to inerrant decontexualized verses and then exalt them to universal truths.

ps Rock can you delete the second of these comments that repeats the first one. thanks

J Madson said...

Let me give an example of the divide again

When you state the book was written by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, I agree. When Moroni says that if there are faults, don’t blame God its because this is a record written by men, but that he isn’t aware of any faults. I agree. I don’t have issues with the text and even if I did I would agree with Moroni that they are the faults of men.

Again, I am not saying the record I faulty. I am saying the way you read/interpret it may be faulty. You are reading it as a rule book or legal constitution and turning the debate into a version of the Supreme Court where we can determine the precise legal meaning of some annotated code instead of what it actually is: a narrative. It is precisely this type of approach, inerrancy, that has helped prop up all sorts of evils in times past including slavery (If its in Leviticus God must have been ok with slavery at some point right?).

As to narrow or broad views, and I will prob regret trying to explain what is abundantly clear and simple. You wrote that you are “open to believing that Nephi slayed Laban as the Spirit's command.” What makes you think I am not open to that? Of course I am. The text states that.

I am, however, open to additional and other readings which have textual, contextual, and narrative support. Your view is in fact very narrow because you are not open to other possibilities but only the one inerrant reading you see as the only possibility. Of course Nephi killing Laban is murder (and no I don’t need a legal debate about the semantic content of the word murder), its just a question of whether it was God’s will or not. I am open to all sorts of readings of the text not just one. I am as you stated open to the “possibility of the text being inspired of God and accurate.” In fact I think it is inspired and accurate. Simply because I disagree with how “you” read it or how "you" think an inspired and accurate text should be read does not mean I don't think its inspired.

My argument about Nephite society isn’t dependent on whether the spirit commanded it anyways. Im simply arguing that an event can be used to shape and bind a culture into certain narratives.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Justin. I'm not sure it's ever "expedient" to act like an arse to anyone, regardless of whether you like them (TH) or not (someone else).

My years have taught me that people who claim the "spirit" directed or guided their thoughts are much more likely to try and explain away poor, rude, heinous, thoughtless or incredibly stupid actions than people who merely set out trying to do good and trying to uplift those around them. With the internet medium as it is, and a collective understanding of how it works in tow (especially from people who maintain extensive blogs and are acquainted with how to act/talk within this medium), to suggest that it's ever expedient to act like a prick while pretending to be directed by the "spirit" is reprehensible.

Some people just need to get over themselves and stop pretending to be guided by the "spirit" when they're acting in thoughtless, tactless and heartless ways.


Ron Madson said...

Rock, Thurts, Mike, Jon and whoever else is staying with this thread,

(this will probably be two "comments")

I wanted to share some thoughts on the nature of God and correlation for fun, and then tie it back into some discussions we have had regarding how one reads/interprets scriptures/narratives.

But before reading this comment, if you have not seen it I would highly recommend watching this 10 minute clip which is the final part of the classic movie called "God on Trial." This rabbi is beyond brilliant. It will tie into my comments regarding the nature of God (note the Jews would like their father Abraham put God on trial--a rich tradition in a quest to discover God: here it is:

Before getting to my thoughts on the nature of God, I wanted to briefly touch on correlation. I have learned a great deal from reading Daymon Smith's dissertation on correlation and meeting with him in person. Understanding how correlation works not only in our faith community but any faith community can't be underestimated. One point Daymon has made repeatedly is that "they" do not need to correlate us--we do it to each other constantly. We all have felt the affects of correlation at church and in public at times when we venture a novel interpretation/thought/question that someone inevitably says: "Well if you don't believe or interpret such and such as I do then a sweeping generalization follows such as "you do not believe in (take a pick) the church/scriptures/God/prophets, etc" or you do not believe such and such is "true"--whatever in hell "true" means when it is referential to whom and what? So we find refuge in study groups (which I have had now going on 30 years) and/or the blogs. Then we find in some blogs another kind of correlation--new straightjackets. In my home my parents would let us children think/question/speculate as to anything. They loved us and I always assumed that God would be that way also--tolerant and even happy to see us questioning and searching. I would like to think so, but His church is not structured that way and very few blogs--except this one, for example. Even it the beginning of the restoration Joseph had lots of great big Elders who wanted to throw out anyone who did not believe just right. Remember Father Brown having that goofy interpretation of the Book of Revelations and how others wanted Father Brown censured but JS said essentially heck no.

And as NT Wright so clearly explains the Roman catholic church considered the Pope inerrant. He was their correlation, and then the protestants fled from that error unwittingly into the arms of another straight-jacket /correlation by now assuming the scriptures inerrant--or at least how each of them read the scriptures. They used their new "ultimate" authority (or at least how they read/understood the scriptures) to judge/correlate/demand allegiance of "others." They could not grasp what JS did grasp--"away with creed" or in my words, "away with boxing up thoughts/beliefs. A "true and living" church/faith community must of necessity be organic--bounded only by mutual love and respect.

(to be continued)

Ron Madson said...

For me personally the issue is "Who is God?" What is His/her nature? How do I come to know Him and be as He is in that He is my father? Why does He love me and how do I love Him in return? I am a believer and as Thurts expressed in that I am a mantic and believe in and have experienced mystical/personal revelation. Those experiences have taught me of the all consuming love of God and His son Jesus for all creation. That is my core religion--all else, to use a mormon expression, is an appendage at best.

So who is God? This ties directly into how I read the scriptures. The scriptures are a story telling me who God is and not just a log book of commandments. Taking the highly sensitive story of Nephi and Laban, what does that story tell me? Well, the text tells me that Nephi tells us that he was "constrained by the spirit" to kill Laban. I believe that God may very well have commanded Nephi to do exactly that. That is a real possibility. But reading the text that way does not tell me anything really about Nephi, but speaks volumes about the nature of God. That "God" is a God full or irony for starters. For that God also inspired Nephi to use the same words used by Caiaphas (sp?) to justify the crucifixion of Jesus, which was essentially: "it is better that one man die then we/our nation suffer/perish." (interesting that Nephi is citing essentially the very words of Caiphas--maybe that tells us that JS had that phrase in his mind and that is how he cloaked it when "translating/channelling" the BOM to express when someone uses the metrics of expediency that someone must be sacrificed for others--I don't know). Regardless, we also have a God that chooses to have his children commit acts of violence in His name to achieve a better outcome. That may be God or maybe the BOM is true in the sense that Nephi believed that God inspired him to kill and defenseless man. How would I know? That is between God and Nephi. Do I have to believe that every voice in the scriptures that we define as the "good" guy is 100% metaphysically true? I suppose if we take the "correct" as in authentic book and infuse it with perfect inerrancy of opinion/acts/etc. There are numerous indicators, imo, that what Nephi did was a personal hubris that grew into a Nephite hubris that they never fully overcame leading inexorably to their extinction--at least a lack of imagination as to how to solve conflict the in a Christlike manner if nothing else. Why not just take the plates? Why not ask God (as a son of Abraham that had no problem bargaining with God and pushing back) to have a heart attack? Or maybe if he had such faith have the plates channeled as JS had done with the BOM? All kinds of alternatives to show "that there way another way."
What Josh M. was saying and what I am saying is that even if God did command the murder (yes that is the correct legal word) and Nephi was "justified" (there is 'justifiable homicide in even our secular laws) the reality is that once one chooses to live the lesser law of expediency for one's own tribe's benefit there are consequences short term and long term. One creates a faith community that now sees expediency as a metric that God uses and can be emulated. This is at best a lesser law, and worse it tells me something about God's nature that I find grossly incongruent with the living Son on earth who does not engage in such calculations-- but expresses in every word and deed the antithesis.

There is another possibility and that is what some call the Marcionite Heresy, ie, that the God of the OT is not the same God that came in the flesh. The OT god was an immature God and the God of the NT came to show another way (okay no one go spastic and say I do not believe the scripture, BOM, church or whatever for just putting it out there).

to be continued..

Toni said...

Wow! A lot has gone on since I last read this thread. Here is my obviously outdated reply to Ron's comment to me, way back:

Ron, I understand your point of view better now.

I do think that Moroni was sick and tired of the war dragging on, and decided to do everything he could to end it. As far as the kingmen, he didn't follow what we're told in the D&C, but the Lamanites had come up against them several times, and had been allowed to leave peacefully if they would promise not to come to war against the Nephites again.

In fact, this time, instead of sending them back home to start yet another war, the Nephites gave them lands in Nephite country. I've not seen that in any modern history.

As for the kingmen, I think he did what he had to do to stop them, because of their penchant (imo) for plotting the overthrow the freedom of the country (remember why they were called "kingmen" in the first place).

Rock, that "Name/URL" doesn't work for me unless I have third party cookies enabled and I'm signed into my blog at the same time. (In that case, sometimes I accidentally sign in with my LJn name, though I'd prefer to use my real name here.) "Anonymous" usually works for me with just third party cookies enabled.

Interesting discussion. I wonder if it would have gotten so heated if we had all been sitting in a room, discussing things. I would have loved the discussion to have been in person. I doubt I would have gotten a word in edgewise, but it would have been invigorating. Seriously, I like reading the differing opinions, whether I agree with them or not.

Steven Lester said...

Please remember that God views death much differently than do we. He knows with an absolute certainty that death doesn't actually exist, but rather is merely the separation between the gross and the eternal. So, killing Laban meant only that the spirit that is Laban was removed from his big deal. Laban goes to paradise and learns all about his many sins and stuff and then goes right back into the general population of those billions of spirits which were his brothers and sisters who he had known for longer than the Universe is old. No big deal. This happens all the time.

Indeed, Laban himself may have chosen this death for himself before he was born. So much is so unknown on this side. NONE of us will ever know the whole truth of things until we croak and are shown the real facts over there. Over here, about all we can be sure of is that so much of what we "know" are born of guesses.

Ron Madson said...

cont. from yesterday,

Of course, I do not subscribe to the Marcionite heresy but I threw it out there to consider ways in which we might try to reconcile the bullying, even brutal, arbitrary and capricious God of the OT and the one that actually shows up in the NT. There is another more plausible explanation, imo, as to the inconsistency. Coming full circle to the clip I linked from the "God on Trial' movie, some might watch that video and say "How can that Rabbi say that God is not good and that God is evil?" What he is really saying is that "The God that we have portrayed through the lens of our national narratives is evil--not the real God." In other words, THAT is not God that tells them to kill all the children in the village, nor God that lines us the Moabites and cuts of the heads arbitrarily of two of three lines, or God that punished innocents in an to attempt to send a message to those that sinned, etc. Rather that is the God that we have imagined in our hearts, and we have simply taken His name in vain. (also, the Rabbi challenged even the sacred Abraham/Isaac story--there are numerous versions of that story including the Midrash that says that Abraham "imagined" God telling him to kill his son ("spirit constrained perhaps)--based on the voice of his religion/traditions/and maybe he had some "inerrant" scriptures of his day telling him to kill his son. THen perhaps he became as the Gods when he found the virtue in his own heart and choose independently to not do such an evil. The Gods then looked up him and said "wow, he has become like one of us and passed the test. Of course, how do we really know for sure which version is correct?).

So back to the BOM text. When we accept Nephi killing Laban as God's will and/or accept every angry "expedient" act of aggression of C. Moroni as God's inscrutable will then that tells us something about God and God's nature--or at least we can draw certain inevitable conclusions. (by way of review C. Moroni chases down ("marches" against) three sets of dissenters who had not attacked him first--Amalickiah's supporters, the people of Morinaton trying to get out of town/fleeing, and the the King Men, and for good measure sweeps out Lamanite villages in a pre-emptive attacks. The text tells us that these groups had not attacked C. Moroni first, but he feared they might in the future. Then he kills those in his control/custody who do not pledge such and such. Aside from the blowback principle of such acts that are not even justified I would argue by the law of the Nephites--- if in fact that law is consistent with DC 98, as some have argued in this thread. The reality is that many today take all these acts by C. Moroni as being endorsed by God himself). SO, if God approves such acts of expediency then we are full circle back to the nature of God. Why is this important?

IF God acts with expediency and pre-emptively attacks those who we think God judges as evil then or potentially dangerous, how those that inform us as to what we can do in our present generation? Well, does it not tell us that we can pre-emptively and aggressively seek out those that we consider evil and a threat and attack them before they have a chance to attack us--thus ironically becoming the very evil we deplore? The difference is that someone might say: "well, the BOM is inerrant and if C. Moroni did it and Mormon tells us C. Moroni is awesome and, of course, God endorsed all his acts of aggression and killing prisoners." Really? Based on what micro/proof texting reading? Based on not paying attention to the larger narrative of even the war stories and the futility of it all? Who is our God appointed reader/interpreter of the text in toto?


Ron Madson said...


So how do we read? I go to church each Sunday with good people that tell me that they will do whatever God tells them to do--jump off a bridge, and I assume even burn babies if one takes it to its' logical conclusion. That is scary and unhealthy in my opinion. Particularly, because one can "feel constrained" to believe that another person, the scriptures, or the traditions of their faith community are the 'voice" of God communicating to them. I would rather associate with people that, like Abraham, would challenge "god". And by those that refused to participate in MMM even though their leaders said it was God's will.

These are many of the same people that have told me that over the last decade that like C. Moroni we have to fight for our freedom by going to Iraq/Afghanistan and get the bad guys before they get us--for they are very, very evil and seek to overthrow our freedom. Even more close to home I have had those in my HP who have told me that if things get worse/apocalyptic we need to round up all democrats as well as those that voted for Obama and put them to death for these are the people I am told are "denying our freedoms"--Kingmen to use a BOM example---all very expedient of course to protect our freedoms, way of life, etc. and all based on the "voices" channelled through their inerrant reading of our inerrant scriptures.

So each sunday I show up and push back with counter possible interpretation/readings of our inerrant scriptures. One brother teaches us that we must be willing to fight/die for Israel against all the evil people that are threatening their freedoms--as if Israel is perfectly blameless. I say that in the final conflict we will find three groups carrying their sword of justice into battle all on God's errand--,radical muslims carrying their inerrant Koran, radical Jews carrying their OT, and radical Christians carrying their inerrant bible--and maybe a few Mormons carrying their inerrant BOM mumbling something about C. Moroni and the "title of liberty."

imo, "ending badly" is choosing to mimic the Nephite war traditions of expediency rather then being more wise in following the example of Jesus and the Anti Nephi Lehites that he endorsed.

maybe my reading/interpretation of the BOM is way off but I refuse to concede to any reading that suggests that all the voices, opinions and deeds of the "good" guys in the BOM were inerrant--especially given the reality that whatever they did, thought, taught ended very badly.

Anonymous said...


One thing we need to realize is how serious God is about freedom. Alma 46 says,"Those who will not support the cause of freedom are put to death." That is simply God's highest law.

We know that all those who will not support freedom automatically experience a 'spiritual' death, which is far worse than a physical death to God.

Moroni was just carrying out that commandment, upon the Kingmen, upon the Lamanites & all the other people you mentioned he attacked. They all had previously proven they would not support freedom, even if it wasn't directly against Moroni. God had commanded him to protect the people generally, & apply consequences to all those who fought against freedom, not just those who fought against him personally.

If we have a hard time imagining a God who is so serious about applying penalties, we can think about the severe eternal penalty that God applied to Satan & the 1/3 who were deceived by him, & we see that what God told Moroni to do was a far less severe penalty in comparison.

While it may be uncomfortable to imagine a God who is serious about applying consequences for not supporting freedom, if you are on the other end & are needing protection from those who would take your freedom away, you quickly understand & appreciate his firmness in the matter. It just depends what side your on with how you see it.

We do not have the agency in this life to sin without receiving consequences, which God wants his leaders to apply in this life, by most don't.

Most civil & religious leaders do not apply consequences according to how God desires, thus most people rarely repent, since they have little incentive to. They get to have the perks of sin usually without the penalties.

Most leaders, civil & religious, allow people to get away with almost anything & especially don't require people to support freedom.

We are a country & a church that almost totally supports 'socialism & control', the opposite of freedom. So most people have a hard time understanding how God could be so serious about freedom & especially applying such severe consequences for those who don't uphold it.

But those who don't support freedom & righteousness don't deserve to enjoy a society protected by it.

The problem with our world, church & leaders is not too much consequence for evil, but far too little. Most serious sin in the Church today is accepted & ignored, not disciplined for. That helps no one.

'Evil' is just 'disrespect for freedom'.

God wants all those who disrespect freedom, to be disciplined & given a chance to repent. That would mean almost all of the membership of the Church today, for most all the members support socialism & serious sin, but most do not realize they do.

Sometimes the only chance to repent is in Spirit Prison for those who are already past feeling & can't repent anymore in this life.

God is serious about freedom & thus why Moroni was so serious about freedom, he had a perfect understanding about it all, having been taught directly from God about it.

Anonymous said...


One thing we need to realize is how serious God is about freedom. Alma 46 says,"Those who will not support the cause of freedom are put to death." That is simply God's highest law.


God is so serious about freedom that it's his "highest law" to put those who don't like freedom to death???

God respects agency so much that he's willing to kill me so that I don't use that same agency???


Anonymous said...

"Those who will not support the cause of freedom are put to death." That is simply God's highest law.

I guess that settles it. No bother reading the rest of the scriptures. War is Peace, slavery is freedom, and all that jazz.....

Anonymous said...


No one on this planet has the agency to disrespect freedom, without consequences.

God expects & commands his civil & religious leaders to protect freedom by applying needed consequences on those who disrespect freedom.

But leaders usually don't do that. So it seems so strange, wrong & foreign to us to have consequences applied if we don't respect freedom.

Anonymous said...

But God usually gives us lesser consequences & many chances to repent & support freedom, before he would apply the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

Although I have a healthy respect for the Book of Mormon and all four standard works as an inspired body of religious text and teachings, I have recently come to the conclusion that the definition of "scripture" is perhaps a little more narrow and more specifically referring to certain passages within the four standard works.

Christ said-

"search the scriptures... for they are they that testify of me" (John 5:39)

He seems to be defining scripture as those passages in the written word that specifically testify of Christ.

While there are all sorts of teachings and doctrines and commandments provided by God's servants in the scriptures, of varying levels of inspiration, it is possible that the only passages that are really considered scripture are those that specifically testify of Christ.

It is interesting to note that in section 74 of the D&C the Lord points out that the apostle Paul gave a commandment to the people that was of himself and was not of the Lord-

" Wherefore, for this cause the apostle wrote unto the church, giving unto them a commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself, that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever; except the law of Moses should be done away among them"

The above passage wherein the Lord is clarifying that Paul was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the Lord, seems to indicate that there are teachings in the NT that are of varying degrees of inspiration.

I see no reason why the same would not be true of the BofM.

Many of the great leaders in Book of Mormon times, like Paul, were human and fallible and taught what they believed to be true.

Just one more reason why we all must ultimately take the Holy Spirit as our guide and not rest solely on the teachings of others


ano 777

Anonymous said...

The thing is, that in order to righteously judge the words & works of the Prophets (the scriptures), one must themselves be a prophet.

Which we are all commanded to be, or else we will easily be lead astray & deceived, while still believing ourselves to be righteous & right.

LDS Anarchist said...

ano 777 said:

"search the scriptures... for they are they that testify of me" (John 5:39)

He seems to be defining scripture as those passages in the written word that specifically testify of Christ.

Which reminded my proof-texting and legalistic mind of this scripture, spoken to Moses by Christ:

"And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me." (Moses 6:63)

LDS Anarchist said...

In church today, a scriptural verse was read that reminded my legalistic and proof-texting mind of Tom and his departure from law. It made me chuckle. Here it is:

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." (Romans 3:31.)

Jon said...

Great discussion. I can you guys have pondered these things much more than I have.


I think both you and Ron can be reconciled in both of your seemingly contradictory views. Ron believes he can learn the laws directly through the spirit by reading the scriptures as a narrative. You seem to believe that you can learn the laws by using the spirit to learn from the scriptures through a logical progression. In the end, we all have to use the spirit and our logical selves to try and understand what is true.

I think if something is true then one should be able to use logic to understand the laws of God or the universe or whatever you want to call them. The logic must be the understanding of God though, or rather, through the spirit. Hmm, keeps going back to the same thing, so really, one must use the spirit as the prime motivator for understanding of the natural laws. So I think you are both right, two paths to the same end. I see not why God can't speak to us all differently.

Jon said...


If you support freedom whose do you support? My interpretation of freedom is volutaryism, is that yours? Should I put you to death if you disagree?

The natural laws will be justice to all, whether in this life or the next.

Can't believe I read all 228 comments. Amazing.

LDS Anarchist said...

Jon, I'll have to disagree with you on that one. Our views, Ron's and mine, are irreconcilable. He doesn't believe the Lord commanded Nephi to kill Laban, as the record states, while I do. He doesn't believe Moroni acted righteously when he ordered the execution of the king-men, as the record states, while I do. He believes only those parts of the record that fit into his philosophy, while I believe all of what the record states. It has nothing to do with the Spirit. It everything to do with believing or not believing, the record.

Since I just now mentioned Laban, and since apparently there is at least one person still reading this thread (you, Jon), let me take up the apparent contradiction of Nephi slaying Laban in light of D&C 98.

It was mentioned by others on this thread (including Ron, I believe) that Nephi apparently did not follow the law that was given to his people which we have written in D&C 98: 23-32. That law states that only after three offenses, in which a man smites your family and you bear it patiently, only then are you justified in dealing justice out if that man still hasn't repented and comes against you a fourth time.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

Now, in the case of Laban, there were four offenses done. The record only specifically mentions three, because it was written by Nephi, and Nephi only had personal knowledge of three offenses, but there were in actuality four offenses committed by Laban, the first one known only by the Lord.

When Lehi preached to the Jews, the Jews sought to slay him. Laban was one of those Jews that sought to slay him at that time. The Lord subsequently commanded Lehi to flee into the wilderness with his family, because his life and the lives of his family, were endangered by the Jews (which included Laban.) That's offense #1, which was unknown to Nephi.

Then the Lord commands Lehi's SONS to go get the plates from Laban. Why Lehi's sons and not Lehi? Because Laban was one of the Jews who tried to kill Lehi and Laban did not know the sons of Lehi, but he did know Lehi. So, had Lehi gone to get the plates, Laban would definitely have tried to kill him.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...


Then Laman goes in to talk to Laban and Laban tries to kill him, calling him a thief. Offense #2. Then Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi take their father's riches in to Laban in an attempt to buy the plates, thinking that he won't try to kill them this time since they are now offering riches for them. Nevertheless, Laban sends his servants to kill all four men (offense #3) and steals their goods (offense #4.)

Since offense #3 consisted in an attempt to kill four men, it might be counted as four offenses, not one, bringing the grand total to 7. This fully complies with the law given in D&C 98, as it allowed Nephi to kill Laban with full justifiication for the special case in which "thy life is endangered by him" (D&C 98:31.) Nephi and his brothers were hiding out in the cave becauase Laban's servants were actively searching for them to kill them and Lehi was in the wilderness because the Jews would send soldiers to kill him if they knew where he was. Their lives weren't just in danger once, but were continually in danger, and if the authorities knew where they were, they would all be killed (the entire family.) See 1 Nephi 4:36.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...


The Lord knew what Laban would have done had his life been spared. Had the plates been taken without his knowledge and he been left alive, he would have known it was Lehi or his sons that had stolen it and he probably would have ordered a search both in Jerusalem and in all the regions round about to find the family and those plates. No expense would have been spared. Lehi and family going missing is no big deal. When Lehi and family left, the Jews searched a bit and then stopped. But the plates of brass going missing is an altogether different matter. Laban would have known who would have been responsible for the theft and would have been diligent in looking for them until found, causing grave and dangerous problems for Lehi and family.

Thus we see that the Lord acted according the law of expediency, yet still precisely followed the law He gave to these Nephites. This was not an exceptional case.

LDS Anarchist said...

Jon, I wrote above: "It has nothing to do with the Spirit. It [has] everything to do with believing or not believing, the record."

To be plainer in writing, I mean that the record states plainly that Nephi killed Laban on the Spirit's command. The Spirit will not inspire Ron to disbelieve that while inspiring me to believe it. The Spirit will not say two completely contradictory things to two different people. "Believe it" and "disbelieve it" are opposite principles. So, it means that if Ron is claiming that the Spirit told him to disbelieve the scriptures in those parts and I am claiming that the Spirit told me to believe the scriptures in those parts, we cannot assume that both of us are receiving messages from the same Spirit. Now, I will go out on a limb and state my belief that Ron is NOT claiming that the Spirit told him to disbelieve the account of Nephi slaying Laban. However, I AM claiming that the Spirit told me to believe those parts, as well as all those parts, for the Spirit told me categorically, that the ENTIRE Book of Mormon was true. Now, if Ron comes forth and says he got his belief from the Spirit, then we've got a problem and one of us got information from a false spirit, for the Spirit of God does not inspire two people to believe and disbelieve that same passages of scripture. The Spirit confirms the truth of all things, therefore, if those passages are true, the Spirit will confirm them, not inspire someone NOT to believe in them. Does this make sense?

LDS Anarchist said...

Looking over the comments above of Ron, I find these gems which indicate the lengths these guys will go to to influence people against what the Book of Mormon is saying:

"What Josh M. was saying and what I am saying is that even if God did command the murder (yes that is the correct legal word) and Nephi was "justified" (there is 'justifiable homicide in even our secular laws)"

I am accused of legalism, but here we have men who are using the word "murder" in a legal, secular law sense (as in Early English Law) because they know the effect it has on people's minds when they hear that word, people who do not assign it as merely killing another human being, but as an unlawful killing of a person, according to the common vernacular. Again, they call Laban's death possible justifiable homicide, another English law term. Why so much appeal to secular law terms if this is a correct interpretation of the scriptures? Because their views are based upon the philosophies of men. They state clearly that they don't know one way or the other whether this or that interpretation is true, whether they are in error or not, all the while putting forth doubts in everyone's minds and hearts about the veracity of the record.

The strategy is quite subtle, and I'd like to believe they aren't doing it intentionally, but I see through it like glass, and regardless of whether they are intending to deceive the people or not, the end result will be the same. Anyone who believes these lies is going to end up deceived. There is nothing "fresh" about their perspective. It is an old strategy of casting doubt upon the word of God by assigning a secular meaning to it. I have expounded these scriptures sufficiently to show that it is perfectly reasonable to believe the record, as it is stated, without having to invent a new God with different qualities, who makes exceptions to His laws, or a division of higher or lower laws, etc. My expositions have been consistent with the spirit of prophecy and revelation, theirs have not, for they do not possess that spirit, which is why they cannot make any claim of understanding the scriptures.

One last thing, the claim that we cannot understood one another because we are approaching the scriptures differently, they through narrative and me through legalism and proof-texting, is baseless. I can perceive what they are saying, I can look through the same lens they can. I can see the Book of Mormon as a narrative, just like they can. Don't treat me like some child, guys, unable to grasp your position. I understand your position, but it's bullshit. It's based upon a man-made method of reading literature. It's EASY to grasp. What you didn't understand were my expositions, before I unfolded them to you, because they were based upon the spirit of prophecy and revelation, which you have no part of and do not understand.

J Madson said...

LDS Anarchist

Let me be clear, you are trying to put people into coffins (figuratively and apparently literally). While I sincerely applaud your creative readings of the scriptures (which are yours) I also am repulsed by the manner in which you seek to control, correlate, and impose your view on others.

When I began my research on this topic and in presentations and articles on this topic I have always made clear that this is how I read it and that it works for me. It makes sense to me according to the spirit, reason, and revelation I have. Furthermore, should anyone want to follow it, great, but I do not demand they do nor do I demand they leave aside their views should they like them more. The proof is in the pudding.

What I perceive occurring is a scriptural quoting intoxication which leads some unable to distinguish between what God says and what we say God says. What you are seeking to do is correlate us and everyone by putting us "under" Scripture's authority, arrogantly shouting “The Scripture says!” while failing to realize the scriptures you want to put us "under" are the scriptures as you have interpreted them which means we are actually under your authority as you stand over us with scripture in hand. Scripture and authority is not ours to control people, and crush them, and keep them in little boxes. This is precisely what correlation and the church often tries to do – tidy us up. Scripture as the vehicle of God’s authority is not meant to be information for the legalist. We have to apply some reformation insights to the concept of authority itself. We decry popes and leaders who rule over us and correlate us. But by refusing to let go of a medieval view of authority you would now rule over us with a paper pope of your making instead of a human one. I believe the scriptures say x quickly becomes you speaking for the scriptures then speaking for God and eventually you speaking as God over us. This is precisely the evolution of your comments. You now even seek to correlate the power and authority of God into your person.

It is not yours to claim. You now claim even the spirit of prophecy and revelation into your person and not others. It is not yours to possess, control, and then use to dominate over others. The second you seek to do such Amen to you and whatever authority you pretend to have (D&C 121).
Spirit does not need you to exert its claims over us. Indeed, you would put us all (even the spirit) in boxes under your self-claimed authority. The little boxes in which you put people and keep them under control are called coffins.

Justin said...

"You now claim even the spirit of prophecy and revelation into your person and not others."

-How would LDSA claim the spirit of prophecy and revelation into another person?

Why does it make someone a "paper pope" to say that the Spirit has revealed to them according to the spirit of prophecy and revelations that the scripture that says,

"And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban"

is true/accurate as it reads?

Am I confused or just legalistic too?

Jeremiah Stoddard said...


Perhaps "And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban" should be understood in a similar context to how LDSA describes the Book of Mormon was translated -- that is, Nephi came up with the idea and sought confirmation from the Lord. Considering that, there may have been better alternatives that Nephi wasn't creative enough to consider, and so the Lord allowed Nephi to work to the best of his ability.

I don't know if that's how it happened, but it definitely seems like a logical possibility...

J Madson said...


what is fairly clear is that having failed to persuade, albeit not gently, heavenly authority is now being claimed in an effort to assert authority and control/dominion of a text and people where persuasion could not. This is clearly an attempt to bring down the powers of heaven through authoritative claims when persuasion failed. Is it such a problem that someone disagrees or do we need to box everyone in with our readings? Or does vanity lie behind all of our attempts to bludgeon each other with the scriptures? (Why aren't you reading my blog was the complaint).

No one disputes that there are many possible readings, and certainly LDS Anarchist is entitled to his reading. I prefer mine and find his wanting for spiritual as well as rational reasons. Others may have their preferred readings. What one does not do is after failing to convince someone of your reading is claim that God is on your side, you have the spirit of prophecy and revelation and others therefore don't. It is the height of arrogance to do so absent evidence. Thus, as I wrote, I believe the scriptures say x quickly becomes you speaking for the scriptures then speaking for God and eventually you speaking as God over us.

I am dumbfounded that someone who claims the moniker anarchist would feign exert authority absent any real justification. If his readings are of God, let God manifest that to others. The term anarchist has apparently been hijacked and used by one who would be the archon of the text. If anyone wants to know whether another has authority it will not be in claims but in the fruits/pudding. The true test of authority is whether it provides legitimate justification given through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned without compulsion that blossoms into fruits. As Jesus responded to such a question, the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, etc.

As to paper popes, what would you say should another claim the spirit told them otherwise and therefore everyone else is in error? For someone to take "their" reading of a scripture and turn it into an authoritative claim to be ruled over us and put us under their authority (because they think they understand a thing) is to make the text a paper pope. Believe what you want, follow the spirit, your heart, etc, but don't feign dominion over another and worse over the truth. This is precisely what is being attempted.

To say you believe a text and others do not because they do not conform to your exact reading is childish. If I want to be correlated in such a manner I have my weekly meetings. To run around claiming I believe it all, I have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, I am the scepter of truth and others are therefore not believing, do not have the spirit nor truth unless they accept my claims is not healthy for dialogue and would rather make a convert to put under your reading/authority.

Justin said...

"This is clearly an attempt to bring down the powers of heaven through authoritative claims when persuasion failed."
-- Maybe it's just like the scriptures, and you and I are seeing things from two completely different perspectives b/c I didn't interpret LDSA's text as a form of control/dominion/compulsion on the souls of the children of men.

"No one disputes that there are many possible readings"
-- What I took as LDSA's point was that only readings that are given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation should be considered as valid/authoritative [in terms of interpreting the scriptures]. He is claiming that his reading has come by that spirit -- but if I'm correct, then You, et al. are not making that claim -- therefore I don't really see what he wrote as claiming he has "God on his side" and "you don't".

"absent any real justification"
-- This is just silly. Does not the claim to have received a message by the spirit of prophecy and revelation not count as justification? What does anarchy have anything to do with voluntarily reading his text and voluntarily choosing to accept it or not? Is it even possible to use compulsion in a blog?

"what would you say should another claim the spirit told them otherwise and therefore everyone else is in error?"
-- I think that's exactly the scenario LDSA brought up when he wrote:

"To be plainer in writing, I mean that the record states plainly that Nephi killed Laban on the Spirit's command. The Spirit will not inspire Ron to disbelieve that while inspiring me to believe it. The Spirit will not say two completely contradictory things to two different people. "Believe it" and "disbelieve it" are opposite principles. So, it means that if Ron is claiming that the Spirit told him to disbelieve the scriptures in those parts and I am claiming that the Spirit told me to believe the scriptures in those parts, we cannot assume that both of us are receiving messages from the same Spirit. Now, I will go out on a limb and state my belief that Ron is NOT claiming that the Spirit told him to disbelieve the account of Nephi slaying Laban. However, I AM claiming that the Spirit told me to believe those parts, as well as all those parts, for the Spirit told me categorically, that the ENTIRE Book of Mormon was true. Now, if Ron comes forth and says he got his belief from the Spirit, then we've got a problem and one of us got information from a false spirit, for the Spirit of God does not inspire two people to believe and disbelieve that same passages of scripture. The Spirit confirms the truth of all things, therefore, if those passages are true, the Spirit will confirm them, not inspire someone NOT to believe in them. Does this make sense?"

J Madson said...

"I took as LDSA's point was that only readings that are given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation should be considered as valid/authoritative [in terms of interpreting the scriptures]. He is claiming that his reading has come by that spirit"

Exactly my point. He is claiming only his is valid because his is from the spirit of prophecy and revelation. This is precisely claiming God is on his side and not others. And in case others claimed God was on their side, he assures us it may be from evil spirits. This is the same nonsense Elder Oaks recently gave from the pulpit in assuring us that if we do not agree with the church's position on something it is coming from another source. I don't even want to get into the boundaries being drawn around God as if he cannot speak to us where we are at: one thing to one and a different to another. Too many on mormon blogs announce their uncorrelated status only to use it to correlate and demand others fit in their procrustean bed.

"Does not the claim to have received a message by the spirit of prophecy and revelation not count as justification?"

No. It's a claim that means nothing on its own. If you want to claim to be a prophet or God himself it would mean nothing. The proof is in the pudding and shouting your credentials is not proof but a form of attempting to assert authority without the fruits. This is precisely what anarchism rejects which is why I find the moniker humorous.

Justin said...

"Exactly my point. He is claiming only his is valid because his is from the spirit of prophecy and revelation."
-- Why would one consider an exposition on scripture valid by any other means?

"The proof is in the pudding and shouting your credentials is not proof but a form of attempting to assert authority without the fruits."
-- The gift of prophecy and revelation are two of the best gifts of the Spirit. These gifts ARE the fruit -- they are the fruit by which a person is known, or discerned.

It's funny, it's like your claiming that by virtue of NOT receiving anything you've written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation -- that *that* is evidence in your favor. Lol. Literally, I lol'd just now.

Just like my previous question, "Is it even possible to use compulsion in a blog?" -- I wonder, "Who the heck is 'yelling'?"

Anonymous said...

If we are going to question the actions of Prophets in the Book of Mormon & declare if they were right or not, then we had better be able to say we are Prophets ourselves.

For only Prophets can judge Prophets correctly.

It takes one to know one.

J Madson said...


claiming gifts, claiming the spirit, claims do not prove anything. They are claims. If I claim an angel told me my reading was true would that be enough for you? Isn't that good fruit? Of course not and if I use such claims to exert authority over you and the text solely based on those claims then Amen to whatever authority I may have had.

If you truly have such gifts then the spirit can confirm that or not independent of your claims. There is no reason to accept ldsan. claim as meaning anything other than he thinks he has something. The proof is not in his claim but whether other things external to him confirm his claims in the hearts of others. And if others discern your claims as not of the spirit, or wrong, and even give them a stupor of thought and ill feelings then maybe you should be a little more humble about thinking that your reading is the one true reading and realize it is simply your interpretation that works for you and not universal. The very fact that one must claim God is on their side and not others suggests that having failed to exert their own authority they must make theirs equal with Gods in an effort to get everyone in line or under their reading.

I have claimed nothing about my readings authority over another. It's not like anything. You assume much where you don't understand. I wouldn't seek to control others by claiming God is on my side.

Justin said...

Claims don't prove anything -- agreed. Millions of people profess a belief in Christ, however very few [none in my experience] manifest the signs given by Christ which follow them that believe.

However, the lack of a claim does say something. When faced with two expositions on scripture that lead me to two different conclusions -- when one is *claimed* to be given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and the other is not, then my only choice to make is:

Do I believe the one claimed to have come under the spirit of prophecy and revelation?

Because the other one cannot be true -- while that one has the potential for being true.

Now, if you claimed angelic ministration was the source of your message -- then that would make for an entirely different ball-game than what I described above.

But you don't -- so it doesn't.

Think of it this way -- who's more likely to be a genuine believer in Christ:
* A professed believer in Christ
* A Buddhist who does not claim to believe in Christ

True many people profess to believe in Christ, but actually do not -- but my chances are still better with the former than the latter.

Saying "God is on my side" doesn't mean that I've failed to exert my own authority over someone else -- it's that *not* interpreting scripture under the influence of the spirit of prophecy and revelation means that *you* are applying your own authority [your reason, intellect, experience, etc.] to the text -- making yourself a pope over the paper [as it were] by virtue of your logic/deduction/experience.

"I have claimed nothing about my readings" -- which is how I know that they come from the doctrines/philosophies of men [formulated in your own mind].

J Madson said...

Great! you sorted it all out. If you want someone to believe your views then make claims its from a higher spiritual authority. And then claim that others views are not and therefore everyone should shut up and listen because I have the authority. Fantastic stuff.

And lets presume to know something about others and their views because they refuse to play your authority game. Brilliant.

You know nothing. You presume to know a thing. You would demand a sign or some signal of authority. If it is ones highest impulse to be an intellectual slave, then a slave you ought to remain. Light and truth does not need the imprimatur of authority. It stand independent.

Justin said...

J, why does bringing the Spirit into play turn you off so much? When it comes to the scriptures [which were given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation] -- we cannot approach them using our own reasoning, originating from our own minds b/c that's now how they come -- they are the word of God, coming from *His* mind.

In fact, what you advocate is exactly what would create the authority-whoring that you keep trying to say is going on here. Now things become about this man's reasoning over that man's.

Only letting the Spirit be the source of information actually *removes* man out of the situation. The appeal can no longer be about me [*my* ideas, *my* writings, and *my* claims] -- but only to the claim, which must then stand or fall on its own as either true or false.

It is immoral to give advice on a subject that you are not qualified to speak on. This is why the Lord has said, “If ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach."

If you know the scriptures are true, but are not a prophet or revelator yourself, then when talking to others about it, you should just testify that you know the scriptures are true and then hand them a copy and invite them to read and come to a proper interpretation of them through their own revelations and prophecies. What you are doing is giving people your own understandings about scripture, which will always create problems -- unless you are a prophet or a revelator [which, if I'm correct, you aren't claiming to be].

If people don’t have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, then everything that they say about the scriptures are their own ideas or guesses, based on their own experiences and reasonings. The authority lies with the person themself -- so it's always best to just stop listening because a person can learn nothing from them about the scriptures.

Now -- if they claim to have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, then you should listen closely to what they say b/c it can only be one of two things:

(1) Either they are true prophets sent from God,
(2) Or they are false prophets who are trying to deceive.

A true prophet, when asked if they have the spirit of prophecy, will always answer in the affirmative. While a person just giving a non-prophetic opinion on the scriptures will not claim to have the spirit of prophecy.

So, only true prophets and deceivers will claim to operate by the gift of prophecy and revelation. So, when interpreters [like you] come along and say they make no claims to be prophets -- I can immediately discern that their interpretation does not come from the Lord. That one is easy, you see.

The work comes in when someone [like LDSA] comes along and does claim to be speaking something by the spirit of prophecy and revelation -- because now I must search the scriptures myself and ask the Lord for understanding, relying upon His Spirit for understanding and confirmation -- to know if he is being true or if he is deceiving.

It's not beating anyone over the head to claim the Spirit as the source of information for an idea. Because the burden is still on me to determine if he is telling the truth or if he is lying.

But the rule is to listen to no one’s interpretation unless you know for certain that he or she possesses that spirit and is properly qualified to expound the scriptures.

Anonymous said...

I have the gift of discernment and thought Id help out. LDSA and Justin are full of sh%t. So since no one here is a prophet I guess we can all go home now.

Toni said...

LDSA, thank you for your explanation about Laban's death. It makes sense.

Justin, I appreciate the fact that you are keeping your cool under fire. Both your words and LDSA's words "feel" like truth in this arena.

Anonymous said...


You prob missed it but others did claim that the spirit and revelation they have led them to their conclusions in those words. So you are wrong about your claims as is ldsa about that issue.

Justin said...

I made no claim about all others in the 200+ comments here Mr/Mrs Anon -- what I said still holds true if one other person has claimed to be acting as a prophet and a revelator.

Steven Lester said...

Dudes...all of this verbiage reminds me of the ancient doctrinal wars within the original Church of Jesus Christ of Former-Day Saints back in the old days in Rome and Jerusalem and Antioch. It took an Emperor to get people to sit and down and sort it out and then to decide what the New Church would look like, hence the need for a Restoration, etc. What a delightful arrogance.

I hate to tell you this, but none of you have even an inkling of what the truth is about of whether one name killed another name or what the nature of God is. You think you do, and therein is the great joke, at which even you will laugh about once you die and reside in Paradise and see everything as it truly is. Compared to the sight that you will all have there, you are virtually blind today. I hate to break this to you in your arrogance, which arrogance will just ignore my words and keep on being arrogant. "I know!" No, you don't. You only suspect. That is all.

Ron Madson said...

Steven--thank you I needed that..
My vanity requests that you/all re-consider the original post that Rock graciously allowed to be posted here in his blog. What I presented was two paths in regard to our current wars--one that we chose in reality and the other being "what could have been" if ONLY we chose a path which I believe would have been consistent with the life, teachings and example of Jesus.

Here is the core essence of what I choose to believe: I believe that there has been only only perfect story every told--the story of Jesus which culminates on the cross. He could only say "it is finished" when unto the end He followed His very teaching-- "resist not evil"--lest he become the very evil he sought to crush. He showed us how to not become the very evil that placed Him there. The topic of what was occurring there needs to be explored in another lengthy post, etc. but my point is that He provided the perfect offering and said "Come follow Me" His resurrection was the vindication, sign and token by the Father of this perfect offering. Go and do likewise and obtain a perfect resurrection.

Now, we choose every day in each of our lives and collectively alternate histories. I gave an alternate one that "could" have been in the opening post. To the extent our past and future choices are consistent with the life/teachings of Jesus of Nazareth then we have grafted onto a true vine that will bear eternal fruit. When we choose to write a lesser story or contrary scripts then we find what? We find what happened in the BOM. We find a foundational hubris in the story ("better to kill another for our benefit"--expediency) perpetuated in constant, unreconciled wars/enmity--"better to use arm flesh/violence" when threatened then engage as the Sons of Mosiah and the Anti-Nephit Lehites did in destroying their enemies through self sacrifice rather then "other" sacrifice. You can kill your some of your enemy but you cannot kill their hate through force/violence. The BOM is a story of failure with an invitation to learn from it and not repeat/embrace the foundational and cultural hubris that led inexorably to their destruction. The BOM is not a perfect story--it is a story that falls very short of a perfect story in that the pride of the Nephites ("we are right, god is on our side, we have the spirit that tells us to do such and such---right when they patterned their relations with their enemies as Jesus did his enemies--love them, pray for them, turn the other cheek--but dead wrong when they chose a lesser path/storyline which included pre-emptive attacks and force as C. Moroni engaged in at times)

to be continued...

Ron Madson said...

Now, we have choices in looking to the past and choosing (which we all do) how we read the stories of the past (whether they are literal or not --such as Job which is most likely a composite story but "true' in the sense that it is distilled, composite experiences of innumerable people that suffer unjustly). So even assuming (as I gather is the case for you) that the some or all of the stories in scriptures are composite/fictional truths or literal, we still chose what to emulate and how to read the past into the present--do we not?

So we must choose who to emulate and what and how we will live in the present tense. Ask yourself this question---if you could chose to live in a world of people of your choosing who would it be? Would it be those that believe in OT narratives that God tells them through voices and "spirit" to kill their child, or maybe whole cities of men, women and children or at times those that dissent to their political views? Those that believe that obedience and strict legal interpretation of the law (say Jehovah or found sinning as they believe God has defined it and you will be stoned) OR would you choose to live with those that seek to emulate the very words and behavior of Jesus---not judging others, loving all mankind--the least, the outcasts, and even one's enemies?

So, yes we read the texts differently. How could we not? Jesus came and His words, example and very life was a walking/talking/living denunciation of those that were cock sure certain that they knew His mind and will and He came and said they were clueless and missed the whole point.

So for me personally I choose to use the teachings, words and life of Jesus as a filter/lens to discern all other texts--literal, figurative, parable, doctrine, or fictional--as in Job and perhaps other composite stories). If they are inconsistent with Jesus of Nazareth's teaching and acts then I see such stories as being flawed--including the opinions/beliefs that come out of the story line not linked to the true vine.

Ron Madson said...


So for me personally I choose to use the teachings, words and life of Jesus as a filter/lens to discern all other texts--literal, figurative, parable, doctrine, or fictional--as in Job and perhaps other composite stories). If they are inconsistent with Jesus of Nazareth's teaching and acts then I see such stories as being flawed--including the opinions/beliefs that come out of the story line not linked to the true vine.

I chose Jesus's story--it is an act of faith I know. And in so doing, I see all other stories, actors (including their lines in their script) as being to varying degrees flawed (even surprise those we have idolized like Nephi and C. Moroni). Others read into their stories an absolute perfection which I think perpetuates the very hubris that the actors were scripted to demonstrate their inadequacies rather then provide us with an invitation to emulate their errors. The only true/perfect actor/performance was that of Jesus of Nazareth. All others are to be learned from.

I agree with you Steven, that we all "see through a glass darkly"--what can any or us really know with perfect metaphysical certainty? We must exercise faith in something. The only light I try to focus on anymore is that of Jesus as I sit at the end of this dark cave called mortality. To the extent any scripture, teaching, policy, doctrine is consistent with His words and life and moves me closer to Him, then I choose to embrace it as best as I can. To the extent any voices (including actors in sacred texts) offer a lesser formula or one that even appears incongruous with "what Jesus would do" then I choose to not use it as an example inspired from a being whose word and life stand in stark opposition to their words and deeds.

I might be deluded, deceived, "understand nothing", be accused of following the "philosophies' of men, etc.(do we not all fall short of His mind, will perspective? and will we not all stand amazed when embraced with His full love and understanding and then wonder how we could so blind, and hardhearted to each other?) but I will try to see the world through the words, teachings and example of Jesus and judge the sacred texts accordingly. I will take my chances on my approach to how I read and see the world, and if I am wrong then the Jesus I have come to know spiritually and through experience I am convinced for forgive my naivete for in the end "he is the keeper of the gate and employeth NO servant there" --no other judge.

And I believe his love is unconditional and complete. that is what my spiritual experiences confirm. And I am convinced that He is not worked up over doctrinal purity/exactness/proper readings, but rather concerned as to how we might use such readings(claiming authority which can be another form of compulsion) to justify harming others while using His name in vain.

~Clint~ said...

Although this question was not directed to me, I would like to address it:
Justin Said: "J, why does bringing the Spirit into play turn you off so much?"

What this whole conversation makes incredibly clear to me, is that what people call the spirit is not a reliable means for conveying truth. I could state that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the papyrus for the "Book of Abraham" were translated correctly by Joseph Smith, because the spirit has manifest it to me (a stance I once took) ...

However, now I can state that this feeling of this spirit was not truth, because I factually know that it is not translated correctly, and it is not what it claims to be, you can find some good information of this here.

Justin says, of the scriptures: "we cannot approach them using our own reasoning"

This is the kind of statement that I always fear will lead people to preform actions that they would normally consider morally reprehensible as long as there is some scriptural context and/or a feeling of justification from the spirit.

Am I OK with the idea of someone feeling it is OK to kill people who break covenants? Certainly not! Whether they are open covenants like baptism and and its constituent ordinance of the sacrament (which I am pretty sure if you read closely you will realize no-one can “literally" keep) or hidden covenants like the those in the temple for which you have no advance notice of what we will be agreeing to.

continued in next post ...

~Clint~ said...

continued from previous post

The belief of direct information from "The Spirit" often relies on the premise that one is more worthy than others, since we must have a way to dismiss claims that are opposed to our own. I see this stance strongly invoked in Justin’s comment: “Claims don't prove anything -- agreed. Millions of people profess a belief in Christ, however very few [none in my experience] manifest the signs given by Christ which follow them that believe.”

Based on reading some posts on ldsanarchy I will assume LDSA and Justin consider themselves exceptions to this. So we have 1 or 2 people in a several million that can function by the spirit, while the rest of us are deluded if we try to use the spirt, and/or inferior if we try to use mechanisms like critical thinking, logic or empathy?

Sad to say, but anytime someone starts trying to reconcile ALL scriptures LITERALLY they will either go crazy with internal torment until they stop trying (like me), or come to conclusions about the will of God that would seem reprehensible to any person using basic empathy and proportionality to determine what course of action should be taken for a given situation.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely incredible & mind boggling how some can actually think themselves to be so above even Prophets of the BoM & judge their acts as less than perfect. Prophets like Nephi, & Moroni especially, who it was said of him:

"If all men had been, and were and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

Those are powerful & telling words. What man living today can say they are worthy of such said about them?

I have never heard of anyone living today who could have that said of them.

Can those who tell on themselves & reveal who they really are & aren't, by criticizing the Prophets & their actions, really say that such greatness, goodness & perfection could be said of them?

I do not believe they could.

Anonymous said...

how incredible and mind-boggling is it exactly?

Anonymous said...

The year 2001 should not be repeated

Anonymous said...

I think a major error in this article is to equate the church with the US. There are more non US church members and you would do well to remember that.
In fact, it could not have escaped your notice that one of the current First Presidency is a Czech born German and owes no allegience whatsoever to the US government or constitution.
I am an Englishman and can confirm the church looks very different from over here. You guys need to look beyond the horizon.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous (Englishman) January 14, 2013 at 2:52pm:

I think you misunderstood the article. I am sure Bro. Madsen is well aware that more than one-half of the LDS people reside outside the USA. This fact is irrelevant to the point of the article.

The 98th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants is the Lord's requirements for going to war. It outlines our responsibilities, as His followers, in regards to how we should react to situations which could lead to war. The point of the article is that we as a people (including Church leaders) generally did the opposite of what the Lord asked us to do. In fact Pres. Hinkley went to Washington and sign a document in support of the War on Terror on behalf of the LDS people. I am not aware of any General Authorities who came out against the War on Terror, with the exception of Elder Nelson. He later recanted because of the controversy his words created.

The fact is, this article is for all LDS people. The 98th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants is for all people and not just USA-LDS people. Read verse 38 below and compare it with your copy of the D&C.

"Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me." (D&C 98:38)

We did not come anywhere near meeting the Lord's requirements. If you think we did, show us how.

Kristine said...

It's clear that you have the talent to write, as does Rock. Although I follow no man and look to the Lord for my inspiration, I haven't the ability to articulate my thoughts as you, Josh, Ron, and others do. I find it interesting that you don't like the trite statements of Hear! Hear! If they are similar to my own thoughts and better penned by someone else, I reserve the right to heartily agree. I frequently find these articles to be a second or third "witness" to some of my inspiration and I am thrilled.

LDS Anarchist said...

Okay, after 2 years, I have finally read this entire post! And I can now say that I am in agreement with almost all of it. The only paragraph that doesn't sit well with me is the following:

"Like the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, we have rejected the continued presence of God and his ministering angels and have chosen mortal icons to lead us as we seek to conquer Canaan—a conquest that had the audacity to teach that there is spiritual immunity when we kill every man, woman and child who stands in the way of our “freedom”—and that when we commit these abominations, it is God’s will."

The above intimates that God did not command the Israelites to slaughter every living soul during the conquest of Canaan, but that this act was abominable in the eyes of God, committed under color of commandment, given through uninspired mortals. But to take such a view, we'd have to reject the words spoken to Moses as divine:

"In the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded” (Deut. 20:16-17).

and we'd have to rejects Nephi's testimony that the Lord's strength and approbation was upon the Israelites and against the Canaanites:

"And after they had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction.

"And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

"Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

"Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it." (1 Nephi 17:32-35)

and we'd have to reject the Lord's words in D&C 98 that He has power to command His people "to go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people." When this occurs, that nation, kindred, tongue or people is "delivered into their hands." His people become "the hands" of the Lord, by which He executes His judgments upon sinful nations. This means that the enemy nation MUST BE SLAIN, because of the commandment and judgments of the Lord:

"Then I, the Lord, would GIVE UNTO THEM A COMMANDMENT, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people."

So, the idea that genocide can never be commanded by the Lord is not scriptural. See also this:

Yahweh War and the Conquest of Canaan

Anonymous said...

God commanded against killing of the innocent. Thus any revelation that commands the killing of the innocent proves immediately false, even if it comes from prophets. We don't even have to think about it. Joseph Smith even knew this.

Even God cannot command the killing of innocent women and children. God has to follow eternal law and that means killing of the innocent is never justified by mortal man.

So, either Moses was wrong & deceived by false revelation from the adversary to kill innocents, like Joseph Smith was many times, as he even admitted, (for prophets aren't perfect) OR, the Bible isn't translated correctly and God really never commanded such things, but people later justified it all by saying God commanded it. Just like Brigham Young tried to justify polygamy by saying God commanded it.

Also, Moses didn't seem to be even near a perfect prophet either, as showed in other aspects of his life. So it's easy to see he could have been deceived.

Abraham appears to have been deceived also, for God would also not command a father to kill his innocent son. That must have been revelation from the Adversary, which Abraham fell for because he had lost the Spirit from living polygamy, etc.

If God could give contrary revelations, then there would be no way to judge false revelation from true revelation, our own or a prophet's.

If the Book of Mormon teaches that Moses & Abraham were commanded by God to do those things, then we have to assume it's wrong too, for it is not a perfect book and even the BoM prophets weren't perfect, they also could have fallen for these false stories about Moses and Abraham.

Or, it's possible that the Book of Mormon is not even true or from God but something Joseph Smith wrote somehow. But I believe it's more likely that BoM prophets were just wrong and deceived like all even 'true' prophets seem to be in some areas.

Kevin said...

Eight months after 9/11 I'd nurtured a special hatred for the terrorists long enough and decided to try the way of God. I prayed for him to forgive the accused 9/11 perpetrators. I saw these men in my mind's eye happy and growing toward God. After I finished praying I had the sweetest, tenderest feeling come over me and I knew that I didn't need to waste another second's worth of bitterness against these men.

Having experienced that tender mercy of the spirit it struck me as remarkably ill-advised when Bush mounted a case for wars of agression in Afghanistan and Iraq. It creeped me out when folks in church would pray for the success of our armed forces in the cause of preserving our freedoms. It just didn't wash for me.

Fast-forward twelve years. I'd all but forgotten about 9/11 when I ran across a video from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth declaring that whatever happened, the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed from the impacts of 737 airliners. They suggest the towers could have been destroyed by explosives. It still didn't completely makes sense but I found myself agreeing with the architects and engineers that the official story bore little causual connection to the reality of what happened. From there I ran across the work of Dr. Judy Wood who tenatiously examined the physical evidence of 9/11 and came to believe that the towers were turned to dust with an energy beam weapon. It's an outrageous, tantalyzing theory but no more so than the official tale proffered by the goverment.

There are numerous folks on the web who believe 9/11 was a false flag operation, similar in concept and result to the Nazis setting fire to the German parliament building as a way to galvanize popular support against the communists and in favor of a strong savior in the person of Adolf Hitler. Remarkably, three years before 9/11 the Russian miliatry is accused of the same tactic in blowing up appartment buildings in three Russian cities--which paved the way for Vladimir Putin to emerge as a strong savior and the Russians launching a war of agression on Chechnya for the second time.

In this view of the story, fearing that the peace beginning to bloom at the end of the Cold War would diminish their extraordinary war profiteering, the US military-industrial complex and the neo-cons running the US goverment at the time conspired to destroy the towers and blame it on supposed Islamic terrorists. The events of 9/11 alarmed Americans and made Bush's wars of agression seem like the patriotic thing to do. The 3000-page Patriot Act emerged instantly fully formed like the Buddha emerging from the hip of his mother. Remarkably, whole sections of the this law were lifted almost word-for-word from the document that set up the Russian gulags.

9/11 and the wars of agression that have and will ensue smells like the conditions of the last days that Jesus Christ showed to the prophet Mormon as recorded in Mormon chapter 8. This also brings to mind Joseph Smith's prophecy recorded by Mosiah Hancock that, " The United States will spend her strength and means warring in foreign lands until other nations will say, “Let’s divide up the lands of the United States,” then the people of the U.S. will unite and swear by the blood of their fore-fathers, that the land shall not be divided." (Autobigraphy of Mosiah Hancock).

We are in a pickle, folks. God doesn't bless wars of agression. At some point agression will probably come looking for us. In the meantime the US is spending two hundred times as much on our military as the entire rest of the world put together. Conservatives whine about spending billions of dollars helping poor Americans while the US military and its intelligence apparatus consumes trillions of dollars with nothing to show for it but debt, death and suffering. Have I forgiven the US military-industrial complex its predations on the citizens of the world? Yes, but it felt hopeless. There was no feeling of peace following that prayer.

Kevin said...

In light of Ron's essay I was struck like a brick dropped on a toe by President Hinkley's conference address a month after 9/11, 'The Times in Which We Live.'

Yes, this most beloved of modern presidents of the Church™ counsels us to be firm in our hope and persistent in our good works. But in light of the growing 9/11 truth movement, Hinkley's synopsis of the events are doubly damning: "For the first time since we became a nation, the United States has been seriously attacked on its mainland soil. But this was not an attack on the United States alone. It was an attack on men and nations of goodwill everywhere. It was well planned, boldly executed, and the results were disastrous. It is estimated that more than 5,000 innocent people died. Among these were many from other nations. It was cruel and cunning, an act of consummate evil."

If you believe as many are coming to believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by the US government as the consumate false flag operation then we have a perfect match for Mormon and Moroni's indictment of we the proud and cunning Gentiles. It's a pity he didn't get a revelation on the whole thing.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I recall tuning into conference for Hinckley's talk, and like many others, expecting to hear a firm denunciation of this most unconstitutional and unscriptural reaction that the US had engaged in.

It was a clear act of retribution against a people who had done us no harm whatsoever. It was clear even back then that the Iraqis had not been implicated in the events of 9/11, yet Hinckley gave his tacit approval of their mass murders.

The message we were fed from the so-called "prophet" was an equivocal dodge of his responsibilities, if not as a prophet, at least as the leader of a major religious denomination. It was not at all what any of us should have expected from the Lord's mouthpiece.

As time has passed, and the evidence that 9/11 was a false flag operation has become irrefutable, Hinckley's words stand as an embarrassment to us all. He deferred in that speech to the wisdom of the politicians, who he said were better informed on these matters than he was. (Better informed than the putative Prophet of the Lord?!)

Gordon B. Hinckley may have been labeled a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, but his background in Public Relations showed him for what he really was: a PR hack reluctant to speak truth to power when it mattered, which is the historical role of a prophet.

That talk continues to stand as a stain on the Church, and we should all be ashamed we ever sustained him in his calling.

BK said...

Amen Rock. Great comment. So true.

One more huge red flag to add to the tall pile of other red flags of obvious 'falsehoods about' and 'false prophets leading' the Church, which most members & leaders want to ignore.

David Conley Nelson said...

9/11 has served to obscure another tragic event that happened on that date. Everyone should remember America's first 9/11--September 11, 1957, the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Unknown said...

Shortly after I left Vietnam a very dear friend was killed. About five years ago, I looked up his name, Paul Coe, on the Vietnam memorial website. The website contained the name of Paul's widow and her E-mail address. I sent her an E-mail telling her what a good friend and all around good man he was. She wrote back telling me that there was never a day that went by without her mourning him, that he had brought so much joy and happiness to her in the two short years she was married to him. War brings misery and death not only to the individual soldier, but also to the parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, children and friends who dies. D&C 87:1Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls...

R. Metz said...

This Ron Madson article is scripture. Anyway since the lds leadership and the majority of the people have departed from the Lord we have to produce our own revelation.
Refering at and comparing with the nazi-Germany period is correct. The same phenomenon was/is going on; I saw Bush speak on tv, after the 9/11 attack, and I saw his psychopatic behavior and idiotic utterings.
There is more to come I think. This madness is far from over. These days we see one of the results: hundereds of thousands of people coming in from the South into Europe every year, almost one million are expected this year only (2015). A million! Imagine. I see an increase of wickedness in the world today, and these wars are part of it. So we have to be prepared. It is good to have like-minded people around us, if not in our families and religious community then at least on this forum. We have to warn each other, certainly in our church meetings. Thanks for this post. The comments are heartwarming also.

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