Monday, June 25, 2012

Who You Callin' Apostate?

Sometimes I have to just wryly smile and shake my head when someone stumbles upon this blog, then writes in to tell me I'm an apostate.  I don't get it. This site is called Pure Mormonism, after all, not Pure Anti-Mormonism.

Anyone bothering to spend twenty minutes on here should be readily able to grasp the gist of what drives me: I'm a devout believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through Joseph Smith.  But since my religion relies for its claims to legitimacy upon divine revelation and nothing else, I am also skeptical of the many false doctrines that have accreted over the years like stubborn barnacles on a ship's hull.

Mormonism consists of a lot of wonderful teachings that come to us directly from God. But many of us have also come to embrace an assortment of "foolish traditions and vain assertions" that, over time and through constant repetition, have mingled with the divine until often we can't tell the true from the false.  These traditions are like urban legends that refuse to die. I like to get in there and scrape those barnacles off so I can see the shiny surface underneath. That's kind of become my thing.

Since Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, and even Jesus Christ himself prophesied that this Church would stray from its mission and become polluted in our day, I would think it would be the desire of all good latter-day Saints to be on guard against the faith being diluted. But based on some of the feedback I sometimes get, perhaps not. In the comment section of my most recent piece, someone wrote, "you sound like a pure Mormon-Hater," and an angry woman who engaged me on Facebook recently insisted my blog is "driving people out of the church."

That latter accusation is news to me. I have yet to hear from one of these people who has been driven out of the church by something I've written.

On the other hand, I have received quite a few communications from members who have admitted they were considering abandoning the faith until something they read here persuaded them to stay. One particular email I treasure came from a young man from my old ward whom I knew since he was a child.  Now a teenager, he had had his fill of the Mormon church and decided that atheism suited him better.  But after following my blog for several months, he was persuaded that there were some things about the religion of his youth that still rang true for him, and he credited me with persuading him to let God have another chance at him.

Anyone giving my work here even a bit of a look would clearly see that I love the gospel of the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, the teachings of Joseph Smith, and the revelations God provided through him.  Me? an apostate?  You would have to redefine the word.

I have engaged in many fruitless discussions with these types who accuse me of being "out of harmony with the Church."  They would never see it this way, but by my way of thinking, those guys are the real apostates. 

Since the word "apostasy" has developed such a nasty stigma within the church, let's look at that word as it was understood at the time of the founding of our faith.  According to Noah Webster's original 1828 dictionary, apostasy "in its original sense, applied to one who has abandoned his religion."  

Well, that isn't me. I haven't abandoned my religion. I embrace it. I spend more time immersed in my religion now than at any time since my mission. I love the history, I love the theology; I love it all.  I'm all in.
  
Apparently my dedication to the gospel isn't the issue with some people. Through my conversations with those who accuse me of apostasy, the thing that seems to frustrate them more than anything is that I don't appear to show what one commenter called "proper loyalty to the Church." 

Well, he's got me there. I don't profess "loyalty to the Church." And for one very good reason: I don't really know what the heck "the Church" is anymore.

Definitions, Please 
As LDS cultural anthropologist Damon Smith recently demonstrated, I am not alone in my confusion.  This term  "the Church," in modern Mormon parlance, has become virtually undefinable.  Get a group of latter-day saints in a room together discussing the Church, and it's possible every one of them using that term will have in mind a vastly different meaning.  One person may be referring to the local congregation, while another uses it to refer to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Another may have in mind the First Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve, and still another, when referencing "the Church," is actually thinking about the LDS religion as a whole with all its facets, tenets, teachings, and doctrines. Another may simply be thinking of Utah culture.  Clearly we could use a better definition.

Well, it turns out we have one.

Almost never these days will you find a modern latter-day Saint using the term as it was originally defined by the Lord himself in D&C 10: 67.  In that section He defined "my church" as simply all those who repent and come unto Him. That's right. The true church is little more than a group of people with shared religious values. Nothing much more complicated than that.

I love the church of Jesus Christ. Our paths through life are strewn with obstacles along the way, and the Lord in his wisdom knows the walk will be much more bearable when we are able to make the journey with others who share our values and beliefs.  That's why "the church," this group of equals, this community of fellow believers, is such a blessing in my life.  Having like-minded people share the journey with me has been an assurance during those times when God seemed distant, a reminder that I was not alone.  The church exists so we can share each other's burdens.

But sadly, the Lord's definition of the Church is not what my critics usually have in mind when they use the term.  They are usually referring to the entire mish-mash, especially the General Authorities headquartered in Salt Lake City. To them, "the Church" embodies the group of men who manage and administer the daily temporal affairs of the Church.  And these critics usually demand -and I mean demand- that I cease my questioning and fall prostrate at the feet of these mortals.

Sorry, no can do, because I've read the rest of  D&C 10.  It turns out that just after Jesus defines the true meaning of his church -in the very next verse- He denounces those who would define his church or his gospel in the way some of my challengers have. Here it is:
Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church."
If I'm reading this correctly, anyone who defines "the church" in any way other than the simple definition Jesus just gave it is, as He puts it, "against me."

You know, an apostate.

Oops.

Don't Worry, There's Still Hope
 In truth, we are all apostatizing. All the time. After all, we're only human.

Usually, being in apostasy simply means we've diverted slightly from our intended goal. That's why repentance is a daily process; it doesn't always have to be performed in sack cloth and ashes. If our foot inadvertently slips off the curb, it's usually no big problem to step back on the sidewalk and continue on our way  We simply resolve to learn from our mistakes, make a slight course correction,  and we're back on visual.  Repentance doesn't always have to be that big a deal. It's often just a series of minor course corrections.

Lucky for us, the Book of Mormon provides a guide to help us recognize when we're headed into apostasy: the dream of Lehi.  We all know the story, but some have misinterpreted a pertinent part of it: that part about the iron rod.

The short version goes like this: In his dream, Lehi saw a vast field. In the center of the field was a beautiful tree bearing some incredibly good tasting fruit. We learn that this fruit represents the love of God, and it tastes spectacular. It's like nothing else in the universe.  Lehi sees other people in his dream walking toward that tree. That's where everyone was headed, to get a taste of some of that amazing fruit.

(I have heard some members assume the tree and its fruit represented heaven, or the celestial kingdom, or the reward at the end of our lives.  But that does not appear to be the proper interpretation. The fruit represents the love of God, something within reach of all of us at any time while we're here, and which we can partake of daily if we want.  We can take a break from life, be nourished and refreshed, then continue on. That tree is always there; all we have to do to experience that love is reach out and accept it.  Neither is the tree described as being a great distance away.  When Lehi saw it, he just went over and partook of the fruit. I take it that wherever we are or whatever we're doing, if we want to, we can take a moment and bask in the love of God at any time.)

To get to that tree, you have to stay on the path that leads to it, otherwise you could wander off, get lost, or simply overshoot the tree in the dark.  Running parallel to the path, Lehi noticed a rod made of iron
-a handrail, if you will.  Mists of darkness rose up around the people on the path, causing many to wander off, most not even realizing they were no longer even heading in the right direction.  But those who clung to the rod were able to make it over to the tree and enjoy the sweet, delicious fruit.

Now, there is a lot more to that dream, but this much will suffice. We learn that the handrail, the rod of iron, has only one interpretation.  Nephi tells us it stands for "the word of God."  In order for us to experience the love of God, the safest way of reaching it is by grabbing hold and clinging to the word of God.

Note that the iron rod does not represent "the Church" (whatever meaning one might give to that term), nor Church leaders, general authorities, or any man or group of men. The only safe guide is the word of God.

Anyone letting go of that handrail and clinging instead to another person in hopes of being guided through the darkness is likely to end up in a ditch. The blind leading the blind, and all that.

Despite what any of us have been told, there is no place in the word of God that teaches there is safety in "following the leaders."  Indeed, the scriptures specifically warn against depending upon what the Lord calls "the arm of flesh."  God did not send you down here then assign leaders to be in charge of you. We must "work out our own salvation" by relying only on Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  This popular idea that the only true path to safety is in "following the Brethren" simply cannot be found anywhere in the revealed word of God.

For a group of people who claim a religion based solely on direct revelation, we Mormons sure seem ready to adopt a whole set of beliefs that can't be traced to any scripture or revelation. In my discussions with critics who insist I am in apostasy because my understanding of the gospel is not in alignment with their own, I find them often asserting the following points as if they were actual, revealed doctrines:
It is impossible for the president of the Church to ever lead the church astray.
This Church can never fall into apostasy.
The only sure safety is in following the leaders of the Church.
Whatever the Brethren speak over the pulpit at conference is the same as if it came from the mouth of God.
I can find no place in scripture to support any of these contentions; indeed, the standard works are replete with passages that would clearly refute them.  Moroni lamented that we in the latter days would pollute the holy church of God, and Jesus himself assures us that the church in the latter days was indeed capable of failing.

Whenever I ask to be provided a citation from the standard works that might support statements like those above, I am given instead endless quotes from general authorities; quotes that don't purport to be direct revelations from God, but are accepted by these people as such merely on the basis of their having been uttered by men with high callings and titles.  Unless God said it, or the speaker claims to be relaying a direct revelation, such utterances do not constitute the word of God himself, no matter how much you may want to believe they do.

Joseph Smith taught that we need not heed the opinion of any professor of religion that contradicts scripture or previous revelation.

I have been asked by some of these challengers if I believe "the Church" is capable of apostasy.  Allow me to defer here to a succinct reply given by my friend Mike Ellis to that same question. His feelings on the topic mirror my own, and he puts it better than I could have:
"I do not believe in a black and white apostasy as some do. I believe that there are varying degrees of apostasy and that all of us to some degree or another are in apostasy. That is the nature of the fallen man. I believe that the L-DS Sect of the church which was restored by Joseph Smith has rejected many of the principles restored by Joseph Smith. And in many cases prefers to live according to corporate policies and traditions rather than the previously given revelations. I do not believe that all light and truth is gone from the L-DS sect.
"I believe that the One Mighty and Strong will come to set in order the house of God and arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints, as prophesied by Joseph Smith. In order for this to occur it necessitates that the church must be out of order and we can clearly see that the 1844 secession crisis was a major cause of this.

"I do not believe that God has withdrawn his previous revelations and that he still wants us (or me at least, since I cannot speak for others) to obey them. I believe we must cast off the past hundred or so years of traditions, dogma, and creeds, and return to the basic, simple, pure teachings of the restoration. After we do that, then we can move forward again and receive those things God has in store for this people, including the establishment of Zion."
It's clear to me that Brother Ellis has not apostatized from his religion.  He has not turned away from it. On the contrary, he desires more than anything to see his fellow believers return to those fundamental teachings that were evident in the church at the time of its founding and which appear to be missing today.

In his view -and in mine- the real apostates in the church are those who have supplanted the foundational religion with a different one; a religion that insists that obedience to earthly authority is the greatest measure of one's faithfulness to God. That is what apostasy looks like to me: a turning away from the accepted word of God in favor of clinging to the arm of flesh.

Brother Ellis happens to be the proprietor of the blog Zomarah, where he recently posted a side-by-side comparison chart showing the similarities of the Great Apostasy of the early Christian church with the direction the modern LDS Church seems to be heading today.  He is not alone. In recent weeks the bloggernacle has come alive with essays lamenting the onset of the Next Great Apostasy, and proving how the scriptures have been warning us of that probability.

In the movie V For Vendetta, the title character addresses the people of Great Britain, saying, "And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?"  Something very similar could be said about the LDS Church, as growing numbers of members are awakening to a sense that something just doesn't feel kosher anymore in The Lord's True Church.

The internet is now overflowing with articles not only proving a modern apostasy is taking place right under our noses, but that our scriptures and teachings foretold it and warned us about it. You can see examples of this ongoing discussion here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  And that is only a small sampling I gleaned off the top of my head. There are many, many more.  Clearly, there is a growing sense of unease in the church, a feeling that all is not going so well in Zion after all.

You will note that these bloggers rarely concern themselves with those among us who, for various reasons, have simply decided to leave the church.  Although they certainly fit the dictionary definition of apostasy, they are not a threat to those who remain. In my opinion, their departure is symptomatic of blowback; of the unintended consequences resulting from the institutional Church having drifted from its core fundamentals.

The real apostates, the ones who pose an immediate danger to the community, are those who are undermining the church from within by advocating positions that are doctrinally indefensible. They simply cannot be supported anywhere in scripture. These are the "True Believers;" they who have set themselves up as defenders of the faith, yet exert themselves not in defending Christ, but in angrily attacking those whose focus is on Christ.  Rather than being watchmen on the wall, they prefer to expend their energies rebuking the watchmen.
 
Simply Superstitious
"The church," which was widely understood in Joseph Smith's day to mean nothing more than a group of people with shared religious values, today represents, in the minds of many, something entirely separate from that body.  Indeed, these days members of the Lord's "church" (lower case "c" as defined in D&C 10; i.e. the members) are now by and large considered subservient to "the Church" (which I differentiate here with a capital "C" in order to avoid confusing the two).  The "church" and the "Church(TM)" have now separated into two separate classes, the leaders and the followers. As someone once explained the roles of this dichotomy (a leader -no surprise), "leaders lead, and followers are expected to follow."

The once egalitarian LDS Church is today manifested by a top-down hierarchy consisting of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, numerous Assistants to the Twelve, the First Quorum of the Seventy and the Second Quorum of the Seventy along with their armies of staff and assistants, all housed in a 28 story skyscraper that is also home to teams of corporate lawyers, scribes, and public relations experts.  It is my detached indifference to this institutional, corporate body that for some reason most annoys my critics.

This idea that the Church's "leaders" exist to hold our hands and guide our every step is contrary to the purposes to which God ordained them, and unsuitable to a people whose doctrine teaches that within every one of us lies the potential for personal godhood. These Church officers are ordained to very specific purposes, none of which is to give you your marching orders or to embody "safety from the storm." That role is reserved to Christ alone. The Brethren, though often inspired, are not what Nephi was referring to when he told us the interpretation of the rod of iron. The Brethren are human, just like you and me, and just as fallible. As Joseph Smith declared, "a prophet is a prophet only when he speaks as a prophet."

Sadly, many members of the church today believe the prophet is a prophet every time he opens his mouth, and often even when he doesn't.  This has led to a disconcerting cult of personality within the church that is equaled only by some Catholics with their pope, as typified by FollowTheProphet.net, whose webmaster encourages members to write in and report every time they happen to get a glimpse of President Monson in public.  Typical of the kind of embarrassing idolatry presented on that website is this entry that breathlessly announced, "A family had the chance to go to the airport on Saturday to see President Monson’s jet fly in to Arizona."

The purpose of the institutional Church in our lives is similar to that of the role of our parents. It provides a certain kind of sustenance for us when we are in our spiritual infancy.  But the idea is to quickly get to the point in our spiritual growth where we no longer need someone holding our hand when we cross the street.

In his famous conference talk "The Gospel and the Church" (the original, inspired version, not the one that was later changed and redacted), Elder Poelman reminds us that "as individually and collectively we increase our knowledge, acceptance, and application of gospel principles, we become less dependent on Church programs. Our lives become gospel centered."

The mantra we hear so often today to "follow the prophet-don't go astray" is a 20th century invention that was completely unknown in Joseph Smith's day.  It would not have entered Brother Joseph's mind to have anyone "follow" him for their own safety, and none of his counselors ever took to the stand at conference and taught that principle. The very idea would have appalled the Saints who looked to Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.

In his new new book, The Most Dangerous Superstition, Larken Rose reminds us that one way to tell whether you are a child or an adult is to examine your dependency on authority figures:
"Though many imagine teaching obedience to "authority" to be synonymous with teaching right and wrong, the two are actually opposites...In fact, teaching obedience drastically hinders the social and mental development of children. After having grown up in a situation where they were controlled by others, rewarded for obedience and punished for disobedience, if they ever escape that situation they will have little or no training, and little or no experience or practice, in how to think or act from morals or principles.

"If their upbringings have been molded mainly by controlling "authority" figures, people become existentially lost if that control vanishes. In short, people trained to obey "authority" do not know how to be independent, sovereign, responsible human beings, because all their lives they have been intentionally and specifically trained to not use their own judgment.

"In a world without the "authority" myth, on the other hand, children could be taught to be moral instead of merely obedient." 
 Certainly we should be willing to pay heed to the prophet of God when he is relaying a message directly from God.  That is, after all, what a prophet is for.  But when was the last time you remember that ever taking place?  Where are the revelations? 

How Long Will This House Remain Unoccupied?
Almost thirty years ago President Benson reminded us that early on in this church, the Lord placed the entire church under condemnation, and he told us why He did. President Benson further announced that this condemnation has not been lifted, nor will it be until we properly repent.

What exactly does it mean to be under condemnation? Well, what does it mean when a house is condemned? It means the house is not fit for the owner to live in.

We like to claim that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church, and that the Church is continually guided by Him through direct revelation.  But is this still true? Where is the owner of this house, and why doesn't he seem to inhabit it anymore?

I would submit that Jesus loves what he calls "my house," but because of our collective sins he has been forced to become an absentee owner.

Certainly God still reveals himself to us as individuals. But isn't it curious that the very persons we are encouraged by our vain traditions to look to for collective guidance from the Lord never seem to offer any new communications from Him?  Wouldn't the absence of continuous, regular institutional revelation be a clue that something is terribly wrong in the Church today?  Shouldn't the very fact that the Lord has told us the Church as a whole is under condemnation be enough to give us pause and a reason to re-examine our collective assumptions?

And shouldn't it occur to us that perhaps, just maybe, one of the things God has told us to repent of when he said we are not taking seriously "the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written," might actually be to rely on Him rather than on our "leaders"?

We Mormons are very keen on saying we should rely on the word of God for inspiration and on saying we believe in seeking guidance from the spirit.  But do we regularly "do according to what [God] has written"?

No.  More often we take the easy way out and trust our leaders to tell us what we need to do. Rarely do we go home and take their words before the Lord, asking for confirmation through the Holy Ghost whether everything we just heard is true and valid for us.  Instead we just trust them.  They are the leaders, after all, while we are just the simple rank and file members.

Most of the time the counsel we receive from these men is sound, but sometimes it is not.  Regardless, the word of God commands us to seek confirmation from the Holy Ghost regarding everything preached from the pulpit. If, however, we have been conditioned to believe that the "authorities" are always inspired and have got it all covered, why should we even bother checking in with heaven?

I believe this over-reliance on Church leaders has stunted our ability to be guided by the spirit. Nephi taught us that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to show us all that we should do.  He didn't say it was the role of the prophet, or of his counselors, or the apostles, the seventies, or anyone else. Only the Holy Ghost.

I take my orders from the word of God, then seek confirmation through the Holy Ghost.  That is how one maneuvers through the mists of darkness.

The Apostasy Trick
Of course, this kind of talk is blasphemy to the "Follow the Prophet" crowd.  "How dare you," they demand, "ignore the Lord's anointed?"

Well, I don't ignore them.  I simply take their pronouncements with a grain of salt until I have it confirmed whether those promulgations were sent forth from the mouth of God.  If not, I may still find their opinions and teachings beneficial and worth considering, but so are many of the pronouncements of other religious leaders such as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Alfred Edersham.  I may abide by the suggestions of any of these men, but I'm not necessarily going to set my watch by them.

In short, I don't worship idols. Demi-gods may have their place in Greek literature, but they don't belong in the church of Jesus Christ.

Here is LDS theologian Denver Snuffer on the reason why Satan is able to successfully keep us from recognizing when we are slipping into apostasy:
"The trick to successfully pulling off an apostasy is to distract people into thinking there hasn't been one. The "believers" need to think everything remains intact.

"So the issue of "apostasy" becomes a discussion about individuals and individual conformity to the expectations of the group. The subject can then be a topic that polite, fellow-believers can discuss without ever searching into the overall condition of a fallen people.

"The Jews mocked efforts to tell them they were apostate. They thought it was humorous when Lehi preached the idea. (1 Ne. 1: 19.) Because they were so very religious, so devout, so unassailably active in following God, the idea was absolutely laughable that they were apostate.

"The Apostle Paul said the problem would begin at the top with the shepherds, who would teach them falsehoods as truth. (Acts 20: 29-30.) These new leaders would have only a form of godliness, without any real power to save. (2 Tim. 3: 5.)

"The Christian world adopted another, false replacement of the original church. It became so universal it was hailed as the Universal, or Catholic Church. It ruled from the rivers to the ends of the earth as the only official form of the faith established by Christ.

"To pull this off Satan must be concerned with the "macro" institutional failure, not just individuals falling away. It is the small, minor spirits who follow Lucifer who engage in petty tempting of individuals to sin. Success for the Adversary is not accomplished in petty enterprises. He wants failure for the whole, so none can be saved. For that, apostasy must be universal.

"He has never succeeded by admitting there has been a failure. The trick is always to have the apostasy come unnoticed, unacknowledged and from within. (See 3 Ne. 16: 10.)

"The topic is worth studying. When apostasy is noticed, acknowledged and exposed, then it is possible to repent and return. Until then, it progresses apace, discarding and rejecting what might have been given. All the while being happily ignored by "believers" whose devotion will not save.

"Since Christ predicted that at some point the latter-day gentiles would reject the fullness (Ibid.), we probably should consider what the Book of Mormon has to say about the subject.

"To finish the thought about the "trick to apostasy" the D&C has a remarkable statement. Lucifer succeeds when he manages to get us NOT to reject ordinances, but to change them. As soon as they are changed, they are broken. (D&C 1: 15.) That is an important step. Because then religious people can continue to claim they follow a true religion, while practicing one that has been broken. These practitioners become like the ancient Jews, who mocked Lehi because they knew they were still righteous. They knew Lehi was foolish, even fraudulent. They still had the truth, the ordinances, the temple, and the priesthood. Lehi was just a mistaken crank."
So, Is the Church In Apostasy? 
A better question to ask might be are you in apostasy, since you are the church. Are you seeking after the gifts of the spirit, or passively trusting in the arm of flesh? Have you sought the baptism of fire, that wonderful, glorious, ineffable experience that hits you like a rush and permeates you and surrounds you and infuses you with love and light and power?

Or have you bought into the modern fallacy that what the scriptures mean by "baptism of fire" is really nothing more than "a still, small voice" experienced over time?

If fleeting, whispering, tiny, occasional glimpses of the spirit are all you ever expect, that's all you'll ever get.

Seeing as how our scriptures warn us repeatedly that the church will indeed experience a falling away both individually and collectively, we would be foolish not to be checking ourselves on a daily basis and making those necessary corrections that keep us on course. 

If Satan's trick is always to have the apostasy come unnoticed, perhaps we should put ourselves on notice to be ever watchful against it.  The signs that we are well on the way seem pretty clear to me, but I also think the simple corrective is to first stop denying the possibility, and then repent and get back on track.  In the words of The Spektator, proprietor of the website Just and True:
The scriptures warn us against being complacent; we should not be at ease in Zion. The scriptures warn us that we are under condemnation; we should individually and collectively seek to remove this burden. The scriptures warn us that, because of our pride and practices, we are to lose the fulness of the gospel and its covenant. If we are to regain that which is lost, we must take these warnings to heart, repent, and seek the Lord.

We must all cast off our sleepy rituals and awaken to the duty that must be ours. We must seek in the scriptures the true meaning of the fulness of the gospel. We must each be willing to approach the Father for the knowledge and confirmation of our path. We must, collectively, be willing to make the same covenants as did the people of King Benjamin. We must prepare ourselves to be a Zion people, individually then collectively.
If you love the church like I do, why not get serious and grab hold of that handrail? I return to that tree and taste of that fruit often, and believe me, it is amazing.  You want some of this.

258 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 258 of 258
Zo-ma-rah said...

There is also reference in the Doctrine and Covenants to the idea that revelation can come from God, man, or Satan. It was not simply a fabrication.

Jon said...

Regardless, if it weren't true then there would be a lot of true religions out there that people have prayed about and have confirmed that their religion is true.

God used reason and logic with Joseph per D&C. I think it should stand then that the Mormon God is a God of logic and reason and that, relying on correct axioms the truths of God should be able to derived from logic and reason. I would think that would need to be more than just feelings that would lead us there. I'm not trying to say your experiences are invalid, I'm just saying that we can get results but the interpretations of those results are just as important as the results themselves and so we should be careful what are conclusions are and be willing to change our conclusions when we receive "further light and knowledge."

Anonymous said...

@Kim?

You know, I don't believe in laws against polygamy. I'm a libertarian, and I believe that marriage should be strictly left alone by governments.

There has been abuse in my monogamous family history, as well; there is in everyone's--

but the chances for happiness have been higher and the levels of violence have been lower--

BUT, perhaps (I have room in my mind for this) there are some who are 'called' to plural marriage. Others are not. What I resent, as an LDS, is the idea that those who are 'called' to it are superior spiritually. This has been subtly taught throughout my 'always active seminary graduate returned missionary BYU graduate temple married' life--

the idea that those who lived polygamy (or call it whatever you will) were living a higher law. BOSH! That's all. Live that lifestyle or culture or whatever you wish, and *I* will leave you alone--

but I won't aspire to it as a higher way of living, and I resent anyone for saying that they believe it is.

And, I have spent years, decades pondering about it, praying over it, pleading with the Lord over it--

and . . . my answer has been the exact opposite of yours--

so, the difference from *me* is that I will not persecute you; I will not criticize you; I will leave you alone to do whatever you wish to do in the privacy of your heart and home.

I won't proselyte anyone to monogamy, but I resent the implication to and among LDS that plural marriage is a higher law, because . . . it is not.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

oh--

I didn't finish the response to "Kim"--

Whereas I won't proselyte anyone to monogamy or . . . well, my proselyting days are over, though I will share my testimony of Jesus Christ with anyone, anywhere . . .--

to any religious 'body' or thought--

I also do not appreciate the idea of polygamists' proselyting, and I won't be friendly to it--

"Live and let live" isn't a popular philosophy among LDS, so I'm not popular--

but I think when it comes to marriage it is a suitable idea--

I won't condemn or criticize those who practice plural marriage--

but I don't appreciate anyone with that lifestyle approaching me or mine--

and I will say as much--

I don't like confrontation about religious matters, but I will speak up if that occurs--

with power, if need be.

Anonymous said...

Kim,

Joseph Smith also said that people would be damned if they believed in or lived polygamy. But most members refuse to admit or accept that he taught this, let alone that he was serious and really mean't it.

Most all LDS people I know are being led to do evil, thinking that the 'Spirit' told them to. Most unrighteous people still think their inspiration is coming from the 'right' Spirit, even though it's wrong and contrary to the scriptures.

Thus it's our vital necessity & responsibility to question and confirm everything that comes to us from what we think is the 'Spirit'.

We must make sure that our revelation does not contradict the scriptures and if it does than we know it is not from the right Spirit, no matter how much we may want to believe it is.

Most everyone is easily deceived by their revelation because they don't want the responsibility to have to check & recheck their revelations or even the Prophet's revelations, against what the scriptures say to make sure they are right.

Thus it appears that everyone in the Church today is being led astray by false revelation, either their's or a Church leader's, and the BoM predicted this latter-day apostasy of the Church.

Except a few who have the Holy Spirit as their guide, which always teaches in line with the scriptures, but often contrary to what modern prophets & church leaders are saying today.

Satan loves that people don't believe he can give them lots of false revelation that feels and sounds even better to them then the truth. It makes his job very easy to deceive people

Anonymous said...

Zomarah,

You can believe that Joseph Smith and the BoM prophets and Christ did not teach against polygamy or whatever name you want to give it, but it is merely your opinion and doesn't prove you are right.

Many people, as I do, believe that Christ, Joseph and BoM prophets were very clear about how evil polygamy is, in any age of time, by anyone, even Abraham, and by any name or form you may want to give the practice.

We only see the truth we are willing to see. If someone likes the idea of polygamy and has desires to live it, they are probably going to interpret quotes and scriptures thinking they support that belief.

But if you are repulsed with polygamy and can feel how evil it is, in any form by any name, and you can see how abusive it is to women and children and society, then you will easily see how so many prophets condemned it, even though so many also fell for it, for polygamy greatly appeals to most all men's carnal, controlling and prideful desires.

I believe Christ taught very clearly against polygamy, (which he knew was rampant among the wicked Jews of his day), when he taught about divorce. He even taught the same thing among the Nephites. Christ was very clear that a man could not be married to 2 living women at the same time or he committed adultery with one of them, even if he divorced the 1st wife before he married the 2nd. For God considers him still married to the 1st and that he was committing adultery if he married a second wife, while the 1st was living.

Just because Christ did not say the word 'polygamy', doesn't mean he didn't still teach a basic principle that clearly outlawed it along with divorce.

And no one can teach contrary to Christ and expect to be listened to. Christ's 'true' disciples and prophets, yesterday and today, teach exactly the same things as Christ did.

Also, God did tell Abraham to stop living polygamy with Hagar and to send her away, something God would not do if polygamy in some form was ok and right. God never commands polygamy or teaches that it is right in the Bible. It in fact teaches the very negative effects of it on people.

And I believe the BoM and the true and original D&C that Joseph Smith gave us, condemns all forms of polygamy forever.

We must realize that prophets are just men who can fall and it's clear that Abraham and Jacob just gave into the pressure from their wives and the trick of a Father in Law, to live polygamy, for it was so common back then and they must have rationalized it.

We see that Abraham didn't really believe it was a righteous thing, for he lived to almost 100 and didn't take another wife even though he was very concerned about posterity. If Abraham had thought polygamy was good and ok he would have tried to have children by other women long before Hagar. He only finally accepted Hagar because of his wife's pressure and his own weak faith in God's promises.

God lets even prophets learn the hard way, if they are determined to, and hopefully Abraham & Jacob repented of polygamy before they died.

We must also realize that we must take the Bible with a huge grain of salt, for it is not always translated correctly nor does it have the whole story of what really happened.

The teachings in the BoM always 'trumps' the Bible, especially when the Bible seems wrong or unclear about doctrine or something.

Anonymous said...

I see that my comments to Kim (pro-polygamy) regarding polygamy were removed.

I said that I would resent it if anyone tried to proselytize "me or mine" into polygamy--

I apologize if that sounded threatening; I assume that is why my comment was removed. I mean no threat; I am not a violent person; I don't believe in violence or contention--

I simply say that I would resist proselytizing for "me and mine"--

Some very dear friends of mine had a daughter who was led into polygamy during a very vulnerable time of her life by a branch president and his wife--

and it took years for her to get to a healthy place after that experience. I know that my friends did nothing violent towards those people and have forgiven them, but we have heard what happened, and it was heartbreaking.

I will not speak out against polygamy, but if someone tries to 'force' polygamy or preach polygamy to anyone close to me, I will resist--

not with violence, but I will resist--

I hope that this is more clear than what I wrote yesterday--

I believe in leaving those who practice plural marriage alone; I only hope that those who practice plural marriage will leave "me and mine" alone--

I do not believe in persecuting them; I think it's wrong that they have been persecuted, and I didn't agree with what the state of Texas did to the FLDS--

I prayed for those people. But I know what happened to the daughter of my friends and a few other people; I know that there are those who are active in trying to 'convert' others to plural marriage; I am not naive about that--

so I say that I would 'resist' that if it came close to me. But I add, not with violence. Just with the Spirit--and persuasion.

I am assuming that is why my comments were removed, because I said I would resent someone trying to proselyte for plural marriage--

I meant no threat and no violence--

@Kim and anyone else--

I apologize if my discussion about plural marriage led into anything emotional--

I really do believe in 'live and let live' on this--

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 5:29,
Your comments were not deleted; because I want this to be an open forum, I have never censored or deleted comments except in very rare circumstances. The Blogspot system also catches obvious spam and holds them in a separate file; your comments was not in the spam box.

I see your comments above. What probably happened is that once there are more than 200 comments, the system requires that you load a second page to see them. You should see a place to click "Load More..." at the bottom of the comment page.

Unfortunately what I'm writing now will not be visible on the first page of comments, and neither will your recent post, as they've all moved to the next page. Sorry about that. Hope you find this.

-Rock

dp said...

Rock - fascinating blog! You, and the commenters (sp?) here make some interesting points.

Yesterday in Gospel Doctrine class, the teacher taught us of Korihor. In his lesson, he referred to a talk by Spencer W. Kimball ... here's the link ... "http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2026"

I'd think it would be enlightening for you to talk about (blog post) this speech and point out what you agree and disagree with Kimball's arguments.

Thanks, take care and keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

thank you; I see that now.

I feared that my saying I would resist with 'power' any attempts of anyone to proselyte "mine" (not myself; I'm an old married person married once to an old married person married once--LOL!)--but I have several unmarried daughters, so I'm feeling vulnerable--

would have been construed as a threat, and that was not intended; I am realizing that there are those who are forceful in their beliefs who will push them on others; I have believed in 'gentle persuasion' for decades now myself; if I were to serve another mission I would find a way to do it as a service mission, quite literally--

I have come to feel that proselyting has its down side--

thank you, Rock--

I appreciate this blog more than any other Mormon blog--

Anonymous said...

I found that that talk was not available--

@dp

(hey, are you a DPer, too)

ShawnC said...

@ Benjamin Horton,

Are you the one who contacted me in email?

-Shawn-

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the kind words. For what it's worth, I didn't interpret your comment as a threat, just a firm position.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I noticed that too, although apparently it remains on there as an audio file. I've got it now in one of my many open tabs and will listen to it as soon as time permits.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

And yes, I'm a Daily Paul addict, if you were asking me. Or were you asking the other guy?

Anonymous said...

where are other postings?

Isaac said...

Just when I was feeling like a true apostate, I read through the comments. Now I feel all too normal. Thanks a lot.

I'm glad you took the time to define terms—like you usually do. The corruption of language and the inability of individuals to adequately express themselves (not to mention adequately think about anything) is producing generations dependent on TV and Facebook to teach them what they need to know. Since forming thoughts and opinions is difficult, they just spit out the soundbites for whichever side they've chosen to be on. Stimulus, response, forever.

Jon said...

Rock,

FYI, if you take the time to play with Audacity audio editor (free) you can speed up audio and then get through them faster. I could give you my settings if you would like. I listen to quite a bit of podcasts, speeding them up by over 30% and then putting them on my mp3 player and speeding them up again really makes it nice to cut down on the time.

Did you get the e-book?

@dp,

Interesting, listen. I found some problems with his talk, particularly the scriptures talking about the modern church falling away and previous prophets talking about, if x happens then the church has apostatized. This has happened multiple times. Are we to believe them? I also find problems with presidents like Hinckley being pro war when the scriptures (D&C 98 in particular) are very plain on the rules of engagement. Also, didn't he teach that killing innocents in war (which happens all the time if you are not fighting on your own country's soil) is not murder, but is a problem of the leaders, which is contrary to scripture. I could be wrong, but saying that your leaders are always right and that individuals can't have figured something out that the president of the church hasn't figured out seems like you would be giving up your spiritual liberty, something that is also contrary to the gospel.

Anon 23 said...

Jon,

Joseph Smith was very clear, as well as many other prophets, that if even prophets (like Pr. Hinckley) say or do something that is contrary to what the scriptures say, then that prophet is wrong and we aren't to accept what he says.

The scriptures trump everyone, including prophets.

We will be held accountable if we allow ourselves to be deceived, even by prophets, or those who claim to be prophets.

We are obligated to be able to discern if a modern prophet or so-called prophet, is teaching the truth or not, by using the scriptures and the Holy Spirit as our guide.

Jon said...

Anon 23,

But weren't the scriptures written by Prophets? How can they be the ultimate authority? What of the bible that we know has been changed? We know BY changed the history of the church. Why not the scriptures also? Or at least anything that was released after Joseph dies?

I can accept that the ultimate truth comes from the spirit but even that has qualifiers, like making your it doesn't come from yourself.

Anon 23 said...

Jon,

Yes the scriptures were written by prophets but Mormon and Moroni decided, from a vast amount of writings, which ancient scriptures were the most inspired and vital for us in the last days. The Book of Mormon, which is the cornerstone of our religion, is approved by the Lord for us to use as our standard to judge all other teachings today.

Since Joseph Smith was a true prophet who brought us the Book of Mormon, we also use his original D&C that he published while he was alive, as also a standard to judge all later revelation.

The Bible is another story, for we know it wasn't always translated correctly. It was most probably not translated by inspired men, but men with their own agendas. So we take it with a huge grain of salt and allow the Book of Mormon to trump any unclear Bible passages or teachings.

BY did add 'contrary', thus false, revelation to the D&C (132) and thus we should not accept it as true, for it goes against everything that Joseph Smith taught & put in the scriptures and against what the BoM prophets teach.

We must come to realize that Brigham Young was a false or fallen prophet, who of course changed things according to his agenda. It was probably too obvious for him to have changed the scriptures, so he just added D&C 132, though he did take out most of what Joseph put in the D&C against polygamy, so his so-called revelation wouldn't appear so bad.

I agree that our own revelation can come from our own mind or even from the Adversary, as it probably more often does, as well as from the Holy Spirit. Thus, that's why we need something else to judge our personal revelation by or to judge modern prophet's revelation by, which would be the scriptures.

Of course though, if you believe BY was a fallen prophet then all who came after him have been false prophets also.

Even Joseph knew he couldn't teach contrary to the scriptures. He even said that if an angel came preaching contrary doctrine to the scriptures or previous revelation, then we/he would know it was a 'bad' angel.

Christ's apostles also taught that if they or an angel from heaven, or anyone, preached contrary to the Gospel of Christ then we should not accept it.

If we couldn't use the scriptures as our standard, then we would never know if our personal revelation or a prophet's revelation is true or not. Everyone would have their own version of the Gospel.

Even with the scriptures, most members have their own version of the Gospel. Only those who truly possess the Holy Spirit, to help them interpret the scriptures correctly, will not be deceived to misinterpret the scriptures, and will be able to tell real truth from error.

Truth from anyone, throughout the ages, is always harmonious with itself and never changes or contradicts itself.

Head of Shiz said...

Hi Rock,

What do you mean by "embrace"? That could potentially be a really long answer. I think part of me wishes that I did but after years of reading, praying, and trying, I realized I just don't believe in mormonism anymore. The good things about it are found in many other places, the uniquely mormon things are usually what I have always disliked. Call it Occam's razor, logic, or just plain old spiritual boredom that did me in, I don't really know...I'd say I was agnostic at this point, I was before becoming mormon and it feels right for me.

I still find the discussions interesting in spite of having very little to add to them, and I think you do a great deal of service by writing what you do.

If you have any other questions or want the long answer please feel free to PM me on NOM. I still lurk here by the way, and still wait for the book to come out...just collect the essays already, its all written already! Some of us like paper for Heaven's sake.

Anonymous said...

I was asking the 'other guy'--:)! I knew you were a DPer, because I found this blog from DP--

the person above: July 16, 10:58 a.m. uses "dp"--

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jon, yes, thanks for the ebook on JSFP. Also for info on Audacity. That's just what I need to get through the mountains of audios before me.

Jon said...

Cool, I wasn't sure you had gotten it. I would send it over to Toni too but I wouldn't know how to get his e-mail address.

Here's my settings for my slow speed up chain:
StereoToMono
TruncateSilence
-Db=-40dB
-Min 200
-Duration 1000
-Compress 4.0
ChangeSpeed
-30%
ChangePitch
--20%
Normalize
-ApplyGain=Yes
-RemoveDCOffset=Yes
-Level=0
Leveller
-dB=-70dB
-Passes=2
Normalize
-ApplyGain=Yes
-RemoveDCOffset=Yes
-Level=0
Applify
-Ratio=1.995262 (I think it was 3 or 6 dB)
ExportMP3

I found if I then speed it up again with my MP3 or with VLC Media player (on the computer - also free) then I can listen to it even faster because it makes it higher pitch, which makes it easier to listen to. Of course, when you listen to the person at normal speed it sounds weird to hear the normal voice.

Anonymous said...

Rock,
I saw that you signed the petition for full financial disclosure on bycommonconsent.org. Do you think there will be any repercussion for those who sign, perhaps at a local level by local leaders who decide to see who among their members may be hiding heretical leanings?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tony is a her, and I just took the liberty of forwarding those attachments on to her.

I'm assuming the Audacity will enable me to transfer compressed audio files onto my mp3 player, not just for listening on the computer?

I downloaded the software but haven't looked at it yet. Your instructions above make the learning curve seem a bit frightening. But I will check it out.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I really don't see why, since all we are seeking is a return to the accountability as the Lord required it in D&C 104:71. If questioned by one's bishop, I would ask what he has against the Church being guided according to the Lord's instructions.

Toni said...

I got the attachment. Thanks, guys.

I have Audacity. I used it when I recorded stuff from a cassette tape to my computer (it's better than the default recorder). I didn't know I could use it to listen to audio online (or do you download it to your computer?). I'll have to explore it a little more. Thanks for the tip on speeding it up. That would save some time, which I'm interested in.

Forgive me if I don't make complete sense. It's late and I'm tired.

Jon said...

Rock, doesn't that scripture refer to the UO? Separate from the corporate church?

Jon said...

No need to be afraid. You get to those settings through

File->Edit Chains->Add->Insert (all your settings)

Play with it a little to whatever you like. Sorry, I forgot to add that part, hope you haven't played with it yet. Then you can do
File->Apply Chain
And edit a bunch of MP3s all at once, it is great.

I just add the MP3s into my MP3 player with it set up like a thumb drive, so I don't know how you have your set up for your MP3.

Hope this helps for you too Toni! I'm a veracious podcast listener, sometimes to my families chagrin, so I have to back off sometimes, but it definitely helps to be able to speed them up!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yes, Jon, section 104 relates to the United Order, but as you know, the law of tithing was instituted because the Saints were not able to consecrate all they had to the church. The principle of accountability remains the same with tithing as it would have with the higher law, as evidenced by the fact that for 128 years the Church meticulously provided an accounting as to how much it had collected in tithing, and how that money was spent. Here is an example of how detailed the financial reporting was, as gleaned from the April 1951 conference report on expenditures from the previous year:

http://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1951a#page/n11/mode/2up

As you can see, it goes on for over 8 pages, but it is very meticulous, and verified by the Church auditors. They took this accounting very seriously.

Anonymous said...

These comments are all fine and dandy, however, most of you are missing the big picture. Either Joseph Smith really had golden plates, or he didn't. He was either called to be a prophet, or he was a fraud. If he didn't have golden plates and the whole thing is a scam, then go and sin no more. Yes, leave, go away, go far far away, leave the church AND leave it alone. Yes, it's that simple.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Not sure I'm following your line of thinking, Weston. Are you saying that by accepting that Joseph Smith had gold plates, we are obligated to blindly accept everything that came after Joseph Smith? Then why are you not a follower of the Community of Christ or the Strangites? They accept that Joseph Smith had gold plates, so according to your logic, everything they teach is just as legitimate.

The reality is that when the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith, as a part of that restoration we received warnings that the Church would fall away from the prophet's original teachings. We can accept the validity of the Book of Mormon without presuming that every leader who succeeded Joseph Smith taught nothing but truth. Indeed, we have an obligation to question anything that contradicts the revelations received through our founding prophet.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Rock just said.

Just because Joseph Smith was a true prophet and translated the Book of Mormon doesn't mean that Brigham Young and those after him were true prophets.

BY and his successors up to today, preached and preach opposite doctrine to what Joseph Smith and the BoM taught, and thus they all proved/prove themselves to be false prophets preaching false and contrary doctrines.

The restored church fell into a deep latter day apostasy after Joseph's death, just like the BoM predicted the Holy Church of God would do. This apostasy is very apparent today, everyone, except a few has been corrupted and deceived to support and do evil because of false prophets and false doctrines that abound in the church today.

The righteous must now wait for Christ and Joseph to return to the earth and re-establish his true church upon the earth, minus the abominable doctrines like polygamy, divorce, female inequality, male only priesthood and leadership, etc.

Fusion said...

Very interesting comments here about polygamy. If I may add some of my own:

-there are three distinct times that the Lord has peopled (an area of) the earth for his covenant people, with three patriarchs/prophets that we are told about in the scriptures which are Adam, Noah and Lehi. It's also a distinction that none of them had more than one wife. In addition, we are told that Nephi and Ishmael and others all took one wife.

- Further, D&C49:16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;

-And D&C 42: 22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

-and of course the original D&C 101, voted on by common consent, then wilfully removed by Brigham Young, ". . . Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife: and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."

-in addition, apart from D&C 132 we are specifically told in Jacob 3:5 about the Lamanites that 'they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife' after the Nephites were told this as well in Jacob 2:27 'Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any a man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;'

-Finally, few verses later state 'For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up a seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.' May I ask if there are any scriptures where the Lord actually commanded Abraham, Jacob etc? I personally haven't come across them but as always I am open to everything.

Nothing scares me or makes me uncomfortable anymore in Mormonism. I agree with Rock that Mormonism at it's purest level is simply breathtaking in what it purports to be. In fact, after reading so much on it all (though barely scratching the surface), both Pro-Mormon and Anti-Mormon (just to be balanced and open), the Spirit I feel with the Book of Mormon is undeniable. I am in awe, more than ever. It simply makes no difference to me what I hear- I welcome truth and embrace its many faces- but, what the Lord and His Spirit have testified to me about His Son, His scriptures and His Annointed Prophet of the Restoration, is something, like even the obsessive Anti-Mormons cannot do, leave aside and move on. It has been so powerful in my life.

One thing for sure that keeps getting stronger within me is that Joseph Smith keeps getting vindicated with each passing year. I believe what he said, and believe he wasn't perfect. And although neither camp is ever likely to change horses in the middle of the stream on this polygamy issue, I believe he was not guilty of nor taught polygamy. If I am wrong, no problem. I won't have a problem accepting it if and when the Spirit tells me otherwise. Truth, the Lord's truth, is more important to me.

In the end, all this debate on things Mormonism, and it's controversial issues, and it's great theology (I listened to Paul Toscano's 3 hour or so interview on youtube- completely fascinating, whilst being laughed at some of his antics, saddened at his present state. But when he gives his feelings on 'hope' and on Jesus, I was deeply, deeply touched)- I truly feel in the end that none of it matters to the Lord outside of his two great commandments. It's all about LOVE...

Fusion said...

Very interesting comments here about polygamy. If I may add some of my own:

-there are three distinct times that the Lord has peopled (an area of) the earth for his covenant people, with three patriarchs/prophets that we are told about in the scriptures which are Adam, Noah and Lehi. It's also a distinction that none of them had more than one wife. In addition, we are told that Nephi and Ishmael and others all took one wife.

- Further, D&C49:16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;

-And D&C 42: 22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

-and of course the original D&C 101, voted on by common consent, then wilfully removed by Brigham Young, ". . . Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife: and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."

-in addition, apart from D&C 132 we are specifically told in Jacob 3:5 about the Lamanites that 'they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife' after the Nephites were told this as well in Jacob 2:27 'Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any a man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;'

-Finally, few verses later state 'For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up a seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.' May I ask if there are any scriptures where the Lord actually commanded Abraham, Jacob etc? I personally haven't come across them but as always I am open to everything.

Nothing scares me or makes me uncomfortable anymore in Mormonism. I agree with Rock that Mormonism at it's purest level is simply breathtaking in what it purports to be. In fact, after reading so much on it all (though barely scratching the surface), both Pro-Mormon and Anti-Mormon (just to be balanced and open), the Spirit I feel with the Book of Mormon is undeniable. I am in awe, more than ever. It simply makes no difference to me what I hear- I welcome truth and embrace its many faces- but, what the Lord and His Spirit have testified to me about His Son, His scriptures and His Annointed Prophet of the Restoration, is something, like even the obsessive Anti-Mormons cannot do, leave aside and move on. It has been so powerful in my life.

One thing for sure that keeps getting stronger within me is that Joseph Smith keeps getting vindicated with each passing year. I believe what he said, and believe he wasn't perfect. And although neither camp is ever likely to change horses in the middle of the stream on this polygamy issue, I believe he was not guilty of nor taught polygamy. If I am wrong, no problem. I won't have a problem accepting it if and when the Spirit tells me otherwise. Truth, the Lord's truth, is more important to me.

In the end, all this debate on things Mormonism, and it's controversial issues, and it's great theology (I listened to Paul Toscano's 3 hour or so interview on youtube- completely fascinating, whilst being laughed at some of his antics, saddened at his present state. But when he gives his feelings on 'hope' and on Jesus, I was deeply, deeply touched)- I truly feel in the end that none of it matters to the Lord outside of his two great commandments. It's all about LOVE...

Bryan Peifer said...

According to some members understanding apostasy on a large scale in the church is a thing of the past. We only read about that stuff in the scriptures. It could never happen today right? Realizing that apostasy could be coming to a theater near you someday can keep you focused on following the teachings of Jesus Christ because there you can never go wrong.

A comment on the tree of life. If a person in gospel doctrine last week would have read 1 Nephi 11:22 and 25 she would have known what the tree of life represented. She said the gospel. I raised my hand and said it's actually the love of God. It was blown off like it didn't make a difference but it does. The rod is the gospel in the dream/vision and for good reason. The studying and living of the gospel of Jesus Christ can help someone to develop the love of God by helping them to be exposed to it. Paul spoke of this gift as the crowning most precious gift we could obtain. I could attend every sacrament meeting, attend the temple every day, pay my tithing and do everything on the Mormon checklist of the appearance of righteousness, but if I do not possess the love of God in me, all I've done is worthless. If we really want to get this work right, our motives need to be steered by the love of God. Plus, I respond more to love than a sales pitch. Questions about that last sentence anyone?

Bryan

Anonymous said...

Great comment Bryan. We can be ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth or gain this 'love of God' in our hearts.

I only respond to love too, never a sales pitch. We must judge everything and everyone by love. Love reveals the truth of all things.

If we live the Gospel enough to possess the 'love of God' we can discern who else does too. If we don't possess such love we will be easily deceived by those who say they have it but really don't.

Bryan Peifer said...

Thanks Anonymous. Did you ever read that article by Mark Brown taken from Common Consent called Why Don’t They Like Us? that Rock posted here in Aug 2010? I just read it a couple of days ago. Sorry for lagging behind, but Mark talked about the conditional friendship that people offer when they want to recruit you. My conversation with someone at church today was about how when people get pumped up by the write out a family mission statement and to find out who can be taught. I sadly worked years for huge corporations like Key Bank and Bank One, which is now Chase. I know when something smacks of corporate speak and methods when I hear and see it. When I was a Ward Mission Leader we had a missionary Sunday and after our meetings they gathered everyone involved and excitedly asked the question, "What did ya think, huh?" They first asked me and I all I could say was, "it reminded me of a Amway pep-rally. Is there something wrong with this picture? This does not feel like love for my fellow man. The pure love of Christ is everything about the other person. "And when you do it, you just get a good feeling in you." Yeah, people hit up with heroin because it just makes them feel good inside. We need to come around to why the Savior did what he did. Mercy, compassion and pure love don't care about that warm fuzzy feeling we get inside when we do something selfless. I believe the transformation that comes within us when we are about clothing, feeding and comforting those who are without is the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost and by that transformation, we feel the love of God (the tree and fruit). Fortunate for us, the transformation doesn't come in an instance, but comes incrementally as our understanding of the things of God grow. The checklist of righteousness resembles nothing I've read in the scriptures. Checklists and charts are for boardrooms. The Savior wants our hearts and minds to mirror his, because everything he does and has done is without guile, self gratification and pride.

Again, thanks Anonymous.

Bryan Peifer said...

One of the teachings that jumped out at me when first taking the missionary lessons was that of our agency (does it ever say "free agency"). Being blessed with being able to make our own decisions. Again, it seems that so many inconsistencies started to become apparent after the 5 year mark, I noticed that for a church that preached we had a agency, it looked like their were a lot of people trying to rob me of it. By the way, I've been a member of the church now for 31 years so it's not that I just jumped off the turnip truck.

QUESTION: Since it has been so long, when do the "rank and file" or the "countless rabble" know when a mind expanding revelation has been uttered? I was always under the impression that we had the privilege of knowing by the power of the Spirit. So if every word uttered is treated as prophetic manna I guess there is no need to sift through it?

SUGGESTION: Maybe it should be just an option that prior to the confirmation, ask the person if they want there agency and be given the gift of the Holy Ghost or forfeit that blessing and just be told what to do and think.

Anonymous said...

Hello Rock!

I've been reading your blog for awhile now. I just have to say thanks for what you write. I may not agree with all of it, but there is much I identify with and it's a breath of fresh air!

Some of my favorites:
"What is the Law of the Land?" I can't stand how some people seem to think that "law of the land" means every silly law under the sun. So this piece was a wonderful one to read.

"Living the Gospel or Living in Zombie Land?" I always enjoy anything that emphasizes keeping the Spirit near us.

"The Best Conference Talk You Never Read." That was a great talk! I actually heard a talk in april 2012 that also said the gospel and the church are not the same.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/converted-to-his-gospel-through-his-church?lang=eng

While it doesn't pack the same punch, I was surprised to hear a general authority (Hallstrom)here and now say it. And to hear Elder Hallstrom say that church attendence is not the ultimate goal? WOW! All you ever hear anymore is "attend your meetings!"

Anyway, those are just a few of my favorites. Keep up the good work, I look forward to your next post!

-Grateful Reader

Fusion said...

Just wanted to add one more scripture I have found that moves the pendulum further away from polygamy:

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality...

In my mind, this seems to state that one given to polygamy is barred from holding this important office of the Priesthood. If polygamy is such a holy covenant, as most LDS accept D&C 132 to state in no uncertain terms (ironically, modern LDS accept it in the past as well as accept that it will be reinstated in the future, but most hypocritically poke fun at and persecute those who unabashedly consider it part of their fundamental belief faithfully til the present time. Still scratching my head on that one...) I wonder why then having more than one wife would discount an otherwise righteous man from ruling the house of the Lord?

The early Christian 'fathers' also had something to say on this issue:

Justin Martyr (160AD):

"Your imprudent and blind masters even until this time permit each man to have four or five wives. And if anyone sees a beautiful woman and desires to have her, they quote the doings of Jacob." [ANF, vol. 1, p. 266]


Irenaeus (180AD):

"Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives..." [ANF, vol. 1, p.353]


Tertullian (207AD):

"Chapter 2- Marriage Lawful, But Not Polygamy: We do not indeed forbid the union of man and woman, blest by God as the seminary of the human race, and devised for the replenishment of the earth and the furnishing of the world, and therefore permitted, yet Singly. For Adam was the one husband of Eve, and Eve his one wife, one woman, one rib. (ANF: Tertullian, To His Wife)

My 2.5 cents :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks to that link to Hallstrom's talk. I hadn't seen it nor heard of him. He'll be one to watch.

And speaking of links, John Colthorp has published an online periodical, the first issue of which speaks to the subject of apostasy and has a couple of dynamite quotes by Verlan Andersen I wish I had known about sooner. It's called Babylon's Rebel and you can see it here:

http://www.ldsapostasy.com/Babylon%27s%20Rebel,%20vol.%201,%20no.%201%20%2821%20July%202012%29.pdf

Head of Shiz said...

Sorry for the slow response. I don't know what I believe anymore. "Restored Gospel" is a loaded phrase. I believe there was a restorationist movement in the history of American Christianity...does that count?

Shawn said...

Hey Ayon,
No way to know for sure what your EQ instructor intended. I suspect he's making an assumption that personal revelation (that is inspired by the Holy Ghost) would align just fine with Church policy or general authorities who set policy when they too are inspired by the same source, the Holy Ghost.

My personal experience for obtaining personal revelation for myself and my family, areas for which I have stewardship and accountability, is actually pretty good, especially when my sweet wife is engaged in the effort. :-) My experience for obtaining inspiration for the families I Home Teach, and the areas of my church stewardship has also been pretty good.

My greatest regrets and road blocks have come when I have ignored, and sad to say even rebelled against inspiration I have sought. I'm just so irked when the powers of heaven don't align with what I want!

I'm meek enough to believe that Jesus Christ is actually at the head of the church. Like Nephi, "I know that [Father] loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things." I do know, without doubt, that it is my responsibility to be clean and virtuous, and to offer a willing heart; willing to receive instruction and to respond to the inspiration.

Given that I still wrestle with my “natural man” (dang it) I’m happy to let the General Authorities set Church policy. Serving in leadership positions in the church and with various employers, I know there are lots of dynamics, influences, and players that those outside the circle of effort don't fully understand or appreciate.
My $.02 :-)
Love ya,
Shawn

Anonymous said...

Ummm...this maybe the first you've heard it, but your blog helped my spouse and I leave the Church. You did help us not give up on God altogether, but your blog was definitely an instrument in helping us see past all the lie and leave the Church forever. The God of Mormonism isn't actually the God of the Bible. The True and Living God far is bigger than the little box Mormonism puts Him in. He's far more wonderfully amazing, and awe inspiring than the Mormon one is. Bible bashing will get a nowhere in a group such as this, but I thought since you've "yet to hear from one of these people who has been driven out of the church by something I've written." I'd let you know you were an instrument in God's hands, just not the way you intended.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I do agree with you that God is far more wonderfully amazing and awe-inspiring than one would believe if relying on modern Church teachings, but that is only because we have drifted away from the God Joseph Smith tried to describe. I made a feeble attempt to describe the really amazing, great expansive cosmogeny of God and the universe in my piece entitled "The Metaphysics of Mormonism."

At any rate, I am well aware that the LDS Church is not for everyone, and I do not begrudge anyone for taking their own path to understanding God. I wish you well as you continue your search for truth.

Here is that post:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2011/03/metaphysics-of-mormonism.html

Anonymous said...

I’ve read that post before and I suppose if I say I completely disagree with your assessment, in all fairness, I’ll have to provide an answer to your question of “Why did he have to allow that?” It will take me some time to put that answer together, but I will get back to you with a Biblically sound explanation of why He in fact did NOT HAVE to, He CHOSE to.

As for drifting “away from the God Joseph Smith tried to describe.”

I first have to go with the claim that the Bible is in error, that it’s been edited, changed, or what have you. The best website (at the moment) I can personally send you to for a sum up of the evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament is http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence. It’s really damn hard to discredit the New Testament. To claim that it has been changed in anyway shape or form.

That makes Nephi (and Joseph Smith for that matter) a false prophet and we’re not to follow false prophets. Being that the Book of Mormon is about Nephi and all those that followed after him (and agreed with him being a “true” prophet) we’re not to follow them either. They may point to Christ (or a type of Christ depending on your point of view), but just like Mormon’s believe the rest of Christianity is deceived and won’t make it to live with Heavenly Father again; the Book of Mormon doesn’t lead to salvation. Satan is clever and again like Mormon’s believe will make things appear to be heading in the right direction all the while leading them to hell.

Another idea to look at is Jesus repeatedly said “It is written” (referring to the Old Testament) when Satan tempted him. Satan never challenged Jesus on whether what was written (and actively believed to be handed down from scribe to scribe) to be in error. Satan never laughed at Jesus mocking him at how he (Satan) had managed to change it. Again, before anyone says it could have been taken out of the New Testament we have the evidence that that is not the case. (http://carm.org/old-testament-corrupted also helps in the reliability of the Old Testament, in addition to Christ there saying what was written at His time was accurate).

So, what was there to restore, if anything, when the Bible in fact has NOT been corrupted. Priesthood authority is the first that comes to mind. Reread Hebrews 7 the whole chapter is about priesthood. In Hebrews 7:11 it gives the question “…what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec…” Jesus is the High Priest, like that of Melchisedec and did you catch that…he said “what further need was there…” In other words there is NO need for anymore priests after the order of Melchisedec. Add to that he continues his question with “…and not be called after the order of Aaron?” What was the priesthood of Aaron? Making animal sacrifices, first for themselves and then for the people. Verses 27 of the same chapter “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests… …for this he (meaning Jesus) did once, when he offered up himself.” The necessity of the priests and priesthood ended when Jesus gave himself up to be sacrificed.

Anonymous said...

And then if there is no need for priesthood there is no need for any of the Mormon ordinances that require priesthood authority. Of course, the favorite to attack is Baptism. Actually it’s not “required” for eternal life (though a good many Christian denominations argue otherwise). John 3:5 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Simple question what is amniotic fluid? Everyone woman knows without fail if her “water breaks” it’s time to have the baby. Jesus was answering Nicodemus’s question of reentering his mother's womb and that’s why he says in verses 6 “…flesh is flesh; and… spirit is spirit.” Again Jesus says in versus 8 “…so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Two very different births, one of flesh with a “spiritually dead” spirit and again spiritually. Thence the difference between those that at spiritually dead and spiritually alive, as stated in us being new creatures in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatains 6:15, Ezekiel 36:26. My final point on necessity of baptism is Luke 23:43, the thief on the cross was not ever stated to have been baptized, yet Jesus said he would be with him. For a solely Biblically based Christian, baptism is an outward “confession” if you will of dyeing to their old selves and rising again alive in Christ.

As for the Great Apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 it talks about how the apostasy is when the Anit-Christ (“Wicked” – lawless one) is reigning on earth and that he (and thus the apostasy) will end with Christ’s coming. So again, no restoration, making Joseph Smith Jr. either seriously deceived or intentionally deceitful (as 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 addresses).

This video also offers a good, kind comparison on trusting the reliably of Joseph Smith (and the Book of Mormon) vs. The Bible solely. You can watch it instantly through Amazon or it can be bought at a number of different places.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bible-VS-Joseph-Smith/dp/B007S1EKAA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1346428648&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Bible+vs+Joseph+Smith

Anonymous said...

May God bless you with a knowledge of his truth and the simple precious truth that "...that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but HAVE (present tense)everlasting life." John 3:16

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, so this comment is way after the fact. I have noticed the over dependence on the "Brethren" as well. A few years ago I was teaching a youth Sunday School class about personal revelation and the importance of following our personal revelation. The Sunday School president was visiting that day. I started off by asking what if they had a dream like Lehi, telling them to take their families and go. I asked the Sunday School president and his response chilled me. He said "I would go to the Bishop and ask if this was a real revelation." In other words, we are not even qualified to receive our own revelation without input from our leaders. I knew we were in trouble at that point, at the point that we stopped accepting our own revelations and trusting our own relationship to Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost.

Adrian said...

Hey Rock,

I've just gotta share a few things.

First, I LOVE your soul, brother. I just became aware of your blog through friends, and I'm completely blown away, though I've only read around 10 entries so far). On my current ranking of celestial coolness, you're second only to Denver Snuffer, and that's really saying something. (Not that you're anything, mind you. But the truths you teach, and the way you teach them, pure gold!)

Second, you give me HOPE! Zion may yet be built in this generation! We just gotta get a few more people on board! I'm doing all I can to open the eyes of those I can reach, and you're doing about a million times more than me. Thank you for the incredible tools you're making available.

And now one scriptural thought from this post:

Here's one to ponder about Lehi's dream. Nephi very clearly defines certain elements of the dream. For example, the tree he directly identifies as representing the love of God (1 Ne 11:22). This is always in relation to the TREE.

But then in 1 Ne 15:36 he speaks more specifically about the FRUIT of the tree, or in this case, the fruit of God's love. He states that it is "the greatest of all the gifts of God."

A quick trip over to D&C 14:7 tells us that "if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God."

Yeah, it's word-for-word verbatim. So, at least one interpretation, and I believe it correct, is that the fruit is actually meant to represent eternal life (the greatest of all the gifts of God.)

This starts to make sense. Eternal life is the fruit of God's love (the tree). It fills the soul with joy. It is sweet above all that is sweet and white above all that is white.

It also makes sense that Laman and Lemuel wouldn't partake, while Lehi, Sariah, Nephi, and Sam did. (Obviously, God loves Laman and Lemuel just as much as he loves the others. But they would not partake of the offered fruit, or the opportunity for eternal life.)

So it's a thought to consider. I've always liked that interpretation. And it's really the only place where the fruit is actually, specifically identified.

Of course, I hear all the time that the fruit is the love of God, but of course Nephi only says that about the tree, not about the fruit.

So there's my thought. Thanks again for what you're doing here. Keep up the good work brother! I'll be praying for your apostate (haw!) soul.

John W said...

Way to go big brother!! truth is Truth and it will always will be!!

CaptainParker1775 said...

I know I'm late to the party here by a couple of years, but I want to post an observation that my wife had about "the iron rod", which she (and I) believe is revelation. For your consideration:

1NE 11:25

"...the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God"

John 1:1-3

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Word of God is Jesus Christ. It is he we need to hold onto, not the "church (TM)", whatever that is. Having said that, I still think "the church" is where the keys are held, and where the ordinances come from, though in a state of apostasy. (Same as the Jews - the ancient covenant people of the Lord. Jesus had to come and fix it - and he's coming).

Unknown said...

Dear Rock I have read many of your articles over the past year, and I am troubled. I moved to Utah four years ago to a very small isolated town where the church leadership holds much of the control in civic matters. Certain people are more highly esteemed than others. The teenagers refer to them as "Last Namers." It has come to my attention more and more that there is an obvious discrepancy in my local ward and stake...so much so that the church does not feel like the restored church at all, at least not the one I converted to from Catholicism in 1997. Like I said, I am troubled and have been for quite some time. When I express any concern at all to either my bishop or RS president I am lightly dismissed. And please understand, it is not like I have made myself a continuous thorn in their side, not at all. The main problem in my ward is this Last Namer issue. Elaborate funerals and with widespread ward involvement, even parades for the terminally ill, are becoming the in thing. This town just relishes a terminally ill long standing community member who is also a longstanding member in the church. I have never seen anything like it. However, if someone with a less than famous last name becomes ill or suddenly dies, the regular status quo Mormon funeral is all she gets. I bring this up because it is so obvious that there are those who are welcomed into the church and given a seat of prominence and there are those who are relegated to sit at the footstools of the elite. It's like one of those movies where everyone has received the same injection and so can only see and participate in the illusion, and just a few can see that there is a glitch in the projection. Eerie really! So I am troubled. I have witnessed the watering down of curriculum, the scaling back of the Ensign to represent a very thin gruel, and the disappearance of Know Your Religion Classes. We are told to study the deeper aspects of the gospel on our own, but yet we are not provided any access or avenue to discuss, question, or reason things out with other gospel scholars. To put it bluntly the meeting block on Sunday is sterile, anemic, and flimsy. That's not to say that I don't feel the Spirit...I remarkably do! But I must put myself in such a state that In order to grasp ahold of it that by the time I return home I am exhausted and feel somewhat malnourished, not at all lifted, rejuvenated, or well fed as one should who belongs to the true Church. And so what am I to do with all this information that you provide? It along with my internal feelings about what I am observing puts me in quite a spiritual crisis. I long for my a Catholic roots where at least there was beauty, majesty, and spiritual reflection. Those near me are beginning to pick up on my discouragement, and I am worried that I will be relegated to those who have gone this path before and are forever labeled apostates. So how do I go along with the hologram when I am one of the few that can see it glitching?

BK said...

Unknown,

Sorry to say, but I believe you were in a more 'Christian' Church when you were in the Catholic Church then you are now in the LDS Church, as you will see as time goes on.

Better to repent of your joining the Church and follow Christ on your own then join another false church.

Why does everyone think they have to follow someone else to heaven anyway? We can and should do it on our own.

Everyone knows how to read and thus can just follow Christ on our own so they aren't led us astray and their tithing taken from them and used for something other than the poor.

I just don't get it. Why do we put leaders on pedestals and think they are better then we are? I've never known a church leader past or present who seems to be worthy of following or trusting.

MrHFMetz said...

Some thoughts that came into my mind while reading this blog:
Can the church become apostate? This is what Mosiah says: . . . the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it, and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people; Mosiah 27 vers 13.
And upon my house shall it begin; D&C112 vers 25
Joseph Smith has said that if there is no change in the ordinances, there is no change of Priesthood. TPJS p. 158
And then this excellent quote (maybe already used in this blog, but who would not want to read it again): President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel; said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church; that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls; applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall; that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy."
TPJS p. 237-238.

«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 258 of 258   Newer› Newest»