Recently a young lady I do not know, having discovered this blog, sent me a friend request on Facebook so she could engage me in conversation. When I responded in the affirmative, she immediately started giving me the third degree.
My new-found "friend" was anything but friendly. Her words were short on consonants but she made up for the loss with an overstock of punctuation marks as she insisted on immediately knowing if I had a testimony of the Church. "Do You even have one???" She demanded, "Jut Give me a straigth anwer!!!!"
This fine sister had discovered my provocatively titled piece about tithing, and on the basis of little more than the title alone, concluded I am "anti mormon or bordering on ant mormon" because, as she was proud to inform me in words I can best describe as slurred, "I only read the first 3 paragrahs of that peice of garbagge bu tha was was all I needed to knoww!!!"
I had kind of thought I had written the opening paragrahs of that peice of garbagge in such a way as to entice the reader to continue reading, but this clever gal wasn't falling for any of that.
That question, "Do you have a testimony of the church?" which I'm often asked in an oddly accusatory way, strikes me as a question with an obvious answer. But okay, I'll address it in this month's post. Let's get right to it. But first...Announcements!
This Month's Announcements
I was recently interviewed by Bill Reel for an episode of Mormon Discussion Podcasts, and that interview is now available for your listening pleasure. So for those interested in hearing me carry on endlessly about what I think is of value in this religion vs what I think is not, you can give that podcast a listen and save yourself the trouble of wading through any dozen of these logorrheac discourses. A warning, however: You will find me no more concise in your ears than I am on these pages. By which I mean yeah, yeah, I know. I tend to ramble endlessly. In fact, I was almost reluctant to mention that interview because near the end I embarrassed myself by going on and on nonstop for so long that finally the orchestra had to come in and play me off the stage.
I am not kidding. I was drowned out in mid-sentence by the closing music. If you promise not to choke with laughter at that moment the way my own wife did when she heard it, I invite you to Click Here.
And while we're talking about podcasts, I don't think I ever got around to mentioning that I participated in one of Jared Anderson's excellent epiosdes at Mormon Stories Sunday School, where I was part of a panel discussing the law of tithing. As Jared explains on the podcast, the software used to record the discussion recorded Jared's voice just fine, but somehow failed to pick up the voices of those of us on the panel side. As it turns out though, the recording sounds better without us. Jared and Bonnie reworked the presentation by stepping up and summarizing the views the rest of us had offered, which made for a more polished and succinct finished product because...Well frankly, because I couldn't be heard on the other end going on and on and on.
You can go here for that podcast entitled "The Law of Tithing and the Law of the Fast." I very highly recommend it as essential for those seeking to understand our important obligations in these matters, and I would be recommending it even if I wasn't on it. Which I'm not.
And oh, what the heck. As long as I'm plugging audio podcasts I have taken part in, I might as well mention the three older ones that I already listed here last year. And then there's also this one. And this one. And oh yeah, this one.
Some time in the next few weeks, John Dehlin will be interviewing me for a future Mormon Stories podcast. I'll post an announcement of that when it's ready.
By the way, all the fine people involved in the world of Mormon podcasting are performing an incalculable service to the church, and there is no charge for downloading and listening. If you are not already familiar with the various Mormon podcast series, you are missing out on some of the most stimulating discussions of Mormon history and theology now taking place anywhere. But these people deserve your support. If everyone who listened to one of these podcasts took the time to donate two dollars a month toward covering the expenses of providing these series, the hosts could continue to bring you some of the best in Mormon thought available. You can easily donate through Paypal with a couple of clicks. Here are the links to those locations. If you can't support them all, pick a few favorites:
Mormon Stories Sunday School
A Thoughtful Faith
Infants On Thrones
There may be other Mormon-themed podcasts I'm unaware of. If your favorite isn't listed here, let me know and I'll mention it next time.
Okay, that's if for the announcements. I promised to tell you about my testimony of the Church.
My Testimony Of The Church
That's because I'm not supposed to have a testimony of "The Church." And neither are you.
I have a testimony of the Christ. I also have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, the purpose of which is to lead men to Christ, and in my case that book was instrumental. And I have a testimony that God raised up Joseph Smith as a prophet through which He revealed many important things.
But I don't have a testimony of "the Church."
And for or a variety of reasons. Chief among those reasons is that I find no place in scripture where the
Lord commands, encourages, admonishes, or expects His followers to cultivate, develop, or express such a testimony.
Secondly, I have witnessed situations where an over-confident attachment to the earthly Church has actually impeded spiritual growth. And I have known some whose allegiance to the Church was so intertwined with their religious beliefs that when they perceived the earthly Church had failed or betrayed them, they reacted by abandoning all that was good and true about the gospel of Christ. While I respect the decisions others make for themselves, I see no reason to reject a pearl just because the oyster is damaged. I'll keep the baby; you can have the bath water.
That I value and love the church of Christ, there can be no doubt. For as God reminds us in D&C 10:67, His church consists of all those who repent and come unto Him. That includes me. I have repented (and continue to repent), and I have come unto Christ. That makes me a part of the body of Christ, a member of the community of believers that constitutes His church. I love this church because I am the church. As are you, if you meet those two simple qualifications. The church is the members.
I do not worship the members. I do not follow the members. I do not testify of the members.
I worship, and follow, and testify of Christ.
Whom Therefore Ye Ignorantly Worship
Three years ago when this blog was just starting, I described a testimony of the church as being "The Worst Testimony You Can Possibly Have." Is it any wonder the world thinks of us as a cult? To be constantly lavishing praise on ourselves is to divert our attention away from what should be our primary focus, which is Christ and His gospel.
But perhaps our confusion is based on our misunderstanding of what exactly we mean when we speak of "the church." That definition seems to have changed dramatically from how it was understood in Joseph Smith's day. Today we constantly hear latter-day Saints speaking of "the church" being true as though the word church was interchangeable with the the gospel.
And that, I think is where our problem lies. The Church and the Gospel are not even close to being the same thing.
In his now famous conference talk given in 1984, Ronald Poelman attempted to remind the congregation of the difference between the gospel and the Church. "There is a distinction between them which is significant", he said, "and it is very important that this distinction be understood." 
We will continue to have difficulty making that distinction if we don't learn to differentiate between the earthly Church on the one hand, and eternal truth on the other. Maybe you can tell the difference, but I'm sure you know many good latter-day Saints who cannot.
As Translated Correctly
In our bibles, "church" is translated from the Greek word, "Ecclesia" which loosely meant "the called out ones" or "assembly." The word ecclesia didn't even have a religious connotation in the beginning. It was a military term, as when soldiers are called out to assemble. It later came to describe any assembly of people who shared a common interest, such as a town council or a guild. So when translating the New Testament from Greek to English, the King James translators simply took every instance where "assembly" appeared in Greek and substituted the word "church."
Every place, that is, except three. It's interesting to note that the word ecclesia, ("assembly") is translated virtually everywhere in the new testament as church except in Acts 19. That chapter tells of a meeting called by a silversmith named Demetrius. This Demetrius was in the business of making and selling idols, and he "called out" his fellow idolmakers because he felt something had to be done about all these Christians who were going around saying the gods these guys were making were really no gods at all. It was hurting business. The word "ecclesia" appears three times in that chapter in reference to this assembly of craftsmen. For example, in verse 39 of the Greek text, it reads "the ecclesia was confused."
The King James translators rendered that verse as "the assembly was confused," which was accurate, of course, since ecclesia did mean assembly. But if they had been consistent, the translators would have made it read "the church was confused," since church is the word they inserted every other place in the bible when they came across the Greek word for assembly. In other words, any meeting of any group of people with a common interest could be considered a church. That's why the Book of Mormon speaks of a Great and Abominable Church. Those verses don't refer to merely a separate religious denomination. They are speaking of an assembly of people with different goals than our own. Sort of like demetrius' church of idolmakers, only way worse.
More than a century before King James and his "authorized" version of the bible, William Tyndale's early translation of the new testament substituted the word congregation everywhere the King James translators would later put "church." This was just as accurate, because congregation is synonymous with assembly.
But even the word congregation can provide an inaccurate mental image to us today because it suggests a docile audience sitting in pews while a sage authority figure stands at the front dispensing wise instructions. That is not an accurate picture of the church. The first century Christians congregated informally together in each other's homes to eat, pray, sing, and discuss the gospel. That was what it meant to be an assembly of Christians. They assembled together out of a desire to congregate with others of similar interests; which in this case happened to be an affinity for Jesus Christ and His teachings.
If you want an accurate picture of the church in the latter days, look no further than Nauvoo, Illinois in the early 1840s. In Nauvoo there were no chapels to meet in. Converts congregated to Nauvoo by the thousands. Nauvoo essentially became the church because that was where a significant number of the members congregated to. Occasionally the people of that city would assemble at the stand near the grove to hear Joseph Smith or someone else preach, but that wasn't the church. That was a meeting of the church. The church was the converts themselves.
The modern image of a congregation as a docile and obedient audience was unfortunately already the way church looked to the early readers of the King James bible, because that was how church had devolved from the control of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which had by that time divided the assembly into two classes; there was the priest class at the top, and then there was everyone else.
When medieval Catholics referred to the Church, they were no longer talking about themselves as a community of believers, but of the authorities who held position and station above them. These authorities were not just respected, but held in awe as vastly superior in knowledge and spiritual power. Not even the protestant reformation was able to change this paradigm. Protestant churchgoers continued to meet the same way the Catholics did; the people congregated in the pews and faced the authority figure up front.
The church of Christ as restored in Joseph Smith's day departed from the Catholic/Protestant model significantly. There was no professional clergy assigned to impart wisdom from some central authority on high. Meetings in the various branches spread out across Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa were conducted by Elders chosen from within the local congregations as they were led by the Holy Ghost (D&C 20:45), and all members were considered equal participants. Gifts of the spirit long missing from Catholic and Protestant services such as healing, miracles, and the gift of tongues were once again in evidence just as they had been in the primitive Christian churches.
But today we seem to have drifted from that proven model. As a result, our meetings are often lackluster, dull, and devoid of the spirit. One reason, I submit, is that we choose to ignore the revelations of God in favor of a correlated system of unity across the board. Just as when you walk into a McDonald's anywhere in the world, you can expect the same thing, so it is in every Mormon ward. And that's unfortunate. Because the corporate business model is hugely successful in the fast food industry, but if you try to lay that template on a church, it just doesn't work. A church has to operate on the spirit to be effective, and the spirit isn't triggered by sameness.
In a revelation given in 1831, the Lord instructs us that "it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit." (Emphasis mine.)
Instead of our meetings being directed by the Holy Spirit, those conducting the meetings adhere to a rigid structure that was decreed at Church headquarters long ago and which is never, ever departed from. This is the program we are all familiar with:
Administration of the Sacrament.
A Musical Number (maybe)
(And it's finally over. Yay! Oh wait, now we have to head into two more meetings of instruction that are likewise rigidly structured. Boo.)
No one conducting a local meeting of the church would ever dare depart from that structure for fear of running afoul of the central authorities. And so our meetings remain stultifyingly dull and uninspiring. In the 1830s and 40s, people couldn't wait to congregate with the church because church was an exciting and vibrant experience. Today your kids would rather be at McDonald's.
Speakers in our wards are assigned to speak on specific, carefully vetted topics, which limits the speaker from expounding extemporaneously as moved upon by the Holy Spirit. More and more frequently these days, rather than teach "according to the commandments and revelations of God" as commanded in D&C 20:45, a person assigned to speak in church will simply stand at the podium and read from a recent conference talk given by a general authority. At times those talks by general authorities will consist of little more than one general authority quoting from other general authorities, which means "the commandments and revelations of God" get ignored and supplanted by the opinions of mere mortals. Is it any wonder why the spirit is absent? We are not abiding by the rules the Lord gave us that would invite the spirit in. Here's how Moroni described a typical meeting when Nephite culture was at its spiritual zenith:
"[T]heir meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done." (Moroni 6:9)If we ever hope to get the spirit back into our local meetings, we may have to learn to ignore the rigid structure dictated by the Corporate Handbook of Instruction out of Salt Lake City, and get back to following the method revealed to us from the Lord.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Church, The Whole Church, And Nothing But The Church
If you'd like to shake off your misconceptions about the church; what it was, what it is, and what it is supposed to be, I know of no clearer explanation than that offered by LDS blogger Mike Ellis in his marvelous essay, What Is The Church? After quoting the Lord's own definition in D&C 10:67, "Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church," Mike continues:
"Notice how it says that 'the same IS my church.' Not 'the same is in (or part of) my church.'
"This is an important distinction. Christ’s church is the members. It is not an organization or club that people join. Rather when they live the Gospel they become the church. The church is the people, not the structure."
"This is a really difficult concept for some to understand. Members of the Corporate Church are used to thinking of the Church as the organization or hierarchy. We ask, 'What is the Church’s stand on this issue?'...It is as if we think that “the Church” is the officials and the leaders. But in reality if we ask that question we are asking what the view of every repentant person, who has come unto Christ, is."
"Other times we may view the Church as the building we meet in or the meetings we attend. We can see this as, 'Let’s clean the Church,” or 'I’m attending Church.'
"These are all gross misconceptions and undermine the true definition of the church. I have an assignment for you. If you have repented (meaning in the process of repentance) and come unto Christ as stated in section 10, I want you to find a mirror. Now go stand in front of that mirror. Take a good long look at the image you see there. That is the church. YOU…ARE…THE CHURCH. The church is the people. When people who have repented and come unto Christ meet together that is the church meeting together"We have so conditioned ourselves to think of our own Church as a hierarchical, corporate institution made up of leaders, managers, and administrators, that it may take some real effort to disabuse ourselves of that view. The King James translators chose to use the word church rather than assembly or congregation because by that time, Britains had already settled on a word to describe themselves as an assembly of believers in Christ.
In Scotland in the days of William Wallace, if your name was Kirk it probably meant you were the vassal of the feudal lord upon whose land you lived and toiled, as Kirk in Scottish meant "pertaining to, or belonging to, a lord." Since Jesus Christ was not just a lord, but The Lord, those who claimed to belong to Him came to call themselves Christ's Kirk, or in the Germanic/middle English tongues, "Kirche," then later simply "Church" -the people, or the assembly, or the congregation belonging to The Lord.
This description is perfectly consistent with the way the church is described in the Book of Mormon; a community of believers belonging to the Lord. In the over 200 places where church is mentioned in the Book of Mormon, it's quite clear the term is synonymous with a community of believers in Christ. Nothing more complicated than that. No top-down hierarchy. No massive organization that would require a flow-chart to keep track of. No company headquarters located in a valley near The Land Bountiful. No large folio of investments to manage. Just a simple community of Kirks belonging to their Lord.
Since we in these latter days seem to have so much difficulty retaining a clear meaning of what church is meant to be, it might help if, whenever we come across a reference to "the church" in our scriptures, we tried substituting in our minds the word "community." That might assist us in clearing the mental palate so we can see the church for what it once was. Here are a few examples I gleaned at random the other day while browsing through the Book of Mormon:
Those who believed were united to the community (3 Nephi 28:18); Those who were baptized belonged to the community (Mosiah 25:18); The community met together oft to fast and to pray (Moroni 6:5) Those who belonged to the community were forbidden to persecute those who did not belong to the community (Alma 1:21): Those who committed sin who were in the community should be admonished by the community (Mosiah 26:6) Alma spoke by way of command to those who belonged to the community, and to those who did not belong to the community he spoke by way of invitation (Alma 5:62); Whosoever did not belong to the community who repented of their sins were baptized and received into the community (Alma 6:2); There came to be exceeding great prosperity in the community (Alma 49:30); Pride began to enter into the community (Helaman 3:33); Because they ceased to believe in the spirit of prophecy and revelation the community began to dwindle (Helaman 4:23). And on and on.It's also worth noting that those who the Book of Mormon tells us were called to offices over the church were not "over" the members of the church in the sense we often think of today as having authority over individuals. These men were said to be over the church in the sense of a pavilion, or umbrella of protection over the community as a whole. Their role was not to run the lives of the members, but to "preside and watch over the community" (Alma 6:1) with "exceeding great care" (Alma 46:6). They were not members of an elite class within the church. They did not sit in plush VIP seats in the Zarahemla conference center (Mark 12: 39), but could be found walking beside, teaching, "suffering all manner of afflictions, and being persecuted" in common with every other member of the church in that day. (Mosiah 26:38).
According to Alma's account, in Book of Mormon days the priests who were over the church held day jobs like everyone else. There is no mention of these leaders receiving anything euphemistically referred to as a "modest allowance" "stipend," or "living expense." Our founding scripture is very clear that to accept compensation in any form for preaching the word of God was considered priestcraft, a very serious sin. (2 Nephi 26:29)
"And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength." (Alma 1:26) Whenever Joseph Smith mentioned the church in his speeches or writings, everyone understood that he was referring to the body of members. But today, when I hear many of my fellow Saints make reference to this thing they call "The Church," they rarely mean the ordinary members, but instead a separate class of men whom they esteem to be in positions of authority over them.
The word "Church" is almost never referred to in its traditional meaning today; it has come to refer to the hierarchy of leaders, managers, and administrators at the top of the corporate chain. I'm not sure how we should refer to that body, but it is certainly not accurate -or scriptural- to call it the church.
In order to differentiate that institution from the rank and file of the assembly who make up the church membership, some of us have tried referring to the leadership side variously as the Corporate Church; the Institutional Church;, "the Church" (with a capital 'C' to differentiate it from the small 'c' regular church); LDS, Inc.; or even the Church(TM). Perhaps we should start calling it The Magisterium, after the medieval Holy Roman authority it has come to resemble.
In the minds of many ordinary latter-day Saints, members of the Magisterium are of higher rank than the rest of us, and therefore the lower members of the body of Christ owe them deference. Although such an idea runs contrary to the will of God, who decreed that no man is to be esteemed above another, this is indeed the way a good many latter-day Saints understand their church to be structured today.
The danger in allowing the actual church of Christ (the one defined by the Lord in D&C 10:67) to be supplanted in the popular mind with the governing hierarchy, is that those who do so have effectively placed themselves outside of God's true church. You can read it right there in the next verse: "Whoseover declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me, therefore he is not of my church." (Emphasis mine.)
It's almost as if God had some uncanny ability to look into the future and see how, in the latter days, we would come to define His church completely upside down.
That scripture in verse 68 is s a good enough reason for me to resist the temptation to conflate the corporate, institutional Church (capital 'C' Church = The Magisterium) with the actual, true church (small 'c' church = the members). Just to make sure I'm extra special careful, I think it's best to avoid bearing testimony of either.
There is a popular saying bandied about these days to the effect that "The Church is perfect-the people aren't." But how can that be, seeing as how according to scripture, the church is the people? I think what those who like to spout this defective apothegm usually mean is that the Magisterium is perfect, it's the members who are flubbing things up.
Well of course we all make mistakes, no matter our station or calling. That is why we all -even our leaders- have need of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. But to some True Believers, the members of the Magisterium are not subject to temptation because they are thought to be imbued with superior knowledge and a vatic infallibility that will never allow them to fall.
It's interesting to trace how such a false belief grew to take hold in the church over time. It was originally understood that Jesus Christ was the head of His church. He conveyed His will to the members by putting His words into the mouth of his prophet, Joseph Smith, who wrote down those words and distributed them to the membership at large. The members would then read those revelations and pray about them individually in order to obtain a witness of the Holy Ghost to affirm whether a particular revelation did indeed represent the word of God. They followed this process of affirmation because they knew they were not supposed to take their leader at his word.
Essentials In Church History
At the time Joseph Smith was murdered, his brother Hyrum, who had already been ordained to succeed Joseph as the next prophet,seer, and revelator, was murdered at his side. That left the church without a mouthpiece who spoke for God. As LDS historian Steven Shields aptly described the atmosphere, "the church simply flew apart at the seams." With no one to relate God's will, nobody had the first clue about what to do next.
It was widely understood that Joseph Smith's son was to inherit the role of God's mouthpiece; but as Joseph III was only 12 years old at the time his father and uncle were murdered, the primary topic of discussion in the church became who would take charge until the boy came of age.
Sidney Rigdon, now the only surviving member of the First Presidency, argued that the reins of leadership were now in his hands until such time as the younger Joseph came of age. Brigham Young argued that with the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, the First Presidency was effectively dissolved, and that the "keys" of authority resided within the quorum of the twelve apostles as a group. He did not disagree with Rigdon regarding Joseph III's rightful place as eventual head of the church. In fact, he did not see himself as Joseph Smith's legal successor, but rather insisted the Twelve were to act as temporary placeholders until young Joseph was grown. 
But the people couldn't seem to wait. They were accustomed to having a single prophet as head of their church, and various candidates began making claim to that office, siphoning off thousands of followers to themselves. In an effort to stem this hemorrhage, Brigham Young re-instituted the office of the First Presidency, with himself at the helm. He did not, however, claim to be a prophet. He claimed the office of President of the church, and still maintained the keys of authority could only be exercised by all twelve members acting in unity.
Over time, Brigham's successors in the presidency were said to have inherited the very keys of prophet, seer, and revelator that Joseph Smith had held. Never mind that they rarely exhibited anything resembling the facility Brother Joseph had shown with those gifts. These men may have held the keys, but that did not necessarily mean God was obligated to exercise those keys through them. As late as 1926, Heber Grant affirmed "I know of no instance where the Lord has appeared to an individual since His appearance to the prophet Joseph Smith."
But the members assumed differently. By the mid 20th century, the Saints were fond of singing "We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to lead us in these later days," as it was widely believed that Jesus Christ himself appeared regularly and in person to the living prophet who had inherited the mantle of Joseph Smith through Brigham Young, and down through John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and so on. No one ever said anything to suggest otherwise. And this in spite of the fact that the living prophets never seemed to relay any revelations or prophecies the way Joseph Smith had frequently done. It was just assumed that Jesus was guiding his church -somehow- through means of his living prophet.
This was the era in which I grew up in the church, when I was taught that nothing was as precious or important as having a testimony of the Church. And so I cultivated one. I hung on every word uttered by the living prophet as if those words had come from the very mouth of God Himself. This misguided dependence on the Magisterium was shared by almost everyone around me, affirmed by the famous guarantee of Wilford Woodruff that it was impossible for the prophet to ever speak falsely. Never mind that when Woodruff made that statement of infallibility, he was expressing his own opinion and not speaking words God had put in his mouth. But no matter. If the prophet said it, that was good enough for me.
It never occurred to me at that time that the prophet's opinion should not have been "good enough" for me or for anyone else. The prophet's words are only good enough when he is conveying a message directly from the Lord. Absent a direct revelation, any statement made by the president of the Church is no more inherently valuable than one of my own. As blogger Mike Danelek recently put it, the endgame of this kind of thinking plays right into the hands of those who accuse Mormonism of being a cult:
"One of [the prophet's] roles is to relay messages directly from God. But when that man is not receiving such messages, when the heavens appear to be closed (to the institutional Church, anyway), when all his statements can be reduced to opinions or rehashes of previous revelations, is it wise to put all our faith in him and the corporate entity he presides over? You don't think outsiders notice this lack of revelation in a Church that claims to be run by it? You don't think those questioning the faith notice an imperfect Church replacing a perfect God as the object of worship? How are we going to grow at the exponential rates we presume we are (the actual numbers are less than staggering) with such a culture of stagnation pervading over us?"By the dawn of the 21st century, the belief began to take hold in the church that not only were members expected to heed the words of the prophet, but they were also to give equal credence to every word spoken by individual members of the Twelve, who were now considered prophets in their own right.
Remember how Brigham argued that authority operated only with the quorum of the twelve united as a body? Not anymore. Now any individual with the honorific "President" or "Elder" in front of his name was to be heeded as if he spoke with the tongue of angels. Obedience to authority became the new mantra, along with the slogan "There is safety in following the Brethren." Never mind being disciples of Christ. Real salvation is to be found in following the Magisterium.
Our critics were rubbing their hands together and licking their lips. And Lucifer, who failed to get us to give up our agency during the war in heaven, was winning the battle here on earth while using "The Lord's True Church" as the tool to get us to surrender our will.
In the recently released documentary, State of Mind: The Psychology of Control, we learn how people who are taught from an early age to be obedient to authority are easily manipulated to give up their free agency. Although the film is concerned primarily with how "authority" is used to enslave people at the societal and political levels, the principal is equally pertinent in the religious arena:
"If you don’t submit to control...you’re not fitting in. From the time we’re very young, we’re taught to worship authority, basically, because that’s our key to survival as young children. But as adults, we never go through the rites of passage that tell us how to methodically think for ourselves, and thus we’re always in a state of extended adolescence.None of this "follow the leaders" nonsense is doctrinal, of course, and at times there have even been attempts by some general authorities to disabuse us of the idea that every word spoken in general conference or printed in the Ensign is inspired from on high. But for some reason, a majority of Saints just don't want to hear it.
"[J]ust because you have an authority making decisions for you at some point when you’re very young, too young to take care of yourself, doesn’t mean you should always cater to authority your whole life."
A couple of days ago when I turned on the TV I was bombarded with news reports that had me baffled. Apparently a new member of Britain's parasitic class had just been extruded from the womb, and crowds of Americans -yes, Americans!- appeared unable to contain their joy.
But why? The British people should have had sense enough to not be awed by all the ridiculous pomp and ceremony attending that event (and as I later learned, a good many of them did, to their credit). But why in heaven's name would anyone on this side of the pond, living in a purportedly free constitutional republic, allow themselves to go ga-ga over the birth of a creature in line to one day become a king, of all unsavory occupations?!
I suppose there is something implanted deep in our DNA which triggers the desire to worship something or someone, and in the absence of a living deity walking among us, some people will seek out a counterfeit to fawn over. Even otherwise level-headed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not immune to this pull toward idol worship, and end up elevating their so-called "leaders" to the status of demigods.
Beware Converts Bearing Gifts
There is a further reason we should depend on the scriptures for guidance, and not have our eyes glued to the corporate Church. As Daymon Smith demonstrates in his new book, A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, quite a bit of what we have come to accept as "Mormonism" is not legitimately "Mormon" at all when you take a closer look. An astonishing number of widely accepted LDS doctrines turn out to have been introduced into the fledgling LDS church by way of the thousands who converted from the Campbellite faith during the two years following the publication of the Book of Mormon.
While these converts were among the first to embrace the Book of Mormon, most of them did not bother to read the entire book. Instead, they scrounged around in it for those parts that seemed to affirm their tightly held beliefs. These converts didn't abandon all the dogmas of Alexander Campbell, but folded many of them into this wonderful new religion they now embraced, resulting in an odd mash-up of Campbellism and Mormonism that has us tangled up doctrinally to this day.
I'll have more to say about this remarkable book in a future post, but suffice to say this new volume has caused me to experience a paradigm shift in my thinking as to what is and is not organic and legitimate to our faith. (You can read an excerpt from that book by clicking here.)
Since the Book of Mormon claims to contain the fulness of the gospel, doesn't it make sense to at least question any teachings that appeared extraneous to that book? Are we not justified in investigating the origins of those teachings? If we hold to a testimony of "the Church" (however one chooses to define it) rather than grounding ourselves in scripture and bona fide revelations, we run the risk of having a testimony of things that have crept into our assembly by means other than the Divine.
Joseph Smith's Last Dream
I'm going to close by relating a dream Joseph Smith recorded just prior to his death. I am always surprised at how many people I have discussed this dream with who have never heard of it, or who don't have the slightest clue of its interpretation. I suppose that is because the dream is not widely published or circulated within official Church publications these days. And I suspect the reason for that is because it can be interpreted as not reflecting well on the modern institutional LDS Church of today.
In this dream, when Joseph relates how the farm was given to him by the church, you may be confused if you think of the Church in the modern parlance. To Joseph Smith, the church did not consist of the leaders. When he says the farm was given to him by the church, he means the farm was given to him by the members. At the risk of hitting you over the head with the dream's meaning, you might also want to note that it is the "structure" that has grown useless from neglect, and that those who arrive on the property to find him still there would prefer he move along and leave it to them.
"I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather-boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm.
"While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me.
"The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it.
"I told him the farm was given me by the church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to righteous principles it belonged to me or the church.
"He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the church.
"I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with the destruction of my body.
"While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud.
"When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended." (Documentary History of the Church Volume 6: 608-611)
Once again I apologize that the footnotes are not interactive; I seem unable to get that function to work for me. You'll have to skip down here manually, but I know you can do it. There are only three footnotes in the whole piece and they're highlighted in yellow to make them easy to find:
 Poelman's talk was clearly inspired, but as I documented here on a previous post, someone higher up than Poelman took issue with it (Poelman was a member of the Quorum of Seventy), and the original talk was scuttled. Doubtless one of the points The Powers That Be found most offensive was Poelman's suggestion that the ultimate goal of each of us should be to eventually get to that point in our spiritual and intellectual growth where we will no longer need the institutional Church in our lives.
If such a suggestion had been made in the presence of the ancient high priests Caiaphas and Annas, you can imagine they would have responded by burying it, too. The reaction of the LDS leaders in this instance brings to mind this clip from the film V For Vendetta, featuring the Chancellor shouting "I want everyone to remember why they need us!"
A video recording of Poelman's original talk can be found here. Compare it to the phony do-over, here.
 In the Gospel Doctrine Manual commenting on alma 1:26, we read the following:
"In the Lord's Church the members are a congregation of equals; there are no degrees, no academic titles, no worldly attainments that separate members of the group. The gospel has been restored in our day, for example, that every man and woman may speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world (see D&C 1:20). The bishop perhaps is a plumber, while his clerk is the vice president of a large corporation. The stake president is a farmer, while his high council is composed of lawyers and physicians and professors." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 10)
That is all true as far as it goes, but McConkie and Millet conveniently fail to mention the very ample compensation received by the supreme officeholders in the Church; the ones at the very top. Servants who labor in that privileged vineyard are well rewarded, with monthly salaries cleverly dubbed "living allowances," automobiles with paid drivers, virtually limitless use of Church credit cards, and other perks, including fine dining at high-end restaurants, a generous pension, and free tuition for their children at BYU. Clearly, it's time we stopped boasting about our non-existent non-paid clergy.
 As LDS author Denver Snuffer writes,
"Today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views Brigham Young as Joseph Smith's legal successor. This is a revision of history. At the time even Brigham Young did not consider himself the legal successor. Instead, he believed the right belonged to one of Joseph's sons, either Joseph Smith III or David Smith." (Passing the Heavenly Gift, Pg 72)
Andrew Ehat, author of Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon succession Question had this to say about Brigham Young's position:
"He had never considered himself as Joseph Smith's sole successor, and second, he had long hoped for the spirit of God to move either Joseph or David to fill the station Brigham believed their father had appointed to them."
"What of Joseph Smith's family?" asked Brigham Young in 1860. "What of his boys? I have prayed from the beginning for Sister Emma and for the whole family...Joseph said to me, 'God will take care of my children when I am taken.' They are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but will say, 'Amen! we are ready to receive you.' "
(Quoted in Snuffer, pg 73)
When Joseph and David did come to Utah some years later and spoke to packed houses of welcoming Saints, Brigham and the other prominent men of the church scrambled to defuse the excitement, denouncing the brothers as having apostatized from the true faith of their father. By this time, the Utah leadership had become entrenched in political and financial interests in the west in addition to heading the Church. The lengths the Brethren went to discredit the sons of their founding prophet provide proof that Lord acton's aphorism about power's ability to corrupt is as accurate regarding religion as it is in politics.
Rock, I'm so glad you put into words some of the things that have been troubling me about people who testify of church when they really mean the gospel. You want to hear my testimony? I testify that I'm relieved every Sunday when church is finally over. And I feel bad about feeling that way because as hard as it is to sit through the meetings, I love my religion.
I used to think I just had ADHD or something that made it so hard for me to enjoy three hours of church meetings and I thought I was the only one because no one ever talks about how hard it is to show up week after week and never be spiritually fed. We are made to feel the fault lies with us for not being reverent enough, when in reality the fault lies with the system that blocks the spirit from entering because uniformity is more important than anything else.
Maybe the girl who wrote you was one of those new facebook sister missionaries. She sounded drunk when she wrote you, which is just what I would be if I was a missionary and suddenly found myself assigned to approach people on facebook.
Better to drink than to kill yourself.
Hello Rock- A new blog groupie here; found your blog while surfing a couple months ago and I have to confess...I feel very much as though I've found a home here.
About myself- I'm a lifetime member of the church but have been inactive for several years. I never lost my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and have longed to come back to "church" but at this time in my life find myself at a crossroads as to whether I should or just remain "on the outside looking in".
Thank you for your blog and I hope to be helpful in my contributions to the dialogue.
Well Bear, I hope this post helps you realize you can continue to embrace the religion whether or not you care to continue attending "church."
I must report that there was a time, like around 1982, when equality did reign among the saints, many of whom worked in the COB. This was during lunch, in the COB's cafeteria, when everybody, bigwig and smallwig, all descended down the stairs from the first floor (and even members of the outside public as well; there were no guards or barriers back then to dissuade participation) to eat and talk as equals and there was no rank. Indeed, several times I saw the President himself (then, Mr. Kimball) just talking away with whomever, and when he entered nobody stood up or quieted down, nor did he expect them to. I loved to go down there and see this (plus the banana cream pie was to die for).
Now the Brethren eat by themselves in their special cove high above in the clouds next to the observation area on top of the COB, with a special elevator that only they have access to (other than the staff that serves them). Several of the sisters who guard the observation area have told me this. The cafeteria is closed to the public now and you can't go down the stairs anymore (I don't think), and, of course, the entire COB is a fortress of security guards and special passes. I never visit it any more. I'm not welcome there. Is anybody, who is not wealthy or famous or holds worldly rank?
I appreciate you sharing that scripture from Alma and teaching the true meaning of priestcraft, which is rampant in the LDS Church today, for it practices priestcraft by financially supporting it's highest leaders, even by taking the last dime from the widows and the fatherless & poor, who those leaders should be supporting instead, but are instead making those single mothers work to support the leaders who don't work. It's utterly appalling. All the LDS widows & single mothers I know are being neglected by the Church and made to leave their home & children and work. When it is the leadership's #1 duty to care for (financially especially) the single mothers and their children and to relieve their suffering, not add to it by making them support the leaders. Unbelievable.
I was once a full time missionary, I know how much easier and pleasant it is to go around teaching the gospel all day and let other's support me, than having to go to work myself. Let alone be a mother of children AND have to go to work too.
It is one of the greatest sins of the Church that they not only neglect and ignore the suffering of the widows & fatherless (single mothers), but that the leaders expect these struggling sufferers to support them, even in their high lifestyle. It is unconscionable and outrageous.
I believe that when Christ returns he will clear out the leadership of this church much the same way as he did with the money changers in the temple. It is all such an abomination.
Ah, how we Mormons become so manipulative when we encounter a nonconformist among our number.
As far as same, tired old meeting schedule being found all over the world, I might share a quick story. A few years back a recent convert (about one year in the Church) was called as a bishop of a ward down here. That was one of those rare inspired moves that really shook people out of their comfortable conformity (but only temporarily, unfortunately). He would at times after a sacrament meeting talk or musical number go up to the pulpit and say, "I know we don't usually do this, but how about a round of applause for that speaker? He deserves it." The discomfort among the congregation was palpable as they struggled between the competing forces of obeying authority and a lifetime of understanding what is proper behavior in the chapel. About half the congregation would clap.
The same bishop was not afraid to challenge his "superiors" either. During a youth (or young adult, not entirely sure anymore) fireside, after the Stake President gave the usual talk about not postponing marriage for the sake of education or career goals, the bishop got up and said to the youth: "Don't listen to this nutcase!" He went on to explain, "the fact that you may be in love or have faith is great, but I know from experience that a spouse wants to eat the occasional meal, too."
In the Church today, leaders require members to believe in them and their words & teachings far more than in Christ and his words.
One can quickly get disciplined or exed by believing in and following Christ laws instead of the church leader's newer laws and doctrines.
Church leaders today put themselves above even Christ.
It's not surprising how Wilford W.'s convenient opinion quickly became accepted as doctrine. For it's much easier to believe leaders can never lead us astray, and that we don't have to prove, pray & ponder or think anymore, for the idea that the thinking has been done for us is so crafty and appealing.
Personal responsibility to discern truth from error and true prophets from false ones in the Church is rejected by most members it seems, for 'proving all things' is too hard and takes too much time & effort, it's much easier to just believe the idea that 'prophets can't lead us astray'.
Never mind that a quick look into church or biblical 'history' reveals that prophets can and often do fall and lead people astray, especially those who like to follow blindly.
No wonder Joseph Smith constantly warned the early Saints to beware of and how easy it was to fall for false doctrine and false prophets who were among them, and that most of them would fall for such, because false prophets preach so near the truth and look just the same as true prophets unless one looks real close at what they preach & practice that is against the scriptures of Christ.
Holy schlamoly batman! Where is this place, I am moving there tomorrow!!! :-)
Rock, I know you are aware of this, of course. But one of the 'plain and precious truths' (sorry, I couldn't resist) that most LDS simply don't 'get' out of the Book of Ether (WHY would Mormon include that bloody book?)--
is that many righteous kings were in captivity. They chose not to resist their captors, because, well, maybe they were war-weary, maybe they were hugely outnumbered, or maybe the Lord told them, even through prophets, just to be patient--
This "church" is in captivity in every possible way. When the church was incorporated (I learned on puremormonism that it was Hugh Nibley's grandfather (?) who did the legal proceedings to incorporate it) it was taken out of the hands of the 'church' and became Church, Inc.--
with all that implies, including heavy debt to outside interests. The early church leaders (you also know this better than I) often spoke of the 'eastern' bankers--
well, it's still in bondage (captivity) as are most of the members (heavily bogged down in Babylon)--
so the salaries, etc.--which are not salaries (*cough, cough*) are a mandate of the corporation, to draw men who will work with Babylon, probably--
many of them have possibly not even questioned it, truthfully. But they have still been carefully groomed to do the will of the Babylonian 'elite' while trying to remain as "LDS" as possible--
I haven't expressed this very concisely, I know--
but I believe this to be true. Yes, there are other things in Ether. Mormon lightened it with chapter 12 (bless his heart!)--
but Ether is for US.
I think it 'crept', too--
So Rock, you're not going to get the new Thomas S Monson - BSA award?
I saw one of our young men wearing it around his neck at church today. To say the least, I was a bit taken aback by it. Oh well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I say let's all get one and wear it.
That's awesome. Just today in primary (my wife and I teach the 10-11 year olds) we were talking about the dedication of the Kirtland temple. I was telling them about the "Hosanna" yawp that we do at temple dedications. I talked about it as something that is unique to our "culture" and its the only time we as a "church" really ever intentionally make noise of any kind as a way of showing appreciation. I asked them if they ever felt the urge to ever shout or clap loudly after a great musical number in church and they all laughed and said yes. How sad that our culture seems to snuff out that desire to show appreciation in that way. Prop's to your young and inexperienced bishop. We could all use a few more of them.
Rock - Never commented before, but I find that I have been anxious and eager to read every new post you write. Such a gift you have! Thank you for writing.
I grew up in the Church and feel exactly the way you have described things: as a youth, church used to be fun(ner) - but it was really just a social thing. And now, as an adult, I find myself struggling. The social aspect of the Church just gives me a wedgie and as I am finding out...I just can't leave well enough alone - I haven't been to Church services in just over 4 months and I find my spirituality has increased 10 fold! Yet, I still am burdened with (family) those nagging thoughts about how I am "throwing away eternity and salvation" because I am not a "Molly Mormon" who is simply a drone.
I applaud you for being true to the scriptures and well, your ability to articulate your position. I am up to my eyeballs in my struggle to figure out how to physically separate the Church from the Gospel...because everyone I know is LDS and everyone I know doesn't understand.
Just wanted you to know you are doing good things and I am grateful to read your posts.
I was just having a discussion today with my 15 yr old son about the stupidity and almost complete worthlessness of going to church...except that "the church" (or is it "The Church"?) is a vehicle, complete with dented fenders, rust spots, bumpers falling off, cracked windshield and all, that still conveys the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. As Nephi, who devoted many, many hours of his valuable time, tediously scratched on metal plates in 1st Nephi and 2nd Nephi, and as can be readily discerned by carefully reading his report of his revelation about the Tree of Life in 1 Nep. 11 and later as he restated his revelation after some 40+ years of pondering it...as the Doctrine of Christ in 2 Nep. 31-32, it is the function of the church to bring members up to The Gate. The Gate is baptism of water and the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is given by Christ, under the direction of the Father. It is ONLY given in that way, not because someone who "holds" the MPH lays hands upon one's head. The church serves no other useful function than bringing people up to The Gate. From there on, it is their relationship with God through the Holy Ghost that will bring them to a face to face relationship with Jesus Christ (2 Nep 32:6). The church (or is it The Church?) DOES serve a function today. The church does also allow us a place to serve and a place to associate with other people who have similar values and goals but those are purely ancillary benefits. The church serves just one purpose today in bringing people up to The Gate through which they may enter the straight and narrow path leading to Eternal Life.
The other thing I would like to mention: Today in our ward there was a missionary farewell. The young soon-to-be-missionary, leaving in just 3 days, mentioned during his talk that he was having trouble being obedient to one of his new mission's rules...he could not get a part in his hair and every male missionary was required to "have a part in his hair". But he was working on it.
I laughed out loud, then noticed that no one else in the whole congregation seemed to think it funny.
Wow! Are we a boring, stultified lot or what!
Rock, I haven't read the entire post, as yet. But I will also join in bearing testimony of the church. Here's mine, received through a revelation given to me many years ago by the Holy Ghost:
"I know that the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints is the only true church."
the "zarahemla conference center" had me in stitches! great piece again alan! by the way is there a link to the post from the brother you quoted from about how the end game of following the prophet was playing into the hands of people thinking the church is a cult?
One other comment: There is much more to this scripture than is commonly assumed...
D&C 10:67, "Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church"
Repenting is the easier part.
Coming unto Christ is a long term process, best outlined by Nephi in 2 Nephi 31-32. It involves entering by the gate and ultimately ends in a face to face visit with the Savior (2 Nephi 32:6). His church is relatively small because men do not take seriously the responsibility to study, ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon...the same reason we are under condemnation (D&C 84:55-57).
Very interesting and thought provoking reading. Thank you.
You can call it rambling if you'd like, Rock, but I really liked your podcast with Bill Reel. Your closing remarks were very touching, particularly the Lemonade Stand story. I could sense you tapping in to the heart of the gospel, and I appreciate you telling it.
My favorite hymn (lyric-wise) is "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." Recently, this has been my go-to for pondering the heart of gospel, for partaking in the Christ consciousness if you will. It's a shame that we typically sing just the first 3 verses at sacrament, because when I take the time to truly ponder those words, all 7 verses of them together, I feel in almost overwhelming fashion the Spirit and the unconditional (yes, Elder Nelson, unconditional) love of the Lord--that pure, all-encompassing love Christ has for us and we really can have for each other. It's breathtaking to behold the power of that love.
I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't some universal rule that religious/conservative hate mail must contain multiple spelling and grammatical errors.
I enjoyed this one like all the rest.
Still your #1 apostate fan- neither baby nor bathwater for me. :)
Somehow, when this award was announced today in Sacrament meeting, right after the report from the scout in our ward who attended the National Jamboree and also became the first scout in our troop to earn this award, I thought of Pigeons, and wondered if it might have something to do with pigeon raising, as Tommy had once expressed his sadness and disappointment with the BSA for discontinueing the Pigeon Raising merit badge. Imagine my own disappointment when the description and explanation for this award seemed to have nothing to do with pigeons.
Shame on me for neglecting to put the link to Mike's wonderful blog in the body of the post. That oversight has been remedied. The blog, titled "Mankind Was My Business" is a relatively new rising star among the alternative group of Mormon Maverick websites. I highly recommend a look at his previous posts.
And thanks,ShawnC for providing that link for us.
Not apostate but heretical - look up the definitions, the distinction is important.
Sorry, just noticed that you aren't keeping the baby either. Maybe apostate is the right word here.
How long did he last? If for longer than 2 months, somebody bigger than a Stake President was protecting him, I suspect. Whatever happened to him? Did he ever make Bishop again?
In the old days, one did not esteem a bigwig until that bigwig died, either by naming a building after him, or naming an award after him as in this case. But when Hinkley took power BYU fell all over themselves naming new buildings and departments after him and his as soon as they could, and now the quiet dignity of the old days has disappeared.
But, to their credit, since the LDS Church is the biggest sponsor of the BSA and thus has influence over the BSA's decisions if they don't like something, they did clear the decision of the BSA's board to allow gay scouts (assuming they know that they are gay at that age) to belong to their local troops, but not the leaders themselves, which has some wisdom behind it. Being gay, I know somewhat about the community online, and the jokes that are written thereon about how youth should be introduced to the fold, shall we say, are not attacked as evil or perverted hardly ever, indicating at least a tacit approval of what was said. It is a good thing not to include the gay adults in the scouting environment. All of this had the LDS imprimatur upon it, or it wouldn't have happened at all, and I applaud it, believe it or not.
Like LDSA -- I heard [from the voice of the Spirit, right before I decided to be baptized]:
"The church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints is the true church of God."
I've spent the rest of my life, since then, figuring out what that means for me and my family in our daily lives as active members of our LDS congregation.
If that is really what the Spirit said then it's interesting how the Holy Ghost is telling people the opposite things, for he told me and others that I know that the Church wasn't true, that Brigham was never worthy or chosen by God to continue Joseph's true church. And that he and all the other church leaders who followed him were false or fallen prophets. I have a testimony from the Spirit that the true church was lost when Joseph died.
I really think it takes a 2nd witness to make sure what we are hearing from 'the Spirit' is really from the 'right' spirit. For even Joseph Smith, as good as he was, was deceived by false revelation & inspiration many times.
He taught us that our revelation can come from either God, our own mind & heart or from the Adversary, which is probably most often. Thus we need to test our inspiration and revelation to see if it's from the right source.
I have known many people who receive revelation from the Adversary, in the temple even, that sounds so good to them, and they are so sure it's from the Holy Ghost, but it's telling them to do things that are sinful and contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the scriptures, but they never see it as wrong.
I believe we need a 2nd witness to discern all truth, whether from our own soul or from any other source. According to Joseph and ancient apostles that 2nd witness which would be the 'scriptures'. If our revelation or church leader's revelation or teachings are contrary to what Christ and the scriptures say, then we can know for sure it's wrong.
I have had similar experiences. I do believe God speaks to us through the Holy Ghost, and I believe He gives us what WE need, not what someone else needs. And He speaks to us in a language we can understand--
My being told that a particular man was a 'prophet of God' when I was 14 years old, when I was fasting and praying--
led to a passionate 'affair' with the Book of Mormon, in spite of my sturdy doubts about Mormon culture, etc.--
and now the Book of Mormon is very important to me, decades later; I have an understanding of it I could never have had, if I had been told, "well, my child, there are PROBLEMS with that particular man who is being touted as a prophet; let me tell you about them."
No, He knew what I could handle and what I needed, and my 'testimony' that a man who has since disappointed me (but not totally; I can see what God was telling me clearly enough)--
was a prophet was the key *I* needed to keep going until I discovered what *I* needed out of the Book of Mormon.
Thank heavens and goodness He knows us better than we know ourselves--
@anonymous, if someone is not living righteously, I believe they can be told erroneous things, but usually to their condemnation; it will all be worked out--
and, yes, if a person is not immersed in the scriptures, the likelihood of that happening (being deceived) is even greater--
your last two lines, anonymous, are powerfully correct--
but Father does lead us, line upon line--
precept upon precept--
I could never have handled at age 14 what I can handle 50 years later!
but, anonymous, hearts that are not pure will never receive guidance--
from the Holy Ghost--
An excellent point about the church being in bondage. We can bring ourselves out of bondage simply by rediscovering the lessons of the Book of Mormon and, as the Lord said, "abiding by its precepts."
But just like the typical America who still thinks he if free just because he lives in America, the typical latter-day Saint still thinks he is following God's will because he attends church every Sunday.
That's a tempting piece of Kitsch for only seven bucks.
As Steven reminds us, in the old days a person had to pass on before he was honored with a building named after him.It's all well and good for BYU to have a building named after him on campus, but I can't imagine Joseph Smith approving an edifice built in his name during his lifetime.
Apostle Boyd Packer, whose false humility once caused him to insist that no fuss was to be made about him at his own funeral, today has no objection to the construction of a new building being named in his honor while he is still with us.
And Now Thomas Monson's visage will be etched onto a piece of jewelry designed for young boys to proudly wear around their necks.
One can only sigh. Or smile wanly. Or react with alarm.
Take your pick.
I first learned of the rule about parts from a missionary assigned to my ward. He told me every time Zone Conference came around, the Mission President got on his case about it.
The problem a lot of these guys have is that with their hair so short, there's simply no place to part the hair. Yet mission rules require there be some kind of straight line delineation somehow etched.
You want to preach the gospel of Christ? Never mind whether you're obedient to the Lord. You'd damn well better be obedient to the Church authorities and make sure your hair is military standard.
Are you kidding? The only time all verses of the song would be sung in one of our meetings is if we had extra time to fill.
Most of us have never even LOOKED at all the lyrics to that song for the simple reason we have never been instructed to.
Bjorge Queen manages to be both a heretic AND an apostate, Brian. And still one of my favorite people.
I agree LDSDPer, but they still always believe the Holy Ghost is giving them guidance, few unrighteous people ever believe they are really unrighteous.
So when I say the church is true, this puts the responsibility squarely on my shoulders to make sure I am being true to Christ, and true to eternal principles. After reading this, I feel much more motivated to govern myself and take more responsibility for my own spiritual growth. I do want to outgrow the need for an overseer. I want to be my own prophet and temple president. I am the church. I am the temple. Great post.
ShawnC, no use coming down, this was some years ago and things are quite back to normal these days.
Steven, he lasted around five years, about the normal length of time you'd expect a bishop to be around. He is now in the Stake Presidency; still quite the nonconformist, but somewhere where his influence is more dispersed and thus not quite as effective. And yes, it's curious that such an individual was called in the first place, then allowed to remain in his calling after showing rebellious tendencies, and still afterwards allowed to continue climbing the ranks of leadership...
And yet, other than for this particular reincarnation of J. Golden Kimball, the Church down here is still as bureaucratic and correlated as anywhere else.
There are only two levels of righteousness in mortality: 1. Those that drag the adultress into the temple to ask Jesus if she should be stoned, and 2. adulterers.
One of these gets forgiven by the Messiah. Act accordingly.
I see now why my experience in the Church never involved the Holy Spirit, because I joined for the expressed purpose of being able to play the chapel's excellent pipe organ without having to go through a Church Organist to do it, mostly because in the Mormon Church, hardly anybody knows how to play the thing at all. I had already been baptized 5 times before; what problem was one more? I've never had access to the Holy Spirit the way you folks have. I'm glad of that. When one is ignored, one has no responsibility and it isn't his fault because it wasn't his choice. Cool!
The other thing is that everybody misreads the Mormon promise of asking the Spirit if the Church is true because that isn't what it says. We are supposed to ask if the Church ISN'T true (as in "be NOT true"), and so all of those folks who asked the wrong question got the wrong answer. Oh, well. Is it true that the Church isn't true? Yep, says the quiet still voice, from the very beginning.
Brilliant. Thanks for writing this.
@Steven, I don't know why, but I "get" you, and I wasn't referring to you when I was talking about having a pure heart--
AND, yes, the pipe organs are being systematically replaced with digital--
@Cathodroid, wow, good--
@anonymous, that is what this life is a test; those who try to fool others . . . or themselves or God--
will end up realizing it after the 'show' is over.
I have been trying for years now to help people see a distinction in saying, "I know the church is true," and saying "I know that Christ lives."
I think that it is not inappropriate to say that the LDS church is the Lord's church. But that is very different than saying "the church is true." Let me explain.
I believe we have followed the same path as every other chosen people of the Lord. They all went astray. The LDS church however, does offer some very good gifts. First, they publish the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
I am extremely grateful to have these scriptures. I also feel that the prophecies in the Book of Mormon are squarely targeted at the Latter Day Saints. Moroni said it himself, "Why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ?"
Moroni was writing to those people who read the Book of Mormon. Those people are mostly LDS. Well, they should be reading it. I don't think many people actually do read the book. They might look at the words, but reading and seeing the words in my opinion are two different things.
Rock, you really hit it again. Today there are very very few people who have a testimony of Christ. Most everyone I hear at church expresses their testimony of the church. Even more, they are afraid to let go of this testimony of the church. They feel that it is the church, or Magisterium that will bring them salvation. My heart aches for the members of this church (Magisterium). We have so much in the way of scriptures to teach us the ways of God. The Book of Mormon is such a miracle. I still pray that many more will awaken and see the words of eternal life that are so plainly set before us.
Well put, JR.
Having watched the last worldwide leadership training meeting, where Elder Packer was allowed to speak off-script, I can assure you that he is no longer with us.
What LDSPer says here is true. (See, LDSPer, I don't hate you :) )
Justin, you ought to download my book on truth. It's free on my blog. Let me know what you think.
Rob, I've added your blog, "Upward Thought" to my blogroll on the right of this page. Sorry I had not known about it before.
Also, free book?! I'm in!
I'm sorry if I came off as rude or arrogant, I really didn't mean it that way. Bjorge Queen sounds like an excellent person.
I think most members get good feelings about Christ and the Book of Mormon and thus think everything and everyone in the Church must be true too. Or that just because Joseph Smith was a true prophet then all those who followed him must be true prophets too, no matter what kind of things they did and do currently.
I agree that the Church is in the deep apostasy foretold in the BoM. I believe the apostasy has been going on since Joseph died and maybe before, for I think Joseph saw it coming and tried to stop it but most Saints refused to listen to him and wanted to live things like polygamy instead.
I don't know anyone, lds or non, who really believes in the teachings of Christ anymore, they all seem to think his high laws don't pertain to us anymore. Of course though, they only think that because that's what they learn at church. They see the leaders ignoring Christ's teachings, so they do too.
Unfortunately I don't think the good the Church teaches, like the BoM, overcomes the evil they teach, promote and support and lead everyone to do.
First time when I was moved by the spirit while reading this most recent blog. goose bumps and more importantly an ache in my heart for a Kirk to be part of. LOVE YOU Alan! I hope my tears don't ruin my keyboard.
@anon 23, No, most people (lds and non) don't really believe in or follow Christ's teachings--
most lds and non-LDS Christians are neo-conservatives/social conservatives--
and these things are the basic things which they believe:
abortion is bad (I happen to believe that, too, though I'm not a neo-conservative or a social conservative)
gay marriage is bad (NO marriage should be licensed by the 'state', I believe)
poor people who take welfare are bad, and they are the reason America is in 'trouble'--besides the two things above
--war is good, and the U.S. needs to continue aggression abroad; military aggression has nothing to do with morality (NO!)
As long as most LDS believe that, they completely forget about Jesus' injunctions to remember the poor, visit the sick and those in prison, etc., etc., etc.--
all of those things get glossed over continuously--
It seems you are right, most LDS believe abortion is wrong, yet they keep voting for politicians who won't do anything about it. That means they are actually helping abortion's cause. 'The only thing for evil to triumph if for good men to just do nothing.' Thus most LDS are on the side of abortion by their supporting politicians who won't stop it 1st thing.
And yes, they also believe 'accepting welfare' is bad, but again, they keep voting for politicians who won't end 'government welfare or government education', instead of voting for people who will vote to let people keep their money and choose for themselves who they are going to help and where they want their kids to go to school.
And most LDS are so against and up in arms about 'gay marriage', while they all support things that are far worse sins, like polygamy & divorce & remarriage. They don't see how they are committing adultery in their divorces & remarriages and muliple sealings or supporting the adultery of their friends & family's remarriages.
I believe most LDS would reject Christ if he ever came among them, they certainly would cast true prophets out if they ever came around, for true prophets would preach totally opposite doctrine to what the LDS leaders & members want to hear and live by.
Have any of you seen the "how to eat a Reece's by the General Authorities" clip on YouTube? If you haven't, it's a must see. You'll roll on the ground laughing I promise you. Especially when BKP takes the mike, you'd think he was the emperor from Star Wars......"heretofore been established" gets me every time.
Nice post Rock.
It is beyond me, how any human with two working eyeballs, (and now even just one ear), can read or listen to anything you write and come to the conclusion that you do not have a testimony.
The hours days weeks months and years that go into your research speak volumes of your dedication and testimony.
I for one enjoy the rambling, as my brain functions much the same way.
Sorry about the anonymous, but I am trying to go under the google radar right now. I will say I live in Nauvoo/Carthage area though. I wish we were neighbors so we could sit on the porch and chat...and I could borrow all your books that are out of print or too expensive to buy or are not available here outside the universe of Deseret. I love my books. Oh how I miss the D.I.
Anonymous -- you said that the Holy Spirit told you the opposite of what I was told, but then you referred to the Spirit as a "he". That likely explains the difference then -- the voice of the spirit that spoke to me was a *female*. You were probably hearing from somebody else then.
Reading along about this, does Rock have a 'testimony'? There's no doubt that Rock has powerful beliefs about the things that MATTER!
I thought it was interesting--
last night our daughter was sent a message on FB from a ward friend who is . . . somewhat pushy when it comes to political and religious things and is of the neo-conservative 'persuasion'; there just really isn't much common ground for politics. But she was urging my daughter to 'like' the "LDS church"--
and my daughter said, "now, if I did that because I really LIKE the church, it would be different, but why, suddenly, all this pressure to 'like' the church? And what would be my motives for 'liking' it, and what are the motives of our ward member for asking me to 'like' it?"--
I thought it very strange; this 'liking' stuff, but I'm not on FB--
so our daughter decided to 'like' several somewhat controversial Mormon blogs (two biggies in the bloggernacle and not lds.org)--
and then friended Rock! LOL!
What a person believes or doesn't believe is that person's right to share or not to share, don't you think? This business of putting pressure on people to say the 'right' things is dishonest--
Yes, it seems we are getting our answers from different sources.
After reading the post and several of the comments I had these questions come flashing into my mind so I am going to ask them.
Is it possible that when the Spirit witnesses The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of God that it does not mean the corporate church?
Is it possible that there could be two of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? The corporate Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the actual Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is the true and living church on the face of the earth.
When I realized the church today was not functioning as the church of Christ I was quite shocked, hurt, dismayed. Then I came to understand what really constituted the Church of Christ and in my mind I had to separate the two. I think Rock has done a great job of showing that demonstration in what he has written. I believe the corporate church is not the church of Christ but the church of Christ can be found there. I know which church I embrace but we must each act on our understanding and be where the Spirit guides us to be.
Terrific post as usual. I am in awe of your talents.
I thought your use of the Lion King image mashup was interesting. There's a website twochurchesonly.com that traces the doctrines of the Church of Lucifer through history, and claims that the storyline behind that particular Disney epic is actually a retelling of Luciferian doctrine as taught and promoted in various secret societies (secret combinations)that the elite are particularly attached to.
According to his thesis, in the Luciferian way of thinking, the evil brother Scar represents Christ, while the "good" brother simba represents Lucifer. It's all upside down to our theology. So... the baby they're holding up and worshiping represents Satan, who they believe will come back and inherit the kingdom which is rightfully his.
Thus, your mashup is entirely appropriate for the Royal Family which believes itself the rightful heir and secretly seeks to dominate and oppress their "inferiors". Those who seek to enthrone and worship personalities, whether GAs, Royals or celebrities are worshiping false Gods. To the extent we buy into it we are moving away from the Gospel of Christ and investing in a cult of personality.
The Royals and the rest of the wealthy elite are currently engaged in plundering every bit of wealth from the poor and middle classes of the World through financial repression. When the system comes crashing down, they will seek ever greater power and begin the process anew as they create a New World Order in preparation for the Grand Showdown between the two brothers.
@Jeremy, well, that is the experience I had about 20 years ago; it was like a light bulb came on, and I hadn't studied the LDS 'corporation' as yet--
I just knew there were two churches--
So all the 'stuff' I just don't take seriously at all, and it leaves me very little to talk to other LDS about--
But I will gladly talk about the real 'church', which is Jesus' church, so I find myself wanting to talk about Him--
or the members of the church who are in need, etc.--
programs, needless activities, all the red tape--blah!
No need for that--
Ah, but Jesus has already won--even though He hasn't done the final 'crackdown'--
Dale, I appreciate how simply you explain it--
If there really is a Satan, except as a personification of the ape-side of our natures; that is, all of the evolved beastial natures of our bodies that conflict with and torture that which came from "above", which joined with that nature upon birth, and which leaves it entirely at the moment of death. I sincerely doubt that there will ever be anything like a "crackdown" where Jesus comes down to save a nearly-destroyed Israel with a magic big-toe that touches the Temple Mount and blows it up to reveal some secret river that has been waiting for millennia to be set loose.
Although, I am open to being proved wrong. All that has to happen is for two Mormon Missionaries to be shot dead in front of the whole world, and to lie there for three days (without being moved for burial for whatever reason) in view of any number of cameras, and on the third day rise up all healthy and handsome (all of that basketball playing when younger, you know), and then to hear the very voice of God Himself say whatever he's rehearsed to give us in the way of wisdom. When that happens, come back to me, and I will say that I am fully, completely, and utterly wrong...and you guys were right. I'm sure it will all be on YouTube for all to see within 5 minutes of the occurrence, anyway.
"Is it possible that there could be two of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? "
Two years ago I was finishing up a term as bishop in a very large inner city ward. I ran into a legal issue where someone donated money in such a manner that state law was going to be violated if Salt Lake took the money. Because of the arrangement that I inherited I had to approve of the transfer of funds *and* convince someone else to go along. Basically, I was being instructed to violate state law by Church employees.
I was threatened by Church lawyers with excommunication. It was crazy and nearly destroyed my testimony as the process dragged on. I asked for something in writing giving me indemnification - they wouldn't do it. I was specifically told by someone very high up (high profile position) that I should stop thinking about the law and just do what is right. Wow.
Things got very, very bad until the real Church stepped in to save my butt. Some GA got wind of what was happening, pushed it higher and the attorneys got smacked.
Yes, there are two churches within the Church.
I don't know what that part of revelations means, Steven--
about the two 'elders' (can't remember; I haven't read revelations in a few months; I've been focusing on the Book of Mormon)--
But I do believe the world is imploding. A very neo-conservative, but sweet, friend of ours, who is very lDS (TBM)--
just confided in us that all his well-laid plans for retirement have gone amok, and he spent decades in financial investments and gold/silver trading--
he and his wife are almost 80, and they aren't making it; he spent decades as a professional; his wife was a professional--
they've always had enough--
and now this. We are concerned that there will be a mental breakdown; we really love this couple--
I've never seen anything like this. Something is happening. Maybe you are right, Steven, to question the details; I believe you are--
but something is definitely happening 'out there', and it's alarming--
I realize my comment doesn't add any value to a serious discussion here, but I just have to take a moment to acknowledge a true comedic gem when I read it. That bit about being short on consonants but making up for it with excessive punctuation was absolutely priceless. I think I laughed for a good solid five minutes. Nice work Rock!
An amazing piece! Please don't let it go to you head! Keep it up...
You said so much I agree with I had to stop reading and tell you I'm in agreement more than you could know at this time...
I wonder if this is what Isaiah meant, when he wrote about the Watchmen (prophets) seeing eye to eye, and the "healing of the breach"...?
I have many a time walked into my own "RLDS Church" and watched the children, all sitting in the back pews trying not to look like they're sleeping, but to honest to look otherwise. I've watched RLDS and LDS members alike struggle in vain not to yawn in church.
Church members pretending to want to be in church, made liars by an unrepentant priesthood, who preach after their lusts, who teach after their desires, rather than according to the Spirit of the Lord.
I've wondered why we as people put up with such drivel from our priesthood? But that is another subject.
The God I know is exciting, never boring, always dangerously invigorating. In my walking either away, or back towards Christ after messing up my life, I have never suffered a moments boredom or sleepiness... Pain maybe, but never monotony!
Yet in church we put up with wells of sand and dirt, reservoirs so empty of the Living of Water, or defiled by dirty water, we almost instantly die as we walk through the doors to worship...
Why do we do that?
It's a mystery!
Needless to say, I don't' go to church... I figure if the Lord's not there, why should I be? I'm going to be where He is.
I feel I would be defiling my body the Lord's Temple by taking the daily bread of the enemy?
After all, any man who preaches more or less than the Holy Spirit directs is in a really bad way with God. By my being present in a church devoid of the Holy Ghost, I feel I would telling the " Unrepentant Priesthood" I'ts OK to grieve and ignore the Holy Spirit... I just cannot condone making a mockery of the Word of God.
You wrote "It's almost as if God had some uncanny ability to look into the future and see how, in the latter days, we would come to define His church completely UPSIDE DOWN".
Isaiah 29:27 Inspired Version/JST And woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord. And their works are in the dark; and they say, Who seeth us and who knoweth us? And they also say, Surely, your turning of things UPSIDED DOWN shall be esteemed as the potter's clay.
2 Nephi 11:150 RLDS BOOK OF MORMON
And they also say, Surely, your turning of things UPSIDE DOWN, shall be esteemed as the potter's clay.
An RLDS member and priest who believes in 1 assembly, that taking sides in organized religion is tantamount to war and "not the way of peace"(according Isaiah).
Section 1 of the D&C is being fulfilled as we speak. It is time all Saint's and those who "hope to be Saints"(see word of wisdom subtitle) repent, mend their ways and get with the Living God. I am not going to say I've got all the timelines figured out... I don't. But if you read Isaiah 30:25 "the fall of the towers,(911) at the time of the GREAT SLAUGHTER" READ ISAIAH 34 full chapter for interpretation of "great slaughter", is the time of the "Lord's vengeance for the controversy of Zion".
All Saints need to prepare, we must forsake Babylon (ways of the world-including world church religion/ and priest craft as we know it).
We need to become as the Lord originally intended. Read the first 3-4 chapters of Genesis. Man must go back to the earth-we must, learn to till the soil again, we must learn to have a relationship with all that God created for us. We must become as designed by God, dependent on Him alone for our daily bread.
The God omitting insulation of Babylon, the worlds system which keeps us living in comfort is about to collapse. The Kingdom of the devil is about to fall, and great will be the fall thereof.
We must forsake war, world wars war over religion, war over relationships, we must forsake the inner war of our conscience. We must become one in internal focus, congruent with ourselves. We as a people must become what deep down inside ourselves we each know God wants us to be. Forget our brother and his faults, we must focus purely on our own repentance.
I have compile a list of prophesied events to come. We know they are coming because 1 event has already happened. That event is the Book of Mormon.
An Angel shall go forth and preach the ever lasting gospel... (Book of Mormon)
The Fall of Babylon....
The Mark of the Beast.
Here is a mystery.... Who and What Church "Revelations 13" is responsible for the Mark of the Beast?
Hint: It's not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the 1st beast which gave power to the second beast. the second beast is a beast which like the Book of Mormon, sprang from the earth.
There are more than two restoration churches. There are at least 265 splits in the Restoration.
Anyone who's not seen the movie Hunger Games need to see that movie.
Personally I only saw part of the movie, I got the point and left the room. I'm no goody two shoes, on the other hand that movie told the truth way to close, at the same time entertaining people with the abhorrent idea of killing each other to survive.
The Hunger Games shows two parts of world government. The facade they and the church wants you to see, and the part they don't dare show.
I looked into the RLDS, to possibly join them, sometime near the beginning of my association with Rock's writings, and mostly I received good vibrations from what the website portrayed. I read the two or three new "revelations" that your highest level leader wrote down and was impressed with what they said and their focus on love. I liked the new Protestantization of the church's new name, as well as an effort to distance the entire organization from any association with Joseph Smith and his revelations, including the Book of Mormon (which I consider a total composition of his alone, and for good reason). It is true that the website acknowledged that the BOM was one of your church's testaments, but literally NOWHERE was it ever sited for anything, or even pictured. The website treated it as an embarrassment, more than anything else. However, the loving sense of community was everywhere portrayed, and it attracted me quite a bit.
Unfortunately, I'd have to drive 30 miles to get to the ONE church located here in Seattle, and I didn't want to pay for the gas.
We have invested a tremendous amount of labor (and some $) on a huge garden this year, but it's not producing very much food--
odd times, indeed--
we've been gardening diligently for decades, taking the time to do it 'right', etc.--
we are oldtimers, and it's disheartening to see so little--
Tremendous piece Rock. Your blog is the perfect lifeboat to step into when one realises the ship is on fire and it'll take the sinking of said ship in deep waters to finally put out the raging flames.
Someone commented above about the church from Brigham onwards not resembling Jesus' restored church as all leaders have been false prophets. I agree. Makes me very suspicious to think that when the Book of Mormon came out in 1830, it was coined the anti-Masonic bible as it condemned secret societies with secret signs and oaths most solemnly as the very evil that destroyed the early american nations, nephite and jaredite- the Freemasons and other similar secret clubs were livid and sought to destroy the Book of Mormon and the New York/Kirtland era church. Yet, the question is why and what were two MASONS Brigham and Heber C Kimball doing, when they joined the church? And 14 years later became controllers of the church? How can the president of the post-Joseph church which was supposed to be living consecration and monogamy according to the Book or Mormon become the richest man of Utah? AND with 55 wives? And goes on to seriously transfigure the Word of God and do atrocious things against the blacks and teach appallingly transformed doctrine- and lead the people into the Meadow Mountain Massacre. All i can say is there somethin' strange in the neighbourhood.
I had to put in my 2 cents about the Book of Mormon here. I don't want to point this at Steven, because I respect his feelings/opinions about the Book of Mormon, because I, well, I respect agency--
but I do have to add my personal experience with the Book of Mormon on a level many on here may not have considered--or had the opportunity of considering--
I had some special needs children, so I homeschooled--
because I had no other place to 'put' them--*sad LOL!*
I also some bright children, one gifted--
I couldn't figure out how to challenge my bright child and still teach my special needs children--
I was dealing with all sorts of things, including brain damage and someone who had come from an orphanage (terribly deprived situation; NOT a good orphanage) in a third world country--
I felt that I needed to teach reading above everything, so that my children could use that as a tool to learn other things--
I was working to teach English to a person who spoke another language--
and I was trying to teach one person how to process words into thoughts--
I heard something kind of in the air about the Book of Mormon being a reading 'primer'--
I had seen the old primers. Primers are books that are formulated to teach children their history and culture and to teach them to read. Someone, somewhere, mentioned that the Book of Mormon was a sort of primer; it had secular and religious history, but the point of it was to teach children their history, through reading--
I thought it sounded VERY ridiculous--
but several things I had tried with several children had failed terribly.
So, out of desperation, I began to use the Book of Mormon to teach:
I was astounded. Regular children's books had not captured their interest (even the bright one who found many things condescending and had to have only the HIGHEST quality writing in order not to be bored)--
The Book of Mormon worked. I was really quite incredulous. How could this be; how could this happen?
The Bible didn't work; in fact, none of them liked it at all, and they couldn't understanding it; wrapping their little minds and tongues around the words just frustrated them. I set the bible aside. The D&C? No go.
Only the Book of Mormon would work--
To be continued; thanks for your patience--
The child who comprehended little became a very fluent reader. Sure, not much was understood, but much was spoken and articulated, and eventually some simple understanding came. Along with a passion for the Book of Mormon.
The gifted one became an avid and voracious reader and still respects the Book of Mormon--
The one who had spoken another language still doesn't read much, except the Book of Mormon--
other scriptures hold little interest and are very frustrating--
the understanding is still not the best, but the reading of the Book of Mormon is smooth and fluent.
I don't know how to explain this. IT'S A MIRACLE!!! (*smile*)
But it happened, and I would recommend it to anyone with children who are any kind of special needs, including both ends of the 'scale'--
I'm not saying that ideas still don't need to be explained when children are really disabled, but the reading is fluent--
maybe that doesn't matter, but it helped some of my children bridge some huge gaps--
I don't know how to explain this other than that Nephi (and others) intended this to be a record that was read by and to children, in order for them to understand the most important parts of their culture--
I just don't know how Joseph Smith could have pulled that off all by himself, however he was purported to have written or translated it--
especially since the D&C, ostensibly his writing (or revelation written down by him) didn't do anything for my special children--
Just throwing it out there--
Fusion, I have wondered SO much about how and where and why the 'hijack' occurred, because I believe one did--
and, though I am sure some of my ancestors were pure-hearted, or I HOPE they were--
I am not naive enough to think that my ancestors were so good that they didn't deserve to be hijacked--
oops, and those two posts were full of typos--
(if you're one who notices such things)
I also heard that Joseph Smith himself, even after the Book of Mormon said those things about secret societies, became a high-ranking member of the Masons sometime just before he was captured and killed, and that the last thing he reportedly said as he fell out of the jail window was actually a Masonic Brotherhood cry for assistance or help. Did Joseph lose the Lord's favor when he returned to Nauvoo instead of going out to the West as the Lord supposedly instructed him to do, as much because he was also a Mason besides?
that's the frustration; we'll never know; he was killed.
It's also hard to know what to believe about him based upon what was said about him--
After all, he was told that his name would be known for good and ill--
LDSDPer, Did you teach your children from the standard LDS publication of the Book of Mormon? If so, I am doubly impressed!
Some years ago Lynn Matthews I think her name is, published the "Easy to Read Book of Mormon. Her motivation was children she knew (hers or those she taught, I don't recall)who had learning disabilities.
She merely replaced the Jacobean language (Thee, Thou, Ye, cometh, receiveth, etc.) with their modern counterparts, and it made a highly readable and inexpensive alternative.
Also someone published a book, "Mormon's Story" with an easier translation placed side by side on each page with the "authorized" one.
It's notable that the institutional Church did not look favorably upon either of these translations,even though it resulted in many people, adults as well as children, finally picking up and reading the Book of Mormon for the first time in their lives. I think it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the Church(TM) not being able to exert control. But that's corporate-think.
I did, Rock. The big print, cheap ones--
it's falling to pieces now, but we've saved it, for the sake of the memories--
they wanted to read, and they would mark, with their pudgy little hands, the date(s)--
even comments here and there--
or when we would travel, where we were--
My husband is reading the original right now, and he loves it--
I didn't know there was anything else, and my kids didn't flinch at the honorific language (Jacobean, as you say; it was really the language of the common people, I think, wasn't it?)--
So, when someone says that the Book of Mormon is not authentic, I scratch my head--
there's SOMEthing to it, besides the fact that I, personally, love the book--
Even my one who no longer is in the church still reads the Book of Mormon, but the issues are not issues of faith anyway--
It's a simple choice.
Either we believe Prophets of God would purposefully lie and deceive others and their wife their whole life and run around after other women, let alone teenagers, behind their wife's back or even in front of her, and disrespect, abuse and torment her all her days and their children,
'OR' we believe 'true Prophets of God' to be honorable faithful trustworthy, honest, loving, kind Christlike men who would never even think of doing such things.
It all boils down to what type of God we choose to believe in. Which will determine what kingdom we go to. What ever kind of people we put faith in is who we will be with in the next life.
I believe the words & teachings of Christ, and only believe and listen to those who preached and practiced the same teachings as Christ, which Joseph did.
So I believe Joseph's own words that he preached his whole life, one's I can prove he said. I don't believe any hearsay or vile rumors, no matter how many people pass it on and believe it.
Christ and Joseph Smith can only expect us to believe the words they said and published while alive, no more or less.
So if Joseph Smith lied and really did fall for & live polygamy, he would never blame us for not believing the rumors. If he fell like Brigham did, I'm sure he is now repenting and is deeply remorseful for not having followed Christ's laws against polygamy.
But then again, I don't believe Joseph fell and lived polygamy, I believe it's very clear he was true and faithful to Emma & God till his last day.
I believe Joseph hopes we listen to his proven teachings and to Christ's above all other voices, which mean that polygamy isn't a true principle, never was and never will be. For God does not change. The Gospel & God's laws have been the very same for Adam as for us today and everyone in between.
There is no frustration of confusion if you believe in and follow Christ and his teachings, then everything makes sense, especially Joseph's Smiths words and life.
And to top it all off the Holy Spirit can tell us the truth of all things, even if whether Joseph lived polygamy or not.
Oh, Joseph had all the verbal skills; there's no doubt about that! He was amazing, as far that goes, and one of them Early American geniuses. But he wasn't the first, nor the last person to create a tome of scripture and then build up a Church around it, nor was his Church the only one to receive rejection by the established religions of the land.
There are two main reasons that I reject the BOM as "scripture".
The first is that nowhere has anything been found archaeologically (even among the Mound Builders) that uses any name or story that is contained within the script of the BOM. The Bible, yes. The BOM, no. If there is, please direct me to it, but it must be a peer-reviewed claim, not some guess made by some guy with an agenda, who has a 6th grade education and a toilet outside being used as a flower pot.
The second I explained earlier in the comment section of one of Rock's previous talks. There, I explained that Pearl of Great Price was a complete creation of Joseph's mind, because the workbook he used was found and proved to be false in every way, although what he created looked, sounded like, was as broad and deep as anything found in BOM, which can only lead somebody like me, to logically assume that if Joseph could have created the POGP, he most certainly could have created the BOM as just easily, and if you were to read the BOM as it appeared in its original form, you could see how clumsily it was constructed, and how he used ignorant peasant ways of talking in it. There were good reasons that the Church redid the script about 800 times since.
Those are my good reasons for saying that the BOM is humanly constructed totally. (Man, I'm glad I never went on a mission. I would have never survived.)
I keep saying that I appreciate your perspective, and I do; you make me think--
I know you have Aspergers, too, and people with Aspergers are able to be dispassionate, something that is really hard for those of us who emote constantly--
I have heard what you write before, about Joseph Smith being capable of or brilliant enough to write the Book of Mormon, even in the short period of time he had, even with as little 'formal' education as he had--
I went through about 20 years of despising Joseph Smith and thinking Brigham Young was a victim of Joseph's lewdness and debauchery--
during that time I struggled with how on earth I could love a book written by or translated by such a man--
but I did, and I do--
oh, as a child I could hardly say I 'loved' it. I did graduate work in English (literature, mostly), though I didn't finish my masters' degree, and I am not a shabbily read person--
I have read a lot of classic literature, and I've spent a fair amount of time in the Bible and studied it quite thoroughly--
I have refused to get caught up in study guides for the Book of Mormon, however--
I've gotten caught up in study guides for all sorts of classical (some obscure) English and American literature, but never the Book of Mormon. As a 'feeler', it speaks to my soul--
I have seen things in it that I find really interesting, such as the not so well disguised racial prejudice most of the (even 'righteous') Nephites had towards the Lamanites--
I have been annoyed with Nephi for being such a golden boy--
and I was horrified when he killed Laban--
the fact is that I can't prove you wrong. I can't prove anything. I also can't prove that Joseph Smith was a lecher or even a polygamist; there is no court-worthy evidence--
I know he got killed under mysterious circumstances, and I have come to feel that I misjudged him all those years ago and for so many years, even while reading the book to the point where I practically have it memorized . . . that he was purported to either having translated or written--
and . . . sadly, I lost all my respect or sympathy for poor old Brother Brigham. I couldn't hang on to both of them at the same time--
I am a doubter by birth, and I've been through faith crises (the latest Mormon catch phrase) of renown (to myself anyway)--
but I have some unique experiences that only the Book of Mormon (however it came about) has spoken to--
been saved by it, in a way--kept me from having a perpetual pity party--
and I DID serve a mission, and I don't know how I survived, and I don't even pretend to proselyte anymore, and I don't even encourage my children who might to serve missions--
I'm not even sure I would defend 'the church' to an outsider--
I might agree and say, "yes, *my* people and the organization to which *we* ostensibly belong are pretty rascaly and, by the way, self-righteous"--
but I wouldn't change the fact that I served (in a foreign country with a profoundly different culture)--
I might change HOW I served; I would SERVE more, definitely--
the odd thing is that--I was raised by a scientist, so I can understand your emphasis on PROOF--
though I learned early in life that peer evaluation is not always fair and is often biased--
I certainly saw my father be the victim of that--
there was plenty of dishonesty in his field--and there is in all scientific fields, if what I have observed is not the exception--
proof is a flighty thing--
part 2 (and I KNOW there are lots of awkward bits in the Book of Mormon!)
When I was serving a mission I had some profound, undeniable experiences that were not hallucinations--one in which my life was literally saved, very dramatically, in a way that could never make sense to anyone who has to have 'proof' of anything--
it changed my life, and even when I shook my head over Joseph Smith and was annoyed with corporate Mormonism as far back as 20-30 years ago--
I could not, ever, deny that (and other) experiences--
there is no way I could ever PROVE that I had those experiences, but I know I did--
there are SO many people who think Paul, the apostle, was a bad guy (Christians, yes, quite a few)--
who think he was the one responsible for the apostasy of the Christian church Christ restored (though I'm using all the wrong words; so many modern Christians scoff at the use of the word "Christian"; it is Greek and heretical, according to them)--
but he said it--
"I saw a vision; I knew it; I couldn't deny it"--
were they deluded? Maybe (he and Joseph Smith), but it did happen to me, and it happened when I was serving an LDS mission more than at any other time in my life--
and it WAS an awful mission; I saw all sorts of priesthood abuse (though the most compassionate person I met my entire mission was a very quiet 20 year old elder, no romantic involvement there)--
and things that would make your hair curl on that mission--
but I was saved, again and again, had miracle time and again--
I don't know. For a book a perverted farm boy wrote? I don't know--
I tell you I don't know. But the best time of my day is when I pick up the Book of Mormon and read it; it keeps me going, and my life is not easy; I need something to keep me going--
all my beloved British authors don't do for me what the Book of Mormon does for me, and believe me, I LOVE to read those guys (and girls)--
I can't explain it, and I don't mean to argue with you, but I am presenting the other 'side'--if there is one.
Maybe God just saw that I was struggling and decided to send me miracles I would never be able to refute while I was living in a bizarre country far away--
and stood out like a sore thumb--
peace, hope and understanding--
I love Ghandi, too, and he had some WEIRD things about his character--
much of what he preached . . . I see in the people of Ammon--
who lay down and were killed; some of Ghandi's followers did that; some were killed, but the Indians got their independence, with all its flaws--
Ghandi was born long after Joseph Smith died--
brilliant men are often eccentric--
not always lechers, but often not focused on being 'normal'--
whatever Joseph Smith was or did, I won't be parted from that book--
and to each his own--
(hope the wink is not too . . . threatening)
Steven, the Book of Mormon says nothing at all about asking if the church is true. Moroni says this:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Notice that he says "these things" - meaning the book one has been reading. There are also caveats. One does not simply ask. One remembers God's mercy from the time of Adam down to the present time. One ponders in one's heart. One asks with a sincere heart. One asks with real intent. One asks having faith in Christ.
The process really isn't as cut and dried as most of us believe. And, whether we ask, "Is it true?" "Is it false?" or "Is it not true?" makes no difference. The question that is in our hearts, if we follow the instructions, will be what will be answered. God is no bureaucrat, creating nonsensical instructions to trip people up, into asking for something opposite of what they thought they were asking.
LDSPer, this: "I just knew there were two churches--" really caught my attention.
Jeremy was talking about two churches - the corporate one and the other one - and when you made this comment, I heard the scripture in my mind from Nephi - "There are save two churches only," and one is the church of God and the other is the church of the devil. Surely, Nephi couldn't have been talking about us in this scripture, could he? Saying that WE are divided into two churches only?
Loved your comment, LDSPer.
that is hard. I have heard of many such things, however--
@Rob, I'm glad you don't hate me; I appreciated your last blog essay--
on YOUR blog; at least, I assume it was your blog; I think I saw that little picture with the white or cream jacket--
and @Landon, yes, it's hilarious--
Steven brought up the quote from Moroni -- about asking if the Book of Mormon is not true. I would like to point out that, as a scientist, I can tell you that to ask if something is not true is to assume that it is true [it being "true" is the null-hypothesis] -- whereas to ask if something is "true" is to assume that it is not true [meaning the null hypothesis is different].
Meaning Moroni wants us to assume that the Book of Mormon is true [as a null hypothesis] and then ask God if that is not true, or to override that hypothesis beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt.
It's not the case that the "Yes" that most LDS have received in response to this call by Moroni means "Yes, the LDS church is not true.".
In reading all the stuff Rock writes about it is easy to see his testimony. For those who criticize Rock for not having a testimony are not really reading what he writes. I finally found a site, this one, with people who think the same way I do. Yeah, there are some differences,but we are all different, which is good. I love this site, and I love to read what Rock writes. He has an insight that is rare, and a very good writing style that is easy to understand, and very educational. He puts stuff out there that gets one thinking. And in a good way.
On another note, I want everyone to know that Rock is awesome. I know, I know, most of you already know this. He helped me with a situation when I had no where else to turn. I am forever grateful to Rock that he took time from his busy schedule to listen to me and guide me. It is nice to know there are still good and awesome people in this world, and that there are people still willing to help a total stranger in need. Thank you Rock!! I am a fan for life!
JRSG in Arizona
I think you all need a wake up call. I suggest you all watch the following video and receive wisdom if you are able.
As soon as he hissed the word "liberal" and spoke with such a sense of superiority, I knew what kind of prideful, and hateful man he was, and I just left the video forthwith. There is no love within his conversation. There is nothing of Christ within his soul, although he used the Christ name to advance his own worldly advancement. In other words, what a FAKE!
winks are okay, just as long as there isn't more than one a year. More than one, and I begin to shake and moan, a sight I would not wish on anyone.
You only prove his point, that "liberals" like to quote the compassionate words of Jesus but choose to ignore Jesus' warning about the consequences of sin. Perhaps you don't realize that it was Jesus who spoke about "hell fire". You think somehow you will get a pass while openly defying God's laws? What does the Bible say? You left the words of God "forthwith" long ago.
Tens of thousands of Near Death Experiences say nothing about hell, except that it exists within the person himself or herself in the form of intense regret when he or she is given his or her life review. And then all is, indeed, forgiven as one would forgive a child who wasn't able to master some concept the first time. And that is how it is, as horrifying as that might appear to you. You should rejoice instead. Too bad the love of YOUR God isn't unconditional.
The Bible's script has been changed a million times since it became and before it even became The Bible, and remember that the first "book" didn't get written until Jesus had been "dead" for 70 years. Lots of opportunity to get stuff wrong because the memory falters as people die, or there is lots of time to change stuff to suit the agendas of mortal men. "The Bible" is one of the most suspect creations of mankind since it gained the ability to talk. I speak of the "New Testament".
The "Old Testament" is just a bit better, but even it was created after the Hebrews got their land taken by the Babylonians, in order to replace the ethos that that that land given a people with "The Word", even as the Hebrews then scattered all around the globe. They needed something to keep them together.
Oh, man...trust not the mere creation of men!
You emphasize mercy, but you ignore and dismiss justice. You reduce hell to some sort of difficult period of personal inward reflection---talk about mere creation of men! But what does the Book of God say? You prefer not to defer to what the Book of God says, but instead to diminish the Book of God as the product of mistakes and failures of men.
In this are you justified? This dismissal again provides a manufactured way for you set aside and dismiss the consequences of sin as though they are insignificant, to make you feel more comfortable in those sins. You comfort yourself by imagining you will be justified simply on the basis of your lack of understanding---although actually willful misinterpretation---of God's commandments.
There is no conflict between unconditional love and eternal laws with consequences. God loves unconditionally by providing a way to satisfy both mercy and justice. But you delude yourself to imagine He will just overlook unrepentant sin and willful rebellion against His laws. Injustice is not love.
Do you imagine that somehow you would magically cease sin if only you had the commandments personally delivered to you face to face by God, without "mistake", instead of through the "suspect" words of His holy prophets? Again, that is wishful thinking to comfort yourself in sin. The same spirit that possesses you in this world will have power to possess you in that eternal world. Hell is no myth. If you bothered to sincerely consider God's word you would have to accept this fact. That is why you must dismiss it, it won't abide your sinful desires.
all right; I will make a note of the date!!! :)
@anonymous, August 9, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
Mercy; what does this have to do with this blog or this discussion?
this man is caught in the left/right paradigm--
Steven, I have actually read many 'near death experiences' where they talk about a horrific hell which is far worse than most can even imagine.
I believe there definitely is a hell, and probably many degrees to hell, but while painful it will be a time of learning the difference between good and evil and how to choose good, for those who refused to learn it here in this life.
The Book of Mormon warns about those who refuse to believe in a Devil or a hell.
And even though God loves us all unconditionally, that doesn't mean he can dismiss our sins and the punishment of hell. If we don't live according to Christ's laws then it will be as if an atonement was never made for us and we will have to atone horribly for our own sins. God can't save us from that no matter how much he may love us. God must obey and let eternal law prevail.
After we have paid for our sins then God can show us mercy and let us come live in a wonderful kingdom in heaven, whether it's the Terrestrial or Telestial. But we have to become totally pure and righteous before he can allow us into heaven, and becoming such is what we must do in Spirit Prison or hell, even for a 1000 years for some, before we learn to really repent and be totally righteous.
Joseph Smith said that the saddest thing he ever saw was a vision of Saints in the resurrection who received a lower eternal glory then they had thought they would.
So many of the comments on here are about interpretations of the gospel---how it is too rigid in some cases, or not implemented according to so-and-so's tastes, or how it should just be about this issue or that point---and generally the liberalization of it. But what does God have to say? This is not about liberal as in left vs. right politics, but liberal as in white-washing God's word and making it into what suits you.
We can all use a reminder of the fact that the commandments do have force and justice necessarily involves consequences, or it is not justice at all. To reinforce our personal precepts, not rooted in God's word, is folly. And it ignores the serious and real consequences, usually making excuses for sin and inventing comfortable ways that it will somehow all just be okay regardless of the warnings from Jesus Himself about hell.
This reminder should help everyone (who is willing to receive it) reevaluate how easily they dismiss structure, order, and reverence in matters pertaining to the gospel. This is a serious matter with serious consequences, not to be taken lightly or opened to the doors of corruption creep because it "bores" somebody or whatever excuses.
This life is serious, and it is FOR KEEPS. Do-overs are wishful thinking, so we must get it right, and get straight about what's ahead.
LDS DPer asks what does this digression have to do with this blog or this discussion.
The answer is: nothing. I believe HF stumbled onto a "Mormon" blog and felt it his responsibility to save us from the fires of hell.
HF's invitation to watch his YouTube video is spam from an internet troll, nothing more. I find it best to ignore such arguments. They only serve to run us off topic.
But as long as we're off topic, I'm siding with Steven. The link below is a pretty thorough explication on what Jesus and the apostles really meant when they spoke of hell.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the King James translation of the bible is perhaps the most undependable translation in history. It's a wonder anyone depends upon it.
Not so sir. I'm a firm believer in the Book of Mormon and frequent reader of your blog. The comments here reminded me of that youtube video---although I don't agree with it in every point. The *responses* to your blog prompted me to post that particular link.
It's easy to downplay the Bible, there are plenty are rationalizations for that view, even essays like the one you link by someone who does not even accept the Book of Mormon. But that view requires great discipline as it is also a slippery slope for many to cherry-pick a gospel that they find convenient. For example, maybe you'll also agree with your reference's author that water baptism is passe too:
But what about the Book of Mormon. What does it say about hell? Is that also just a translation/corruption problem? You'll have a harder time supporting that claim without throwing it out altogether. Jesus makes the same warnings in the Book of Mormon about hell as in the Bible.
You, of all people, who makes a persistent point about how LDS leaders can and may have strayed in many respects from the pure gospel, should be sensitive to the creeping handling of this point. Just take a few moments and skim through what the Book of Mormon has to say about hell and then tell me you your view is unaltered...
What does God say? We have His word from His holy prophets. It's hard to say that they are wrong in those places where they agree. "What does God say" needs to be asked more often, not less often, and it would serve you and your readers/commenters well to refer to God's words as often as possible to temper mere opinion.
HF, I stand corrected on my assumption that you were a non-Mormon trolling. But I stand with the writer of that article on the separate meanings of Hell and Hell-fire.
I will, of course have to revisit the Book of Mormon prophet's teachings on hell (something I will not be able to do any time soon), but my immediate guess is that the word in the Book of Mormon refers closer to the New Testament word for Hades as the unseen place of the dead than gehenna/hellfire. In fact, the link you provide above to LDS.org provides enough quotes to convince me that hell is synonymous with death as the unseen or imperceptible world beyond; the death we would not be able to return from if not for the atonement of Christ.
It's also worth noting that the bible dictionary included in our scriptures has been largely adapted from the Oxford Bible, so all definitions are not strictly inspired just because they are found there.
I'm currently reading Daymon Smith's excellent book "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon," which gives a compelling history of how much of our own interpretations from the Book of Mormon have been entangled with Sectarian teachings, so my next reading of the Book of Mormon will be exercised with fresh eyes, letting go of all assumptions most of us carry with us from our reading of the bible. In other words, simply because the Book of Mormon prophets speak about hell, we should not assume their meaning matches the traditional Catholic/Protestant understanding.
That hell is an undesirable state to be in, I do not question, of course. But I believe it is a state of being rather than a place.
The Book of Mormon warns us to avoid hell for a good reason. What I question is the commonly held belief of an eternal pit of flames and endless torment. I do believe in eternal progression, so ultimately everyone has the opportunity to make it out of that state, though it may take eons. That is what the love of God provides.
P.S. to HF: You surmise, "maybe you'll also agree with your reference's author that water baptism is passe too."
Not necessarily. Just because I agree with a person in one area does not mean I accept his opinion in another. His understanding of the meaning of words translated from the Greek and Aramaic is one thing. If he were to insist that the word baptism was translated from the Greek word for "sprinkling" I'd have a problem with that. But if he concludes baptism is no longer necessary, that is not a conclusion of translation, but of interpretation of doctrine.
It would not surprise me to learn that he and I differ quite a bit on doctrine. But it was not his doctrinal interpretaions I cited him for. I cited him for his understanding of words used in the KJV, an understanding also shared by countless LDS scholars.
When preaching concerning "hell" was taking place in the Book of Mormon, generally people who were rejecting Jesus Christ were the ones to whom prophets were speaking--
near death experiences about hell--
my husband met a man on his mission who emitted a foul spirit--
he was uncouth, ugly in speech and admitted that he had spent his life hurting people--
this wasn't a person mired in sin who wanted redemption; this was a person mired in sin who had revelled in it--
when my husband began to talk about the spirit world, the man said, "I don't want to hear about it; I almost died once; well, I did die, and I came back, and it was a black, dark, awful place; don't speak to me about that"--
and asked my husband and his companion to leave.
I . . . um . . . don't think we have many sordid sinners on this site who do not want the redemption of Jesus Christ. I would be surprised if anyone on here does not care deeply about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, whatever weaknesses might be shared among *us*--all being unique and human--
I can tell you that I have had more problems meeting pure-hearted people who think they can NEVER be good enough than meeting the kinds of people that my husband met--
but in my ward . . . well, let's just say that there are some persecutors; they are very good "Mormons", but they are unkind to the poor in our congregation, openly 'snubbing' them--
when these people talk in church, they say all the right things, and they are quick to send their children to BYU and on missions, but something isn't right--
I think they need the heaven and hell talk from Alma--
No names mentioned; just this morning someone I love was treated with inexcuseable cruelty by someone from this family--
some tears were necessary before it was simply admitted between us that some 'good' Mormons have dark hearts--
Sorry, but it's true--
temple recommend notwithstanding, some have skinny hearts--
I may be an exception, but things have happened in my life that have made me question a lot of what I was taught; I turn daily and intensely to the Book of Mormon for answers and comfort, and always I see the Savior.
He loves me. He'll help me get to a place where I won't sit in the darkness; I have that kind of faith in Him.
If I repent constantly.
In your first comment you stated the following..."I think you all need a wake up call. I suggest you all watch the following video and receive wisdom if you are able." I watched all of the video. What wisdom, in your opinion, were we supposed to receive?
This type of "hellfire and damnation" preaching, which was first used in America by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, is a form of rhetoric (a technique) which is used to manipulate crowds and stir up their emotions. By the way, it is the same technique used by politicians such as Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler to manipulate the crowds they were speaking to. If you look into the history of this type of preaching (rhetoric) you will find that these preacher and politicians practice many hours in front of the mirror, becoming proficient with the cadence of their voice, their hand gestures, the exact words they use, the quiet parts which build up to the very loud parts. These theatrics have been shown to put people minds in a more suggestible hypnotic state. It's easier to control them this way. Personally I don't like having my emotions jerked around.
It would be good to look up "hell" in the LDS Bible Dictionary. It does a pretty good job of defining and putting into proper perspective the different types and classifications of hell. Let me know what you think.
I noticed that in all your comments you forgot the most important element in determining the truth. You mentioned the scriptures and the holy prophets, but you didn't mention the Holy Ghost. Leaving out the Holy Ghost is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool - not very stable.
Going back to your first comment you started by saying..."I think you all need a wake up call." You are making an unrighteous judgement here because you know very little about any of us who post on this blog. This is unless -HF stands for Heavenly Father. Are you Heavenly Father?
In your second sentence you say..."I suggest you all watch the following video and receive wisdom if you are able." Another harsh judgement with an insult tacked on to the end. Is this what Jesus would do?
Are you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? I think your earlier comments were deceptive as to your background because of your comeback... "Not so sir. I'm a firm believer in the Book of Mormon and frequent reader of your blog." When I read your comments it sounded like you were a anti-mormon trying to convert all us cultish Mormons to Jesus. Was this intentional or unintentional? I will leave that judgement up to God.
May I suggest to you that you go back and look at what you said and put yourself in our shoes. In your heart you may have good intentions but your accusations and harsh judgements might put you in the category of what Christ said in Matthew 5:22..."but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Also carefully read what LDSDper wrote today. In my opinion there is much more wisdom there than in the video you referenced.
Just some food for thought.
Well, okay...sometimes there is a place in which people find themselves just after passing that is described as pitch black, where there is a complete absence of light, where there is absolutely nothing in the way of souls whose thoughts can be read, where the sense of aloneness is supreme and singular, and is in every way the ultimate "hole of nothingness" or place of solitary confinement. Yes, sometimes they are not alone, but are more than just spirit, and are trapped in terrible dungeons with ugly demons who hackle as they torture (in a physical sense) this body that is more than just spirit and which seems to feel everything a physical body might if still on earth; and not surprisingly, in both scenarios, the people feel strongly grasping fear that is without hope of respite. Is this the kind of hell that you say people who are evil and love being evil go and where they suffer the pangs of their sins and experience the burning with agonizing grief and total shame because of who they were on Earth just before? The black, dark, and awful place that that guy above described when lovingly confronted by LDSDPer's husband just above?
If this is your hell, then I have some good news to share with you. In EVERY case when it was applied, all that the damned had to do was utter a cry for relief to God or Jesus (or to anything that they might consider to be a personified beacon of hope and help) and suddenly the prayer was answered and light (which before was absent) slowly arrived on the scene, dissipated the darkness in every way (and the demons if they were around) and delivered the frightened from their nightmare which was just before their all-enshrouding reality. In some cases it was also explained that the abandonment was necessary to have been experienced (as awful as it was) so that the person could see what outer darkness (or just the baseness of lightlessness) was like, and by the way, would you enjoy, perhaps, being delivered right now? (There is a great sense of humor and irony in Heaven, by the way. I know that I'm going to love the place right off.)
What can atheists do? Well, let's just say that there are no atheists in fox holes or hell holes. Baptisms are cool, I guess, but everybody hears about after-death deliverance by God sometime in their life, and seemingly just knowing of that is all that is necessary for ultimate deliverance. (Autistic folks would LOVE being in outer darkness, by the way. We'd never get bored there because we would still have ourselves to play with forever! Oh, oh.)
I know what to do if I find myself in such a place (assuming I want to leave it) and I would have faith enough to make it work, based on what I've read about how it was with other people upon passing. Plus, I really, really, really hate being imperfect and making mistakes all the time, sometimes against other people (sins?), because of my nature, and so feeling bad about myself and what I've done WON"T be problem. If any of you should find yourselves in outer darkness after croaking, pray immediately for deliverance, and the answer will show up faster than you could hope for. Just remember this, if nothing else, okay?
Oh, hurrah, hurrah, Mr. Hunt. Thank you for clarity and conciseness! (I am not being facetious, either) Wonderfully written!
I think the corporate version of the church is the body of flesh (carnal etc.) and the real gospel is the spirit.
I like this article.
"The church is perfect, it's the members that aren't." I have heard that a few times and never liked it. I have diabetes. Maybe I should explain to people who ask about it "my body is perfect, it's my pancreas that's not."
I would not put too much faith in that Heber J. Grant quote. The Lord is known to have visited at least John Taylor(1886) and Lorenzo Snow(sometime during his church presidency, near but not in the holy of holies).
Concerning the visitations: were these reports solely from John Taylor and Lorenzo Snow, or did anybody else see the meeting, even at a distance, and did their report corroborate the claims of the first. Anybody can say they were visited. Indeed, I just was, and Jesus was standing right there and was about to say something profound, but he looked at the clipboard he was carrying, saw that I was the wrong man, asked the control man at the teleportation device to get it right this time, and then he went "poof", leaving me happy that something exciting had actually happened to me, for once. You must believe me, for I state this as the gospel truth.
Said FrederickJuly 30, 2013 at 9:26 AM
I have been trying for years now to help people see a distinction in saying, "I know the church is true," and saying "I know that Christ lives."
I too have been trying to get people to quit saying the church is true. When I was Primary Pres. I made sure Christ was the focus every Sunday, regardless of what the lesson was about.
Rock said: I've said it before and I'll say it again: the King James translation of the bible is perhaps the most undependable translation in history. It's a wonder anyone depends upon it.
What / Which Bible is a god one to have to read? Or which version of the Bible is a good one to read? I have read something about a German Bible but no one names it so I do not know what Bible it is. There are soooo many different translations of the Bible that it is confusing.
I am open to any and all suggestions. Thank You!!! Sorry to go off topic.
JRSG in Arizona
I'm not sure if you were trying to be funny here, but I laughed out loud. Good humor.
BTW, I have an 11 year old son who is on the autism scale. I think I get you sometimes. For what it is worth.
This addresses JRSG's question about the Bible as well as the ongoing thread with LDSPer, Steven Lester and Anonymous/HF:
Regarding which translation of the Bible to study, as the two Personages said to Joseph in his autobiography, you "must [read] none of them, for they [are] all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.'"
Steven, I know that you lack the physical evidence to take hold of the Book of Mormon, but what if I appealed to the evidence of your heart? This isn't some emotional tie-in, because that's a place you cannot go. What I am saying is that if you look at the Book of Mormon, as Rock says, "with fresh eyes," you will see that all the the beliefs you continuously espouse are there.
The B of M speaks of no restoration of a church, but only of "good for good" or "evil for evil." What you put out there comes back to you. Call is cosmic karma if you want, but the stories told align much more with your explanation of heaven and hell than the the black and white (full of justice and oh yeah, mercy too, for the obedient) descriptions by our friend HF.
Not only that, the distrust you have for the Bible is validated in how Nephi describes it. "they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away... that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men."
Lastly, the way you describe hell is affirmed in the B of M anecdotes presented. Alma the younger is afflicted for three days with deep guilt of conscious. The second he believes in Christ's mercy, however, he departs from this torturous state of mind. Simple as that.
I could go on to show you how a reading free of influence from our corrupted traditions (brought to us via the Bible) affirms many of the "points of doctrine" you have taught us. I believe that if enough of us put our minds to this sort of "shaking off the dust," then we will be ready to receive the types of teachings that are in the pure Book of the Lamb (which is the Bible before it was corrupted). This book, in its purity, and others have been promised to us when we are ready to receive them. So JRSG, I don't know which version of the Bible you'll end up reading, but as for me, I'm holding out for the pure Book of the Lamb. Until then, I'm opening up my mind to re-imagine a God I can believe in. Not one so set on hell and consequences as described by HF, or so anal about me following the "rules" to the letter, and especially not one who is perched on the top of a corporate pyramid lording over me in his blood-red cloak ready to return in vengeance and fury. I have found this merciful God in the Book of Mormon, and continue to discover His amazing grace in the text.
Downplaying hell is a step toward the grasp of the devil's chains, for the devil will "pacify, and lull them away into carnal security...and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none---and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance" (2 Nephi 28:21-22).
Moreover, remember that "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). To take hell lightly is to also imagine a cut-rate heaven.
Furthermore, the notion of second chances after this life is a very dangerous and foolish notion, for "wo unto him who wasteth his days of probation" (2 Nephi 9:27). Plan like you're not going to get a second chance, otherwise you may "have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure" (Helaman 13:38).
I think that "from whence there is no deliverance" and "everlastingly too late" are 180 degrees away from the notion of any meaningful second chances. The Bible and Book of Mormon agree strongly that hell is real, that it is unimaginably undesirable, and that it does not offer anything like what some here would imagine of a second chance.
What do the scriptures say? Not: what do I like/dislike about it? What does the Bible say? What does the Book of Mormon say? I'd say make sure complaints/comments are traced back to scripture, and to understand them, not just the popular or comfortable ideas floating around, or one runs the risk of straying into false teaching.
Lashing out at church administration and format etc. for straying from Christ's doctrine can be necessary since the "gates of hell stand open to receive those who declare more or less than Christ's doctrine" (3 Nephi 11:40). I understand that it's frustrating when we perceive false teaching going on. But these ideas, un-tempered, can tend toward creeping into the dark: complaining about traditional format as boring or rigid (if otherwise correct doctrine), OR undercutting the Bible (which, on a spiritual basis, is very reliable, even if not so on a temporal basis), OR imagining that it's okay to water-down Christ's doctrine on hell because of some popularly-held but scripturally suspect idea that "hell ain't that bad, right? everyone goes to some heaven..."
We must wake up and get acutely aware of the brevity of our probation, the finality of it when it's over, and the real scriptural-based consequences---to sober us up to repentance and to special care with our thoughts, words, and actions. I suspect that by imagining only the upside benefits and diminishing or ignoring the downside consequences, we tend to excuse ourselves in many sins and find it okay to be scornful toward the leaders of the church, and one towards another, and to persecute those that do not act according to our own will and pleasure at Sunday meetings or elsewhere.
HF: I don't think there's an argument whether hell or the devil exist or not. My assertion is that we use the corrupted Bible as pretext to define what hell is, instead of gathering that understanding from the Book of Mormon, which was given to us so that we would eventually "repent" and be born again to a new paradigm. But you see, I can't even say the word "repent" without you (or me, or anyone) attaching the baggage which has come from the Bible. (Can you say "giving oneself lashes of self-penance?")
I'd also like to know, who is persecuting others at Sunday meetings? Seems to me that the more open-minded folks (like many of the readers of this blog) are the ones subject to persecution (rumors, gossip, judgment) more so than the ones sitting there to fill a space.
Anyway, I don't suspect I will sway you, nor is it my intention to do so. But to all other sincere searchers of truth who have been made to feel something is wrong with them for hoping that there is something better than the "rigid" and "boring" traditional format offered now, I would say, "keep you spirits up!" Perhaps if we are able to re-imagine God in His true nature, He can finally step into the picture. Like those at the waters of Mormon, we would at last have a reason to clap our hands for joy.
Well, you see, that's the big problem I've always had with religion. There are so many interpretations out there. Every group says something different, more or less, and so I don't know which to choose. The answer to my problem is then given by others as a suggestion that I should pray about it, and listen to the impressions that my mind and/or heart might receive, but the problem with that is that I really can't depend on what my brain hears, because most of the time it's the brain itself that is talking, either via my imagination or from what others have said to me in the past that I have agreed with because their views sound plausible, thereby creating expectations that by themselves taint their possible validity.
We are born blind and fresh in the sense that we have no memory (although some kids seem to retain it for a while, some kids anyway, but not me) of who we were before we entered our ape bodies. All we have to go on is the seeming wisdom of our ancestors, told to us by those who have been told of it by their ancestors, over millennia, as time and mistakes change the truth over and over and over, until what actually happened or what was actually said would be barely recognizable by the original folks who were actually there. So it is that I mistrust everything I'm told, and I don't know what the "truth" actually is, because so many people say so many things that contradict each other. The truth seems to be that there is no truth to be found.
Which is a statement that I should think that Heaven above must acknowledge. Here on Earth, suddenly separated from each other telepathically, each of us knows of only ourselves in splendid isolation, in a world that we can not perceive except via the physical senses at our disposal, although they only portray the past, never the present due to the speed limitations of the travel of electrons along our nervous system, and we have no idea of the actual thing that our senses say that they are sensing. As far as truth is concerned, all of us are without understanding, because all of us are completely blind, always, until we separate from our bodies and return to where everything is known as it is. Heaven must acknowledge this, even as we do, the darkling window or whatever.
Therefore, blind and ignorant as we are, Perfect Justice can not judge us as It might those who can see what actually is. It is perfect, and so is completely dispassionate and logical. It applies mercy to the Imperfect because the Imperfect can not be other than Imperfect, even as the Perfect can not act Imperfectly, except deliberately, and for a Perfect reason. Imperfection is the ultimate defense if Perfect Justice is being applied, using Perfect Law as the standard for the application of punishment and approbation. Mercy is than always given to those who are blind and ignorant, simply because they are, and simple as that. We make imperfect guesses, because guesses are all that we are capable of while enduring intelligent ape-hood. That is why I discount the concept of Hell. Because it makes no logical sense. No logical sense, in the least.
Except as the NDE portrays the same, or the Book Of Mormon, in part. Thank you for pointing that out, sir.
So, indeed, let us all clap our hands for joy, that we have nothing to fear from God...mainly because He, and His Justice, is without doubt, utterly Perfect, and beyond our understanding in full or even in any way other than the smallest iota. Our Imperfection saves us, without the need for any kind of external and bloody execution on a cross, or so logic dictates.
Remarkably, Steven, I have come to a similar belief as the one you just stated through this experiment of reading the Book of Mormon with unfiltered glasses, void of institutional influence. More specifically, I think the B of M describes the "atonement" not as some program or machine where we input "obedience" and it delivers "mercy," but as a gift specifically for the ignorant and innocent. This is why all mankind, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again, child-like in their approach to understanding truth. In other words, they acknowledge their own isolation... they lack understanding and are open to that realization.
How is it, I wonder, that we both arrived at this place without influence of the other person? Coincidence? Perhaps. But the one thing we have in common is our distrust of the inherited traditions and readings of "scripture." Could it be that this is the path to really comprehending "truth?" If so, it becomes quite the paradox: we understand truth only through the realization that we don't know jack squat.
I think we would do well to listen to the ideas of this man, Steven. He has an unadulterated approach to learning, not tainted with the ideas of man but only acquired through logic and personal experience. Yes, like all of us, he struggles to assemble the perfect arrangement of symbols we call "language," but again, that only goes to validate his assertion that we are isolated from God... Trapped in these ciphers of bodies. That to me, right there, is an apt description of "hell." Forgive me if my hope lies in the "upside benefits" of reuniting with my Maker.
Oh, and HF... you realize that you sound just like Javert from Les Mis:
He knows his way in the dark
Mine is the way of the Lord
And those who follow the path of the righteous
Shall have their reward
And if they fall
As Lucifer fell
In your multitudes
Scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness
With order and light
You are the sentinels
Silent and sure
Keeping watch in the night
You know your place in the sky
You hold your course and your aim
And each in your season
Returns and returns
And is always the same
And if you fall as Lucifer fell
You fall in flame!
And so it has been and so it is written
On the doorway to paradise
That those who falter and those who fall
Must pay the price!
Enjoying this discussion, even though--
@HF, you remind me of several RMs I knew at BYU well over 40 years ago, before my own mission, who felt called to remind everyone around them that hadn't 'caught the vision'--
Like Inspire, I doubt I can say anything you will appreciate. I was, once, where you are now. I could have said the things that you said--
unlike some of those RMs I knew before my own mission, which tore me down so completely that I had no fire left to call anyone to repentance--
well, unlike them, based upon the things they told me, they went out to triumph, and they did so. I went out to be worn down to 'not much left of me'--
You speak of opposition. I am guessing you might be young. I thought I had opposition 'back then', but life has continued to blow a cold wind at me--
the idea of a 'second chance'? Only if a person is capable of thinking/believing that he needs one--
most who arrive there will get what they truly want, because it was what they cared about--so no 'second chances' will appear to be needed--
I don't honestly want to be in the same heaven with some of my ward members, who . . . um . . . do persecute those who are:
have odd health problems
have children with special needs
want to talk about Jesus Christ
Perhaps their heaven really will be different from mine, and I doubt very much I would be comfortable there--
Thank you, Inspire and Steven, and, yes, Gary Hunt.
Now, I had better go do some serious repenting--
for thinking that I know where anyone else is in this unique and arduous journey--
Peace to you, HF--
I agree with you, I believe also that it is very foolish to think we will have a 2nd chance in the next life or to downplay hell and think it's not that bad or to think we will be happy in the next life even if we don't achieve the highest heaven. For we will always miss and painfully regret what we could have had.
All true prophets, unlike the false prophets we have around us today in the Church, have always boldly preached how final and horrible our eternity will be unless we totally repent and become 'pure in heart' and possess Charity, which is a very high and rare state that I don't think I have ever known someone around me to achieve.
Even true prophets have trouble achieving Charity and maintaining such a lofty level of righteousness. I believe only those who achieve 'prophet and prophetess' status here on earth will achieve Exaltation. For it takes one to know a true one, all others will easily be deceived and lead astray by false prophets and false doctrines.
Thus, I truly believe that there will be very few who achieve the highest heaven, for hardly anyone even believes in true charity/love today, let alone possesses it. I don't think I have never known anyone, even in the Church, who is 'pure in heart', filled with the Spirit and true Charity.
But I do believe that all 1st marriages & families, whether good or bad, no matter what religion they were on earth, will be eternal. We will always be the spouse of our 1st spouse, even if we divorced them, for there is no such thing as divorce and remarriage to God, it's only adultery and an affair to God, no matter what earthy laws and leader may decree.
Thus after we repent from our divorces, remarriages & affairs in the next life we will be reunited with our 1st spouse, the one we knew, loved and chose for eons before we came to this brief earth life. We will forever be with them and married, but if neither of us were worthy of Celestial Glory and thus didn't gain the power to save the other, we will both be in the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom, having not lived worthy of the power & position of Eternal Life and becoming Gods. We will have our children around us for eternity, they will also have their spouses, but our children, though they may visit us or we visit them, may not be in our same Kingdom.
Eternal Families are for everyone, Brigham Young just started the false teachings that only the faithful will be married and have their children belong to them in the eternities. We existed as families before this life and will again be families after this life, made up of those we have chosen long before to be our family. God just brought us together in this life, so we only think it was by happenstance.
But, I believe if we don't achieve Exaltation in the highest Kingdom, we will forever be remorseful of what we could have had together as a couple & family. For the righteous will be able to save their spouse & children to the Celestial Kingdom, and if we don't achieve that power to save our errant loved ones, we will sorely regret it forever.
We will have a measure of peace but will always regret and be pained with the knowledge that we let ourselves be deceived by the craftiness of false prophets and the philosophies of men that taught that it's easy to make it to heaven and that most will and that we don't have to keep Christ's high laws or have true Charity/love.
Such teaching is being taught and accepted in the Church today and in every church and thus is universally accepted. But it is false and will lead us to miss the mark and not gain our eternal blessings of Exaltation and reunite with Christ and Heavenly Father & Mother and attain everlasting happiness with our spouse and family forever and ever.
You know, I don't understand why HF and even anon23 believe that other posters thing it is 'easy' to get to heaven--
or . . . that anyone even has aspirations to 'get to' heaven.
We aren't commanded to 'get to' heaven--
We are commanded to follow Jesus Christ. He invites us to follow Him--
I am quite convinced that wherever I go, even if I really work hard to follow Jesus Christ--
will be where I am comfortable being.
There is something very legalistic about all the heaven and hell talk--
let them be; I am here to follow Jesus. I am certain I will do it imperfectly, but that is what I am been called to do--
not to 'get to' some kingdom or other--
oh, as part of following Jesus, if *we* are really following Him, we will love the Lord our God--
and love our neighbor--
how much more complicated does it have to get? Actually, that is work--
if you believe in the book of Moses, God says that it is HIS work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of 'man'--
it's not our work and glory--
our work is to follow Jesus--
All this business about 'achieving' is just so much Babylon--
Babylon is about 'achieving'--
Zion is about being pure in heart--
Now, I admit that it is VERY hard to be pure in heart in a terribly fallen world completely monopolized by Babylon--
but the attempt can continually be made, and repentance is the key to getting up every time we stumble--
I'm looking at one of your sentences, anon23; by the way I like your idea about marriage, but there is no scriptural backing for it either--sadly.
You say "miss the mark and not gain our eternal blessings of Exaltation . . .", etc.--
there is no scripture that talks of gaining exaltation--
though there are a few scriptures that use 'gain' in a positive way--
gain is generally used in terms of 'stuff', material, Babylonian striving--
So, a person, if he/she loves Jesus, can either say, "oh, well, I won't make it, but I won't regret following Jesus, even though I did it imperfectly"--
or a person can talk about hell all the time and tell others to be aware of hell, and that accomplishes . . .
I ask you.
I know that in the Book of Mormon the prophets spoke of hell; in every case they were speaking to prideful people who did NOT want to follow Jesus--
they did remind those who wanted to follow Jesus not to slip into pride--
but it seems that one of the ways people can fall most easily into pride is to be continually telling others to repent--
only a prophet can really do it and not be damaged by it--
others do it and . . . get the idea that since they are talking about it, somehow that is insurance that they won't fall into pride and end up in 'hell'--
so, if we start saying things like this on Rock's blog:
--beware of hell; watch out; watch out for hell today--
will those of *you* who get your kicks out of telling people that they won't make it, no matter how much they love Jesus--
go away and pester someone else? Or feel that you have gotten others to join you, and, therefore, someone else, besides you, might make it.
This is a bit tongue in cheek, I admit, but honestly, what do you WANT?
I read the Book of Mormon constantly, and I don't skip the scriptures about 'hell'--
but why do I have to tell YOU that?
Anon 23 would you please explain, and scripturally support your understanding of charity, the love of Christ?
I'm having a hard time with your explanations of how we are to live and how easy it is to be deceived. It seems to make our existence here on this earth a very confusing, joyless, and impossible venture. "No room for mistakes" type of perfection on planet earth. Where is there room for learning and growing?
You bring up the issue of spouses and marriages and divorce a lot. Sometimes people do make mistakes in their choice of spouses. There are all kinds of situations that surround marriages. Do you really think God would force a person to commit to a mistake all through the eternities? Is that a loving God?
Where is there forgiveness in your understanding of life ?
I don't know why you say 'I' think it's easy to get into heaven, for I don't, it's very hard, even though it's very simple.
The Prophets in the scriptures talked about how usually 'everyone' is prideful, even church goers and those who think they are righteous, except a rare few, and thus they tried to wake up the prideful by talking about hell. They taught that that is the only way to keep people kinda awake, otherwise they would totally go astray if hell was not constantly emphasized strongly. We see this same thing today.
Whereas, false prophets don't like to talk about hell because people don't like it and thus won't listen to them and will avoid them, so false prophets talk about nicer things and make people feel good by saying just be good and do your best and you will make it, so they will follow them and their false ideas. We see this happening everywhere in the Church today.
God's purpose should be 'our' purpose, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We can especially do this in our own families, by our own righteousness if nothing else. For our righteousness/charity has great power in the eternities to save errant loved ones.
Just because someone talks about or warns others to repent doesn't mean they are prideful, otherwise prophets would be prideful. We should all be prophets, and do all we can to teach others to repent and be righteous, though most people don't like to do that cause it means they themselves must be righteous, in order to not be a hypocrite or judge unrighteously and thus be judged the same.
I believe 'pride' is shown in those who get upset and bothered about how others preach 'repentance and hell'. The righteous understand how serious & vital it is to repent, and understand how awful hell is and how everyone is being deceived today, and thus they are glad to be reminded about repentance and discuss it all. For everyone, even the righteous, can easily fall or be deceived.
While I don't have time right now to look up alot of scriptures I believe they teach that Charity/Christ's love is unconditional, everlasting, eternal, never ends or gives up, especially on people or a marriage. Christ loves us even though we are unfaithful to him or reject him. He gives his life for us and saves us anyway, at least over death, while we will have to atone for our sins in hell if we don't repent fully and follow his laws here.
But he loves us no matter what we are like, but that doesn't mean he can bless us no matter what.
The BoM teaches how 'everyone' today and back then (and always actually) is easily deceived to support or do evil or to follow or support false prophets & false doctrine, etc. Even most of the righteous usually quickly fall throughout history.
I see this today, how everyone I know of is deceived in these ways, even all church leaders I believe, since Brigham Young.
Our existence on this earth is impossible to live righteously unless we are willing to live Christ's high laws and gain the Spirit which will teach and strengthen us to endure to the end. Thus why I believe so few will make it.
We can make mistakes but we must truly repent if we do. Even Joseph Smith, who I believe was a true prophet, the last one we have had, was not perfect, yet I believe he sincerely strived to have charity and did possess it to a great level, though that doesn't mean he was perfect, but almost.
Joseph taught that only those with 'perfect love/charity' won't be deceived. We all are deceived at times, even Joseph was many times, by imposters, and false revelation from the adversary, and false doctrines & philosphies of men. BUT, if we are striving to possess true charity, we will see through those errors and deceptions before long and repent and be wiser.
We 'learn & grow' fastest when we strive to have true charity/love, especially for our spouse, especially when they least deserve it.
That is why I mention marriage & divorce alot, for marriage is where our charity is usually gained the fastest and the best and where it is proven. It's much easier to love & forgive people you don't have to live with constantly.
I don't believe there are any mistakes in marriage, except for the one exception that Christ gave, 'fornication' by our spouse, which I believe means they had relations with someone else before they married us and didn't tell us. All other marriages, no matter how difficult or no matter if we think it was a mistake, is eternal and there is no such thing as divorce. Christ did not give any outs. See his numerous teachings against divorce 3 times in the New Test. (Matt. 19:9, etc.) & also in 3 Nephi.
God does not force a person to stay married to someone, eternal law does. God just tries to teach us about that eternal law, that there is no such thing as divorce or remarriage.
Prophets have taught that all unrighteous spouses will repent and become perfect in the next life and Joseph Smith & ancient prophets (1 Cor.7) taught that we will be able to save our errant spouse & children to the Celestial Kingdom with us.
God can forgive us but that doesn't mean we get to break eternal laws of marriage. We must have true love for our spouse, like Christ has for us, and never give up on them. We may have to separate for a time for safety reasons, but we will always love, serve, feed, pray for and do good to them to help them repent, as Christ taught us to.
Would we divorce our children & get new ones, if they became wicked or hated us? Of course not. We are to love our spouse and see to their eternal happiness, more than our children and especially more than ourselves.
We are here to do all we can to save our spouse and children by our unconditional charity/love, and others as we can, and in so doing we save ourselves.
God knew that most all marriages would have to deal with things like abuse/adultery/abandonment/addictions, etc. that is why he preached everlasting love & charity and no divorce, cause he knew most would want to get out at some point.
Christ's Apostles called it right when they responded to Christ by saying that if a person must stay married then it's best not to marry. Cause they understood that in an unrighteous society, which most all are, civil & religious leaders don't protect spouses against abusive/adulterous/abandoning/unloving/addicted spouses, nor do they make them repent or stop the evil.
Thus without righteous leaders to protect spouses from the evil of their spouse, the Apostles were right, it's best not to marry in this life. But few are wise & strong enough to do that, most must learn by sad experience.
anon 23 You have screwy thinking.
Well, Anon 23, I've now given up trying to meet your perception of moral perfection as it relates to being able to return to Father, which means that I'm doomed at the moment (although I'll bet that you aren't), so since Father loves all of us so very much, and has practically forever before any of us came to Earth, and MILLIONS are coming here and returning again every single day, how do you suppose Father is able to handle the literal final goodbyes that He must make to all of these children that He loves so much AND KNOWS THAT HE WILL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN? He has the same passions that you and I have. How much depth of anguish and sorrow must He be required to bear under your scenario? And remember that our Earth is not the only place that His children go to "be tested". And remember that the number of His progeny is beyond the counting of the sand of all of the seas on this planet. Think of how much agony He must bear up under, and must feel unceasingly forever, since you used the word about 800 times during your last several tirades (explanations). OH MY GOD....HOW SORRY I FEEL FOR THEE RIGHT NOW. I am almost in tears. For there is no hope for any of us, NOT THEE AND NOT US. But Anon 23 is still happy, for some reason.
I don't believe it is as impossible to be righteous as you make it seem. It's hard but doable if we really want the blessings. Thus there is great hope for those who are willing to heed and practice Christ's teachings.
And yes, Heavenly Father probably is sorrowful at how so many of his children don't listen to him or make it back to him and have to go to hell for a season, but he knows they will eventually end up in a very nice place even so.
While HF may or may not be able to visit his children in lower kingdoms, he will always be able to see & know exactly how his children are doing where ever they end up and he will be able to help them through others if he can't be there.
Or maybe, probably, HF can visit his children in the lower kingdoms, for they will all be perfect at that point. If perfect people on earth can see God then why not in the next life after everyone repents and becomes perfect? Those in the lower kingdoms just won't be able to go to higher kingdoms and enjoy the blessings there, but I believe God & Christ can come to them at times.
So I don't think it's as grim as you paint it for HF. Though I'm sure he is sad that not all his children choose to become Gods and reap those rewards.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of repentance. I agree with you Anon 23. Far too much feel good and far too little truth and repentance being preached today in the church. For those who are repenting there is hope, no matter their past mistakes. For those who feel good because they have no sins in their closets...wo, wo, wo unto you. Repent, for there and none in the church who are good, no not even one. All are in grave need of sincere repentance.
You know, I don't understand why HF and even anon23 believe that other posters thing it is 'easy' to get to heaven--
That's what I said--
I had a typo--
"thing" should have been "think"--
I get the idea that HF thinks that everyone else on Rock's blog thinks that 'getting to' heaven is an easy thing--
I've never thought about it one way or the other; I've just thought about following Jesus. If I "get to" heaven, that will be a side benefit--
if I don't, then I'm sure I'll understand why--
or, in other words--
anon23 used "HF" to stand for Heavenly Father, and there's an HF posting--
I will say it again, and I challenge someone to answer me--
I get the 'idea' from both HF (the poster, not Heavenly Father; I think it's sort of disrespectful to use "HF" for Heavenly Father, but that's my opinion, and others are free to do as they wish)--
that both of them feel they have to come on here and say generally:
"you *guys* aren't working hard enough on this heaven and hell thing; you aren't repenting enough"--
So, as I said before, IF we start talking about 'hell' a lot--
focus on it--
will that make it better?
Frankly, I'm not sure focusing on something as heartbreaking and frightening as 'hell'--whatever it is--
is spiritually healthy.
So, anon23, you completely misunderstood me--
and went on talking about how 'very few will make it'--
I think that enduring to the end right now is my big challenge--
to whatever end Father and Jesus see fit for me--
what is so blasphemous about that? Why do I need to be 'corrected' for believing that?
*shaking my head*
Nobody answered my question, but since what I wrote was turned 180 degrees around, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.
NOwhere are *we* commanded to 'get to' heaven--
it's not found in the scriptures--
You make very bold statements about what you believe the scriptures and prophets have said about certain issues. In the past your gave me the same excuse you gave "me", which is.. "I don't have time right now to look up alot of scriptures".... This is a cop-out. If you want, what you say, to be taken seriously, you will need to provide the evidence for what you are saying. If what you say is true then it should be very easy for you to provide back up data. If you do not then most people will believe that, as "me" said, "You have screwy thinking."
I'm sorry that I don't have time to go back searching for alot of scriptural support for my beliefs. I have found over & over when asked like you are doing, that giving such doesn't usually matter or make a difference anyway to most people, for they will just interpret the same scriptures in their own way.
That's why we have countless different Christian Churches and countless different opinions in the Church, even among the highest leadership.
But those who really have the Holy Spirit as their guide will all agree on the same interpretations. For the Spirit tells the same things to everyone. But I don't believe most people have or can hear the Spirit, even though most everyone 'thinks' they do and can. We all can easily be deceived by wrong spirits & false revelation, even Joseph Smith was many times. Thus most everyone claims completely opposite things/revelations/opinions that the Spirit supposedly told/taught them.
God is not a God of confusion. He never changes his doctrines & laws, from the beginning of the world to the last day. Adam & Eve had to live Christ's same laws as we do today to be considered righteous & worthy. If people don't agree on something than that means one or both haven't taken the time to study things out or one or both doesn't have the Spirit to interpret the scriptures correctly.
Even Heavenly Father has said (D&C 9) he won't give us all the answers just because we ask for them, he requires that we search, ponder & study things out to the best of our ability before he will confirm or give us more information. Cause he knows that the conversion happens in the 'searching', pondering and practicing, rarely in just the 'hearing' of something 'preached'.
Prove all things for yourself, even that which I have testified to you. Don't believe anyone but Christ, compare everyone's doctrine to the words of Christ and make sure you possess 'perfect love' (which is the Spirit) or you can be deceived & misinterpret things, according to Joseph Smith.
I just give my testimony of what I believe and it really doesn't matter to me who takes me serious or believes me or not. I of course believe these things, but I could be and have been wrong. I realize only the Spirit can really convert people, when they do their own homework and apply Christ's teachings to their lives.
Even if what I say is true, few will realize it unless they are truly living Christ's high laws and are striving to have perfect love. I am trying to do that, but it's hard and I haven't been able to find anyone yet who can do it.
Even if people like what I say & believe, it still doesn't prove I'm right. Everyone must go find out for themselves what is true or not.
I wish I had more time to document all my study and beliefs for I know it can be helpful, but I'm sorry I really don't. But I will and do post references when I have them handy.
JR, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of love. It means 'good news'.
Repentance is part of it but not the major part. Repentance comes upon a recognition of a need or desire for change. And God's way is always through love and working from the inside of each person.
All this fear and damnation stuff is coming from the outside. Any normal thinking person would understand that repentance (changing directions) is an integral part of our progression toward God. That's just part of the journey but it isn't the only part.
Let's remember that God is love and that men are that they might have joy. It's our decision, but this constant bombarding of "we're not good enough" isn't helpful to our happiness on this earth. We ARE good enough, but we are always moving. Just try to move closer to Jesus, like LDSDPer says.
A quote by Gordon Hinckley;
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured."
I don't know if that is a revelation from God or not, but I like what it says and I like the man who said it.
I think we all know that we must live 'worthy' of eternal life in this life if we are going to gain it in the next. Mincing words doesn't matter, I think we all understand what we mean.
I'm sorry if I misunderstand you at times, I believe discussing such deep subjects over the internet can rarely be done effectively, for it's usually hard to grasp where people are coming from and what they really mean by just the few words they post.
But apparently the Prophets think it is very helpful, healthy and even 'vital' to focus on how bad hell is, to keep us in line, and how vital it is to focus on how long & awful eternity will be for those who don't make it to the highest heaven.
For me, I can't chance my eternal salvation on 'hope' that I make it, I want to 'know' I am following Christ correctly today, so I can repent or change when it's still possible to merit eternal life.
It will be no consolation to me to learn the truth too late in the next life and miss out on the blessings of eternal life and the Celestial Kingdom.
I think I understand why he said that, for he wasn't a starving child in Africa or an abused wife trapped in polygamy, or a prophet in a dark dungy prison like Joseph Smith was who cried "How long of Lord!".
I don't think people in those situations would appreciate such a sentiment, but instead think it rather cold of him.
I also believe that Pres. Hinckley was a false prophet who supported many of the greatest of evils, so I'm not surprised he said such.
It's nice when we can laugh and have fun, but most people in this world are just trying to survive the day, while most everyone else ignores their suffering and just focuses on having 'fun'.
I'm sorry your life has been such a mess. It's obvious that there is no happiness in your existence. I hope the next life will be better for you. But from what I understand, "we take it with us." I believe that heaven or hell resides inside and maybe the reason you can identify hell as well as you do is maybe that is where you already are.
I really am not trying to be rude to you but from all that you express, you really are not a happy camper. And your comment about starving children in africa, well there are lots of seemingly terrible situations that people live in and you'd find the people a lot happier than most people who "have it all" as we do. Even you!
You have not answered my questions. First,"are you Heavenly Father?" And second, "are you a member of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints"?
By your later comments it appears you either did not read my comments, or take them very seriously.
I read your comments and the verses of scriptures you quote. In addition, I read the entire chapters which contain the verses of scripture you quote. In my opinion, your interpretation, takes these scriptures out of context, and changes the meaning intended by the author. I have misapplied scripture at times and have had to go back and repent. I probably will in the future.
In order to understand scriptures we need to understand the context in which the scriptures are written. In other words we need to ask who, where, what, when, why and how.
May I suggest that everyone reading this blog, go back and read the entire chaptures which contain the verses of scripture "HF" has quoted, and ask the five w's and and ponder the answers you come up with. Then ask in prayer and get confirmation through the Holy Ghost. I would be interested to see what others come up with.
I agree with LDSDper that for you to continue using the initials "HF" is disrespectful to Heavenly Father. This even if your real initials are HF. I have my doubts and believe that there is a possibility that you are trying to use these initials to associate yourself with Heavenly Father.
BTW. Anon 23, I was supprised that you used the initials "HF" when refering to Heavenly Father. This came accross as intentionally trying to associate "HF" with Heavenly Father. I believe you would not use the initials "JC" when refering to Jesus Christ or "HG" when refering to the Holy Ghost.
I have to agree with anon 23 on this, "me".
I don't agree much with anon 23--
but on this one, I do.
Some people really do have trials they can't talk about--
I know someone who had a very PMA attitude who was taken right down to the core--
had it all stripped away: health, wealth, position, dinners with President Hinckley, everything--
He had always been a 'smile; life isn't THAT hard' person--
and now he likes to talk about Jesus and the second coming--
Please don't lecture anon 23 about being happy--
when I heard those words from President Hinckley, they just made me feel as though I had been 'dumped'--
I was going through a particularly difficult time right then, and I wanted to weep when I heard those words--
they did not help me--
maybe this means I, too, am not a 'happy camper'--
but you'd be surprised at how cheerful I am in my day-to-day life--
and how grateful I am. Just don't lecture another person on being 'happy'--
President Hinckley had a pretty good life; he was a golden boy--
he came from a loving extended family, and he had a lot of support around him--
a loving wife, good kids--
I believe that heaven or hell resides inside and maybe the reason you can identify hell as well as you do is maybe that is where you already are.
That was unkind, "me". I appreciated the other things you had to say, and I don't agree with anon 23 on much, but that was unkind.
You don't know anon 23. And you don't know what some people have been through, and now I can see that not everyone is safe expressing what they have been through, if they only receive a lecture--
on how they should have a 'better attitude'--
ah, anon 23--
you talked about people who live hopeless lives--
hope is the best *I* have--
Goodness; goodness; I do repent, constantly--
and I read those scriptures, too--
all the ones you mentioned about 'hell'--
I just wonder if it isn't more appropriate for *us* to encourage each other to read the Book of Mormon, rather than to tell *each other* we are not thinking enough of hell--
sometimes life is hell, in spite of our best efforts--
Honey, HOPE IS ALL YOU HAVE! there are no guarantees! There is the great atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ that will get you to the next life and then there is 'one day at a time' until then!
Doing the best we can and then saying "I'm sorry for my imperfection today, please keep teaching me and I'll try again tomorrow and I'll probably never get perfect as you are, Lord, but I will try everyday. Thank you!"
(I noticed that you were trying to blame your misunderstanding of LDSDPer's comment because of "discussing deep subjects" but the fact of the matter is that you "misread" what she said! I got it!) ;)
You & LDSDPer are probably right, I should not have used initials in place of Heavenly Father. Thank you for pointing that out.
The definition of repent is as follows..."The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world, to change our thinking." (LDS Bible Dictionary)
As you bring out so well, it comes from within, not violently coerced from without.
Fear may motivate us to conform to a particular behavior, but it is love which motivates us to learn new ideas and come to better understandings of the gospel so that we can repent. (See Doctrine and Covenanats 121)
Again, well said!
Attitude Is everything! Happiness IS a choice! Life can and is hard sometimes. Believe me, I have had my share! We have full control over how we feel about life. There are obvious outside influences and struggles that come to us. But so many of us are in the victim mode that we can't see where our real power is. Our minds and our relationship with God are way more powerful than anything on our outside and it has taken a lot of trials and struggles for me to learn that. Im sorry that these were offensive to you. The comment about being in hell wasn't meant to be derogatory to anon 23 it was just an observation I saw. We tend to see things that we focus on like you said LDSDPer. I will be careful about responding in the future. I have a hard time reading false doctrine over and over and over again just letting it slide is very difficult. I have asked anon23 to site scriptural references and I'm put off!
I was a bit frustrated about that. Sorry for my offenses.
No offense taken.
I was worried about how I was going to tell you this, but I do have a nail, and your hammer found it. LOL!
Have you known, closely, a person who has starved? Maybe you have, and maybe you've seen happiness in them.
I have, I do know, closely, a person whose early life was horrific, unspeakable. Starvation. Etc.
What I have seen is tremendous gratitude for everything good. I have seen a deep well of love. I have seen tremendous compassion for others, though an inability to deal personally with people who are deprived in any way--
Anxiety is a constant companion. Fear not far behind.
Yes, choices are very important. What *we* choose is very important, but some people can't handle President Hinckley's words. Unlike anon 23 there were some things President Hinckley said and did that I really appreciated, including his statement that polygamy is not doctrine, and, yes, I can harp on polygamy, too--and divorce, and I have not experience either of them.
But as to knowing someone who has experienced extreme deprivation, I won't say anymore, but President Hinckley's words, if this person had heard them, would have pained the person I know, too--
always striving to be enough, so as never to starve or be abandoned again--
Some people DO have more; some people do have much, much more and the opportunity to serve, because of it. Others experience almost the opposite with the opportunity to test the people they meet.
Rock's wife knows more about this, but I won't say more on here. But I do KNOW what I am talking about.
When you see how life can be disrupted and sabotaged over something as simple as not having enough food, etc.--
President Hinckley's words do sound very superficial.
But maybe there were those who needed to hear them at the time--
all right @"me", too--
take some hugs.
If I say anymore I'll have Steven leaving--
But you both sound as though you could use some hugs--
Sorry to all the serious male scholars on here; Rock's blog is NOT being taken over by women--
I agree, there are no guarantees and we must 'hope' that we can endure to the end, even if we have a knowledge or confirmation from the Spirit that we are doing really good today.
For tomorrow we may fall, just as easily as prophets before us have fallen. No one is so good that they can relax and think they've made it.
I agree, life can be hell. It sounds like you are doing great and are a truly wonderful righteous person with righteous desires.
The scriptures say that those who are saved are those who keep the commandments and those who 'strive' to do so. So we don't have to be perfect, just striving to be perfect and giving it our honest efforts.
And I agree that reading the Book of Mormon would be a great focus, but if we do we are going to hear alot about hell, but thankfully mixed in with lighter more pleasant thoughts, especially about 'love'. :)
Thank you LDSDPer. I really appreciate you and your posts, even if we don't always agree. You always give me things to think about. Hugs back to you! And it does sound like 'me' needs some too.
Anon 23 and LDSPer,
Read my comments lower on the page. They have some relevance.
I think you are taking Pres. Hinkleys quote out of context. Christ, Paul and others have adjusted their comments to fit the individuals they were speaking to. Christ didn't tell the women who was taken in a adultry that she was "going to hell!" He didn't justify or condemn her. He simply said..."go thy way and sin no more." Direct and to the point.
I don't know who Pres. Hinkley was speaking to when he said...
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured."
There is nothing wrong with the quote. If we understood the context in which it was given, we may all agree with it. Anon 23, it was you who passed harsh judgement on Pres. Hinkley's statement. You didn't take the time to find out the who, what, where, when, why, and how before judging his words.
I read "Me's" comments to Anon 23 and I can't find where they were unkind or even harsh. They were direct and too the point, which caused some discomfort. Maybe because there is truth there? Maybe because we have been trained to "sugar coat" our words? From reading your posts there is a theme running through your comments which tells a lot about your life, which "Me" has picked up on. Perhaps "we all" need to take Pres. Hinkley's advice and have some more joy and happiness in our lives, inspite of our trials.
I know a number of people who have gone through and are going through unimaginable trials. When I have visited them and see that they have a better attitude and have more fun than I do, it really bugs me. :)
Maybe "Me" has done us all a favor.
I am going to start off by saying my intent is not to offend you, but I am going to be direct and to the point.
I will not accept the excuse of not having enough time to look up scriptures and prophets statements. You have made many comments for some time now in which you emphasize the same theme. If you want to be taken seriously you will need to start providing your references to back up your words. I do not expect it overnight but you can start with an item or two.
Even Rock is eventually going to have to give up on his lame excuse :) that the quote is in a book in a box somewhere. He's going to have to crack open those boxes.
We obviously disagree on alot of things & see things & life very differently.
I acknowledged that it's nice to laugh and have fun in the right setting, but I don't believe that should be a main focus, especially in today's world where there is so much suffering and evil happening all around us.
Being awake and alert so as not to be deceived to support or do evil, along with helping relieve the suffering around us, which will usually give us heavy hearts, should be our main focus.
I believe that most people choose not to be aware of most of the suffering and evil that occurs around them, and I believe Pres. Hinckley chose to ignore most of the suffering going on in the Church also, despite the constant pleas that I'm sure came to him daily.
'True' Prophets are usually described as 'men of sorrow'. I don't believe true prophets would say 'fun' should be a focus, nor would they think much about it, especially not these days, for they would be too busy being outraged, repulsed and sorrowful like Moroni and so many other prophets, about what is going on all around them.
You are not the 1st person to ask me for references. For years I have supplied long lists of references for people in relation to my beliefs. I realized that it hardly ever makes a difference, for as I explained above, taking the time to do our own homework and searching is usually very vital.
So I stopped taking the time to compile & give long lists of quotes and references out. I may give one or two quotes or scriptures here & there, if you have a specific question, and see how it goes from there, but I won't do other's homework anymore for I rarely see that it helps them.
It may be like helping a chick out of his egg, for I've often seen such help & references make things worse for people who aren't ready for the evidence I show them.
God testifies to us of things and then commands us to go study it all out, he doesn't just explain everything and give proof as soon as we ask for it. It can take years of constant study & prayer to come to a good understanding about a certain doctrine.
If you have a specific question for me, I will try to give you something or two to study on it.
Ok, I take that back. Maybe we do need to be perfect, I don't know for sure. For Christ commanded us to be perfect, just like him. Did he mean in this life? or we won't make it? I'm not sure.
It appears Joseph Smith believed we won't be able to sit down with the Holy Prophets in the same heaven unless we were as good as them.
So I don't know, I guess all we can do is keep striving for perfection and trying to possess Christlike perfect love.
Yes, thank you so much for not including me in that yucky hugathon!
I've just read everything that was written below my own offering, and I do have a question.
Over and over I have heard two basic statements being made in this discussion: (1) following all of the commandments will get me to the highest Heaven; (2) the commandments mean little if they are obeyed as rote, and what gives them their authority is what it is that flavors the obedience to them, namely love, and love alone.
Jesus had some angry things to say to the Pharasies (no spell-check at the moment) because they hedged up the law, made it an institution unto itself, but did not understand what made it pleasing unto Father, namely because they had made it into a duty, and not a service for others. Is it not the reason for the discussion the fact that one side is perceiving in the arguments of the first a Pharasiac tenor, which they, even as Christ did, desire to correct, and even condemn? I think so, anyway.
Remember that all of the commandments are mere manifestations of the the first and greatest two laws, of which you are all aware.
There. Now no hugging please. PLEASE!
The responsibility for providing evidence rests upon the person making the claim.
Person 'A' could make something up in their mind and claim that it is true, to person 'B'. Person 'B' asks person 'A' for evidence of their claim. Person 'A' says to person'B', "you need to do your own homework to discover what I worked so hard to discover."
Obviously person 'B' could spend the rest of their life trying to verify if what person 'A' said is true and never find it.
We are not commanded to just look at the gloom and doom. Be aware of it, yes.
50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
Doctrine and Covenants 78:18
18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
Doctrine and Covenants 112:4
4 Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Doctrine and Covenants 61:36
36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;
Doctrine and Covenants 68:6
6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.
3 Nephi 1:13
13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Doctrine and Covenants 61:36
36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;
Doctrine and Covenants 68:6
6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.
3 Nephi 1:13
13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
2 Nephi 2:25
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
I could go on.
You seem to not realize how much time it takes to go back and reference everything a person says.
It took me years to come to the conclusions I have, and I am still learning and changing my views. I did not however, document everything I ever read that effected my views. I think few ever would do such.
So, if I happen to remember or know where I learned something of which I believe, I will try to give you a reference or two, if you have a specific question about something.
There is no way I can document or back up everything I say or believe, neither could you. Many things I have learned through the Spirit, and it's all mixed in with what I learned while studying prophets words.
The encouragement to 'be of good cheer' is how I see Christ telling people to have 'hope' and try to look at the bright side, precisely because of the 'doom & gloom' that they are in.
I believe that is a far cry from focusing on having 'fun', though again, there is nothing wrong with having fun. I just think Christ's message was more about 'hope' than 'fun'.
I don't think we have to belabor this any longer, suffice it to say we see things differently.
And yes, we are commanded to watch for the doom & gloom others might be in, more specifically, watch for how they may be suffering, and try to relieve that suffering or share their burdens. Plus we are to watch for evil, in ourselves and others to protect ourselves from falling for it.
I believe it is not enough to just be 'aware' of evil or suffering, we must be watching for it & trying to do something about it.
I work in a field where I have to research and document what I say and do every day. If I don't I can get into big trouble. Also, I did not ask to to document everthing you say. Just your bold declarations. A few examples:
1. Remarriage after a spouse has died.
2. Men are to blame for most divorces.
3. Almost all men are immoral - their wife will save them.
4. Men are more abusive than women.
I have not read these things in the scriptures or from true prophets. All the research and study I have done over the years, regarding these subjects, refutes your contentions, in which you paint the picture that (for the most part) men are evil abusers and women are innocent victims. Maybe in your own little corner of the world you have experienced and/or seen what you claim. However, I know men who claim the opposite. The reality is that abuse is pretty much evenly divided between the sexes.
The one who doesn't hate me--LOL!
Is this your blog?
That Sunstone article is amazing, and I thank you for giving access to it--
Sunstone has always been a bit above my notice for some reason, but there are some very interesting things in that article; timely.
I can't comment; I don't have a google account or a website; I have tried (to get the google account; I'm not very good with technical stuff)--
I was surprised there were no other comments; maybe everyone else has the same problem I do--
The above comments is for Anon 23.
What happened to the Circling The Wagons post? I was looking forward to updates on how we can help, and how the family from Australia is doing.
Yes, I wondered, too; I was hoping for an update on Rock's health as well--
hope all is well with the Watermans--
Rock, I'm a new commenter, but have been reading for a while. I'm so glad to hear you're feeling better. I've been troubled by Denver's news today, and reading this post was welcome balm to my soul.
Keep up the good work. I sure have benefitted from it. :)
Be of good cheer; as you have doubtless discovered, that post is back up. Apparently while I was amending it, it got bumped to an unreadable draft mode.
When I think of the abuses of power that the modern day corporate church exhibits, we are worse off than the relationship between rulers and followers that the Lamanites had:
And it came to pass that they followed the king, and went forth without arms to meet the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did meet the Lamanites; and the king of the Lamanites did bow himself down before them, and did plead in behalf of the people of Limhi.
Notice how the king bowed and plead before his people. This would never happen in the corporate church today.
I really like this quote from Neal A. Maxwell:
"For what happens in cultural decline both leaders and followers are really accountable. Historically, of course, it is easy to criticize bad leaders, but we should not give followers a free pass. Otherwise, in their rationalization of their degeneration they may say they were just following orders, while the leader was just ordering followers!"
that's an amazing quote from Maxwell, but I daresay he was referring to the American culture, rather than to the church. Hard to say, though--
I don't know Denver Snuffer. I read a few things off his blog, and I found it mostly agreeable.
I haven't purchased his books. I am always wary of groups of followers, even in the church, so I wouldn't participate in that, even if the person speaking/teaching were saying reasonable things.
So, how do I justify reading Mormon blogs, such as Rock's?
I'm not sitting in a group of people; I don't know any of you, haven't met any of you. I either agree or disagree--
it doesn't feel as though there is a cult leader, even though many of us appreciate the time and work that Rock puts into pulling information together to help *us* all try to understand what is happening in the church today--
I have had similar feelings/thoughts for decades, and it's nice to know I'm not alone.
BUT, when a person puts 'himself' out there in person--
with a 'following', meeting in 'venues' around the area--
and gathering a group of obvious followers, then that becomes a threat to the 'powers that be', whether those PTB be justified in feeling threatened or not.
He is obvious; he can be located--
I'm not saying that it's wrong to put yourself 'out there'--
it's a personal choice, though, and it's not what everyone feels he/she should do.
Frankly, I've been managing to avoid being excommunicated for decades already, and it has taken work--
I know that some SPs appear to be ecclesiastical thugs (sorry; hard word)--who are eager to separate out anyone who doesn't appear to be meek and mild and conforming--
maybe there is a movement afoot to get rid of those who have ideas or even inspiration--
which is a sad, bad thought, but maybe it's true--
would Denver have done more good if he hadn't published the books and drawn the huge crowds? Maybe; I don't know. It's his choice.
But I can say that I feel strongly that I need to fight in a different way. I need to fight to stay in--
I'm not going to make it so easy for them to 'catch' me--
I keep my mouth shut, except on places like this blog--
I'm not going to let *them* push me out--
I'm sorry about what is happening to Denver Snuffer. The SP sounds very patronizing, and I couldn't help but think about the Sunstone article on passive aggression that Rob put on his blog a while back. There's a lot of food for thought in that--
this man is treating Denver in a way that sounds falsely friendly--
while really being a menace to him. There's something malignant in that--
Commander Gidgiddoni and LDSDPer,
I agree, Elder Maxwells quote is a good. It reminded me of a great essay (short book) written by Étienne de La Boétie (1530–1563).
"The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude"
You can find it in PDF format at the following address:
Thank you, Annalea. Happy to hear from you.
Another great link from Gary Hunt.
Thanks, Gary, for pointing me to this stuff.
Personally, I've never found it necessary to let the grammar of Moroni 10:5 get me tied up in knots. Let's remember that this is a translation of Moroni's words, and in the 19 century, (and continuing into our day in many instances) it was a common rhetorical device to ask the question in this way: "Is that not true?"
I saw it a lot in transcripts of cases, particularly during cross examination. "You admit that you were standing at the dock at midnight of the night in question, is that not true?"
I recall asking my seminary teacher about Jacob's use of the french word "adieu" at the end of the book of Jacob. How could it be that Jacob used a french word? Well, of course, Jacob didn't write "adieu," Joseph used that word to translate whatever reformed Egyptian word Jacob had put there.
At the time of Joseph Smith, French fashion was all the rages in America, including the use of some french idioms like "adieu." Note Emma Smith's ringlets in the famous painting she and Joseph posed for. For that matter, even today most latter-day Saints believe Joseph Smith actually went around all the time with those brushed wings of hair jutting forward from his temple. I see artists renditions that have him wearing that style even when laboring out of doors. That's become the look. But it was just a style he wore for the portrait, same as many Americans were doing at the time. It was copied from Napoleon.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, talking about "is it not true?"
It's just a frontier manner of speaking, folks. I wouldn't try to parse it too much.
Heck, I thought HF stood for Hell Fire, when I read the post with the link about hell.
I apologize for being a little late here. I just found your blog and am reading through your posts.
Rock, you and I agree on many things. Ever since I was in my twenties, I found myself wondering a bit about the financial side of the church as you do (payment ((tithing)) required for temple admittance, costs of church magazines required for visiting/home teaching, costs of underclothes which are required, costs of temple clothes... money, money, money). In my later twenties and into my thirties, I've thought quite a bit about the control factor, too. If you control how someone spends their time and money, what they eat and drink, when and with whom they have intimate relations, etc, you're essentially controlling them as a person.
Don't get me wrong - I understand why we have many of the "standards" we have. Most are for good reasons but still, the strong associated guilt sometimes gets to me. I do feel that broken commandments require repentance but at the same time, I believe that there should be more love toward "sinners." It seems that repentance, on the human level, is more like receiving a punishment to make restitution (more of like a spanking from a parent than an outreach of love and understanding) whereas the Savior lovingly forgave sinners who possessed broken hearts and contrite spirits.
Here's my question, though. Don't you think that today's saints are just as entitled to a modern-day prophet as the saints in Joseph Smith's time? Yes, I think these people have faults and I am not 100% pleased with how they handle the tithing money that I desperately need myself, but do you not feel that they're also good people and that at least some of them are modern-day revelators? True, we are entitled to personal revelation ourselves...
I think there are some things that could change, yes. At the same time, I don't believe that God the Father would abandon us and leave us without a prophet and righteous leaders. To me this is not a black and white issue but more of a gray one. Perhaps they are imperfect leaders who, just like the rest of us, are subject to the law of repentance.
PM, I agree with you that we could use latter-day Revelation. Happily, God continues to provide personal revelation to us as individuals. He has not abandoned the church.
Institutional revelations seem to have ceased for the time being, though. I wish it wasn't so, but it's up to the Lord whether he has anything to say to us as a collective community. I think we deserve institutional repentance, but I don't really know what is holding things up for certain.
Why do we need prophets? Christ came and gave his whole Gospel to the world, it has ever been available for anyone to read and follow and become prophets themselves. If we aren't studying and following Christ we wouldn't listen to any true prophet anyway.
Christ commanded us all to be his disciples and prophets, we do not need any other men, prophets or leaders to tell us what to do or to take our tithing money from us and distribute it for us, we can and should give our tithing to the poor ourselves, as Christ taught us to, so we make sure it really gets to those in need and not into the pockets of false prophets.
Where is there in all the world a man who is trustworthy enough to give our sacred tithing to anyway? I have never known of one. I have been duped like all of us to give my tithing to false prophets, but no more, Christ told us to give it to the poor and fatherless ourselves. And of course the poor are never meant to be tithed, but false prophets, like those who lead the LDS Church, always exact tithing from even the poor, to make them more dependent on the leaders control.
Would God that all men should be prophets. No one needs a prophet, though they are wonderful to know if one comes around (and you may know one and not realize it among your family and friends), but we have all the instruction and doctrine we need right in the New Testament, straight from Christ. Just read and follow that and you will be come a prophet.
It takes a prophet to know one anyway.
I fell across your article on the mounds at Cahokia, and was intrigued by your blog. I started with your blog on the testimony of the church.Thank you for the clarity and history. As a convert in South Carolina of three years but a believer in the Book of Mormon for 40 years, I can recognize the blessings of my ward. We are assigned a topic for meetings, but encouraged to think and share what it means to us. We have our structure, but no one demonstrates a feeling they are above or below anyone else. We step in and out of callings as they come. I've always felt comfortable asking any question and discussing the answer openly. No one expects blind acceptance and encourages research and study. No human organization is perfect; this is as close to my vision of a church as I can find after years of trying denomination after denomination and many religions. I look forward to exploring more of your blog for a frank, rational exploration of many subjects.
I can almost visualize hundreds of my friends reading your comment above and saying "Honey, we have to move to South Carolina!"
I wonder if you realize how absolutely unique your ward is among the many in the church. It doesn't sound at all like your leadership acts as though your ward is just a franchise of the corporation. Your ward sounds like the many that were left to continue in the Plains states after the other half of the Saints went to Utah. For decades after (until most of them later gathered under the umbrella of the Reorganized Church) branches continued to operate with the kind of autonomy God had intended.
I suppose this blog will not be appreciated so much by the "Brethren".
Any way, I read in the text that "there is something implanted deep in our DNA which triggers the desire to worship something or someone" and that even "members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not immune to this pull toward idol worship , and end up elevating their so-called "leaders" to the status of demigods".
That may be so, but in general I think we should also be aware of a mechanism that is working from within. The adversary, in his effort to take control of the minds of the people and to take away their free agency -which was his intention from before the world was organised- has tried to come up with this doctrine that the "prophet"can not be led astray and that we consequently are obliged to follow.
Today we see more and more -also through the spreading of knowledge on the internet- that this regime is not to be tolerated and must be exposed as a fraud.
We should read 2Nephi 28 where it says that the devil is trying to carefully lead us away; this chapter was written for the latter day saints in our time.
I was surprised you never quoted this scripture:
Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
Also, an instructive book is "True Believer" by Eric Hoffer. He describes what happens to mass movements over time and much of it applies to the Church. It might make a good blog post.
As a matter of fact, a year or two ago I wrote a draft of a post drawing from Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer", but in reviewing it I didn't feel it quite "worked." I may take it up again in the future and see how it goes.
Sometimes I'll write something and afterwards realize I simply wasn't inspired when I wrote it. That was the conclusion I came to with that one. It wasn't the topic; the topic of the True Believer who follows the cult of personality is a valid topic. I just didn't have the spirit when I put that particular piece together.
As for Mormon 8, I've referenced it a time or two, but of course if I had included every appropriate scripture in this piece it could have gone on forever. The Book of Mormon is chock full of warnings to the church in our day. Take your pick, right?
A perfect example is the one mentioned by MrHFMetz above: 2 Nephi 28.
Hey Rock, I've been feeling this way about the "Magisterium" and first came across Gina Colvin's blog which eventually led to yours and a few others.
It's soooo crazy whats going on, how my eyes have been opened and how much closer to the Lord I feel than when I was trusting in the arm of flesh.
You are a breath of fresh air and have helped point me to Christ.
I love the new understanding on what it means to be a 'mormon', a member of the church (community) of Christ that is now before me.
You are the man!
Keep up the good work, we need many more like you sharing the message of the Restoration!
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