|Backpacks and helmets hadn't yet been invented in my day.|
When I went out in 1973, I was already twenty-one years old and in the first group of missionaries to teach what became known as "the flipchart discussions." These newly streamlined discussions replaced the former flannel board lessons, and were based on a newly revised script carefully written by a committee of experts at Church HQ.
One of the elective classes I had taken in college was a course in Modern Salesmanship, and because of that training I recognized these new missionary discussions encapsulated the sales technique known as "The ABC's of Successful Selling:" Always Be Closing.
Actual missionary training footage smuggled out of the MTC.
The product we missionaries were selling, of course, was membership in the church. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't wish to give the impression I am against anyone being baptized. I'm not. I recognize baptism as essential to God's plan. But we were selling baptism to the investigators in order to get them to buy into something else- something less desirable, and definitely not what God had intended as part of His restored church.
The first discussion required us to memorize Joseph Smith's testimony regarding his epiphany with God the Father and Jesus Christ, which we recited to our contact verbatim. That was all well and good, and in most instances the spirit in the room would be strong as we related the story to our investigators. I believed Joseph Smith's testimony then, and I still do.
But here's where the false teaching came in: After relating Joseph Smith's story, either I or my companion would bear testimony of Joseph's experience. Then, following the script we had memorized, one of us would say "I testify, Mr. Brown, that ever since that day the Lord has had a prophet on the earth to guide us and teach us His will."
It was decades before I realized that was not the proper lesson I should have taken from young Joseph's experience. And it certainly wasn't the lesson I should have been sharing with investigators.
The real takeaway I should have gotten from Joseph Smith's experience is that if a person has questions he needs answered from the Lord, he need only ask the Lord directly; that if a person asks in faith, nothing wavering, it is possible to get those questions answered directly from the Lord. No need for a preacher, pastor, or other religious authority to act as intermediary between man and God. The great takeaway from Joseph Smith's experience is that we can all go directly to God for answers, and if we depend on Him alone, He will answer us.
However... The modern idea that some type of intermediary was necessary for the orderly management of the church was a notion that fit very nicely into the late 20th century narrative that determined individual free agency should be subordinated for the greater good. Therefore, the flock must be led in all things by men who held special authority to do the leading. Never mind that no Church president, from Brigham Young forward, has ever been anointed by the Lord to that purpose. The church was blessed to be led in these latter days by Divine Leaders -that was the teaching my Church's managers wanted to convey to those newly coming aboard, so that was the line I faithfully regurgitated as I labored to bring them in.
At the time, I fully embraced the techniques inherent in these scripted missionary lessons. In fact, I admired the way they were structured. On every page opposite the script we memorized, we were provided answers to possible objections the investigator might raise. Anyone with experience in sales understands that skillfully overcoming objections is the very secret to closing a sale, as taught by master salesman Elmer Letterman in his classic instructional presentation, "The Sale Begins When The Customer Says No."
|I actually own this record. It's pretty good.|
Except the gospel of Christ is not a product you should be trying to sell. You can introduce people to the gospel, but it's not a product you can manipulate them into buying. You can, however, sell people on something else, and that is what the leaders of the Church were getting me to do for them. And it worked.
Well, half the time it worked. Some of the people I sold to were enthusiastic about the product for awhile, but eventually they stopped using it.
Going About It Backwards
In one of my earliest posts, which I titled The Worst Testimony You Can Possibly Have, I repeated a story Thomas Hyans told in general conference in October of 1982:
"There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweler who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl.
"The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweler, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweler to negotiate a purchase. The jeweler soon realized that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price."
You get the analogy. The pearl represents the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the box represents the institutional Church which originally served as a container and delivery system for the gospel. But if we were to retell that story today, it might be more accurate to say that the jeweler had kept the pearl in that box so long that he actually forgot about the pearl inside. And when a customer came along who had actually heard about the pearl, the jeweler tried to sell him the box.
I've recently heard a similar analogy, just as apt: investigators are offered a beautifully wrapped gourmet bar of chocolate. But when the giver unwraps the bar for his guest, he discards the chocolate and hands the investigator the impressive-looking wrapper.
Of course the wrapper is important; it tells us that the thing inside that wrapper is sweet, rich, and delicious. But our missionaries today are trained to celebrate the wrapper instead of the sweet, delicious interior treat. If you stuff enough paper wrappers down people's throats enough times, folks are going to run the other way when they see you coming.
This is why we can't retain converts. I hadn't understood that my role as a missionary was to help bring people to Christ. I thought my job was to bring people into the church.
I was very good at introducing people to the gospel on my mission. While visiting with them in their homes the spirit often witnessed very strongly that the good news I was sharing with them was true. Then they would be baptized and start attending our Sunday meetings, and I would be transferred to another area. Before long my converts began to wonder what had happened to those beautiful, sweet feelings they experienced while with the missionaries. Where did that go? Why did they not receive similar edification while at church? And where were those once common healings, miracles, and visitations from angels that were experienced by the early Saints, and which our scriptures promised should continue?
What the heck happened to the promises of the Restoration?
What happened was that the promise of the Restoration has been gradually supplanted in this church by an authoritarian pseudo-religion that emphasizes hierarchical authority over the word of God, and obedience to leaders over the pure love of Christ. In short, the converts instinctively understood they had been victims of a classic bait and switch. They were sold the box instead of the pearl; a paper wrapper in place of the candy.
And so, within an average of nine months, the typical Mormon convert has moved on.
What Is Really Wrong With The Church?
I recently came across an interesting little analysis that originated at the New Order Mormon forum, written by someone who goes by the name "LostInMiddleMormonism." That forum was begun by members who hoped to be able to adapt to the Church on their own terms, but today there are many there who have given up on the religion entirely. I therefore don't know if the author rejects Mormonism out of hand, or if, like me and many others, he sees validity in the core fundamentals yet recognizes that the institutional Church has run aground. Regardless, I think this person has perfectly zeroed in on the problem the Church now faces in gaining and retaining converts, and I also think the author is right: the corporate Church will never recognize the problem is systemic to the organization. Because rather than focus on the pure gospel message, the product the Church is selling today is...the Church itself.
And surprise! Nobody wants that product.
Here is that analysis:
I believe I could help the Church out considerably with their missionary work endeavors, but I fear they are not really interested in real improvement.However, for all of our friends in the Church office building that are reading this, I shall offer some feedback, without even charging for the consulting provided.Let us start by talking about what the problems in missionary work are not:
- 1. It is NOT a lack of missionaries out in the "mission field"
- 2. It is NOT a lack of money and resources devoted to the program
- 3. It is NOT that the members are "slacking" or unmotivated
- 4. It is NOT that the missionaries are "unworthy"
- 5. It is NOT that the missionaries need to work harder
- 6. It is NOT that there needs to be a new program
- 7. It is NOT a problem with the approach
- 8. It is NOT a problem of language or communication
- 9. It is NOT that members don't have non-member friends
Here it is in a nut shell: The problem is the product. The problem is that the members wouldn't wish the Church on their worst enemies, let alone their friends.
- 10. Nor is it that the members are scared to talk to their friends about the church.
Most members -even the active ones- do not leave church on Sunday feeling measurably better than when they went in. They are not "uplifted". They are frustrated, saddened, and upset. Nearly everything is done half-assed.
The Elder's Quorum President is only doing his calling because he was guilted into it. The Cub Master doesn't want to be in scouts, but feels obligated because his son is in the program. The Relief Society President is trying to be a funeral organizer, guidance counselor, principal, mother, wife, and welfare consultant all rolled into one and wonders why she isn't "good enough." The Young Women have a budget that wouldn't run a lemonade stand, and the idea of a fun ward activity is a potluck dinner in a smelly gymnasium that hasn't been cleaned effectively because the members are supposed to do that too, in their spare time.
The home teachers and visiting teachers (aka all the adults in the ward) are spending three evenings a month chasing down people that don't want to be visited. Not to mention the lies that they are forced to tell themselves in order to fit into this supposed ward family. They can't tell the truth that they find the temple weird, that they support gay marriage, or that they really don't want to spend two years of their life pushing religion on people that are perfectly happy without it for fear of being labeled a social pariah.
The problem is most ethical and moral human beings wouldn't wish the Church on anyone. They intrinsically recognize that the Church is to religion what McDonalds is to a fine dining experience. It is bland, it is cheap, and it is barely functional. The average member, even if they don't recognize it consciously, understands the truism that "what is good in Mormonism is not unique, and what is unique is not very good." When individuals do "share the gospel", what happens? Research your own experience and that of your friends. Someone posts a pro LDS thought to Twitter or Facebook. Who likes it? Other members! That's it! No one else, and the majority of those members only "like" it because they feel obligated to.
Give the average member the choice of attending the temple or a recently released movie (such as Star Wars), and most will pick the latter every time. This is especially true if they aren't trying to demonstrate to the questioner how righteous they are.
Why is this? Because they get more fulfillment out of the movie at the local Cine-mark than they do from the movie at the International House of Handshakes. Give members a choice of an early summer boat trip on the first Saturday of April or watching conference and what will most pick? Why?
The problem isn't the sales force, folks! The problem is that the product does not work as advertised. If the membership of the church was actually getting out of their church experience what they say they are getting out of it, then you wouldn't be able to stop them from dragging their friends in the door. And more importantly, their friends would quickly recognize it. Why does everyone have an iphone or a droid in their pocket? Because those things work. Because they add value to their lives. Because there is a real and measurable benefit.
Why is the missionary program stagnant? Because it doesn't deliver what it promises.
And so my friends in the Church Office Building, until you fix this very fundamental problem, it won't matter what you do with the missionary effort or what cool new program you try. Until you fix that flaw, anything else is doomed to failure. And to make matters worse, putting this repeatedly on the members only exacerbates the problem.Preach My Gospel - And ONLY My Gospel
We tend to refer to "the gospel" as a catch-all term to describe every teaching, precept, ethos, credo, and dogma that combine to make up what we call "Mormonism." But the true gospel is actually much more concise. In 3 Nephi 27, Jesus described His gospel succinctly:
"Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil."That, brothers and sisters, is the gospel of Christ in a nutshell. The prophet Joseph Smith echoed those words of Jesus when he wrote:
"The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." (History of the Church, 3:30)(It's worth noting that when Brother Joseph spoke here of the testimony of the apostles and prophets, he was not referring to the men who would one day occupy the red chairs in the conference center, but to the ancient apostles and prophets who were actually able to testify of having known the Savior.)
Today our missionaries are provided with a phonebook-sized manual titled Preach My Gospel. But here's a question: is that manual concerned mostly with the simple gospel of Christ, or it it filled to the brim with appendages to the gospel?
I'd say there's much more detritus in that manual masquerading as gospel than what might be found in the legitimate appendages to it. If that manual contained mostly appendages to the gospel, it would be one thing. At the very least we could call it helpful filler. But recently author Rob Smith published a book showing countless instances where the modern LDS Church has adopted teachings that were never revealed by God, but are instead the doctrines of men. Those aren't appendages to the gospel, they're outright fabrications swinging from the appendages.
And Daymon Smith put out a five volume treatise proving that much of what we embrace today as essentially "Mormon" was actually born of 19th century Protestant thought that was folded into our religion by some of the earliest converts to the church. Over a century and a half later, many of these false teachings have supplanted the pure precepts found in the Book of Mormon. How can a teaching to be essentially "Mormon" if it contradicts the Book of Mormon?
Jesus had somewhat to say about those who would tweak His gospel message to suit their own purposes:
"If it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return." (3 Nephi 27:10-11)Question: Is the father currently "showing forth His works" in this church?
I think that question can be answered by looking at what was happening in the church during the time when it was led by a true prophet of God, and comparing that period to the Church today.
This Month's Announcements:
Please Don't Be Mad
Occasionally I will come across an email from a reader that is very old, and that I did not see when it was first sent. Actually, this happens a lot, and fewer things haunt my sleep more than the thought that someone who wrote me with a question might think I was too busy or too stuck-up to reply. So please know that like most of you, I am drowning in emails, almost all of them commercial in nature, and of such quantity that sometimes I don't even bother checking my email box for weeks at a time, after which time I usually give up trying to catch up with it all and let the whole bunch of 'em slide into oblivion. So please know that if you sent me an email, I didn't ignore you; I simply didn't see you there among the reeds.
If you have written me and not received a response within a couple of weeks, please give me a nudge and try again. You'll actually have better luck if you leave a private note to me on Facebook letting me know there is something waiting for me in my email inbox. Just let me know what name to search for. But please be aware my Facebook message box gets crowded too, so there's still a chance you could get lost in there as well. Lengthier messages are best sent via email (RockWaterman@gmail.com) while shorter notes are fine if sent through Facebook, including notifications that there is something waiting for me in my email box. Although I have ignored untold thousands of emails, I rarely delete, so yours is probably still lurking even if it's years old. Be advised, though: If you are hoping for a lengthy reply, it may take me a bit longer for me to get back to you because I am lazy as hell.
Another Free Book!
If you have written me and not received a response within a couple of weeks, please give me a nudge and try again. You'll actually have better luck if you leave a private note to me on Facebook letting me know there is something waiting for me in my email inbox. Just let me know what name to search for. But please be aware my Facebook message box gets crowded too, so there's still a chance you could get lost in there as well. Lengthier messages are best sent via email (RockWaterman@gmail.com) while shorter notes are fine if sent through Facebook, including notifications that there is something waiting for me in my email box. Although I have ignored untold thousands of emails, I rarely delete, so yours is probably still lurking even if it's years old. Be advised, though: If you are hoping for a lengthy reply, it may take me a bit longer for me to get back to you because I am lazy as hell.
Another Free Book!
The proprietor of the remarkable LDS blog The Perfect Day has compiled all his posts so far into a book that is available free in formats that you can download for reading on your Kindle, Nook, or other device; it's even available on pdf. This is a good way to catch up on some incredibly cogent thinking, so get it now and get it HERE.
204 comments:1 – 200 of 204 Newer› Newest»
International House of Handshakes....I totally snorted my loud laughter!!!!
Great post. I have been troubled by years how the missionary program is run. They are selling membership in a man made church instead of teaching others about Christ and the true gospel. That, and I find sales techniques manipulative and sometimes downright unethical. I have three boys and I am relieved that they will no longer feel pressure to go on this type of a 2-year mission.
I would love for them to serve a true humanitarian mission where they serve the poor while showing Christ's example through their works.
Teaching for Doctrines the Commandment of Men by Rob Smith is an excellent book. I just re-read the chapter 'No Poor Among Them' this Sabbath morning. I found myself in tears of the plight of the poor. 49% of the LDS church lives in poverty. The LDS church has the resources to help out these people (who suffer daily from hunger when we have so much!) and yet they won't. We can't have Zion established when there are poor among us.
In 3 Nephi 27, Jesus described His gospel succinctly:
"Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil."
There is poetry in this verse that I didn't realize before. The manner in which we lift Christ up is the same manner in which the Father will reach back and lift us up. Do we lift Christ up to crucify him (again) or do we lift him up to exalt him? Are we willing to crucify ourselves to lift/exalt Christ. If we do crucify ourselves and lift Christ up, we will be covered by the blood of the atonement. Then Christ will be our advocate:
Doctrine and Covenants 45: 3-4
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
To become a true daughter of God and have Christ as my friend and advocate is my heartfelt desire and what I pray/strive for daily.
Rock, you sure know how to tell a story. I loved it. Jana Riess had a blog post on exactly this topic a while back. She was covering Scott Miller's memoir:
"Most members -even the active ones- do not leave church on Sunday feeling measurably better than when they went in. They are not "uplifted". "
This comment rang true for me. I am not even sure what I believe or know factually about religion. What I am absolutely sure of is that going to church every Sunday makes me feel happy and peaceful all week long. If not for this positive benefit, I would not go. I cannot explain this result rationally and I don't try to. But for me, personally, nothing else about religion matters.
P.S. I'm not Mormon.
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
I want some friends like that. About a dozen or so would be great.
So go do whatsoever he has commanded his disciples and see what happens.
Or not. That's really the dividing point of sincerity - whether action follows words.
Thanks for that link, Funakoshi.
Awesome article Rock!!! I love it! It reminds me of exactly what I said on my mission. If I only would have known. If only.... Oh well. God bless you brother!!
Great post, Rock. It goes along with your other one about missionaries, and how they shouldn't all dress in suits.
Being British, while serving in the US I ate some of your chocolate. I actually had some American chocolate while I was serving in England while waiting for my VISA, but I wasn't sure if this was what US chocolate was like, or just what my companion's grandma gave him. My mental reaction was, "what the hell is this stuff?". A Hershey bar may be wrapped up like any other chocolate but its contents are nothing like the chocolate over here. My friend from Luxembourg thinks the chocolate over here, Cadbury's specifically, is not as good as what she enjoys over there. Some Americans might be offended, or confused by what I could say about their chocolate. To them, Hershey's is what chocolate is like and so it doesn't get any better than that.
This is basically how I feel about the Gospel and church right now. I'm glad this post was made, as I have been feeling a little guilty for not helping my friends and family join the gospel, but it's true that I don't wish the church on others. All the good stuff of church, yeah, and the true gospel, absolutely. But why would I give a Hershey bar to someone when I could give them Cadbury or Lindt? Incidentally a friend at church, who sits in the foyer and doesn't go into the sacrament meetings (there is a going number of them now) gave out some Lindt chocolate.
Thank you for that great Post!
I have always believed and saw the same, that most members do not really enjoy going to church, temple or doing their callings (unless a calling happens to be something in line with their personal interests) but I believe most do it all out of obligation/guilt/show, etc.
Not to mention that church is not very interesting, uplifting or enlightening, nor does it teach the real Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I actually learn the Gospel and feel the spirit more at Disneyland (or watching the new Cinderella movie) then I ever have at Church or in the Temple, I really do. For at least Walt Disney believed in True Love and seeking 'truth' for progress and learning from the past and our Founder's values and believing in our dreams that all things are possible, all things that Christ taught. Teachings I don't find at Church.
I find that Christ's teachings are rarely taught at Church and if they are they are very watered down, changed or added to by men with agendas and who don't even live His real teachings.
I have found that most members have very little knowledge of what Christ actually taught, making it very easy to be deceived by falsehoods.
And I myself consider the real 'Gospel' to be Christ's actual 'words', His teachings of unconditional love, respect, equality and service to the countless needy among our families, friends and neighbors, whether young or old, poor, sick, mourning, lonely, abused, unrighteous, hungry, cold, overwhelmed, etc.
Living the 'Gospel' is going out and serving others, not wasting our very limited free time in temples or churches to sing, pray, study, testify or teach lessons or give talks, even about Christ.
Christ wants us to actually 'do' what he taught, not talk or sing about it. Our 'actions of service' will be all the sermons others need to see or hear. Serving others in their homes is what is edifying, enlightening and what brings 'the spirit'.
So I don't consider anyone's 'testimony' as 'the Gospel of JC', even if it was Christ's original disciple's testimony. For a testimony is just words, that anyone can say.
'Actions' are the only important, revealing and convincing thing anyone can prove their beliefs by.
Christ taught us to not put any store in anyone's 'words' or 'testimony', but only believe their 'actions' IF they prove they keep all his commandments. I'm not sure even Christ's Apostles fit that bill. And I definitely don't believe Joseph Smith did or any leader in the Church past or present, no matter what they may claim in 'testimony'.
As a missionary in the South Australian Mission, overseen by Bruce McConkie, I was interested in the way it seemed to be run as a "numbers game". We were to read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" Andrew Carnegie) as part of our study. There were "contests" as to how any copies of the Book of Mormon we placed, "first discussions" held, hours of tracting done, etc. My Father, a staunch Presbyterian, wondered that we really didn't seem to be involved in the "preaching of Christ". Reading my letters home a couple of years ago, I had to agree with him, altho he is long gone.
We were a bunch of high-spirited boys, easily lead, and not terribly anxious about much else than doing our Mormon/Mission thing, going out as boys and returning as men (a natural maturation process that would have happened in the military, working a regular job, or being at school . . . altho more protected.
I look at the two year period as another step in my overall progression . . . another step in my learning of my place in the cosmos.
It's a wild ride . . .
Though you may have some things spot on, yet on others, abit cheeky.
Going to church on Sunday's to fellowship and especially partake of the sacrament of Christ is the "high" event of what it is to do worship of Christ, having stated this, it is also up to us to prepare ourselves to be in tune with the spirit of worship....In simple terms it is NOT how you go, but HOW you go?
Most members -even the active ones- do not leave church on Sunday feeling measurably better than when they went in. They are not "uplifted". They are frustrated, saddened, and upset. Nearly everything is done half-assed.....YOU and everyone else have to remember , these are just plain people like you or I trying to uplift and convey a message they were asked to give on a particular gospel theme, it takes GREAT effort on most to do this, as for those that felt like the comment above, well I may ask this,did you go to be uplifted and enjoy the company of fellow believers, or did you go in sufferance and if the latter, there lies YOUR problem?
We may do the things like visiting homes-preaching the gospel to others as we go along our lives-aiding others in showing our examples, whether normal or pretended that is what we are or what we fashioned ourselves into
As for International House of Handshakes....Well I will give you this [ a bit cheek] nevertheless true, such is life!
The boring and depressing nature of Mormon Sunday service is either a flaw in the Mormon worship service itself (a view I agree with) or a problem with the worshipper's attitude (your view).
Either way, people have a choice of denominations. I've visited a variety of different Christian denominations. Almost without exception, the services are interesting, engaging, visually beautiful, and lovely to hear. Also reasonably short, usually about 1 hour long. In all of them, members partake of the Sacrement. I leave feeling better than I went in, and it requires no effort on my part. Even if I'm grumpy going in, I leave happier.
Here's the thing. If most people, for whatever reason, get nothing from Mormon Sunday services, they will look elsewhere. This may partially explain why, worldwide, only about 1 out of 100 Christians are Mormon.
@ unakoshi ...
I've also had visited a variety of different christian denominations through out the years and almost without exception, their services lacked what I would call "spirit"
ONLY ONE church greeted me by handshake and that was from an Anglican minister?
interesting as you mentioned >> The boring and depressing nature of Mormon Sunday service is either a flaw in the Mormon worship service itself (a view I agree with) or a problem with the worshiper's attitude (your view).<< I have and had posted this to mean from every denomination not just LDS......In simple terms it is NOT how you go, but HOW you go? Many doubted Christ when he was with them, so is there that much difference from his day to ours now?
YOU go to your church and at times you are bored or just numb from it?
I go to mine and most times I am prepared for it nut also understand the message they give, may not be for me, thats okay too!
As for worldwide, only about 1 out of 100 protestant christians are Latter Day Saints or Mormons to you...thats okay...Christs church was very small also, not a problem here, let it be 1,000,000 makes no difference, at all
The churches are useful organizations for creating good works and inspiration in the world. But so are many charities and the Elks, Lions and Shriners clubs etc. It seems that everytime the gospel is restored to the earth, that there are those that will immediately smell the opportunity and work tirelessly to shift emphasis from the transformational gospel message to the messenger, which then requires an authorized priesthood be invented so the messenger can be "properly" worshiped and communicated with via his authorized hierarchy of representatives and of course buildings must be built, images engravened, taxes imposed, unique rituals created and an ever lengthening list of regulations invented for the followers to comply with.
The restored message is ALWAYS the same in the beginning yet always ends up distorted and subverted over time by those that would use it as an opportunity to gain power, wealth and control.
What is the first thing you hear members testify about the first sunday of the month? Is it about Jesus Christ? No, they say I KNOW THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!
But are we supposed to do this? Search the scriptures and you will find no instance when a man, be it a prophet or a saint, share this testimony, except in cases of apostasy, such as the zoramites or the jews who thought of themselves to be the only true people. There are only 2 verses in the scriptures that especifically says that the church is true; both of them are found in the Doctrine and Covenants and both belong to the Lord. He is the only one who can say, who has the right to say if the church is true or if it is not. He and he alone. The church is a group of people, the people should not testify of themselves. The Lord said that the testimony of one man about himself is not valid. The same goes for the church. If the church testify about itself then that testimony is not true. We should not promote ourselves but we should do as Nephi said: to talk about Christ and to preach about Christ.
I think Mormons as a culture look at the only evidence available (numbers, malls, temples, commercials, nice people who are Mormon) and assume its because they are on the right team.
I think Mormons as a culture look at the rebellious children of Israel, the pharoses, and the rebellious Nephites, and see an almost villainous sort, as if they were all just looking for ways to break the commandments, murder, steal, and screw their way through life.
I think if we were to look in the mirror we would see the same people as the rebellious Israelites and Nephites. The same people who held the institutional church of Christ's day in high esteem, because they did some good stuff. The same people who sang "we thank thee for King Noah" who built great/fine buildings and protected his people with a tower. The same people who thought that because they were so blessed temporally, they must be God's chosen people.
I mean who else could build a bunch of temples, run successful businesses, have some members who are "who's who" bona fide, have young folks on a missions who don't behave like party animals, cross the plains, start a community in a desert, and be a "good looking bunch" on conference Sunday. These are totally fruits of the spirit.
You have an agenda. You talk about being a true believing member and write so eloquently about the spirit and the gospel, then quite blatantly say things like "When will the church collapse?" or "This is why new converts only stay 9 months." Nothing you say rings true when all you do is offer questions that can only lead to more questions, which ultimately lead to the place you are at. You offer no solution, ever.
You have an agenda and its to draw people away.
Mahan, if you have actually ever read any other posts put up by Rock you would understand that he doesn't prescribe to the notion that the Church is the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an entirely separate thing from the Church. The only agenda that he has is to help people put their faith not in the arm of flesh but in the one who anybody is supposed to covenant with at baptism. But anymore Church, gospel, Jesus has just become semantics to the true believers.
Great post as always Rock!
I have almost always ignored the programmed content of Sacrament meeting and spent my time reading the scriptures. Occasionally I miss some over-the-pulpit humor. Once in a while a speaker is interesting and I will listen, but that is a rarity. I'm a sucker for those stories which illustrate true Christianity; pure, unfeigned love. It really touches me and makes me feel much better. Partly because of these experiences I'm convinced that, although I'm a pretty worthless individual, my Father in Heaven still loves me.
I have a calling to teach primary to 11 year olds. I've almost always departed from the manual,regardless of the age-group, except I try to stay on the same topic or cover the same set of scriptures. Mostly I find that by having the boys read the scriptures and try to explain what I think they mean that we have a pretty good experience. Probably 80% of my class is reading the scriptures. I have a few adults who come to my class because we cover things in more depth than they do in Gospel Doctrine.
Last year we were on the late schedule so there was nobody banging on the door to get in if we ran over. There were two or three times that the boys wanted to continue the lesson, so we just stayed in for the next hour. These were lessons about how the signs of the times are coming true, signs in the heavens, etc., which goes far beyond what most adults understand. At least one of the boys asked his parents about the possibility that the second coming could be close at hand, but was rebuffed and told to ignore it.
Anyway, with 11 year olds, it's hard to know if it will have lasting impact, but I'm trying to sow some seeds of truth. This last week we covered King Benjamin's sermon from the tower and we talked about priestcraft. I made sure to point out that the top leaders of our Church are all professionals. When I was that age I swallowed the line about them just receiving "small stipends", which I repeated on my mission. I'm hoping that when these boys get to that stage that they will have something in the back of their heads that tells them "wait, that isn't really true".
So far I've been teaching this class for 4 years and have never had a parent challenge me on anything. Even the other co-teachers or adults that attend. When they finally figure out that I'm attempting to teach truths, they'll probably blackball me, but until then I feel that I'm performing a service.
I feel that you are too. I love ya' man!
Telling a true personal story--I have been excommunicated from the Church for "apostasy". No mind. I am still a fervent and passionate Mormon. So I show up to this Ward in Central California. The Gospel Doctrine Teacher doesn't show up. A Volunteer is called for "to teach the lesson". So I volunteer (Naturally). And I teach of the Mighty Change/Repentance from Mosiah 27, Alma 36 and go verse by verse, explaining simply what these verses mean and how they apply to us. The Class was spell bound. Me? I am no great teacher, but I taught PURELY from the Scriptures--The Book of Mormon. And after the class, I am told by the Class Members that "That was the BEST lesson we've had ALL year!!!".... And then they invite me to continue to teach the class assuming I am moving into the area. Well, I am NOT moving there.. just visiting. And I think to myself, "Maybe it might be a GOOD idea to 'rejoin' the Church BEFORE I am called to be your Gospel Doctrine Teacher." LOL. I did not tell anyone that I had been excommunicated. So much "for losing the Spirit" and being "darkened in my mind and spirit" because 15 uninspired men determined I was "guilty" of "apostasy". I have done this a few other times in a few Wards and taught the High Priests and the Elders when the teacher didn't show up or volunteers were called for. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS from the Scriptures and the Lessons are RICH, POWERFUL and FULL of the Spirit. LOL
Don't you understand? The church and the gospel are two different things. One can believe Christ's gospel and still wonder whats going on with the church. This is the most important distinction you can make.
Congratualations on figuring out I have an agenda. Except you neglected to finish your sentence when you wrote "You have an agenda and it is to draw people away" I gathered from your comment that you believe I have done something I shouldn't have, but you forgot to specify what that was.
My agenda is indeed to draw people away: Away from trusting in the arm of flesh, and TOWARD believing in Christ. I think this agenda is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles. However, if you are aware of anything I have taught in this blog that is undoctrinal, untruthful, or otherwise incorrect, I would appreciate your pointing it out so that I can make the proper corrections.
Though I appreciate your assertion that often members don't adequately prepare themselves to be edified at church, I think the real problem is that our meetings are not conducted in the manner prescribed by scripture. In Moroni 6:9 we are told how successful worship services were held anciently:
"[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."
In the latter days, Jesus himself gave similar instructions:
"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."
In modern times our meetings are held according to a strict structure dictated from Salt Lake City, a structure that bishops are instructed never to depart from, and which completely ignores the instruction that it is not the bishop who is supposed to be conducting these meetings, but the elders. The ward bishop, whose calling is similar to a quartermaster in the military, was intended to be the one who looked after the temporal needs of the members by distributing goods from the storehouse. But in modern times he has been elevated to a position similar to that of the principal of a school, in charge of running the ward, rather than appointed to a specific corner of responsibility within the ward under the direction of the elders.
As you infer, going to church to fellowship with one another is indeed a salient reason for Sunday meetings. This was clearly the motivation of the first century Christians, who benefited from regularly associating with people of like mind. But our meetings today are structured in such a way as to efficiently shunt us from one classroom to another, until at the end of the three hour stretch everybody just wants to get it over with and go home. So we lose that important benefit of gathering and socializing. If studying the gospel were the sole reason for church, we could all do that at home on our own. But fellowshiping and socializing are extremely important, and we are missing that important aspect of what "church" is supposed to be about.
Those members lagging behind in the foyer and visiting with each other while formal meetings are going on inside are actually enjoying "church" more than those inside stuffed uncomfortably in the pews.
You said: "The real takeaway I should have gotten from Joseph Smith's experience is that if a person has questions he needs answered from the Lord, he need only ask the Lord directly; that if a person asks in faith, nothing wavering, it is possible to get those questions answered directly from the Lord. No need for a preacher, pastor, or other religious authority to act as intermediary between man and God. The great takeaway from Joseph Smith's experience is that we can all go directly to God for answers, and if we depend on Him alone, He will answer us."
The LDS Church recently published online some of Joseph Smtih's papers. These documents were at one time not widely available to researchers. Relevant to your comment above is the earliest known account of the First Vision written by Joseph Smith himself in 1832. Notice what he said about how learned at that time that there was no true church on earth:
"… thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the situation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the of the minds of mankind my mind become exceedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament..."
The idea that the true and living Church was not on the face of the earth was the fundamental belief of many Protestants where Joseph lived, particular those of the Restorationist sects like the Campbellites. It did not occur to him if this belief might be wrong. He never asked God about it. In fact, he says he arrived at that idea by SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.
The problem with that claim is that Joseph never left a written expose or thesis showing from the scriptures how he got to that conclusion. It seems that the people around him did not need to be convinced of this. As for the so-called "great apostasy" of the Church, it is not a Biblical doctrine. It denies many of Jesus' teachings. The scriptural prooftexts used by Restorationists are badly misinterpreted if not twisted out of context. Matthew 16:18 is one among many verses that demolishes that false doctrine.
Since the doctrine of the Restoration depends on the alleged great apostasy of the Church, Mormonism cannot afford to have that foundational doctrine proven false. No great apostasy, no need for a Restoration. It is that simple. Even James Talmage acknowledged that in his book "The Great Apostasy". But God did not reveal to Joseph Smith that his true Church was not on the earth. He learned that by relying on his own knowledge of the scriptures, which was not convincing when he was 12 or 15 years old.
==== continued ======
Of course, by 1838, Joseph began to embellish his First Vision story, such that people began to hear him talk about how two heavenly beings who told him all churches were wrong. That there are several contradictory versions of the First Vision account has been known since the 1960s by the Tanners and other critics of the Church, and they have questioned the Church on this. The Church tried to ignore them until they could no longer ignore them. So now, it released a specific essay to acknowledge the problem and propose a solution.
"Joseph Smith's First Vision"
The official explanation raises more questions than the one it is answering. I will not delve into those questions, but it should be enough to say that the accounts are contradictory on the most important aspects. If God was trying to answer a very important theological question in the First Vision, it looks like he failed badly.
This is then the problem: if the Utah Mormon Church is in apostasy, who will tell us which version of the First Vision is the most authentic, the one most worthy of belief? I don't think it will be the RLDS/ Community of Christ. I don't think it will be Denver Snuffer, or any other individual Mormon who thinks the Utah Mormon Church is in apostasy.
"Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:29-33)
As for the so-called "great apostasy" of the Church, it is not a Biblical doctrine. It denies many of Jesus' teachings. The scriptural prooftexts used by Restorationists are badly misinterpreted if not twisted out of context. Matthew 16:18 is one among many verses that demolishes that false doctrine.
Please list these "many of Jesus' teachings" that are denied by the claim that the Catholics have neither power nor authority from God from Peter. Please explain how these many teachings are denied by this claim. Please explain how your interpretation must be the one true interpretation of these teachings so that we may see your conclusions must necessarily follow from your citations.
After all, if this cannot be done, we cannot be sure you're telling us the truth or merely spouting Catholic dogma, which, of course, we would expect to support Catholic claims, regardless of truth.
Please explain, in as great a length as you deem necessary, how the claim that Catholics have neither power nor authority from God from Peter is contradicted by Matthew 16:18. Please explain, again, how your interpretation of Matthew 16:18 must be the one true interpretation of this verse so that we may see your conclusion must necessarily follow from your citation.
After all, if this cannot be done, we cannot be sure you're telling us the truth or merely spouting Catholic dogma, which, of course, we would expect to support Catholic claims, regardless of truth.
For your perusal - before you answer - I would, if I were you, avail myself of this book, free online: Mormonism and Early Christianity. In particular, I would pay attention to The Passing of the Primitive Church:
Forty Variations on an Unpopular Theme and The Way of the Church.
You would also be well advised to make yourself acquainted with the contents of this book: The World and the Prophets.
If you can't be bothered to read and respond relevantly and truthfully, Rico, why should anyone listen to you? Clearly you wouldn't know what you are talking about, and wouldn't be interested in becoming educated. You'd be another in a long line of pretenders selling institutional or organizational snake-oil, who's fundamental value proposition is "pay and obey us, or you will go to hell!", something like you've already said to me.
By the way, these books and essays would also be beneficial to any TBM to read. Because, you see, by showing us the way the Catholic religion metastasized from the faith of Christ, Nibley was also explaining how our own Church was departing from the faith of Christ. You might think of the Catholics as a parable for the LDS Church. It always goes the same way.
I used to be a practising Catholic, and I hardly heard any mention of leaders in any sermons, or during any of their meetings. The only time I can remember was when I was doing my confirmation classes and there was an explanation of what priests are and about the bishop who was coming to anoint our heads with oil and confirm us as Christians. Yes, they (or the woman who was teaching us) explained that we were getting confirmed as Christians. She didn't say as Catholics. As for the sermons in church, they were to do with readings from the Bible and applying them into our lives. At the end of mass the priest would tell us to go out and serve the Lord. There wasn't any teaching that the Catholic church is the one true church and that only by being Catholic could one be saved. Maybe they neglected to teach that?
Yes, the doctrines and rituals have changed, as we Mormons believe. But contrast the Catholics with the Mormons, who teach quite often about the leaders and how important they are, and that we must do what they say and sustain them and even one or two have said that we must do what they say even if they tell us to do something wrong, for then we shall still be blessed. The Catholic church hasn't departed from some of the original teachings of Jesus as much as Mormons have.
Someone needs to tell the Catholics that.
Rico is more representative example of the Catholic "faith".
The Bible is a Catholic book written by Catholic saints for the Catholic Church. Therefore, to interpret the Bible in such a way as to oppose Catholic teaching is to misinterpret it. The Catholic Church preceded the Bible. Before this Church existed, there was only a loose collection of scriptures. Eventually, many false Christians began to write pseudo-scriptures, and the problem of distinguishing which book was authentic became a problem. The Church set out to sift the wheat among the tares, and the Bible is what came out of that sifting.
The Bible is true because the Catholic Church is true. The Catholic Church is true because Jesus himself built it. And Jesus is the Truth himself. The Bible stands or falls on the integrity of the Catholic Church.
When Joseph Smith wrote in 1832 that he learned from the scriptures that the true Church was not on earth, his conclusion opposed the Catholic Church's teaching on the indefectibility of the Church. Therefore, it must be rejected as false. Here is one scripture that demolishes it:
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)
Why did Jesus built his Church upon a rock? So the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
What kind of builder builds on a solid foundation? A wise builder.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." (Matthew 7:24-25).
And what do we call a builder whose building collapses in a storm? A foolish builder who failed to build strong houses.
"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:26-27)
Log, answer this question: Which Jesus do you believe, (1) the wise one who builds a Church that withstands the storms of hell, or (2) the foolish one whose Church fell apart and disintegrated in the so-called "great apostasy"?
Answer that, and I will give you more. That's a promise...:-)
Dodge and you get nothing.
The Catholic Church is a Christ-centered Church. When you go to Mass, the main focus of the entire ritual is Jesus himself. From the procession of the Cross at the start, to the blessing of the congregation by the priest, all the actions recall the moments of Jesus' life on earth. We never talk of how great our leaders are because they are not the main attraction of the Mass, Jesus is.
Also, Catholics do not have to testify how true their Church is. Our Church has been existing since Jesus' time. We know that for a fact. All other churches were founded by men. This is the only one built by Jesus himself. Because if Jesus did not build this church, then who did? Whoever he is, we have to congratulate that guy. He is awesome. He is the only one who founded an institution that has continuously lasted for 2,000 years. No other human organization has lasted this long.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount by saying that those who hear his teachings and do them are like wise builders who build on a foundation of rock. Their houses will not fall in a storm. One of the teachings of Jesus taught in that sermon is about being a light to the world:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus built his Church so that it will be light in the world. The purpose of the Church is to give glory to God here on earth. Now what kind of person will light a candle and cover it with a bushel or basket? His action would be absurd, right?
But that is what those who misunderstand the teachings of Jesus say when they claim that a "great apostasy" caused his Church to fall away and disappear from the earth. Christ intended his Church to be visible, to be seen by men. He built his Church strong enough to withstand hellish storms. But if it disappeared, then Jesus is like a man who hid his candle under a bushel. He therefore contradicted his own teaching. That is why one cannot use this nonsense of a teaching as a foundation for other Church doctrines. It will be blown away by the first raging storm that comes along.
Jesus does not contradict his own teachings. When he lights a candle, he intends it to be a light to a dark world. He does not intend to hide it or make it invisible or inaccessible. That is not his purpose. To teach otherwise, is to grossly misunderstand him and his purposes. And that is what Joseph Smith clearly failed to grasp when he wrote in 1832 that he learned from the scriptures that the Church was no longer on earth. To say such nonsense is to contradict Jesus himself.
Note that Joseph was only 12 or 15 at that time he reached that absurd conclusion about the Church. I would not risk my eternal life on his knowledge of Jesus' gospel at that age. Neither should you. Neither should anyone else. What does it profit a man to believe such nonsense and lose his own soul?
By not accounting for the proffered sources, you establish your insincerity, ignorance, and malice.
Incidentally, your "riposte" was already answered therein.
The ardent Catholic apologist Arnold Lunn recently wrote: “The Church claims that her credentials can be proved from certain books in the Bible, treating them as purely human documents. The Bible consists of a series of books selected by the Catholic Church—books which the Catholic Church claims the right to interpret. It is for the church to say where the Bible records objective facts and where the Bible uses metaphor and allegory.” 96 This is self-certification with a vengeance: the church waves before us certain documents which she claims prove her authority; these documents she has personally selected, but even so they do not even remotely suggest what she claims they do unless they be read and interpreted in a very special sense, that sense being carefully prescribed—by the church! Mr. Lunn is telling us in effect that the church has a perfect right to control the past to prove its holy calling, even though the only proof of that calling is the doctored document itself. A reading of Denzinger will show the surprising degree to which the reading of the scriptures is controlled by the Roman church; in this valuable work the extreme nervousness of the clergy about letting people read the Bible for themselves or in their own languages goes hand in hand with the frequent and frank admission, that while the Bible seems to swarm with anti-Catholic material, to make a pro-Catholic case out of it requires the labor of trained specialists equipped with highly artificial tools of interpretation.97
Incidentally, of your two options, Jesus #2 is the one preached in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 3:19
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
Rock, I would ban this fool Rico.
Powerful stuff, Rico. Very well said.
Well said, indeed: "I'm always right. If you ever seem to prove I'm wrong, you're wrong automagically."
There's nowhere to go from there.
The catholic Church isn't Christ's church anymore than the Eastern Orthodox or any other group that stemmed from Christ's original group. There were many other groups that came from that core Christ established, such as the gnostics, etc. It's very easy to claim to be the one true successor when you get the Romans behind you and then murder all the competition.
The truth is that Christ's church doesn't exist in the organizational structure of any denomination. It exists as the people who come unto Him. Everything else is the church of the devil. So yes there are probably many Catholics who are part of Christ's church, and Mormons, and Protestants, etc. But being able to draw a line of succession all the way back to somebody doesn't make a group Christ's church. What make a person Christ's church is if they have come unto Him. You will know who this is because these are they who will do His works.
How about "If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong." :-)
If you have some sense of decency left, please be respectful to Alan who owns this blog. Both of us are mere guests here. Guests don't dictate what their host should do in his own domain. Alan has hosted this site for quite some time. I trust his maturity and common sense which he has demonstrated well in this place. That is why people flock here and talk to him. They like engaging his ideas because they can see he is a reasonable guy.
In contrast, look at your blog. Nobody goes there to talk to you. Have you ever wondered why it is you who comes here to find somebody to talk to? And now you're acting like some mini-Hitler dictating to Alan what he should do in his own house.
Apparently, there are some basic human interpersonal skills that you have failed to learn. Unfortunately, this is not the place to learn them. Honestly, I hate talking about people's defects because I too am human and full of it. I prefer talking about ideas. Look at my first post, it is addressed to an idea found in the main article. If you find a defect in what I wrote, attack my ideas by providing counter-arguments.
You ask me for sources, and I refer you to several primary sources ot texts in the Bible itself. Those are my evidences. Have you shown that I have distorted the interpretation of those texts? Have you given an alternate exolanation of the text sources to dispute my conclusions? No you haven't. You have yet to dispute the evidences I have presented here. In short' you have failed to tackle my reasons by demolishing them with better reasons.
In fact, when you conceded that the Jesus you believe is a foolish builder whise church fell apart and was annihilated in a great apostasy, you admit that no one should follow your Jesus. The true Jesus builds a strong Church that is meant to withstand the vey powers of Hell. And you don't believe in that Jesus. If this was today's housebuilder, why would anyone invest in his building skills if he has a track record of massive failures? If a powerful hurricane were raging against the house he had built, would you want that to be your shelter against the storm?
It defies common sense and reason to rely in such a foolish builder, but that is what you have just admitted. In this case, it is not me who proved you wrong. It is yourself.
You aren't engaging Rock's ideas, but are seeking pretexts to launch into Catholic propaganda.
I asked for specific things you did not deliver on. Since you did not deliver, there's no case to respond to.
I gave you specific sources you did not bother to read, though I linked directly to them, which preemptively undermined your predictable responses.
I couldn't have made it easier for you to do your homework and respond relevantly. But you didn't and you haven't.
Therefore, truth is not your goal, but winning is your goal: social ascendancy.
Because truth is not your goal, there is no reason to discuss things with you.
And because there is no reason to discuss things with you, I would ban you had I the power, even if Rock has a higher tolerance for fools than I do.
Log, didn't Jesus say something about people who call other people fools? I think so. I don't believe He had a positive view of it either. I think it had something to do with pride, the kind that goeth before a fall, as I remember.
Yes, Jesus did say something about people who call other people fools. He also called other people fools. A fool, after all, is someone who believes a lie, ie, has been fooled. And if the fool in question is simply pretending to believe what he proclaims to be true but is in fact false? Then he's simply a garden-variety closet atheist, a hypocrite, which is arguably worse than a fool. And Jesus called others hypocrites, too.
JST Luke 16:21 O fools! for you have said in your hearts, There is no God. And you pervert the right way; and the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence of you; and you persecute the meek; and in your violence you seek to destroy the kingdom; and ye take the children of the kingdom by force. Woe unto you, ye adulterers!
You see, the closet atheists always become the leaders of the Church, proclaiming to be the bride of God, while corrupting everything they touch. I've written a bit about this phenomenon on my blog, why it must go this way.
However, I expect you are yourself also an atheist.
Nevertheless, your "concern" for the welfare of my soul is noted.
Matthew 16:18. So you say that the rock that Jesus built his church on was Peter, and that he wouldn't build on something so faulty that it would collapse. Yet Peter denied Jesus three times before there was any organization built upon the rock that is Peter. If Jesus is such a good builder, why would he build his church on such a shaky foundation as a man too weak in faith to acknowledge he was one of the Lord's followers? Peter fell away at that moment.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 says there will be a falling away first before the Lord comes again. Like, Peter, just because there was a falling away, it doesn't mean that the Lord was not a good builder.
However, I don't believe Jesus was referring to Peter when he said "upon this rock will I build my church." For one thing, it doesn't make sense grammatically, he was talking to Peter (or talking to Simon and said "thou art Peter") and then said "upon THIS rock," why would "this" refer to the person he's talking to. Nobody talks like that. If the text said that Jesus put his hands upon him and said "upon this rock", then I could tell he was referring to the man he put his hands on. Also, in the verses preceding this, Jesus was telling him that he was blessed for the revelation he had received from the Father that he, Jesus, is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." So I believe the Lord was referring to this as the rock upon he will build his church. I've heard from a Mormon that it was revelation itself, as in the doctrine of revelation that is the rock. But rather, I believe it's the specific revelation about Jesus being the Christ and the Son of God whereupon he will build his church. All that this revelation entails constitutes the gospel, because the Christ came into the world to perform the atonement, and that is the core fundamental of the gospel. This is further evidenced in the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 27:8, when the resurrected Jesus is talking to his disciples whom he called to establish his church and he's replying to their question of what to name the church. He said "...but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel."
Don't take my word for it, you need to study these things in your mind and then ask God if they are true. You can trust Him, and if you do it right, He will answer.
Congratualations on figuring out I have an agenda. Except you neglected to finish your sentence when you wrote "You have an agenda and it is to draw people away" I gathered from your comment that you believe I have done something I shouldn't have, but you forgot to specify what that was.
My agenda is indeed to draw people away: Away from trusting in the arm of flesh, and TOWARD believing in Christ. I think this agenda is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles. However, if you are aware of anything I have taught in this blog that is undoctrinal, untruthful, or otherwise incorrect, I would appreciate your pointing it out so that I can make the proper corrections."
Then let me specify. You are purposefully trying to extricate members from finding Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are making broad assumptions that to find Christ is impossible within the current church and, like a wolf in sheeps clothing pine away for the good old days, before you knew the inner-workings of the church. But I suppose that position is by design as well. Seems fake and disingenuous.
The Spirit does work with the faithful members of the church. If you can't feel it, at least you have all your book learnings to lean upon....oh wait....isn't that...leaning upon the arm of the flesh? Whoops!
Peter did truly deny Jesus three times, and it's amazing that all the four gospels consistently report this. They also report how Peter wept bitterly after hearing the cock crow, realizing he just fulfilled Christ's prophecy. Peter knew he did wrong, but he repented. Therefore, strictly speaking, Peter was not an apostate.
Why do you think Peter repented? He could have been like Judas who killed himself in desperation. Take a look at the Mormon church, how many homosexuals kill themselves and blame their church leaders for it? Peter could have done the same, killing himself while blaming Jesus because Jesus didn't turn out to be the Messiah that Peter expected him to be.
After his conversion, Peter eventually went beyond the borders of Palestine to proclaim the Gospel and gave up his life as a martyr in Rome. He died following the example of Jesus. He was not an apostate. Those people who read their Bibles and conclude that Peter failed clearly do not understand the Bible.
How did Peter succeed in the faith while Judas and many others failed? What does the Bible say?
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, THAT THY FAITH FAIL NOT: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." (Luke 22:31-34)
That is a fact many non-Catholics do not understand. Jesus prayed for Peter so that his faith will not fail. Why? Because Satan wants to beat him up the way wheat is beaten to sift it from its stalk. Peter is Satan's prime target for destruction. This is why Peter is special. It was he whom Christ intended as the one who will STRENGHTEN THE FAITH of his brothers. If Satan succeeds in destroying Peter, he will succeed in destroying the other apostles who are the foundation of the Church.
The only question here is this: Does God listen to the prayers of Jesus?
"And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me ALWAYS..." (John 11:41-42)
And this is the unavoidable conclusion:
1. The Father always hears the prayers of Jesus
2. Jesus prayed for Peter so that his faith will not fail.
3. Therefore, the faith of Peter did not fail.
To accuse Peter of apostasy is to say that the prayer of Jesus failed. And to conclude that Jesus' prayer failed is to accuse the Father of not hearing Jesus. Remember, Satan wants to destroy Peter. Therefore, be careful about judging him. You might be helping the cause of Satan.
"The ward bishop, whose calling is similar to a quartermaster in the military, was intended to be the one who looked after the temporal needs of the members"
The word "bishop" in the New Testament actually means "overseer". Too bad they didn't translate it that way. "When the overseer called and asked me to speak in church..." has such a nice ring to it.
Discussions are great when respondents understand the rules. This is no different from playing any game or sport. It is impossible to play any game with someone who does not know how to play it. Just as the basic rule of basketball is to shoot the ball into one's own basket, the basic rule of discussion or debate is to give proof when one makes claims.
For example, Log makes the silly claim that "I don't engage Alan's ideas" in the original post. This is silly because he shows no evidence other than his saliva and the huffings and puffings of his neck. From there, he expects people to simply believe him.
To counter that silly claim, all I need do is point to the first two comments I made above. The first comment (March 15, 2016 at 7:20 AM) quotes an entire paragraph from Alan's main article. From there, I show why I think Alan's idea is problematic. I point to a prima facie evidence, Joseph Smith's 1832 handwritten account of the First Vision. The link comes from the official LDS website which shows a facsimile of the document. This account is most important primarily because (1) it is the only account written by Joseph himself and (2) it is the earliest known account of the vision.
This evidence is damning in many ways as it debunks the 1838 version of the First Vision which most Mormons are familliar with. I think Log understands this too well, that is why he has nothing but a deafening silence in response to this smoking gun.
Now if I have misinterpreted or distorted my evidence, this should be demonstrable. One can look at the evidence for himself and see. However, as far as I am concerned, no one here has demonstrated this yet. Therefore, until this moment, my claim stands uncontested.
So the differnce here is this: when I make a claim, I back it up with verifiable evidence. In contrast, Log makes claims for which he has zero evidence. Therefore, reasoning with him is like talking to a goat. Both he and the goat don't understand how to make good arguments, therefore reason itself simply breaks down.
Because he lacks good reasons, he is reduced to accusing people falsely. This is an old Communist trick. When Communists are criticized with good arguments, they don't respond to the arguments. Instead, they attack and besmirch the reputations of their critics. It is easier that way.
Because Log thinks there is no reason to discuss the ideas he has so far failed to dispute, this should be good time to take a closer look at his claims and proofs. Most of them are false. I don't expect him to be able to bring better reasons to overturn my conclusions. After all, he has a problem dealing with facts, proofs, and evidence. And it's a big problem.
Sorry, maybe I didn't make myself clear when I wrote about Peter. I was simply comparing Peter to the church and how both had fallen away and then were restored. When I said Peter went apostate, I meant he temporarily went astray, but of course he returned to Christ and became a very strong disciple of Him. Likewise, the church, or Christianity as a whole, went astray but was then restored, through Joseph Smith. Therefore, the Lord did not build something that ultimately failed. The Lord and his purposes, and his works, will always succeed in the end. But thank you for your words about Peter, I agree with what you said about him in that comment, and how Jesus prayed for him that his faith fail not.
Oh, by the way, the basic rule of basketball is to shoot the ball into the opponents' basket, not one's own basket. I'm sure you know this, but I just thought I'd correct your little mistake :)
Rock was discussing what his personal takeaway from the first vision should have been. The truth of the first vision was not a topic broached in any form in Rock's post.
Rico did not engage in the topic that Rock was talking about - the personal implications of the first vision. Rico used Rock's mere mention of the first vision as a pretext to launch into pro-Catholic, anti-Joseph Smith propaganda.
That's similar to a contentious fool arguing with a chef, who is demonstrating to an audience how to make tuna sashimi, how utterly wrong it is to use tuna because harvesting techniques sometimes kill dolphins. The contentious fool is not even participating in the same universe of discourse as the chef, but is wasting time and space and wronging those who wanted to learn from the chef.
There's no reason to engage Rico. He can't be troubled to read and respond relevantly, as he has demonstrated, and there's no way to engage someone who says, with an apparently straight face, "the Bible means whatever the Catholic Church says it means, therefore if you think it can be interpreted to undermine Catholic claims, you're automagically wrong." Just like President Russel M. Nelson said of the United 15 Apostles in the Sunday Morning Session of the October 2014 General Conference - whenever they agree, they're always right - therefore if you disagree with them, they don't have to show you to be in error - you simply are wrong, an apostate from God, whom they respresent and with whose voice they speak.
Catholicism is, again, simply a 2000 year-old Mormonism.
You said: "Likewise, the church, or Christianity as a whole, went astray but was then restored, through Joseph Smith."
Jesus built his Church upon a rock so that even Hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). If the Church had to be rebuilt later, that means it was totally destroyed. This means that whatever Jesus said about the indestructibility of the Church is false.
In contrast, if it was only lightly damaged, but not totally destroyed, then what Jesus said is true. The Church is indeed indestructible. In this case, it did not disappear, and would not have to be restored.
The choice then is either I believe Jesus or I believe you. Why then should I believe you?
In 1844' immediately after Joseph Smith died, his Church split into half. One half become polygamists, and the other half opposed polygamy. Which of these two is the true Church? The half that opposed polygamy drifted towards James Strang, who like Joseph Smith claimed to received revelations. Unfortunately, Strang ended up becoming polygamist himself.
If now we say that the largest Mormon sect, the Utah Mormons, are going apostate. Where then Is the true Church?
In the NBA, the team with the ball is called the offensive. They begin on the far end of the court and move the ball across the middle toward their scoring basket. The defensive team prevents them from scoring by defending that basket. It is therefore possible for the defensive to donate scores to the offensive if they accidentally land the ball inside that basket while blocking it.
"Where two or three are gathered to meet in my name... there will I be also"... Matthew 18:20 means that there are MANY Christian churches that have Jesus support, love, and concern. When we fight and squabble over gnats we are in essence straining at camels. Let us not be like the Pharisees. In one of Paul's letters he compares the church to a body with "shall the hand say to the eye, "I have no need of thee".." and so on. I believe that letter to be a direct reference to how Christianity treats it's own denominations. Wake up people. Would Jesus himself behave like that? Unlikely. He would go to dinner at Matthew's house, whom many hated, because he was a tax collector. Let us oft speak kind words to .... our neighbor.
Log consistently misunderstands the discussion because he does not really seek to understand. His mind is just too dark. There is hardly any charitable spirit in it. Truth and charity go hand in hand. That is why his only way of "reasoning" to accuse falsely anyone he does not understand.
Alan mentioned many ideas in his post. One of them is the idea that if we have a question, we can ask God directly, and he will answer it. Then he points to Joseph Smith's First Vision as proof of this idea.
While that idea sounds right, using the First Vision to support it is problematic. That is what I pointed out in my first comment. Most Mormons were told that Joseph Smith went to pray to find out which church he should join. But a historical document debunks this story. It happens to be the earliest account if the vision, and is the only account written by Joseph Smith himself.
Unfortunately, Log could not dispute the solid evidence so he goes into accusation mode hurling false accusations one after another.
In that 1832 handwritten document, Joseph Smith claimed that by reading the scriptures he learned that the true Church was not to be found here in earth. If that claim were true, we should be able find out which scriptures he studied to reach that conclusion. Unfortunately, Matthew 16:18 cross-referred to Matthew 7:24-27 is not one of those scripture texts he studied. Had he done so, he would have known that the true Church was not meant to fall away.
Had he known that, he would not have wasted his life gathering people outside and against the true Church. Instead, he would be gathering them inside it.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:1-3)
That is the problem with Joseph Smith and the many Protestants out there who are zealous of their own version of Christianity. They go about cherry-picking verses from the Bible, and start churches based on their own faulty understanding of the Bible. When their errors are pointed out and exposed, they go ballistic like Log. Instead of humbly accepting correction and admitting they had understood wrongly, they dig a deeper hole to bury themselves.
Translation: Log's observation that Rico used Rock's mere mention of the first vision as a pretext for anti-Joseph Smith, pro-Catholic propaganda is entirely accurate.
Implication of Rico's observed behavior: Any mention of the grounds of Mormonism will be taken by Rico as an opportunity to undermine the grounds of Mormonism and preach Catholicism, meaning he cannot contribute meaningfully to any discussion which assumes the truth of Mormon claims, such as the claim that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Rico will not read what he is given to read, and will therefore not respond relevantly to what he hasn't read, even when what he was given to read preempts his subsequent bluff and bluster.
Solution: Ban Rico.
I mean, we can all go visit www.catholic.com if we really want to see what Catholic apologetics is all about.
In launching an attack against the doctrine that the Church of Jesus is indestructible (Matthew 16:18), Log brandished two essays from Hugh Nibley, foremost among the Mormon apologists. Nibley is no lightweight scholar. He graduated summa cum laude at UCLA, and earned his PhD from UC Berkeley. He knows ancient languages like the Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Arabic, as well as French, German, and Italian, the languages used in many theological articles.
The essays are "The Passing of the Primitive Church" and "The Way of the Church". I tried reading them. They were a pain to read. Never try this at home. I could not get past the fourth paragraph in both. Sometimes I wonder whether he did this on purpose.
It's a great thing that these days we have word searchers that can seek out specific words or phrases. They help cut through so much unwanted crap. Since these essays claim a great apostasy exterminated the Church, I assumed both would have something to say about Matthew 16:18
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
And so on the first essay I ran a search on the phrase "upon this rock" and it turned out nothing. I though that was odd. So I narrowed it to look just for the word "rock", and what did I get? Zero. I looked for "gates of hell" and nada came out. So I thought that since there were at least a hundred footnotes, and many cited the New Testament, perhaps the phrase "Matthew 16" would hit a footnote.
That too returned zilch. At this point, I can safely say that there is nothing to talk about in the first essay if it does not deal with Matthew 16:18.
On the second essay, I ran the same word search, and it brought this sentence:
"The first is the perfectly irrelevant “gates of hell” passage (Matthew 16:18), which we shall discuss later." (p.28, par.2)
Oh wow... now we're getting somewhere here. Or so I thought. He said he will discuss it later. So, presuming the man was no politician giving a political promise, I tried looking for the paragraph where he would discuss that "perfectly irrelevant passage". Well guess what? It was indeed perfectly irrelevant to Nibley. He never mentions it again.
What rubbish. Thank heavens for word searchers, I did not have to waste time while agonizing and looking for something that isn't there.
Now Nibley may be highly educated, and very proficient in many areas of theology, but he was a quack in these two essays. Matthew 16:18 contains too much light for his human intellect to see. I would say that that is precisely why he never could never bring himself to look at it.
I tried reading [The Way of the Church and The Passing of the Primitive Church: 40 Variations on a Theme, but not The World and the Prophets]. They were a pain to read. Never try this at home. I could not get past the fourth paragraph in both.
Translation: Log's observations of Rico's behavior, and predictions based thereon, are admitted to be both correct and factual and not false accusations.
Gnosticism is a superstition that promotes the doctrine that salvation comes through "gnosis" or knowledge, usually secret knowledge. True Christianity is opposed to gnostic ideas because the Church of Jesus was "a thing not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). The ministry of Jesus was very public.
"Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." (John 18:20)
Gnosticism emphasizes knowing, whereas Christianity emphasizes both knowing and doing.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
In reading the scriptures, Christians are forbidden to interpret outside the mind of the Church:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20)
This is the exact opposite of Gnosticism. Gnostics thrive on their unique and peculiar interpretation of scriptures. When they cannot twist the scripture enough, they simply invent them. Both Protestants and Gnostics share similar thinking habits.
This is why Protestantism is just one confusing mess. Every Protestant thinks he has the right to interpret scripture privately. He does not recognize any authority above him. All of them cherry picks the Bible and build churches along their preconceived notions. Everyone thinks they are true when the truth is they are all equally false.
In 1995, the Gnostic magazine "Gnosis: a Journal of Western Inner Traditions" featured Joseph Smith and described him as a gnostic prophet.
"Joseph Smith: America's Hermetic Prophet"
This article is one of the earliest exposes on Joseph Smith's connection with the occult. You can see photos of his seerstone, his magical parchment, and Jupiter talisman. For many years, the LDS church avoided discussions of the Smith family and their occult practices and beliefs. But since these have been discussed all over the internet, the LDS church finally caved in and admitted to Smith's occult superstitions.
Jesus is the Truth. Gnosticism denies objective truth. Gnosticism encourages men to invent their own truths. Therefore, Gnosticism is a direct attack on Jesus himself. This is why the Catholic Church drove out the Gnostics and destroyed their writings. They were harmful to whatever Jesus had taught.
Jesus was a historical person. His death is fixed in history. His resurrection is the most attested event of any man in ancient history. Therefore, the Catholic faith rests on verifiable historical truths. Nothing like that is found in Gnosticism where inventions and fabrications of all sorts are accepted as "truth".
The great apostasy is a doctrine invented by the enemies of the Truth. Those who have been badly defeated by the Church declare "victory" by false accusations, saying the Church fell away and disappeared, when it was the other way around.
Mormonism is Gnosticism, plain and simple. It takes one to know one, and the gnostics see Joseph Smith as one of them.
"Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted." (Matthew 15:13)
"Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it" (Psalms 127:1)
I don't think Log has read the articles he links to. That is why he is unable to quote even a single sentence from them if only to defend the silly ideas he believes in.
What a miserable failure...
I am amazed that this "true church" nonsense keeps surfacing within this blog's comments. It makes as much sense as arguing about the one true restaurant, or the one true gym, or the one true corporation. I suppose old men with shrinking brains like to just sit around and argue about such non-issues.
"Yes, Jesus did say something about people who call other people fools. He also called other people fools."
And in defense of Jesus, it should be noted that He wasn't judging them when He did this, because He could see into the very hearts and souls of his friends and enemies.
"And, behold, certain of the Scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore is it that ye think evil in your hearts? For is it not easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, than to say, Arise and walk?" (Matthew 9:3-5, JST.)
"Then there arose a reasoning among them, who of them should be greatest. And Jesus perceiving the thoughts of their hearts, took a child and set him in the midst; And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him who sent me; for he who is least among you all, the same shall be great. And John spake and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid not any; for he who is not against us is for us." (Luke 9:46-50, JST.)
"Now when he was in Jerusalem, at the passover, on the feast day, many believed on his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all things, And needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man." (John 2:23-25, JST.)
When Jesus said "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt.5:24, JST) I think He was speaking of anyone who would say such a thing without being given the kind of insight into the hearts of men that Jesus had.
I think that to make such accusations without personal revelation would be judging, and would put one in danger of being judged (or even in danger of hell fire, as Jesus said here), but I could be wrong.
I'm still investigating Mormonism, Denver Snuffer, and the remnant movement, and I've never seen an angel, or God, or Jesus.
I'm actually certain of very little, and I don't know what to believe much of the time.
Would it be wrong to call someone a fool, or insincere, or a closet atheist if you didn't have some personal revelation about their inner motives?
Would that be judging, or am I misunderstanding something?
I have another question I'd like to ask (and I've been pondering it for awhile now.)
The Apostle John said:
"...if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things" (1 John 3:20), but what does that mean?
Does it mean that if we feel guilty, we are guilty?
And if that is what it means, why did all the disciples react the same way here?
"And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" (Matt. 26:17-18, JST.)
I know they all deserted Him out of fear latter that night, but only one of them was a traitor.
Of the rest, Jesus Himself said:
"...the spirit indeed is willing; but the flesh is weak." (Verse 38.)
Yet when Jesus said one of them would betray Him, they all "were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?"
And why is Satan called the accuser of the brethren?
Is it only because he accuses us before God's throne in heaven, or does he also make accusations to us (whispering in our ears that we've done things we haven't done)?
Is there such a thing as scrupulosity?
And what about people whose feelings of guilt cause them to confess to crimes they didn't commit?
I believe the police call them chronic confessors, and have to be extremely careful not to reveal all the details of a homocide investigation because of them (because they wouldn't be able to tell a genuine confession from a false confession if they didn't hold back some details only the killer would know.)
So what was John saying here?
Is he really saying that anyone who feels guilty is guilty?
Do the scriptures say it is wrong?
If not, why do you ask?
Why ask men what the scriptures mean?
If the meaning of the scripture is unclear, what confidence do you have that men will lead you aright? How would you know if they were leading you astray?
"Do the scriptures say it is wrong?"
Scripture says that each of the disciples thought he could be the betrayer when there was only one.
"And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" (Matt. 26:18, JST.)
Peter thought he might be "the man," John thought he might be "the man," etc., but only Judas was the man.
So it doesn't seem 2 Samuel 12:7 (And Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man") can be generalized.
And now that I look at it, David wasn't feeling guilty when Nathan said this to him.
His conscience wasn't accusing him of anything.
He was feeling angry at the fictional villain in Nathan's parable (which he took literally) when Nathan said "thou art the man."
Taken in context, there doesn't seem to be anything in that passage to suggest that anytime someone thinks they might be guilty of something, they actually are guilty of it.
Perhaps people can feel guilty of things they haven't done, and be totally blind to things they have done, and maybe that's why Paul said "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For though I know nothing against myself; yet I am not hereby justified; but he who judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore I judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God." (1 Cor. 4:3-5, JST.)
An acquaintance recently wrote me to ask why I haven't yet weighed in on this debate between Log and Rico. To be frank, the topic doesn't interest me. Secondly, the debate has gotten heated, and I'm not in the mood to be part of it.
This is not to say that both Log and Rico have not both made some valid points; I think they both have. But they've veered into the personal. Anyway, now that I'm here, I'll tell you why the topic doesn't interest me.
The question of "who has the proper authority" is, in my opinion, a distraction. I used to adamantly believe it was of utmost importantce; it's we were all taught was what differentiated us from the other denominnations: we had the authority, and the other churches did not.
I made a false assumption from the story of the first vision. Joseph asked which church he should join, and he was told he should join none of them. I made the link in logic that he was told that because he was being instructed to start a new church, but there is nothing in the conversation of any version of the first vision to suggest that "starting a church" was Joseph Smith's mission. I, and virtually every latter-day Saint looking at things from the standpoint of history, simply assumed that. (Joseph was told to join none of the existing churches, and we can look back to the fact that he organized a new church in 1830, therefore we concluded-erroneously- that founding the LDS church was his calling.
Yet the Lord told him in revelation that the job he was called to was to translate the Book of Mormon and that he should "pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift."
(Book of Commandments 4:2)
I think there can be little argument that there was an apostasy from the early Christian Church, but that apostasy took place specifically due to the fact that the religion was wrested from the hands of the people and placed into a hierarchy that claimed to have the authority to run it.
First Century Christians gathered together as equals, meeting in each other's homes, no one particularly in charge. Yes, there were prophets and apostles, but they did not dictate the structure of the meetings. They were off spreading the good news, not running the church. After the church was co-opted by the Emperor Constantine "church" was held in cathedrals where the members sat in rows and listened obediently while a priest dictated and directed them from a pulpit.
Moroni tells us in Moroni 6:9 that in Book of Mormon times there was no specific structure the members of the church were required to adhere to in their meetings, and in Joseph Smith's day the church was equally egalitarian in nature (D&C 46) But once "authorities" took control, everything was dictated from Church headquarters, right down to the structure of the meetings.
Understanding who had "authority" became paramount, whether it was the authority of Mormon leaders versus the pope, or whether authority was held through Brigham Young, or through Joseph Smith III. It was always a fight over who was properly anointed.
Looking back in the history of Mormonism after the death of Joseph Smith, I see plenty of instances where the Lord operated through individual believers, but not much evidence that he operated through the structural institution. So, was there a falling away? I think so. But it was not so much a falling away of all truth, as it was an apostasy on the part of those whose pride convinced them they had the right to run the church. Here's how Ron Madson put it in one of my previous blog posts:
"Latter-day Saints believe that the original church of Christ began to drift into apostasy when they deeded their allegiance to the Roman Empire and engaged in what is referred to as “The Constantine Shift.”
"Bishops, priests, and then Popes all began to consistently set aside the words of Christ and endorse nearly every state sponsored war—and in fact taught that it was one’s Christian duty to enlist. Is it any surprise that the heavens became brass, and revelations ceased despite the Catholic church’s claim to legal priesthood pedigree? Why would the Heavens commune with such a church and its leaders lest such manifestations of charismatic gifts be considered lending its imprimatur of approval on such behavior?
"Of course the medieval catholic church continued preserving the truths from its origins but preservation is not the same as “true and living.”
"Do we really believe that we latter-day Saints are exempt from the sealing up of the heavens if we engage in our own Constantine Shift? Can we pay lip service to the words of Christ found in our sacred texts, but in actual church policy blatantly reject His “immutable” covenant and expect further endorsement from the same God?"
From "Pure Mormonism: Speaking Truth To Power"
Thank you Mr. Waterman.
Have you ever heard of scrupulosity, and do you think such a thing exists?
I've been told by both an Anglican priest, and an LDS priesthood leader that I'm too scrupulous.
Do you think it's possible to feel guilty of things you haven't really done, or are such feelings proof of your guilt?
Apropos of all this, Mahana commented above (March 17, at 8:58 PM) in my response to his/her earlier accusation that my agenda was to draw people away, presumably from Christ. I asked Mahana to offer specific instances to support that accusation, and received this reply:
"Then let me specify. You are purposefully trying to extricate members from finding Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
My response: I don't know of any instance where I have purposely tried to extricate members from finding Christ through the church, and you did not provide any citations from my blog where I have purposely done so. You yourself admit that I'm making "broad assumptions," but again you neglected to point out any of those broad assumptions within my writings. That's not being specific, Mahana. And if you won't point out specific errors on my part, I won't be able to correct them.
I freely admit my belief that when a member's focus is placed on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and on the Church's leaders, that does NOT usually result in that person having "an eye single to the glory of God." His eye becomes single to the institution first and foremost.
The constant instruction to the members that they should "follow the prophet" results in their doing just that: following the prophet. If the object is to get them to follow Christ, the paramount teaching would be that they should follow Christ, not the president of the Church. It is my observation that the more one tends to follow a man-any man-the further one moves away from Christ.
Mahana: "You are making broad assumptions that to find Christ is impossible within the current church..."
My Response: Not impossible, just more difficult in the 21st century LDS Church. The prophet Jacob taught that "the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there." Still, I'm interested in where you are finding specific evidence of these "broad assumptions."
Mahana: "The Spirit does work with the faithful members of the church."
My Response: I absolutely agree! I have taught this numerous times within the pages of this blog. Sorry you didn't see them.
Mahana: "You have all your book learnings to lean upon....oh wait....isn't that...leaning upon the arm of the flesh? Whoops!"
My Response: I suppose that would depend upon the particular book. I repeatedly advocate books of scripture, which teach us we should NOT lean upon the arm of flesh. Occasionally I will recommend other books, such as Rob Smith's "Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men" and Denver Snuffer's "Preserving the Restoration" both of which are wholly taken up with directing the reader to follow scripture, and to NOT trust in the arm of flesh.
I don't think I have ever advocated the uncritical acceptance of the words of any particular author, but I deduce from your criticism that you to take that position if the author holds office or station in the Church. Nevertheless, if you would kindly point out an instance where you believe I have uncritically trusted in the author of a book, I would ask again that you show me where that is. I can think of few books I would endorse wholeheartedly. (My own book excepted; that one is the most correct book on earth.)
I don't think it's possible to be too scrupulous in the pursuit of truth.
And you shouldn't feel guilty about things you haven't done. The only exception I can think of is neglecting to show kindness toward others.
Thank you, but I don't think you understand my question.
George MacDonald (the man C.S. Lewis considered his mentor) once wrote:
I knew a child who believed she had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, because she had, in her toilette, made an improper use of a pin. Dare not to rebuke me for adducing the diseased fancy of a child in a weighty matter of theology. “Despise not one of these little ones.” Would the theologians were as near the truth in such matters as the children. Diseased fancy! The child knew, and was conscious that she knew, that she was doing wrong because she had been forbidden. There was rational ground for her fear. How would Jesus have received the confession of the darling? He would not have told her she was silly, and “never to mind.” Child as she was, might he not have said to her, “I do not condemn thee: go and sin no more”?
It's been suggested that the meaning of 1 John 3:20 (For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things) is that feelings of guilt are proof of guilt, but the child George MacDonald spoke of here felt that she had committed the unpardonable sin.
Is it possible that this child felt guilty of something she didn't do?
Is it possible that inspite of her feelings of guilt, she really was innocent (as George MacDonald believed), or must she have been guilty because her heart (or conscience) condemned her?
And what if some ex-Mormons, or members of Herbert W. Armstrong's World Wide Church of God (that I once attended) sometimes think they may have committed the unpardonable sin?
Could they be feeling guilty of something they didn't do, or are these feelings proof that they actually are guilty?
That's my question.
P.S. I meant to say ex-members of HWA's WWCG.
Scripturally, it would seem the child could have been innocent (and any ex whatever who sometimes has such feelings could be innocent) because the Apostles were all "exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" when Jesus said one of them would betray Him.
Their hearts, or consciences, or whatever it was in them that led them to ask this question were not infallible.
Their realizing Jesus knew their hearts better then they did, and their each thinking (or fearing) He might have been talking about them, didn't make them all traitors, because there was only one Judas.
I also do not believe Christ was referring to 'Peter' as the rock he would build his Church upon, for Christ surely knew how fallible, weak and easily deceived all men are and even his Apostles were, and thus commanded people to never follow anyone but Him, Christ.
And thus Christ and his teachings are the 'rock' that his church is built upon, but a spiritual church not a physical organization, for the latter would have to be led by men which would mean it would almost instantly become corrupted, as we have seen in all churches, including the LDS, for their leaders don't and didn't keep Christ's commandments, a prerequisite for any true prophet or true disciple of Christ.
The idea that a restoration was needed is false, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ was never lost. Everyone in the western world has had access to Christ's words for 2000 years. But as always, it did need to be reminded of and continually shared.
It's unfortunate that Joseph Smith upon seeing that there was no church in his day teaching the truth, didn't go around preaching & sharing Christ's pure teachings, but he instead made up his own Gospel and Church teachings contrary to Christ and just became one more false church.
And any 'authority' needed would have been almost immediately lost also, for it's obvious that Christ knew that maintaining any real authority on earth would be impossible, for it's rare if not impossible for anyone to keep his commandments and be worthy of or maintain such authority.
Christ only wanted us to trust and follow Him, not Peter, Joseph or any other person, Apostle, Prophet or leader, religious or political. For only Christ is perfect and trustworthy to follow. He only meant for this Apostles to spread 'His' words, not make up their own or start a church with those teachings.
Christ taught us everything we need to know to prosper and be righteous. No prophets or churches necessary, and who or any have even proved righteous anyway?
And even if people have never heard of Christ, we are all born with the Gospel in our hearts, we all instinctively know right from wrong & the Golden Rule, even if Christ had never come and the Bible had never been written. It's all just natural law, that Christ came and reminded us of. But men have tried over and over to use those truths to make money and gain power and control instead of living them.
I feel like the LDS church is trying to convert its members and investigators to the church rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I wish the church meetings were more Christ centered rather than filling leaderships positions.
I attended the new Provo temple dedication, and I thought there would be more mention of temples as a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Church seems so administrative rather than spiritually uplifting.
Lifelong member here...I dread going to church and am either bored silly or completely frustrated (or both) every week. I disagree with almost everything I hear. I don't enjoy it, and I would never want any of my friends to join. I'm in lobby church almost every week during Sunday School.
I really dislike most of the temple (although I have had some very great experiences, so it's not entirely negative) and have no desire to go except to see the new movies.
It's so true that if the product were really that amazing, it would sell itself. We're selling the wrong product.
Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, edited by Todd M. Compton and Stephen D. Ricks, p.104-105
The Reticence of the Apostles
Why was Peter forbidden to discuss salvation for the dead with an investigator? If this text is called in question, we need only point to the New Testament, where on a number of occasions Peter and other apostles are forbidden to talk about certain things. That work for the dead is one of these will appear from a brief examination of one of the best-known episodes in the book, the promising of the keys to Peter.
Being alone with the apostles, the Lord began to sound them out with the question, "Whom do people say that I am?" The ensuing discussion led to the next question, "But whom do you say that I am?" To this Peter gave the right answer and was assured by Jesus that that knowledge had come to him by a revelation from the Father. Having passed the test, the disciples were ready for more knowledge, but the momentous teaching to which they were introduced is merely hinted at in three short verses of Matthew, and passed over in complete silence by Mark and Luke. Plainly the apostles had no intention of publishing this thing to the world at large, and all three of them emphasize the Lord's insistence on secrecy, Luke employing a remarkable formula which has puzzled all translators and which rendered literally reads: "But he, having pronounced a penalty (epitimesas), instructed them not to tell it to any man." The word for "instructed" used here is a military term meaning "to give a watchword" and has an air of great solemnity and secrecy.
Now whereas Matthew has the discussion end with Christ's admonition to secrecy, Luke and Mark tell only what he said after that warning, that is, after the great things had been revealed, and in both these accounts the words of the Savior are almost exclusively confined to the strangely negative announcement that the work is to be utterly rejected by the world, and that only suffering and death can be expected by the apostles themselves, who are charged, moreover, not to be ashamed of Jesus and his doctrine. Why ashamed? It was certainly no conventional teaching that the Lord was imparting, and he certainly predicted no rosy future for it in that dispensation.
The extremely abbreviated nature of this account (Mark and Luke do not even mention the "rock," though Eusebius tells us that Mark, Peter's own secretary, omitted nothing of importance from his gospel) has led to much misunderstanding regarding the awkward and ungrammatical passage found in Matthew 16:18. But it may be assumed that if we do not understand everything, at least the apostles did. And that is exactly the point: they heard everything, but of what they heard they have left us but a few terse sentences which run no danger of divulging "the mystery of the kingdom" to the uninitiated. If we are to believe Eusebius or the Apostolic Fathers, the New Testament scriptures are little more than a sketchy outline which without a special interpreter are as a code-message without a key.
But why this emphasis on secrecy? The great Migne was hard put to it to explain how Christ could order his disciples to be silent on a matter which he wished divulged to the world. The only possible answer is that he did not wish it divulged to the world, so Migne remains hesitant and vague, eschewing any positive answer, for to admit the obvious would be to admit that we have in Matthew 16:17-19 not the public proclamation which later ages made it out to be, but reference to a special doctrine. And that we have here the teaching of a very special doctrine. And that we have here the teaching of a very special doctrine indeed is sufficiently indicated by the significant association of "the keys," the sealing, and "the gates of hell."
Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, edited by Todd M. Compton and Stephen D. Ricks, p.106-109
The Gates of Hell
To the Jews "the gates of hell" meant something very specific. Both Jews and Christians thought of the world of the dead as a prison-carcer, phylake, phroura-in which the dead were detained but not necessarily made to suffer any other discomfort. In the Jewish tradition the righteous dead are described as sitting impatiently in their place of detention awaiting their final release and reunion with their resurrected bodies and asking, "How much longer must we stay here?" The Christians talked of "the prison of death" to which baptism held the key of release-a significant thought, as we shall see.
It is the proper function of a gate to shut creatures in or out of a place; when a gate "prevails," it succeeds in this purpose; when it does not "prevail," someone succeeds in getting past it. But prevail is a rather free English rendering of the far more specific Greek katischyo, meaning to overpower in the sense of holding back, holding down, detaining, suppressing, etc. Moreover, the thing which is held back, is not the church, for the object is not in the accusative but in the partitive genitive: it is "hers," part of her, that which belongs to her, that the gates will not be able to contain. Since all have fallen, all are confined in death which it is the Savior's mission to overcome; their release is to be accomplished through the work of the church, to which the Lord promises that at some future time he will give the apostles the keys. In one of the very earliest Christian poems Christ is described as going to the underworld to preach to the dead, "And the dead say to him, . . . 'Open the gate to us!'" whereupon the Lord, "heeding their faith," gives them the seal of baptism. Baptism for the dead, then, was the key to the gates of hell which no church claimed to possess until the nineteenth century, the gates remaining inexorably closed against those very dead of whose salvation the early Christians had been so morally certain. In passing it should be noted that this poem in its conclusion definitely associated the release of the dead with the "rock."
Thus thy Rock became the foundation of all; upon it didst thou build thy kingdom, that it might become a dwelling place for the saints.
The same idea is even more obviously expressed by Ignatius in what is perhaps the earliest extant mention of the rock after New Testament times, making it equivalent to
the high priest . . . to whom alone the secrets of God have been confided. . . . This is the Way which leads to the Father, the Rock . . . the Key . . . the Gate of Knowledge, through which have entered Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and all the host of prophets.
From which it is clear that Matthew 16:17-19, with its combination of gates, keys, and rock, definitely hinges on the subject of salvation for the dead, and the work by which they are admitted to the presence of the Father.
Those who fondly suppose that "the gates of hell shall not prevail" is a guarantee of the security of the church on this earth are inventing a doctrine diametrically opposed to the belief of the early church. If there was one point on which the primitive saints and their Jewish contemporaries saw eye to eye, it was the belief that Satan is "the prince of this world," nay, "the god of this world." It is here that men are under his power, and here that he overcomes the kingdom of God by violence. "The days are evil," says the Epistle of Barnabas, "and Satan possesses the power of this world." Beyond this earth his power does not extend: Jehovah alone rules in the spirit world, according to the Jewish doctrine, and his angels stand guard over the wicked ones. It is on this earth that the devil is to be conquered and his power finally broken-he has no other stronghold to which to flee. When he goes to hell, it will not be in triumph, but to be bound and imprisoned there. His bonds are the "snares and deceptions" that "bind the flesh of men with lust," and which will be meaningless after the judgment, when none may enjoy the prerogative of being deceived. When the devil rules hereafter it will be only over those "sons of perdition" who willingly follow his example.
The medieval idea that the devil is the proper ruler of the dead is a borrowing from obvious pagan sources, popular and literary. In the earliest versions of what eventually became the medieval Easter drama, the Harrowing of Hell, Satan and Death appear as rulers of different spheres: in the dialogue between them Death begs Satan to retain Christ in his realm, which is the earth, so that he might not descend and cause havoc in the underworld. This idea appears in the very old pseudo-gospel of Nicodemus, wherein Satan, boasting that he has overcome Christ on earth, asks Death to make sure that the Lord's mission is likewise frustrated in his kingdom below. No less a scholar than Harnack after prolonged searching declares that he knows of no passage in which "the Gates of Hell" signifies the realm of Satan, or is used to refer to the devil himself or to his hosts.
"The gates of hell," then, does not refer to the devil at all; though his snares and wiles might lead men sooner or later to their death, delivering them "to the destruction of the flesh," his power ends there. The gates of hell are the gates of hell-the "holding back" of those who are in the spirit world from attaining the object of their desire.
There is a great wealth of oriental legend and liturgy recalling how a divine hero overcame Death in a knockdown and drag-out contest-the central episode of the famous Year-drama. Sometimes the hero smashes the door of the underworld as part of his campaign. Contamination from these sources was sure to occur in the Christian interpretation of Christ's mission to the "underworld," but as Schmidt has shown at length, the early Christians never connect the two traditions: there is no fight when Christ goes to open the way for the release of the dead; he meets absolutely no opposition, and does not have to smash the gates, since he has the key. How incompatible the two versions are is apparent in those early accounts which, characteristically, attempt to combine them. Thus when Prudentius, the first great Christian poet, tells of Christ's visit to the underworld, he includes the gate-smashing episode, derived not from any Christian source, however, but borrowed from the tragedy Hercules Furens of the pagan Seneca.
Thus in the Odes of Solomon:
And I opened the doors that were closed; I rent asunder the iron bolts . . . and nothing appeared closed to me, since I myself was the gate of everything; and I went to all my imprisoned ones to free them, so that I left none in bonds; and I imparted my knowledge without stint . . . sowing my seed in their hearts and turning them to me.
Christ would hardly smash the gate if he himself were the gate.
I'm not enough of a deep thinker to have an opinion on the matter you pose. I'll have to defer to the theologians and philosophers on that one.
Matthew 16:18 Part 1:
How do you set aside over a thousand years of history in which the corruption and oppression of the Catholic Church is manifest, including the Dark Ages, Inquisitions, heresies, murders, sale of indulgences, political intrigue, Papal corruption, keeping of the scriptures from the people, etc., all the reasons Luther and the other Reformers were outraged?
Here is my own brief research and commentary on Matt. 16:18 and the meaning of the phrase "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
First, here's the KJV English of verses 13-20 for context (the Douay Rheims is not significantly different):
(New Testament | Matthew 16:13-20)
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
Now let's take a closer look at verses 17 & 18. Here is the transliterated Greek/English:
(New Testament | Matthew 16:17-18)
apokritheis (answered and)
ho Iesous (Jesus)
auto, (unto him,)
ei, (art thou,)
apekalypsen (hath revealed)
soi (unto thee,)
ho pater (Father)
ho en [tois] ouranois. (which is in heaven.)
kago (I also)
soi (unto thee,)
epi taute (upon this)
te petra (rock)
oikodomeso (I will build)
ten ekklesian, (church;)
pylai (the gates)
hadou (of hell)
katischysousin (shall prevail against)
Matthew 16:18 Part 2:
First, notice that the "rock" upon which Christ will build his church comes from "petra" (transliterated, of course - I can't paste the Greek font here), which is a feminine noun, whereas "Peter" from "Petros" is a masculine noun. The word "revealed" from "apekalypsen" is a form of the word "apokalupsis" ("revelation") which is also a feminine noun. This parallel construction supports the interpretation (i.e. this is a strong, plausible argument on its own, regardless of apologetics) that the rock to which Jesus was referring in "upon this rock I will build my church" is the revelation of His divinity ("Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God") about which he had just spoken in "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." The word "church" from "ekklesian" (or ekklesia) is also a feminine noun (the Church is often symbolized as the Bride, where Christ is the Bridegroom). Also, if Jesus had meant to say that He would build the Church on Peter, he probably would have said "upon you" or "upon thee" ("epi se"), instead of distinctly using different forms (genders) of the word "rock." All of the conversion accounts which follow, constituting the building up of the Church as it were, involve the Holy Ghost manifesting the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people. I'm not arguing that Peter wasn't of great importance. He was the leader, the prophet, after Christ's ascension. Christ gave him and the Apostles the keys of authority. But Peter was a man and he died. It doesn't even make sense that the Church would be built up on him. Christ is the Rock, the stone of Israel, the foundation of the Church. Just as the Restored Church is not built on Joseph Smith, but on Christ, whose name it bears. It doesn't make sense that Christ's Church would not bear his name either, Catholic ("katholikos" which means "universal" or "general").
Matthew 16:18 Part 3:
Second, notice that the word "hell" in verse 18 is translated from the Greek word "hadou" another form of "hades". This word is a lot like the Hebrew word "sheol" and more generally refers to the realm of the dead, or the place where spirits go after death, and is sometimes translated even as "death" or the "grave". Latter-Day Saints call this the spirit world. The "hell" that means the place/state of eternal torment is usually translated from the Greek words "geenna" (derived from the Hebrew word "gehenna" or "Ge-Hinnom") and "tartaroo" (a form of Tartaros, the deepest abyss of Hades). The word "gates" comes from the plural word "pylai" (singular "pyle" "pylon") and means "gates/gateways/doors/door-ways/entrances/portals." The phrase "prevail against" comes from "katischysousin" (a form of "katischyo") which means "overpower/overcome/to-be-superior-in-strength". So a rendering of "the portals of death (or the spirit world) shall not overpower (or prevent) it" is accurate and plausible. This, too, is a considerable argument.
Latter-Day Saints distinguish between the pre-resurrection/pre-final-judgment paradise and prison of the spirit world and the post-resurrection/post-final-judgment heaven (by degrees, three heavens) and hell (outer darkness). These are New Testament references. The New Testament supports these LDS doctrines, which clearly explain 1 Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:29. I would be interested in your Catholic explanations. Though it's derailed the thread a bit.
I'm late to the conversation about Scrupulosity but here's another bit that might be of interest. I don't know what your ward leaders were referring to but in the mental health field Scrupulosity is a term describing religious/moral Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Think of cutting oneself repeatedly, fasting and praying excessively or washing one's hands compulsively—all in response to religious guilt.
John Dehlin did his Masters thesis research on the topic including evidence that the disorder manifests among LDS members. You might find Dehlin's talk on the subject interesting. He covers: 1) an overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder, 2) an overview of scrupulosity, 3) a review of the most common treatments for OCD/Scrupulosity, and 4) the results of John’s recent study of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a treatment for Scrupulosity.
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
I always have viewed this as a little humorous. Peter, which means "little stone", makes me think that Christ was reminding his most outspoken fervent apostle of that irony but that he, Jesus Christ, is the only true rock of Israel, the chief cornerstone, the rock of our salvation and the indestructable firm foundation upon which he would build "his" church.
Nephi points out that there are only two churches (ie. groups of people) on earth: one group that seeks to serve God and the other group which primarily seeks to serve themselves. The first group is promised that they will not be deceived, overwhelmed or dominated by the incredible events of the last days; not even by the opening of the very "gates of hell" which were sealed in order to imprison the most powerful of demons and fallen angels. Notice: those gates are now being opened, as prophesied that they would be during the end times. The very capable organization attempting this opening is known as CERN, located on the border of France and Switzerland. CERN, which uses the image of a dancing Shiva the Destroyer for it's logo, is obsessed with opening this hereto sealed dimensional vortex or gateway to hell and as the director remarked, We will then see what comes through.
It's not strange then that in a literally bankrupt imploding global economy that CERN is THE "scientific" organization that seems to have a no-limit blank check, from a mysterious somewhere, with which to carry out it's gateway opening work post haste and regardless of cost. A frightened Stephan Hawking calls it the opening of Pandora's Box.
I think I heard of that movie... Doom, wasn't it? Starrig Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?
It is disingenuous to give reverence to the messenger, Jesus Christ, and then ignore his message. The implementation of his message IS the pearl of great price that men would be willing to sell all else in order to obtain. It is the mark that we tend to walk right past in our seeking of the kingdom of God. It is the same message given to Adam and to the ancient inhabitants of America as recorded in 3 Nephi. It is the same message given again and again to all lands and peoples and times. It has never changed and it's vital importance to each of us is undiminished. It is absolutely necessary in order for us to stand firm in a holy place and not be tossed about with every new wind of doctrine. It's activation is prerequisite to our receiving the mark of God in our forehead and even being able to see the kingdom of God that we seek. It is the full duplex channel to truth and light that when activated allows us to live by the "every word of God" rather than Log's legalistic and allegedly comprehensive list of commandments. Indeed, it is the ONLY way that one may keep all the commandments.
So what is this wonder of wonders? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, let's be clear what that means since we have a tendency to throw in any and every thing that seems "goodly" to us including warm apple pie, forever families, church meetings, the flag, going to the gym everyday, golden retriever puppies and just about anything else.
The gospel is four baptisms: earth, water, fire and wind. These are specific events rather than processes as Robert Smith points out in his recommended book. I put it in this way in order to sound strange and occultic because our constant cliches lulls us into Zombieism (ie. a person who moves very slowly and is not aware of what is happening especially because since he is dead and under a spell.) But now I am about to get even weirder here.
The baptisms are indications of our progress toward "being born again". Earth baptism is repentance or turning away from the ways of the earthly or natural man. This may be indicated by an audible, Thy sins are forgiven thee. Repentance is the successful opening of the green, heart charkra. I'm sure you know several scriptures talking about this changing or opening of the heart.
Water baptism is indicative of the opening of the blue, throat chakra.
Fire baptism is really cool and is often described as being surrounded by cloven tongues of fire. This is indicative that purple, forehead chakra or 3rd eye has opened. This is where that red dot on the forehead (or some other forehead marking) comes from in many of the major world religions. BTW, when Christ touched the disciples in 3 Nephi, in their foreheads (rather than laying on hands) that is why. He was opening this powerful chakra in preparation for their mission work. If you are truly born again then you can open others because of your amazing energy frequency. You are usually also able to heal as Christ did and do his other miraculous works. If you are not yet born again then about all you can do is confirm someone a member of the church and call it a day because that's the only power you have. Opening of your 3rd eye chakra is really cool because this is where gifts of the spirit powers really begin regular manifestation in your life.
Wind baptism is indicative of the opening of your crown chakra through which the light of heaven and pure intelligence will flow into you. It's also called the baptism of the spirit or the baptism of the holy ghost. The wind comes from the sound of rushing wind that is often heard at this time.
And now, finally, the gift of the holy ghost can be given. This allows the crown chakra to stay open or the power for you to open the chakra on command.
Well, this is all obviously very abbreviated. The point is that gospel of Jesus Christ is about the literal physical transformation and empowerment of the individual. It is what is known as "enlightenment". It is about the activation of godly mechanisms that are built into each of us and have been known about for thousands of years of our history. It is the mighty change in becoming a new creature in Christ. One can stand unwavering in this dark world of lies and manipulation. One can then go forth to teach as one having authority because you will speak from your own experience rather than having to use the words of others with endless quotes and academic attempts at discovering truth. You will have access to the record of heaven and speak with the tongue of angels allowing you to detect and converse with holy beings and able to stand with confidence in His presence. What would you give for such? Would you be willing to sell all you have for this mighty and most precious pearl? Forget all the Hollywood BS and the cheap satanic imitations liek transhumanism. This is the real deal.
p.s. a chakra is an energy portal into your system through which you breath energy in and out. I suppose they are like energy nostrils. You have a reported 88,000 chakras in you of which 7 are considered primary chakras. The gospel is about the opening of your upper four primary chakras.
Winds of doctrine, indeed.
"Log's legalistic and allegedly comprehensive list of commandments" happens to be the Savior's teachings, simpliciter.
I understand why they who do not wish to keep the commandments always characterize the Savior's commandments as my teachings, when I am merely repeating them: so that they may then deny them and yet hold themselves justified before men. God, I think, is not particularly impressed by self-justification.
And I have noted that those who deny the commandments tend to be religious innovators. Where in the prophets do we find mention of chakras?
Rock, I wish you well of your coterie.
3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.
O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!
Where in the prophets do we find mention of chakras?
The lipid bilayer has been firmly established as the universal basis for cell-membrane structure and yet I don't recall where in the prophets that we find mention of them either. And yet there they are! An important part of every cell in your body counselor.
It's the source I question rather than the commandments: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." 1 Cor 2:11
Without the real gift of the holy ghost the commandments of God cannot be known because they change in priority and context in a manner like the wind that is unique to each of us rather than a listing like it's an old static web page from the 90s. However, if I ever get word that God has appointed you as his exclusive scribe to the world in place of the Holy Ghost then I will wear sackcloth and ashes whilst begging to please let me take you to lunch for an humbled apology - and I'll pay!
It is disingenuous to give reverence to the messenger, Jesus Christ, and then ignore his message. The implementation of his message IS the pearl of great price that men would be willing to sell all else in order to obtain. It is the mark that we tend to walk right past in our seeking of the kingdom of God. It is the same message given to Adam and to the ancient inhabitants of America as recorded in 3 Nephi. It is the same message given again and again to all lands and peoples and times. It has never changed and it's vital importance to each of us is undiminished. It is absolutely necessary in order for us to stand firm in a holy place and not be tossed about with every new wind of doctrine.
And what is his message, which is nearly universally ignored?
The message to Adam and his contemporaries: Keep the commandments.
4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
The message to the contemporaries of Jesus: Keep the commandments.
JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.
The message to the ancient inhabitants of America: Keep the commandments.
3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Nary a reference to chakras to be found therein.
I can see chakras, inspecific and inactionable, being much more interesting than implementing the actual, attested message of Christ, which is being disingenuously characterized as "Log's legalistic" list of commandments rather than Christ's own list of commandments, in order to justify ignoring them.
And how does one receive "the real gift of the Holy Ghost"?
52 And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.
53 And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.
54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.
55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
56 And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.
57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:
59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.
Those pesky commandment things again.
Moroni put it this way.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength [remember: if you love me, keep my commandments - therefore, keep God's commandments with all your might, mind and strength], then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
That's at the end of the process of keeping the commandments while denying oneself of all ungodliness, or, as Jesus himself put it:
JST John 14:15-26
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost , whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Always the commandments. Anyone who says differently is selling something; caveat emptor.
And those commandments can be summarized thus, if I'm not mistaken:
Two Great Commandments, on which hang ALL the Law and the Prophets = Love the Lord = keep His commandments = Love Everyone = whatever you would want done to you, do to others; whatever you wouldn't want done to you, don't do to others (I want to be helped and treated well and I don't want to be harmed or mistreated).
And then we could start talking about implementations of this all day long, since life is full of people, needs, requests, relationships, obligations, and all kinds of situations.
Simply put: Love, Love, Love. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Whoever truly finds, obtains, possesses it, shall be like Him and it shall be well (glorious) for them in the end. It releases/denies (and forgives) all fear and judgment and darkness and falsehood and pride and every form of un-Godliness/Christlikeness.
Something like that anyway - probably missing some stuff, but it boils down to be pretty simple as I understand it.
The commandments are of such import, in fact, that the primary function of priests is apparently to teach them to the children of men.
1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained--being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared--
6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest--
7 This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things--
8 Now they were ordained after this manner--being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end--
9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
Again, someone who is teaching any other path is selling something.
I commend Abinadi's words to the priests of Noah to your attention: "I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved[.]"
Lastly, what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
Well counselor, I'll just say that if you had cut and pasted anymore scripture that there may be a copyright infringement case here. However, I did appreciate the convenience.
Joseph and Oliver felt that they understood the scriptures pretty well, but when they received the baptism of the holy ghost then the scriptural understanding of scripture they had read hundreds of times was really opened to them - and they marveled.
And what is his message, which is nearly universally ignored?
His message is his gospel:
And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.
(Doctrine and Covenants 39:6)
Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.
12 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved;
13 And upon this rock I will build my church; yea, upon this rock ye are built, and if ye continue, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.
(Doctrine and Covenants 33:11–13)
Notice the rock is clarified here as being the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than Peter.
The Jews loved to clarify the path to heaven by subdividing commandments into hundreds of more detailed crystal clear regulations. Some feel that it is possible to earn our spiritual progress through the merit of following a list of commandments. Since I have never heard of such a meritorious person succeeding in doing that, I can only assume that our understanding of "just keep the commandments durnit" is somehow lacking. The real issue is that without the mighty change brought by activation of the gospel message in one's life, one is doomed to failure.
And as that failed wannabe saint lays panting like an exhausted dog on a hot summer day, crying out, Why Lord, why is it not working... I have kept all your commandments. Why is it not working? Why can I not do the works that you did? Then the understanding comes like a gentle breeze, that without the gift of the holy ghost, he never understood what the commandments were.
But we don't take the gospel message of transformation seriously. We get baptized, confirmed, keep going to meetings and not much changes - certainly not a mighty change. And we quickly move on, thinking that is all there is to that. Then there will always be some guy in a suit waiting for you at that point to tell us that the really good stuff is just over the next ridge. You need a calling, and hit the mission trail, and/or get that next priesthood ordination, hey! where's your garments! Go get sealed in the temple, and have some kids, and pay that tithing, stay outta debt and get your endowments. Candy mountain is always just ahead, just over the next ridge and the mastery of just one more commandment may get us there. And so we do it because we want to please God.
The result? Look around. We have become a sad, inactive, powerless people with far fewer spirit strengthening stories to tell than our grandparents. We have supported the secret combinations against all our scriptural warnings, we voted for George W Bush, the confusion of war is upon us, the economy is certain to collapse and soon! Yet the whimpering cry continues, It's your fault! You didn't keep the commandments good enough. The Lord doesn't love you. You deserve what's happening. Just keep the commandments, just keep the commandments. Maybe it's time to revisit the actual gospel message and see what happens when it is taken seriously.
So, what are you selling us, Allisa? Eastern mysticism, navel-gazing, anything but keeping the commandments of God?
In "Your Bill Is Coming Due" I cite JST Luke 6 verbatim as the shortest version of the Savior's commandments.
At the end thereof, he says this.
46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.
48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
That is a very good question, Jesus - why do people call You "Lord" and leave undone the things you said to do?
I can only think of one reason. They value the things of this world more highly than they value your companionship.
It is interesting to me to see a verbatim citation of the Savior's teachings in JST Luke 6 being referred to as "Log's legalistic" list o' commandments.
I infer Allisa probably did not read what I wrote but is rather seeking through bluff and bluster to act as though I, of myself, came up with some list instead of merely citing the Savior's teachings in context.
If "the real Holy Ghost" is opposed to the scriptures, and, in particular, the teachings, sayings, and commandments of Jesus Christ, maybe it's not "the real Holy Ghost."
After all, "[N]othing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God," said Joseph.
And what does "the real Holy Ghost" do for us? Here's an example.
Our minds being now enlightened [upon being filled with the Holy Ghost], we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. - Joseph Smith
However, there's not much mysterious in the Savior's commandments - except when we don't want to keep them. Then, of course, it's all mysterious.
Men are in the habit, when the truth is exhibited by the servants of God, of saying, All is mystery; they have spoken in parables, and, therefore, are not to be understood. - Joseph Smith
And there always seems to be a "spirit" which says "believe it not."
Since one does not get "the real Holy Ghost" without keeping the commandments, to claim therefore that "the real Holy Ghost" is required to understand the commandments is to shut men out of the presence of God eternally, since they lack that which they need to understand the commandments but which can only be gotten through keeping the commandments, which of course they can't do since they don't understand them. A real Catch-22.
Such an internal contradiction marks not "the real Holy Ghost," since, as it is written, the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not, but is instead evidence of something a bit less holy.
Good grunt but you're old. You know there's help now for obsessive compulsion to dominate conversations. The debate about law vs spirit or as Paul put it, milk vs meat, is a classic and won't be settled anytime soon. It's like which is better: young or old. The answer is: both because they define each other. If you are more comfortable under the law then there is no shame in that counselor. The law folks usually have a deep seated need to be right. I'm sure that doesn't apply to you though. I suppose it doesn't really matter seeing as I know who you are. You are infinite awareness having a human experience and in the light we are one, so how could I ever be anything but pleased with you. I know, I know. Separation of everything is a big deal to law dogs, but there it is. I hope we can talk again sometime, but I'm off to Germany to blow all my money and do some biking for a month. So I bless you by the name of Jesus Christ that all love may surround you and his pure light may shine upon you to guide your way home.
Does blowing all one's money on leisure activity help with obsessive compulsions to dominate conversations, or with accusing people of having such a need, or with accusing people of having a deep seated need to be right - as opposed to demonstrating them to be in error?
If so, by all means, pedal away.
Just some thoughts about previous comments made, not particularly the most recent ones:
Rock said about church being for fellowshipping and if we want to study the scriptures we can just do that at home.
Log asked why someone would ask another human being what a scripture means.
As for me, I like discussing scriptures with others and church is a place to do that. I do wish there was more time to just talk to people about how our weeks were, what Marvel movie we want to watch next, or any other stuff about life. I believe that discussing the scriptures is part of working things out in our own minds. Someone else may have thought of something that I haven't. However, ultimately we should seek understanding from God and wait for his answer.
So: 1. Study something out in our own minds.
2 Ask others what they think (or not, but I see nothing wrong with it and may help us do 1.)
3. Ask God and wait for his answer.
An elementary place to start, Miguel. But ultimately we should progress to here
Isaiah 28:9-14, and here Moroni 10:5, and also here 1 John 2:27, here 2 Ne 32:3-6 to comfirm what Joseph says here in TPJS.149-151(referenced in the blue book), starting under the heading --Two Comforters-- through the heading --The Spirit of Revelation--
The Bible is a Catholic book. That is a fact. Neither Protestants, Mormons, JWs, Adventists, etc produced that book. The Bible preceded them all by at least 1,500 years. And the Catholic Church preceded the Bible by 400 years. Therefore, to read it in a way that opposes the mind of the Catholic faith is to misread it. The only time Mormons will ever read it right is when they uphold Catholic doctrine by accident.
Bible Reading Rule #1: Never cherry-pick Bible verses to support pre-conceived notions. The Bible is an integral whole because it is inspired by only One Spirit. God is a Spirit (John 4:24). There is only ONE God (Mark 12:29). Christ is not divided (1 Corinthians 1:13).
Hugh Nibley's tedious and long winded analysis which you copied and pasted misses the entire point of Matthew 16:18. He never tries to answer the most important question: Why did Jesus build his Church upon a rock? So that it will fail? Or so that it will stand?
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27)
How you understand Matthew 16:18 will depend on the kind of Jesus you believe in. If your Jesus is a wise builder, then his Church will not fail. But if your Jesus is a foolish builder, then his clumsy church deserves to fail. Hugh Nibley's Jesus is a foolish builder. That is why every evidence he looks at seems to point to a Great Apostasy. He only gets away with his thesis by ignoring other evidence that oppose his opinions, (ie, Matthew 7:24-27).
The problem with this foolish Jesus is that his rickety church never fails to collapse, or rather, is unable to stand at all. There is always somebody in his fallen church crawling out of its rubble, and appointing himself as its rebuilder and restorer, as if his puny efforts will "make a difference this time." In 1830, it was Joseph Smith. When he died in 1844, no Mormon alive knew where his church went. Smith's own family rejected the polygamist Brigham Young. They all followed James Strang who later became polygamist. Smith's own family didn't know where the "true church" went, and they started the RLDS church.
Jesus built his Church on the foundation of apostles and prophets, not on little children blown by every wind of doctrine. Smith's own family didn't know where to go after Joseph died. They were duped by Strang. This is the restored church? How can a church be so flimsy? Answer: a foolish Jesus built it!
The Church, as the Apostle Paul described it is "the pillar and ground of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). How can the Church collapse and disintegrate if it was the "pillar and ground of truth"? Nibley fails to grasp Paul's teaching on the church because Paul's Jesus is not Nibley's Jesus, who is a foolish builder.
Christ told his Church, "ye are the light of the world... No man lights a candle and puts it under a bushel" (Matthew 5:14-16). If the Church was called by Christ to be a light to the world, are we now to believe that it took only a human emperor named Constantine to extinguish that light in 325 AD?
If this is true, what then happened to the "Key of David" that Jesus held, the power to open that no man can shut (Isaiah 22:22)? The key didn't work... apparently. It was no match for a determined Roman Emperor.
The Bible is not a Catholic book.
The Bible, composed of letters that were written for different peoples of different churches across the country, at different times. The people who wrote the letters were Jews who followed Christ.
You need to learn Biblical history. Also scholars do agree that the rock IS NOT Peter. Jesef gave ample evidence. Jesef also explained some things very well. Mainstream Christianity does not understand in the Bible because the knowledge was lost.
And Jesef asked you a question which you completely ignored, and then deflected the question. Then you repeat the same things over.
If what you mean by "letters" are "epistles" as in "the Epistle of Paul to the Romans" then.... the entire Old Testament does not contain a single epistle. Therefore, the Bible is not composed of "letters" as you claim. It is difficult for anyone to commit this fundamental mistake unless he has actually read the first chapter of Genesis, or even the first chapter of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. So I think you are merely shooting from the hip... not really thinking what you're saying.
Those who shoot from the hip tend to blow away an important lower appendage...:-)
Try to deepen your Biblical knowledge by at least studying how the Bible came to be. There was no Bible before 325 AD, but the Catholic Church had already existed by then. Where then did the Bible come from?
Here is an article that talks of ancient writings that the Catholic Church discriminated against and decided not to include in the Bible:
Now, if the Catholic Church can sift out those questionable books and decide they are not scripture, this means it was that Church that validated each book that actually made it into the Bible. It was the Church that declared the inspired authority of each book.
If so, then the Bible depends on the authority and inspiration of the Catholic Church. If the Catholic Church got it wrong in judging each book of the Bible, then anyone who believes those books is misled already.
And that is why the Bible is a Catholic book.
IS IT TIME TO DITCH THE "GREAT APOSTASY"?
In 2014, the Oxford University Press published the work of two Mormon scholars, Miranda Wilcox and John Young, entitled...
"Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy"
The book is also available from Amazon and has received positive reviews from LDS readers. Is that a good or bad thing? To me, it doesn't matter.
BYU's Maxwell Institute hosted an interview with the authors
MIPodcast #14: Reconsidering the Great Apostasy
In 2002, the "Journal of Mormon History" published Eric Dursteler's "Inheriting the Great Apostasy: The Evolution of Mormon Views on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance" (2002, Vol.28, no.2, p.23)
The 2002 issue is downloadable as PDF. It's a good intro to the subject before buying the book.
What this new generation of Mormon scholars are saying is that no scholar today ever uses the term "Dark Ages" anymore. It would be embarrassing as it would betray belief in a truth that is so "19th century." It is a sign of backwardness. The 21st century world has rediscovered the Middle Ages, and it is not a world of darkness.
The "Dark Ages" is a leftover term of dead Protestant anti-Catholic propaganda. The new Mormon scholars, because they love their church, would wish all Mormons to stop using it. It makes them cringe.
Dursteler's article is a fantastic read as he dissects the sources BH Roberts, James Talmage, and Joseph Fielding Smith used to promote the doctrine of the Great Apostasy. It's all dated material that hardly any serious scholar today believes anymore. It's really time to move on.
Mormons can never claim they have the light for as long as they subscribe to debunked Protestant falsehoods. Let these new Mormon scholars lead the way out of this dark mess... or darkness.
Good lovin', Rico.
The Middle Ages gave us Handel's Messiah! Not so dark.
If the Great Apostasy isn't in our rear view mirror, what's the chance we're going through it now or the future? In 3 Nephi the Lord levels the most profound warning/indictment against us gentiles. May we turn from our folly and face God once again.
As far as obedience to the commandments being the primary key to Salvation....Read 1 Corinthians 13. There is no place for arrogance, bitterness, or sarcasm.
All the commandments follow the great two: Love God, Love each other. If you don't do/have those 2 things as a primary focus, everything else is "sounding brass" and "tinkling symbols". Everything else is self righteousness.
If people think they can obey themselves to heaven I think they are missing the entire point of mortality.
Concerning those who would offend or cause offense to the "little ones" that come to Jesus, this is what he had to say:
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me,
it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)
Christians are called to love others just as Jesus loved, but is there no room for colorful language? When I think of Planned Parenthood and how taxpayer money is given to them so that they can cut up babies in the womb and sell body parts like auto spare parts, don't you think some strong language is needed? Humans don't always listen to bland and lifeless words. Kind words are for those who think kindly. Strong words are for the unthinking.
You are correct. The first commandment is to LOVE GOD above all else... most especially our own opinions. And that's the problem. Most people love their own opinions more than they love God.
How many times have I pointed out here that a wise builder builds his house on a strong foundation because he intends it to last a long time? The scriptures reveal that plainly. And Matthew 16:18 tells us precisely that Jesus built his Church so that Hell will not overcome it. How many Mormons here after seeing the evidence are willing to ditch their false opinion that Christ's Church fell away and collapsed? How many of them would rather stick to Joseph Smith's opinions?
A man must love God more than he loves his own opinions. Love of God trumps everything else....
Rico: you think you are WAY more persuasive than you really are. I would guess that most commenters here just flat out don't buy your interpretation of Matt 16:18. Yours isn't the only way to read that verse.
We're here for Pure Mormonism, not to hear a Catholic recruiter.
When speaking of the Great Apostasy, a distinction has to be made:
1. Apostasy FROM the Church
2. Apostasy OF the Church.
The apostasy from the Church is what Jesus and his apostles clearly prophesied and warned their listeners about. They warned about false teachers who will join the Church and pervert its teachings. Because of this, many will be deceived and misled.
In contrast, the doctrine of the "Great Apostasy" is about the alleged apostasy of the entire Church itself from Jesus. This teaching is believed by restorationist Protestants who taught that Christ will restore his church in the latter-days because it was wiped out from the face of the earth. No apostasy, no restoration. But this is false doctrine. And this doctrine was believed by Joseph Smith. It was the basis for his restoration.
But for the restorationists to succeed in teaching this false doctrine, they have to distort many scriptures. For example, a previous commenter quoted 2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition..." This verse talks of an apostasy from the Church, not apostasy of the Church. How do we know this? Just continue reading to v. 15-16:
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
And if you continue to chap 3:3-5
"But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."
Here is Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians that God will ESTABLISH them in every good word and work. According to Paul, the Lord is faithful, he will establish them and keep them from evil. If this is true, then have Christians been disrupted in doing God's work? In 1830, when Joseph Smith started his church, the Catholic Church was already a global religion having established churches in all continents of the world. When you look at Mormon statistics, the bulk of Mormon converts come from the Catholic countries of Latin America and the Philippines. Mormonism would be dead by now had they not been stealing sheep from Catholic sheepfolds.
The doctrine of the "Great Apostasy of the Church" is a corruption of the teachings of Jesus. It is an attack against God because it questions His faithfulness in keeping his Church from evil.
How then will you protect yourself in the coming great apostasy FROM the Church? Here is Paul again in the same epistle
"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (v.14-15)
As a restorationist, Joseph Smith does not believe what Paul just said about God and the Church in that epistle. He does not believe God is faithful to his Church. Therefore, "note that man, and have no company with him". But since Joseph is dead, avoid his teachings like the plague.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
But God didn't really need to find out if men would obey Him, as He knows all things from the beginning--it says that even in the book of Mormon doesn't it? When scripture speaks of proving, or testing, isn't the meaning more like "training"? Isn't it more a matter of developing things in us, then of trying to find out what's in us? Isn't life more of a training ground, or boot camp than it is a testing ground? The real God, who knows the end from the beginning, doesn't experiment, does He?
Question (to no one in particular): Why do some Mormons who no longer believe in the leadership of the LDS Church want to live a lie? In the entire history of God's dealings with man, has there ever been an anonymous prophet or saint? Wasn't bearing the cross part of following Christ when the cross was much more then a metaphor? And isn't criticizing the leadership of the LDS church anonymously a way of avoiding even the very light (purely metaphorical) cross of excommunication (from a church the critic presumably no longer believes in anyway)?
It just occurred to me that perhaps the anonymous critic is trying to avoid some real persecution he foresees in the future (like Christians are now facing in Syria and Iraq), but then, aren't we told to take no thought of tomorrow?
And aren't we told that he who would try to save his life will lose it?
The early saints faced real persecution (at the very time God was supposedly abandoning His Church for being unfaithful--when this supposed great apostasy was going on), but they didn't hide.
This is from the book of Acts (JST):
...when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Chapter 5:40-41.)
Why do some, who speak of the baptismal covenant as a suicide pact, and consider it their mission to call on others to suffer, feel they can remain anonymous (to avoid the relatively trivial social consequences they might face now, or even more severe consequences in the future) without being total hypocrites?
I mention this only because most Mormons seem to be under the impression that traditional, orthodox Christians believe anyone who hasn't been baptized in this life is going to hell, and I can see how that would reinforce the idea that there must have been some great apostasy--but the Church has never taught this.
It has only taught that baptism is the visible sign of entry into the church, not that God is somehow bond to the sacrament.
Joseph Smith has been quoted as saying the following (and if he actually said it, he was surely not speaking as a prophet, because it's quite untrue):
I will say something about the spirits in prison. There has been much said by modern divines about the words of Jesus (when on the cross) to the thief, saying, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise." King James' translators make it out to say paradise. But what is paradise? It is a modern word: it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of. Find the original of the word paradise. You may as easily find a needle in a haymow. Here is a chance for battle, ye learned men. There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was--This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits...
But the word "paradise" isn't a modern word (and wasn't when JS supposedly said this.)
late 12c., "Garden of Eden," from Old French paradis "paradise, Garden of Eden" (11c.), from Late Latin paradisus, from Greek paradeisos "park, paradise, Garden of Eden," from an Iranian source similar to Avestan pairidaeza "enclosure, park" (Modern Persian and Arabic firdaus "garden, paradise"), compound of pairi- "around" + diz "to make, form (a wall)."
The first element is cognate with Greek peri- "around, about" (see per), the second is from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough).
The Greek word, originally used for an orchard or hunting park in Persia, was used in Septuagint to mean "Garden of Eden," and in New Testament translations of Luke xxiii:43 to mean "heaven" (a sense attested in English from c. 1200). Meaning "place like or compared to Paradise" is from c. 1300.
And in addition to Luke 23:43, this word is also used in 2 Cor. 12:4.
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
So the word "paradise" is actually very old, has always had connotations of bliss, and traditional, orthodox Christians have always believed that the thief on the cross went there (without receiving baptism.)
So it's a mischaracterization to say that Catholics, or Anglicans, or Orthodox believe that baptism is necessary for salvation--just as it would be a mischreterization to say that LDS believe that (since you don't believe baptism for the dead is necessary for those who die under eight years of age, or for the retarded, and you do believe they should be saved.)
I mention this only because I believe such misconceptions make it hard for LDS and Catholics (like Ricco) or other orthodox Christians to understand each other (and calling one another "fools" doesn't help either--though I don't think Ricco used that word here?)
As to the assertion that "There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise," this is the actual Greek word used in Luke 23:43.
Παραδείσῳ. (Strong's number 3857):
parádeisos – an ancient Persian word meaning "enclosure, garden, park."
Same word used in Rev. 2:7.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
And 1 Cor. 12.
Really, to boast is not profitable to me, for I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ fourteen years before--whether in the body, I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third Heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows-- that he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words which a man is not permitted to speak. (Verses 1-4.)
So clearly, even in the first century, it meant more than a spirit prison--it was the place of the tree of life, where Paul heard unspeakable things (real mysteries) when he was caught up to the third heaven.
And clearly (unless he was badly misquoted) Joseph's remarks were way off the mark here.
Good comments there. But there's more...
Paradise is indeed a place of bliss. Remember in the Garden of Eden, Adam enjoyed full fellowship with God. That was paradise. But in yielding to Satan, and commiting sin, Adam lost that fellowship. And paradise was consequently lost. Or rather, men were deprived of paradise because they were cast out from it.
When Jesus told the good thief that he will go with him in Paradise, it means going back to full fellowship with God. Paradise is nothing less than that. Sometimes, because we are all pharisees to some degree, we cannot imagine God would be so extravagant in extendinng mercy. His excessiveness offends us. How can a thief who repents at the last moment get to heaven so quickly when everyone else must strive daily to follow Jesus?
Wasn't that the same complaint the elder brother of the prodigal son said to his father? He couldn't imagine how his father would even waste a feast to welcome a son who was so evil. And that is our problem with God. We don't like it when he is just, but we don't like it either when he is merciful. We cannot seem to make our minds at all.
Anyway, the Catholic Church declared that good thief as a saint (St. Dismas) and set aside a feast day (March 25) to remember his goodness. And you are right, he was not baptized at all.
Even the little children who were slain by Herod in Bethlehem when Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt, they were declared saints with a feast day after Christmas, "Holy Innocents Day" or "Childermas" every December 28. And they were not baptized too.
Jesus commanded his apostles to preach the gospel and baptize all men. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved, those who do not believe will be damned (Mark 16:16). However, the Catholic Church teaches that baptism by water is not the only way to be baptized into the kingdom. There is "baptism by desire" as in the case of St. Dismas, and there is "baptism by blood" as in the case of the murdered children by Herod.
The mercy of God is truly hard to understand because we have limited minds. We cannot balance justice and mercy. In interpreting the commandments, justice is never pursued at the cost of mercy. After all, God desires all to be saved and to know him. He does not delight in the destruction of the wicked.
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" (Ezekiel 18:23)
Thank you Ricco,
I think it should also be pointed out that the baptism of desire can be either explicit or implicit.
A tribesman living in some dense rain forest, practicing his tribal religion, and following his God-given inner light as best he can may have no explicit desire to be baptized, but may desire it implicitly.
That's what the part that Disney cut from the Chronicles of Narnia was all about.
C.S. Lewis was an Anglican who believed there are anonymous Christians who serve the true God without really knowing it (like the sheep in the parable of the sheep and the goats, who didn't really know they were serving Christ when they fed and clothed those in need until Christ Himself told them.)
And in both the Catholic and Anglican tradition (and the Orthodox tradition) there's the idea of purgatory, or purgation--a continuation of boot camp for those who need further training after this life on earth.
And in the case of St. Dismas, he didn't leave this earth without first going thru extreme suffering on the cross, recognizing his guilt, repenting of his sins, and publicly expressing his faith in Christ (under extreme suffering.)
I don't think it's particularly difficult to see why he might go directly to heaven.
When I said C.S. Lewis believed there are "anonymous Christians," I wasn't speaking of those who anonymously criticize some church while pretending to believe in it.
Here is what the term "anonymous Christians" means in the Context of C.S. Lewis (and orthodox Christians like him):
Karl Rahner was well known as a Christian Inclusivist...He believed in a concept of “Anonymous Christians” meaning that people who have never heard the Christian Gospel might be saved through Christ. Non-Christians could have “in [their] basic orientation and fundamental decision,” Rahner wrote, “accepted the salvific grace of God, through Christ, although [they] may never have heard of the Christian revelation.”
Then Vatican II affirmed Lumen Gentium, where it states: “Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”
For fans of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, you might recognize the theology from this section: ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’ The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, ‘It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites — I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.
Well, I've been baptized into eight different Christian sects, so I'm set. Now I can do whatever I want to do and not be worried.
I'm glad I read what you've been offering Rico. One of those sects is Roman Catholicism, which I left to enter the Mormon faith because I believed the lie that the authority needed to be restored. Forty years later I discover that I was wrong and deceived. Unfortunately, in the interim, I discovered that I don't like being around people and that I'm gay, so Catholicism probably won't work for me again either. I'll stay with the experiential teachings from the Near Death Experience. They promise entrance into Paradise for everybody! Cool!
No Christian tradition teaches that you can do anything you want after you're baptized and have nothing to worry about--and not even "the experiential teachings from the near death experience" teaches that people who do whatever they like will enter paradise without first experiencing the consequences of the wrong they've done and repenting of it.
Have you heard of the life review that's often a part of the near death experience?
Depending on how much pain you've caused in your life I understand it can be quite unpleasant, as you actually feel the pain you've caused others as if you were standing in their shoes.
That part of the near death experience has always rung true to me.
I too thank Ricco for his contributions, and I hope I've contributed something too.
Pax Et Bonnum.
"...Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NIV)
God gives us weaknesses and defects as a way of keeping us humble. Of all sins, the deadliest one is pride. Pride is worse than murder and adultery. Pride kills the soul. A murderer and adulterer might actually repent if he realizes the wrong he has done. But the proud, even though he knows he is wrong, will never repent or change his ways. He will always find an excuse.
Oscar Wilde, the famous playwright, novelist, and poet, who was also gay, had a lifelong fascination with the Catholic Church. He was a dazzling star. But when his fortunes fell, it was in the Catholic Church that he sought redemption. He was convicted for sodomy, and was sent to hard labor, which eventually took a toll on his life.
"The Long Conversion of Oscar Wilde"
Why would a homosexual want to enter a church where his sins will be condemned? Few people would understand that these days. In an era where men are made to believe that there is no such thing objective truth, that anyone can make up his own truth, there is no more sense of sin. But guilt remains and eats the soul.
I believe the whole world has been in a general apostasy from the Gospel of Jesus Christ for at least 6000 years and counting.
Though most people are generally nice people, it has always been rare to find anyone, even a so called prophet, who keeps all of Christ's commandments and thus proves they are true followers of Christ & God.
The Catholics may have put the Bible together but they did not write it. And who would want to claim authorship of most of it anyway? For much of the Bible is filled with countless teachings, stories and doctrines that are completely contrary to the teachings and commandments of Christ. Thus it proves it cannot all or even mostly be true or from God.
Even the few so called 'words of Christ' found in the 4 Gospels are obviously very tampered with by men, because of error or agendas, and were not always the exact words of Christ, lest even Christ contradicted himself and taught confusion & chaos.
And even if people are baptized everyday and 'say' they believe in Christ it still would do nothing to save them if they don't keep 'all' the commandments of Christ, for the commandments are the real test that reveals true disciples of Christ from false ones. And who or what prophet even has ever been able to keep all the commandments? It's very rare, if not impossible, to find such a person that really proves to be a true follower of Christ.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness" is a commandment from God. Be careful when hurling accusations, especially when you are smearing and attacking the word of God. Here, let me show why your attitude towards the Bible is problematic:
1. Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.
2. But they believe the Bible is not translated correctly.
3. Therefore, Mormons do not really believe the Bible to be the word of God.
The conclusion in #3 is inescapable because #2 is easily demonstrable. In the Book of Mormon alone, a prophet named Nephi says that many "plain and precious parts" were removed from the Bible (1 Nephi 13:24-29). Therefore, Mormons believe the text of the Bible has been corrupted.
And this is problematic. In your Mormon creed, you say you believe the Bible, but your actions clearly contradict your words. What you therefore show is nothing but your disbelief and lack of faith. That makes your attitude towards the Bible hypocritical. You say one thing, but do the exact opposite.
Now why should anyone believe this fictitious prophet named Nephi? The Bible that Mormons use is the King James Version or KJV. This is a translation produced by Protestants in 1611. It has a total of 66 books. In contrast, the Catholic Bible has 73 books, and the Catholic canon has been established since 367 AD. That's more than 1,000 years before anyone believed in Protestantism.
If the "great and abominable church" removed many "plain and precious parts" from the Bible, how is it that Mormons have less books in their Bibles than Catholics? Clearly, it was Protestantism that removed them. And Mormons believe the falsehoods of Protestantism.
Nephi's claim about the abominable church removing parts from the is also demonstrably false. The Catholic Church created the Bible by ADDING BOOKS, not removing them. It is like assembling a car from separated mechanical parts. There was no car until a smart mechanic combined all of the necessary parts, while throwing away the useless ones to create a really nice car. How the Catholic Church accomplished this is a testament of the Spirit truly guiding her.
DeeLyn, much of what you said is demonstrably false. Take a long hard look at Joseph Smith. He is not what Mormons think he is.
I do not consider myself 'Mormon' anymore. And I agree that Nephi is almost surely 'fictitious'. I also don't consider Joseph Smith a true prophet and I agree that he is not what Mormons think he is.
Concerning the Bible, you previously said:
"And who would want to claim authorship of most of it anyway? For much of the Bible is filled with countless teachings, stories and doctrines that are completely contrary to the teachings and commandments of Christ. Thus it proves it cannot all or even mostly be true or from God."
To say that the Bible contains teachings and doctrines contrary to the teachings and commandments of Christ is to say that you are competent enough to judge both the Bible and the teachings of Christ. This implies that you know better than the Catholic Church who understands it, yet do not share your questionable assessment. So where are your credentials? How do we know that you truly understand Christ's teachings well enough to judge the Bible negatively?
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. " (John 5:39)
If the scriptures testify of Christ, you cannot question their credibility without ultimately questioning the credibility of Christ himself. The Bible is the word of God, that is how Jesus understood it. His teachings are rooted in it. Therefore, it cannot contain errors in the things that it asserts. Otherwise, Christ's teachings will also be in error. But that cannot be. God will always preserve his words from error. Thus, if man does not understand the Bible, it is not a defect of God's words. Instead, it is a defect in man's understanding.
You're right about feeling the pain you caused to others. As soon as I learned about that I dropped all of my friends, became a social hermit, and when I drive on the open road and somebody cuts me off I make sure that when I damn that person to hell he or she won't hear me because I keep my windows closed. This way, I haven't injured anybody for years now. This means that although my pre-discovery life will be somewhat painful, the life following my NDE revelation will be as pleasant as a spring rain. I've got it all worked out now.
I find the whole idea that Catholicism effectively owns the understanding of the bible because they wrote it to be very tiresome; in the same way that I'm sure it would be tiresome if Mormon missionaries attended catechism and asserted at every term their canned LDS trademark responses to everything that the priest was trying to teach.
In Christ's day, the scriptures were what the Jews had preserved for centuries, without any help from the Romans. To assert that Catholicism equals the church of Christ and that it therefore existed hundreds or thousands of years before the life of Christ is ridiculous on it's face. Only a Catholic apologist would ever make such a claim.
The bible wasn't written by Catholics either, but by early Christians, all of whom, I believe, were Jews. They did not view themselves as a separate religion from the Jews, but simply Jews who accepted Christ as the Messiah, which gave them a completely different paradigm. It was only after the Jews who held power excluded them from their places of worship and treated them as a separate group that they began to see themselves as a group apart from Judaism.
What the Catholics can claim legitimately was the editorial task of collecting the extant writings of these early Christians and combining them into a single volume. Kudos for that. The idea that only they have the right (and responsibility) to interpret those books for all others is a false notion, just as it was false for the Jews to assert that only their understanding of the scriptures could possibly be true. In spite of their (the Jew's) arrogant claim that they understood the truth and could condemn any who varied from their views, (which were theoretically derived from the scriptures), our Saviour showed them that they misunderstood and misapplied those scriptures and were actually blind guides.
Catholics and Mormons will likely face the same test; they will be faced with a true messiah when he comes again and will have to choose between the true teachings of Christ and the teachings of men mingled with scriptures. I believe that most people, faced with that test will make the same mistake that the Jews of Jesus' day made - they will stick with the familiar, comfortable and seemingly authoritative teachings of the leaders of their churches and reject the holy representative of Christ.
How do I know that this is true? Because Ezekiel, Isaiah and other prophets tell us so. (see Ezekiel 34). To my knowledge there is not a single verse that tells us prophetically that when the Messiah comes he will single out any leader of any religion and say "Hey, good job, you kept the faith and taught my lambs my pure gospel!" If you can find such a verse, I would be happy to be corrected.
For my part, when I read the Book of Mormon, I feel the Lord's spirit and I believe it to be the work of God. Since you obviously do not get that message from the book, one of us is deceived. I believe that this is what it will be like when the Messiah comes; some will accept him in his calling and others will not. Some will be right and some will be wrong.
My own reading of the signs of the times tells me that we may soon be called upon to make that determination. In our lifetimes we may be able to test whether our own pride and arrogance is greater than our humility, to see if the spirit can penetrate and enlighten our souls. My prayer is that we will all repent and humble ourselves so that we can receive His servant when he comes.
Amen and amen.
The great and marvelous work is about to come forth. And it is this that will restore us from our current lost and fallen state.
Right now we should ALL fear and tremble that we may be deceived. Unless we have the pure love of Christ, and are willing to choose HIM before all else, we will not make it to Zion. Praise God for his mercy and grace. Let us be humble enough to receive the light of the fulness of the gospel when it comes in for the last time.
I love you! The whole word is in general apostasy and there are none that follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I agree!
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, his commands to the apostles were to preach the gospel, baptize believers, and make disciples of men. He did not tell them to write scriptures or collect books and make a Bible. But he did promise them that he will send the Spirit who will guide them into ALL TRUTH that Jesus taught them (John 14:26).
However, after the apostles established churches across the Roman empire, they told their disciples to hold fast to the teachings they received, and defend the Faith (2Thessalonians 2:15). The making of the Bible is an act of defending the Faith as there were many, many false teachers who preached false doctrines that competed with the genuine apostolic teachings. Therefore, it is not mere editorializing as you falsely allege.
When the Catholic Church created the Bible from its separate parts, it created a whole that was worth more than its individual parts. Can you imagine reading the Gospel of Mark without Luke's Gospel? But try reading the "Gospel of Judas" and see how disorienting it is. The Gospel of Judas makes sense only to those heretical Christians who found it useful.
The Bible by itself is useless without someone to teach its contents. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:14). As the Ethiopian who met Philip the Apostle realized, the scriptures do not lend out their meaning easily (Acts 8:26-40). We would be deceiving ourselves if we say that we don't need anyone to explain these scriptures to us.
When we are baptized, we do not baptize ourselves. When we are confirmed, we do not confirm ourselves. When we marry, we do not marry someone on our own authority. When we are sick, we call for others to bless us and pray for us. When we commit sins, we do not forgive ourselves, but are commanded to go to someone whom God appointed to forgive sins (John 20:23). When we die, someone blesses us and our grave. In every milestone of life, the true Christian is a humble Christian, one who realizes that he depends on others for his salvation.
The Church is the Body of Christ. It is the "flesh of his flesh, and bones of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30-32). The Church is not a Bible study group. That would be the Jehovah's Witnesses Bible and Tract Society. The first Christians did not own personal scriptures. Those were expensive, and were owned collectively in the house churches. What they had were the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, penance, etc that all pointed to the Eucharist. That was what fed them spiritual food and the grace of God before there were any Bible produced.
===== continued =====
And these sacraments were not done by people who appointed themselves on their own authority. That would be Protestantism. And there were no Protestants in the first 1,500 years of Christianity. In fact, if you want to see ample evidence of what Bible study achieves without a Church to teach it, just look at 500 years of Protestantism. There you can see every contradiction taught as though they were objective truth.
That's why your understanding of Ezekiel or Isaiah is problematic. Read the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven in Luke 19:11-27. It speaks of a certain nobleman, a member of the ruling class, who "went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return." This parable clearly refers to Jesus himself who left instructions for his servants to observe while he is away to receive a kingdom. His servants are to expect his return. This parable reveals that in returning, Jesus as the nobleman expects to see his servants in that house he left from. This parable demolishes your opinion that when he returns, there will be no kingdom.
The parable ends with this: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27). Who will obey that command if there were no servants left? Therefore, when Jesus returns, he expects to find a kingdom, and those who expect it to be a democracy, will probably have the biggest surprise of all.
Look at the 2,000 years of Christian history, do you find there a church that behaves like a monarchy? That's right. There is only one church that acts like that.
If you find yourself getting tired of these gospel facts, it is because "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3). Be very careful of idle words. We will be held accountable for them.
I read your blog and I felt the Holy Ghost leave me. There is nothing else to say as that is my barometer for telling truth from falsehood. God bless you in all that you do and I hope you find happiness in this life and the next
The Holy Ghost doesn't leave when one is presented to falsehoods, instead He remains with us and teach us the truth. Your barometer is not a good one in my opinion.
Feelings and thinking we feel the HG or not, is not the way the Savior taught us to discern between truth and error. It's the way that many religions like the LDS teach, for it makes it easy to deceive people by, but it is not what Christ taught.
Christ taught us to prove all things & people with facts, not feelings. For he knew that feelings, impressions, revelation, etc can easily sound & feel good and right but be very wrong. Thus why billions of people all over the world are just as sure as you they are right and feel the Spirit too about their religion.
Christ taught us to compare his commandments to the preaching and especially the 'practices' of those who claim to be true disciples of Him. Proof is in the practice, not the preaching or the warm fuzzies.
Satan's ideas can make you feel really good. While truth is often not what we want to hear.
My apologies, I did not make my meaning plain the last time I posted. And my apologies in advance if you choose to be offended by what I have to say. As you can tell from my name I used to be heavily involved with pornography, I have since been cleansed by the power of Christ and live in recovery every day. What I meant by my last statement was after reading the vicious attacks made by the author of this blog against both the church I follow and the people in that church I felt the same way I used to after I had indulged in pornography. I kept reading this blog and felt dirtier and dirtier. That is what I meant when I said I felt the Holy Ghost leave me, because I chose to read falsehood.
There is no point responding to me as I will never return to this blog again. Once again, may God bless all of you and I hope you find happiness
I feel bad for people like Recovery who were so close to find the pure mormonism but ended rejecting it. I hope he doesn't keep his promise and returns here one day.
It's a shame Recovery From Pornography didn't bother to point out what "vicious attacks" he saw in my essay that so disturbed him; had he done me the service of quoting as much as one sentence that he saw as vicious, or as an attack, it would help me to know what I might have done that so went against the spirit.
I just re-read the entire piece, and I can't find anything either in my words or in the extensive quote I furnished by LostInMiddleMormonism that qualifies as anything other than observations that most members have observed for themselves. Did I write something that was factually wrong? Doctrinally inerrant? Historically inaccurate? He doesn't tell us.
Sadly, this commenter did what so many others have who have been exposed to truth they are not comfortable with hearing: he simply stopped by, said it was bad, and left, without ever letting the rest of us in on what exactly he found that was offensive.
I'm reminded of the stake president who encouraged me to repent and return, but when I asked him to open up the scriptures and help me understand the precise sins I was guilty of committing, he was not able to point to even one.
I wish I could sit down with Log and Alisa Mint at a table, just the three of us, and have a discussion. Having had private conversations with both, I am convinced they are not nearly as far apart in their views as the discussions above would indicate.
Far from being a rule-bound Pharisee, Log's personal view is that everything distills down to one commandment: the Golden Rule. He believes in doing unto others what he would have others do unto him, and that pretty much encapsulates everything. I think Alisa would agree with him on that.
There is indeed such a thing as Chakras, and in my personal experience, they operate specifically as a result of an individual's decision to live in obedience to God. It was only after I set aside my ego mind and determined to live outside myself that my chakras were opened and the spirit was able to better communicate with me, resulting in my experiencing the baptism of fire after 56 years as a Mormon. In other words, I decided to better live The Great Commandment and love others unconditionally and without judgment; after that, I experienced the mighty change.
Log may not be comfortable with the term "chakras," because too him it may smack too much of New Age Mysticism. Fine. Call it something else, then. Call it aligning ourselves with our spiritual consiousness, or getting ourselves in tune with the spirit. Whatever name you wish to call the process, a decision to follow Christ tends to bring with it an awakening within.
In your explanation of how you attained to the mighty change of heart, chakras didn't even relevantly figure. There's no need to even mention them, IF they even exist. As you said - you decided to live in obedience to God - or, in other words, you decided to keep his commandments, and he poured out his spirit upon you and you were born again.
That's all it takes.
That's all it ever took.
It has always been that simple.
The rest of the adventure is in being left to oneself in the lone and dreary world, getting lied to by priestcrafters and dupes preaching "doctrines" and "keys" and worldly men preaching money and science (there is some overlap between the groups), and sloughing off the lies and returning to the path of keeping the commandments of Christ with diligence, while seeking greater light and knowledge from on high, until one is born of God.
And, yes, baptism features somewhere in there.
Yep Log. All that is true.
Plus my chakras were open.
I don't know much about chakras, but how did you open your third eye and crown chacras?
If it happened in one of your Temples, and you're not supposed to talk about it outside the Temple, please ignore these questions--please don't break any oaths here.
But did it happen outside the Temple, after years of practicing the golden rule (the way Log tells us to)?
And are you at liberty to talk about it?
Someone I know says that if you've really received a remission of your sins, your upper body will always feel warm (as long as you retain that remission of your sins), and that if you go on to be born again (which he says is different), it will feel like a rushing waterfall.
Is that (the waterfall sensation) what it feels like when your crown chakra is opened?
And is the upper body warmth what it feels like when your third eye chakra is opened (and does that sensation of warmth stay with you as long as it remains open)?
Has this been your experience Allisa (and are you free to talk about it)?
Could you and my friend be talking about the same thing?
P.S. Please ignore these questions if discussing these things outside you
I believe what Christ taught, that our 'actions' prove when we are forgiven of our sins, for we and others will know it because we will be keeping all his commandments.
No need to try to decipher feelings etc, which again can be very misleading anyway.
I agree that once we start taking the commandments of Christ seriously our soul opens up to lots more light and knowledge, which we must continue to discern whether it's truth or error, but our understanding grows by leaps and bounds as our righteousness grows.
Ever since the time of Jesus, there is no question that one should keep God's commandments. The problem is that there are those who "teach for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). How then does one sift tares from wheat?
Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is not the greatest commandment of all. Loving God with all your being is. And Christ has shown how to follow these in their proper order:
"Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always." (John 12:1-8)
That last verse cannot be overemphasized. The poor will always be with us, therefore, the opportunity to care for the needy will never go away. All you have to do is really pay attention to the people around you.
But the greatest commandment, to put God first and love him above everything else is not easy as it seems. When Mary took the precious spikenard to anoint Jesus, was that indeed a waste? From the point of view of Judas, it was. The money could've been spent helping the poor and needy. What then was Jesus' point in rebutting Judas? The point is one can never love God too much. No spikenard no matter how precious is ever too costly to offer to God. Even Jesus who truly loved the poor and needy never loved them more than he loved God.
The commandments are simple but they are not simplistic. It is easy to say one must obey God's commandments, but then that assumes one really knows which commandments are truly from God. It presupposes a correct knowledge of what must be obeyed. And that is never simple as it sounds.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53). How many Protestants refuse to believe that Jesus meant exactly what he said here? How many of them try to water down and dilute the exact meaning of this commandment? There is never a shortage of Christians who profess to believe Jesus, but not in this particular verse.
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-23; 1Corinthians 11:17-34). Again, how many so-called Christians believe that Jesus is God, that he created the world, that he can multiply loaves and fishes to feed thousands of people, BUT when he declares "This is my Body" and "This is Blood", nothing really changes in the bread and wine?
Something has to be fundamentally wrong somewhere, right?
Loving your fellowman is a great commandment. But it is never meant to be pursued at the expense of the first and greatest commandment of all.
You said, "They can't tell the truth that they find the temple weird, that they support gay marriage..."
I've just discovered this blog recently. Can you clarify your comment that appears to suggest most members support gay marriage? I apologize if that was sarcasm and it went over my head. Thanks.
Those were not my words, but part of an extensive quote I included from "LostInMiddleMormonism."
I don't think most members support gay marriage, and I don't think that was what the author I quoted was trying to convey, either. His point was that members realize instinctively that there are some opinions that are off-limits in church, even regarding matters the Lord has not revealed his will about. So if, for example, a member happened to favor gay marriage (or, like me, hold no opinion on it at all) that member knows he is out of step with the majority, and has learned that if he wishes to remain a member in good standing, he should keep his opinions secret.
"It's a shame Recovery From Pornography didn't bother to point out what "vicious attacks" he saw in my essay "
I can't answer this but for me the danger with what you write is that I am tempted to make your statement that the church is pursuing the wrong path my personal truth. If this happens then any evidence that supports it supports me and soon I am looking for problems in the church and happy when I find them. This is obviously bad regardless of the truth of the original statement. I know this is not your intent but it is a real danger (at least for me). You exhort readers to reject intermediaries and come unto Christ directly but it is pretty easy to do the former and feel smug and then not do the latter.
"If it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return." (3 Nephi 27:10-11)
Immediately after Joseph Smith was killed, the church he built divided into contending sects. Therefore, if the above scripture is true, it is necessary to find out which among the contenders is the true Mormon church. If the sect under Brigham Young is not that church, then where is it now?
Two of the Three Witnesses, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, drifted towards James Strang who headed the Strangite sect. With them, the rest of Joseph Smith's family also followed. When you have Mormons as famous as these persons were in Joseph's church, Strang's influence cannot be easily dismissed.
Like Denver Snuffer, James Strang is said to receive divine revelations. Strang claimed to have translated the sealed portion of the so-called "Plates of Laban" which he published as "The Book of the Law of the Lord":
The Book of the Law of the Lord
Some 12,000 Mormons joined Strang primarily because of his anti-polygamy stance. Their position served as a prominent opposition against the formidable Mormon polygamists under Young. When you have a church that is clearly divided like this, one can safely conclude that Joseph Smith failed to teach them the truth as clearly as it should be taught. Nothing like this ever happened to the Church in the first century immediately after Jesus died. That Church did not splinter into fragments with the death of its founder.
Unfortunately, Strang betrayed his sect by becoming polygamist himself. In the aftermath of this betrayal, the disillusioned Mormons separated themselves and formed the Reorganized LDS sect. When you have the founding members of your sect as dupes of Strang, that cannot be a good foundation for a church. As the Apostle Paul said, the Church is the "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). What the RLDS sect had as its foundation are people who, like weak little children, were "blown by every wind of doctrine that comes along from the sleight of men" (Ephesians 4:14).
If Joseph Smith's teaching in 3 Nephi 27:10-11 is true, then his restored church has been revealed to be nothing more than the work of man. In his death we see the death of his work. In 1844, no Mormon could tell with AUTHORITY where the church built on the gospel through Smith went.
(Ironically, it would take nothing more than a mere human judge relying on his human wisdom in 1894 to declare the RLDS sect as the legitimate successor of Joseph Smith's teachings. See the 1891 Temple Lot Case, RLDS vs. LDS).
But if 3 Nephi 27:10-11 is not true, then why believe Joseph Smith at all? Ironically again, the Community of Christ which evolved from the RLDS sect does not seem to believe the Book of Mormon as legitimate scripture, ie, if we define scripture as something divine that can correct one's false beliefs (2 Timothy 3:16).
"Then came his disciples, and said unto him,
Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (Matthew 15:12-14)
I've been a member of the LDS Church for 40 years but have been completely inactive for the last eight of them. What procedure do I need to follow to return to the Catholic Church, from which I joined the LDS Church/Corporation in 1976? In 1975 I was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Faith and was quite devout, but I bought the missionary claim that the Authority from Christ had been lost because of all of that unpleasantness during the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, and I was lonely and the missionaries were nice and friendly. But now I know that I was deceived and lied to, and I'd like to return to that which I should never have left.
By the way, who is the person shown within your icon?
Your Catholic baptism is never erased no matter what you do. It marks your soul permanently. That is why the Catholic Church does not rebaptize even those whom they excommunicate. Even the extreme penalty of excommunication cannot erase it. Christ has purchased you with his own blood, and nothing separates you from the love of God except your choice to separate yourself.
Try to find a parish where you feel you should belong. Talk to the priest there and ask him for spiritual direction. In some areas, this may be tough because some parishes have been "protestantized",ie, they have been badly secularized. The last 50 years has been tough on the Church, but quite interestingly, a remarkable thing is going on. Many Protestants are converting and searching for that distinctive Catholic faith. So visit as many parishes as you can until you feel comfortable, and talk to several priests until you find someone that can guide you back.
A good priest should help you examine your conscience regularly and to practice penance (nowadays called the Sacrament of Reconciliation). These two things help you come to communion in the Eucharist. All the sacraments point to the Eucharist. For Catholics, it is what we live and die for.
PS: That is St. Ignatius de Loyola, a good soldier of Christ.
Thank you, Rico.
I realized that the first step would be for me to resign from the LDS Church, and today I sent the letter to Salt Lake. There's a nice feeling of release that attends this decision. This blog and your comments really showed me the reality of the situation and I'm taking advantage of the new paradigm. Thank you for your part, and thank you, Mr. Waterman, for your many articles of the truth which the "Brethren" strive to keep hidden out of fear, necessarily.
Like Rock said, I think this is all missing the point. What does it really matter if the "church" split up into different sects after Joseph Smith? By the way, the church after the apostles' deaths got split up into different sects and the Roman Catholic isn't even the oldest of them, that title belongs to the Armenian Orthodox Church. Any of the orthodox churches can say they are the same original church, they just don't really do that, instead they continue to teach what they believe the apostles taught the former inhabitants of their land.
If an individual kept his or her covenants with Christ and Heavenly Father, then it didn't matter if the "church" was divided or broken up, the church as the Lord defines it would remain with those who kept their faith and focus on Him.
Does it matter if Smith's church split up after his death? Of course it does. If you have read the Doctrines and Covenants, it should be quite obvious that Smith was restoring a visible church. By visible, it means a church with a visible hierarchy and visible sacraments (or in Mormon lingo, "ordinances").
For example, Smith organized the Church with apostles, patriarchs, bishops, quorum of "seventy", and even a council of "fifty". There was hierarchy all over his church. Where did that hierarchy go when he died? Did it vanish into thin air just like that?
Also, he instituted temple ordinances at Kirtland and Nauvoo, with emphasis on vicarious work for the dead. There were baptisms, initiations, endowments, and sealings for both the living and the dead. The so-called keys of the kingdom were supposed to authorize the operation of these vicarious rituals. What happened then? Were the keys taken away? Were all these rituals now suspended and aborted because Smith died?
Where in the writings of Joseph Smith does it say that all of these hierarchy and ordinances are going to be removed again? The first Mormons understood their era to be the "last days" and so they expected the Restoration to be final; a prelude to the Second Coming. There is no evidence that they were anticipating another future Restoration to take place. What they understood was that this work will continue to roll forth unimpeded:
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (History of the Church 4:540)
In other words, if this Restoration was final, then it matters that we know where the hierarchy and ordinances that Joseph Smith restored had gone. Therefore, there was a visible Mormon church under his leadership, and it was meant to be visible until the work is declared finished.
==== continued =====
As for the Armenian Orthodox Church: what is your proof that the Church that Jesus established divided into different conflicting sects after his death? I don't think you have any...
In 325 AD, when the Roman emperor Constantine convoked the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, the Armenian church participated in it. This was a worldwide Catholic council. There were no other religions or sects here. The Church of Armenia upheld the tenets of that Council, tenets that even today the Mormon church rejects. The Catholic Church has always taught that there is only One God, and that the three persons called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are that One God. This doctrine has not changed in nearly 2,000 years. However, a heretic named Arius denied the divinity of Jesus, reducing the Lord to a mere creature, and aggressively promoted this falsehood everywhere. Thus the Council of Nicaea summoned and examined Arius, and condemned his teachings.
How then in the light this evidence can you say that the Church of Jesus broke up after his death? Nicaea was held some 300 years after he died! The Catholic Churches across the Roman empire and beyond united themselves in condemning Arianism.
In contrast, The remnants of Smith's church are severely splintered, and each division teach totally different doctrines. The Brighamites went from polygamy to monogamy. The RLDS now has changed its identity, and rejects the Book of Mormon. The Strangites are still around but they are totally different from both the LDS and RLDS. And there are the smaller fringe Mormon sects on the sidelines. None of these parties agree with each other. And their disagreements came in less than a year after Smith died. Can you imagine these conflicting Mormon sects today convoking a council that will condemn an anti-Mormon teaching? That will never happen...
It will never happen because the whole conflicted Protestant movement itself does not recognize a single Protestant council that can declare truth from error for the Protestant churches. Like the Mormon sects, none of them hold the keys to bind and loose both on earth and in heaven. Those keys were given to Peter and the first apostles, and then passed to the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). That is why it ALONE is able to condemn falsehoods and declare "Anathema!" against heresies (Galatians 1:8). No other church on earth today has done this for the last 2,000 years.
You're most welcome, Steven...
If you need resources for the journey back, I'd recommend
Marcus Grodi: The Coming Home Network
Marcus Grodi was a former Protestant pastor who converted to the Catholic faith. He interviews many former Protestant ministers in his show. It's amazing when you see all these Bible experts relate how seeing Catholic doctrines in the Bible brought them home. He has some former Mormons in the show too. The website has other resources to guide you back.
LifeSiteNews Daily News
This is probably the biggest online news source that covers issues regarding life, culture, and family. They have excellent news and analysis that deal with sexuality, abortion, euthanasia, etc.
This site hosts a large collection of Catholic articles like the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, the "Summa Theologica" of St. Aquinas, the writings of the Fathers of the Church (aka, the Early Church Fathers or ECF), an online Bible with Greek and Latin texts, plus many other miscellaneous Church docs. It's huge...
Copied and received, my friend.
Condemning other people's beliefs and persecuting them, doesn't make you the true church. If anything, it makes you the opposite. Jesus never taught to burn others' books or kill those who are "heretics". So in terms of its actions, the early churches including the catholic church, even through the middle ages, had gone into apostasy due to their actions. They could have all the right beliefs about who God is, but unless they act like Him they are not true followers.
Thankfully, the catholic church has abandoned these practices and, although I haven't heard or read what the Pope or other higher ups have said about this, but a local priest here basically said that the crusades were wrong. I would like to assume that the catholic church as a whole sees its prior actions were wrong. I'm not condemning any modern catholics such as yourself. Jesus taught those who believed differently than He did and only instructed his disciples to teach and baptize.
But I have to admit, in terms of the language we use, I may be off in a way, because God never used the words 'apostasy' and 'apostate' as far as I'm aware. So there's no definition of what it means for a person or church to go apostate, at least not from the Lord. Without a definition from the Lord, I'm uncertain as to whether I should continue espousing a doctrine of The Great Apostasy. Sure, I believe that God called Joseph Smith for His work.
Sorry my middle paragraph could have been organised better. The last sentence should have been the third.
I also left the last sentence of my last paragraph incomplete, but I couldn't think how to finish it. I'm a mormon, so I believe God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and He says that in Doctrine and Covenants. Although I can't find Him use the word apostasy, there are passages throughout what we call the standard works that tells of what conditions were like after Jesus Christ's mortal ministry.
Now, you mentioned Arius, but he was only one other teacher who's words conflicted the Niceans. There was a third group who taught that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were all the same person. You can think of them on a scale with Arius on one end saying that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were all separate, the Niceans in the middle teaching that they are separate but made from the same substance, or of the same substance and the third group who say that there is only one entity. I have to search for their name because I can't remember.
There were also the Gnostics who believed in a personal connection with God, only, without the necessity for bishops. There was also a man, who had perhaps a small group who believed his words that the real God was only found in the New Testament, as far as the scriptures were concerned, and that the Old Testament angry, vengeful God wasn't the real God.
That last group may not have been a bona fide sect, just a group who believed something different. But you still have four other groups who each taught something different. So wouldn't it be correct to say that the church split up into different sects? Again, this doesn't mean Jesus failed in anyway. It wasn't His doing to cause confusion and discord. But human beings are imperfect mortals who don't agree with each other all the time and thus different groups of believers emerge.
I have to disagree with your assertion that Joseph Smith set up a church with a visible hierarchy. That's certainly the way it's organized today, but today's LDS Church is decidedly different from the way things were back then. I don't know if they still print the hierarchical flow chart in the Ensign every year like they used to, since I no longer read that publication, but that shows that the Church today is a top-down institution with the President at the top with pictures of his two counselors below him. Underneath them is the Quorum of the Twelve, and underneath that group is the First quorum of Seventy; under them the Second Quorum, etc.
That kind of ranking trickles down to the local level, beginning with the stake president, then the stake high council, followed by bishop, Elder's quorum president, etc. Even the teenagers are ranked in a hierarchy, with deacons ranking lower than Teachers, who rank below the Priests.
In Joseph's day, there was a First Presidency, Twelve Apostles, Seventies, and a High Council of the Church, but none of those bodies held rank above another. Seventies were on an equal footing with the Twelve, and with the First Presidency; all had their separate spheres of responsibility, and none answered to the other. They were completely independent.
If there was a group that made decisions, it was the high council. Joseph had to petition them for operating expenses for him and Sidney, and their first request was denied. We don't have a high council in the church anymore, because Brigham did away with it. That body would have definitely been a threat to his ambitions.
As for the Aaronic priesthood, it was not uncommon for a man to be a deacon his entire life; just like some protestant denominations have older men serving as deacons without shame.
As for the ordinances: There is no need for a hierarchy to oversee them. The "keys" consisted of instructions on how they were to be performed. Once we got those instructions, for instance on how to perform the Sacrament, that was all that was needed. There is no need for a bishop to be present, or for someone in supposed "authority" in Salt Lake City.
Miguel is right. The "church" is the people, and the people require no one to lead them. They have the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. No earthly mortal is in charge of the true church. It exists wherever two or more who have repented and come unto Christ, choose to gather in His name. (See D&C 10:67) Anything else is a counterfeit, per D&C 10:68.
That's why I consider the modern LDS hierarchy as much a fraud as I do the Vatican Church. Both claim Christ as head of their organizations, but Christ operates through individuals, not through hierarchies.
If you are going to judge the Catholic Church, whose standards are you going to use? Should you use 21st century attitudes to judge 3rd century actions? It's easy to see the intolerance of the Catholic Church because we live in a secularized society that worships the god of tolerance. This is the disease of modern man. They think that ancient people are naive or stupid. They think that only the present generation is wise. They have nothing but contempt for the past. After all, wasn't it called the "Dark Ages"?
Modern secularized man finds the idea of condemning heresies as barbaric, the product of medieval thinking. After all, in a tolerant society, all ideas are to be respected and tolerated... except ideas that question and oppose the gospel of tolerance. In other words, tolerance will tolerate anything except intolerance. This reminds me of the recent Trump political campaign rally held in SLC Utah where Soros-funded anti-Trump protesters tried disrupting the event. Utahns can barely hold a decent public rally, but this one was something else. It actually turned violent. One young lady, a Trump supporter, was later interviewed on TV. She said, "All those people crticized Trump while talking about love and tolerance... But here, they hate us!"
Now, if we use the standard of Jesus: You said He did not burn heretics and condemned their beliefs. You're right. That isn't Jesus, that's Muhammad. But Jesus did make a whip to flog traders, while overturning moneychangers' tables, and castigating those who made the Temple a den of thieves. Now is that being tolerant or intolerant?
Later that week, Jesus would prophesy the destruction of that very Temple. That national catastrophe was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem killing a million Jews, then plundering its Temple, and razing it to the ground. The Jews will never again offer sacrifices to God. Not even after 2,000 years. Now, no one could destroy that Temple except God allows it, and Jesus is God. So, in letting the Romans humiliate the Jews and their religion, was Jesus here tolerant or intolerant?
You will never understand Jesus and His Church for as long as you look at Him through the biases, attitudes, and errors of modern man. Modernism is the enemy of his message. Modernists are those who do not believe what they believe.
When it comes to your criticisms of the Utah LDS Church, my hat's off to you. In fact, if ever I had a favorite article from you, it would be the most popular one right up there on top of your blog's list. So when it comes to the Mormon hierarchy and ordinances, the last thing I'd do is justify the errors of Brigham Young.
That said, you did affirm that there were different positions in the Church before Joseph died in 1844. These positions had different names and functions. Even if these were not hierarchical, it cannot be denied that these different bodies reveal a structure in the church body itself. The church is a society, and any society needs governance. And governance must rely on a stable rule of order. Without stability, order is impossible. Without order, governance is impossible. Without governance, there is no society. Therefore, church government makes the church a visible society.
Another thing that reveals the visible nature of the church is its rituals. For example, in baptizing a convert, the one baptizing recites an audible baptismal prayer. Catholic theology calls this "the form". After the prayer, the convert is baptized with water. Water is called "the matter" of the ritual. Thus, both the "form and matter" reveal the visibility of the baptismal ritual because they engage the human senses of sight, hearing, and touch. The rituals then act as signs that direct the human senses to God by reminding the person that God himself "took a material body of flesh" to make himself visible. Therefore, if rituals are signs, they must be visible signs.
Both church government and church rituals point to the visibility of the God who is invisible. Of course, as human members of the church, we also reveal the visibility of God. "Let your light shine among men, that they may SEE your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Now, there should be no question that Joseph Smith established visible church with a visible government and visible rituals. I will not use the word hierarchy if that doesn't describe the government of the church he restored. Even with that semantic change, his church was not meant to be invisible. Therefore, it should not be invisible.
And if it is not, then where is it now? Joseph Smith said this church will go forth boldly and it will be unstoppable until it is declared finished. Like you, I don't think it is the one in Utah. The Church is also the pillar and ground of truth, a stable foundation where one can build a structure that will not topple. I don't see this in the RLDS/ Community of Christ either. "Where two or three are gathered in my name" doesn't sound like a stable foundation when you are waging battles against divorce, abortion, or euthanasia, the great evils plaguing our society. The Protestants believe they are gathered too in Jesus' name, but they have already caved in to divorce, abortion, and euthanasia long ago. There has to be something more than this.
And unfortunately it sounds like the Catholic Church will be the next to cave on divorce, just like the LDS Church did.
Is there any church out there that still preaches and practices the pure commandments of Christ?
Rico said: "The Catholic Church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). That is why it ALONE is able to condemn falsehoods and declare "Anathema!" against heresies (Galatians 1:8). No other church on earth today has done this for the last 2,000 years."
I will assume you meant Christian church, and inclusion of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as other split offs in the first century.
I fully recognize the work and tradition and greatness that the Roman Catholic Church is today. The Eastern Orthodox Church IMO is a bit truer to core values and less reliance on politics and physical aggression.
As for the Bible, yes, it's a Catholic book in that it was canonized by The Catholic Church scholars and organized as The Bible. Joseph Smith was a heretic. He changed canonized scripture, sometimes drastically changing the meaning. And yet, in The Book of Mormon, he lifted large sections, word for word from teh KJV (Protestant version), right out of the Bible. At times unaware of the anachronisms and inconsistencies this later brought to light. That's damning for his claims, he should never have touched The Bible. Stating "as far as it is translated correctly" is way too easy a cop-out giving whole license to change whatever doesn't fit. It does keep membership guessing as teh Church leadership may now use it to defend or deny teh Bible whenever it suits, based on context.
Deelyn said "And unfortunately it sounds like the Catholic Church will be the next to cave on divorce, just like the LDS Church did.
Is there any church out there that still preaches and practices the pure commandments of Christ?"
What you said struck me: "the pure commandments of Christ" Maybe semantics, maybe word choice. Christ spent his entire mission retraining and teaching the Jews that their over-reliance on commandments, law and obedience was damning them. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
It can't be more clear to me. Stop relying on a cookbook, workbook, check-off list to get into heaven. Love each other, respect each other. Respect differences in thought and personal belief. When any "prophet/man/religious leader" places undo importance and stress on obedience, they are in direct violation of Christ's main message. And it's an affront to Christ's greatest gift, the atonement. Why? Because we can't be obedient. Being obedient thwarts development, leads to coercive practices by those who don't understand or have a place in their heart for Christ. Christ gave us teh atonement to help us aknowledge our weakness, to bring them to Him and by grace, it is OK, and we in turn give each other grace. This is Christianity in pure form. It's being kind, not being righteous. Why else is there an atonement?
Even if you could obey every commandment....stop right there, because no one can. So prioritizing righteousness in comparison to someone else, is a misunderstanding of the atonement and christianity. Because all the laws and prophets should point to those 2 commandments. They are subjugated by the first two. TOday we still have religions pounding out obedience and interpretation of law. It's not what we are supposed to be doing with our time. And it's destructive to relationships.
It occurs to me one of 2 things: Christ/God are maybe truly not very all-powerful, because they sure mucked it up if "this" is the best they could do. I mean, think about it. Billions of people on the planet earth, almost all of them certain they have the one true religion. Even if Satan was able to do that, what does it say about the message so easily destroyed and bastardized? Or, maybe God/Christ knew exactly what they were doing, that it would be a bloody, fractured, mess down here with everyone having bits of truth, inspiration. He gave us a mind to use and rely on him and then we are to figure out how to deal with each other on a family, community, national and intermnational levels. Christ already told us to throw out the reliance on commandments. Let's slow down, think, stop reacting and defending our personal turf and favorite hobby horse commandments (because we are great at ignoring our own little inconsequential ones, we all do this). We, humanity, are here to learn to love God and each other. If we can't do that, even if we could keep every single other commandment, it really doens't matter.
If you love God, then you will keep all Jesus's commandments; if you don't love God, you won't (John 14).
The entire point of being here is to see if we will do the things we have been asked to do (Abr. 3).
After all, the commandments are simply explicit instructions on HOW to love God and one's fellow man.
Nothing short of keeping them - all of them - therefore, is love.
well, that's where you and I are at odds. In my view that misses the entire point of Christ's message.
I have no problem with people who "want" or choose to "try" to live by every commandment. To me it's a misaprehension of Christ's intent, becasue he actually told the jews/prenatial Christians of his time that they needed to stop doing that! He told them that 2,000 years ago, but he also knew man's nature is to crave power and authority over each other. Men want to justify and compare and set themselves apart. Christ said to stop doing that. Then and now, assuming he is unchanging teh message should be the same. Too often we have religion of "paint by number" where everyone is is expected to behave, believe and act exactly the same.
I know some people like to submit to a system. It's comfortbale and safe. It is if you don't get lost in the pitfall, which means using obedience as a measuring stick of righteousness. It's easy to fall into that if you believe you have to try and be perfect and fear teh consequences of being imperfect. Which fear is caused by a lack of faith in Christ. It's fear and fear does not come from God. Some walk that rigid, severe balance very well. Most don't. But all can love God and Christ and be kind and respectful to different ideas and behaviors. When obedience is used to make people miserable, that's not of Christ. To me some of the best examples of selfless love have been shown to me by atheists who have nothing in it for them, no reward of exaltation or Godhood for doing service, they just do it because it's kind and right. Not because they were assigned or commanded. I think when Christ says to love he means repsect each other. Respect that different life experiences and influences and cultures shape us and how we interpret and judge and respond to everything. I respect your right to live a life aligned with your values and understanding. Is there room for everyone in Christianity to do that? How about in Mormonism? Christ said resoundingly yes! Depsite your failures, mistakes, wherever you are in personal development: all are welcome. Men are what muck up that message every time. And it hinders the message. If people actually felt love and respect from those delivering Christ's it would be recieved much differently.
I'm not sure what you think Christ's message is.
Log: Deuteronomy 21: 18-23
we can start there. And it is a start not an end...
In respones to this: "Nothing short of keeping them - all of them - therefore, is love".
And I have never read anything that corroborates that line of thinking. Could you place a source. I can look stuff up, no need to cut and past chapters of quotes.
If you are sincere, then please give an example of a commandment of Jesus that cannot be kept. Explain what, exactly, stops you from keeping it, and we can go from there.
If you are not sincere, then please list all the commandments, starting from Deuteronomy, that you deem impossible. Explain what, exactly, stops you from keeping them, and we can go from there.
I explained your last question here.
If I left something out, please let me know and we can go from there.
Two more connectors.
3 Nephi 15
z 1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day.
2 And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
3 And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.
5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.
6 Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.
7 And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come.
8 For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me.
9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.
10 Behold, I have given unto you the commandments; therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me.
Therefore, the Law of Moses is a red herring, and...
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
If therefore it is impossible to keep all the commandments of God, then it is impossible to fulfill the law - which is the commandments - therefore it is impossible to love one's neighbor.
Thus, the claim that it is impossible to keep all the commandments denies both of the so-called "Two Great Commandments."
"Behold, I have given unto you the commandments, therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me."
When it comes to the Orthodox churches, our differences are not heavily theological. It's more a combination of cultural and political. The Greeks have always been suspicious of the Romans. But when the Muslims began waging wars across the Eastern Christian lands of Jerusalem, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, etc. the Roman Pope called for the Crusades to repel Islamic jihad. Few people today know that these were formerly Christian lands, not Muslim because modern Western propaganda has always been anti-Catholic (thank you, Protestants). Now that the West has forgotten its Christian roots and become atheist/ pagan, it is from the East that we see some hope for deliverance. Secular thinking is no match for Islamic jihad. That is why the US-NATO cannot defeat Islam. On the other hand, Orthodox Russia just bombed the hell out of Islamic terrorists, helping the Syrians liberate Palmyra, a strategic city in Syria since ancient times. Russia and Syria accomplished in 6 months what the US-NATO could not do in 5 years. Did the US, UK, France, and other Western nations, the bastion of Protestants and atheists, congratulate Russia and Syria for their heroic efforts? Not a pip or squeak. Instead of gratitude, these "white anglo saxon Protestant atheist pagans" (waspag) continue to demonize Russia.
Anyway, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church met this year in Cuba to address the genocide conducted by Islam against the ancient Christian churches in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, etc. Hopefully, this will pave the way for that long awaited reunion of the two great Churches. I wish I will still be alive to see the day...
I feel Adam was likely 100% committed to the commandments. But with his brain, and with the help of his smart wife, Eve, he finally realized that obedience is not what God is after. He knows that God wants us to figure crap out, taking risks in context, after doing your best to make a decision and then weigh what the repercussions to that decision are and if its worth it? That's the point of teaching in parables. And that's why he didn't give many commandments during his brief life on earth. The other method he used to teach was by example. Christ broke laws right and left...in order to do good and to please his father. That's the beauty of the "Good Samaritan" The Samaritan was praised for NOT keeping the law. How do you interpret 3rd Nephi in the entire context of Christ's life and teachings. All of them.
Few last thoughts, what is the atonement for? What is grace? Why are they needed if we have the commandments and we can absolutely keep them all? Did Christ make a mistake in Matthew 22 when he subjugated all the laws and prophets under the requirement to love each other? Or is the Bible in error?
I'm making peace with my God. I would hope all of us are so doing.
RIco, I love your additions. nice work.
As I said, I've answered you, Gregory. Jesus made no mistake; those who appeal to the so-called "Two Great Commandments" are seeking to excuse themselves from the specific, actionable instructions Jesus gave, which detail what exactly it means to "love thy neighbor as thyself."
I'm thinking this is because the excuser is both married to mammon, and hasn't really got any love for his fellow man, yet wishes to be seen as a "good" person, whatever that means.
That's how religions are born, after all. Visible, institutional, hierarchical Churches.
If God gave you just ONE commandment to obey, and just only one, would you obey it?
Seriously, would you?
We go through our lives, idea by idea, deed by deed, habit by habit and we reject the evil. Which is to say, we repent of the evil things we have done and the evil things that we are, and replace them with good, line upon line, precept upon precept, idea upon idea, feeling upon feeling, habit upon habit becoming more and more like Christ, culminating finally in the full character of the Savior.
And so Moroni 10:32 says: “Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in Him, deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if you deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is His grace sufficient for you. That by His grace, ye may be perfect in Christ. And if by the grace of God you are perfect in Christ, you can in nowise deny the power of God.”
So the goal is to become as the Savior, which means to become absolutely pure in heart, to be entirely enlightened in our minds, which is to have a fullness of truth even as He does, and eventually to gain all power in heaven and earth, which is to be almighty, even as He is.
This is a specific sequence: heart, mind, strength, and might and that’s the order in which we must be saved. We don’t begin with might, though that is where a lot of people would like to begin. They want to be almighty to start with and believe that the rest of the things will work out. Of course, that would make monsters out of us. So, Father starts at the other end and has prescribed that the first thing, the most fundamental thing we must do is become pure in heart. Our heart is our desires, and when our desires are pure, then we can be trusted with anything and everything.
But how does one become pure in heart? That kind of a heart is a gift from God. He will give it to all who seek it according to his instructions. What we must first have is an honest heart, a heart that admits that it is not pure. An honest heart will acknowledge the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and will come down in the depths of humility when it encounters Christ and His Holy Spirit.
The honest heart will enter in at the Gate and follow the straight and narrow path to the end, as Jesus did. After the honest heart has done all that it can do, our Savior does the rest and gives the person a new heart. Then they can no longer look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Their being has been changed, they are new creatures in Christ, heirs of all that he has and is. They will be exalted eventually. And meanwhile, they will learn enough, and be able to do enough, to live in Zion.
I agree with Log:
D&C 59:5 "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ shalt thou serve him.”
Why are we commanded to love God? -God is loved and worshipped because of his righteousness and the worshipper counts himself as nothing without God.
In the Royal Law, God showers spiritual and temporal blessings upon all those who love his name and diligently keep his commandments. To be saved is to learn to love as God loves.
In the Royal Law one loves ones neighbor as Christ loves him. He goes to the Father and seeks direction, first on how to love himself and secondly to know how, when and where he should share what the Father has given him to help to relieve his neighbor’s misery and is willing to share and give all that he has.
Love of the Lord must precede love of neighbor because no man of his own wisdom knows how to do what is best for his himself, let alone his neighbor. When a person loves the Lord as the fountain of all righteousness, that fountain flows unto him as living water.
The purpose of the Royal Law is identical to the work and glory of God, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Men on earth become participators with God in his grand designs, as they love their neighbors in a world full of misery.
CAN THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND?
This discussion about commandments is getting silly by the hour because truth is mixed with false opinions. Nothing can be more false than this statement:
"Therefore, the Law of Moses is a red herring..."
(Log's comment on April 11, 2016 at 7:24 PM)
This is what one gets by continuously swallowing false doctrines. What goes in eventually comes out. What did the Apostle Paul teach about the function of the Law of Moses?
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator... the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:19,24)
From a true apostle like Paul, the Law of Moses is (1) ordained by angels and a (2) a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. But from a self-appointed false teacher who follows the teachings of self-appointed prophets, the Law is a "red herring", something that really smells awful, and useful for misleading followers astray. That is the difference between apostolic teaching and the teaching of those who pervert the gospel message.
How is it possible, we should ask ourselves, that the Law given by God himself, ordained by angels, whose function is to tutor us to Christ, be characterized so badly? Where does these evil come from?
"For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life" (Proverbs 6:23)
"The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes." (Psalms 19:18)
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalms 119:105)
"The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." (Psalms 119:130)
Since the time of Moses until the era of Paul, those who truly love God do not disparage his law and commandments. Jesus himself did not tell his followers that the Law is so awful. But those who do not love God, always see something wrong with his words. Instead of God correcting them, they correct God. Instead of being subject to God's words, they want God to be subject to their silly opinions.
The world has never had a shortage of rebellious lunatics. And those who agree with them, deserve them.
Rico, Per your response to me April 11 at 7:20:
Of course the church is not invisible. It was indeed an observable religious society made up of live human beings. The difference is it was not organized in the way you maintain it was, and upon which your argument relies: that the Church was intended to have a hierarchical structure with certain persons in charge to interpret the doctrines and supervise the ordinances.
The Church of Christ is best described by Christ Himself in D&C 10:67. What it has become, and what you rightly denounce, is described in the verse immediately following. Those who advocate for and participate in THAT artificiality are denounced as "not of me, and not of my church."
The church of Christ, as it existed in the Kirtland/Missouri/Nauvoo period, was an egalitarian religious society, as far removed from its roots today as the Catholic church is removed from the simple gathering together of believers in Christ.
You cite Mormon rituals as further evidence that the church requires a hierarchical structure in order for those rituals to obtain. But can rituals not be performed without a top-down organization to supervise and approve them? The Lord instructs us in 3rd Nephi as to how the sacrament is to be administered, yet I see no call in those instructions for administrators to be present. No different for baptism. The fact that the hierarchy has insisted they are the only ones authorized to control what goes on in Christ's church does not make that structure the authorized manner.
You are mistaken when you say that Joseph Smith claimed the church would roll forth until it filled all the earth; but that mistake is one plenty of modern latter-day Saints themselves continue to make. What Joseph wrote was that it was TRUTH that would roll forth. He said nothing about the earth filling up with members of a particular religious denomination. If any "Church" fits the description you infer, it's your own Catholic Church, which did indeed roll forth and dominate much of the earth. But the medieval Catholic Church was known for leaving death and destruction in its wake rather than truth.
So I'm with you when you rail against the LDS Church as presently constituted. But where you and I differ is your assertion that Joseph Smith organized the church that way, or that he is in any way responsible for creating the runaway corporate behemoth we have today.
How do we know when our hearts are pure?
The mark of one who is pure in heart is that they are easy to be entreated and to be persuaded by our Savior or his servants. And they are without guile. Their conscience is strong, their ear is attuned to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Anything of Christ which they encounter is beautiful to them. Thus, every human being, is beautiful to them. As is every truth, every piece of true wisdom, every noble life striving. They are entreated by the Holy Spirit to lay hold of every good thing in and through Christ.
The question in this life is not, “Are you forgiven of your sins?” because everybody in every kingdom of glory will be forgiven of sins. The question is, “How much can you be trusted?” Your heart needs to be full of love for the Father and the Son and for all other beings, so much so that you can be trusted to do the right thing in any circumstance in which you’ll be found. That is the goal. What kind of assignments could you receive and carry through in the way that the Savior would? That is the true measure of our being. And so as we focus on obtaining the character of Christ, that is the straight and narrow way. To step by step replace the evil in ourselves with good, until we have come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The thing that is absolutely necessary in this life is to gain the pure heart. The scriptural name for the pure heart is charity. And if we have charity, then we are possessors of all things. If we don’t have charity, we are still nothing. The scriptures are very plain about that. Until we get the gift of charity, we simply can’t be trusted.
The purpose of all those things is that in the process, we might build for ourselves a new character, a new personality, a new person, a new being in the image of Christ.
The true church of Christ is, in fact, invisible in the sense that it cannot be known by the sight of one's eyes, nor the hearing of one's ears. The true church of Christ is, as you note, comprised of those who repent and come unto Christ, and none else; those who claim otherwise are not members of the true church of Christ, and by that key imposters and hypocrites may be discerned. Yet if they don't fall afoul of that key, who, by observation, can know whether any particular individual has repented and come unto Christ?
33 And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church--not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God--
34 And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
There are obstacles to the pure heart.
We might think of our adversary Satan when spiritual obstacles are mentioned, but Satan is not our main enemy. Oh he is an enemy, that’s true. He’s certainly not interested in our turning to good at all, but he’s not our real problem. The real problem is simply our self. If we can overcome ourselves, Satan offers no further barrier to us. The real problem is just our own heart. The evil desires within our own heart are the enemy we each have to conquer. Thus, it doesn’t matter what circumstances we’re born into, the human problem is all the same. The problem is, can you work out a new heart, Can you become so pure that you have no ill will toward any human being, in other words, will you love your neighbor as yourself?
But there are some things that get in our way; pride, for instance. Pride sums up all the problems. Pride says, I will do it my way. Pride says, I don’t need to be told what to do. I don’t need help. I don’t need to make promises. Pride is self-sufficiency. Pride is saying, I’m good enough as I am. I will find my own way home.
Pride is enmity toward God and toward our fellowmen. The word enmity is interesting, it comes from the same Latin root as enemy. An enemy is one whom we don’t love. Enmity toward God is simply not loving him. If we love him, then we search him out, search out his commandments and keep the commandments. That’s how we show our love for God.
Pride is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.
Concerning the species of pride, I submit the 5 pernicious P's of Pride:
These species of pride are born of the Natural Man, who as King Benjamin rightly taught, “is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. –Mosiah 3:19
When we finally surrender our pride, and come forward with a broken heart and real intent, returning to Father, He will joyfully receive us still.
Weakness is nothing, for all are weak. It is a gift, given to break your heart. Your broken heart will qualify you for His company. He can heal it all. But what He cannot do, and you must alone bring to Him, is that honest broken heart, required for salvation.
Since you accept that Joseph Smith's church is also a visible society, then the question remains: where is that visible church now?
Log seems to understand the implications of having a visible church, and that's why he argues against it by cherry-picking verses from the Book of Mormon. He wants to dodge the inevitable question on where the church went after Joseph died in 1844. By making it invisible, he doesn't have to explain where it went. This invented doctrine of course is not new.
The Protestants have long ago argued the same thing for the Church in the first century. They allege that a so-called "great apostasy" drove many true Christians underground. These Christians, they claim, consist the "invisible Church". They are the ones who remained true to the original teachings of Jesus, while the "great and abominable church" is the one that remained visible. But there are serious problems with this fantastic theory.
It goes against many Biblical teachings about the Church. For example, Jesus taught that "a city set on a hill cannot be hid" and "no man lights a candle and puts in under a bushel" (Matthew 5:14-15). Also, "the seven golden candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches" (Revelations 1:20). Did he then contradict his own teaching by letting the Church become invisible? No way. He commanded his Church: "Let your light shine upon men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven". The commandment is explicit: the Church has to be seen by men. Now, if it were invisible, how could anyone see it, let alone want to belong to it? How would they discern that it came from Jesus and the Father, and not any mere human invention? It has to be continuously visible, not invisible.
Now there are many Bible verses that can be cited, but I just chose a couple because proving the "great apostasy" doctrine false is not the issue here. But those verses should be enough to show that when one denies an aspect of Christ's teachings, one will end up denying more of them. And it will continue progressively until everything is ultimately denied, including Jesus himself. Therefore to teach something false, one would need to eventually invent subsequent falsehoods to support the initial lie. Whereas when one teaches the truth, there is no need to invent anything. Every fact out there just naturally falls into place.
But back to the question: Where is the restored Church now? If the Church is to be defined ONLY on the basis of DC 10:67, then we run into a big problem similar to the "Protestant Dilemma". I will talk about that later but first, we need to remember what the Restoration through Joseph Smith was all about. Why did it come about?
It was an answer to the problem Joseph Smith encountered that led to his First Vision. The question was "which church should I join?" And the answer was "none of them" because God will bring a marvelous work through Joseph. His question arose because there were many conflicting sects that taught contradictory doctrines. That was the problem. Therefore, God will restore the true Church to address that problem. And God only restored one church, not many.
==== continued ====
In the process of restoring the only true church, the Book of Mormon was unearthed and revealed to men. That book explains why there were so many conflicting churches in Joseph's day. The underlying reason was that the Bible got corrupted when many of its "plain and precious parts" were removed by the "great and abominable church" (1 Nephi 13:23-29). The removal of these "plain and precious parts" caused many to be misled, to stumble, and eventually to fall into many errors.
The bringing about of the Book of Mormon should therefore resolve the issue of conflicting churches. As Joseph Smith would attest, it was the "most correct book on earth" meaning a man could "get closer to God" through it "than by any other book." In other words, the Book of Mormon will succeed where the Bible had failed.
However, in the aftermath of Joseph's unexpected death in 1844, his church divided into conflicting sects. None of these groups rejected the Book of Mormon as well as the other revelations that came after. Polygamy of course became an acute point of contentious dispute among them. And the Book of Mormon plus other revelations should have resolved that conflict, but we all know it hasn't. Thus, the Mormon movement now suffers the "Protestant Dilemma".
The Protestants, when they revolted against the Catholic Church, rejected both the Magisterium and Tradition of the Church. These two, in addition to the Scriptures, form the three pillars of the teaching authority of the Church. From Catholic doctrine, one cannot stand without the other two pillars. That is why the Protestants invented "sola scriptura," a doctrine never believed by the first Christians. This doctrine teaches that the "Bible alone" is sufficient to establish doctrine and the rule of faith.
"Sola scriptura" is the culprit behind the never-ending division and multiplication of Protestant sects that contradict each other. Any single Bible verse will always mean different things to different readers. This phenomenon is observable even in our legal courts. Two lawyers reading the same text of law will always end up with different interpretations of it. That is why a judge must settle the question with finality. Without a judge, anyone will interpret the the law to his advantage.
Since we now have several conflicting Mormon sects, who will judge the matter, and declare which is the true one? The Strangites will definitely reject your interpretation of DC 10:67. Who then will decide between you and them? It cannot be you, and it cannot be them either. Will any of you accept the decision of the Brighamites? Neither, because you both condemn them.
This is why the visible church restored by Joseph Smith has gone invisible. And it is not because Log is right about his cherry picked verses in the Book of Mormon.
Well-played, Rico. I'm afraid, though, that your logic just bounced off the wall of pre-conceived notions. I mean to say, what about the Moroni Promise, which, if read literally, says to pray to Heavenly Father to see if the Mormons are NOT right in what they claim. Hence, any receipt of a good feeling is actually the Spirit telling the recipient that they shouldn't proceed further, although the salesmen always say it means something different.
I don't know of any way of getting in touch with you other than the comment section of this blog. So forgive me for using Rock's forum to say that I am thoroughly enjoying your essays at Log's Cabin. They are thought provoking. Thanks for posting them.
Rock, thank you for the truths and insights contained in this blog, and to everyone who commented, thanks for sharing your heartfelt truths and insights as well. Through an NDE-like experience, I have come to realize that Jesus/God is everything (omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent). We are comparatively nothing, yet we are each a spark of the Divine, existing within the Divine (IN HIM we live & move & have our being), we each have the capacity to be enlarged and quickened by Him until we reach the fulness, to be of one mind and one heart with God, Jesus, and all of the heavenly host. We can be transformed into his image, and become our "true self". This can happen only if we humble ourselves or are forced to be humble, "hit bottom", and cry unto the Lord, call upon him until he gives us a new heart and begins to transform us into a new creature. Day by day, we must put off the natural man (ego-self, pride, self-love, self-righteousness, willfulness, negative/selfish thoughts, actions, feelings, etc.), listen to his voice moment by moment and put on the garments and armor and virtues that He will endow us with. As mortals, we are less than the dust of the earth. In this life we each invent a false self (ego-self, a "self-image"), to cover our nakedness and nothingness, trying to build ourself up so that we can say we are a good person, that we're right or righteous. We often feel we deserve credit or rewards for the "good" things we've done, not realizing what it says in Isaiah 64:6. We are all beggars before God, we are all in the same boat, the religious, respected businessman in a suit is no better (and no more valuable to God) than the homeless beggar that he walks past & ignores every day. Luke 18:9-14. Our false ego-self becomes a false idol (image) that we worship and serve and build up. The choice comes down to this: do we serve God/others/neighbors (our true Self, encompassing all), or do we put our self (false ego self-image) first, and seek to serve it and build it up (at the expense of others; putting others and their ideas down)? Jesus said there is none good but one, that is God. Of ourselves, no matter how hard we try to keep all the commandments, we mess up and fall short. Even if we fail in one small point just once in our life, we are just as guilty as the person who breaks all of the commandments. So I don't comprehend the idea that we can please God or earn our salvation by keeping all the commandments. I think all those rules and laws and commandments were only given to us so that, if we are honest with ourselves, we will be brought to humility and to realize our absolute need for a Savior, and we will cry out to him. He will cover us with his righteousness. We don't have any righteousness of ourselves. http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/James%202%3A10 (James 2:10).
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