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Sabbath as Peaceful Protest

In the last two verses of 1 Nephi 5, Nephi restates a case he has been making for several chapters, nephi-brass-plates

“And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.” 1 Nephi 5:21-22

We use these and other verses to drive home the importance of having and using scriptures in our daily lives. It’s an important lesson. Some people’s scriptures get used about as much as the soap dispenser in the boys bathroom at the little league ball field. This is a big mistake according to Nephi.

For just a minute, I want to you to go through a thought process and extend your vision out to about the 10,000 ft level and look down on Lehi and his family. God desired to start a righteous nation where he could reveal himself and allow millions of his children to enter into saving covenants and ordinances. This would have been impossible in Jerusalem. Besides scriptures, what other things would God need to equip his children with in order for them to become a righteous, covenant making nation?

Some things on  your list might include priesthood, the gift of the Holy Ghost, families, temple ordinances and prophets.

One thing that is not talked about much, but is applicable as much in our day as in any previous generation is an incubator and enough time to strengthen. That incubator normally included an actual, physical space where the nation would not be harassed for some length of time, and so Nephi was given a small plot of ground on the American continent. Even the Lamanites were there to aid in the incubation process.

“For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me [Lamanites] , I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also. And if it so be that they rebel against me, they [Lamanites] shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.” (1 Nephi 2:23-24)

This was certainly not an isolated incident. Abraham records,

“And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nahor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran. Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” (Abraham 2:2-3)

Abraham was given an incubation place and period where he could be given covenants and ordinances and where he could obtain rights to the priesthood and become  a prince of peace, a father of many nations and a holder of one of the most sacred covenants ever given that most of us here take part in.

Brigham Young and our more immediate ancestors needed the same thing. On the day Brigham Young entered the valley, he made what he called an inadvertent remark by saying, “if the people of the United States will let us alone for ten years, we will ask no odds of them.” In other words, “If we can be left alone for 10 years, there will be no stopping us.” It was ten years to the day that brothers Smoot, Stoddard and Rockwell found Brigham Young in Big Cottonwood Canyon and informed him that the government had stopped the mail and that 2500 troops were on their way, but it was too late. The 10 year incubation period had given the nation of the Latter-Day Saints enough strength through priesthood, scriptures, temple, family, ordinances, the Holy Ghost and unmolested space and time that the momentum continues well into our day.

Some other nations who required this were the Jaredites, Children of Israel, and more. The formula is perfect. Take one thing away, and you have the Mulekites, who, when they were found, did not know God and had dwindled in unbelief because they had no scriptures. Take away priesthood and you have pharaohs, even righteous ones. Take away family and you have the end of the Jaredites. All of the elements are important to create a righteous nation.

Today

We are commanded to create a righteous nation today. We are taught in the temple that our eternal destiny is to  become kings and priests, queens and priestesses. We have the ordinances, we have priesthood, families, scriptures, the Holy Ghost, but where is the unmolested space and time?

Identity Confusion

To understand this, we need to understand today’s assault. Satan’s number one way to get people to alienate themselves from God is to confuse their identity. Instead of being sons and daughters of God, they are persuaded to reduce themselves to other things, most often without knowing that the confusion is even taking place. For example, they are reduced to producer/consumers by capitalists, laborers by communists, students by schools, voters by politicians. Particularly insidious is the reduction of men, but mostly women, to objects by pornographers, and those who participate in the consumption of pornography to consumers who quickly transition into  becoming addicts thus becoming more valuable to devious dealers. Satan laughs when he is able to see us stripped away of divine identity in favor of addiction identity.  

This unmolested space and time for us is the Sabbath.

It is why we have the Sabbath.  One day in seven, we come together in an act of rebellion or peaceful protest. Our rebellion takes the form of refusing to have our identity reduced to something other than the divine by people and groups both pernicious and well-meaning. It is why we don’t buy and sell or at least shouldn’t. It is why we don’t engage in politics, or at least should not.  It is why we don’t participate in sporting events, or at least shouldn’t. Every Sunday, God does a remarkable thing. He reinstates the divinity in us through a covenantal process and reestablishes our identity as his sins and daughters. We are taught, or at least should be, that we are sons and daughters of God, and that we are bought with a price and that we belong to Him.

One of the ways that he helps us on the other six days of the week is to send us off with a blessing that we might “always remember him,” because tantamount to our knowing who we are is knowing who He is.

Surely the spot of the world mentioned in D&C 59:9 is identity confusion,

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;”

This changes everything. When we understand to whom we belong, all need for belonging elsewhere dissipates. Paul taught us, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23) Let that soak in for a minute. The Greek word for servant in this verse is the word doulos which is better translated as “slave.” Restated this way, the scripture reads, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the slaves of men.” The Sabbath day is also a rebellion against our identity as slaves of men.

One of the greatest treasures of the restoration is the doctrine taught in the holy hymn, “I am a child of God.” Mark Twain has said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” I would modify this to say, “The two most important days in your life are the day you opted for God’s plan to come to earth and the day you learn who you are and who He is.” Sin is impossible with your divine identity intact. If time would allow, we could continue this discussion and show the clear implication that once you know yours and God’s identity, it follows that others have the same identity and therefore, your treatment of others around you would be treatement of divine beings. Could you ever possibly be mean again?

I should mention that there are three other space and time incubators where our identity is reestablished, one is the temple, another is mountains, and the other, should be, our homes. The temple is all about our and God’s eternal identity. In it, we learn of the involvement of Father, Son and Holy Ghost with us. We learn of our divine nature and destiny. We make covenants that ensure our eternal standing if we are faithful. It is remarkable what happens to people who regularly attend. Their life perspective changes.

Mountains are another. It is noteworthy that in 1 Nephi alone, Nephi is taken to a “high mountain” three times where he is given critical instruction, including a three chapter revelation. This type of revelation cannot happen in a connected world where the connection is to anything but Father, Son and Holy Ghost or their authorized servants, living or dead. It is why we have  girls camp and Zion’s camp in the mountains.  

Let me suggest that we change and improve our Sabbath worship. This is a call to become a rebel, to rage against the machine, to peacefully protest the taint and tyranny of the spot of the world which, today, is identity confusion. Specifically. You could arrive early to Sacrament meeting, maybe even beat Sister Tweed. If you understood the miracle that was about to happen, you would prepare the night before, get to Sacrament meeting early and prepare your mind and heart for the miracle of our communion and reestablishment of the connection with He who has purchased our salvation. I know how difficult this is for some of you. I watch as many of you struggle with small children whose spirits seem to be so much bigger than their bodies that they are always overflowing in ways that seem boisterous and disruptive to us, but there are things that we can all do to regain our divine identity and peacefully protest no matter the circumstance.

Please try this: If a particular Sunday brings you closer to learning who you are and who He is, it is certainly Sunday appropriate. If the activity is identity confusing, like buying and selling, sports, political discussions, etc, then we are better off saving it for Monday.

May the Lord bless us to follow the words of God’s living oracles and reinstate His holy day in our lives.

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Four S’s of Temple Worship

 

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Neil L. Anderson

In a talk he gave at BYU titled A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous, Elder Neil L Anderson said, “As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”

“To understand better, think of these comparisons: If the world were growing more physically dark, He could give us enhanced night vision. If loud noises were constantly in our ears, He could give us a filtering mechanism to block the unwanted sound. If the race we were running was extended, He could give us increased lung and muscle capacity. If the exam we were taking was more difficult, He could quicken our minds.”

With these comforting and prophetic words in mind, I will focus on one of the great mechanisms of compensation, the temple.

Temple

A previous job took me and my family to Costa Rica to work on a very large construction project for a semiconductor manufacturer. I was the first employee on site and was part of the site selection team. Four of us would travel to potential sites across the world to gather information and to negotiate in advance as many favorable conditions as possible. One of the conditions that was offered in most international locations is known as a free trade zone. Free trade zones basically allow for a company, like the one I worked for, to build a factory, import materials and export finished goods without paying any duties or tariffs. From a taxation standpoint, it is as though we took a square mile chunk of the United States and plunked it down in Costa Rica.

Brothers and sisters, the temple is the free trade zone of heaven. It is the one place on earth where heavenly activities are authorized, where we learn of heavenly things and where we are given endowments of power, protection, knowledge and spirit. All of this is facilitated and sanctioned by the Holy Ghost.

It is true that the materials used to build the temple are not heavenly but terrestrial, and the people who operate the temples are less than celestial beings. We come together under God’s direction and with flawed people and materials we build a structure as well as we can with what we have.

Then once we have done our best with what we have to work with, we dedicate the temple and through the dedication, it becomes sanctified as recorded in Section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

13 And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it,and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness.

There is a strong and beautiful parallel between what we do to the temple when we dedicate it and what the temple does with us. In it, God can take us,  terrestrial, flawed beings, and dedicate and sanctify us. I will speak more on this later.

Of the many benefits of going for the first time then regularly attending the temple, I will speak of only four, Sealing, Serenity, Standing  and Sanctification.

Sealing

Sealing power is an astonishing thing. It is always a role taken on by the Holy Ghost.

Bruce R. McConkie

Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done.

The Holy Spirit’s sealing role extends far beyond the walls of the temple and even beyond ordinances. For example, when we selflessly serve together or fervently pray or keep the Sabbath Day holy, the Holy Ghost recognizes, ratifies and sanctions the activity which in turn qualifies us for blessings in the same way the pronouncement of a sealed marital union qualifies us for blessings of eternal life. Some activities and blessings like service, Sabbath worship and prayer do not occur as an ordinance, but they are “sealed” in a similar manner, by the Holy Ghost.

Other ordinances, like baptism, require a called and recognized priesthood holder. Still others, like the glorious and special ceremonies that bind families together through generations, require a sealer to officiate. This sealer is given powers that were also given anciently to Peter, Nephi, the brother of Lehi and others, the keys of which are currently held by President Monson.

Brothers and sisters, think for a minute of what a radical notion it is to bind marriages and families together, changing the grammar and finality of our loving associations through death from an emphatic exclamation point into a mere comma.

On my mission in Chile, we were introduced to a young couple through member friends. The couple was catholic and really did not have much interest in pursuing any conversation with us but treasured their friendship with ward members. They were a wonderful little family unit, father, mother and two-year old daughter. A few days after our meeting, the child contracted a fatal disease and passed away two days later. The mother and father were understandably distraught. As far as they knew, this was the end of their association with their beautiful little daughter. They had neglected to get her baptized which added guilt to their wrenching pain because of what they had been taught by their church. I remember at the grave-side service watching the mother throw herself into the hole in the ground when the tiny casket was lowered down. Leaving her child behind was unbearable.

Now think for a minute what happened when we met with them later. We were two unmarried, childless, 19 year old boys, still wet behind the ears, as they say, who could not offer much in relevant life experience, but we carried with us the message of Heavenly Father’s plan for their family and the Holy Spirit. You know the result. If the power to eternally seal families together were the only thing done in temples, it would be worth every expense and difficulty to obtain that blessing.

In another experience, I was serving as a ward mission leader when I was asked by the missionaries to accompany them to a discussion with a beautiful family that consisted of a father, mother and three children. The missionaries were having difficulty conveying the message of the restoration and then the plan of salvation, which was the reason, I came to find out, that they had invited me to join them. During a very difficult moment, I asked the missionaries if I could take over. They gladly said yes. This is how the conversation went:

I asked, “Anna, is this new to you?”

“Yes, it is. could we go over it again.”

“Sure,” I said.

I then went through a brief discussion of the pre-mortal world, having divine parentage and our eternal destiny and related the whole thing to families from start to finish. I then said,

“You want to be with this beautiful family forever, don’t you?”

Anna said, “more than anything.”

“Let me tell you how this is going to happen. The central focal point of this capability and power happens in a temple. In it, authorized servants who have the same power that was given to Peter to seal in heaven that which is sealed on earth are able to pronounce blessings that seal families together. One year from now, you will be eligible to take your family to the temple to seal your family together forever. You will all dress in white and you will all kneel around a sacred altar and join hands. The person with the sealing power will then bind you together according to your faithfulness. Do you want that?”

I looked over at the missionaries who were struck with horror that I would deviate from the lesson plan, which I really didn’t. They were relieved when Anna and Josh both responded,

Anna said, “Of course I do!” Josh agreed, “yes we do.”

I said, “in order for you to do this a year from now, you will need to get baptized today so we are probably looking at a year and three weeks from now due to some baptismal requirements. I think you can be ready in about that time. Elders, is that right?”

The missionaries were astonished. The discussion went from being in trouble to a baptismal commitment in a few minutes. We who are members of the church and have been members our whole lives and have lived with the idea of sealed families often lose the wonder, astonishment and gratitude that we should have when we consider the magnitude of the sealing power and its importance in our lives. For Anna and Josh, the sweet taste of the doctrine of eternal families changed everything. The Holy Spirit witnessed to them the truth of the plan; they were ready and their focus and goal was appropriately on the temple even before their baptism.

Serenity

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Thomas S. Monson

President Monson said, “As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.

As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ [John 14:27].

“My brothers and sisters,” continued President Monson, “in our lives we will have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace.”

Elder Anderson said,

“The temple is an added gift from heaven to us. We need to embrace it with renewed dedication. Our children will need the temple even more in the years ahead. Teach them to love the temple. Help them to be ready to receive their endowment and, eventually, their sealing. Teach them how to prepare for these sacred ordinances, and help them see how these ordinances will be a constant gift to them throughout their lives. As they do, they will not only go through the temple, but, as Brother Truman G. Madsen used to say, they will allow the temple to go through them.”

Standing

One verse of the Kirtland temple dedication reads,

109:24 We ask thee, Holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship, and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations and for eternity;

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David A. Bednar

What does the word “standing” in that verse mean? Elder Bednar explains

“Shortly after I was called to serve as a stake president in 1987, I talked with a good friend who recently had been released as a stake president. During our conversation I asked him what he would teach me about becoming an effective stake president. His answer to my question had a profound impact upon my subsequent service and ministry.

My friend indicated he had been called to serve as a temple worker soon after his release. He then said: “I wish I had been a temple worker before I was a stake president. If I had served in the temple before my call to serve as a stake president, I would have been a very different stake president.”

Elder Bednar goes on, “I was intrigued by his answer and asked him to explain further. He responded: “I believe I was a good stake president. The programs in our stake ran well, and our statistics were above average. But serving in the temple has expanded my vision. If I were called today to serve as a stake president, my primary focus would be on worthiness to receive and honor temple covenants. I would strive to make temple preparation the center of all that we did. I would do a better job of shepherding the Saints to the house of the Lord.”

“That brief conversation with my friend helped me as a stake president to teach relentlessly about and testify of the eternal importance of temple ordinances, temple covenants, and temple worship. The deepest desire of our presidency was for every member of the stake to receive the blessings of the temple, to be worthy of and to use frequently a temple recommend.”

Later in his talk, Elder Bednar quotes a scripture in Alma.

“Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted” (Alma 26:5).”

We don’t use the word “garners” much today, and it is only used a few times in scripture. Elder Bednar explains,

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Neal A. Maxwell

“The sheaves in this analogy represent newly baptized members of the Church. The garners are the holy temples. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained: “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple. The great garner into which the sheaves should be gathered is the holy temple.”  This instruction clarifies and emphasizes the importance of sacred temple ordinances and covenants—that the sheaves may not be wasted.”

And now the promise to those who are gathered in.

“Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them” (Alma 26:6).

Do you believe that we are in a storm? Do you see it all around us? Temple worship promises us that we will “not be beaten down,” and “not harrowed up by the whirlwinds,” “the storm cannot penetrate to” us, we will not be “driven with fierce winds.” Do we believe that?

The meaning of Standing is to secure a place in the temple to be able to withstand what will come our way as the world gets progressively darker. Amazing promises for sure!

Sanctification

I said that I would return to the idea that God has the capability to take of us, telestial material and certainly less than a celestial will and spirit and make something holy of us. This process is sanctification. We are promised as part of our temple covenants that sanctification comes through anointings and in many other ways. Truman Madsen has said, “You cannot receive the fulness that the Lord has for you without coming through the temple and having the temple come through you.”

The first part of that happens when you go through the temple for the first time. The second part of that happens as you regularly return to the temple in a way described by Elder Bednar, “There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple.”

Brothers and sisters, as we worship in the temple our characters are transformed. Sharp edges are knocked off, points are rounded and the bristles in our nature become silky. We will have greater capacity to receive spiritual guidance. I am so confident and convinced of this that I need to tell you of one final experience.

Three years ago, our family was faced with a big decision to move or not to move. We loved Washington but had to consider an employment opportunity that would put us in Utah. I asked my bishop for a blessing to give me clarity as we went about making the decision. Surprisingly, his blessing said little about the decision and said a lot about another issue which I was dealing with that he knew nothing about. It was a tender mercy. Our next step was to go to the temple to seek heavenly direction. One Saturday morning, we announced to our children who were heavily invested in the decision, that we would be going to the temple and that we would have an answer when we got out. We made the decision to move to Utah and took that with us.

When we got to the two-tiered celestial room in the Portland temple, we found a secluded place in the mezzanine level and fervently prayed for confirmation. Nothing came to either of us. We reversed the decision and went through another temple session. Just over two hours later, we found the same spot in the celestial room and fervently prayed to get confirmation. Nothing came. I admit that I was frustrated. I had told the children that we would have an answer. I believed that I would receive one. The veil was supposed to be thin in that room. It was not until later, after I had studied and pondered two talks by Elder Scott, that I was given to know that I had received an answer. The answer was this,

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Richard G. Scott

“When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.

When He answers no, it is to prevent error.

When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.

Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far. We sense that help by recognizing troubled or uneasy feelings.”

I had received everything I needed from the temple to make a decision. I had been given “every needful thing.” The temple gave me the spiritual sensitivities that I needed to weigh options then to recognize the packets of help along the way. I had received the sanctification necessary to go forward.

And now a final word for those who struggle with sin, which is really all of us. Sanctification, which means to make holy, has a great cleansing and renewing capacity. It is being born again. Consider the struggle with a pornography addiction. Someone indulging in pornography stands in dire need of being made holy, of being cleansed and being born again. Where there is a struggle with addictive or any behavior that requires the help of a bishop, the focus and goal of the bishop and the member needs to be the eventual return to the temple as part of the repentance process. The temple is not a destination for the already perfected. It is a school, a spiritual clinic, it is where the children of God can seek the the loving embrace of heavenly parents and be renewed.

The temple is a supernal yet under appreciated gift from God. I am grateful to live so close and pray that I will give the temple proper appreciation and attention.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in High Council Talks

 

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I Know In Whom I Have Trusted

I have prayed for and continue to pray in my heart for the direction of the Holy Spirit both in my preparation and now delivery of my message. May he guide both what I say and what you hear.

Nephi shockingI want you to picture in your mind the painting of Nephi shocking his brothers. You have all seen it. Nephi looks something like this… Nephi never tells us that the had Mitt Romney hair, a square jaw, a cleft chin and bulging muscles, all he said is that he was large in stature, which could mean portly for all we know.

I have never liked that picture. Mostly because it portrays Nephi physically the way he has also been built up spiritually. I could never identify with him. I could see his brothers rolling their eyes as they heard Nephi say, “And I Nephi said unto my father, I will go and do the things…”

As a teenager, I could relate to Laman and Lemuel. Consider, for a minute, their viewpoint.

Our family is rich. We have many friends and parties. Jerusalem is fun and comfortable. Then dad has a dream. That’s all, just a dream. Flash forward a few short years and we have no money, we live in a tent. Our wives and families suffer from hunger, pain and misery and our self-righteous brother intends to rule over us.

Brothers and sisters, I can sympathize.

There are several directions we could take at this point. We could talk about 1Nephi 15 and talk about one’s desire to know the mysteries of God and that making a big difference, but what I would rather focus on is what I call the redemption of Nephi, at least in my own mind.

It was not until I finally and deeply studied 2Nephi that my appreciation and emulation of Nephi grew. Let me read a bit from what Nephi said at the time of his greatest soul turmoil. Prior to writing this, Nephi had lost his father (2Nephi 4:12), had escaped multiple assassination attempts and had seen the tragic destruction of his own people (1Nephi 15:5). He was at perhaps the lowest point in his life. Yes, even lower than his experience being tied up in a boat while crossing what had to have been a brutal and seemingly endless oceanic voyage (1Nephi 18).

Here is the first of his remarkable revelations to me. (2Nephi 4)

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;

That is remarkable. In my youth and long into my young adulthood, I thought Nephi was completely unrelatable. I thought he never did a thing wrong. I wrongly thought that he always obeyed. Let me read again a part of that scripture.

19 Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh (I can relate); my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.( yup, me too)
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. (again, I can relate)
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;(very descriptive of me). Nephi was like me afterall.

Nephi was plagued by sins and temptations and specifically, sins of the flesh.

Then, he says something remarkable. in the very same sentence where he describes “sin groaning,” he says, “nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.”

It is precisely this that made all the difference. Nephi then describes the things that led to his being able to trust Jesus. He says,

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. 21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. 22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me. 23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. 24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

He concludes his trust thoughts by saying,  34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh;

Brothers and sisters, do you trust Jesus? Trusting Jesus is simple, yet multifaceted. We could break down the trust question into four subordinate questions.

  1. Do you believe that Jesus is powerful enough to deliver you in every necessary way?
  2. Do you believe that Jesus loves you, individually enough to want to deliver you?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus will keep all of his promises?
  4. Do you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is authorized by Jesus to stand in his place and help in deliverance?

Now, let me ask some searching questions that I have answered for myself and that I want you to answer to yourself now.

  1. Do you believe that Jesus or his authorized representative will be too disappointed in your behavior to help?
  2. Do you believe that you will not be delivered because you have not earned deliverance?
  3. Do you believe that your trials are so unique that either Jesus or his authorized representative may not understand?
  4. Are you hesitating to confess and forsake a sin?
  5. Do you believe that your temptations are over-powering?
  6. Are you holding back the payment of tithes and offerings?
  7. Do you believe that all justice needs to be executed in this life?
  8. Are you going to the temple less than monthly if at all?
  9. Are you going days or weeks or months without reading the Book of Mormon?

If you answered yes to any one of these, which I have from time to time, you need to raise your trust level. There are three ways to overcome the trust gap.

Mighty Prayer

As Nephi mentioned, mighty prayer is essential. Often our prayers become mimicking and perfunctory. For example, one day for family prayer, one of my sons said a prayer that went something like this: “Dear, kind, gracious Heavenly Father, we thank thee for our many blessings. Please bless the missionaries. Please bless the prophet. We ask thee to bless us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Hardly mighty prayer. When he was done, and with both love and firmness mixed with a little sarcasm, I said, “Son, I have an idea that will make those types of prayers more efficient. Why don’t we number your phrases. For example, you could reserve numbers 1-10 for prayer intros. So, for example, you could give your phrase, “Dear, kind, gracious Heavenly Father” number 1. And maybe “Father in Heaven” number 2. Then you could move on to numbering phrases like “Bless the missionaries.” Let’s make that number 15. You could say that “Bless the prophet” is number 25 and so on. That way, you could say, “1,15,23,25,40,amen” and save a lot of time.”

Mighty prayer contains few to no rote or mimicked phrases. Pouring out of one’s heart cannot be contained in trite statements that have long ago lost potency due to overuse.

The blessings of mighty prayer include peace, assurance, spiritual experience, revelation, sanctification, unity with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Holy Spirit Experiences

There is really no substitute for experiences with the Holy Spirit. We should plead to have these experiences which we are entitled to as we live the covenants we make and renew each week. We often speak of the function of the Holy Spirit being to testify of the Father and the Son. That is only one of the functions, and to me, it is not the most important function. There are two ways the spirit works that deserve particular mention due to lack of attention. One is sanction which enjoys, interestingly, the same root as sanctification. The Holy Spirit puts his stamp of approval on righteous activities. That is one of the ways we know the activity is righteous. In my experience, I can count on, without fail, the spirit being present when there is any pure repentance going on and when there is selfless service.

A few years ago there was a study done that attempted to find ways to get young single adults to marry more frequently. The group doing the study found that one stake was marrying off double the number as the other stakes at BYU. The group asked that stake president what he was doing to be so successful. They were astounded when he responded, “We have done away with all activities.” He then explained that activities had been replaced by service projects then the stake president explained, “When a young man and a young woman serve side by side, they become beautiful to each other. Courtship follows then marriage.” I believe this beautification is a function of the Holy Spirit.

The second way the spirit works is as an eternal, powerful bonding agent. It is fascinating, that when two people are involved in repentance together, even when one is hearing and the other is confessing, and when two or more people serve together, the spirit binds those people together. It is a similar function to the sealing power which is also a function of the Holy Spirit.

Scriptural Communion

I have purposefully not used the term “scripture study” because I want to convey the idea of allowing for dialogue between us and the scriptures. When we engage in scriptural communion, we are allowing for the possibility that we can ask questions and expect the scriptures to answer but also, we allow the scriptures to ask questions of us. Here is an example: We may study the story of the Good Samaritan and conclude that the Samaritan was really great and that the priest and levite were bad. If we commune, the spirit can ask of us which one we are. Then it may further ask, “what about the private war you are waging against Sister Jones because of her snotty daughter?” It is then that we are in communion with scripture and it can change us.

If you need to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ so that you can trust him, there is really no substitute for the Book of Mormon. Communion with that book will draw you closer to God than any other book.

We have been given a workable experiment recently with the inspired emphasis on Sabbath Day observance. One way to regain or gain trust in Jesus would be to test him on this. He has promised us specific blessings for our pure observance of this day. May I suggest that we put him to the test. See what happens as you strive to change your Sabbath Day worship. When you see the fruits of your observance, trust in other things will grow.

May I close with the suggestion that if we do not trust Jesus, it is because we do not know Jesus. Our coming to know him through mighty prayer, Holy Spirit experiences and scriptural communion will make all the difference and we will be able to say, like nephi, “nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Incomparable Book of Mormon

After complete spiritual immersion for several days, Mormon and Moroni said little as they knelt across from each other in prayer to ask the living God for guidance in record compilation. Physically weak from fasting and spiritual effort, the Holy Spirit had made them of one mind and heart. I can imagine a secluded spot at the mouth of a cave where the records were kept. They had each experienced several heavenly visitations and had reached a point where revelation streamed unimpeded. The Holy Spirit, the mind of God, the binding force of oneness and eternity was with them and guided every action including this prayer that would change us forever. The same spirit buoyed them up and removed from them the concerns of the world that could have so easily distracted them from us.

Who would not be distracted? They were forced to witness the implosion of their entire civilization. They knew the tragedy could have been avoided if the people had only turned to the Savior who had extended his arm to them day and night until the end. I suspect that left out of the record were several passages that could have been titled, “Mormon’s Lamentations.” Having known first hand of heavenly goodness and power, the frustration of watching a turning away from the one source of all happiness had to be consuming.

In quiet seclusion, they knelt at the cave entrance and prayed in a way that had become as familiar to them as any other activity of their lives. Like Moses, Nephi, Abraham, Alma and others, they called upon the name of God in the same manner as many who had gone before. They had the records and knew the pattern by which and through whom the disclosure of holy things would come. They had grown accustomed to the intense spirit and light that accompanied each revelation, yet it never felt mundane. Each instance elicited wonder and euphoria which caused them to attempt what they would always view as insufficient effort in praising God for the Holy Spirit. On this particular day in front of the cave, the answer to their question about compilation came as a vision of the latter days. As part of a particularly intense description of the vision received, Moroni tells us,

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. (Mormon 8:35)

With the vision still fresh, and out of overwhelming love for us, they walked back into the cave to compile then to protect the precious message that would show us the way to Jesus whom they had seen and loved perfectly. There were many exclusions, and what was left was both sufficient and descriptive enough to be used as pattern for the holiness that would show us the way to seek the Lord Jesus and stand in his presence.

The perfect, efficient simplicity of the Book of Mormon could hardly have fallen into worse cultural hands than ours. Instead of taking it at face value, accepting its invitation to seek the one true God, and follow the patterns that will lead us to him, we write talks, books, commentary, curriculum and teach lessons all designed to ‘organize’ that which is already, wonderfully ordered, though not in the way we are used to ordering.

Our cultural tendency is to taxonomize information into bullet points and checklists. Though helpful in some cases, the box checking process tends to become its own end instead of the means that it should be. Consider temple marriage. Many parents are relieved and delighted when their children marry in the temple. There is a sense of let-off when this important box is checked, and for many, a temple marriage is the highest event that can possibly occur in this life.

The Book of Mormon does not directly mention temple marriage. The highest, culminating event for a Nephite or Lamanite would have been to commune with God in his presence, be ministered to by him and to receive his ministry. That is also the unheralded purpose of the temple. Besides being a preparation for an after-life event, it is a pattern for veil removal, here. We learn the way of seeking, asking and knocking that will allow us to enter into God’s presence. The temple is the means to the same end the Book of Mormon demonstrates..

And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen. (Ether 12:41)

 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. (Omni 1:26)

 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, 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. (Moroni 10:32)

Though peace, happiness, love, hope and other natural inevitabilities of seeking Christ occur, they are not the culminating event. As stated by Nephi,

And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words (2Nephi 11:2-3).

Though we have made strides as a church in properly prioritizing and internalizing the Book of Mormon, we are certainly not where we ought to be. The Lord’s rebuke found in Doctrine and Covenants 84, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon (D&C 84:57),” was still in force over a century later when Ezra Taft Benson repeated the charge against the saints. The charge is still in force today. The Book of Mormon was written for our day. Everything included in it was included because of the vision received by my Mormon and Moroni. They saw wayward Christianity, Islam, the internet, China, prosperity, anti mormons, war, ease of travel, corruption, poverty, medicine, pride, and mental illness, and compiled based on implications of these things to us.

They knew we would need to be shown the how and the why of personal revelation, so they gave us 1Nephi. They knew we would need humility so that we could understand our need for the Savior so they gave us King Benjamin’s discourse. They knew we would need to take the gospel into different and hostile lands, so they gave us the accounts of Ammon, Aaron and others. As Elder Christofferson points out,

The Book of Mormon contains the account of a man named Nehor. It is easy to understand why Mormon, in abridging a thousand years of Nephite records, thought it important to include something about this man and the enduring influence of his doctrine. Mormon was seeking to warn us, knowing that this philosophy would surface again in our day. (2011 October General Conference, The Divine Gift of Repentance, Sat. Afternoon Session – D. Todd Christofferson)

Mormon and Moroni saw our attraction to secular humanism and moral relativism and gave us the accounts of Nehor and Korihor. They saw our perfunctory temple worship and gave us the account of the Brother of Jared to show us how to part the veil and what to expect on the other side. They knew that all happiness in this life flows from Jesus Christ and so gave us Moroni 7. What should be chilling to all of us is the fact that they saw vast corruption and secret combinations. Their prescribed remedy is complete elimination of all “robbers” which, like the Nephites of old, we cannot stomach.

We appropriately speak of the miraculous coming forth of the Book of Mormon, yet we seem to ignore it’s at least as miraculous compilation. It is far superior to the Scout Handbook as a guide to the six critical years for young men between ages 12 and 18. It is the ultimate missionary guide. It is superior to It is superior to every other gospel offering with the exception of direct revelation. Substituting anything else in any venture is a move toward inferior communion. Elder Holland says as much in the preface to Christ and the New Covenant, “Whenever possible I would rather the reader focus directly on the Book of Mormon language than on someone else’s thinking about it” (Preface, Christ and the New Covenant).

I was both delighted and disappointed one Sunday morning to find my mission-preparing son studying from Preach My Gospel. The delight is understandable. The disappointment came from what I knew was his neglect of the Book of Mormon. Every concept, point, suggestion, and pattern for great missionary work from Preach My Gospel is taught purely in the Book of Mormon.

There is no substitute for complete, intense, consistent immersion into the Book of Mormon. No prepared material will bring us closer to God. No prepared material will better prepare us for what is coming.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Radical Revelation

Radical is probably the best word to describe the Book of Mormon delivery and doctrine of revelation. In 1Nephi alone we are given the best descriptor and tutorial of the how, when, why (what), and to whom of divine communication between God and his children anywhere in scripture. 1 Nephi validates and fortifies ancient modes of revelation, obliterates modern notions, establishes conditions, describes instances, invites all, says who can receive, and contrasts between those who will and will not receive.

1Nephi’s description and tutorial is especially radical to the modern world. Many ancients such as Abraham, Moses, and others, prophets would rejoice in Nephi’s testimony then pronounce the Hebrew equivalent of “you’re preachin’ to the choir.”

Terrell Givens points out that, “In the first 50 pages alone, we read of eight visions, various angelic visitations, several occasions on which Nephi is “visited” by the Lord, “constrained by the Spirit,” “led by the Spirit,” “commanded” by the Lord, and so forth.” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume – 10, Issue – 2, Pages: 16-27 Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2001)


Radical Notion 1: To Whom

Nephi was not the prophet when he communicated directly with God during the Laban encounter. More profoundly, he was given a vision of the tree of life after he requested it. The dialogue with the Spirit that followed his request is particularly enlightening because Nephi was asked, “Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?” At this point, if the order of heavenly communication were that prophecy were exclusively the activity of prophets, the spirit might have said, “These things are revealed only to prophets. It should be enough for you to have the word of your father, the prophet.” But that is not what happened. Nephi received a glorious revelation that added to what his father had communicated.

In General Conference, Oct 2010, Elder Oaks distinguished between two lines of communication with God, the personal line and the priesthood line. The order of heaven with regard to revelation is that there is an organizational leadership component and an individual component. Lehi would have been the functionary for the organizational component, Nephi was sufficient to be the functionary for the individual component.

This has become so second nature to Latter-Day Saints that it is almost a ‘So what?’, yet it is something that we should praise and thank Heavenly Father for with our whole souls. The fact that God would directly communicate with his children, even his prophet children was not acceptable to the traditional Christian world from just after the first century on. The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that God will speak to his children through prophets and directly as long as there are people on the earth that seek righteousness.

What has not become second nature and is radical to modern saints is awesome depth and breadth of what can be received from the personal line.

Joseph Smith said,

“God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest” (Smith, Teachings, 149).

Imagine that you are starting a church and the topic of revelation comes up. You have a choice to make. You can have revelation be the exclusive domain of one or multiple but certainly a limited number of individuals. This will yield the most control but will allow for the possibility of a Jim Jones. Another plan would be to remove revelation all together which will place spiritual matters in the domain of academia (what actually happened). This will check a wacko but will allow an elitist class free reign in all matters. This allows for ultimate control until elitists become too corrupt (what actually happened). This practice is still maintained in spite of the heroic acts of Wycliff and Tyndale. Although there is access to scripture, most follow that talk radio crowd model and consume and regurgitate talking points they got from the intelligentsia of their particular church. The final option is to open revelation to every soul that each “might speak in the name of God, the Lord, even the Savior of the world.” (D&C 1:20). The upside is that, if God exists, loves his children and wants to reveal his will to them, there will be adherents who have heard the voice of God and will lay down their lives to follow his revealed will (what actually happened(s)). The downside is that you will get an occasional wacko that will claim revelatory sanction for bizaare beliefs and acts (what actually happened(s)).

The astonishing thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that bizarre, revelation-justified behavior does not happen more often. Were Joseph Smith a diabolical impostor, he should have been much more cautious than to deliver a book to the world that proclaims in resounding shouts that not only can anyone receive profound and powerful revelation from God, but that everyone should. Couple the book with his statements like the one above and you have a recipe for chaotic disaster…unless it really is God speaking through the pages of the book and through his mouth.

Radical Notion 2: How

As a preface to an exchange with is brothers, Nephi tells us that his father Lehi had taught many great things to his family that were “hard to be understood save a man should inquire of the Lord.” With a grieving heart that came from having seen one of the greatest, most glorious and yet terrible visions ever given which included seeing the entire destruction of his posterity, Nephi at least partially recovered enough to ask his brothers “the cause of their disputation.” They responded that it concerned “the natural branches of the olive tree and also concerning the Gentiles.”

Nephi asks, “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” The response is one of the great types for our time. “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” Nephi’s responded,

Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. (1Nephi 15:10,11)

The requirements have always been the same, do not harden your heart, keep the commandments, ask in faith, believing ye shall receive.

Radical Notion 3: What

1Nephi takes the Amos scripture, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets,” and gives the broadest definition possible. Nephi teaches that it is within the purview of every person to be A prophet. The radical nature of the content of the revelation that comes as a result of asking in full faith with a soft heart while keeping the commandments is its astonishing breadth and depth. The only exclusion from what will be revealed to A prophet is what is reserved for THE prophet which is a tiny and specific amount of the total amount of revelation available. If revelation quantity and quality were measured in bytes, 1Nephi would be weighted about 92% in favor of revelation to A prophet and about 8% to given to THE prophet exclusively.

Nephi admits a bias toward his own ministry and that the things which Lehi saw, heard, taught and wrote would not be written in full, but Nephi’s own ministry would be emphasized in at least 1Nephi and 2Nephi (1Nephi 1:16-17).  I believe, however that the ratio still holds. My own experience with general conference is that about 5% of the instruction given exclusively came from God, through one of THE prophets. Everything else is available to any prophet…even me. Having said that, I cannot think of any revelation given from God to The prophet that could not also be given to the “least of the saints.” The table below is a representative sample and number of verses devoted to revelation exclusive to THE prophet and then revelation to A prophet.

Revelation exclusively given to THE prophet # of verses Revelation given to A prophet # of verses
“Go testify about what you have seen!” (1Nephi 1:18) 1 The Lord softened Nephi’s heart and made things known unto him by the Holy Spirit (1Nephi 16-17, 19-24) 7
“Take your family into the wilderness.” (1Nephi 2:2) 1 Slay Laban. (1Nephi 4:10-13 4
Send your sons to retrieve the brass plates.(1Nephi 3:1-6) 6 Make plates. (1Nephi 9:3,5) 2
Take your family into the wilderness. 1Nephi 7:1) 1 Vast vision (1Nephi 11-14) 128
Take your family into the wilderness. (1Nephi 16:9) 1 Go here for food (1Nephi 16:30) 1
Repent and use the liahona. (1Nephi 16:25-26) 1 Build a boat like this… (1Nephi 18:1,3) 2
Total 11 Total 144

The iron rod is a representation of the word of God. The word of God really only comes in two ways, the priesthood line and the personal line. Both are essential and both are neglected. One of the great things about scripture is that it contains one and facilitates the other. Of all scripture, there is nothing like the Book of Mormon in providing hold-fast rod grip glue.

As for revelatory content, no inquiry seems to be off limits. 1Nephi alone ranges in topics from the importance of scripture to where to find food, to how to build a boat to cross the ocean, to when killing is justified. Alma taught that one should pray “against the power of your enemies.
Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase” (Alma 34:22-25). From the mundane to the cosmic, God is willing to engage his children.

Radical Notion 4: When

Parley P Pratt wrote a tract called, “Joseph Smith and the Devil” (http://bit.ly/vUw5O7) Wherein the devil and Joseph enter into a conversation with each other. After an exchange of pleasantries and introductions, Joseph tells the devil that he is dismayed that the devil would tolerate and even celebrate some religious practice as he believed that the devil was opposed to all such. The devil responds,

It is false; there is not a more religious and pious being in the world than myself, nor a being more liberal minded. I am decidedly in favor of all creeds, systems and forms of Christianity, of whatever name and nature; so long as they leave out that abominable doctrine which caused me so much trouble in former times, and which, after slumbering for ages, you have again revived; I mean the doctrine of direct communication with God, by new revelation. This is hateful, it is impious, it is directly opposed to all the divisions and branches of the Christian church; I never could bear it. And for this very cause, I helped to bring to condign punishment all the prophets and apostles of old, for while they were suffered to live with this gift of revelation, they were always exposing and slandering me, and all other good pious men in exposing our deeds and purposes, which they called wicked, but we considered as the height of zeal and piety; and when we killed them for these crimes of dreaming, prophesying, and vision-seeing they raised the cry of persecution, and so with you miserable, deluded Mormons.

The under appreciated Book of Mormon message is that revelation was and continues to be essential in the personal and organizational domains of God’s interaction with his church and children. This was generally lost to Christianity as evidenced by a summary of the gift of prophesy taught by the Word of Life Baptist Church Website (http://bit.ly/ugyMpU):

Prophecy was an important gift to the church and met a unique need in the early church, but it is no longer needed or given. Its “partial” messages (I Corinthians 13:9) have been replaced by the complete Revelation. The church today stands, then, at a great advantage without it.

Augustine, though not the first, proclaimed what became known as Cessationism or the ceasing of spiritual gifts. In two separate statements he wrote, commenting on Acts 2:4,

In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed; and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.(Homily 6 on the First Epistle of John, Augustine)

For those that are baptized do not now receive the Spirit on the imposition of hands, so as to speak in the tongues of all the peoples; neither are the sick healed by the shadow of the preachers of Christ falling on them as they pass; and other such things as were then done, are now manifestly ceased. (City of God chap. 22).

Cessation was generally accepted when Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. There was no pretense that the resulting creed was somehow written by the hand of God. It was an agreement made between the best scholars of the day using the New Testament, the fathers (Augustine, Clement, Origen, others), and Platonic philosophy.

Has God stopped revealing his will directly to his children as well as through prophets? Have miracles ceased? Were spiritual gifts given only to the infant church and withdrawn? The Book of Mormon proclaims and emphatic NO.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Don’t Miss This One: Interview about “The Book of Mormon” Musical–Richard Bushman

You may recognize richard Bushman as the author of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. I have written a review of the book in the book section. The attached is a high quality interview.

http://tiny.cc/pi34a

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

How to Deal with False Portrayals of the Church

I don’t care much about the title and conclusion of this article. News outlets are bursting with articles about some variation of, “Is America Ready for a Mormon President?” I’m sure the theme will be beat to death until the election is over. I read these stories to keep a pulse on general sentiment toward the church. The post below was written by Archbishop Cranmer.

I must conclude from the article below that the Archbishop is either lazy or unscrupulous to promulgate the blatant anti-mormon propoganda in the article. But that is what we have come to expect from many. Truth and accuracy are not considerations. Given his elevated eclesiastical position, the Archbishop should have been more careful or at least more conciliatory.

This post is not about the Archbishop who, to his credit, conceded a few points in the end. It is about DaveR, one of the commentors to the post.  You can read the article then please follow the comments below. DaveR, whoever he is, handled the falsehoods from the Archbishop and from several commentors respectfully, accurately and will passion. Please read each of his responses.

Kudos to DaveR whom I would like to meet one day.

Mitt Romney: can a Mormon take the White House?

 

Mitt Romney has confirmed that he is to make another bid for the White House in November 2012. He will base his campaign on the assertion that ‘Barack Obama has failed America’. His focus will be the economy, hammering home the message that ‘the Government under President Obama has grown to consume almost 40 per cent of our economy’ which apparently means that the US is ‘only inches away from ceasing to be a free-market economy’.

The problem for Mr Romney is that whatever he attempts to make the political focus or the central message of his campaign, he will be confronted at every turn with an almost innate American suspicion of his Mormon faith. For most Trinitarian Christians (by no means just the Evangelical ‘Christian Right’), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a cult whose theology is heretical and whose customs are anachronistic (to say the least). The Southern Baptist Convention firmly categorises Mormons with Scientologists; among those sects who have blasphemously added to Scripture and are under the control of false prophets. This is not insignificant for the Republican Party, whose evangelical base constitutes almost a third of the party’s electorate and can wield considerable power in primary states, most notably South Carolina.

In an attempt to neutralise this, Mitt Romney has said that America is choosing a commander-in-chief not a pastor-in-chief. He is attempting to echo the reasoning of John F Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic to take the White House, who placated Protestant church leaders with the declaration that he was ‘not the Catholic candidate for President’ but instead was ‘the Democratic Party’s candidate for President, who happens also to be Catholic’. He went on to allege (as Mitt Romney is doing) that those who play the religion card have something to hide. He said:

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured – perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again – not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me – but what kind of America I believe in.

Well, it worked for him, even if it didn’t end well.

But Roman Catholics are Trinitarian and share many of the social concerns of America’s Evangelicals, particularly on the family, abortion, civil rights and poverty alleviation. And while the US Constitution affirms that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust’ (Article VI), it must be observed that Republican candidates are invariably asked at some point if they believe the Bible to be the inviolable Word of God, and none has ever quoted Article VI in response. It appears that one only becomes President of the United States by the adoption of the American Creed and with the majority assent of the American Church.

Certainly, Mitt Romney can (and probably will) say that he believes that ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of mankind’. But the theological ambiguities will not be expounded (and ‘ambiguities’ is putting it politely). The Mormon god is not spirit, but a mortal, material being of flesh and blood who progressed to deity, as all men may. If believers are good and faithful, each will be given a planet of their own to rule. The Mormon god lives in heaven in a polygamous relationship with multiple wives, and sexually reproduces. In common with Eastern religions, there is a variation on reincarnation as Mormons believe in the pre-existence of all people in heaven before they were born on earth.

While Mitt Romney worships Jesus Christ, this is not the Jesus revealed in Scripture. The biblical Jesus was with God in the beginning and was God: the Mormon Jesus was conceived and born in heaven first as a ‘spirit child’ by God the Father in union with one of his wives. Jesus was the first-born spirit child, and Lucifer was his second. Thus Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. The orthodox Christian teaching is that God became man and was born of a virgin. For Mormons, the heavenly man-god came to earth and had sexual relations with Mary, and Jesus was the result. Mormons do not believe in the eternal deity of Jesus: he became a god only after living a virtuous life on earth. He then appeared before the council of gods that meet near a star called Kolob, who declared him to be a god in the pantheon of gods. It is a religion of salvation by works, which even the Son of God has to earn.

What would Christopher Hitchens or doctors Richard Dawkins and Evan Harris make of this? It’s bad enough for them when politicians believe in virgin births, the resurrection of Nazarene carpenters, papal infallibility or the verbatim dictation by the Archangel Gabriel of a book in perfect Arabic. Not that Evan Harris is in the same league as the other two, you understand. But he tends to pop up with tedious regularity whenever religion dares to encroach into the public sphere, spluttering his hard-line secularism.

John F Kennedy had to persuade the sceptical American people that the White House would not become an embassy of the Vatican, and neither would the US President do the Pope’s bidding. But, for a nation born out of the struggle for liberation from religious tyranny, his words frequently rang hollow: the prejudices were only overcome by oratorical skill. At times, the communication of his dreams and visions were redolent of Martin Luther King Jnr:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote – where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference – and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

That speech was made in 1960, yet 50 years later the land of the free still does not permit all men to be equal. The inequalities may no longer be based upon race or gender, but they are manifest and legion when it comes to religion. Barack Obama knows only too well how damaging even a whiff of Islam can be.

To win the White House, Mitt Romney has to become mainstream; he has to overcome the widespread perception that in office he will be the mouthpiece of a cult that wants the White House in order to realise a particular celestial heaven. To achieve this, he will need to detoxify the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and persuade America that it is not a cult that seeks to do harm, but a bona fide religion; a positive, respectable and beneficial spiritual force. And yet the moment he attempts to do that, he will be accused of being a proselytising apologist for his theological cause.

There are, of course, too many relativist considerations in the present age for terms like ‘harm’ and ‘beneficial’ to be expounded. Even the democratic primacy of ‘mainstream’ is undermined by the deference displayed to every fragmented religious minority interest, for fear of causing offence. In the final analysis, every cult is now a religion because no-one is perceived to have the political right or the spiritual authority to tell anyone else what they should or should not believe, or what they may and may not do. Liberty has become a deity.

Since we are now obliged to respect all religious beliefs and revere every spirituality, perhaps Mitt Romney would make the perfect postmodern presidential candidate. All men may not be equal, but all religions certainly are. Islam is as great as Judaism and as noble as Christianity, which are just as worthy of respect as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and any and every other spiritual ‘-ism’ which emanates from the mind of man. Mormonism? Well, why not?

 

posted by Archbishop Cranmer at 9:25 AM Permalink

June 2011 12:48  Blogger DaveRsaid…

As a regular reader f this blog, I’m rather disappointed that Cranmer has chosen to reproduce such misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Church of which I am a part. I can only assume, like many others, that he has merely obtained without checking from other sources.

To cover just a few:

1) “among those sects who have blasphemously added to Scripture and are under the control of false prophets” – Surely the crux of the issue, for we affirm these are true prophets, and thus true scripture. The concept that the canon is closed, like the concept canon itself, postdates the writing of the biblical text.

2)”But Roman Catholics are Trinitarian and share many of the social concerns of America’s Evangelicals, particularly on the family, abortion, civil rights and poverty alleviation.” – Does one have to point out that Latter day Saints, while certainly not trinitarian, *also* share many of the social concerns of Catholics & Evangelicals? Why does Cranmer imply otherwise?

3) “The Mormon god is not spirit, but a mortal, material being of flesh and blood who progressed to deity, as all men may. If believers are good and faithful, each will be given a planet of their own to rule. The Mormon god lives in heaven in a polygamous relationship with multiple wives, and sexually reproduces.” Mormons hold that God has ‘a body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s’ (D&C 130:22), as indeed does Jesus (so clearly corporeality is not incompatible with deity, unless you make a mockery of the resurrection), but this is not a mortal body. We affirm that through the Gospel of Christ, all may be ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17) and so receive ‘all that my Father hath’ (D&C 84:38). Much of the rest is misrepresentation – I defy anyone to find a reference to members receiving ‘a planet of their own to rule’ – an attempt merely to make our theology sound like sci-fi to dismiss it by means of association.

3) On Jesus, we find our beliefs in the Bible just as much as creedal Christians do, in that he was ‘the firstborn of every creature’ (Colossians 1:15). However, unlike the other spirit children of our Father in Heaven (namely us), he was already deity before the creation of this earth, being the ‘God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth’ (3 Nephi 11:14) and being the one who ‘gave the law’ of Moses (3 Nephi 15:5). The Adversary was, as are we, likewise a spirit child of our Father in Heaven (not sure where you’re dragging ‘second born’ from…), but *fell* and became the devil. As for Jesus’s birth, we affirm he was the only-begotten son of the Father in the flesh, but clearly state he was born of a *virgin* (1 Nephi 11:18, Alma 7:10)

4) On salvation, ‘we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.’ (2 Nephi 25:23). The Atonement of Christ is essential, but we must receive this gift, by our faith, repentance and obedience (Articles of Faith 3 & 4). Is Cranmer asserting that repentance & such is unneccessary when Christ clearly taught this?

5) Variety of other things could be looked at or examined in closer detail. Just to pick a few things out, the one chapter which refers to ‘Kolob’ (not a major feature of LDS theology) states ‘which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God’ (Abraham 3:9). References to time and so forth must be coupled with Alma 40:8 ‘all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man’. Is this really so different to 2 Peter 3:8? And lest one forget, the Urim and Thummim happen to be *biblical*, although details there are lacking.

If one is in need of primary sources as to what Mormons believe, the ‘Standard Works’ (namely the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price), which are accepted as scripture, are available here: http://lds.org/scriptures?lang=eng

3 June 2011 12:49  Blogger I am Stansaid…

@ Dr What…no not Stargate SG1, Ancient Aliens on Sky Discovery Channel

3 June 2011 13:02  Anonymous Tim Duck said…

DavidR, I always thought that Mormons thought that Americans were the lost tribe of Israel or something and that somehow Jesus Christ was an American?

3 June 2011 13:04  Anonymous Malcolm Hulke said…

Is it only me or does Mitt Romney rhymn with Van Rompouy? I sense a conspiracy theory coming on…

3 June 2011 13:07  Blogger DaveRsaid…

Present day Americans are present day Americans.

The Book of Mormon tells of several families leaving Jerusalem shortly before the Babylonian captivity, making it to the New World, and forming several civilisations there before collapsing. These are not the lost tribes (who are elsewhere). 3 Nephi (a book in the Book of Mormon) has Christ visit these people following his resurrection, seen as a fulfillment of John 10:16. Christ is not held to be American.

3 June 2011 13:12  Anonymous Curate’s Egg said…

David R is quite right when he says “Christ is not held to be an American” and that is because God’s an Englishman! (and if he’s not he is still a good egg).

3 June 2011 13:19  Blogger DaveRsaid…

I dont know about that – my understanding is that the sun never set on the British empire because God didn’t trust us in the dark.

3 June 2011 13:20  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

Dave R,

May the force be with you!

You do think that Jesus is Satan’s brother though, don’t you?

PS Joseph Smith? Not the very same Joseph Smith, the Freemason and serial liar and adulterer, that died in a wild-west prison shoot-out after being arrested for leading an armed militia in insurrection?

Shurley there must be shum mistake?

3 June 2011 13:29  Blogger DaveRsaid…

EV

1) Yes, in a very modified sense.

2) So between a mob of 100-200 men against four men in a jail with several sticks and one small pepper-box pistol between them, you take issue with the four men defending themselves. I guess Joseph should have refused to use that pistol, even after his brother got shot in the face.

And there was no insurrection. What you did have were local papers threatening extermination. Again.

3 June 2011 13:39  Anonymous Dreadnaught said…

All men may not be equal, but all religions certainly are. Islam is as great as Judaism and as noble as Christianity”

I accept the sarcasm intended Cranny, but I afraid I totally have to agree with you – when superstition prevails, reason fails.

Beam me up Mr.Scott.

3 June 2011 13:47  Anonymous Commander Snotty said…

Capt’n Dreadnought I canny get it to work!

3 June 2011 13:49  Anonymous Zog, King of Kolob said…

You may well *sigh*, Mr Cranny. You started it, matey.

3 June 2011 13:53  Anonymous Zog, King of Kolob said…

That’s right, Qog, my son. Not like that pasty-faced wastrel, your unworthy brother, Bog.

3 June 2011 13:57  Anonymous Qog, song of Zog, brother of Bog said…

His Imperial Majesty, Mater of the 7 Legions of Snark, Admiral of the 9th Fleet (the dog’s kolobs) insults the high honour of Kolobs! A gunboat shall be dispatched to your homeland and it shall be smited!

3 June 2011 14:00  Blogger DaveRsaid…

I’m also thinking I should mention that it is Article VI, not Article IV, of the US constitution that forbids a religious test for office. I’d think it a typo, but it is repeated.

3 June 2011 14:00  Anonymous Colonel JackO’ Neill said…

@ I am Stan, well Stargate SG1 is more plausible than the book of mormon. Give me a Gaoul’d to fight any day…

3 June 2011 14:02  Anonymous Judy K. Warner said…

I don’t think Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will be his worst problem. Mormons are very good on the issues that concern Evangelicals. They led the way in putting Proposition 8 on the ballot in California, which outlawed same-sex marriage, and they have been vilified for it very publicly. They lead exemplary family lives, with lower divorce and illegitimacy rates than possibly any other group.

No, Mitt’s problems are two: (1) his inconsistency on the issues over time, for one thing becoming pro-life when it was politically opportune. And (2) his health care plan in Massachusetts is a big-government, expensive failure, too close to ObamaCare in some of its elements not to be a huge drag on his candidacy.

I may be wrong, and his Mormonism may be his downfall, but I doubt it.

3 June 2011 14:04  Anonymous Jean-Luc Picard said…

Phasers on stun Mr Riker; there is a lot of nutters on this side today (English Viking, Graham Davies, then the Last Dodo will turn up).

3 June 2011 14:05  Anonymous carl jacobs said…

DaveR wrote:

If one is in need of primary sources as to what Mormons believe, the ‘Standard Works’ (namely the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

The Pearl of Great Price is more traditionally known as the “Book of the Dead.” The manuscript from which Joseph Smith derived the PGP was discovered in in the 1960’s complete with Smith’s notations in Smith’s own handwriting. It was presented for translation with great fanfare … here would be the great vindication of Joseph Smith as a prophet … but alas the translators discovered only the magical rituals of the cult of Osiris. The PGP remains the definitive and irrefutable proof that Smith was a false prophet, for he failed (miserably) the test of a prophet established in Scripture. And let us not make any claims about ‘spiritual translations,’ shall we? Smith claimed to have written an Egyptian grammar as a result of his translating activities.

As for the prophesies of Smith found in Doctrine and Covenant, you should all read D&C 132 where Emma Smith is commanded to receive Joseph Smith’s new wife (young) into her household. Imagine yourself as a middle-aged woman and your husband says “Hey, I got this revelation today … about marriage.” It’s good to be the Prophet.

carl

who has been perma-banned by the Mormon missionaries. No, really. They won’t ever come to my house again. I have seen them walk by and not stop. Evidently, my entry in the Mormon data base has a big red ‘X’ though it.

3 June 2011 14:09  Anonymous IanCad said…

As in most countries with electoral privileges, Americans vote with their pocket books. If the Tooth Fairy were to run it would likely win.
Apart from their fecundity, Mormons are recognized as clean cut, reliable, and hardworking citizens. They are grossly overrepresented in Congress.
Religion will not be much of an issue. As with their constitution it is much talked about but little understood.

3 June 2011 14:12  Anonymous Xog Earthling outreach co-ordinator said…

Mitt has an excellent chance of becoming President, I shall fold space,land in Washington through a worm hole and run his campaign personally.

3 June 2011 14:15  Anonymous Arvek the elder said…

“You may well *sigh*, Mr Cranny. You started it, matey.”

No he didn’t. YOU started it, when you invaded Vek during the fest of the legover. Bastards.

3 June 2011 14:24  Anonymous The Patriot said…

Your Grace, I suspect that as a very rich chap this Mitt Romney will have as good a chance of anyone who has lots of cash to pay for adds. How far Romney gets, depends on who else in the GOP comes into the fray and whether or not Obama will get any real competition for the democrat nomination.

3 June 2011 14:28  Anonymous For mash get smash aliens said…

Clack,clack,clack,

3 June 2011 14:28  Blogger DaveRsaid…

@Carl Jacobs.

1) You’re talking about the Book of Abraham, which is only a part of the Pearl of Great Price. The rest is not linked to Egyptian documents at all. It’s a bit of a problem if you’re misinformed as to what the PofGP is.

2) The recovered manuscripts, while matching the facisimilies, do not appear to have all the material or match the descriptions given of translated manuscript. I’ll note that neither contain the handwriting of Joseph smith.

3) Because you’re getting confused with the “Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar”. However, these aren’t in the handwriting of Joseph Smith either. In fact, it’s not entirely clear what these papers from Kirtland have to do with the Book of Abraham itself.

More responses on the topic available here: http://www.fairwiki.org/Book_of_Abraham/Joseph_Smith_Papyri

3 June 2011 14:39  Anonymous Twog, Private Secretary to Zog, King of Kolob said…

Mr Arvek the elder, our action on Vek was for their liberation from the Kleggerons (http://www.cleggeron.com/). It was carried out entirely at the request of the Arthropods’ Front for the Liberation of Vek, the only organisation that genuinely represents the inhabitants of that unhappy system. My agents tell me, Mr Arvek, that you speak for the bogus popular front for the restoration of the King of Vek — a shill for the external imperialist running dogs of Libidimus Minor.

3 June 2011 14:39  Blogger DaveRsaid…

I certainly agree with those above that comment that Mitt Romney has other political problems that may overshadow the religion issue

3 June 2011 14:41  Blogger D. Singhsaid…

Your Grace

There is a Mormon prophecy called the ‘White Horse Prophecy’ or the prophecy of the “One mighty and strong.” Now, this is not public, formal Mormon doctrine, but it was taught by many leaders of the Church and is still taught today. It is said by Mormon leadership that when the Constitution is in dire peril, one will come who is mighty and strong. He will come riding (figuratively perhaps) on a white horse and will wield awesome political and spiritual power.

This mysterious priesthood elder would somehow seize control of the US government to prevent the total abrogation of the Constitution. He would assume total power and create a Mormon “Kingdom” in America. At that time, this “one mighty and strong” would be proclaimed the new “Prophet “ (First President) of the Mormon church and would also be president of the United States. Thus, he would wield both supreme political power of the most powerful nation on earth and also be the “Prophet, Seer and Revelator” of the Mormon Church.

3 June 2011 14:41  Anonymous tb said…

>Mormonism? Well, why not?

because it’s bollocks?

3 June 2011 14:49  Blogger Lord Lavendonsaid…

Your Grace, given that the American voters put, for the first time, a non-white into the white house (and one who many believe is a secret Muslim), then electing a Mormon wouldn’t be that difficult a leap for the American electorate.

Given that American politics is becoming more “Europeanised” in the sense that there are two parties which are more or less poles apart ideologically and on the great issues of the day, rather than being regional-religious-ethnic coalitions (e.g. in the days when the conservative south used to vote democrat come what may) then Romney can easily fit into the Republican stable, given the Mormon social values etc, although a Romney ticket would envoke the fury of core democrats and rally some of their key constituencies (gay vote, black vote, social liberals etc).

3 June 2011 14:52  Blogger Graham Davissaid…

John Tyndale said…

As usual Graham Davies exhibits his usual lack of respect towards the faithful- which is why his utopian “secular state” would take us back to the days of 1930s Russia.

Why should a religious belief deserve respect any more than political belief for example? Do you think Communism or National Socialism are deserving of respect?

3 June 2011 14:54  Blogger DaveRsaid…

@D. Singh – this would be the ‘White Horse prophecy’ that only appeared in 1900, and has been explicitly disavowed by the Church since then, including by Joseph F. Smith back in 1918, and more recently last year here: http://newsroom.lds.org/blog/church-statement-on-white-horse-prophecy-and-political-neutrality – meanwhile the ‘One mighty & strong’ is something separate, in D&C 85, and doesn’t mention the constitution or political power at all.

Take a step back and look at this thread. This thread has a number of individuals repeating whatever misinformation they’ve vaguely heard about the Latter-day Saints, and now we’re at the stage where we are accused of having a secret plan to take over the world. At this point, how is this thread much different from the Secret Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

3 June 2011 14:58  Anonymous len said…

Joseph Smith liked the Bible so much he decided to write one Himself.

Jesus warns us of these ‘false prophets’and there seems to have been a plethora of them , all with their own special tweaks, and changes, traditions, and additions to the Truth of the Gospel.

Less(as the saying goes, especially with Scripture) is more.

3 June 2011 14:59  Blogger Lord Lavendonsaid…

OK, so where exactly is Kolob in relation to earth?

3 June 2011 15:03  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

Joseph Smith was a modern day Mo; claim a new (and final) revelation from the God of an existing religion, be the only person able to hear His new edicts (ususally stuff like the prophet is allowed to sleep with loads of women) and start an armed insurrection and attempt to overthrow the legally appointed Government by force.

Fortunately, someone had the good sense shoot this moron, and his drongo brother, before they were able to gain much ground.

Sci-fi, man-made clap-trap like this should not be pandered to, nor given the respectability of being called a Christian denomination. It should be ridiculed for the fairy story it is, and its followers should have a large dose of reality and scorn poured on them at regular intervals. Failure to do so will, in 1400 years or so, leave us in the same boat as we find ourselves in with the other nonsense known as islam.

3 June 2011 15:11  Blogger Lord Lavendonsaid…

Is it me or are there 2 threads here? One discussing the post itself and subsequent issues and the other between various ET’s about interstellar war?

3 June 2011 15:12  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

LL,

When Smith was dreaming all this crap up, space travel was impossible. Be nice if he was specific and it was within spitting distance.

I’ll wager that it is located some distance away from the furthest reaches of our space probes.

3 June 2011 15:13  Anonymous Anonymous said…

Romney is out of touch with the tenor of the times. He’s not the solution, he’s the problem: a squishy liberal Republican whose politically correct policies contributed to the election of a Communist to the White House.

I wouldn’t worry too much about Romney. Sarah Palin–or someone else who loves the country and possesses a backbone–is going to be the next President.

3 June 2011 15:16  Anonymous His Imperial Majesty, Master of the 7 Legions of Snark, Admiral of the 9th Fleet (the dog’s kolobs) said…

Earthling Lavendon,

Quaxx dex thargo, you insolent riftkrule!

3 June 2011 15:16  Blogger DaveRsaid…

@English Viking

One wonders if you are putting your fingers in your ears. There was no attempt to overthrow the government. Of course, that’d leave you with little to justify your support for mob violence.

And *final* revelation? There’s no such thing in Mormonism (see 9th Article of Faith…)

3 June 2011 15:19  Blogger Lord Lavendonsaid…

I have to say that it all seems to be a bit fanciful for my tastes:

1. The golden plates which the Book of Mormon came from, went back to heaven, written in a language no-one knew, but could be translated into shakespearian english, by one person (?).

2. That the native americans are really descendants of Jews, who fled Israel just before the Bablyonian Captivity (?).

3.This bit about Kolob and humans being able to become gods as well- that Jesus is for some reason a “chief” god (sounds like zeus or ra) doesn’t seem to fit in with mainstream Christianity, be it Anglican,Protestant, Orthodox or Catholic.

3 June 2011 15:22  Anonymous Siridar Baron Vladimir Harkonnen said…

Twog you coward, even as you speak my Sardaukar warriors are invading your planet and destroying your armies, the spice is ours!

3 June 2011 15:24  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

Siridar,

Ha! As you skirt the periphery of the Empire, bullying pathetic and insignificant life-forms with your backward ion-impulse ‘technology’, I and my legions are de-flowering the maidens of your nasty little asteroid, which you have left undefended!

What kind of Galactic Trooper are you?

3 June 2011 15:30  Anonymous Lagomorphaian said…

“Mitt has an excellent chance of becoming President, I shall fold space,land in Washington through a worm hole and run his campaign personally.”

Actually old cock, you can’t open a wormhole inside a planet, because the energy of space-time would disort reality and fry the earth, or the bit below the wormhole hovering over (i.e. Washington DC). There is only one race which has the capability to open a wormhole inside a planet safely, and you arn’t it matey.

3 June 2011 15:33  Anonymous Holy Chelonian Empire said…

Twog, beware for the Avek have just signed a treaty with us Chelonians- you will qiver inside your shells (if you had any) as the might Chelonian Empire crushes your world!

3 June 2011 15:39  Anonymous Splog, Under-Secretary to Twog, Private Secretary to Zog, King of Kolob said…

Mr Lagomorphaian, in the matter of wormholes, see:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100090498/a-word-from-the-governments-chief-scientific-hysteria-promoter/

The arrogant spokesentity for the Holy Chelonian Empire warns my master, Twog, that we shall quiver inside our shells consequent on the Chelonian alliance with the Avek. We shall see, impertinent mollusc. We shall see…

My master requires me to tell you that he disdains to reply in person to your empty mega-groof-rattling. In future, instruct all three of your mouths to address their equals.

3 June 2011 15:52  Anonymous Dr Who and Dr What`s brother Dr When said…

Xog, may I suggest after folding space from Kolog you use the space shuttle to complete your journey.

3 June 2011 15:52  Anonymous Dr Who, Dr What and Dr When`s brother Dr Why said…

Does Kolob have a sister planet called Kellogg, if not it should.

3 June 2011 16:05  Anonymous Book of ET said…

Chelonians are basically Turtles and Totoises?So that’s what ET’s look like.

3 June 2011 16:16  Anonymous Len’s former lodger said…

Your Grace, looks like this thread has been taken over by a bunch of loons. But it is quite amusing for a friday evening.

3 June 2011 16:31  Blogger Bred in the bonesaid…

What bacame of the Deists argument of the founding fathers.

3 June 2011 16:38  Blogger Archbishop Cranmersaid…

Mr Dave R,

His Grace thanks for your Constitution correction: he has amended. But it is not clear to him at all where he has either misunderstood or misrepresented your beliefs.

3 June 2011 16:42  Anonymous King Uranus III said…

His Imperial Majesty, Master of the 7 Legions of Snark, Admiral of the 9th Fleet (the dog’s kolobs) said…

“Earthling Lavendon,

Quaxx dex thargo, you insolent riftkrule!”

You assume Lavendon is an Earthling??

3 June 2011 16:43  Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hmmm, neither Danjo or Dodo have posted today; for that matter neither has blofeld and tiddles. Where are these intellectual heavyweights when you need them?

3 June 2011 16:46  Blogger Mr Dodosaid…

Well, well, another religion getting a hammering on here today.

Admist all the very funny messages from beyond the earth, some have struggled to make serious points and given up.

I’ll wait until the debate becomes a bit more serious before throwing in my comments about the inevitability of religious and cultural relativism as a consequence of the internal logic of the protestant reformation.

For now I’ll waddle off and attend to nest building and making babies with the long lost Mrs Dodo.

3 June 2011 16:51  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

King Uranus III

Hail His Regal Eminence!

A good point. Surely this Lavendon creature is not a Thraxian spy?

Guards! Seize him!

3 June 2011 16:51  Anonymous Klag, Kilngon Warrior said…

Dodo, of course the real reason why you won’t debate us is because we crushed your insignificant little planet and enslaved its cowardly population! Pacifist Qou’ath!

3 June 2011 16:58  Blogger English Vikingsaid…

Dodo,

Just for you, because you asked so nicely.

Catholicism is crap.

PS Glad you realise that Cat-lickism is a different religion to Christianity. You’re slowly getting it.

PPS Go to the match?

3 June 2011 16:58  Anonymous His Imperial Majesty, Master of the 7 Legions of Snark, Admiral of the 9th Fleet (the dog’s kolobs) said…

Klag, Kilngon Warrior,

You do realise that, under the terms of Korellian Convention, you are expected to rape all prisoners, as sign of your seniority?

Poor little Dodo. You’re Klag’s bitch now.

3 June 2011 17:02  Anonymous Klag, Klingon Warrior said…

A warning to His Imperial Majesty, Master of the 7 Legions of Snark, Admiral of the 9th Fleet (the dog’s kolobs)- Are you mad? Have you not heard of the stories about that man? God help you if you make him angry..

3 June 2011 17:02  Anonymous Klag, Klingon Warrior said…

We decided to sell the Dodo planet, as part of our deficit reduction strategy and of course mating with a Dodo is the last thing a Klingon warrior would do!

3 June 2011 17:04  Blogger Lord Lavendonsaid…

So I’m now an Alien? Great.

Whatever gives you that idea?

3 June 2011 17:07  Anonymous Mr Dodo`s double yolked egg said…

My shell is very thin, eat more grits.

3 June 2011 17:10  Blogger DaveRsaid…

Cranmer said

“But it is not clear to him at all where he has either misunderstood or misrepresented your beliefs.”

Taking the items from your original post (and bearing in mind what constitutes official doctrine as noted here http://newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine ):

1) “If believers are good and faithful, each will be given a planet of their own to rule.” – Not doctrine, & a caricature of what Mormons believe.

2) “The Mormon god lives in heaven in a polygamous relationship with multiple wives, and sexually reproduces.” – Not doctrine. The Church has no revealed position on how spirit children are born, nor on number of spouses.

3) “In common with Eastern religions, there is a variation on reincarnation as Mormons believe in the pre-existence of all people in heaven before they were born on earth.” The doctrine of preexistence is not reincarnation. For that matter, it is not unique to Mormonism.

4) “the Mormon Jesus was conceived and born in heaven first as a ‘spirit child’ by God the Father in union with one of his wives.” – Following on from above, not doctrine.

5) “Jesus was the first-born spirit child, and Lucifer was his second.” The first is true, the latter isn’t – I’m not sure where you’re dragging this from.

6) “The orthodox Christian teaching is that God became man and was born of a virgin. For Mormons, the heavenly man-god came to earth and had sexual relations with Mary, and Jesus was the result.” – False, as I pointed out above. LDS scripture affirms the virgin birth.

7) “Mormons do not believe in the eternal deity of Jesus: he became a god only after living a virtuous life on earth.” – False, as pointed out above. He created this world, was the God of the Old Testament, and constitutes a member of the Godhead with the Father & the Holy Ghost. This is different from mainstream Christian belief, yes, but your statement is not correct.

8) “He then appeared before the council of gods that meet near a star called Kolob, who declared him to be a god in the pantheon of gods.” – Following on from above, false.

9) “It is a religion of salvation by works, which even the Son of God has to earn.” False, as pointed out above. Works are essential, but without grace and the Atonement of Christ, futile. This is obviously different from the Protestant position, but Mormons do not believe we are saved by our works.

10) From your picture “God lives on a planet near a star named ‘Kolob'” – I quoted the relevant verse above ‘which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God’ (Abraham 3:9). Notice throne rather than planet. Can you not see the first description is as misrepresentative as describing the eucharist as ritual cannibalism? Likewise, while some LDS have interpreted the time issue in relation to creation, the Church has no official position on the length of creation. Furthermore, putting “Urim & Thummim” in quotation marks as if something entirely foreign, rather than a term that exists in the Bible, could be construed as misleading. ‘Kolob’, in any case, is peripheral to LDS theology, hence its mention in only one chapter.

Those should be sufficient to suggest a serious misreading of Mormonism and its texts. Certainly there are large differences between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mainstream Christianity. Our conceptions of the Godhead are different – we reject the trinity, and certain do not conceive of a sharp division between created and uncreated, for example. We certainly reject both sola scriptura and sola fide. But the assertions listed above assert things as LDS doctrine where they are not, or in a misleading form.

3 June 2011 17:19  

 
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