Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Atonement Book free draft

I have been working for some time on a book on the atonement. Here it is. Feel free to download and read it, or to pass it on to anyone you would like to that has a genuine interest in it.

Here is the book.

The link is

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByijcSGTLFvHd2dULURKQ2FUUWM/edit?usp=sharing

One of the most important sections, the section entitled "redemption" still has plenty of writing problems. I think it still has enough interesting material as it stands to be well worth your while. It is one of the best sections.

Lastly, of course the book has plenty of errors. But there is a difference between saying that some of the branches aren't described accurately enough and saying the tree is was planted in the wrong field. I think the errors are of the former sort.

Atonement Book - free draft

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A new way out of the church

I have previously written on the principle that the way to save your own soul is to work to save other's souls.

There is an interesting other side to that same coin. If you are doing something that is destroying the souls of others, it simultaneously destroys your own soul.

This other side of the coin has always existed, but has been becoming a more and more common way to destroy one's own testimony these days. That is because in these days there is an oppressive atmosphere of scorn against any who raise their voice against the popular perversions of the day: pornography, fornication and homosexuality. Thus many are fostering people in their wickedness instead of standing firmly by the commandments. Those people seem to quickly lose their faith in the true and living church. That is because you can't be destroying other's souls, cheering them down the road to destruction instead of desperately encouraging them to repent and choose the path to life, without destroying your own soul.

As you seek diligently to save the souls of others, you save your own soul. As you diligently pursue a path that destroys the souls of others, you destroy your own.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Facts versus truth

A quick note on facts versus truth.

In our day we like to treat facts and truth as completely the same thing. But that is not the case at all and a quick illustration will suffice.

If I were to take every wrong thing you have ever done, stand up in testimony meeting, and accurately relate them all to the congregation, I will have conveyed many facts about you. But I will not have told the truth about you. Sure, in popular media and particularly the news people like to claim that doing such is telling "the real truth". But a moments reflection will verify that my portrayal of you as a person in doing that did not convey to the minds of the listeners a true image of you at all.

I will have told not just one fact, but many facts, and all of them perfectly factual, but I will not have told the truth.

Truth and facts are not the same thing.

Similarly if I want to stand up and teach some true principle, some might feel I haven't done so if I don't start listing how all the exceptions work. But then the exceptions can become so onerous that the principle itself is lost in the mix and rather similarly to the previous example I have failed to teach the truth, being so concerned to hit every exception. It is better to teach the true principle without worrying about all the exceptions. When people have the foundation well in mind, then one can start to lay additional work on top of that. But the groundwork must be laid first if you are trying to teach the truth.

Joseph Smith knew more, and there is nothing wrong with that

I was just musing on how different it is today than in Joseph Smith's day. In Joseph Smith's day one might ask the prophet, who one would likely know personally to at least a small degree, to look into the Urim and Thummim and receive a revelation from the Lord about what he would like one to be doing (in later days the prophet stated that his mind had become a Urim and Thummim and he no longer needed one). If there was a doctrinal matter in the church, and the existing scripture didn't address it clearly enough, the prophet would return with a revelation of the "thus saith the Lord..." variety.

There was a distinctive difference between these revelations and the revelations we usually hear about now. The revelations now are often decisions, e.g. does the church approve of such and such practice? The answer will be yes or no along with some explanation. There is also much revelation that is in the form of light and knowledge being poured out upon the church in conference talks. A notable example is the proclamation on the family, which is an entire document and is an official proclamation to the church. But even then there is a difference. Yes, the document is absolute gospel truth. No, the document isn't' the same as many of the revelations Joseph Smith received. It is not dictation from the Lord. It doesn't use language like "Thus saith the Lord...." and refer to what the Lord has literally spoken.

The church guidance under Joseph Smith is even different than what one generally reads about among the book of Mormon people. There are occasional points that are similar through the Book of Mormon. There are the two hundred years which are far more abundant in revelation than Joseph Smith's day, followed by a spiral into apostacy. But taken as a whole the Book of Mormon prophets seem to lead the church in a way that is very much like the way it is led today, and less like the way it was led in Joseph Smith's day.

Now let me be perfectly clear that I am not saying the church is not led by revelation. Without hesitation I affirm that the church is led by revelation today. But Brigham Young was very much aware of the difference I have pointed out, and for some time after Joseph Smith's death, Brigham Young led the church only as the chief apostle. If Brigham Young was aware of this difference, there is no reason I need to be embarrassed by it. Brigham Young and all the prophets since are every inch prophets of the Lord. They are the chosen vessels of the Lord who lead the church under the direction of Jesus Christ.

But still, the difference is there, so it is worth saying a bit about why.

Joseph Smith was, to use Elder McConkie's words "a prophet among prophets". Even standing among prophets, he stood above them in light and knowledge and led the way in the same way prophets generally stand above the regular membership in light and knowledge and led the way. That is not surprising, as he was not just a prophet, he was the head of a dispensation. After the resurrection Joseph Smith will preside over the other prophets of this dispensation.

This is worth mentioning because it seems to be being forgotten. I posted a comment on a post by a good and respectable man who has served as bishop. My comment was a statement to the effect that Joseph Smith knew more than anyone else in this dispensation. My comment was not a criticism of anyone. In the context it was purely praise for Joseph Smith. Nevertheless, my comment was deleted by the author of the post, likely because he felt that I was slighting the current prophet.

That is ridiculous. I wonder if it would have been equally displeasing to him if I had written:

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. (D&C 135:3)

Yes, I will frankly assert that Joseph Smith, the man who produced incomparably more scripture than any other man in this dispensation, much of which is actual dictation of the mind and will of the Lord, also knew far more than anyone else of this dispensation. How else could that have possibly happened?

Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of men than anybody in this dispensation save Jesus only.

Joseph Smith produced incomparably more scripture than anybody in this dispensation.

Joseph Smith knew incomparably more than anybody in this dispensation.

Those three facts are all closely linked, and they do nothing to discredit the living oracle, they only further support the true church that he leads.

Yes, the other prophets of this dispensation are genuine 100 percent valid prophets. Yes, the church is led by revelation. But we should not be embarrassed about the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet among prophets. And that is not a slight on the living oracle, whom I fully support as the head of this church under Jesus Christ and the president of the Melchizedek priesthood on the earth. I also fully support the revelation by which he leads the church.

We have forgotten that for years the phrase "The Prophet" in general conference was frequently used simply to refer to Joseph Smith, no matter who the living oracle was at the time. This was done by people who were, themselves, prophets and apostles.

When Adam was alive, did he not know more about God that any of the rest of his dispensation? Yes. Does that slight them in some way? No. Was it offensive in the days of Peter, James, and John, to state that the previous leader (Jesus Christ) knew more about the gospel than they did? No. Did it mean that they weren't apostles, or that they weren't leading the church by revelation? No. Do the years of a Zion society being visited often by Christ among the Nephites mean that the church wasn't being led by revelation in the previous 800 years among the Nephites? Of course not.

Saying no prophet of this dispensation knows a small fraction of what Joseph Smith did no more questions the authenticity and complete faith we place in the living oracle that to either say that no prophet of Jesus Christ's dispensation knew a small fraction of what Jesus Christ knew, or saying that Joseph Smith, Adam, Abraham, Adam, Enoch or all of them taken together don't know a small fraction of what Jesus Christ knows. It is still his church led by revelation even if the current head knows less than the dispensation head does as is usually the case.

When the other prophets of our dispensation discuss Paul, they talk about what Paul wrote. When Joseph Smith discussed Paul he said: "He is about five feet high; very dark hair, dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembled the roaring of a lion. He was a good orator, active and diligent, always employing himself in doing good to his fellow man." Joseph Smith didn't offer mere opinions about Paul's meaning, because Joseph Smith was acquainted with Paul.

We as a church have not yet really acted upon what the Lord has already given to us. We must prove faithful to what the Lord has given as a church, in order to receive more. There is no point in the Lord dictating revelations to mankind when most of the questions being prominently posed among the membership are not seeking for further light and knowledge, but attempts to deny and alter the plain teachings of the scriptures, e.g. should only men have the priesthood, or is homosexuality really immoral. We don't need more than a "yes that is still right, we still believe in the scriptures" or a "no that is still wrong, we still believe in the scriptures" for questions like that.

I fully support Thomas S Monson as the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as every other prophet of this dispensation in his time as president. Without hesitation I affirm that they each led the church under the direction of Jesus Christ, and that it is led by Jesus Christ today. But I am not hesitant to affirm that if Brigham Young knew that he was not as knowledgeable as Joseph Smith did, that did not mean that Brigham Young was not the prophet, or that the church was not led by him by revelation from Jesus Christ. The stream of revelations that Joseph Smith had were possible because he was such an astonishingly good man, but even the Book of Mormon prophets don't generally teach the people with one revelation after another, each being dictation of the mind and will of the Lord. We should keep that in mind and be grateful for the head of our dispensation, Joseph Smith. If we do that properly it will affirm, not deny, our belief in our living oracle. Truth always supports truth better than our foolish corrections to it will.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The prophets of this and other ages are not and were not racists.

I am surprised at members who blithely proclaim that the priesthood was withheld from the blacks during much of this dispensation because the prophets were racists. One member who advocated this view nicely illustrated the road it leads down.

He believed that Bruce R McConkie kept the priesthood from going to the blacks. His accusations of that apostle were quite radical. In order to rationalize his accusations, he believed that the church is led by debate and discussion. He believed that the priesthood was withheld as a continuing act of racism by modern day prophets. He had come to the point where he believed that the prophets in the scriptures were bigots,

Wow, talk about being able to judge a doctrine by its fruits.


I gather my responses to him as well as other arguments here because it is nice to have some ideas of how to answer such a ridiculous idea, though the best reply to such ideas may simply be "Have more faith".

These were written to someone who was firmly and publicly asserting that the brethren were racists. So keep that in mind when reading them. 

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This is the church of Jesus Christ, not the Church of Internal Debate

You write as if the brethren weren't using revelation to decide how to act but internal debate. The account of the revelation on the priesthood is as clear as the account of the vision of the redemption of the dead, or Peter's vision that the gospel would go to the gentiles despite all the years during Christ's mortality of doing the opposite. This is the Church of Jesus Christ, not the church of internal debate. In fact, this is the only church on the face of the earth that is led by revelation rather than by internal debate. You simply could not have been more wrong.

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Debate and discussion is no more a correct description of how that church is led than it is a correct description of how a testimony is gained.

Regarding your claim that the brethren lead the church by internal debate. Yes, The Lord does expect us to study things out. That is different than your tacit claim that the Lord's hand is shortened so he cannot grant revelations on behalf of an entire race if, as leaders study it out, his revelations don't match their gut instincts. But that is only half the story. The real issue is that studying something out is still radically different in the church than in the world. It involves a group seeking the whisperings of the spirit. They discuss, yes, but they also listen, and primarily for the direction of the Holy Ghost. Debate and discussion is no more a correct description of it than it is a correct description of how one gains a testimony. Yes, there is studying out of the word, but it is coupled with the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, the whisperings of that being who, when it speaks to us, allows us to say "I KNOW" instead of just "I believe". That is the way the church is led and, yes, that IS revelation. Joseph Smith stated "The Holy Ghost is a revelator, no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations."

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If you are publishing your claims that almost all modern prophets were racists and misconstruing the brethrens actions in destructive ways to further your arguments,  that is apostacy.

You seem to just not be able to write much that isn't somehow laced with criticism of church leaders, at least, that is what you opened with, and you immediately clarified that your criticism wasn't limited to defaming just one apostle (because you did portray him as essentially holding the priesthood away from many somehow against God's own will), but extended it to the others by calling them racists. Obviously not every prophet was just blindly following a statement by Orson Hyde. You are accusing a lot of our prophets of racism. It makes me think of a statement I ran into recently where someone had asked whether it was apostacy to disagree with the church. The answer was no, but that if one not only disagreed, but then went about publishing their views and misconstruing the actions of church leaders in destructive ways to further their cause, well, that was the definition of apostacy. Does that not fit? There must be better directions you can take your life.

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Describing the leadership of prophets and apostles divorced from the guidance of the Holy Ghost takes the life out of it and is a lie.

Did I mention that the church is no more led by internal debate than one gains a testimony by debate? Studying something out coupled with listening to the whisperings of the spirit is a completely different thing that debate and discussion. That is a key to revelation which is why it can bring a testimony, which is, itself, a revelation. The church is led by the the same pattern of revelation that allows one to stand up and say "I KNOW the Church is true". 

Describing the church as being led in the way you portray is no more correct than describing a testimony as being gained by debate. You have wrung the Holy Ghost completely out of the matter, and have described what would be left without it. You may as well give a man's eulogy by describing his dead physical corpse. You took all the life out of it, described what was left, and called that the church. Put the life back into it, and then describe how the church is led. It is led by men, yes, studying things out, but also seeking unison and the listening for the whisperings of the Holy Ghost as they study it out. They have sacred experiences that they do not share, and have said so on multiple occasions.

Your portrayal of it as being led by internal debate is both misleading and destructive because it robs the church of its lifeblood of revelation.

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Blessings that vary from group to group are all through the scriptures and the gospel.

Actually blessings that vary from group to group are all through the gospel. We get patriarchal blessings to find out which tribe we belong to. Different tribes are called to play different roles. We believe that all who accept the gospel are adopted into the seed of Abraham and inherit blessing from that. The gospel went first to Israel, then to the gentiles. In the latter days, it is going first the the gentiles, and then to the Jews (as stated all through the scriptures). There are some promises made to the Jews, other promises made to the Lamanites, others made to the Israelites and yet other promises made to those who live in the Americas. Why isn't everyone in the church offended at all this apparent racism and ethnicism? The answer is easy, we KNOW it isn't racism because we know our God, and have faith that he knows best. 

This time in the world's history is rather unique. In these days the gospel is taken to all people.
Christ did not have his disciples go to teach among the gentiles until after his resurrection, when a revelation was given to Peter. 

Christ even expressed initial reluctance to do a miracle for a gentile woman. He even stated to his disciples "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 

If Brigham Young had said the same, would have not many have called it an act of racism? Should we call Christ a racist for stating that he was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel".

Absolutely not. We do not correct the Savior with modern political correctness. Instead we cast away the ideas of men and listen to the Savior.


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The claim that revelation was superceded by personal racism to the detriment of huge numbers of souls is inconsistent with the truth that this church is led by Jesus Christ. It is a not a little lie, it is a big lie.

If a man is holding an eagle but insisting that is is a catfish, I would feel like something was seriously wrong. The more seriously and insistently he claims it, the more I might think he was either crazy or struggling with some sort of delusional deviousness. Its the method of "people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

You are doing the same thing. And so I suppose I will keep on pointing it out.

Big Lie: One can have true faith that this church is led by Jesus Christ and simultaneously believe that the church kept the priesthood from black men for 150 or so years because the apostles and prophets in the church were too bigoted to accept God's will to the contrary.

According to the Lectures of Faith in order for a man to gain faith sufficient unto life and salvation he must know that the course he is pursuing the course God desires him to pursue.

If our leaders can't properly give inspiration on saving and exalting ordinances for millions of people on the earth, then it simply isn't the Church of Jesus Christ now is it. He wouldn't be the one in charge in that sort of situation.

Also, according to lectures on faith, it would be impossible for members who accepted such an idea to ever develop faith sufficient unto life and salvation. If you can't trust your leaders at that scale, you can't really trust any of their counsel now, can you?

This is a big lie in the sense of the above propaganda method. It is utterly false, it is destructive propaganda. You have dressed it up nicely. That is no surprise, as it makes it more palatable. But it is a big lie.

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The leaders of the church are not and were not racists.

Let me first point out that the native americans and the white settlers had a prolong and bloody history. As examples I know of directly, one of my ancestors had his wife and his six children stolen from his home during the french american war. Note that capturing a woman and six children and running off with them is by no means advancing a war effort. The woman and three of the children were later killed out of hand and the other three, including the one I am descended from, were transported and sold as slaves by their native american captors.

Researching another ancestor I find that in the earliest years of the settlement of north america there was a period during which English settlements would simply disappear, being burnt to the ground with the inhabitants killed or carried away by the natives. The settlers simply had no way of knowing if their settlement would be next.

My point is not to argue sides in all that american history. My point is merely to point out that native americans and white settlers had a prolonged and bloody history.

-- Having established that -- 

So if the early brethren were really racists it is extraordinarily peculiar that they took such pains to get the gospel to the native americans by sending 4 missionaries walking 1500 miles to preach to them less than a year after the church was established with just 6 members. 

Critics are good at ignoring that the gospel was sent early on to a race that had a long and bloody history with the white settlers, i.e. a long history with the very group the early church leaders were part of. 

Parley Pratt served multiple missions in south america. The early church had missionaries going to diverse parts of the world. At tremendous difficulty early church members served in parts of the world where they had no knowledge of the language or culture, just to save souls. This is not white supremacy! These men were not racists! The claim is absolultely ridiculous!

This effort continued through those many years you accuse the brethren of racism. A well known example, Joseph F Smith, served in Hawaii at the age of 15. He was called to go there by the church leaders you accuse of racism, to bring those people the gospel. The accusations of racism by church leaders are just so absolutely ridiculous. They carried the gospel to diverse parts of the world at great personal cost. Those who cry racism do so because they are closing their eyes to the great difficulties suffered by those who would travel to people with diverse skins and cultures in the hope of saving their souls. These were not the days of the MTC and relative safety for missionaries. This was a wide open world with no guarantees that you would come back. It was in days of poverty and struggle when the sacrifice was far more extreme. It was often leaving your wife and children to work the farm in the dessert of Utah so you could save someones soul, quite possibly someone whose skin was different than your own. 

The claim that they were racists goes well beyond ignorance because it is so deeply insulting to the terrible sacrifices they made, in many cases precisely to save the souls of those of other races and cultures. This is not a group blinded by the ideals of their own cultures and flesh tones. It is quite the opposite. It is just so insulting and ignorant to stomp on their tremendous sacrifices and call them racists.

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A note on wording.

If something is ridiculous, silly, insulting or ignorant, I will use words like "ridiculous", "silly", "insulting" or "ignorant". These are real concepts, not just arbitrary words

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Addressing the falsehood - stick to its core contradiction

As those who teach this are effectively using the method of "people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it" then it is important to keep those big lies front and center, pointed out for what they are.

Big Lie #1: One can have true faith that this church is led by Jesus Christ and simultaneously believe that the church kept the priesthood from black men for 150 or so years because the apostles and prophets in the church were too bigoted to accept God's will to the contrary.

Big Lie #2: One can have true faith in the scriptures while reading the actions of the scriptural prophets as bigotry.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Separation of church and state, worshiping according to the dictates of our conscience, and laws against immorality.

Separation of church and state, worshiping according to the dictates of our conscience, and laws against immorality are all illustrated as they correctly fit together in Alma 30.

Alma 30: 7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
 8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
 9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
 10 But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.
 11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

There you see the principles correctly illustrated. Separation of church and state is illustrated. Letting others worship according to the dictates of their own conscience is illustrated. And yet neither of this principles means it is wrong for the state to punish someone for adultery (verse 10). The state actually has an obligation to not lose track of what is morally wrong, and to consider it a civil matter. It also has an obligation to not use religious exemptions as justification for evil practices. We as members should be it's conscience and fight for it not to lose track of those things in its laws.

That was once acknowledged among the people generally I believe, but in the last 50 years or so it has slipped away from our thinking. Many now think that the opposite is true. So it bears repeating what we see illustrated clearly in these scriptures since we have been so heavy handedly taught the opposite for so very long.

1. When operating correctly, the principle of separation of church and state, does not mean the state should forget what is immoral, and not consider immorality a crime.

2. When operating correctly, the principle of letting others worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, does not mean the state should forget what is immoral, and not consider it a crime.

Now we live in a state that has all but lost its moral compass. But that doesn't mean we don't have a moral obligation to fight for whatever part of that moral compass remains, and to seek to restore what parts are lost.

The scriptural lanugage about adultery

I was led to muse what could one say in modern language that would be precisely as "kind" as these scriptures? These are rather a random smattering in no particular order. I have noticed that our language on these matters as regular members seems to vary significantly from the scriptural language, which I take as a red flag that we are missing something important.

Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

D&C 63: 14 There were among you adulterers and adulteresses; some of whom have turned away from you, and others remain with you that hereafter shall be revealed.
 15 Let such beware and repent speedily, lest judgment shall come upon them as a snare, and their folly shall be made manifest, and their works shall follow them in the eyes of the people.
 16 And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear.
 17 Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
 18 Verily I say, that they shall not have part in the first resurrection.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

Alma 39:5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

Christ stated that the Pharisees secretly did not believe in God

I get tired of hearing how strictly obedient the scribes and the Pharisees of Christ's day were, particularly in view of Christ's frank assertions that they weren't at all. But I hadn't realized that Christ had stated that in secret they didn't even believe there was a God. Here are two great quotes from the Savior, who is, as always, being Christlike.

JST Luke 16:21 O fools! for you have said in your hearts, There is no God. And you pervert the right way; and the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence of you; and you persecute the meek; and in your violence you seek to destroy the kingdom; and ye take the children of the kingdom by force. Woe unto you, ye adulterers!

JST Matt 7:6 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.
7 Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?
8 Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.