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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apostate Christendom had to redefine grace because it had no experience with it

A world without the Holy Ghost had to come up with explanations for why revelation, prophecy, and all of the spiritual gifts had ceased through the dark days of apostasy. Having no experience with God's grace, they had to come up with a new meaning for it. Not being worthy to experience spiritual manifestations such as the Holy Ghost, they taught instead that his grace was a legal arrangement by which blessings would come after this life, rather than during it. Real saving grace is necessarily experienced during mortality. It necessarily alters and exalts our works. Grace that that does not transform our works has no power to save anyone for it is by our works that we will be judged.

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's Christmas - Do we know that Jesus Christ was the Son of the Living God

The world of apostate Christendom had well over a thousand years to interpret the scriptures before the restoration. Some of the plainest parts of the gospel have been spiritualized away into nothing, and probably the most prominent of these is that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

We believe, and we are the only people under heaven that believe, that Jesus Christ was the literal son of a literally living God. Why is it important that God the Father has a body? Because without a body he could not have had a child. Christ was begotten and born as the child of a father and a mother in the usual way that children are begotten and born. His father was Heavenly Father, and his mother was Mary.

The Greeks and Romans had a theology filled with pagan gods having affairs with mortal women. Nobody had any question what was being claimed when it was said that Christ was the Son of God.

In the days of his mortality Christ's sonship was taught openly. When Peter said "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God", Peter could not possibly have been misunderstood.

And it took thousands of years of spiritualizing away at the word "son" to turn something as clear as the fact that the Father had a son by a mortal woman into a mere meaningless nothing in which the Father creating Christ by chemical magic. To do so would make Christ his creation. But it would not make Christ his son. And it is offensive to reduce the Son of God to a chemisters magic trick instead of to the literal son of the living God.

Christ has an eternal family. His father and mother in eternity will be Heavenly Father and Mary. Naturally, Mary was sealed to the Father in accordance with the Father's own divine law.

Mary was both pure and was not given to any mortal man. The authors of the scriptures choose to describe her pure state using the word "virgin", which to our ears is confusing. It differentiates her from the pagan theologies of her day. In the scriptures the word virgin emphasizes that a woman is pure and is not given to any man.

In Shakespeare's play "Much ado about nothing" we see a statement of virtue being made with the words  "And surely as I live, I am a maid." To us, that sounds like she is a cleaning lady. But to their ears it was a statement of chastity.

And to ancient ears the word that was translated "virgin" was the best way to convey the fact that she had not been given to any other mortal man and that thereby her marriage to Joseph while carrying the living son of the Father was honorable and right.

But nobody wondered what it meant that God had a son by her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gender Apostasy part 2

We cannot help with gender apostasy until we come to terms with the reality that it is a form of apostasy. It is of the same nature as apostasy from the true church, it demonstrates the same characteristics, and it must be treated in the same way if it to be helped at all.

And until we embrace that we will be stumbling around doing more harm than good to those who struggle with it.

Apostasy is rejection of fundamental truth. The more perfectly the truth is known, the harder it is to recover from apostasy form it.

What is the usual route to apostasy from the church? Doesn't it usually start by the adversary getting us to question? If we give heed to those doubts then his power over us is strengthened and those doubt become more compelling to us. The more we give way to such questions and doubts the more power Satan gains until he overpowers even our own personal divine experiences and we cast away the gospel. Once the adversary convinces one to reject God's truth, his rejection of fundamental knowledge works against him and he becomes incredibly hardened against the truth he was once so firm about.

When we reject eternal truth that we already know we are engaging in a form of apostasy and it follows the same pattern whether it is rejection of a testimony, a rejection of our nature to be attracted to the opposite gender, or a rejection of our own gender.

In all cases, if we are misbehaving, if we are increasing the devil's influence over us through sin, especially through moral sin, then his power to influence us will be dramatically strengthened.

Just as with apostasy from the truth, sometimes people apostatize from their gender mostly by giving way to initial temptations to question. If the adversary can get them to give way to his whisperings to question their gender, then they find those questions become more compelling. If the cycle is allowed to initially take root, it continues and becomes harder and harder to escape. It is just like apostasy from the church.

The moment we teach that those questions are legitimate we have opened the floodgates for this sort of apostasy. We will then see dramatically more of it and it will begin to take coarser forms. We may have helped those who have given way to it already salve their troubled consciences. But fighting against the light of Christ comes at a cost, and if we teach that such questions are legitimate we will end up destroying far more of his children while simultaneously reinforcing the harm those who have already given way have done to themselves.

Satan had power to tempt even the sinless Christ. Do those temptations define who Christ is? No. Do they define who we are? No.

And when we start telling people that those temptations might just be who they really are then we have actually told them to listen to the first of Satan's lies. That dramatically strengthens his ability to make those lies seem compelling.

The only way out of gender apostasy is to treat it like apostasy.

Step 1. If you are feeling such temptations you must take a firm stance that you KNOW what gender you are, and what gender your body is attracted to, and that those temptations are lies.

Step 2. Keep doing step 1.

Important Caveat. You will never defeat Satan on a moral issue while misbehaving morally. Cast out any or the least moral misbehavior. Know that it will take months or even years for the effects to go away. But know this: you have given Satan only temporary power to sway you on moral issues and in time if you fully repent his influence will fade and the truth will come out if you will stay firm in what you know to be true, even if that truth is nothing more than you know your gender, and you know what gender your body is really attracted to.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Very short quotation

George Q Cannon, speaking of the saints of his day, the pioneers: "We have sacrificed enough for truth to show that we love it."

Matthew Cowley, A nation cannot live on bread alone

Matthew Cowley, General Conference 1951
If the individual cannot live by bread alone, neither can the nation. This great country owes its birth and preservation to men who were guided by spiritual values. The Pilgrim fathers who first set foot upon the rugged shores of New England and the great pioneers who conquered the mountains and deserts from the Atlantic to the Pacific were men of God. They survived the hunger and hardships incident to colonizing and pioneering because they were motivated by a quest for God rather than by a lust for gold.
They penetrated the forests and pushed on to forbidding waste lands with confidence that with the help of God they would live, and that without His help they would perish. They broke the scorched earth, turned the virgin soil, planted their crops and then called upon God to bring forth the harvest. They lived by His words and He provided them with sustenance.
History records the decline and fall of great nations and empires, both ancient and modern, which have rejected God and denied man the right to live in accordance with His divine will.
The institutions of our own nation, which were founded by men who invoked divine aid, may be lost to future generations if the lessons of history are ignored. If God loses control in the affairs of this great nation, the decline and decay of its structure of freedom and liberty will surely follow. The loss of its soul will be inevitable because ours is a nation which cannot survive on material values alone.
To say that "it can't happen here" is to disregard the destructive forces of evil that are abroad in the land.
At another time in the Nation's history when men were trying to live by bread alone and were forgetting God, Abraham Lincoln issued a timely proclamation which reads as follows:
"And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the holy scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
"And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation of a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

We have been fools to try to abolish shame and feelings of guilt

There has been a general movement within our culture to treat shame and guilt as inherently bad things, and to take great measures in what we teach to avoid creating feelings of shame or guilt.

If guilt and shame are not essential to us it is a wonder that the light of Christ, which proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space is our conscience. For while, if we allow it, the adversary can inspire such feelings, if we are following God it is principally our conscience that inspires guilt and shame, and that conscience comes from God.

Many in our culture have preached tirelessly against guilt and shame. In a bizarre twist, they have made people feel guily and ashamed for doing no more than stating the plain truths found in the scriptures, on the pretext that doing so will make some people feel guilty and ashamed. Some of our own members have helped in this effort.

And the end result was that God is right and we were fools to think that we knew better.

We can see that because our societies efforts have been so successful: every major city has gay "pride" parades. A recent television show spent its hour of screen time endorsing planned parenthood, who has recently been caught in many instances of actually selling away baby parts like a fish market.

Our culture has, in large measure, convinced itself that there is nothing to be ashamed of or guilty for.

And what a horrible tragic mistake it has been. Shame and guilt are critical means God gives to inspire repentance, and by cutting our people off from them, we have severed the principle rope holding people up out of the flames. By doing so we have dropped those previously climbing it into the depths and we have left those already at their basest in misery they believe to be inescapable because we have robbed them of their primary guide to a better life.

Joseph Smith had long experienced what the endowment teaches

Brigham Young  - JoD vol 2, "Necessity of Building Temples, etc..."
At Nauvoo, Joseph dedicated another Temple, the third on record. He knew what was wanting, for he had previously given most of the prominent individuals then before him their endowment. He needed no revelation, then, of a thing he had long experienced, any more than those now do, who have experienced the same things. It is only where experience fails, that revelation is needed.