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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What you want me to be, dear Lord

I was recently reminded of my own follies by this verse:

Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

We like to look around, and pat ourselves on the back for being faithful church members in these days of wickedness. Reading the old testament one wants to roll ones eyes at the Israelite's constant disobedience and rebellion. I wonder if when members are so righteous that Satan is bound the saints of that day won't read of our day and roll their eyes in the same way concerning us, much like the way we may look at the old testament Israelites. Christ was always pointing out even to his disciples that they were simply thinking on the wrong level altogether.

Luke 8: 24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
 25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith?

Do we think we would have done better than those Jesus chose to become his apostles in that setting? Not at all. These men stood by him in every circumstance, but he was pointing to a higher place and saying "you aren't there yet".

Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Would we have done better than Peter? No. Not at all. Christ isn't reproving his disciples for not being as good as we are now, he was pointing to a level far, far above where you and I both sit and saying to his disciples "why aren't you up there?" Certainly, for the rest of us, the costs of our disobedience and lack of faith concerns and distresses that God who loves us not one bit less.

3 Nephi 17:14 And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.

So it is great to have scriptures that say something like:

Alma 12:10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

These allow us to measure ourselves against God's standard instead of simply comparing ourselves to our neighbors. Just as the disciples in Christ's day, Christ challenges us too with his higher standard of where he wants us, rather than where we are want to be. These scriptures challenge us no less than Christ's words challenged his disciples.

So how are we doing? Well, in my opinion, there isn't much of the sort of faith in the church yet that would allow one to say to a sycamine tree "Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea" and it would obey. I know I am nowhere near there. But I am grateful that God points to those examples, as he did to his disciples, and says to me and to all of us "No, THAT is where I want you. Not where you are."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Feminism - Standing in the street, sounding a trumpet before them

I find it astonishing that a movement that has accomplished as much evil as feminism has should have proponents among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Feminism so clearly and forcibly stands in opposition to the gospel. One cannot genuinely and fully take Christ's name and embrace a label like feminism, which directly opposes his teachings.

After all, whose drum are the many women who seek fulfillment in careers instead of in family marching too? The drum of Feminism.

Whose teachings are the women listening to who want to limit their children lest they infringe too much on self fulfillment?

What is feminism, if it isn't a celebration purely of self and selfishness? It isn't a celebration of God, to be certain. In fact, it generally doesn't like the scriptural discussions of man and women, and often cites God's word as some of its points of objection. After all, the scriptures have teachings like:

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

This directly contradict the feminist ideal. I will agree that these verses are clarified in the temple - the wife's obligation is contingent on the husbands obedience to the Lord - but these verses are certainly not revoked there. They have also been taught both with and without that clarification by modern prophets. In fact, I believe in older days in the church, these scriptures were simply taught as the truth. That should not surprise us. Anything else should surprise us. In those days, if there was a scripture addressing the matter frankly, what need was there of further debate? Do we not still believe the scriptures?

So when did we, as members of Christ's true church decide the scriptures were something we paused for, then determined our counter arguments to, instead of simply accepting them as the word of God?

Ironically, Feminism is only proud of its masculinity. It has no interest in the feminine gems of gentleness, meekness, kindness, tenderness, mercy. It has no interest in actual femininity. It only believes women are equal with men if they have manlike achievements.

Charity vaunteth not itself. Feminism takes the opposite route, vaunting itself in an ever increasing clamour.

The Savior was not concerned with whether or not his daily ministrations would bring him the biggest headlines. He constantly took care of those who were beneath other's notice. He healed the lame man at the water's of Bethesda, who no man would take up and assist. This suffering was not beneath Christ's notice. He did not seek to bless where it would bring the most acclaim.

By contrast Feminism takes the opposite route of the Savior. It is deeply concerned with whether or not women get enough "press", attention and administrative inflluence in the scriptures as well as in Christ's living church today. Like the hypocrites of olden days, they want their to ensure that someone will be present "sounding a trumpet before them" for any good work that they do. Christ was clear that those whose main concern is worldly attention for their acts will receive no reward from Heaven for those acts. He taught:

JST Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

Those whose concern is recognition for their goodness can receive no reward from Heaven for it. Visibility and acclaim is the desire of feminism.

Sad that so many women lack the faith to believe that the many nameless women in the scriptures were, in their own time, more delighted with the greater reward that God would give them for their silent service than with the acclaim of others. Why do so many women now no longer have the same faith as those in previous days to listen to the master's counsel? Will he not still bless openly for silent and unspoken service?

JST Matthew 6:3-4 But when thou does alms, let it be unto thee as thy left hand not knowing what thy right hand doeth; That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

Christ said of little children that "of such is the kingdom of heaven". Certainly the reward to the woman who nurtures God's little ones, teaching them tenderly to follow the Savior, caring for their needs, mourning with God's little ones who mourn, are remembered by their Father who sees them in secret, and he will reward them openly.

Feminism certainly isn't meekness or humility. It is animosity and pride. Feminism certainly isn't charity.

Charity suffereth long and is kind. Feminism won't suffer anything, and is assertive.
Charity is not puffed up. Feminism is all about puffing up.
Charity seeketh not her own. Feminism seeketh solely her own.
Charity is not easily provoked. Feminism lives in its own seething animosity.
Charity thinketh no evil. Feminism wages a war on families and marriages with self righteous zeal.
Charity rejoiceth not in inquity. Feminism has helped abortion become mainstream and exponentially multiplied divorce.
Charity is the pure love of Christ. Feminism is the pure love of self.

Feminism doesn't like the language of the scriptures, and stays away from them. Christ, on the other hand, loved God's word.  The two stand in opposition. One cannot follow Christ and follow feminism. One cannot take Christ's yoke upon us, and be at war with his way of life. They stand in stark opposition to one another.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book draft excerpt: At-one-ness and the At-one-ment

The word atonement was created by the King James Bible translators to convey the idea of an at-one-ment by forging together the words “at”, “one” and the suffix “ment”. Christ’s great and terrible sacrifice offers a way for us that man can become “at one” with God. When we want to understand the atonement, we are usually not asking for a clearer account of the sufferings and death of the Savior, we are asking how we can partake of the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice for us to receive this miraculous gift and be able to become “at one” with God. These teachings and visions of redemption such as Lehi’s dream are exactly that. If the fall was the great breach between man and God by which mankind was cast out of God’s presence, isn’t it clear that when Lehi returns to the tree of Life and partakes of the fruit that Lehi is “at one” with God in a sense he could never have been at any point previously on the path? Isn’t that at-one-ness the clear objective of an at-one-ment in a way that is far above and beyond Lehi’s initial baptism?

Yes, baptism is the gate onto the path. But it is no more the complete story of the atonement in a person’s life than setting up a campsite in Yosemite valley is the complete story of how one arrived at the top of half dome peak. Yes, baptism is the gate and, yes, one is certainly more “at one” with God after baptism than before as one has been washed clean of one’s sins and can enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost. However, if there is more at-one-ness we wish to obtain, then there must be more at-one-ment that we need to partake of. After all, our ultimate purpose isn’t only to partake of the gift of the Holy Ghost. In the end even those in the telestial kingdom enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Our final objective is more audacious. It is to dwell for eternity with the Father and the Son along with our own eternal families. So there is more at-one-ness we want, and hence more of the at-one-ment that we must partake of between baptism and our final purpose which is eternal life in the presence of the Father and the Son.

There is a scriptural example that illustrates this nicely. It is no accident that the phrase “sanctified and washed white in the blood of the lamb” is both a striking reference to partaking of the atonement of Christ, as well as something that is very clearly not granted immediately as a door prize at the gate of baptism.

Alma 13:10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;

 11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.

 12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

Being sanctified and washed white in the blood of the lamb as described in these verses apparently required “exceeding faith and repentance”. As one who knows nothing about such things, I can have nothing to say about such things. However, there is still an important point to be made from this scripture. Apparently partaking of the atonement isn’t something made available in its fullest potential at baptism. The phrase “washed white in the blood of the lamb” is a striking reference to partaking of the atonement, and yet it is not something granted to you just because you got baptized. Sure Baptism washes us and puts our feet on the path. But to gain more at-one-ness with God, we will apparently need to progress and eventually partake of more of the at-one-ment, being sanctified and washing our garments white in the blood of the lamb (not that I know anything about it). The atonement apparently makes greater offerings to us as we progress down the path, not available to us at previous points. This is a point rarely made about the atonement, but one which appears quite scripturally sound. As Christ traveled the same path, showing us the way, this statement would correspond to the fact that He “…continued from grace to grace, until He received a fullness” (D&C 93:13).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Protestant views of the Atonement

In response to a claim I ran into that there has been a trend seeping into the church that belittles Christ's atonement. The person was irate at another individuals endorsement of strict obedience, calling it legalistic. This is my response.

No, I'm afraid you have it backwards. The recent introduction of protestant interpretations of the atonement into mormonism like the one you give is what is new. But it has been happening over quite a few years, so it is easy to get it backwards (read lectures 6 & 7 in the lectures on faith, which were part of the doctrine and covenants until the early 1900s if you don't believe me - they were taught by Joseph Smith to the school of the prophets). In the protestant atonement, Christ's atonement puts us in heaven either miraculously changed from who we were in mortality so we no longer desire sin, or simply covers our sinful acts even while we actually live in the presence of the Father and the Son in heaven.

However, our doctrine is that, as Alma taught, we will be under the influence of the same spirit there that we are under here. Our doctrine is also that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. This is radically different than the protestant atonement. We can't have sin and be in the presence of God, but we will be the same kind of being after this life that we were when we die. Which is a conundrum. The atonement as it actually is grants us needed forgiveness from sin, but only on condition of repentance of that sin. Thus as we free ourselves of our sins through repentance we can be forgiven of them (through Christ's atonement) and become gradually more prepared to dwell in the celestial kingdom.

His greatest commandment was Love, sure, but that didn't keep him from saying there would be "but few" who would find eternal life (as comparatively quite few join the true church through baptism and then endure to the end), and that "many" would go in the broad gate to destruction. Christ was always very clear that neither his love, nor his Father's love, would save those who weren't righteous. If anything, he was incredibly frank about the opposite being true.