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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Basic chastity is a foundation for society - and immorality ceases to be criminal when the people are ripening for destruction

The Lord destroyed various peoples for violating basic morality and decency even if those people didn't have the gospel at all. Not only did their religion not warn these people, but in fact, it seems that it was not uncommon for the Lord to destroy people for things that were actively endorsed by their religion. We see that laid out plainly when the Lord is speaking to the Israelites through Moses and tells them what practices he destroyed the heathen nations that preceded them for. We also see it in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
These people were destroyed for violations of basic morality. They were held accountable for violating basic morality, for certainly destroying people is holding them accountable, and therefore the Lord knew that, in their hearts, these people knew better. We are not held accountable for what we do no know.
Apparently basic morality is something that the Lord considers everyone to have sufficient light to be held accountable for simply by the fact that they have the light of Christ. And he has destroyed nations precisely for violating that light. Thus decency and morality are foundational parts of society. Everyone has enough light to live them, even if many choose to reject them.
We see this illustrated nicely in the Book of Mormon
Alma 30: 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 we see it clearly taught that adultery was a crime, like stealing, that people were punished for. It was punished as a crime, not as a religious matter, because morality is part of the basic principles of society.
Many people now have deluded themselves into thinking that since morality is taught in the scriptures this violates separation of church and state. But morality and decency are fundamental pillars of society, in addition to being religious principles. Thus we see it being punished here as a crime while the prophet makes it perfectly clear that doing so was not a violation of separation of church and state.
Now when most people are righteous, the society will choose laws that enforce decency and morality. They will make violations of these into crimes just as we find in the Book of Mormon.
But when the people become wicked, they are no longer listening to the light of Christ, they are no longer listening to their conscience, and so they choose to change the laws to allow for indecency and immorality.
And THAT is a major reason that when the voice of the people is choosing evil they are ripening for destruction. When the voice of the people is choosing evil they revoke laws for decency and morality, and then the floodgates open to that sort of misbehavior.
And that sort of misbehavior is exactly what the Lord said he destroyed the heathen nations that preceded the Israelites for. Once the laws no longer reflect the light of Christ that all men have, then the laws are changed to allow indecency and immorality, and the path is opened for the nation to follow the heathen nations down to destruction for violating the laws that God holds all men accountable for.

Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second

There is a Book of Mormon verse we never talk about.
Alma 43: 46 And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.
Now THAT is an interesting doctrine. It says that if you are guilty of neither murder nor adultery then you are not to suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And of course, what is interesting is the exclusion there. It specifically does not cover those guilty of adultery or murder.
I expect Brigham Young discussed the meaning of it one way or another. It appears to mean that if you are guilty of murder or adultery then you have lost the right to take someone else's life in defense of your own.
So it does seem that one can lose the right to take a life to protect one's own life by choosing either murder or adultery. One may find that one's life may not be forfeit for murder, and it certainly isn't forfeit for adultery, but either way one's right to take another life to defend one's own is apparently lost. It doesn't mean no one ever did it. Many have. But it states something about what rights we have, how our actions can change them, and how the grand tally will be taken at the final judgement.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wilford Woodruff speaking of the Signers of the Declaration

Someone posted a painting of the signers of the Declaration of Independence coming to Wilford Woodruff, prompting me to look up the original statement.
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"We have labored in the St. George Temple since January, and we have done all we could there; and the Lord has stirred up our minds, and many things have been revealed to us concerning the dead. President Young has said to us, and it is verily so, if the dead could they would speak in language loud as ten thousand thunders, calling upon the servants of God to rise up and build Temples, magnify their calling and redeem their dead. This doubtless sounds strange to those present who believe not the faith and doctrine of the Latter-day Saints; but when we get to the spirit world we will find out that all that God has revealed is true. We will find, too, that everything there is reality, and that God has a body, parts and passions, and the erroneous ideas that exist now with regard to him will have passed away. I feel to say little else to the Latter-day Saints wherever and whenever I have the opportunity of speaking to them, than to call upon them to build these Temples now under way, to hurry them up to completion. The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.

I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them." Wilford Woodruff, JD 19:229

Monday, July 27, 2015

The men of Sodom threatened Lot because they said he was judging them

Given the scouting decision, we read Genesis 19 today for family scripture study. I hadn't realized that the men of Sodom say of Lot "This one man came in to sojourn among us, and he will needs now make himself to be a judge; now we will deal worse with him than with them."

Interesting that the great offense in their city is to "judge" them. Lucifer stirs his followers up against anything that might separate him from them. And his followers hate the truth because it attempts to separate them from their sins. Christ put it this way:

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Short note - Why did the Pharisees reject Christ?

Why did the Pharisees reject the Savior despite all his miracles? Because their doctrine allowed them to misbehave, and he threatened to take their kingdom and replace with one that required repentance and meaningful obedience instead of ostentatious shows of obedience to the lesser matters while disobeying all the great ones such as chastity.

We have enough cowards, we need men like Patrick Henry

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry

My wife Diane is right. We need the descendants of brave men to feel this way about freedom. We aren't silent because we are afraid of losing our lives. We are silent because we are afraid of being called names. We watch exciting movies and read books about action heroes, but we are craven cowards. We are afraid of being called names. No sticks or stones need break our bones, names are more than we can take. We don't love our Savior enough to ensure our posterity can continue to worship him. But we should. And if we did we would find that true charity casts out all fear, and rather than being the lowest of cowards the history of this country has to offer, we would become brave as the spirit of God was poured into us as it was into our ancestors, who gave all to make a free country for their posterity - for us and our descendants.

Very short note - how would the book of Mormon be different if?

I wonder how the Book of Mormon would be different if every time evil men made a move in government, good men were paralyzed out of bold action by the fear that plain words would hurt somebody's feelings.

Short note on the great wars in the book of Mormon

It's surprising that people can look around at the precarious position our religious freedom is in, and still feel confused about why so much of the Book of Mormon is devoted to the great wars. The great wars were the Nephites defending their freedoms. The great wars demonstrate the effort, deception, and genius that wicked men will put forth to destroy our freedom, and the effort and inspiration that will be required to come off victorious against them. But the inspiration and divine protection only comes for righteous effort. We cannot sit upon our thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor while our enemies are spreading this work around us, and yet still hope to come off the victors.

Celebrating great things by celebrating everything else instead

It's pioneer day, so just like on mothers day we mostly want to make sure everyone feels equal so we talk about everyone that could be considered a mother but isnt, and on fathers day we want to make sure everyone feels equal so we talk about everyone that could be considered a father but isnt, today everyone has the enormously creative idea to celebrate everyone that could be considered a pioneer but wasn't.

The prophecies still leave our future open to choose

The fact that God knows the future doesn't mean that we don't still choose it. If he reveals something to us, does that mean our choices will make no difference? I think there are a lot of ways the future can play out, and all the prophecies still be fulfilled. We can choose the worst possible route, or we can choose the best possible route.
We know the Savior will not come in a year in which the rainbow is seen, as Joseph Smith explained at least twice. Prophets have given counsel about a years supply since Brigham Young, and we can obey or disobey it. The prophesy will come true, but what it will mean in the lives of the Saints will depend on our choices.
The pioneers knew the dessert would blossom as a rose. But there were a wide range of possible fulfillments for that prophesy. The pioneers innovated and used irrigation to bring water to plants in dessert ground. God knew what they would choose, but it was they who made the choice. Maybe they could have hauled water instead. The prophesy would still have been fulfilled - but the result would have looked a lot different - it would have been far harder on everyone and the dessert wouldn't have blossomed as well. But it could still have blossomed enough.
We face many coming prophesies found in the scriptures. The vast bulk of us, even many of the best of us seem to feel like it is a play script that is laid out and there is nothing they can do about it. But we can choose how we will fulfill those prophesies.
If we choose apathy, our descendants must suffer for it. God will not simply go "uh oh, better make some adjustments" and fix things to match a divine play script . Our posterity necessarily suffers the blessings or the curses brought by their progenitors actions.
If we choose valiantly and protect our freedoms, our descendants must be blessed for it. Again, God will not react with an "oh shoot, they are messing everything up" and make some changes so the divine plan can proceed as prophesied. Our posterity will be blessed by our actions if we will choose to act valiantly.
There is room in the prophesies for an enormous range of possibilities. The ones that will happen will be the ones that we as a people choose. Our actions are not merely those of puppets with no ability to change the plot or story line. We ARE the plot. We ARE the story line. We are the main character because only we have the Holy Ghost and the priesthood. Because of that, no one can be the hero in our place. We CHOOSE the story our children will enjoy or endure. The only question is what sort of ending will we leave for our children to pick up from?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lying to ourselves about whether lying is lying

I am so tired of the constant dishonesty under the name of "marketing", "salesmanship" or "advertising". That certainly includes prostituting friendship as if it was currency, instead of something personal and precious. "I'll be your friend if you invite me to your birthday party" belongs in elementary school. When Alma tells Korihor he will be smitten if he denies God again and Korihor tries to get away with not technically denying God exists, God still smites him. Do we think our pretending our dishonesty is acceptable if we call it marketing, salesmanship, or advertising is fooling him? Isn't that just lying to ourselves about whether lying is lying?

Spiritual vanity and redeeming Zion in D&C 84

I was reading these verses:

D&C 84:54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
 55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
 58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
 59 For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

I was particularly struck as I thought about our own obsession with telling each other that each of us is wonderful just because we are a child of God. That certainly fits the Lord's accusing us of vanity. Thinking about it, I can't think of any scripture that says that we are wonderful just for being children of God, or even just for being church members. But it has become a major theme in our teaching.

These scriptures are quite profound, but teach a very different message. The choice of the word "vanity"in verse 55 is fascinating. It obviously doesn't mean vanity over our physical features, but spiritual vanity.

What would spiritual vanity be? It would be looking in our spiritual mirror and thinking vainly how spiritually lovely we are. We are constantly doing that these days. We enjoy internet memes and Sunday School teachers and book authors that tell us we are all wonderful just because we are children of God, or just because we are members of the true church.

But that isn't what the Lord says about it. He states that the whole church is under condemnation for taking lightly the book of Mormon and other scriptures. He calls this misbehavior spiritual vanity. He is saying we are vain because we think we don't need to dig into the scriptures and also really obey them because we think we are already so spiritually pretty.

Teaching that we are spiritually pretty church members without having to dig into the scriptures and then do what they teach is a major theme these days. This isn't vanity we idly acquire. It is a major part of our current teaching.

The Lord says we can either change this ourselves, or be humbled into changing it by scourge and judgment. But the grand conclusion is that this must change because if Zion was to return right now we wouldn't be spiritually fit to live there. That is the point of the question "For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land?" The point is if Zion returned now we would be pollutions in it.

The Lord is teaching us that only way to avoid being a pollution in a Zion-like land is to repent and remember the Book of Mormon, the revelations and other scriptures, not only to say but to do what they teach. He is saying that whether of our own volition, or by scourge and judgement, the Lord will insist we change that before Zion returns. There isn't a plan A that involves changing and a plan B that involves being scourged but not changing. The scourge will abide until we change and cease taking the scriptures lightly and start doing what they teach. It is spiritual vanity for us to think that we are ready for Zion without that crucial change.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What did Joseph Smith mean when he said the people where depending on the Prophet, hence darkened in their minds

In teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith we read:

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 237)

Here Joseph Smith teaches of the early saints "that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds".

Wait... what?!?

How could depending on the prophet cause members to be "darkened in their minds"?

The answer is given in the rest of this quotation by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith said each should stand for themselves and depend on no man. He then said that they were violating this by depending on him, which caused their minds to be darkened. It is important to note the reason: It is because they were depending and him and thereby neglecting the duties devolving on themselves.

So fast forward to today. Now days the faithful members of our church tend to know what the brethren have said, but not to believe that they can teach or believe anything they can't back up by a quotation from one general authority or another. Instead of growing into the principle of revelation, we are growing into the principle of note card cataloging.

One principle is dead, and causes members to be "darkened in their minds". The other is alive. 

The dead principle is that one that closes his eyes and ears when the Holy Ghost teaches something unless it can be proven that someone else said it too. This isn't learning by the Holy Ghost. It isn't faith. It isn't learning to taste the principles of eternal life. It is fundamental distrust of the Holy Ghost. If I tell someone I will only believe what he says if I find out someone I trust well also said it first, then I do not trust that person. And because I don't trust him, he can't teach me.

If we refuse to learn by the Holy Ghost, and instead turn gospel learning in to an extended quotation chase, how much further from learning by the Holy Ghost could we be? Yes, that would cause one's mind to be darkened. After all, one has turned off the lights.

Sure, there are great inspired quotes and scriptures. The scriptures are the fountainhead of truth. But where did they come from? From someone speaking or writing by the Holy Ghost. When angels deliver a message how do they speak truth so perfectly? In 2 Nephi 32 it says angels speak by the Holy Ghost.

We are supposed to learn by the Holy Ghost. But this trend, that pretends it is an act of faithfulness because it only believes what can be verified by a direct quotation centers around refusing to listen to the Holy Ghost. It replaces the spirit with the methods suited to academia.

If we are going to insist that instead of teaching by the spirit, and learning by the spirit, we are going to simply catalog a large number of quotations because we feel it is safer, then yes, our minds will be darkened because we are depending on the Prophet precisely as Joseph Smith warned the saints in his day.

The true and living principle is that we are given the gift of Holy Ghost precisely because the Holy Ghost is a revelator. Joseph Smith taught:

"No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator."

Sure, we absolutely recognize the prophet as a prophet seer and a revelator and the only man authorized to lead the church. Yes, we absolutely follow his counsel. And, very importantly, we consider the prophet has the right to say "I had a revelation that...." to the church, where regular members of the church are welcome to teach as they will by the Holy Ghost, but are not welcome to go around teaching one thing or another as being a revelation they received, except to those over whom they are stewards.

But there is enormous difference between hearing the prophet's words as a checklist of statements, and hearing his words as teaching inspired truths that we are expected to come to understand by the Holy Ghost so that we could have said the same thing he did, independently. One is a dead principle of rote quotations. The other is a living principle of learning by the Holy Ghost until we understand the full principle.

One route teaches us to be an echo of the prophet. It doesn't take much study, ponder, or prayer to be an echo. Frankly, one doesn't even need the gift of the Holy Ghost to be an echo. If that was really the intention, the Lord could just give the prophet the gift of the Holy Ghost and leave us out of it. Being an echo doesn't require revelation.

But becoming an independent witness requires the gift of the Holy Ghost because it requires revelation. That is the route to becoming a living witness of the Christ and of the words of his prophet. This requires the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the principle of revelation. This is following the prophet to where he actually intends for us to follow: to a living understanding of the truths he speaks, rather than to a rote recital of them, blind to the spirit by which he himself taught them in the first place.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The future as we choose it now

Every other dispensation faced the eventuality of a great apostasy. But that didn't mean when things started going bad they sat back and relaxed and said "It's just fulfillment of prophesy".

We are losing the battle for religious freedom. In Sunday School today the teacher told about Peter denying Christ and asked whether there are ways in which we deny him.

Do we love him enough to ensure our children can continue to worship him?

No. The resounding answer amongst us is no, we do not.

At this rate, we will lose our religious freedoms and we will deserve to, having lost the love for our Savior and for our children that would have kept it alive.

And our descendants will suffer, if they remain true, like the pioneers never had to, because unlike the Pioneers they will have no Nauvoo to build up in isolation, no winter quarters to shelter in, no Rocky Mountains to flee to. There is no place now for them to evade their enemies in. They must simply stand in the midst of them.

Would that God would mercifully smite this nation with such trouble as would remind them that it is God that rules in heaven and earth, and the sufferings to come of our righteous offspring might be lessened among a more circumspect people. Certainly God will do so in time, but that may wait until with Joseph and Hyrum our posterity have sealed their testimony with their blood and joined the saints John's revelation spoke of whose blood cries out for vengeance beneath the throne of God.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The law of Moses and continuing revelation in the Book of Mormon

We don't think much about the fact that King Benjamin made slavery illegal. But it is interesting because a form of slavery was clearly spelled out by the law of Moses. Thus, even with the law of Moses there was continuing revelation. The law of Moses declared that a man would be sold to cover debts he couldn't pay. In fact, I think it is Hosea who buys his unfaithful wife who abandoned him when he later finds her being sold to cover her debts. The law of Moses even laid out laws governing this slavery or forced servitude, i.e. a person could buy their freedom, and every 50 years there was a jubilee and all such people were freed.
However, in the Book of Mormon King Benjamin abolishes slavery, and we later learn that when a man can't pay his debts, he isn't sold to cover those debts as the law of Moses lays out. King Benjamin, who was also a prophet, had made slavery illegal. Thus, instead of what the law of Moses lays out, in the Book of Mormon we read that a man who can't pay his debts is stripped and cast out as a thief and a robber.
So while the Nephites lived the law of Moses, it was still a law of Moses that was subject to continuing revelation through a prophet of God.

The Midianites, divine destruction and divine protection

An unexpected story about good and evil.
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I was just reading an old testament story about good and evil that runs so counter to so many of our cultural inclinations that it is worth mentioning.

When the Midianite women slept with many of the men of Israel in Numbers 25 the Lord sent a plague that killed 24,000 of the Israelites. The plague was stayed by Aaron's grandson Phinehas when an Israelite took one of the midianitish woman to his tent right in front of Moses and the people, and Phinehas took up a Javelin and went into the tent and put it through the two of them. The Lord made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and his posterity because of this deed.

In Numbers 31 the Lord later sent 12,000 of the Israelites against the Midianites to avenge the children of Israel with that same Phinehas at their head. (yes, the word is "avenge", see Numbers 31:2). They destroy it, leaving no one behind and taking 32,000 women captive along with the children. Moses is furious that they spared the women who had once seduced Israelite men, and commands them to slay everyone but the female children who they keep as servants. Miraculously, not a single one of the 12,000 Israelite's was slain during the war with the Midianites.

One of the interesting things about this story is that the Lord slays 24,000 of the Israelites himself when they were being seduced. But in the later story, the Lord doesn't allow a single one of the 12,000 Israelites to be slain. They are spared in the same miraculous way as the sons of Helaman. Sure, they weren't strippling warriors, but they likely opposed around 32,000 men given the number of captive women, and yet not one of them was killed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

First set in order thy house

Sidney Rigdon was the first counselor in the first presidency. But the Lord still said to him:

D&C 93:44 Verily, I say unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, that in some things he hath not kept the commandments concerning his children; therefore, first set in order thy house.

Even with a calling as important as that, Sidney needed to "first set in order" his own house.

We tend to think of big callings as being more important than "little" normal  things like husband, wife, father, mother. But the Lord sees things differently than we do. The Lord specifically told Sidney that he needed to put his house in order "first". That was priority number one. How could he do his other calling without the critical spiritual foundation properly in place?

Men become, again, in their infant state, innocent before God because of the redemption

Once taught to me long ago

D&C 88:38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

Reading this verse as saying that it says:

1) "Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning"

and because

2) "God having redeemed men from the fall"

as a consequence

3) "men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God"

Those last two mean that it was because of the redemption from the fall that men become innocent before God when they enter their infant state. They also say that this is a return to innocence, i.e. it says we become innocent "again" when we are born into mortality.

Put differently, they say that our spirits not innocent before birth. Our spirits were once completely pure and innocent, but that changed as we misbehaved. However, because of the redemption from the fall, when we are born into this world there is a cleansing akin to baptism, and all our former misdeeds are washed away, making us innocent before God once again.

Note that this isn't just a statement that we forget everything at birth and become helpless. It specifically says that the innocence we return to at birth happens only because God redeemed men from the fall. Thus it is not just forgetfulness, but cleanliness that is at issue.

Those who tasted the powers of the world to come

Joseph Smith speaks of those who have "tasted of the powers of the world to come". Note that this says "tasted of the powers". It wasn't a matter of seeing things to come. It wasn't a matter of knowing of things to come. They tasted of the powers of the world to come.

And how so?

We see this clearly in Moses 1, for example. The glory of the Lord is upon Moses and Moses can perceive the world as God can, to a degree. He can perceive every individual. At another point he can perceive every particle of it. The glory of God is the light of Christ that proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space and is the means by which he is in and through all things and governs (i.e. has power over) all things. When God's glory was upon Moses, Moses tasted a bit of what that power is like. Experiencing this is what he referred to when he said something like "Now I see that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." He has seen that the glory by which God controls and sees all things is something his own mortal body cannot even endure without being transfigured. He has seen that without a better body, he cannot become like the Father, because his mortal frame cannot endure the eternal glory.

Thus Moses didn't just "learn about the powers of heaven", Moses "tasted the powers of the world to come" as did many others. He experienced a taste of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The melchizedek priesthood holds the keys, one of which is giving the Holy Ghost

I am suspicious that, while I have never heard it read this way, part of how the Melchizedek priesthood holds "the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom" is in that it has power to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost. I recently pointed out to my children that in D&C 76, which Joseph Smith referred to as "the vision" thereafter, it says that they were "in the spirit" and the vision began when "by the power of the spirit our eyes were opened".

That is, it doesn't say the vision required an angel to appear to initiate it, or that it required the priesthood. It required the gift of the Holy Ghost. And while it would not be revealed to the church by anyone who was not in a position of authority over the church, it could literally be shown to any man or woman who had the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Which fits with something else Joseph Smith taught, which Elder McConkie nicely summarized, saying: "But what counts in the field of religion is to become a personal participant in it. Instead of reading all that has been written and evaluating all that all the scholars of all the world have said about heaven and hell, we need to do what the Prophet said: gaze five minutes into heaven." (Bruce R McConkie, "How to get personal revelation")

Sunday, July 12, 2015

From President Benson's biography

One morning Ezra and his companion knocked on a door, and a woman answered. As soon as the word Mormon was uttered, her husband jumped up and joined her at the door. "Oh, I know all about you Mormons," he challenged. "When I was in the British Navy we sailed right into Salt Lake City port, and those Mormons wouldn't let us land."

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Tracting in an affluent area, he found the people "bitter and narrowminded." [[I include this just to note that this was not breaking the commandment not to judge.]]

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On teaching the gospel he wrote: "Every little girl thinks her doll best. Don't tear it to pieces to show it's made of sawdust - give her a better one and she'll leave the old alone." [[ Which I think is the same thing being conveyed in D&C 18: 20 Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil. ]]

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Anecdote on indifference he wrote down in his notes: "An immigrant went to sleep in his bunk after the ship had been in collision. When aroused, not too gently, and told that the vessel was sinking, he said impatiently, "Let her sink; it is not mine.' This is the attitude of many people with regard to the world in which we live and the conditions prevailing."

Priesthood book draft exceprt - Revealing the unexpected with the necessary

It is not uncommon for the Lord to reveal that which is unexpected in companion with that which is necessary and fundamental.
This forces us to choose between accepting the unexpected, or rejecting the necessary.

We see this in D&C 13.

D&C 13 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

There you have it. The authority to do baptism. This is necessary and fundamental. We cannot reject this without rejecting that which is crucial.

Thus included with the Priesthood of Aaron came not only keys of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, but also the keys of the ministering of angels. That last one is unexpected. It would be more convenient if it was missing. Most of us don’t believe the ministering of angels plays an essential role in the gospel similar to the role of “repentance” or “baptism by immersion”. We tend to believe angels are a gospel perk reserved for prophets and apostles.

But we can’t reject the ministering of angels part without rejecting the whole revelation, and we can’t reject the whole revelation and still have baptism by God’s own authority.

One sees the same thing in D&C 84 and D&C 107. They offer great insight into the priesthood, but it includes much that is unexpected.

D&C 84:19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

So there we have it. D&C 84 offers us the higher priesthood, but it simultaneously informs us that it is by that means that man can see the face of God the Father, and live. By adding the phrase “and live” it becomes it clear that it is talking about seeing the face of God in mortality. If the phrase had been “in the body” we could decide it meant the resurrection. If the phrase had been omitted we could assume it meant in the spirit world after death. But God chooses to say “and live” so we can have no doubt that he is speaking of mortality. The power of the Melchizedek priesthood is related to seeing God in mortality. This is laid even plainer in D&C 107

D&C 107:18-19 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
 19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

Here we have a more concise statement. That is worth repeating. According to this, the power and authority of the Melchizedek priesthood IS to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and the church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

That is why the Aaronic priesthood does not have power to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost can open up the mysteries of the kingdom. The scriptures have multiple instances where we are told that the spirit of the Lord was upon someone, and because of that they beheld and learned the things of God which are not made known to all men. We read of Christ being carried by the spirit to the pinnacle of the temple and of the spirit of God showing him the whole world. We read:

D&C 76:10 For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

And this is illustrated immediately as the rest of the vision of the degrees of glory starts with these verses:

D&C 76: 11 We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the Spirit on the sixteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two—
 12 By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God—
 13 Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning;

What can the gift of the Holy Ghost mean in a member's life?

Joseph Smith said:
"Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him."

Note that when Joseph Smith says he is learned, he is saying that he is learned in the things of God. He is contrasting himself with the learned men preaching salvation who are unlearned in the things of God.

In fact, he says "I am learned, and know more than all the world put together." He then says "The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him."

This is a fascinating look into what the gift of the Holy Ghost meant to the prophet Joseph Smith. Since the Holy Ghost knows everything, Joseph Smith was willing to say that he knew more than all the world together, because he associated with the Holy Ghost.

In other words, his association with the Holy Ghost was such that the Holy Ghost was there as a constant instructor. Not a vague instructor, but one who could clearly convey knowledge that Joseph Smith accepted completely because he knew and recognized the source, and because he could hear the Holy Ghost with sufficient clarity that the Holy Ghost was his constant instructor, his mentor.

After baptism, I got the gift of the Holy Ghost, but I do not go around saying that I know more than all the world.

But that is a limitation I have placed on myself by my own behavior. Not that I am up to no good. But I must become a much better man, more obedient, more willing to submit my own will to the will of the Father as Jesus did, if I am to live up to my privileges as saints in the new testament did. It is all up to me.

We live far beneath our privileges. This shows us what the privilege of the gift of the Holy Ghost is meant to be, in part. It is no coincidence that one of the revelations state

D&C 76: 11 We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the Spirit on the sixteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two—
 12 By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God
 13 Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning;


Monday, July 6, 2015

Last Days Dimentia

I am astonished how frequently I meet a member suffering from last days dementia.
This particular disease causes those afflicted with it to believe that unlike previous dispensations, which would all end in apostasy, our dispensation is called to do nothing in particular while we wait for the coming of Christ.
Those afflicted with this disease believe they are not accountable to save the souls of men, but can watch them rush to destruction and stand aloof without spiritual consequence. Grab a bowl of popcorn and sit back while Sodom and Gomorrah is destroyed.
They know that their progenitors won a free country by offering up their own blood as a sacrifice in the revolutionary war, and that those individuals won an everlasting honor for their sacrifice. And side by side with that belief, they also believe that there will be no eternal shame to be earned for standing idly by watching our religious freedoms recede away from us like the tides. Truly, this sickness has a devastating effect on the human brain.
They believe that they are to "wait" for the second coming, instead of to prepare the world for it by building Zion and warning the wicked. No longer laborers in a field they believe their job is to hunker down and do nothing but sing hymns to themselves.
If Peter, James, or John had been afflicted with this devastating sickness, no missionary work would have been done after the resurrection, no efforts to reclaim individuals from the sins of the world would have been made. After all, they would have said, a great apostasy is coming, and when we see the wicked gaining the victory it is just a fulfillment of prophecy.
If the prophets and saints of other dispensations had suffered a version of this illness by which their knowledge of a coming apostasy would have made them sit back and do nothing because each victory of evil was "just a fulfillment of prophecy", there would be no scriptures. There would be no story of Moses, of Enoch, of Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. The great apostasy would have stretched from the days of Adam to the restoration by Joseph Smith.
But that is just how these individuals fevered brains seem to work. When evil advances, they don't feel a need to fight back even to protect their own posterity. The disease so afflicts their minds that they stifle a yawn, and say that it is nothing more than a fulfillment of prophecy, and maybe add a "hazzah" that we live in the last days.

Short note: America exists because God prescribed bounds to governments rights

The revolutionary war took place because there are God given rights that government does not have the right to violate. And just as government has no right to violate god given rights, it also has no right to alter the definition of family and marriage. There are bounds on the rights of government. That is why there was an America in the first place.

The argument of ball, musket, death, and blood

If we can't plainly speak the truth about our religious freedoms we will certainly lose them. We have become concerned that if our speech is not polite we are not following Christ and we therefore often take the stance of appeasing our enemies instead of opposing them. This is a ridiculous stance. We won our religious freedom by the shedding of the blood. If the argument of ball, musket, death, and blood wasn't too impolite for God to approve the war of the revolution and call it his own, could we please stop being afraid to even come out and speak the plain truth, being afraid we will offend God by calling a spade a spade when those freedoms that he inspired righteous men to win by violent warfare are being destroyed before our eyes.

Ezra Taft Benson on appeasement who in turn quotes Elder Widtsoe on a milk and water allegiance

From Ezra Taft Benson's "Watchmen, warn the wicked", General Conference April 1973
-----------------------------------------------------------
We live in an age of appeasement—the sacrificing of principle. Appeasement is not the answer. It is never the right answer.

One of these modern Church watchmen has given this sound warning:

“A milk-and-water allegiance kills; while a passionate devotion gives life and soul to any cause and its adherents. The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth. As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality. We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord. An unrelenting faith, contemptuous of all compromise, will lead the Church and every member of it, to triumph and the achievement of our high destiny.

“The final conquerors of the world will be the men and women, few or many matters not, who fearlessly and unflinchingly cling to truth, and who are able to say no, as well as yes, on whose lofty banner is inscribed: No compromise with error. …”

“Tolerance is not conformity to the world’s view and practices. We must not surrender our beliefs to get along with people, however beloved or influential they may be. Too high a price may be paid for social standing or even for harmony. …

The Gospel rests upon eternal truth; and truth can never be deserted safely.” (John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1941, pp. 117, 116.)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Feminism - Women seeking to act like men act weird instead, just as men seeking to act like women do

Feminism doesn't teach feminity, it teaches women to discard feminity in favor of seeking masculine traits. And when a woman tries to reject her divine nature in place of being more masculine, she doesn't end up acting like a man. She can't. She acts like a corrupted form of womanhood.

One sees the same thing in men that are intentionally trying to act like women. They don't act like women. They act weird. Their behavior is repulsive pantomime of what women act like. That is because they don't really have a woman's spirit, body, mind, emotions, or impulses. They act like a weird corrupted version of men, but they don't act like women.

And just so, feminism's encouragement of women to act more masculine doesn't come out right. It comes out weird. A woman who pursues it doesn't really understand what being a man is, because she is a woman, and when she tries to imitate manly traits, it comes out weird. It often just comes out mean, even steely mean. It often comes out highly aggressive. Women don't really understand what it is to be a man. She has the wrong spirit, body and drives to really understand what it is to be a man and her imitation of manly traits doesn't make her act like a man. Instead, she becomes a weird degenerate form of womanhood.

Unchanged

Each of these topics is an important one for our age, and I will continue to address them freely, and purposefully as well as anything else that occurs to me as important, quite independent of whether doing so is unpopular in any way:

Feminism - This has been devastating to women. Instead of actually increasing femininity, in teaches women to be masculine. It teaches that fathers are not the head of the home, in fact, it teaches that such an idea is offensive to women. Does the tragedy of the millions upon millions of little children of being raised by television and day care providers not convince us?. Those children deserve and desparately need their mother - and it is because of feminism that she is not there.

Pornography - I am actually astonished writing about pornography has offended some church members. But oh well, I guess in addition to blaming the victim, our society is also really good at not blaming the culprit. While immorality is rapidly destroying both genders, it is a much stronger temptation for men. Men are almost always the sexual aggressors in response to their much stronger sexual drive.

Medication - When it comes to emotions we are a highly medicated society. I do not believe that is right. I have never said that every instance is wrong. Nor am I intending to address any specific individual. However, I think Elder Packer's counsel in his talk on "Solving emotional problems in the Lord's way" is divinely inspired and deserves careful study before turning to medication for emotional difficulties. I think we are incredibly spoiled and we want quick fixes. Elder Holland also addressed the matter. But I am quite sure that Elder Hollands assertion that in some cases it is fine was not intended to mean "cast wide the floodgates" in the way many have taken it. Honestly, I think he would be horrified at the way some interpret his counsel. When we have determined everyone's body is abnormal and needs medication to restore proper thinking, then we have simply discarded the notion of normal out of personal rationalization.

The Atonement - A protestant interpretation of the atonement has been taking a strong hold in the church and I consider it terribly destructive. This protestant interpretation is a relatively new idea in the church. I will continue to directly address false teachings on the atonement, including naming the author and source of the teaching, particularly when they have a broad influence.

The law - As we find ways to ingrain and enoble immorality and outright perversion in our laws we lay the means for the destruction of our religious liberty. This is a battle we must not lose.

Homosexuality - Pornography is a plague among us, and homosexuality is a second stage, usually terminal, of the same illness. We must stand strong against immorality, particuarly homosexuality which is being used as a means to destroy religious freedom.

I don't know what else. The important topics do tend to be the ones people get attached to the wrong side of. That is exactly what makes them important.

If my religions and political convictions, and my unwillingness to be silent about them means I cannot be friends with one person or another, then so be it. If my ancestors were willing to die for a free country, I will not be unwilling to offer offense in pursuit of one. If many far better men were willing to die for stating truth with ridiculous boldness, then I will not be unwilling to to offend someone to do the same. We learned from Boyd K Packer that Ezra Taft Benson always kept this quote on his desk or study:

Be right, then be easy to live with, if possible, but in that order.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Response to the claim that Christ endorses same sex marriage

This was a comment written in response to a claim that is disgusting enough that it is unpleasant to write, but someone had claimed that they supported same sex marriage because that is what Christ would do because he loved everybody. I was pleased with how it came out, so I saved it here. --------------------------------------------- Christ said, when asked about divorce, that to divorce except in case of adultery was actually adulterous, "because in the beginning it was not so". Christ taught that marriage should be more like what was had in Adam and Eve's day. Does that sound like an endorsement of gay marriage to you?
Don't you recall that Christ said there was no greater prophet than John the baptist and that John the baptist was killed for condemning Herod's marriage to a near relative as immoral? Does that sound like Christ's love embraces all unions as proper marriage to you?
If Christ taught what you say he would not have been crucified.
I don't think you have read the new testament. Yes, to the repentant who were willing to change and follow him he was incredibly tender. If that was all he had done, nobody would have crucified him.
But he said things like "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin"
and told people that if their sins were like their hands, that it was better for them to cut off their hand so they could enter heaven handless, than for their whole body to be cast into hell.
You sound like you don't believe in a Christ that would think or say something like:
"Thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of god, but those that be of men".
And that is the Christ of the scriptures.:Incredibly tender and personal to the penitent. Incredibly bold in his urging people to cast off their sins so they could be saved.
Respond as you like. I am done with this. The commandment to not take his name in vain certainly includes not invoking it to endorse dark perversion, and I have no interest in hearing any more such talk.