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, December 30, 2015

Captain Moroni and Christ

It is tragic that we can read  a verse saying:

Alma 48:17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

and yet exalt all the opposites of Captain Moroni's traits as Christlike living and spirituality and condemn anything that represents the way Captain Moroni lived as being unchristlike.

Can living so that the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men possibly be unchristlike? Doesn't every good thing come from Christ? And is it not good for the devil to have no power over the hearts of men?

Tragically, even if we acknowledge the plain meaning of the verse, we privately consider it heresy to believe and live it, and think in our hearts it is the very antithesis of following Christ.

Our picture of Christ seems limited to a small part of what we read in his mortal life, and to cast out many of his own words in mortality, as well as such plain teachings as, say, his actual words in Moroni 8, his words in the old testament, and his words in the doctrine and covenants. When we reject 90% of what Christ has said personally in preference to our favorite 10% in order to understand who he is can we at least acknowledge our own bias?

Joseph Smith wrote: "Some of the company thought I was not a very meek Prophet; so I told them: 'I am meek and lowly in heart,' and will personify Jesus for a moment, to illustrate the principle, and cried out with a loud voice, 'Woe unto you, ye doctors; woe unto you, ye lawyers; woe unto you, ye scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites!'"

How can we be so wrapped up in our nonjudgemental inclusive political correctness that we can still read this verse about Captain Moroni and not immediately conclude that it is really true: that if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever and that the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

In the millennium the devil will be bound by the righteousness of the people. Will it be a day when everyone acts the way a wicked world claims that Christ behaved, or will it be a day when men finally learn to live so the devil will not have power over the hearts of the children of men as Captain Moroni lived?

Holy Cow, yes, God is still not a racist

Ugh, someone claimed Brigham Young was a racist by appealing to a church article they claimed effectively said Brigham Young and the early brethren were racist. They didn't give a reference, though to hazard a guess I would expect it to be an topics article on blacks and the priesthood. Those articles are utter tripe and I have given examples of that before. They are happy to discard truth in favor of good PR.

There is an enormous difference between racism, which is to hold arbitrary prejudice against some race, and between accepting and submitting to the perfectly plain teachings in the scriptures and of the prophets and submitting to the words of the Lord and his servants as truth.

The scriptures themselves are horribly politically incorrect. That is the reality of it. We can either stand by God and his word, or we can pander to the world and worship a God made in the image of man's dictates. According to the scriptures God made a covenant that his most righteous spirit children would be born into Abraham's posterity. That means that his less righteous spirit children were born outside Abraham's posterity. Christ gives many teachings that are based on ethnicity, including such blunt statements as "Salvation is of the Jews" and initially refusing not only to do a miracle for a gentile woman, but even to answer her. Large portions of his teachings to the Nephites are based on different things he will do for different ethnic groups (the gentiles and the Israelites). The Book of Mormon is not written equally to everybody, but written more especially to the Lamanites according to the title page.

We can choose to accept that God and his prophets have been horribly politically incorrect since almost the beginning, or we can pander to the world and worship a God made in the images of man's ideas.

If we can't stand by the brethren's teachings over 150 years, including a statement by the first presidency spelling the doctrine out in great detail, plain teaching by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many others, about matters involving the personal salvation and exaltation of millions of God's children then we can't say we belong to the true church of Jesus Christ and are led by e prophet of God. And I testify that we can stand by those whose sacrifices gave us the gospel. When comfortable arm chair mormons write about how racist the brethren were who literally risked their lives to take the gospel into new and foreign lands like Hawaii, Tongo, Somoa, the whole of South and Central America, to Asia while leaving their family behind to live of the land in the desert of Utah I am filled with disgust. We cannot defame them without offending God. We will be judged as we judge God's servants. As far back as 1969 Ezra Taft Benson wrote that sometimes false teachings appear in our magazines. Since when do we believe an article above a prophet, much less above prophet, after prophet, after prophet over 150 years. Shall we say "I read an article that Jesus Christ was no Son of God" and believe it or should we listen to the spirit of the living God.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Judged out of the books

The scriptures speak of men being judged out of the books that are written, and this verse gives a very explicit description of exactly that taking place (which helps us understand what it means)

Moroni 10: 27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.

A beautiful verse of scripture

Beautiful verse:

D&C 78:7 For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

The type of Israel entering the promised land.

I remember one interesting note from Joseph Fielding McConkies book of Mormon class. He recalled that the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. They then wander 40 years in the wilderness. This typifies leaving the world, being baptized, and following the prophet in our days of testing. He then made an insightful addition. He explained that as the Israelites gained a new leader, Joshua, and entered the promised land crossing the Jordan river on dry ground, so also we follow the prophet until Christ takes us through the veil and then we take him on as our leader instead.

He pointed out that Jesus was actually just the Aramaic form of the name Joshua.

I find that extremely insightful. It lends meaning to Christ's discussion in John 14 and the D&C clarification on that discussion.

Obviously some will object because there are any number of weirdos that make claims about visions. But such individuals are just one of the adversary's tools to harden our hearts against the doctrine of revelation found in the scriptures. Only those with the keys can give instruction by revelation. You can pass on anyone else who wants to tell you about, or hint about, their own grand manifestations as a fraud.

Very short note. Those who accuse of racism and being judgmental

Ah the weary irony of members who accuse earlier church leaders of being racist and the members now of being judgmental.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The church must be defined by the righteousness of its members.

The famous verses about this being the only true and living church give a little more insight and help our membership understand why the Lord is well pleased with us if we include just a bit more in our quotation.

D&C 1:30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;

That last verse adds important meaning to why the Lord is well pleased: "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance".

In fact, in D&C 63, the Lord expands on this, intentionally using the words "well pleased" he had formerly used when speaking of his church.

D&C 63:2 Yea, verily, I say, hear the word of him whose anger is kindled against the wicked and rebellious;
3 Who willeth to take even them whom he will take, and preserveth in life them whom he will preserve;
4 Who buildeth up at his own will and pleasure; and destroyeth when he pleases, and is able to cast the soul down to hell.
5 Behold, I, the Lord, utter my voice, and it shall be obeyed.
6 Wherefore, verily I say, let the wicked take heed, and let the rebellious fear and tremble; and let the unbelieving hold their lips, for the day of wrath shall come upon them as a whirlwind, and all flesh shall know that I am God.
7 And he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation.
8 Verily, I say unto you, there are those among you who seek signs, and there have been such even from the beginning;
9 But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.
10 Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God.
11 Yea, signs come by faith, unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God; and with whom God is angry he is not well pleased; wherefore, unto such he showeth no signs, only in wrath unto their condemnation.

In D&C 63 the Lord actually threatens to cut his church off if they don't repent.

D&C 63:63 Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be defined by the righteousness of its members or it is not his church. We must not excuse our sins rationalizing that membership in the true church excuses its members, believing in our hearts that Christ will save us in our sins instead of saving them from them.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Lord directs the brethren for the church according to the righteousness of the members

The Lord directs the brethren for the church according to the righteousness of the members

Christ himself said, when he appeared at the Kirtland temple:

D&C 110:8 Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.

Obviously the Lord doesn't stop his servants from receiving any personal revelation except based on their own worthiness and preparation.

But with regards to revelation for his church, the principle is laid out in this verse. The Lord will appear to his servants and speak to them if the people keep his commandments and do not pollute this holy house. That "if" is important. If we want more direction from the Lord as a people, all we need to do is keep sacred things sacred and keep the commandments he has already given. If we do not do that, the brethren, be they ever so worthy, will receive their needed personal revelation, but the Lord will withhold his answers to the church. Let it be clear in our minds that such circumstances are embarrassments for the body of the saints, and not embarrassments for the prophet and the twelve. They are worthy. They are the Lord's chosen vessels.

At times the Lord has been slow to give guidance until the people have been worthy, or have been willing to repent. One obvious case was the revelation that came to Lorenzo Snow that the saints needed to pay their tithing if they wanted the drought to end. The Lord did not appear in this instance. But it was still an answer by revelation. The Lord could have told the Saints immediately, before they suffered a drought at all. But when we are disobeying a commandment the Lord already gave, it may take significant time and penitence before the Lord makes the cause of our discomfort known to us.

Do we believe the scriptures or the ideas inherited from psychology

We have become used to listening to the ideas of psychology. Over a few generations many ideas of psychologists have soaked into our culture and are now accepted as basic truths by nonmembers and members alike.

We have learned that fearing is implicitly bad. Nobody should feel afraid. At least, that statement resounds with us. It is part of what our culture has learned from psychologists and their ilk. But is it true?

When we read a scripture like:

D&C 63:6 Wherefore, verily I say, let the wicked take heed, and let the rebellious fear and tremble; and let the unbelieving hold their lips, for the day of wrath shall come upon them as a whirlwind, and all flesh shall know that I am God.

Do we accept those words in our hearts as the mind and will of God, or do we prefer what we learned from psychology?

Do we believe God really wants the wicked to take heed to the threatening language he uses in D&C 63?

D&C 63:2 Yea, verily, I say, hear the word of him whose anger is kindled against the wicked and rebellious;

Do we believe God really wants the rebellious to fear and tremble?

Or do we prefer what psychologists have taught. Do we prefer believing that nobody should feel afraid? Do we think we should allay the fears of the wicked by simply telling them not to fear, rather than offering them real hope, by telling them they will not fear if they will cease to be wicked and come unto that God who is willing to heal them if they repent?

Short note - Satan will be cast out, again

It is interesting to compare these verses to what came about in the premortal world.

Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

In the premortal world, there was a great war that now continues here. It is clear that the adversary had a great deal of time to sway men there before being cast out, or how could he have obtained a full third of the Father's children. But in the end, he was cast out.

And it is interesting that we see something similar here on earth.

Yes, Satan will be bound by the righteousness of the people, but it will still happen as described in the above verses. One would guess that when there are righteous enough people then, as during the war in heaven, Satan will be cast out by the power of the priesthood. And in turn, that will replace war with an age of peace, just as it surely did in the premortal world.

A very short note - goals to read the book of Mormon vs asking, seeking, and knocking

Just a quick note. The spark that ignited the restoration wasn't a goal by Joseph Smith to read the bible in a year, or even in 3 months. Instead, we read:

Joseph Smith History 1:11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
 13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

Monday, December 21, 2015

In forums we create and run we should submit to the Lord's will that he is not to be mocked in the last days

I am sorry that so many members who create places and posts and blogs and forums which allow other people to comment have not read or believed the scripture:

D&C 63:58 For this is a day of warning, and not a day of many words. For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in the last days.

If we really agree with Christ's prayer "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" can't we submit to his will that the Lord is not to be mocked in the last days in places where we have the right and ability to do so, even in forums created and run by members themselves?

The old boys club and pornography

I am writing about what I consider to be a great threat to the church these days.

In former days the number of members of the church involved in immorality at any given time was relatively limited. But these days pornography has become a plague among our members. One Bishop I know estimated 1 in 5 of his members were having pornography problems, another thought that 1 in 5 was a minimal estimate.

Now the Lord has spelled the matter out quite clearly in the scriptures. In D&C 63 he lists off various sins, and tells the church

D&C 63:19 And now behold, I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified, because these things are among you.

He goes further and warns the church before closing the revelation that they may be cut off if they will not repent.

D&C 63:63 Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off.

Now that verse 19 is interesting. It says "ye are not justified, because these things are among you". What are the things in question? Well certainly adultery and sign seeking are among them, but we also read:

D&C 63:16 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.

Note the connection between verse 16 and 17. The Lord said those who look upon a woman to lust after her, or commit adultery in their hearts, shall not have the spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear. The next verse is connected to this one. The Lord says "Wherefore, I, the Lord have said the that fearful, and the unbelieving,... shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone". The Lord uses the word "wherefore" because he is explaining why he included the "fearful, and the unbelieving" when he said the sort of things found in verse 17 at other times in the scriptures. He is explaining that the "fearful" refers to those who look upon a woman to lust after her or commit adultery in their heart and therefore fear. He is explaining that the "unbelieving" refers, at least in part, to those same individuals who thereby do not have the spirit and deny the faith.

And the conclusion is that "ye are not justified, because these things are among you".

Now in these days we face a plague of pornography. It is not just in our teenagers. It is found in our elders and our high priests quorums. It is found in our Relief Societies. It is found among members who have exhibited, previously, a lifetime of faithfulness.

And that is the great problem. Loyalty in the old boys club is strong. When one member is involved in some immorality that loyalty is not likely to overcome the groups willingness to lay down the law of the gospel. But when it becomes a larger number of of them consistently, the loyalties of the old boys club may win out. No one will call it that. It will be called love and mercy instead. But what it will really be is the old boys club winning out over the Lord's decrees for his church.

Has such a thing never happened before?

3 Nephi 6: 21 Now there were many of the people who were exceedingly angry because of those who testified of these things; and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers; yea, all those who were lawyers were angry with those who testified of these things.
 22 Now there was no lawyer nor judge nor high priest that could have power to condemn any one to death save their condemnation was signed by the governor of the land.

The loyalty of the high priests and the lawyers to the old boys club won out over their willingness to lay down the gospel law in 3rd Nephi. We have been told by Ezra Taft Benson that the events in 3rd Nephi are a type of the second coming. And it is not so much that I worry about the verses above being repeated that precisely, as much as that when I look around we seem infatuated with friendship and excusing sin in preference to what is found in the scriptures in a way I think has the potential to go very wrong. I hope it will not. I hope that, when the 5 foolish virgins are revealed, even though there may turn out to be Judas's near the top, there will not be too many of the good old boys that commonly form the local leadership among them. Sadly, the opposite was true among the Nephites, as the those who destroyed the government were, in fact, the lawyers and the high priests.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Have we not read?

Have we not read?

We have few of Christs mortal words, but one phrase he used frequently in what we do have was the phrase "Have ye not read".

Matthew 11:12 Or have ye not read in the law, ...
Matthew 19:4 And he answer and said unto them, Have ye not read, ...
Matthew 22:31 ... have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, ...
Mark 11:10 And have ye not read this scripture; ...
Luke 6:3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, ....

His question is worth asking ourselves.

We claim to know Christ by virtue of belonging to his church. We cheer along with the question posed in 2 Nephi 29:8 "Wherefore murmer ye, because that he shall receive more of my word?"

But have we recieved his word ourselves?

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.

Christ's question stands not only to those of his day, but to those who seek to follow him now. Have we not read?

The revelations spell out how church discipline is related to forgiveness and justification

I am surprised at how many things are answered plainly in the scriptures. Here we have the Lord addressing excommunication and its relation to forgiveness.

D&C 64:12 And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation.
13 And this ye shall do that God may be glorified—not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver—
14 Verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things.

This spells out the fact that we exercise church discipline by commandment and revelation. When he says "either by commandment of by revelation" he is saying that if there is a scriptural teaching that spells out the matter than we have a commandment about what to do, but if not then we seek revelation on the matter.

This spells out that the motive for doing it is not that we forgive not, but that we (the church) may be justified in the eyes of the law and may not offend our lawgiver.

The scriptures teach that those involved in pornography must cease or be cast out

D&C 63 has some blunt doctrine. In it, the Lord states

D&C 63:19 And now behold, I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified, because these things are among you.

The list of "these things" includes looking after a woman to lust after her and it also includes liars.

We must pay heed to this double condemnation of pornography, for the Lord concludes "I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified, because these things are among you."

What do we care about more than whether the Lord justifies his church?

We must make sure that these things are not among us. We must not allow them to linger among under the label of "addiction". The scriptures are quite plain. If they are doing these things and will not stop then they should not be numbered among us, or the Lord will not justify his church.

Looking at pornography "less frequently" or "feeling bad" but continuing to do so is no more repentance than committing adultery "less frequently" or "feeling bad" but continuing to do so. The requirement is that we repent and forsake them. We must follow the scriptural injuction and prefer to cut off those who are liars or who look upon a woman to lust after her if they do not cease to do such things or we will not be justified before the lord as a church. And what could be more concerning to us than that?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

When the Lord says his church is not justified, we had best pay heed

We find some profound truth in D&C 63. The Lord says that there are church members who are sign seekers, adulterers, adulteresses, and who are men looking on a woman to lust after them.. He reminds them that the fearful, unbelieving, liars, those who love and make a lie, whoremongers, and sorcerers will burn in the lake of fire and brimstone.

Now at that point in the text, I rather expect that many modern teachers and even many members mostly feel that the Lord has been very down to earth about the realities of human folly among his church members. Many might feel like this is the time to bring up a statement about the church not being a place for perfect people to think perfect thoughts, but rather the church is a hospital for sick people.

The Lord, however, has a different take on the matter. His conclusion is:

63:19 And now behold, I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified, because these things are among you.

Now this is startling stuff. This is God, speaking to his church, and he tells his church "ye are not justified" and the reason is "because these things are among you.". Wow.

Now, if we had been members when such a revelation was given we should be desperately casting about in our minds what we could do about it. God has just told his church that, as far as he is concerned, it is not justified. That is a big deal.

The message here is that when those who are living so they will not enjoy the first resurrection but will instead be cast into the lake and fire and brimstone are numbered among the church members then God's church is not justified in his eyes. God says, to his church as a whole, that they are not justified because those things are among them.

And what solution is there? Well, if you were someone doing things that would send you to hell then you could repent. But otherwise, what are your options? Surely the Lord provides a way for his faithful church members to create a church that he will say is justified. Of course he does. but there are only two things to be done:

1. Preach repentance.

2. Cast out those who are doing the things the Lord listed and will not genuinely repent.

That is it. Those are all the options. Preaching repentance can make a difference. But it is very unlikely to solve the whole problem. We take lightly our duty to excommunicate those who are misbehaving in the church. And in D&C 63 we get the Lord's perspective on it, and it is radically different than our own inclinations.

We see that in other scriptures that convey the same message. We read it in Jude speaking of those men who were in the church teaching that lasciviousness was acceptable and denying Christ. He writes:

Jude 1:12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear;...

We must be more concerned with pleasing God than with appearing merciful by man's measure. We must not fool ourselves into thinking it is charity to offend God by allowing the things he has condemned to remain among us. We may be tempted to think that because we are the true church, that we cannot be cut off from our God. But God says otherwise in no uncertain terms:

D&C 63:63 Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off.

Therefore let us not bask in false pride that, being his church, we do not need to worry about whether our members are apostate or doing the very things for which men will be cast into the lake of fire.

What greater concern have we, as a church, than whether we are justified in the eyes of our God?

Friday, December 18, 2015

The nature of Joseph Smith's revelations

There is something peculiar and interesting about the revelations in the doctrine and covenants. We certainly can bring to mind scriptural images of prophets saying "Thus sayeth the Lord". But when we read their writings in the scriptures, we are mostly getting a man speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. Now speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost is no small thing.

D&C 68:4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

Such things are the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. But the message in that scripture is that such speaking is what we must heed and do to gain salvation. It is not that whenever a man speaks by the power of  the Holy Ghost the words that he says are perfect even as god is perfect.

Joseph Smith was bold to ascertain the truth of what he taught by the power of the Holy Ghost.  He stated "I ... 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." In fact, he even said that he would teach the Elders and the Elders would teach the saints. "... I must teach the Elders, and they should teach you. God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don't like it, you must lump it."

Nevertheless, Joseph Smith seemed to clearly distinguish between his teachings and God's revelations. This implicit in much of his counsel:

"Search the scriptures--search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to his glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them. Then again we say: Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you and the people of the nineteenth century." (TPJS page 11)

In fact, the revelations seem to clearly distinguish themselves from regular teachings.

D&C 67:9 For ye know that there is no unrighteousness in them, and that which is righteous cometh down from above, from the Father of lights.

While all scripture is true, it is worth knowing when some part or other reflects truth in a particularly potent way. We should expect that to be the case. Christ distinguished some statements by prefixing them with "verity" and others with "verily, verily" and others not at all. Verily means truly. Some statement he made struck at the truth in a way that was more fundamental and eternal that others. Some principles were true, like the word of wisdom is true - God requires it of us - and others struck at the heart of eternal truth.

We learn line upon line, and precept upon precept, and sometimes a statement reflects the truths of eternity peculiarly potently.

Now the point I am getting at is that when King Benjamin taught his sermon he was speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost, but one chapter stands out above the rest, which was given to him verbatim by an angel of God. And when we read the teachings of the prophets in the scriptures the vast bulk of it is actually a man speaking or writing under the influence of the Holy Ghost. But there is a difference between a man simply writing or teaching by the Holy Ghost and what God himself will say. And the revelations of Joseph Smith are of this latter type. They are dictation from God. There is no imperfection in them.

They are perfect as God is perfect. They are dictation from him.

Perhaps I can explain it this way. Assuming you and I  press forward diligently as we ought and we are true and faithful in the days of our probation. Then one day  we will know as much as Alma did when he spoke to the people, or as King Benjamin did when he gave his sermon. When that day comes when we read his words we will agree with them as right and proper but will also think to ourselves "That seems like the sort of thing I would have written".  And one day we will know as much as Joseph Smith did when he taught the Saints and when we read his writings we will think to ourselves that his teachings were right and good (and limited by the Saints willingness to learn) but it will become the sort of thing we could have taught if we had been there at the time. But even when we get to that point, well after our mortality has ended, when we read the revelations from the Lord we will find that there is no imperfection in them and that they still stand far ahead of what we then fully comprehend and know. We will find they contain goodness still that is far beyond the goodness we will have then reached.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

By my power you can read them, but without it you could not have them

Joseph Smith "We never can comprehend the things of God and of heaven, but by revelation. We may spiritualize and express opinions to all eternity; but that is no authority."

Now let's not misunderstand how this works. It takes revelation to know the things of God and of heaven. And it takes revelation to understand revelation. The Lord explains this matter thus:

D&C 18:34 These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore you shall testify they are of me and not of man;
35 For it is by my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;
36 Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words

Now what does this mean? We can physically read the words aloud without the Holy Ghost. But as far as God is concerned that isn't the same thing. We can't read them as revelation unless we read them by the power of the Holy Ghost. When they are read by the power of the Holy Ghost, then they are received by the power of the Holy Ghost, and it is as if they were revealed to us in the first instance.

And when they are not read by the power of the Holy Ghost we cannot have the revelations of God, even when they are standing right before us printed on the page.

Thus revelation both begats revelation and is necessary to understand revelation.

Elder McConkie's description was thus:

"True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word."

Monday, December 14, 2015

God's love is not unconditional and the same for all his children

If God's love is the same and unconditional for all his children, it seems particularly odd that he speaks of a most beloved son. It is weird to me how we just won't let go of our traditions despite the plainest statements scripture can make to the contrary. What of Christ's own statements on the matter?

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

We should have faith, and not deny the Son of God's own plain statements on the matter. When he says "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him" we should not interrupt with corrections explaining how totally wrong he is.

Wherefore are we not afraid to correct his servant Moses?

There is something tragic in our unrelenting desire to cling to our traditions.

We have not spoken with God in person. I feel safe in saying that those reading this have, like myself, not so much as spoken with angels or heard God's voice speaking to us except through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. We see him through a glass darkly.

Then you take a man like Moses. He was a prophet among prophets, the head of a dispensation. When Aaron and Miriam criticize Moses God speaks to them:

Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.

The Lord points out that "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream", but adds that "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth," The Lord concludes "wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

One might just as well ask "wherefore are we not afraid to not correct his servant Moses"?

When Moses says (as he does in this account) that the anger of the Lord was kindled, we think he doesn't know what he is talking about. We interrupt and throw in our traditions. When Moses says  "For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you." (Dueteronomy 9:19) or any of many similar statements we interject corrections. Surely Christ would never be angry, we say. Surely he is not wroth, we say.

Where do we, who see God through a glass darkly, come off correcting the man who was speaking with him face to face about whether God was angry, was wroth, and was going to destroy a people in his fierce displeasure.

I think it is ironic that we know God will send men to hell, but we think that he is only ever a gentle lamb.

Moses 6:29 Wherefore, they have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not;

I am not trying to say those are the only ways the Lord God ever acts. But anyone who reads the scriptures should stop disbelieving the words of the person standing right there in God's presence watching events unfold and speaking with God at the time who tells us of the fury the Lord felt, and speaks of the Lord destroying people in wrath and hot displeasure.

Wherefore are we not afraid to correct his servant Moses?

Our daughters deserve our protection

Let me be perfectly clear that allowing perverted men private and intimate access to our daughters at school is violation worthy of warring against. If I caught a perverse man sneaking into my home bathroom and showers when my daughter's were using them under the pretense that he was a girl I would rightly respond in that moment with unbound violent force against him. It would be my duty as a father. If my daughters cannot count on me to protect them I am an unworthy of them. I would wage war with him to protect them.

What would you do?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Short Note: The Lord wrote the same thing on the tablets of stone both times and it was he that called them ten commandments

I was taught that when Moses took up another two tablets after breaking the first two that the Lord wrote a different writing on them in consequence of the Israelite's rebellion.

But that is not correct. Both times the Lord wrote what he had spoken to them out of the midst of the fire. The scriptures even say it was the same writing.

Deuteronomy 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me.

And I had not realized that the phrase "the ten commandments" was literally God's description of the words he spake to them. It was what the Lord spake to Israel as recorded in Exodus 20, and also recounted in Deuteronomy 5.

The search for a testimony

It is not necessary for a man to get a special witness that the church is true if he has had enough spiritual truth conveyed by the Holy Ghost to already know that. We have people that know they have experienced the Holy Ghost visiting the temple, but fret that they haven't received a specific revelation that the church is true.

The Lord expects us to be able to put two and two together. If you know the temple is connected to the Holy Ghost than you know the church is true. What need is there of a specific revelation of what we already know?  If you know you enjoy the Holy Ghost as you study the book of Mormon, then you know the book is of god and you know that the church is true. What need is there of further revelation on that matter?
Far better to move forward from what you know to greater light than to stay back fretting over whether or not you know what God has already plainly laid out before you.

We do not really understand the gifts of the spirit

Joseph Smith taught:

"These, then, are all gifts; they come from God; they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart" (TPJS 245).

Which makes it pretty clear to my mind that we have no real understanding of what gifts of the spirit are or how they fit into the gospel. We tend to view them almost as nice gospel perks, not as what Christ ascended into heaven to impart. I am used to a Sunday School lesson on "gifts of the spirit" going something like this:

1) (optional) Read a scripture listing some gifts of the spirit
2) Observe that charity is a great gift
3) Make sure everyone feels good by starting a discussion on all the spiritual gifts not listed in the scriptures so everyone feels "validated"
4) Transition into a discussion which is really about individual talents.

Now nothing in that sounds like it is something which either required Christ to ascend into heaven or justifies the sacrifice of Christ's death and resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Don't get me wrong. I think the gifts are among us. But I think we live far beneath our privileges. We are not living as we would need to to enjoy what God desires to impart to us. We enjoy a trickle of it.

On the topic of talents, it is worth noting that what we call talents these days are not particularly discussed in the scriptures. Yes, learning what we can about many things is discussed. But that is different and at times in this dispensation the brethren have asked members not to waste their times on what we now call talents. At other times they have been asked to develop their talents. It has depended on the circumstances of the people.

But the crucial matters are always required of us. And spiritual gifts are actually one of the great matters apparently. At least, they are if "they are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart".

I go back to Joseph Smith:

"But, said Mr. Sollars, 'May I not repent and be baptized, and not pay any attention to dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit?' I replied: 'Suppose I am traveling and am hungry, and meet with a man and tell him I am hungry, and he tells me to go yonder, there is a house of entertainment, go and knock, and you must conform to all the rules of the house, or you cannot satisfy your hunger; knock, call for food, sit down and eat;--and I go and knock, and ask for food, and sit down to the table, but do not eat, shall I satisfy my hunger? No. I must eat. The gifts are the food; and the graces of the Spirit are the gifts of the Spirit.'"

We do not see the gifts of the spirit in those terms because we are not enjoying them in their fullness. We have them. They are with us. But how many of us could have given Mr Sollars the same answer Joseph Smith did? I think very few, because we are not enjoying them in the way Joseph Smith describes. They are not the food and drink to us. By and large I think many of us may actually echo Mr Sollars own sentiments "May I not repent and be baptized, and not pay any attention to dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit?"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The suffering in anything less than Zion

We live in a world that has an enormous amount of sorrow, pain, suffering, and affliction. Among even the Saints we find all manner of diseases, troubles, pains, and tragedies.

Is there anything to learn from these afflictions?

Yes. They are reminders to us. They remind us of what we have not yet lived up to. When Christ came among the people he healed their infirmities. When Christ came to the Nephites, we read:

3 Nephi 17: 6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
8 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.

When Zion was built, Christ came down and lived among them before they were taken to heaven.

Surely he healed their afflicted just as among the Nephites and in Jerusalem. Surely they were raised up as calves in the stall. A fallen world was not worthy of them, and they were taken to heaven only to return when Zion is again built on the earth and when the earth itself will be redeemed and become again the glorified paradise it was before the fall.

The lesson here is that the suffering of a fallen world is not a necessity. In fact, when a people build Zion, the Lord eventually frees them from such pains and afflictions. The afflictions of the fall are a reminder, a prick, a thorn to remind us what we have fallen from, and what it will mean to us to truly repent and live up to what the Lord desires for his people.

This is no hypothetical scenario. It is what happened to the people of the city of Enoch.

It is what happened to the people of Melchizedek, and that is why we call the Melchizedek priesthood after his name. We use his name to remind of us of what Melchizedek did with a city full of all manner of wickedness.

And it will happen again before Christ returns. It is our own, known destiny when we will but repent and live up to it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Moses did too go 40 days and nights without food or drink

I remember learning (in a BYU religion class as I recall) that the fasting in the old testament allowed some liquid and even juices and that was how people like Moses fasted 40 days. Not so!
Deuteronomy 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water.

God proves us to know whether we will keep his commandments or no

God's words to the Israelites about their days in the wilderness could just as well be a statement to us about our own mortality.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Do we believe in a god who humbles us, and proves us, to know what is in our heart, whether we will keep his commandments or no?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The old testament was the book of scripture Christ loved, studied, and quoted

I know Christ quoted scripture constantly, but I find it kind of fun to run into which scripture he was quoting. So we have

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

It is fun to ponder the scriptures knowing that the Savior pondered the same verses. Many of us think little of the old testament, but those were the very scriptures Christ studied and loved. When Christ said "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" he was not only quoting the Old Testament, he was also referring to it.

Amulek's question - How shall ye be saved except ye inherit the kingdom of God

How shall ye be saved except ye inherit the kingdom of God?

Amulek's question is worth pondering.

If I was to suddenly inherit the paint brushes used by Raphael or Renoir I would feel unworthy of such an inheritance. I am no master painter. I would feel like the wrong person to get them.

How can we rightly inherit the kingdom of God if we are unwilling to cast everything out of ourselves which is offensive to God?

Enoch put it well.

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Thus we must repent if we are to at last be saved in the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Many cannot choose both their media and thier eternal family - a first attempt

I think many of our members could take their media, their movies, television shows, books, music, websites, and computer games, and place it in one big pile. Then, opposite that, they could place their spouse and their children. And the reality is that many of them can choose the whole of only one of those two stacks.

Whether they can be engaging consistently in watching much of what hollywood offers up and still gain their own spouse for Eternity is beyond what I can say for certain. But whether they can do so and save their posterity is another matter altogether.

And I can say for certain that they cannot have the Holy Ghost while watching that which offends him. And if we do not have the Holy Ghost, we cannot gain eternal life.

Let us read these verses together properly with the JST.

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And now this I speak, a parable concerning your sins; wherefore, cast them from you, that ye may not be hewn down and cast into the fire.

A sin that is symbolized with our eye is talked about immediately after we are told that lustful looking is committing adultery in our heart. Far better for us to cast away that which we should not look at then to enter into hell while holding on to it.

Christ speaks again of eyes not long after in the same sermon.

Matthew 6: 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Can we watch the movies we own and the television shows we like and say that our eye is single to his glory? Can we even watch them and say that our eye is not darkness?

Whether we can find the full measure of exaltation ourselves without sacrificing our media is more than I can say. But whether we can save our posterity is a different matter. As is whether we can have the Holy Ghost. And we cannot find exaltation and not have the Holy Ghost. If we do not live so as to have God the Holy Ghost here, we will not live with God the Father hereafter.

Ethics in place of commandments from God brings man to depravity

The man who has sought to master his flesh according to the counsel of God should know better than to believe atheists and agnostics who claim that men will master themselves out of no more than a sense of fairness and ethics.

The one way we can be most certain such men will not master themselves is in matters of chastity. And if they will not master themselves in that, they will end up under the power of the adversary.

Mosiah 16: 2 And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.
 3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.

Here we read of the misery of the wicked. Of course they cannot dwell in heaven while the devil has power over them. And it is worth asking how the devil managed to gain power over them at that day.

The answer is that he got power over them while they were here in mortality. It happens especially to those who violated the most serious commandments to not kill and to not commit adultery. The devil only has power over man after this life by gaining power over that man here in mortality. And he only gains power over them in mortality through sin.

Any man who has subjected his own flesh to the laws of God should know in his heart that a man not bound by the same laws will not choose to keep them. Mere "ethics" will never keep man morally clean. And as mere ethics will not keep a man morally clean, mere ethics will consequently deliver a man over to the power and sway of the adversary. And then they will fall prey to all manner of mischief. You cannot give such powerful sway to the adversary through serious sin without feeling the weight of temptation and influence he will bring to bear once you have.

Man needs commandments from God.

Ethics is just the gateway to moral sin while maintaining a show of goodness.

And moral sin leads down the path to depravity. It may be depravity with the trappings of civilization and polite society still intact. But you cannot break the great commandments repeatedly and not find yourself descending in time to the darkest recesses of the pit.

Christ teaches about friends, relatives, and truth

Christ's words are just what we need in a day when people are quick to call good evil and to call evil good lest they offend their friend or relative.

Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hellfire. And a man’s hand is his friend, and his foot, also; and a man’s eye, are they of his own household.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

We must return to and treasure the scriptures

I am horrified at how our lack of actual scripture study is so embarrassingly prevalant among us.

In saying that, I confess that my personal knowledge of the scriptures is deeply inadequate.

I believe we think we can hide it. We think we can do service, be good home teachers, smile, get doors for people at church, and if we get a verse or two read here and there it will be good enough. But it is like a student who thinks to fool his professor on an exam. I have graded many such exams. It is simply embarrassingly apparent the student has never studied the text.

So it is with us. We are inundated with circumstances that desperately need the scriptures, but we haven't the faintest idea what we are missing. Perhaps if we get the door for that person at church and smile at a few more members then the Holy Ghost will spell it out for us. Or so we seem to believe.

Was the restoration not ignited by a search for truth? Do we not need to know truth, or is it enough simply belonging to the true church? Are we not commanded to ask, seek, and knock? What purpose is there to the scriptures if we treat them like no more than desktop calendar quotes - grab a favorite line or two for the day, give it a quick thought, and then move along with the rest of the day knowing that we have been "inspired".

The rising generation, speaking collectively and not individually, seems particularly guilty in having devoted little, if any, serious study to the scriptures.

If we are to reject scripture mingled with the philosophies of men, it would be advisable if we at least knew what part was scripture in the first place.

The Lord gave, to my knowledge, the only right way to teach our children the scriptures.

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

And THAT is how we need to be treating the scriptures. Not only to say, but to do according to that which is written.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

God and a world of darkness

I am going to start with a bold, blunt, and ridiculous claim. But stay with me, and I think you will find yourself well served.

Take the latest big budget movie you enjoyed.

My claim is that it is evil.

I will chose one myself. I will take "Thor: The Dark world" as my example. I choose such a relatively innocent movie on purpose. It is a movie that makes no attempt to seduce the viewer. Its profanity is quite tame for our day.  It does not teach that immorality is acceptable. It lacks even sexual innuendo. But I will stand by my claim : It is an evil movie.

What do I mean?

Well, ask yourself, what sort of people put it together? They are people who live a life that is so immoral it is almost as if they were beasts. They engage in immorality without a second thought. They cannot stay married for two years, and sometimes not even for two months. They live with an unmarried partner as if it were nothing, and then on to another one.

That comes through in the movie. They don't openly preach it, but it comes through in subtle ways about the way they understand the world.

Remember the teaching in the scripture:

D&C 132:12 I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.
 13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
 14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.

Now, as much as I enjoyed "Thor: the Dark World" or as much as you enjoyed whatever movie you had in mind, do you think it will survive what is described in these verses? When everything that is not of Christ is necessarily shaken and destroyed, will that big hit movie you or I enjoyed still remain standing? Would it survive that test?

Why must everything that is not by Christ be shaken and destroyed? Because he is the source of all light and truth.

The movie in question may not be evil in the sense that it is so bad we shouldn't watch it. But in the ultimate sense of good and evil, it is not better than those that created it. A bitter fountain cannot produce sweet water. The things we learn from it, though some are subtle, are not the light and truth that comes from God. In the end, it will be, like all things that are not of Christ and of his word, shaken and destroyed. He stands offering light and he stands in opposition to everything that is not. Thus everything that is not of him, or that will not repent and become of him, must eventually be destroyed.

Let me say again, that I am not saying it is evil in the sense that it is not OK as entertainment.

But how many movies would I have to watch to understand and become the sort of person who can built Zion? Whether I watch one or a million makes no difference. Whether they are feel good movies or movies that we think have "a good message" makes no difference. I can watch however many I choose and I will not learn how to be the sort of person that lives in Zion from them.

A bitter fountain cannot produce sweet water and it doesn't matter how much I consume, more will not help. They cannot inspire the deep lessons of heaven in me. Then cannot bring me to God. They cannot transfigure a man and given him the knowledge of eternal life. Fundamentally, they represent the other team.

Take Joseph Smith. What was the spark that ignited the restoration? It was a scripture. It was a single sentence "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

How many preachers could Joseph Smith have sought knowledge from and not gained that light? Whether he sought wisdom from 1 or 10,000 made no difference. None of them could give him the key he needed to unlock the heavens. None of them had it in themselves. Even if they read him that verse they would have taught him the wrong lesson from it. He could go to his parents as well, but could they give him the insight that would transform the world? No. They could not do it.

No. It required a stroke of truth from heaven. It took something higher than what any man then living could offer him.

So what is our state now? We find that our primary teachers, which is our media, are the darkest of human beings. How much of what they produce will we need to watch to gain those truths that can transform us into a Zion society? There is no amount that will do it. They are darkness and cannot lead us to light.

I asked my children whether I could lead them to a Zion society, seeing that I am not yet prepared to live in Zion myself. They wisely knew that the answer was "No."

So what has God done for us in our darkened state to help us?

The answer is found in the story of Joseph Smith's first vision. God has given us the scriptures. He has given us things that are by him and that will not be shaken and destroyed. He has given us truth that can lead us to something higher than anyone around us can.

Read again the scripture

D&C 84: 53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
 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.

The man who accepts everything is callously unteachable

In old days to be unteachable was to refuse to listen to what was being taught, even if it was the truth.

Now a new and far more pernicious form has taken its place. Ironically it parades under the guise of teachability. It is the unteachableness of universal acceptance. It is the unteachableness that never actually seeks truth at all, simply desiring to please every man by acknowledging that some part of what that person taught is probably true.

Instead of being firmly convinced of a wrong idea as truth, this new unteachableness rejects the heart of truth, accepting everything as true.

If one person teaches something one week in sunday school and the exact opposite is taught the next week, both are true. If one sacrament talk teaches one thing and the following speaker teaches the opposite both are true. The only exception is if the second speaker openly acknowledges that he is contradicting the first, in which case we want to assume he is wrong because that was such a rude thing to do. 

This deviant abandonment of our quest for truth is not outside what is found in the scriptures. It is found among the greeks Paul taught who erected a statue to "the unknown God". By worshiping every God that was presented, and even the ones they had never heard of, they thought to please God. They abandoned the search for truth in favor of an ever growing checklist of meaningless possibilities. 

We think we are teachable when we will accept any idea. The vast bulk of our members have come to a point where they will claim to accept two directly contradictory ideas as both being true without batting an eye. We no longer search for truth. We think it is enough to simply belong to the true church. Our membership, not our knowledge of our Father and our God, is apparently all that counts with us.

We have come to the point where it is counted charity among us to fail to reject falsehood. But we cannot gain truth without rejecting error. 

Sure, like the greeks, we can have our statue to the unknown God. We can content ourselves with the false idea that as long as we pay some devotion to truth then having accepted an even larger measure of error is of no consequence. 

But this isn't teachablity, it is a pernicious form of unteachability. I think it harder to repent of this form of unteachability than it is to repent of more traditional hard heartedness. The cynics heart, in time, may melt under the right occasion, and the doors may to truth may swing open within him. But teaching the relativist is like pouring water into a sieve. Even if some circumstance brings them to themselves, the next day no change endures. It is all lumped back into the melting pot.

When I was younger my Father told me about teaching the gospel to Shinto believers. They, like the Greeks of old, believe in a large number of Gods. They claimed to accept the missionaries teachings with relative ease. But they exhibited the same unteachableness as the Greeks. Acceptance of a little truth is meaningless without rejection of a vast amount of error. Once the truth is simply floudering among a hundred competing ideas without error ever being rejected as false then the search for truth is dead. 

When we become like the greeks who want to accept everything as true, then we aren't seeking the truth. We are simply rationalizing away our days of opportunity.

The greeks accepted every possibility lest they offend some unknown God. But we have turned to accepting every possibility lest we offend a mere man.

The search to acknowledge everything as true is destructive to the search for truth. It destroys the integrity of truth. It destroys the integrity of the seeker. It is poisonous to the very nature of truth. It is putting our desire to please everyone above our desire to know our God. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God using man as instrument

We read of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah this interaction between Lot and one of the holy men:

Genesis 19:20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Now this is quite different than the way we think of the account.

Who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?

Yes, it was destroyed by the power of God.

But it was destroyed by the power of God through men acting as the instrument.

Look at the text, for the holy man who led Lot out of the city states to Lot "I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken" as well as "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither."

So yes, the Lord rained fire from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah, just as he sent down fire at the request of Elijah to consume his sacrifice, and just as he turned the water of Egypt to blood under Moses. It was done using man as an instrument.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Endowed by their creator

I have the phrase "endowed by their creator" as my profile picture because I think it is important to remember that our whole notion of rights that are real and immutable is derived from our country's belief and devotion to our God as having power and authority which is not only above that of man, but which government must acknowledge and submit itself to. Once we abandon that truth, we have abandoned God-given inalienable rights. Our country was founded on recognizing God and truth as superseding the might and reign of the ruling British Empire. Our claim to good government rests on our willingness to build it on a God that stands above government.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, and the signers agreed, that we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That is not just God in politics. That is God reigning over politics. And it is a shame upon the best of us that we think we can retain that which the founders built by building on some other foundation. If we are too learned, wise, and cowardly to invoke God and self evident truth in politics and government then we are building on a different foundation than the one the founders chose and we must certainly fall.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A good response to a man "holding himself hostage" online

Wrote this note which I think hits some good points a couple of years ago. It was in response to a man whom I will call Ahaz. At the time Kathryn Skaggs had written a post pointing out that the movie Frozen was intentionally written with a double meaning as a gay "coming out" parable. That is pretty obvious really. Even various gay writers had already pointed out the same thing. However, there was an intense persecution of Kathryn for what she wrote.

One member engaged in what I can only call "holding himself hostage". This has become a standard tactic. He used words like:

"Do you think it's ok that gay kids try to commit suicide like I did because they felt so misunderstood by their family/friends/church/God? If not, how do you reconcile the fact that your stance against them continues to lead to the same consequences?"

"I tried to commit suicide as a teenager after confessing same-sex attraction to a Bishop who then decided it was in my best interest to breach that trust and share it with my university and family who basically disowned me. The entire process was grounded in their 'love' and 'concern' for me based on the 'gospel' and 'morality.' But no, Kathryn's embodiment of that same religious interpretation of morality and faith have nothing to do with that. I've often wondered how people deal with the reality that gay kids kill themselves because of religious teachings. Apparently denial that the links exist is a preferred approach. I'm not continuing with it -- and as much as I disagree with her, I know Kathryn is well aware of the hurt gay children can experience because of hateful comments and teachings,.."

At the same time, as I recall, he claimed to be a good church member.

Here was my response to this person as I wrote it at the time.

Ahaz, despair cometh because of iniquity.

I recognize your anger. The wicked take the truth to be hard. There is no need to pull out your "I'm a good church member credentials" if you happen to have some. I won't believe them, we already have them. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

You are incensed by a review of a cartoon. You were not the subject of the review.

When you are dead and gone you will know who loved you. You cannot take censorship of even your temptations now, and I cannot imagine what dread will fill you as you await the complete unfettered searching your works, thoughts and deeds. But as you do you will know who loved you here and who was simply cheering you down the road to destruction.

There is still opportunity for you. Grab hold of it and find the peace and joy of true repentance. If you cannot stand in the presence of even the most basic moral truths now without pain, have no doubt you will be in agony to stand in the presence of that God who is the source of all truth. But real repentance and cleansing is possible and if you will grab it then truth will become a source of comfort and joy to you. Even truth about your own former sins and your present temptations will become a comfort and joy to you.

Then you will no longer attack those like Kathryn Skaggs who did nothing but try to help any they could.

Despite what we think being lukewarm isn't better than being cold

These verses are profound, but not what we want to hear.

Revelation 3: 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The Lord is saying in no uncertain terms that he would prefer they were faithfully in the church or simply outside the church altogether rather than being "lukewarm". We don't really believe that. We think that lukewarm is halfway from cold to warm, so lukewarm must be better than cold, right.

But the Lord not only says to these people that "I would thou wert cold or hot". He goes further and says "Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth".

We see many who are lukewarm today. They balk at such plain statements of truth as "boys are really boys" and "girls really are girls" or "marriage is only for boys and girls". That goes beyond not just enduring truth. That is not enduring plain old reality itself. If we can't endure reality, we aren't "hot" in the church, now are we. If we can't endure the plainest of truth without squirming, but we think we are faithful, then we aren't hot, and we aren't cold. We are lukewarm.

And it would apparently be better if the lukewarm people chose to be hot or cold. At least, it is as long as we can tolerate the Lord's own statements about the matter.

Holding oneself hostage - wiser with our money than with our truth

I'm so weary of people holding themselves hostage on the internet and members who would give up their lives for the gospel turning around and giving up the gospel for such fools. No accountability for their own choices unless they are sufficiently coddled and there is no amount of coddling that turns out to be sufficient short of meeting all their demands.

There is no tyrant like the victim these days.

I think if someone wrote "I'm going to lose my testimony and go to hell and it will be your fault and you will be held accountable unless people donate at least $1000 in the next 24 hours" then people would know how ridiculous they were being. Oddly, we are not as discerning if someone types "I'm going to lose my testimony and go to hell and it will be your fault and you will be held accountable unless people stop plaguing me with fundamental eternal truth and doctrine".

We are wiser with our money than with our devotion to truth.