BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Completing and Publishing Scriptures

I’ve written a number of books. About 20% of the work is writing them. About 80% of the work is getting them laid out correctly, formatted, and ready for print. The scriptures project is now in that final labor-intensive stage before publication.

The hope was to have them in print before Christmas. Based on what I learned in a meeting last evening, that does not seem possible. Too much of the final process remains to be completed for them to be in print by the end of the year. When I learn that they are ready to print, I will announce that here.

Abuse of Authority

The presiding high priest in the LDS church at Guymon’s Mill in early 1838 was Aaron Lyon. Guymon’s Mill was about eight miles east of Far West. Aaron Lyon’s wife died and left him with young children to care for as a single parent.

In 1837, a young woman named Sarah Jackson moved there ahead of her husband who was then serving a mission. Her husband was expected to join her a few months later, but by early 1838 he had not come yet.

Sarah Jackson went to Aaron Lyon as the presiding high priest to ask if he would pray for a revelation to know the reason for her husband’s absence. Lyon complied with the request and said her husband would not be joining her because he was on a mission now preaching to the dead because he was dead. Lyon also told Sarah Jackson that he had learned by revelation that she was to be his (Lyon’s) wife, and that if she did not marry him, her life would turn out to be miserable.

Sarah Jackson believed Aaron Lyon was a man of God, and believed what he told her. She mourned her husband’s death, and then consented to marry Lyon. The marriage was just a few days away when Sarah’s husband arrived home from his mission, alive and well, to join his wife in Guymon’s Mill. He was justifiably angry at the news concerning Aaron Lyon and his wife.

A church court was held on April 28, 1838 and Aaron Lyon was demoted from his rank as presiding high priest. In the testimony at the court, the following evidence was entered by Sarah Jackson:

Lyon told Sarah Jackson: “the Lord had appointed him a wife, by revelation, and he knew her name.” Further, “that the Lord told [Lyon] that [Jackson’s] husband was dead and preaching to the spirits in prison, and that I was presented before [Lyon], and that the Lord told him that I was to be his wife.” (JSP Documents, Vol. 6, p. 123.)

Further, according to Sarah Jackson, Lyon “told me that if I refused this I should be forever miserable, for he had a complete view of my future state and he would write it down, for he knew just how it would be.” (Id., p. 124.)

Aaron Lyon relied on his position as presiding high priest to coerce Sarah Jackson into accepting his claims because, he explained, “them that are ordained to this high authority are ordained of God and you have as much right to believe me [Lyon] as to believe Paul.” (Id.) He followed this up with the grave warning that “the vengeance of God was about to be poured speedily upon me if I did not agree to [Lyon’s] evil designs.” (Id.)

Less than six months after this incident, in October 1838, Joseph Smith was arrested and imprisoned. The longest part of his imprisonment happened in Liberty, Missouri where, while in confinement, he wrote a letter explaining how fragile priesthood authority was and how quickly almost all men forfeit that authority after it is conferred upon them. He explained in that letter:

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson-that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-“

The trial of Aaron Lyon would have been in recent memory as Joseph reflected on those who had been ordained to the priesthood. Aaron Lyon claimed authority “by virtue of the priesthood.” He claimed it certified that what he said was reliable, as ‘believable as the Apostle Paul.’ Lyon exercised dominion and compulsion over Sarah Jackson. He used his priestly claims to justify his ambition to obtain Sarah Jackson as his wife.

The only way to preach, teach or expound truth is by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness. But those tools are comparatively weak when compared with priestly authority claims invoking the false premise that God backs the man even when the man does not back God.

New Paper-Update November 21st

I gave a talk on Reformation Sunday about the priesthood. A paper based on the talk is now available as a download. The document is titled The Holy Order and can be accessed either on the Downloads page or through this link:
The Holy Order

The paper has been updated to correct some typos and add some missing words. Also a new footnote 58 has been added to clarify that the example used involved Moses. The example illustrated ancient Israel’s tribal identity issues involving Moses, and was “patriarchal.” In most Native American cultures today clan identity is reckoned from the wife’s clan, and is “matriarchal.”

New Video

A new video is now available. It is taken from the second talk, given in Dallas, Texas, to Christians. The video can be viewed here:
A Message to All Christians.

 

Reformation Sunday

October 29, 2017 is Reformation Sunday. It is the Sunday closest to the date Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Whittenburg Castle church. The document raised questions and propositions for debate. It was intended to lead to a meaningful discussion among Catholics, in the hope it would cause a reform to the institution.

The institution did not accept the invitation to meaningfully discuss the issues raised, and instead of reflecting on their own conduct, they condemned Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a devout Catholic. His questions were sincere. His loyalty to the institution was unaffected by the errors he saw in the scandalous selling of indulgences to finance projects in Rome.

Rome believed itself above criticism. They assumed their historic control was a right conferred by God. Therefore, the sincerity of Martin Luther and the legitimacy of his questions and propositions meant nothing to the institution. They branded Luther a heretic and threatened his life. This was the worst possible approach for Catholicism, and the best possible result for Christianity.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York has recently acknowledged that, the Catholic Church was plagued with generalized corruption at the time of Luther “which we cannot deny.” He described the effect Luther had, “It was the striking of a match, creating a bonfire–the flames of which are still burning.”

Luther’s flame burns still because it was grounded in Christian sincerity, founded on legitimate criticism of institutional corruption, and advocated by a man whose faith led him on a quest to find and acknowledge truth despite all opposition encountered. The result was a society divided into camps that vilified or praised, threatened or protected, believed or condemned him. The ideas he advocated have literally changed the world. Those he persuaded have grown in numbers over the past 500 years.

Reformation Sunday should not pass without reflecting on the changes Martin Luther brought about to the world today. Although a flawed man, he was nonetheless an instrument in God’s hand to change our world for the better. If you own a Bible you can read in your native language, you owe a debt to Martin Luther. If you are either Catholic or Protestant, your church today is a result of changes caused by Martin Luther’s flames. Catholicism was reformed and Protestant churches came into existence as the result of Martin Luther.

New Video

A new video has been posted on YouTube. The content has been taken from the first talk in LA, with video images added. The video and link are below:

A Message to All Christians

Throughout the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation we are reaching out to Christians to share the restored gospel. This year is a countdown to the 500th year of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Next year will be the 500th year. It is time for all who consider themselves “Christian” to consider carefully Christian history and the Christian message.

 

 

 

Dallas Talk

I will be speaking on Thursday, October 19th at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas, Texas from 6-7:30 p.m. CST. This is the second in a series of talks about Christianity and the Reformation and will be followed by a third talk in Atlanta, Georgia in November.

If you live in the Dallas, Texas or Atlanta, Georgia areas, and are willing to help us with invitation and other needs for the lectures being delivered in those cities, please contact Vern or Whitney Horning: vernwhit@msn.com

Update and Correction

I announced the new website for the scriptures committee in my last post. I characterized it as a “Guide and Standard” website. That is the issue currently occupying a lot of attention, but the committee’s website has a larger purpose. The committee’s website is for reporting to the assembly of believers what the scripture committee is doing and how the final steps for publishing the scriptures are progressing. Providing a platform for those who don’t have a platform of their own is a secondary (and necessary) function. Submitted proposals might have personal opinion in them, but the committee does not see a need to curtail anything unless it is disrespectful.

I wanted to correct my earlier, limited description of the new website. The site provides its own explanation of the purpose and scope.

Guide and Standard Website

The original intent for the scriptures.info website was to house the scripture project and provide research tools. Because the Guide and Standard has now become the subject of extensive discussion, the topic needs to be moved onto a new discussion site. The Scripture Committee has developed a new website for discussion of the Guide and Standard and as a venue for announcements. The new site is titled Scriptures Project and can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Scriptures Project

This will allow the original scriptures.info site to remain dedicated to the original purpose of providing the various source materials for the scriptures as a reference and research site.