Month: September 2011
When you write something, a reader can put into what you’ve written something that is not there. Some of the questions I get asked result from misreading the information, rather than confining the things I’ve written to the writing itself. I got one this morning which I thought was worthwhile enough to put on the blog.
The question related to the role of the Holy Ghost. In effect, the person I spoke with thought I “denegrated the role of the Holy Ghost” by focusing upon Christ. I responded I did not believe that was the case.
First, I explained in everything I’ve written, beginning with The Second Comforter, that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to prepare and bring us to Christ. Without the Holy Ghost we cannot come to Christ. Further, in that same book I acknowledged the Holy Ghost’s foundational role by telling the reader that they must receive a witness from the Holy Ghost as they read the book or they do not have the required two witnesses. Without the Holy Ghost’s ratifying confirmation, I tell the reader to discard what I’ve written. Far from denegrating the Holy Ghost’s role, I have made it a central part of the process, without it no person can come unto Christ.
It is not overemphasis on Christ at the expense of the Holy Ghost, but rather it is showing how the members of the Godhead work together. Just as Christ taught, the Comforter (Holy Ghost) will abide with us and bring us to Him. The Holy Ghost’s vital role is unchanged. But to ignore the continuation of the ministry of the members of the Godhead, particularly the role of Christ as a continuing minister of salvation, is to cast aside His promise as the Second Comforter.
He also asked about his conclusion that our “priesthood line of authority” was meaningless. I explained that was not anything I’d written or thought. Rather quite to the contrary, the church extends an authoritative invitation in ordination to the priesthood which is a vital prerequisite to acting on the invitation and receiving the “power of heaven.” Without an authoritative invitation, I do not see how a person can obtain the “power of heaven.” In fact, there are recent talks in General Conference which lament the absence of “power in the priesthood” within the church. I’ve cited to those before. The church itself has recognized and taught the need for going beyond mere ordination into receiving power in the priesthood. Therefore, what I’ve written is consistent with, and respects, the church’s rights, as well as the necessity of ordination through the church system.
When we finished talking, he said I’d removed his concerns. Said he would go back and read it again with less emotion.
I spent the day defending the latest book yesterday. I received much welcomed criticism, which allowed me to answer questions. I enjoyed the opportunity very much. Criticism does not bother me. It allows me to understand what the reader has misapprehended, or leaped to conclude, which in turn better informs me about how others can err in attributing motives or positions. I also got some needed corrections (editing never ends), and spelling corrections which are needed. To me it is all worthwhile and quite interesting.
Today I’m going to teach the Priests about testimony. I hope to discuss my own conversion story with them. Some of them are going to be missionaries soon and I want them to know how the potential convert thinks as they approach a monumental change to their life by joining the church.
I do not think I’ll mention this to them: Within the first year of joining I’d received visits from angels, and been attacked by the adversary and a hoard of his minions. My life was threatened by those who are darkness iteslf, and was delivered by beings of light. As a new convert, who had recently joined after studying Joseph Smith’s experience, I thought this was normal for Mormons. I thought this kind of stuff happened to everyone. I learned, however, that it was not and I should not talk about such things because some became easily offended. So the things I say are heavily redacted that no one may know anything other than I am a believer in Mormonism, with a witness of our Lord. I do in fact have a witness and testimony of Christ. I also have a testimony of Joseph Smith. I have empathy for those who have once believed and find they can no longer. To them I write what I hope will persuade them to believe in Christ that they will return and join in fellowship with the saints.
As to others who misunderstand what I’ve written, it is a small thing to be evil spoken of when the criticism is not warranted. If even one person is brought to see the truth in Christ, any price required to be paid is modest.
I don’t read other blogs or follow what’s happening in the blogosphere. But my wife, who maintains this site for me, does. She has the ability to track stuff all around the ‘net, and also has traffic information given her through the site itself. And from time to time she updates me on what she thinks I would be interested in learning about the various gossip mongers who feel free to discuss me.
I do not think I’m worth a minute of anyone’s time as a topic to discuss. I really do not matter one bit. Some of the things I’ve written are quite important. Those ideas are worth time, even a good deal of time, spent in careful contemplation. Some things I’ve been privileged to write are important enough that a careful soul will make it a matter of prayer, as well. But me? That’s just a waste of time. There’s nothing about a man worth anyone’s time as a topic of gossip, speculation or discussion.
Apparently some number of folks have come to this blog for a week or so to find what I’ve said about President Boyd K. Packer. He’s someone I’ve quoted more frequently than perhaps any other living church leader. I have a great deal of regard, respect, even admiration for him. Some of the talks he has given have been quite profound and worth reading by everyone. I’ve also lamented the conflict that developed between him and Paul Toscano. I wish that whole episode had not happened. But, as I’ve said before, I put the blame on Paul, not on President Packer, for provoking the conflict. I wish Paul were still a member of the church. We are the poorer for his absence.
I’m not sure why anyone would be interested in comments I’ve made on President Packer, but mentioning him again here will at least give this in answer to a search.
I’ve been hoping to drive the Alpine Loop when the colors change. They’re changing now. Hope I can find time to do that.
General Conference is coming soon. I always go to the Marriott Center at BYU for Priesthood. It’s a tradition. I’m looking forward to doing so again in a week or so. I think General Conference Priesthood should be done in a large group. Apart from the Conference Center itself, I think the BYU Marriott Center may be the largest assembly in the world. At least I think they’ve mentioned that before. Perhaps now the MTC has more.
For Sunday’s sessions I like to take a drive with my family and listen in the car. Seems more like an “event” when we do that.And I think the kids like doing that. Oftentimes we’ll drive by the Conference Center to see the anti-Mormon stuff. It’s always entertaining to see folks spending their time blasting our religion under the pretext of establishing theirs. Not sure how that’s supposed to work. But nevertheless someone thinks that is worth their effort. Maybe go the Alpine Loop on Sunday.
My wife tells me some people are offended by others using the word “crap”– when she said so I inquired if “bovine feces” would be a better substitute. She didn’t know.
Saw Stewie and Brian step in and try to rescue Christmas last night. It turned into a home invasion. I laughed so hard I nearly hurt myself. I laugh at the idiocy on the TV. My wife laughs at me. So we both get entertained.
I’m reading a book by a Catholic Theologian who teaches at a Protestant Theological Seminary in New York. Interesting book. When I finish I think I’ll put some of his stuff on the blog. His focus is the post-Apostolic era from about 70 a.d. to 125 a.d. It’s an interesting moment of rapid change. I disagree with some of his retelling, and I reject his Catholic lens, but nevertheless he has some important things to say.
Well, to return to what started this ramble, watch your gossip. My wife may be watching you.
Yesterday, while at a college baseball game, I got an inquiry from David C. asking the following:
The reference this inquiry makes to the “apparent error” in my book (Passing the Heavenly Gift) can be found on the bottom of page 163 and top of page 164 and includes footnote 210. What I wrote on those pages is as follows:
“Of the 23 marriages sealed by Joseph prior to his death, other than his own, only one involved a plural wife. If eternal wives was necessary for exaltation, as was taught in the second phase, proof of that cannot be established through Joseph’s actions.” This is accompanied by a footnote which gives all the names and cites to Lisle G. Brown’s work The Holy Order in Nauvoo, appendix 1. You can find The Holy Order in Nauvoo online, if you look for it. There you can read the names, or you can look at footnote 210 in my book where they are also set out.
The question raised in the email is confusing two issues. The specific topic being discussed in my book involves the narrow issue of the connection between exaltation and plural wives. I explain that eternal marriage is necessary, but plural wives is not. I distinguish between Section 132 (and other statements) during Joseph’s lifetime and what became an absolute requirement for exaltation during the phase of Mormonism immediately following his death.
Another recent book contains the same list as the Lisle G. Brown article cited above. It is Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera’s book Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845. The list can be found in that book on pp. xxxiv-xxxv.
To put the two different issues into contrast, you need to focus on the topic I am discussing, namely the relationship between requirements for exaltation and plural wives. Joseph’s ultimate indication of what was required for exaltation is not found in civil unions, or even church marriages he performed. It is found in the final ordinances, including the second anointing, in which exaltation was assured and a person was sealed up to eternal life. That final step is found in Joseph’s organized Quorum of the Anointed, as it was then called.
Joseph Smith performed civil marriages. Joseph performed religious marriages. But the link between exaltation, eternal life, sealing up to a kingdom as an eternal inheritance, is to be found unconditionally in the final order he organized known as the Quorum of the Anointed. My book is focused only on that step.
Joseph was able and did perform civil marriages. Joseph also performed other forms of religious marriages. However, on the subject of sealing an eternal union, with the promise of eternal life, that kind of union represents something different. In that form of union we find what Joseph understood would be a marital union that would include exaltation.
In the context of that form of union which is associated by Joseph with exaltation itself, there was, apart from his own, only one other plural marriage. Therefore, if plural wives was REQUIRED for exaltation, as taught subsequently by Brigham Young, the proof for that cannot be based upon Joseph Smith’s actions.
In the second book cited above (Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845), they observe this about the final Quorum of Anointed which represent heirs of exaltation in Joseph’s practices, “Still, many polygamists were not admitted into the quorum during Joseph’s lifetime. Of the twenty-eight men who are presumed to have entered plural marriage during Joseph’s lifetime, sixteen (57 percent) joined the quorum prior to Joseph’s death; twelve (43 percent) did not. Acceptance of plural marriage did not automatically assure admission into the quorum. (See Table 2.)” (Id. p. xxiii; the referenced Table is the same list as I was referring to in footnote 210 on page 163 of Passing the Heavenly Gift.
Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845 also, referring to those who were polygamists and included in the Quorum before Joseph’s death, observes: “No plural wife received the ordinance prior to Joseph’s death. ‘[D]uring the lifetime of Joseph Smith,’ Quinn concluded, ‘polygamy was only an appendage ‘to the highest order of the priesthood’ [the second anointing] established on 28 September 1843′” (Id. pp. xxxv-xxxvi, citing to Quinn, Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles, p. 88.)
When I write, I try to be very specific. When speaking about a limited topic (i.e., the requirements for exaltation established by the actions taken by Joseph Smith), I am not referring to other topics. Nor did I take the added step of suggesting that the unsealed plural wives might be evidence of concubinage, or marital relationships which were not intended to continue after this life. That subject isn’t even raised in my book. So the better approach would be that the topic I am discussing be read narrowly, and the context I am addressing be carefully considered, before assuming there are “apparent errors.”
People assume deep topics and carefully composed language can be read with the same superficiality as reading a text message. I do not write that way. In fact, someone who has hastened through the book probably won’t even understand it. The careful reader will find a good deal more in everything I’ve written than will the casual reader. It took careful, solemn, ponderous thoughts to learn what I’ve learned. Reading it in casual haste will never yield to such a reader what can be found.
As I also mention in the latest book, everything I’ve written is focused only on one topic. There has only been one theme to it all. Therefore if someone is interested in being redeemed from the fall, they will find there is a description of the path back in these commonly-themed books. Whether it involves discussion of The Book of Mormon, my testimony of Christ, or church history, it is all centered in redemption of the reader from the fall.
I was asked by someone who also teaches priests about the lesson to the priests on sex I mentioned on this blog. Here is a brief summary of what was covered:
When Adam was alone it was “not good” in God’s view. (Gen. 2: 18)
The story of Eve’s creation is allegorical, not actual. The allegory says she was made “from a rib” taken “from Adam’s side.” (Gen. 2: 21-23) This is not intended as an actual explanation of her creation, but instead as a description of the way she is to be regarded. Part of him. Taken from his side, making her his intimately connected associate in whom he should recognize companionship runs within himself. Her presence is intended to satisfy what was before “not good” about Adam’s condition. She is literally not only a part of him, but also completes him. This completion is the “image of God” because God is both a Father and a Mother. (Gen. 1: 27.) Among mankind, when you see the “image of God” you will always see a couple who are as one. (1 Cor. 11: 11.) [As an aside, I would add this is why there were two angels upon the Mercy Seat. Ex. 25: 22. He would not permit them to behold His image without seeing what is also symbolized in Adam and Eve.]
The purpose of the creation of the two was that they may “become one” or unified. (Gen. 2: 24)
The first commandment given after the two are joined by God was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1: 27-28).
When they were expelled from the Garden, Adam “knew his wife” which is a euphemism. The word “know” or “knew” is a reference made throughout the Old and New Testaments to sexual intercourse. As a consequence of this Eve became pregnant. (Gen. 4: 1)
This is fulfilling the commandment to “be fruitful,” and is the way intended for new human life to be brought into the world. When joined by God (temple marriage) and then used to produce a family, the union of the man and woman is pleasing to God. It is order. It is harmony. It produces life, peace and “fulfills the measure of creation” which “brings joy.” Unfortunately, when it is employed in other ways, it produces pain, misery and sometimes catastrophic results.
David was a man after God’s own heart. As a youth, he had such faith to follow God that although still a lad he was able, with God’s help, to slay Goliath. (1 Sam. 17: 34-37; 45-46.) He was so favored by God, that God made him His son, established his throne, and promised him He would watch over him. (2 Sam. 7: 14-16)
But David committed adultery. (2 Sam. 11: 2-5) To conceal the sin, he committed murder. (2 Sam 11: 14-15) As a result of these sins, he fell from his exaltation. (D&C 132: 39) The result was that a man “after the Lord’s own heart” lost everything because the power of procreation was not used in the way to produce joy, but instead used to gratify lust.
When the solution to an unwanted pregnancy is abortion, then the person has elected, like David, to do something akin to murder. This is forbidden. (D&C 59: 6)
Adultery and lust leading to adultery deprive us of the Spirit. (D&C 42: 22-24)
The purpose of sexual relations is to have joy. To bring you children. To put those children into a setting where they are loved by both a father and a mother. When it is used in any other way, it produces misery. Almost all crime in the United States is related directly or indirectly to violating this commandment. Even what seems to be unrelated crime often occurs because the person involved was not raised in a home environment where they had a father and mother.
It is a right of every child to come into a family where they have the benefit of the family as established by God. The father and mother are literally symbols of God. They are in His image and likeness. When the image is imprinted upon the child in their early years and innocence, they develop a stability and foundation that is their right as an inheritance from God. Conforming to God’s pattern is intended as a gift from Him to every child.
I then took a few moments to speak about individual fathers of the respective young men, including one whose father has passed away. The deceased father was a great man, whose influence is still felt by his son. I expressed my genuine affection for his father, who, although now no longer among us, left a great influence on others in addition to his son. I challenged all of the young priests to become fathers who will bring their children into an environment where they will look with gratitude and affection upon them as fathers.
I’ve already been called “apostate,” as well as “on the road to apostasy” from some who have not read the book and have no intention to do so. I suppose there will be a great deal of that. But it is a small thing. The truth is that this book, as all I’ve written, testifies to the truth as I understand it. It has already done some good in one reader’s life. If the only price to be paid for reclaiming another’s faith is to endure some evil speaking about myself, it is truly only a small thing.
Whenever I contemplate the gulf between He who is Holiness and myself, and the great charity required from Him to condescend for me, I can hardly bear the thought of feeling triumph because of the ignorance of my fellow saints. How unkind. How foolish. How uncharitable. More than that, how very unlike the Lord whom we all claim to serve.