The talk I gave today at the Sunstone Conference was based on a paper that is now available as a download. It can be accessed by clicking on the title below:
Man does not make covenants with God. God offers a covenant and people either accept or reject God’s offer. But until God offers, mankind can do nothing to create a covenant with or for God.
The preface to the Doctrine and Covenants was a revelation intended to introduce an accompanying volume.
the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord neither his servants neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles shall be cut off from among the people; for they have strayed from mine ordinances and have broken mine everlasting covenant. They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness but every man walketh in his own way and after the Image of his own God whose Image is in the likeness of the world and whose substance is that of an Idol which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon even Babylon the great which shall fall. (D&C 1, Emphasis added.)
The Lord cannot fulfill His promises, prophecies and covenants without a covenant people. There are always those who will stray and break His covenant. Among the problems the Lord has to overcome when He makes an effort to gather people together to become His, is the tendency of the proud and defiant to “walk in his own way” and to have an “Image of his own God” as the guide. The path to becoming God’s people does not lie in a solitary walk by those who claim they have their “own way” to follow. It is to be found by living the commandments of Christ among brothers and sisters who grow to have one heart and one mind.
Given the tendency of wicked men to exploit the weak, society has made it impossible to live the Sermon on the Mount or Sermon at Bountiful as a solitary individual. In a godly society where people ‘do unto others other than as they wish to have done to them,’ it is possible to live in peace. Those Sermons by the Lord are meant to change a culture. It is the blueprint for a community that can grow in understanding until they have one heart and one mind. The Lord’s teachings lead inevitably to having “no poor among them” because the society is able to learn to have peace with one another.
I will be speaking on September 21st at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in the Los Angeles area. If you are in that area I would appreciate any effort you can make to let local non-Mormons know about the talk.
The talk is tailored for a Christian audience and is connected with the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was needed, but was only part of what God planned to happen before the Second Coming of the Lord. The Restoration is also necessary.
There are many things about Christian history that the paid, Protestant and Catholic clergy will avoid. I am not a paid minister, and no donations will be solicited at the talk. It is a sacrifice and a labor of love intended solely to help advance preparations for the Lord’s return.
Individual efforts by those of you willing to help inform others in the Los Angeles area will be appreciated. Feel free to use your best efforts to make people aware of the planned talk. It will be at the following address:
Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Sierra Room
12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos, California.
More information is available at the “2017 Events” page on the website Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
A joint accord has been reached by the Lutherans and Catholics on one issue that has divided them since Martin Luther. Luther, because he rejected Catholic authority claims, needed another basis for salvation. He identified God’s grace alone as the solution. Catholicism, however required the accouterments it offered through its claims to priesthood authority, and by extension authoritative ordinances. Therefore the Catholic claims required believers to respond with suitable submission, or works, to be saved.
The joint accord now allows the question of grace vs. works to be buried, as between Catholics and Lutherans. Harmony is found in the statement which contains these words:
“By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works.”
The whole accord can be found here: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church).
Paragraph 25 explains:
“We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. By the action of the Holy Spirit in baptism, they are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life. They place their trust in God’s gracious promise by justifying faith, which includes hope in God and love for him. Such a faith is active in love and thus the Christian cannot and should not remain without works. But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it.”
The entire statement is interesting and can be seen at the link above.
What if salvation is not determined by grace alone, by works alone, or even some combination of the two? What if it comes from the ministry of one sent by God to declare salvation? And faith comes by hearing the message like Paul taught. (See Romans 10:17.) Paul was expounding a passage from Isaiah (Isa. 53:1), a prophet sent by God. Paul was likewise sent with a message from God. What if the meaning is that in order to receive salvation it is essential that the believer receive a message from a minister actually sent by God with a message for our day and time?
What if salvation requires the same thing now as when Isaiah preached and prophesied, and when Paul taught, and when Christ ministered to mankind? What if there is a necessary relationship between the sender of a message (God) and the speaker of the message (one sent by God) in order for the message to actually result in salvation for the hearer-believer?
Who has believed our report, indeed? And who, then, has saving faith?
This is a moment that has been 500 years in the coming. But it does not carry the certifying imprint of God’s word. Instead it carries the authority of compromise between two institutions whose link to God is borrowed from those who did speak with and for God, but who have long been dead. Does living faith require a living message? If so neither Lutheran nor Catholic institutions can save. Nor can their new agreement signal anything important for anyone’s salvation.
There will be a second round of voting later this month where additional matters will be addressed.
There is a new video on the website for the 500th Anniversary of the Christian Reformation. The video is titled:
A link is provided by clicking on the name above. You can access all six of the videos on that same page.
I received the following email:
I received the following email today:
“This splintering of authority precluded any single man or small body of men from dominating and dictating to the church. Ultimate authority was vested in ‘the voice of the Church’ who could revoke any man’s position or authority.” (September 21, 2016)
“This way is cumbersome and inefficient. But why do gentiles think it is preferable to trade godly equality for administrative efficiency? If the destiny is equality, then the journey must begin with that held paramount. We cannot pursue abusive and controlling means to achieve freedom and equality. The path taken, matters as much as the destination. Struggling with the inefficient and cumbersome tools of persuasion, love, patience and pure knowledge will require a lot of changes to be made voluntarily. That is of course the goal: Voluntarily changing hearts.” (September 22, 2016)
I responded to this inquiry as follows:
What is the “project” now underway? I believe it to be something other than just recovering the scriptures. But the scriptures are an essential part of the “project” now underway.
The doctrine of the Trinity which was settled, if not created, in the Council of Nicea is an impediment, and not an advantage, to knowing God. If “life eternal” is to “know God” (as John declared–see John 17:3) then of what value is a doctrine that makes God “incomprehensible?”
Even theologian, James R. White, from the Christian Research Institute makes damning admissions as he labors to defend the Nicene Creed. (See What Really Happened at Nicea? CRI Statement DN-206.) He explains that “every time they came up with a statement that was limited solely to biblical terms” it was unclear. They invented and used new terminology because “they needed to use a term that could not be misunderstood.” Meaning that they had to go outside the scriptures because the scriptures failed to say what they wanted said.
He elaborates that “they sought to clarify biblical truth.” He does not want to admit their extra-biblical creed was a departure, and struggles to claim the council was only accomplishing a limited and clarifying task.
What if instead of debating and focusing on “substance” (or the material of which God is composed), the debate did confine itself solely to biblical terms? Nicene terminology debated the terms homoousios and homoiusios to resolve their extra-biblical debate. The hetereroousios term was easily defeated.
These terms mean:
Homoousios: of the same identical substance
Homoiusios: of similar substance
Heteroousios: of a different substance
Why focus on “substance” at all? What in the New Testament makes that a Christian concern? The only time “substance” enters into the picture is when a very physical Jesus Christ accomplishes very physical acts during His ministry. Touching the eyes and healing (John 9:6), breaking apart loaves of bread (Matt. 14:19), handling a bowl, water, towel and touching feet (John 13:5), or when He was resurrected, allowing the disciples to handle His physical body to confirm it was Him (Luke 24:39). These physical descriptions of a Being composed of material substance, like us, are in the Bible precisely to inform us of Christ’s physical nature. All the biblical texts were discarded because they were insufficient to describe the kind of “substance” the theologians wanted to adopt.
The quest for singular and unknowable “substance” for God was because of the Christian embarrassment at their loss of monotheism. If Christ and the Father were different in any way from one another, then the monotheistic tradition of apostate Judaism would be lost. Earliest Judaism had a Divine Council with a Father who presided, a Divine Son, and angelic hosts. Their theology changed dramatically during the Second Temple period, which has been regarded by many scholars as a time of Jewish apostasy.
Like so many other false notions, however, this one is also solved by the Bible. Christ declared plainly how the Father and the Son were “one”.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23; emphasis added.)
The disciples were not of the identical substance. Peter was separate from John, who were both different beings than Andrew. Yet they were to be “one” in the same way the Son and the Father are “one.” Or, in other words, the unity of the Godhead is not clarified by a discussion on “substance” and is utterly confused by making them identical “substance” so as to avoid polytheism. The Godhead is “one” because they are united in purpose, accomplishing the same work jointly, and abiding by the identical principles of truth and righteousness. In that way men can likewise become “godly” by uniting in God’s purpose, working jointly to save the souls of men, and abiding the same standards of truth and righteousness.
Trinitarian theology is not an advantage to Christian orthodoxy. It is an impediment to understanding and knowing God. It alienates you from the Godhead, with whom you are intended to become “one.” And above all else, even the defenders of Trinitarianism admit it is extra-biblical and cannot be proven if the discussion is limited solely to the Bible.
Life eternal is to know Jesus Christ and His Father who sent Him. You cannot know an unknowable god. Trinitarianism was defended by Athanasius at Nicea and advocated by him afterwards. He developed a follow-on creed to help further explain what was done to the orthodox god at Nicea. Here is what he claimed they accomplished with their creedal explanation of god: “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible… As also there are not three … incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.”
The Orthodox Christian god is one great “incomprehensible” and unknowable being who cannot be defined if you limit the description solely to the Bible. If you are an Orthodox Christian, that ought to trouble you.
You have become like the Samaritans whom Christ told worshipped “they know not what” (John 4:22), or the pagans Paul addressed on Mars Hill who did not know what or who they worshipped. (Acts 17:22-23.)
False traditions cannot save you, however sincerely you may hold them. Knowing God, however, is life eternal.
The upcoming conference in Boise this September will be broadcast live on the Internet. There will be both an audio feed (for those with limited bandwidth) and a video/audio feed for all others. These Internet broadcast options will allow anyone anywhere in the world to participate in the event live.
More details will be made available as the date approaches.
The debate over who was “speaking” the testimony of Jesus Christ in the beginning of the Gospel of John has been one of the longest-standing questions in Christianity. Heracleon addressed this at about 165 a.d. He was a Gnostic and from the school of Valentinus. Valentinus was an early Gnostic, claiming to have secret knowledge passed from John (the Beloved). He attributed early material in the Gospel of John to John the Baptist.
Origen wrote early in the Third Century, disputed Heracleon and argued that it was John the Beloved who was responsible for the composition. Origen’s Commentary on John, Sixth Book, Chapter 2. The debate has never ended.
The term “logos” which is rendered “word” in most English translations of the Gospel of John, has a pre-Gospel of John history. The most recent use of the term, prior to the composition of the Gospel of John, was Philo of Alexanderia. He was born two decades before the birth of Christ and wrote just a few years prior to the composition of John’s writing.
Philo considered the “logos” to be an intermediary between man and God, a Divine being that bridged the gap between fallen man and perfect God. There is a great debate over the extent to which Philo’s writings influenced John’s composition.
John the Beloved’s composition begins by placing Christ in a pre-earth, creative role that is cosmic in scope. This introduction was intended to alert the reader that the individual described in the text that would follow was God. Then the often mundane events build with proof upon proof that the man Jesus was indeed the cosmic creator and God in very fact. By the end of the account, the proof has been assembled to demonstrate that the opening description was true beyond dispute. Christ was God.
Origen’s writings make it clear that a pre-earth existence for mankind, not just Christ but all men, was part of early Christian belief. That belief has been lost for most Christians. Origen wrote: “John’s soul was older than his body, and subsisted by itself before it was sent on the ministry of the witness of the light.” He extends this to us all: “if that general doctrine of the soul is to be received, namely, that it is not sown at the same time with the body, but is before it, and is then, for various causes, clothed with flesh and blood; then the words ‘sent from God’ will not appear to be applicable to John alone.” Origen’s Commentary on John, Book II, Chapter 24. Meaning that not only did John exist before he was flesh and blood, but all men likewise existed before they entered this world.
The pre-earth existence of mankind is taught in the Bible. Jeremiah was told he was “ordained” before he entered his mother’s womb: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 KJV.
Job likewise describes the joy of the spirits of men when they learned of the plan for creating this world: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. Christ’s apostles inquired about the pre-birth sins of the man born blind. John 9:2. A question that could only be asked if it were possible for him to sin before birth because he existed prior to his birth.
Although Christians today do not recognize the doctrine of pre-earth existence of man’s spirit, it was once a part of Christian belief. Like the confusion about who is speaking in the earliest verses of the Gospel of John, Christianity has lost clarity that can only be restored by another revelation from God. As Roger Williams, a late Protestant Reformer in the American Colonies, said: “The apostasy… hath so far corrupted all, that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy until Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.” He recognized that no man has authority to perform even the basic ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ unless Christ has authorized that man.
Reading the New Testament is like reading another person’s mail. It was written to a specific body of believers who had been taught by those who knew Christ. Today it is just as necessary to have that same vital connection to Christ in order to be saved. How can we believe the truth if we are not taught the truth? How can we be taught the truth unless someone is sent from Christ to teach a message from Him? How can anyone pretend to teach the truth if Christ did not send them? See Romans 10:14-15.
I received the following email inquiry:
I can’t seem to reconcile your repeated statements that Melchizedek was not a king. You use Joseph Smith (From the James Burgess Notebook) as your source.
Although called a “prince of peace” and the “king of Salem,” Joseph Smith explained these terms were not because he had kingly rule over any group. but it “signifies king of peace or righteousness and not any country or nation.” (WJS, p. 246)
The footnote 4 on page 302 (for the 27 August 1843 discourse) of the Words of Joseph Smith talks about his use of the Hebrew word for Salem.
The Greek letters didn’t copy correctly, so I have just replaced them with —-
4. Since the King James Version of the New Testament comes from Greek manuscripts, the transliteration of ——, (given as Salem) in Hebrews 7:1-2 is correct. However, Greek does not have a sh equivalent, thus when Shalem (pronounced shaw-lame’) was transliterated from the Hebrew manuscript to the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the h was lost. Nevertheless, while authorities say Shalem means peaceful, they also say that it may stand for “an early name for Jerusalem.” It is this latter point which Joseph Smith disputed.
It seems to me that Joseph might have got carried away with his study of Hebrew. At least I can’t see how you can ignore the scripture in Alma that seems to completely contradict Joseph’s position.
Now I can understand if you have further light and knowledge and you are simply using these statements from Joseph as a source without revealing why you know he was right. In such a case I will just shut up and accept what you offer.
. . . And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
I responded to the inquiry as shown below:
He inherited from his father the right of “dominion” originally given by God to Adam. He was the “father” over all mankind, and in that capacity was a “king” or a “ruler” though he exercised that right given to him as did Adam: only as a father-figure and not as a tyrant. Abraham came to him to obtain this same right belonging to the first fathers or the right which descended from Adam. This is “the rights belonging to the fathers” which Abraham was so overjoyed to have obtained, because he was then the rightful father of “many nations” by reason of his position in the family of God. This, however, did not confer authority that was respected or acknowledged by men in that day, but it was respected by God.
Joseph’s explanation related to the status of man’s governments at the time of Melchizedek. Alma’s explanation related to the status of the authority conferred by God.
I have prepared a new paper based on the talk I gave in St. George. The paper is on this site under the “downloads” section under the title:
It can be accessed by clicking on the title above.
In addition the scripture committee has posted another update document that can be linked by clicking on the title below:
Work on recovering a more accurate version of the scriptures restored through Joseph Smith is far more challenging that it may seem. Despite our best efforts to restore what came through Joseph, some of it will have been lost because of the indifference and neglect of our predecessors. But that is no excuse to leave the work undone.
The work is challenging, but rewarding. I am hopeful that the result will please the Lord.