The paper that the Sunstone talk I gave yesterday is available as a download. You can view or download the paper here.
We are working to add it to the “Downloads” area of this website and should have that accomplished later today.
The paper that the Sunstone talk I gave yesterday is available as a download. You can view or download the paper here.
We are working to add it to the “Downloads” area of this website and should have that accomplished later today.
After a year’s work the book inspired by the ten lectures has been completed and published. It includes a great deal of supporting research and citations which the lectures did not use. Some of the limitations of the talks do not exist for a book. Therefore the book covers more than I could fit into the lecture series and is organized somewhat differently to finish the discussion.
The substance of the book is contained in the ten lectures, the blog posts about King Benjamin and the paper titled Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge. These are available for free on this website. It is not necessary to spend money to acquire the book to learn the substance.
This new book enlarges on subjects and has a better overall organization. It has also made extensive use of the Joseph Smith Papers, the Times and Seasons, conference minutes, contemporary newspapers written in the 1830’s and 1840’s, correspondence from the era. The quotations from those sources leave their language as in the original, with misspellings, cross-outs, improper grammar, etc. At the end of the book there is a “Word Index” that is blank, allowing the reader to fill in citations to pages that the reader may want to find quickly. The book is a reference work to recover the original faith that existed at the beginning of the restoration, the original destiny, and sets out how the restoration can continue despite the fact institutions based on “Mormonism” have universally abandoned the original faith.
Anyone who is interested in Mormonism will benefit from reading this book. It is not hostile to any sect, but attempts to restate the original “Mormonism” for the benefit of anyone in any sect who would like to better understand what their faith started out to accomplish.
Below I have copied and pasted a transcription from the Joseph Smith Papers publication of the LDS Church Historian Press. The letter is written in September, 1833, while Joseph was working on a series of lectures which would eventually become scripture. They would not be published until 1835 as Lectures on Faith. But the thinking of Joseph in September 1833 shown in this letter to his uncle show how the analysis of the later published Lectures on Faith came from the mind of Joseph Smith. This version is taken from the website, but a printed version appears in JS Papers, Documents Vol. 3, pp. 303-308.
Kirtland Mills Ohio sept 26 1833
Respected Uncle Silas
It is with feelings of deep interest for the well fare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works on that great day to which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things which they have and not for the things they have not or that all the light and intell igence communicated to them from their benifficen [beneficent] creator wh ether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and improve upon that and that only which is given for man is not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds [p. 228]
out of the mouth of God
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to unders tand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures when saught unto in a proper manner why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation Perhaps you may be surprized at this assertion that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days since we have already in our possesion a vast volume of his word which he has previously given But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not suff icent for Abraham or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an Inheritance in a strange land Country upon the word spoken to Noah but for himself he obtain ed promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perf ection that he was called the friend of God Isaac the promi sed seed was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father Abraham but was priviledged with the assu rance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him If one man can live upon the revelat ions given to another might not I with propriety ask why the n ecessity then of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did as is record ed in the 26 chapter of Genesis for the Lord there repeats or rath er promises again to perform the oath which he had previously sworn unto Abraham and why this repet[it]ion to Isaac Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham. Was not Isaac Abraham’s son And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God.
Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days consequently the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different as he was different from men in this age I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed but greatly bless ed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the [p. 229]
man or all the difference between him and men in this age is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.
The same might be said on the subject of Jacobs history Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same prom ise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hun dred years and after that they should come out with great substance Why did they not rely upon this promise and when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred [years] come out without waiting for further revelation but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out.
Paul said to his Hebrew brethren that God b[e]ing more abu ndantly willing to show unto the heirs of his promises the immu tability of his council [“]confirmed it by an oath.” He also exhorts them who throug[h] faith and patience inherit the pro mises.
[“]Notwithstanding we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us which hope we have as an an chor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that within the vail.” Yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on untill they as well as those who inherited the promises might have the assurance of their salvat ion confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who cannot could not lie for that seemed to be the example an ciently and Paul holds it out to his brethren as an object atta inable in his day and why not[?] I admit that by reading [p. 230]
the scriptures of truth saints in the days of Paul could learn beyond the power of contradiction that Abraham Isaac and Jacob had the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the Lord but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation but they could by walking in the footsteps <and> continuing in the faith of their fathers obtain for themselves an oath for confirmation that they were meet to be partake[r]s of the inheri tance with the saints in light.
If the saints in the days of the Apostles were priviledged to take the saints for example and lay hold of the same promises and attain to the same exhalted priviledges of knowing that their names were writen in the Lambs book of life and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the most high will not the same faithfulness the same pur ity of heart and the same faith bring the same assurance of eternal life and that in the same manner to the children of men now in this age of the world[?]
I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in ancient days were saved in the Kingdom of God. Neither do I doubt but that they held converse and com munion with them while in the flesh as Paul said to the cori nthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed himself to above 500 saints at one time after his resuretion [resurrection]. Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch wa lked with God <and by faith was translated. And I may [believe] that Noah was a perfect man in his generation & also walked with God.> I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker. that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses I may believe that the [p. 231]
saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face aft er his resurection I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God the Heaven ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries, as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner they did or is he a respecter of persons?
I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I may say with propriety at the begining; we would be pleased to see you in Kirtland and more pleased to have you embrace the New Covenant. I remain.
Joseph Smith Jr [p. 232]
Lehi delivered two separate messages to his generation at Jerusalem. These two messages provoked two separate reactions.
The first message was that they were wicked, and were engaged in abominations before God. (1 Ne. 1: 19.) In other words, these were sinful people needing to repent and return to God.
When the people heard “the things which he testified of them” their reaction was to mock and ridicule him and his message. (Id.) They had the scriptures, the priesthood, the Temple, the ordinances, and they were absolutely certain they were living their religion just as God wanted them to. They were “chosen” and were holy people. This idea of being “wicked” and engaging in abominable practices while they lived devoted lives seemed rediculous to them. Lehi could not be taken seriously. If there was anything to this message, then they would expect it would come from the established hierarchy, not some obscure trader living in Jerusalem. He wasn’t even a Levite for that matter.
The second message was much more serious. He spoke “plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.” (1 Ne. 1: 19.) Since this was an idea the Jews of that day had rejected, Lehi’s testimony of Christ was too much. He was accusing them of apostasy. This aroused anger and even fury. The idea that these holy people, devoted to their religion, practicing the ordinances and preserving the Temple rites could be in a state of apostasy was too much for them to brook.
In response to this second message they had a second reaction: they wanted to kill him. (1 Ne. 1: 20.) They knew what to do with this kind of message. They would excommunicate, or “cast out” anyone who dared to preach this message. It threatened the pretenders who presided. It threatened the order of their day. It challenged the authority of the faith. It was too much.
Lehi would be either cast out (excommunicated). Or he would be “stoned” (an officially sanctioned religious punishment). Or he would be “slain” (a mob reaction not sanctioned by the religion). (Id.) The first two were to be imposed by the religious leaders. The third, however, would be popular reaction. An uncontrolled mob, showing spontaneous religious zeal, having been indoctrinated by their leaders to react in this manner. The leaders would prefer the third remedy. That would show their teaching was having the desired effect. If not, then the first two would be imposed.
Two messages, and two reactions. The popular practices of religion of Lehi’s day were condemning souls. No one was being saved. No leadership existed which would lead men back to God’s presence.
Lehi listened to the “many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent” (1 Ne. 1: 4). He learned for himself, directly from God that this was a true message. He took up the message and he delivered his own testimony.
This was a message from God, whom He had met. This was authorized and, whether the Jews of his day would acknowledge it or not, it was binding upon them. Therefore, when they rejected his testimony against them and his message requiring them to repent, they rejected God’s word.
These deeply religious peers of Lehi’s were astonished at the idea an obscure merchant could speak with and for God. Once again the first chapter of the Book of Mormon introduces us to a world where God alone decides who He will call. Then, after a private audience with the Lord, the commissioned spokesman proceeds to cry repentance. These are radical ideas, and prove the Book of Mormon is no ordinary text. It is a warning from God, and its precepts will bring mankind closer to the truth than the precepts you will find in any other volume of sacred text.
There really is no static position in nature. The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost. Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon. Always in motion. Always either growing or receding in light.
So also with the sun. From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims. Never static. It is impossible to freeze the light. It will grow or it will fade.
All things in nature testify of the truth. This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)
It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static. They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it. Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy. They are soothing their conscience. Caretakers simply cannot exist.
All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.
If you will not humble yourself and ask for this to be made known to you, then you cannot be brought into the light. Then the only result will be to perish in the dark.
If you will follow the steps with the required real intent, acting no deception before God as you do, then you will receive the Holy Ghost. It will be unlocked to tell you what you lack and what you need to do. This inner light is a powerful source which can literally tell “you all things what ye should do.”
This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:
1. Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2. Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?
So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:
1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg. If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)
[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]
Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.
2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.
3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.) However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.
4. All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.
So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read. Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)
So, there’s a lot to be had. We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well, maybe there is a cause and effect…
Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)
So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.
Well, enough of this…
Would the false doctrines make them and those hearing from them feel secure, or would it stir them up to repentance?
We seem to all be asleep and incapable of noticing this terrible warning. Why cannot we all awake and arise and put on the beautiful garments, going forth to meet with the Bridegroom? (Moroni 10: 31; D&C 133: 10.)
This Book of Mormon is alarming when we consider it a warning for us. Not at all the docile and superficial text we can turn it into when studying 8 chapters in a single 50 minute Gospel Doctrine class– reduced by the time taken for announcement, opening and closing prayers, and witty banter exchanged among affable Saints as part of our renewal of weekly fellowship. Those things are good, of course, but the book commands deeper attention.
Take the Book of Mormon seriously. Apply it to yourself. Not as a means to judge others, but as a means to test your own life. It is one thing to evaluate our circumstances, which the book compels us to do, but we needn’t go further than to realize our terrible plight. From that moment the warning should work inside ourselves to help us improve within, see more clearly our day, think more correctly about what is going on, and act more consistent with the Lord’s purposes.
Notice how Nephi refers to the “remnant” who are “our seed.” Nephi refers to the remnant variously as:
-descendants of his father Lehi (1 Ne. 13: 34)
Nephi’s primary line of descendants would be destroyed, but that destruction would not include all. There would remain a mixture of blood that would include partial descent from Nephi. (1 Ne. 13: 30-31) The various bloodlines remained identified as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites. (Mormon 1: 8.) Although it would be impossible, without revelation, for us to determine which of these lines a person might belong to today, the Lord nevertheless revealed in 1828 that these various divisions remain identified to Him. (D&C 3: 16-19.) No doubt, in time, He will restore to the remnant descendants this knowledge of their sacred paternity and eternal identity.
Their blood may be mixed, but the remnant remains. Nephi may have referred to them more often as descendants of his “brethren,” but they have within them some of his blood as well. In the day of redemption and restoration, the promises will all be fulfilled. The whole of the family of Lehi will be represented in the remnant.
Notice Nephi’s prophecy is that “words which shall be written out of the book” rather than the book itself. This is, of course, exactly what we have. The actual book has been withheld. Only words from the book have been given us. But those words are intended to be of great worth to mankind, and in particular to the remnant.
This process is sacred, the promises are from the Lord. These words are given to us by Him, through a servant possessing authority to seal them up. We cannot prevent them from happening. We can, however, align ourselves with them and in turn be saved as well.
Those who find Him, however, are able to receive “peace and life eternal” through a higher way. The devil is bound for them, and they are able to be “added upon” by the experiences and difficulties here.
Why is it “everlasting” whether it is for “peace and eternal life” or “captivity and destruction?” Isn’t “Everlasting” another of God’s names just like “Eternal” and “Endless?” (D&C 19: 10-12.) If so, then what does the “everlasting peace and eternal life,” and “everlasting captivity and destruction” really involve? [You really need to read that paper I’ve been emailing out if you haven’t read it already.]
What causes “hardness of their hearts?” What causes “blindness of their eyes?” Why are those whose hearts are hard unable to receive Christ? Why are those who are blind unwilling to see Him?
If the gentiles let the sacred materials and teachings fall into disuse, forfeit their priesthood by draining it of any power, and have nothing to offer the previously chosen people, then the gentiles will be cast off, trodden under foot and destroyed, as we have earlier seen.
“And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.”
Christ’s Gospel is in the Book of Mormon. I’ve written books explaining just how much of His Gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon. When writing The Second Comforter I found the Book of Mormon was the best source to explain the process. In the Preface to Eighteen Verses I wrote (and meant) the following: “I am convinced the Book of Mormon is the preeminent sacred text for our times. All other volumes of scriptures are not just inferior to it, but vastly so.” (Id. p. iii.)
The Book of Mormon contains Christ’s Gospel. It also contains His “rock” and His “salvation.” What is the “rock” contained within it?
John Hall thought the better translation of Christ’s colloquy with Peter would have included the Lord identifying Peter not as a “rock” but as a “seer stone.” And upon the stone or seership would the Lord build His church.
I’ve thought the Book of Mormon was more a Urim and Thummim than a book. It is a tremendous source of subject matter upon which to ponder, oftentimes drawing a veil at critical moments while inviting the reader to ponder, pray and ask to see more. Used in that fashion, the Book of Mormon can open the heavens and make any person a seer indeed.
The words of a prophet are best understood by a prophet. If you can come to understand the Book of Mormon’s words, you can become a prophet. Or, more correctly, a seer before whom scenes of God’s dealings with mankind, past, present and future, will be put on display. Mosiah 8: 17 reports: “But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.”
Another way to interpret the “rock” is found in Eighteen Verses where I discussed the meaning of 1 Ne. 1: 6. The meaning of the “rock” before Lehi (who wrote in Egyptian and would therefore understand meanings) would mean Ma’-at. Facsimile 2. figure 4, for example, shows the image of the Horus Hawk atop a rock and on the heavenly boat.
Still another meaning is found in Moses 7: 53 where Christ uses the term as a proper noun, or name for Himself. He is “the Rock of Heaven.” In this instance the meaning of the above verse is that you can find the Lord within the Book of Mormon. (Remember that EB Grandin’s print shop provided all punctuation and capitalizations to the first edition. It was actually John H. Gilbert who did the work, which he described in a written recollection of the events dated 8 September 1892. (John Gilbert’s September 8th, 1892 recollections) If this was a proper noun and Gilbert did not capitalize it, we still don’t. But that would not mean the word “rock” ought not to be rendered instead “Rock” as a proper name for Christ.)
The “salvation” to be found in the Book of Mormon is the same as salvation to be found in all the Gospel. That is, by finding Christ. For life eternal consists in coming to know Christ, and in turn Christ introducing you to the Father. (John 17: 2-3.) It is this appearing which Joseph Smith referred to as literal, not figurative. (D&C 130: 3.)
The prophetic message of the Book of Mormon is deeper and more profound the closer you examine it. It begins to become quite unlikely Joseph Smith could have produced such wisdom unless it truly is an ancient document. Of course the critics labor to make it seem so, but they haven’t seriously examined its contents to see what it says.
If we never realize who they are, does that mean they don’t exist? Does it mean they weren’t ordained before the foundation of the world?