I wanted to respond to some of last week’s comments:
There is a difference between calling and election and Second Comforter. I’ve written about the Second Comforter, but haven’t ever commented on calling and election other than what is said in Beloved Enos. It isn’t useful, in my view, to spend time discussing or studying a topic that is between the individual and the Lord, because if they are brought to the Lord, they will receive what He intends for them to receive.
In a quote from Joseph Smith (which is on page 3 of The Second Comforter) the order he puts these events in is the calling and election first, and Second Comforter second. However, as I pointed out in Beloved Enos, it did not happen in that order for Joseph.
These are important concepts to understand. But knowing the concept and then undertaking the process are quite separate things. I have friends who know a good deal more about the literature of deep Mormon doctrine than they have the capacity to practice in their lives. I think you draw closer to the Lord when you faithfully serve in primary, or as a home teacher, or as a young women’s counselor than when you are amassing knowledge of trivia about our history or doctrine. It is in the doing that the learning occurs. We must do what the Lord asks to understand Him. The four part Power in the Priesthood series will address that issue.
The idea of “evil speaking” has never been clearly defined by anyone, including the scriptures. Implicit in the idea is that you are trying to falsely make someone hated or reviled. You are, in essence, seeking to make a good man, or an innocent act to appear evil or corrupt when it is not. In essence you are calling good evil and evil good. The measure for that is best taken from inside the person. That is, they intend to call someone or something which is good or innocent as “evil” when they know or should know better. It reflects a malignant or at least indifferent heart.
I have suggested “the Lord’s anointed” should be interpreted to be anyone who has been through the temple, which is the broadest meaning. I’ve never thought it is safe to narrowly define obligations. If we are wrong by narrowly defining the term, then we miss the mark. Whereas, if we are wrong in broadly defining the term, we proceed cautiously and safely.
I understand “sustaining” or “supporting” the Brethren to be doing what we are asked when asked. We get assignments or callings, and we ought to do them. When, we are asked to obey the word of wisdom, or we are asked to attend a conference, or to undertake some kind of conduct, then we do it.
On following the Prophet: I think that is quite easy. What, exactly, do you find hard about this? It is not at all difficult to attend sacrament meetings, pay tithing, do our home teaching, attend the temple, etc. They really do not ask much of us. What they do ask is by and large simple. What is the problem? The scriptures ask us a LOT more. It is not incompatible for you to do everything the church asks, and still pursue the things you understand the scriptures instruct you to do. They are not mutually exclusive. They are complimentary. Or, at least they ought to be. In my experience they are complimentary and the one (what the Prophet asks of us) is by far the easier of the two. I wish the scriptures (and the Lord) only wanted what we are asked to do as active members of the church. Full, faithful, diligent service in the church is a small thing. Each of us should willingly submit to it, and find joy in service there. Faithful Latter-day Saints are among the best people on earth, and are actually seeking to find God.
On detailed knowledge of church history: For faithful, active and satisfied Latter-day Saints: It certainly isn’t necessary, no. But everything needs perspective. Ultimately you are alone in your test, in being proven, in finding God. The church is a profound help and a great hindrance. It is a help in all it has preserved: ordinances, scriptures, organization, libraries of material and the venue for performing ordinances and meetings. It is a hindrance when it becomes a substitute for God, and refocuses your attention away from the Lord. If you can receive its help without becoming idolatrous, then detailed study of church history is not useful or necessary. For disaffected, alienated and inactive Latter-day Saints: It is necessary, yes. It puts into perspective the things which have alienated them. When the weaknesses of men are apparent, they are easier to forgive and for you to move on to finding God. When you can see the hand of God moving in spite of the weaknesses and failing of men, you can resort the things which alienated you, put into categories the mistakes and errors, find what is good and retain faithfulness to that goodness.
On my schedule: It isn’t important.
On evil spirits: I’ve never felt it important to discuss the topic. They exist. One of the side-effects of an inordinate preoccupation with the topic is the misunderstanding that you can relate to them. You can’t. They are your enemy. Their tool in trade is deception and lying. Summary dismissal is what is taught in the scriptures and in the temple and should be the approach when dealing with them.
Internal committees of the church are all presided over by a general authority. When the committee works, they work as a group of men assigned to the task, and churn out their product. The assigned general authority will meet on occasion with them, some weekly, some monthly, some less often, to “preside” and give face time to the committee. The committee produces a product or a project and whatever that is is said to belong to the general authority because it is “his” committee. In truth, however, the work goes on among the faceless, nameless members with little more than thin oversight by the assigned general authority. This gives the Correlation process its power because the committee uses the general authority’s name to shield themselves from criticism or accountability. It is “Elder Holland” or “Elder Ballard” who takes the assigned credit for “his” committee’s product. This insures that even though he has but very little to do with it, the work-product is regarded as his. Almost anyone would question a bureaucratic process and decision if they knew how it worked. However, almost no active church member would dare to question “Elder Oaks.” Speaking of Elder Oaks, he gets credit for the Sunday School Manual because that’s his committee. Interestingly, in one of the Mormon Stories Podcasts, a member of the BYU Religion Department who helped write the manual told an amusing story. (I think it was Peterson, but I’m not sure) In a New Testament manual book of Acts, there is the incident where Paul spoke till midnight. He put a young man to sleep who fell from the window and died. (Acts 20: 7-12.) One of the discussion questions he put into the draft manual was something to the effect, “Have you ever killed anyone in a Sacrament Meeting talk?” Of course this was tongue-in-cheek. To his surprise, the question made it through to the print proof stage before he removed it. The story shows just how “tightly” the manual committee actually scrutinizes their work. A good many of those involved are more interested in the “face time” with the presiding general authority, hoping that will give them opportunity for advancement in the structure. I believe you can be critical of a committee without having anything in mind for the general authority who has the unfortunate assignment of being “over” the committee. The purpose of Correlation is to conflate the two. Correlation relies on that conflation to work their disastrous mischief presently underway. There are a significant number of general authorities who would undo Correlation, and that number is growing.
At some point I will contrast the Light of Christ, Spirit of Christ, Holy Ghost and gift of the Holy Ghost. But that’s not appropriate in a quick response here.
Fasting in the form of abstaining from all food and drink may not be practical for the elderly, those who are diabetic or ill. For some, refraining from food and drink is possible without any danger to their health, but if they choose to do so for more than a day, then eating once in the evening allows the fast to continue the next day. For someone unable to fast, but who can surrender some part of their diet–abstaining from all sweets, for example–it can serve the purpose. Underlying the idea of the fast are two things. First, submission to God. Second, aiding the poor. (Isa. 58: 6.) You can accomplish those purposes even if the “fast” you choose has nothing to do with food. However, our appetite for food is one of the most direct ways to discipline the will of the body. Remember though, it is your thoughts, not your belly, where the real battle is fought.
Christ sanctifies us, we don’t sanctify ourselves. Our “righteousness” is borrowed from Him. It can be symbolized in this way. He provides a white robe, we put it on, and then He looks upon the whiteness and purity of the robe we received from Him and treats us as if the borrowed robe is our condition. We owe Him for that. He is willing to proceed with us as if we merited the robe. (See 2 Ne. 9: 14.)
Colors all have symbolic meaning. Blue is the color of priesthood. Red is the color of judgment. Gold is the color of heavenly royalty. Green is the color of healing. There are colors we can’t see. All you have to do to make something veiled from our view is to put that color on what you want to conceal. It is rather like our own practice of wearing camouflage when hunting.