I’ve just finished a conversation with a daughter who is in college in another state. Some doctrinal issues were on the agenda stemming from interpretations of the Book of Revelation. She had an encounter with a Relief Society teacher who introduced her to some ideas which are largely borrowed from Evangelical sources, adopted by Mormon writers, and now being repeated as if they were true. That conversation provokes this post.
We should be careful about importing doctrine and interpretations from other traditional Christian sources. The reason “the professors [of traditional Christianity] are all corrupt” is not because they are bad people. (JS-H 1: 19.) It is because their doctrine is wrong. They do not have the truth. They entertain ideas which are not informed by heaven, and rely upon men to speculate about meaning, without knowing a thing about heaven.
Joseph remarked that “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world.” (TPJS p. 217.) The meaning of “knowledge” is, of course, the key to that statement. For the only “knowledge” which can save it to “know God” for yourself. (See, John 17: 3; D&C 132: 24.) The means of knowing this God is, of course, revelation and His personal ministry. His personal ministry will bring the faithful to the Father, as well. Both the Son and the Father will take their abode with you. (John 14: 18, 23.) This is the knowledge that saves.
The Christian world cannot save, their doctrines are corrupt, because they do not have the required knowledge to be able to teach. Therefore, they are “all corrupt” because their minds are corrupt. They cannot save themselves, much less inform us of anything which will aid us in knowing God.
Even reading Joseph’s teachings will not save us. His knowledge and his covenant is not ours. We must find the required knowledge for ourselves. “Reading the experience of others, or the revelations given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God.” (TPJS p. 324.) Even Joseph’s revelations, and Joseph’s scriptures are inadequate. They must be obtained by each individual or they will be left without saving knowledge.
How do we get good doctrine, good information and a valid covenant with God for ourselves? It is through knowledge from Him. “could you gaze into heaven five minutes you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (TPJS p. 324.) This is true because we then gain knowledge that saves us. We know God.
I don’t give a fig for lengthy quotes of man’s speculation about the “truth” as they understand it. I care only for the revelations from heaven. Men who have never gazed into heaven simply do not know the truth. Good men, honest men, and men of the highest intent who know nothing about the heavens cannot help anyone to find their way to God.
There are, of course, disappointments along the way when you gain knowledge. You find that you learn things you do not want to know. You become disconnected with this world as you attach to the higher world. I read the Doctrines of Salvation from Joseph Fielding Smith as a convert to the church, believing it to be filled with truth. I accepted the notion he advances that “Christ has himself declared that the manifestations we might have of the Spirit of Christ, or from a visitation from an angel, a tangible resurrected being, would not leave the impression and would not convince us and place within us that something which we cannot get away from which we receive through a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. Personal visitations might become dim as time goes on, but this guidance of the Holy Ghost is renewed and continued, day after day, year after year, if we live to be worthy of it.” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, p. 44.) I believed that at one point. I thought it good doctrine. I was troubled and disappointed to learn this was wrong. I did not want to know Joseph Fielding Smith was in error. But I learned it. Visitations are more, not less, powerful than the Holy Ghost.The scriptures prove it. For an angel will not come to visit you without being fully armed by the power of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, they speak by the power of the Holy Ghost when they visit. (2 Nephi 32: 2-3.) I wish I did not know Joseph Fielding Smith was wrong. I wish I did not realize he had never been visited by an angel, for only by lacking such an experience could he make this error. But we seek “knowledge” to be saved, and therefore we should find ourselves informed by heaven alone, and not men, even very good men, trying to tell us about things they can only guess to be true.
There is a great deal of difference between saving knowledge, which comes from heaven, and error, speculation and man’s own doctrine, which cannot help us. We should never find ourselves among those who “teach for doctrine the commandments of men.” (JS-H 1: 19.) Get connected to heaven and you needn’t be dependent upon any MAN for your salvation. Not even Joseph Smith wanted you to do that by depending on him. Such things make you darkened in your mind, because you neglect the duty which God has imposed upon you. (TPJS p. 238.)
I do not point to me, or to another man, or to any group of men, no matter how well intentioned. I point to Christ, who alone can save you. You will not be rescued by another. No office can do it. No ordinance can do it. Only Christ has the power to save. (Mosiah 3: 17; Mosiah 5: 8.)
The most dogmatic and well studied Mormons are often the furthest away from heaven. Proud, confident, insistent they possess great knowledge, all the while little more than a child of hell, bound in darkness, and unable to recognize the truth. They will, as Joseph put it, “be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world,” (TPJS p. 217.) because they are already captive by a spirit of contention, which Christ told us all is of the devil. (3 Nephi 11: 29.)
We should declare the truth, point to Christ, and say what we know to be true from our knowledge. It is up to others to accept or reject what is true. We cannot be saved; NONE of us can be saved unless we have saving knowledge which comes from Christ. You would know this if the heavens were opened to you and angels ministered to you. This is why the Book of Mormon authors so often confirmed their message did not originate from them, but came as a result of the Lord or His angels requiring the message to be delivered.
I do not care if anyone believes a thing I have ever said or written. But I do care if someone decides they will close the gate of heaven by the false things they preach, all the while declaring they are Christ’s. How can they know the Master when they oppose knowledge of Him? It is more than an enigma. It is a tragedy.