A general conference has been scheduled in Boise, Idaho on September 10 and 11 this year. A site discussing the conference in more detail is linked here: Doctrine of Christ Conference
A general conference has been scheduled in Boise, Idaho on September 10 and 11 this year. A site discussing the conference in more detail is linked here: Doctrine of Christ Conference
Last Sunday there was a fellowship in Provo. The gathering involved people who associate on-line from a large geographical area. People came from Arizona, Texas, Idaho, Utah and perhaps other places. A couple now living in Utah recently relocated from Tennessee. They have helped one another with their monetary donations, and become close with each other through their meetings.
This group was friends and equals. They drew straws to decide who would bless and pass the sacrament. There was no one directing or assuming the right to control the events or others. Their mutual respect was apparent.
While I did not have an opportunity to speak with everyone in attendance, those I did talk with were uniformly well-informed and serious students of the gospel and scripture. They are bright, thoughtful and humble people with sincere desires to follow God.
Most, perhaps all (I didn’t ask if they didn’t tell me) had been excommunicated from the LDS Church. If they had been permitted to remain part of their LDS congregations, they would make any ward stronger, any discussion more edifying, and any service more heartfelt.
I count it a privilege to have been able to associate with them. It was good for my soul to meet and hear them.
Baptism for the dead first appears in scripture in Paul’s writings where he mentions the practice in passing. (1 Cor. 15:9.) Because it is only a lone-reference and not an explanation, it is not enough of a scripture-basis to build any clear understanding,
The idea of work by the living for the dead is not mentioned to include any ordinance in the promised return of Elijah. The prophecy of his return is vaguely described as “turning the hearts of the children to the fathers” and the father’s hearts in turn to the children. However vague this passage may be, it is clearly important because this prophecy is repeated in all volumes of scripture (Old T, New T, Bk of Mormon, D&C, PofGP). Joseph elaborated on the meaning of Elijah’s return and role as part of the justification for baptism for the dead and other temple rites.
There is a relationship between ascension in this life and the right to ascend in the afterlife which is mentioned, but not well explained, in scripture. It is undeniably present in one verse of the D&C. That verse states:
“All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, … by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed [meaning Christ], … are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”
There are two ascents. One is temporary and happens when men are “caught up,” but then return to this world. It represents overcoming the world and returning the individual back to the presence of God. It is called “redemption from the fall” (Ether 3:13) because it brings the individual back into God’s presence. That form of temporary ascent is designed to establish a covenant or promise related to the other, more gradual ascent through development of the individual. The temporary mortal ascent secures a promise for the individual that they will be permitted to make the eternal ascent to where God and Christ dwell in the afterlife.
The second form is the actual ascent, involving redemption and securing eternal life. It is a methodical process over eons of time to bring those who ascend to reside where God and Christ dwell. (D&C 76:62, 112.) In the King Follett Discourse Joseph Smith said this:
“Thus you learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much has been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave.”
This is the growth, by degrees, which results in exaltation. “Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God. And you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves–to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done–by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.” (Id.)
The second form of ascent cannot happen in mortality, but is accomplished over time. It requires attaining to the resurrection, meaning that death has no claim on you because you merit eternal life. This is what Christ gained in His life and through His sacrifice here. We are dependent upon His merits to overcome death. But we will have to attain the same thing before we finish the second form of ascent. Christ is the “prototype of the saved man” and we must “be precisely what he is and nothing else” or not be saved according to the Lectures on Faith. (Lecture Seventh, Paragraph 9.)
For mortals, the first form of ascent is possible. The scriptures, in particular the Book of Mormon, contain accounts of those who have ascended to God’s presence and overcome the fall of mankind. Many Old Testament prophets did likewise, but their accounts were redacted by the Deuteronomists because of hostility to the doctrine. The reality is that most people, even very good believing people whose lives are filled with Christian charity and love for their fellow man, are not going to ascend even temporarily while they live in this fallen world. The first ascent is covenant-filled. God brings us before Him to establish a covenant assuring the eternal ascent. Most people will ascend over eons, because that process is based on the determination and commitment people have to follow God and His Christ.
In this fallen world, the great challenge is to lay hold of the covenant right to ascend to God’s throne. (Rev. 3:20-21.) It is true that God is no respecter of persons and everyone CAN, but the truth is that very few will obtain the covenant while in the flesh.
In His mercy, God has made provisions for all people. He loves all mankind equally, has planned for allowing those good and believing people who will not qualify in their own right to ascend the “mountain of the Lord” into His presence to receive it through more ordinary means. God’s purposes cannot be defeated, even by man’s weakness. God has other means to qualify people to be His covenant family.
The purpose of a temple (meaning an actual temple commissioned, ordered, blessed, accepted and visited with His presence) is to substitute for the temporary ascent of a mortal into God’s presence. A real temple becomes “Holy Ground” and the means for making available to faithful people in every state of belief and hope the opportunity to receive, by authorized means, the same covenant, obligation, association, expectation and sealing through an authorized and binding arrangement in sacred space. This is the same thing they can receive from God directly if they enter into His presence while still in the flesh. In effect, the temple becomes an extension of heaven. God, angels and mankind are able to associate there as in Eden. It is a return to Eden, where “God walks in the cool of the day.” (Gen. 3:8.)
The ordinances or rites of the temple are presented in ritual form. This is required. God’s House is a House of Order because it is reoriented to point away from this world in order to reflect the order of heaven and the actual eternal ascent into His presence. The volume of information conveyed by God would be too vast to set out in non-ritual form. In ritual, it is possible to convey a great body of information with symbolism, metaphor, relationships, and types that work on the mind of man the same way that visionary experiences directly with God convey. The mind is expanded and the ritual allows something of God’s viewpoint to be transmitted into the mind of man.
The temple has only one real purpose: To convey God’s promise to exalt those who experience it; provided they abide the conditions for exaltation. It portrays the real, second eternal-form of ascent in a way that gives the initiate a promise that if they walk in the path shown them they will arrive at the Throne of God in the afterlife.
A real temple is required for Zion because it is the mechanism for reorienting society. Through it, the standard of conduct for ordering peaceful lives is established, and society becomes centered on the temple for law, education, social structure, government and coexistence. A real temple is a repository for knowledge and learning. It will include a library for study, teaching and learning. A real temple is indispensable for Zion because such a society is always built upon a heavenly pattern of cooperation and equality, making a city of peace or city of righteousness possible. It is the means to provide people with the information necessary to allow them “to govern themselves.”
Since the temple can easily become corrupted, and the things revealed there can cause greater wickedness if men knew of the great revelation of heaven, the times when an actual temple with all the attendant contracts, bonds, obligations, covenants, performances and expectations are set out plainly have been few indeed. The Lord visited a damaged temple in Bountiful to minister to the Nephites. The events at Bountiful mirror the highest ideals and instruction of the LDS Temple. In the Nephite record. the Lord conducted ceremonial revelation which extended beyond what men are allowed to openly reveal. The Book of Mormon does not contain a full record of what transpired. Recording it was forbidden.
The pattern of treating some things as off limits is not only set out in the visit of Christ to the Nephites, it is repeatedly the case in scripture. As Paul said, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9.)
There is also D&C 76:114-118:
“But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion; Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.”
I preach, teach, exhort and expound to encourage every soul to rise up in this life and make the first ascension to God while in the flesh. Some have done so. Others will. Perhaps a great many will. I hope so. But if there are believers who cannot or will not do so in this life, the temple is the means God will provide to allow the “least of the Saints” to likewise obtain a hope in Christ by an authorized covenant which will bind on earth and in heaven. Then they become likewise heirs of salvation and part of the great congregation to whom the Lord will proclaim: “Well done!” They will have a legitimate and authorized means for laying ahold of the promise of eternal life and continuing the long path of ascent to the Throne of God to dwell with Him and Christ.
The LDS version of temple rites is insufficient to allow anyone to obtain the right to ascend to God’s presence in eternity. The Lord will fix this, as He intends to establish an Ensign to which all nations (meaning scattered covenant Israel) will return in the last days and there receive their crowns at the hands of servants who will minister covenants for this purpose (D&C 133:31-34).
Mankind has generally failed to rise up to the place where God and mankind can meet. He has offered to do so repeatedly. His lament, “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but ye would not” (3 Ne. 10:5) is not just empty rhetoric. It is the actual, historical fact of how men have responded to God. God offers. We refuse. God withdraws. Generations come and go and God offers again. We refuse. God withdraws. Time passes. Again, He speaks and makes the offer.
You mustn’t confuse the fact I hear His voice and teach what He asks with any personal significance on my part. I have no value for others’ salvation – the second form of ascent. That role is confined to Christ alone. He is the “keeper of the gate” and “employs no servant there.” (2 Ne. 9:41.) But what I am teaching is true. What I am saying is not speculation or conjecture.
The people who went before, and are now beyond this veil are real. They still live, just in a different state. They still care about us. They were resurrected with Christ and are working as our fathers in heaven (D&C 132:37) to cause the fulfillment of covenants made long ago to them in their generation. God is behind the last-days effort to vindicate His word. Whether we like who He sends, or believe what He is doing, or even recognize His involvement, it is nevertheless the case that God is involved very directly in bringing about the accomplishment of His foretold latter-day work.
The annual Sunstone Symposium will be held in Salt Lake City, July 27 – 30. This year’s topic is: “Many Mormonisms and the Mormon Movement.” I will be presenting a paper at this year’s event titled: Was There An Original?
All the scheduling is tentative at this point. I am not certain which day I will present or in which venue/room. However, as the schedule is finalized I will put up further notice.
I delivered a short talk in Moab, Utah on Sunday, April 10th. The transcript is up in the “Download” section of this website.
I hear comments from a wide variety of people who wish Christ would return. They welcome the idea, as if it were going to solve the world’s problems. I’m always daunted by what will happen immediately before His return. Whatever joy He may ultimately bring, this world will undergo widespread catastrophes prior to the return.
Jesus was asked about the signs which would accompany His return. He answered in Luke 21: 25-26:
And there shall be signs in the sun…
[the most common sign is always an eclipse. For some reason the transit of Venus across the sun went largely unnoticed. But the sun waxes and wanes in both magnetic effect, sunspot activity and solar flares. It affects climate, electromagnetic fields, crops and all life.]
and in the moon…
[the most common sign are blood moons and eclipses. But it can also be used to gauge the health of our atmosphere.]
and in the stars…
[these rotate predictably, but when they move from one age to another by the precession through the equinoxes, the new constellation was said anciently to be “a new earth.” And when the pole star moved from one to the next, the change was said anciently to be “a new heaven.” Both Aquarius and Polaris represent a change to a new heaven and a new earth.]
and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;
[most often associated with economic upheaval and warfare. But today there is both distress and perplexity from causes the modern world has no preparation to face and little hope of solving peacefully.]
the sea and the waves roaring;
[most often associated with tsunami activity.]
Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:
[most often associated with the lack of courage to face the adversaries and opposing forces that threaten our safety. It includes the inability to stand for principal and righteousness because men are weak. It also includes the growing cruelty of men toward one another.]
for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
[most often associated with apostasy and collapse of faith by men. But also includes distress felt by the angels who are over the earth and those sent by heaven to minister to others. The term “Powers of Heaven” is a proper noun, referring to angelic hosts.]
I’m not certain those who pray for the Lord’s quick return appreciate fully what they are asking.
We remember Easter foremost for the resurrection. The Lord remembers it foremost for the suffering in Gethsemane. In 1829, the Lord shared His reflection in a revelation to Joseph:
Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. (D&C 19:15-20.)
It was important for the Lord to attain the resurrection, for it completed the process that frees mankind from death. But it was more important for the Lord to free us from sin. Because of what He accomplished in Gethsemane, we are able to be reconciled to God. It was “sore… exquisite… hard to bear…” and caused Him to “tremble because of pain,” and ask His Father that He might not drink the bitter cup. It caused the “greatest of all” to “shrink” away from the abyss of suffering.
By partaking anyway, and despite His desire to be spared, He “finished [His] preparations unto the children of men.” It was only “preparation” of an atonement because we are required in turn to receive its benefit through baptism and repentance. If we are unwilling to do this then it is as if no atonement were made for our sins, and we then are called upon to likewise suffer. The Lord has explained that if we refuse to repent then “our sufferings shall be sore.” Almost incomprehensibly difficult for us to bear.
The greatest response to the Easter celebration would be repentance and baptism.
I have exchanged emails with a man who is preoccupied with the distinction between a physical and spiritual appearance of Christ. I sent an email this morning trying to make it clear this distinction is not what he thinks:
The problem you are allowing to divert you is the issue of “tangibility” or “physicality.” You shouldn’t give that the attention you are allowing it to receive.
In an email exchange about Passing the Heavenly Gift I sent the following:
I think it is a more correct account of the restoration than anything else that has been written. The Book of Mormon was not an attempt to give a “fair” or a “compete” account of events. It was selected precisely to accomplish the object of telling the truth about the Nephites and their failure.
There was a talk given by Joseph Smith on August 27, 1843 where he describes three kinds of priesthood. Here is a quote from the account we have: (See TPJS, pp. 322-323)
Respecting the Melchizedek Priesthood, the sectarians never professed to have it; consequently they never could save any one, and would all be damned together. There was an Episcopal priest who said he had the priesthood of Aaron, but had not the priesthood of Melchizedek: and I bear testimony that I never have found the man who claimed the Priesthood of Melchizedek. The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of ‘endless lives;’ for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken.
The law was given under Aaron for the purpose of pouring out judgments and destructions.
There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.
First, The king of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels, desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.
The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.
What was the power of Melchizedek? ‘Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.
Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.
Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.
How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the father to the children, and the children to the fathers.
The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.
‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.
The Second Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.
The Third is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.
I’ve explained at length how I understand these three divisions of priesthood in the talk in Orem titled “Priesthood” (which, in addition to my blog, is available as an audio on YouTube) and then supplemented the material in the chapter on Priesthood in Preserving the Restoration. I continue to receive emails asking for clarification.
In the beginning there was one priesthood with one name. The original was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” (D&C 107:3.) Adam prophesied that this single, original form of priesthood will return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)
The original form was renamed after Enoch in his day. (D&C 76:57.)
Then later, it was renamed again after Melchizedek. (D&C 107:4.) The renaming did not change the priesthood, but merely used a different title to “avoid the too frequent repetition of his [the Son of God’s] name.” (Id.)
The original, unified, singular priesthood was held by the first Patriarchs. From Adam through Melchizedek, the single form of priesthood was held by “priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.” (D&C 76:57.) The full extent of that authority and the rights it conferred were important enough that the Pharaoh claimed it, and through it the right to govern the earth. (Abr. 1:26-27.) The original Pharaoh was a “righteous man” (Abr. 1:26) but it was not his right to govern as a holder of this original priestly authority. In the beginning of the world, while men rebelled against the authority, the righteous allowed themselves to be guided by it, and through it they repented and found favor with God.
The authority was passed down through Abraham. Although the chosen line through Isaac lost it, it was preserved through Abraham and Keturah’s son, Midian. (Gen. 25: 1-2.) The man Reuel (given an “El” naming by his parents-Exo. 2:16-18) descended from Midian. He received a new name from God. (“Jethro”-Exo. 3:1.) The new name from God indicates God accepted him as His son. Moses received his ordination through Jethro. (D&C 84:6.)
Now Jethro was a righteous man, but it was through Moses that God established the rule of the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. Therefore, it was through Moses that Egypt’s rule over Israel was overthrown, and the people liberated to follow God.
However, the Israelites were unwilling to abide this priesthood. It required too much of them and they hardened their hearts. They could not enter into God’s presence as a people. (D&C 84:22-25.)
In the days of Moses it was divided, and a lesser form of priesthood was carved out from the higher form. (D&C 84:25-27.) That lesser form was called “Aaronic” and authorized to act only in administering outward ordinances. (D&C 107:14.)
Joseph explained that in the LDS Church there were two priesthoods. (D&C 107:1.) But Joseph also described three priesthoods in the talk given August 27, 1843. In an attempt to clarify, I have associated the three kinds of priesthood with the following names and qualifications: Aaronic: Priests who associate with angels and have fellowship with them. Melchizedek: Priests who associate with the Son of God and have fellowship with Him. Patriarchal: Priests who have been in the presence of Father Ahman and have been accepted by Him. I admit this is not the way the names are used in the scriptures. I have renamed them in this manner as my attempt to harmonize understanding with the talk given by Joseph and to distinguish from LDS claims.
There are important points to consider. There was originally a single form of priesthood. It was the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. That priesthood is prophesied to return at the end of the world. God the Father decides who will stand at the head of the Family, with authorization to govern as a father (or patriarch) following the pattern given to Adam in the beginning. As Joseph explained it, “Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.” This will be required of us, just as it was before.
If we have any authority at all, we have some portion or degree of the original. Rather than limiting ourselves to some other form, ordain to the Holy Order and leave it to God to determine how much He decides to confer upon a man.
It is clear Jethro was approved of God. It is clear his parents worshipped the true God, and named him “Reu-El” to honor the God of Abraham. It is also clear that God did not honor Reuel with the responsibility of freeing Israel from Egypt and giving direction to them. It was in Moses that God reclaimed the original authority over His chosen people.
There will be a root of Jesse to whom the right will belong. (D&C 113:5-6.) This was never Joseph nor Hyrum. It could never be done by a “pure blooded Ephraimite” and therefore their bloodlines did not qualify to finish the House of God. Their lives were foundational for what will come next. What they accomplished is shown in the Nauvoo Temple as a metaphor. It was constructed to the second floor, and unfinished in design and construction at their passing. Although others tried to design and build what was left, it burned, and was then destroyed by a whirlwind. Only pictures and a few stones remain of the original. The House of God will return and the original authority of the Holy Order will likewise be here on earth before the return of the Son of God.
The Holy Order will submit to the Son of God, and freely acknowledge that it is His right to rule. He will be the King of kings, and the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) because no man with this Holy Order will compare themselves to Him.
Limiting what is said about these matters of priesthood hopefully prevents deceivers and pretenders from improving their false claims. It will not be entrusted to a fool, nor given to the proud and haughty. It will be held by the meek and lowly. True authority must persuade and invite using kindness and pure knowledge as their scepter, offering their lives as a sacrifice and not offering themselves as an idol to be honored.
In response to the Recorder’s Clearinghouse article on Marriage, these are some of my thoughts:
First, a conference can be called by anyone at any time and include any group that gathers. There has not yet been a “general conference” where everyone has been invited, but that will probably happen at some point. In the meantime, there have been conferences and there will probably be more.
The article deals with two subjects: Marriage and sealing. They are two different topics.
On marriage, the transcript of the civil marriage ceremony in the 1835 D&C was not written by Joseph Smith. It was authored by Oliver Cowdery based on what he had witnessed Joseph doing when marriages were performed. It is as close an historical account of the ceremony Joseph performed during that era as we have. Between 1835 and the time Joseph died, it was the ceremony performed throughout the church. It is as appropriate as any other civil ceremony, and has the advantage of being nominally connected with Joseph Smith.
The article is not a commandment, but a suggestion. People are free to accept or ignore it. No one claims the right to issue a commandment on this subject for others to follow. It is the humble attempt of a group of people who are directly confronting this in their families to address the issue. Then that group of people provided their explanation for the possible benefit of others.
Some clarifications have been suggested by others who were in attendance, and Keith Henderson will post additions and updates based on those suggestions in the next day or two. One clarification will be to make a sharper distinction between marriage and sealing.
On sealing, I personally doubt the language used in LDS Temples has been preserved intact from Joseph until today. But it is as close as we have for the present, and has been handed down from earnest people through four generations. It makes sense to use the language and ask God to accept and preserve the marriages sealed using this ceremony.
Words chosen carefully should be read carefully. For example, the statement that “we know of no man on earth today claiming at this time the right to seal by virtue of the rites and ordinances he has received from on High” means just that and nothing more. That is a claim made by the LDS Church. There is no reason to concern ourselves about what will happen in due course in the future. Until there is a command to proceed with an errand assigned by God, nothing can be done with His approval. There is a lot of work left to do before the House of God returns.
Last Saturday a group gathered to participate in a conference to discuss the upcoming marriages taking place between their children. Several were in attendance. I was there, along with Keith Henderson and other men and women whose children are preparing for marriage. Keith Henderson wrote up a description of the outcome, and a few of us helped edit and synthesize it into an article you can now find on the Recorder’s Clearinghouse website. The article is titled Marriage and could be of interest to anyone whose family includes someone contemplating getting married.
What if the Lord were to give the opportunity to build Zion? What if the Lord wanted it to happen now? What would be done differently than was done by those who went before and failed?
There is a model to follow if we want to fail to achieve Zion. In Missouri, those who gathered were rejected and driven out because of their “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires.” (D&C 101:6.)
After the catastrophe in Missouri, the refugees from the failure reassembled in Nauvoo. The Lord offered another chance, promising that if they would follow Him they would receive the fullness of the priesthood He had taken from them. (D&C 124:28.) He made the offer in January 1841.
The work on the Nauvoo Temple proceeded haltingly and was never finished before the building was struck by lightning, burned, knocked over by a tornado, and the remaining fragment disassembled by the town because of safety concerns. It was foreseeable the offer in January 1841 would not be meaningful. Over a year later the Times and Seasons printed a letter from the Nauvoo High Council describing how they viewed the population working on the temple:
[We rejoice at] “the willingness to aid in the building of the ‘House of the Lord,’ we are grieved at the conduct of some, who seem to have forgotten the purpose for which they have gathered. Instead of promoting union, appear to be engaged in sowing strifes and animosities among their brethren, spreading evil reports; …We feel to advise taking the word of God for our guide, and exhort you not to forget you have come up as Saviors upon Mount Zion, consequently to seek each other’s good, -to become one: inasmuch as the Lord has said, ‘except ye become one ye are none of mine.'” (Times and Seasons, February 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No. 8, The High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ, to the Saints of Nauvoo.)
It is easy to fail. Just gather people who will contend with each other and there will be failure EVERY time. It makes sense to try something new rather than repeat the pattern that will never work. First, provide an opportunity for those who are interested to display who they are, whether they can live peaceably with others. Once we know one another’s hearts then the Lord can gather only those who will avoid contentions, jealousies, strifes, envyings, and jarring. Like the pattern in Abraham, first men are “proven” and then they are gathered, or spared.
The most surprising thing to me is the Lord’s utter indifference to whether the world takes note of what He is doing. Prophecy was never intended to be the same thing as publicity. He works in obscure, unnoticed ways to bring His work to pass. The Book of Mormon calls it “small means.” He describes His labor force as “the weak things of the world.”
The people who expect something big, noteworthy and earth-shaking before recognizing God’s hand have never noticed His message or messengers. The world expects publicity. It expects God will always work through the “chief seats” when He rarely does.
The Lord will return as a “thief in the night” because He is unwanted, unwelcome, and although He gives many signs and sends a message, men choose darkness instead of light. For mankind it is always nighttime. They do not notice the dawn. They remain asleep, with eyes closed.
A neighbor’s granddaughter (“Emery”) was born with Sturge-Weber syndrome and the family is asking for help with the costs of medical care. They set up a website to sell t-shirts, help raise money and raise awareness of this birth defect. Their website is called:
Emery’s grandfather and I served in an elders quorum presidency about twenty-years ago. He was later bishop of our ward while I served on the high council. Our families have been friends for years. Our kids have grown up together. My wife has been Joy’s YW leader. We are happy to post this appeal in an effort to help the family.
FYI: The t-shirt sales will end on Saturday.