Baptism of Fire

The question has come up about how the Lamanites could receive the baptism of fire and “know it not” when it happened.  Whole books have been written on this subject and I can’t do it justice in a blog.  So I won’t try.  I’ll make a brief comment:

The alternatives are:

1.  They knew something happened, but didn’t know what it was or what it should be called.
2.  They didn’t realize something had happened at all.

If the reason is 1, then the result is un-troubling because without a vocabulary to label the event it is easy to to understand whey they “know it not.”

Much more troubling is reason 2.  What if the baptism of fire is an event so subtle it could escape detection?  And if that is the case, then how is one to know when or if they have experienced it?

Some writers have made the baptism of fire such a remarkable event that it connotes salvation, even exaltation itself.  For those who accept that definition of the event, then to reduce it to an undetectable occurrence seems to somehow diminish it.

Joseph described the effects of the Holy Ghost on a Gentile (purges the blood and remakes them into an Israelite), and on a descendant of Israel (pure intelligence).  [I’m not going to give the cite from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, because I don’t have a copy with me while I’m writing this.  So you look it up.]  Both effects Joseph describes could be felt in a minimal way.  Neither would require it to be dramatic.

“Fire” is a description of quickening, purging sin, and receiving the love of God.  [Beloved Bridegroom gives a great explanation of fire as a symbol of the love of God.]  If you are living in conformity with such light as you have been given, receiving this kind of “fire” would not necessarily be physically detectable.  The real place where it would begin to show would be as a person prays, and then begins to receive answers, or “pure intelligence” as Joseph put it.  “A sudden flow of ideas,” which the recipient knows is beyond their capacity to think of or accomplish, would be another way in which the recipient would recognize its presence.

I think it is altogether possible for either explanation to be true.  No matter which explanation, I don’t believe it diminishes in any way the importance of this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  It is, in my view, the event marking the beginning of the process by which someone becomes ultimately a new creature.  It is not the end of the journey.  I would use other words to describe that.

What’s in a Name?

The site we use for this blog has the unfortunate label of “Followers” for those who read the blog, or receive regular updates on new posts.  The website comment goddess who works to manage this has attempted to change the name to “Readers” but can only do that within the fields open to be changed.

Now I realize those who follow this are “Readers” and only “followers” in the sense that they receive update notices.  I acknowledge the insult given you by the Google label.

As an aside, if you really are a “Follower” then let me make one thing clear:  You don’t want to follow me.  You should be a follower of Christ.  He can really do something for you.  I cannot.

That having been said, now let’s go on being bemused at  Google’s unfortunate choice of monikers for those who read a blog.

I’m really appreciative of the ability this forum has to reduce the need for repetition with many people.  I hope it is convenient for readers, too.

Increasing Light

Teaching is marred by the ineptitude of teachers.  It does not matter how complex a subject being taught is, a good teacher will make is both simple and enjoyable to learn.  When a subject becomes difficult to understand, more often than not it is because the teacher does not understand the subject well enough to make it simple.
 
For the Gospel, teaching is a matter of increasing light in the one learning.  To do that the student must learn how to improve their obedience to true principles.  Only someone’s obedience to truth will lead them to greater truth.  The teacher’s obedience cannot and does not benefit the student of the gospel if the student is unwilling to receive greater light and truth by obedience.
 
The necessary obedience is not obedience to a man, or men, or a set of rules devised by men.  It is not even obedience to a rigid set of commandments. Obedience and fidelity must be directed to the Lord.  No matter how well someone may teach for doctrine the commandments of men, those who hear will never gain more than a form of godliness, without any power.
 
We all must progress in the same way Christ did.  He grew from grace to grace, until as last He was called the Son of God.  He had the fullness of grace and truth. Read John’s testimony again found in the beginning of D&C 93. Pay attention to the first verse of Section 93, because it is the summary of what John’s testimony will include.
The teachings are real.  Increasing light is real.  But each must gain it in the very same way as Christ and all those who have followed Him gained it.

A good teacher will always work himself out of a job by teaching how to find light without him.  A bad teacher will call attention to himself, and try to make others dependent upon him.  The worst teachers are those who want to control those who will listen to them and to dictate what they do, what they think, and how they must follow.  Christ, and the light He brings, liberates, making each person an agent for themselves.  Satan’s plan is to put us into bondage, controlling us and making us fear.

The comment moderator (Goddess) thinks this is important

A comment on Adam-ondi-Ahman

The description in D&C 107: 53 refers to Adam giving a blessing to “them.” You have to determine to whom the word “them” refers.

I wrote elsewhere about Daniel and the way in which the Lord’s appearance was veiled from others who were present, Daniel alone seeing the vision. The same is true of the Lord’s contact with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Those with him did not have the same open vision.

When Joseph and Oliver saw the vision in the Kirtland Temple, they were behind a drawn canvas veil, and others were in the building. They didn’t see what Joseph and Oliver saw.

In the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the visions which were opened to some were not to others.

There was an inner group of high priests for whom the Lord’s appearance would be appropriate and they are named. Naming means something. The rest are referred to as “the residue” and are not named.

These patterns are very real. They are set out in scripture because they are real. There is a great difference between being one of “the residue” of good people and being a clearly named high priest, particularly when you encounter the number of seven for the meeting. The number is also important, as I’ve explained in books I’ve written.

The picture people get into their heads is difficult to remove. But this process is dependent upon the preparation of the individual, not membership in a group. I’ve associated importance with elements of the revelation which others may not think important. I believe naming the seven, the number of them (seven), identifying them as high priests, calling those others “the residue” and leaving their names out of the narrative, and the overall setting takes this incident and puts it into the Daniel/Kirtland Temple/Apostle Paul category of visions of the Lord. Where some present are excluded and only a specific group or individual whose presence was specifically invited by the Lord, are permitted to stand in His presence.

It is a terrible thing to enter into the presence of the Living God. Not all who are righteous are prepared for that. Hence my reading of the verses.

Jumping out a Window

When I first joined the LDS Church I thought every Latter-day Saint had revelations, visitations by angels, and miracles in their lives.  I thought, the Joseph Smith story was the common experience for those who were members of this Restored Church. 
It took a few years before I realized that it was the exception, not the rule, that such miraculous experiences took place. I learned that most saints were more akin to Hugh Nibley’s description of his grandfather, a member of the First Presidency, who said that if he ever saw an angel he would “jump out the window.”
 
I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.
I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. 
 
So was Christ weak-minded or of “a firm mind?”  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John? 
 
Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: “They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.”  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)

Comments

You learn all the time in life.  I’ve now learned that comments can take as much time as you let them;  and if every comment gets a response, then using a blog to try to simplify will not work either.  See previous post here. As a result here is how it appears it may work:
 
My wife, who is doing the mechanical work on this blog, will moderate comments and post them at her sole discretion.  You must appease the goddess if you want to get something approved by her and onto the blog.
 
There are those comments which will get responses from me.  Sometimes directly within the comment section of the post.  Sometimes as a new post.  Not every comment will get posted, and not every posted comment will get a reply.  The hope is that everything of particular value to people/readers will get onto the blog. Also, feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comment section.  Be nice – remember the goddess is moderating. 
 
I’m hoping this will not become a full-time job.  Primarily because I still work for a living and blogging doesn’t earn anything.  It is merely a form of public service for the bored internet surfer who may be interested in Mormonism and related stuff.
 
P.S.  We reserve the right to keep trying to make this work better.  

Self Government and Self Discipline

Self-government implies self-discipline.  Freedom requires self-restraint in conduct and speech.  People are free to say whatever they want, but when they want to say things that endanger others, then you have to consider limiting speech.  That is always unfortunate.  Ultimately, unless people share common values, common beliefs, and a common sense of proper conduct you cannot have “freedom” and “self-government” because it will end in violence.
 
When everyone agrees on first principles, there is little need for speech-limiting laws.  When, however, something is deeply offensive and insulting to one group, and valued highly by another, cycles of debate end in cycles of violence. 

The United States’ Constitutional form of government presupposes an agreement on fundamental first principles.  As that common consensus diminishes on fundamental principles, our form of government is increasingly less likely to work.  If the “Elders of Israel” are going to save the Constitution, it will not be through legislation or litigation, but by conversion of people back to a common set of beliefs.  Only then Constitutional government has a chance to survive.

Truth – anything more or less

I’m in the unique position of being powerless.  I preside over my family, nothing else.  I write for all others only to persuade.  I will not be penalized if someone who reads my writing rejects it.  The question then is really not: “what is my motivation,” but instead: does the Spirit ratify the things I have written to you? 

There is an alarming statement in D&C 93.  It follows the definition of truth found in D&C 93:24:  “Whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning” (D&C 93: 25); meaning that we are all required to find the truth.  Anything more or anything less is evil and means we have been deceived.  In addition, the follow up to the parable of the Ten Virgins found in D&C 45:56-57 warns everyone that the five foolish virgins who will not take truth as their guide are going to be hewn down and cast into the fire.

These decisions about what truth you must accept are important, but can only be made by trusting the Spirit.  You should look to the Spirit for the answer to where and what is truth in this day of so much deception.  Marketing, by its very nature, is deception. (See, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom, by David Kupelian)  All of modern commerce is based on deceiving you.  Making you think you need something when you do not.  Exciting your envy to get you to purchase something you really don’t need.  So when it comes to the truth, you will need to demonstrate some “sales resistance” to Satan, and not be fooled into rejecting truth although it comes from a lone voice, crying from the wilderness (as has been so often the Lord’s pattern in the past).



It’s all about you

I received an email over the weekend which finally helped me understand a reaction to The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.  Apparently there are readers who think that the book is about me.  It isn’t.  It is entirely about the reader.  If someone reads it trying to get to a ‘punch line’ or great ending, they are reading with the wrong intent.  The book isn’t about that at all. It is a manual.  It’s purpose is to provide the reader instruction while they are on their own path back to the presence of the Lord.  


To the extent that there are any personal matters in the book, they are designed to illustrate common mistakes.  My mistakes and errors are set out in the beginning of the chapters. Then the chapter explains how to get the principle right.  Other than showing how poor a student I have been, my presence in the book is entirely secondary.  I do bear testimony about the truth of the teachings, which I think is required for a book of that nature.  But the book is entirely about you, the reader.


I reiterate several times in the text that it is not a book for every reader.  It is not publicized, advertised, or promoted in any way.  It is entirely a word-of-mouth book which will find appropriate readers without any effort on my part to promote it.

Visit to the Nephites

I was asked about the difference between my explanation regarding the timing of the visitation of the risen Lord to the Nephites in The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil, and the timing proposed by Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith.  I put the visit at the end of the thirty-fourth year, they put it immediately following Christ’s resurrection.  I responded as follows:

I won’t respond or rebut the argument.  I don’t think it is important to resolve the matter.  It is only important to understand the issue.  From the things these men wrote, it is clear that Elders McConkie/Smith reason how it could have been immediate, despite the fact that the text says it was the difference between the beginning and end of the thirty-fourth year.  The anchor of their argument is that the people were showing each other the great changes which took place during the destruction.  They reason that this would have been immediately after the destruction, otherwise there would be no reason to be pointing it out.  

I account for this by recognizing that the festival season caused a migration later in the year. At that time their presence at the Temple site would have introduced them to the destruction for the first time, despite the fact the great quaking and tempests had ended eleven months earlier.  I also account for the various appearances of the Lord to “other sheep,” as well as the forty-day ministry at Jerusalem in my reckoning.  

However, I do not think it important for someone to disbelieve McConkie/Smith.  It is only important how one decides to read the scriptures.  Borrowed opinions are just that.  People need to read the scriptures and decide what they mean for themselves.

In the book I refer to the “ceremony of recognition.” This ceremony has a specific order. It begins with an embrace.  The headnote (written by Elder McConkie) says “hands, feet and side” as the order.  The text, however, refers to the side, then the hands and feet.  That ceremony, so far as it is appropriate to do so, is explained in the text of The Second Comforter.

Consider This

When I joined the LDS Church there were approximately 3 million members.  That was in 1973.  We have now over 13 million.  That means that there are approximately 10 million Latter-day Saints with less experience with the Church than I have.  What an odd thing to consider.

President Monson, President Packer and Elder Perry are the only remaining members of the Presidency and Twelve who were already in place when I joined the Church.  All the others were added to the Twelve after I joined.  Again, that is an odd thing for me to consider.  I can’t imagine a Church where all the Presidency and Twelve were called after I joined.  

I was thinking about all those who were in the First Presidency and Twelve when I first joined:

It was (to me) terrible to lose President Kimball.  I’d grown quite fond of him from a distance in New Hampshire and Texas.  Then when I went to law school, his son Ed Kimball taught at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, and President Kimball would come to visit his son.  We’d run into him in the elevator or hallway and I grew even more respectful and attached to him.  

Who didn’t absolutely love Elder LeGrand Richards?  What a delight it was to listen to him.

Elder McConkie and Elder Peterson were doctrinal giants.  I went to both of their funerals because I had such a personal sense of loss at their passing.

Slippery

I pay close attention to the Church and its leadership.  I take careful note of what is said, and by whom.  The closer you listen, the clearer the Church’s methods and means become.  They really don’t take a great deal of effort to conceal things.

The Church is quite important to me.  It deserves my careful study.  Therefore I do not mind giving it the attention which it requires to understand what the Church is doing to cope with the various pressures, trends, and difficulties it encounters daily.

The Church’s study of public opinion is so careful, so well done, and so frequently updated, that in his October, 2006 General Conference talk, Elder Jeffrey Holland made the following observation:

“Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times. As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth.”

This statement was based upon the Church’s on-going public relations survey taking, opinion polling, and focus group studies.  When I attended a valley wide leadership meeting, at which Elder Russell Ballard spoke, he mentioned that from the Church Office Building he had watched focus group discussions the day before which came in by video feeds from Chicago, Seattle, and several other cities (whose locations I do not recall).

When the Church changed its position and supported the same-sex attraction ordinance in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, the Church’s spokesman made the following public announcement of the Church’s reasons for the change: 
“There are going to be gay advocates who don’t think we’ve gone nearly far enough, and people very conservative who think we’ve gone too far; the vast majority of people are between those polar extremes and we think that’s going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness.” 

This is the language of opinion polling.  The words “going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness” are the words of social sciences.  The decision was not a “revelation” but a change in position based upon the polling which showed the position change could be safely made.  The Salt Lake Tribune made the following report on January 30, 2010:
“When Salt Lake City embraced anti-discrimination ordinances for gay and transgender residents last fall — snagging a landmark endorsement by the LDS Church and widespread support from city officials — more shifted than public policy. Public opinion — throughout Utah — jumped, too. Support for some gay rights, short of marriage, climbed 11 percentage points across the state from a year ago, according to a new Salt Lake Tribune poll, and shot up by 10 percent among Mormons. Two-thirds of Utahns (67 percent) favor employment protections and safeguards for same-sex couples such as hospital visitation and inheritance rights, up from 56 percent in January 2009, when pollsters asked the same question. (This year’s survey of 625 frequent Utah voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points; last year’s was 4.5 percent.) Opposition dropped, overall, from 40 percent to 23 percent. Among LDS respondents, it plummeted from 48 percent to 28 percent. ‘This isn’t a gradual change of attitudes. This is a fairly dramatic jump,’ says Matthew Burbank, chairman of the University of Utah’s political science department. ‘Clearly, the fact that the LDS Church was officially endorsing this position had an impact on people.’ A similar number of respondents, 66 percent, also say they support expanding Salt Lake City’s anti-discrimination policy — the first of its kind in Utah and already mimicked in Salt Lake County—throughout the state.”

Adam-ondi-Ahman

At the first great priesthood meeting held at Adam-ondi-Ahman, there was Adam, who conducted, and seven High Priests who were in attendance.  The “residue” of those who were present looked on, but the meeting involved these seven High Priests and Adam.
 
The appearance of the Lord at that meeting was an appearance to the eight, who were involved in the ceremony in which Adam’s calling and election was made sure.  The on-lookers who were present did not see the Lord, although they could sense something important was underway when the Lord “administered comfort” to Adam.  Only those who had been initiated into the High Priesthood were permitted to participate and to view the Lord as He appeared and ministered.  You can read about this event in D&C Section 107: 53-56.
 
We assume the great meeting to be held at Adam-ondi-Ahman in the future will involve a great crowd, and it may.  However, if it is a repetition of the pattern from the first, there will be a small number, perhaps only seven or eight, who will see the Lord, with the residue merely sensing something of importance is taking place.  (See my earlier post on Daniel’s visitation with the Lord.)

What have you seen lately?

Saturday my wife and I ate downtown in Salt Lake City.  Instead of taking the Interstate back home, we meandered back to State Street and then down State Street.  It was between 6:00 and 7:00 pm on a Saturday evening.  I was surprised to see that there were eight tattoo parlors open at that time, all of which had customers and some of which were quite crowded. 
 
I also saw that Salt Lake City hosted a three-day tattoo convention in February.