The gentiles seem determined to end their reign. According to an announcement from the Church this week, missionary work is being shifted from European and North American populations into Latin and South America, Africa and Asia.
I’ve thought for some time that the failing conversion rates are the inevitable result of the “marketing” system being used by the Church. What distinguishes the Restoration from other faiths is our doctrine. We have been de-emphasizing doctrine for years. We try to seem more and more like another Christian faith. We aren’t. We are quite different. The reason to convert lies in our doctrinal differences.
No one is going to live the Latter-day Saint lifestyle who thinks that we are just another mainstream Christian church. To pay tithing, refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking and serve in Church leadership roles at considerable personal inconvenience and sacrifice requires our Church to be more than just another mainstream church. If that is all we are, most people (especially devoted people) are going to want an easier form of belief, like Methodism, Presbyterianism or Catholicism. If they offer the same doctrine as we do, then they will win.
I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe the doctrine. I am not a traditional Christian because I believe their creeds are false and they teach for doctrine the commandments of men. Unless someone comes to believe that, there is no reason to leave a traditional Christian denomination and become a Latter-day Saint.
I was asked recently.
“Who can become a seer?”
I answered this: You could probably substitute “seer” for “prophet” in Moses’ lament: “Would to God all men were [seers]”. The purpose of seership is the same as any other gift of the Spirit: to acquire knowledge of truth. And, assuming “God giveth liberally to all men,” as James promised us, it would follow this was among the things He intended all men to experience.
Read the description of the conditions of post-mortal residence in the presence of God given in Section 130. The “seership” experience there is commonplace. The “sea of glass,” or earth on which they dwell is a great Urim and Thummim, as well as the “white stone” given to them. The result is that ALL occupants of that sphere are seers. Accordingly, we should assume that we obtain our first instructions here to prepare us for living there. Seership, being necessary for life there, is something we ought to expect to be included in the Lord’s tutelage while we are all here.
ALL of us are to “covet the best gifts” on the one hand; and on the other “there is no gift greater” than seership. (That’s Paul and Ammon being quoted.) It follows necessarily, therefore, that we should be seeking to have some experience with this gift here in mortality.
I’ve been a Neil Young fan since his Buffalo Springfield days. Among his acts of kindness over the years, he saved Lionel Trains from bankruptcy in 1995, because he is a model train fan. That affection grew from his relationship with his autistic son.
In any event, here is an A Cappella version of his After the Gold Rush song; one of the great anthems of modern rock. I found this on YouTube and thought it memorable.
I’ve gotten numerous questions this last week on the subject of the “second anointing” or “second sealing.” This is not a subject which I think invites a lot of open discussion. I’ve intentionally avoided it in my books.
Here’s what I think is appropriate to explain:The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil is an explanation of what is required to get to the point you are prepared to meet the Lord. It is essentially a manual. It stops short of explaining what the Lord, in His on-going ministry to mankind, will do to prepare the individual for what comes next. That is His ministry. The Holy Ghost brings you to the Lord. The Lord brings you to the Father. That book was written to help you come to Him.
Beloved Enos is an explanation of what the results are, once someone has received the Lord’s ministry. It takes Enos’ record and uses it as a basis for the explanation.
Between the text of The Second Comforter and Beloved Enos, what is omitted is a description of the sacred ordinances involved in what is termed “the second anointing.” I do not feel inclined to go into that.
I need to preface my remarks below with this: My son attended a Catholic High School for a year and had the wonderful experience of being in the minority there. I have lifelong friends who are Catholic. My family was Baptist and my sister remains a devoted Baptist. I have friends of many faiths, or no faith at all. Some friends have been LDS, and lost their faith altogether. Some have converted from LDS to Catholic. All these wonderful people are valued friends. I attend annually a Presbyterian service blessing the Scottish clans with a dear friend. My friendships have nothing to do with the friend’s faith.
Now, that having been said, I was down at BYU about a week ago. [While there, I was surprised to find that several of my books were for sale in the BYU Bookstore. Somehow I thought Benchmark Books in Salt Lake was THE local distributor.]
While walking about the campus I was reminded just how much I like being a Latter-day Saint. We’re quirky, even peculiar people. There’s a lot about us to laugh about. But underneath it all Latter-day Saints really try hard, in our strange way, to be good, decent people. The struggle to be that is met with frequent failure. But the exercise is good.
Devotion to any faith is good for the souls of mankind. In many ways we are not at all superior to other groups. I remember the talk given by Pres. Faust about the killings of the young girls in the Amish school a few years ago, which was followed by the compassion of the Amish victims’ families to the widow and children of the murderer. If we were to hold up a contemporary group in the United States who most succeed in living a Christ-like life, it would likely be the Amish. Nevertheless, I really like being a Latter-day Saint and in fellowshipping and struggling with my fellow Saint. I find it joyful. I love the Saints. Even as I sense very keenly our many shortcomings. For me, it is still joyful to live as a Latter-day Saint.
I have tried to lessen the burden imposed upon Church leadership in the books I have written. The Saints need to be more accountable for their own progress and understanding. The books impose responsibility upon the reader to establish their own communication with God, and then to assume responsibility for their own progress.
Whatever intelligence we attain unto in this life will rise with us in the next. Seeking to gain in intelligence, or light and truth, is always individual, never collective.
Of the two of us, I think your hostility toward my position reveals an underlying insecurity about your confidence in your position.
One was born to privilege, whose family had great wealth.
The other, named Martha, was born poor.
As adults both women felt the need for motherhood.
Martha bore seven children.
The woman of privilege spent seven years in college studying child development and education, eventually receiving her Ph.D., but never married, nor had a child.
Martha’s family needed more room and searched for a house. They found a modest home located in wealthy neighborhood which had once been a servant’s. Now the servant’s home needed repairs, and few were interested in a home which, in comparison with the others around it, seemed merely a servant’s residence.
Martha however, believed there was an advantage for her children to grow up among the children of greater privilege and therefore purchased the unwanted house.
Martha, ever eager to learn more, had read books to better understand parenting. She was surprised to learn one of her favorite teachers lived in her neighborhood.
As coincidence would further have it, both the woman of privilege and Martha were called upon to serve together in teaching neighborhood children. They spent many hours together, but oftentimes did not agree.
After six years, Martha concluded the conflicts between them were insurmountable.
In the seventh year, Martha concluded that if the woman of privilege could gaze into the eyes of her own children for but five minutes, she would know more than she did now, notwithstanding the many years of study which she had devoted to child development and education.
In the eighth year, Martha concluded it was her responsibility to teach the woman of privilege, and so the occupant of the servant’s house undertook the burden of teaching the needy but unwilling.
It was a role that would require many years, with only limited success.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Although I’m hundreds of miles away, my thoughts are with my wife. David and Solomon clearly never found a wife to be their equal, helpmeet, love and joy. I pity them. I have she who completes me; my queen and high priestess, love and companion, wise counselor and faithful friend. She is the standard against which all other women are measured, and all others found to be wanting. She is home.
I have yet to see a marriage I think the equal of my own.
The final parable in Ten Parables begins deliberately. I hope readers realize how important that discussion is to the way things really are.
When Daniel saw the Lord he “alone saw the vision” (Dan 10:7) and not those who were with him. The others felt the great presence (v. 7) but saw nothing. The physical effect upon Daniel was exhausting. He collapsed and had to be strengthened (v. 10). Three times he collapsed and three times he was touched by the Lord to strengthen him (vs. 10,16,18). It was real and VERY physical. Yet he alone saw the Lord. It is always so. Hence Paul’s comment “whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell” ( 2Cor12:2). It IS physical. But those who are excluded merely feel the terrible presence, and see nothing. Those included are like Daniel and Joseph Smith, left exhausted from such encounters (see JS-H 1:48).