The Lord’s People Israel

When the people with Moses continually balked at receiving the gifts offered to them by the Lord, the Lord tired of their murmuring and considered rejecting them and making of Moses alone His covenant people:

And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. (Numbers 14:11-32, emphasis added.)

The first offering to the gentiles in Joseph’s day was hardly offered before the Lord sadly reflected:

For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me. And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay. (D&C 84:51-59, emphasis added.)

These early gentiles did not repent. The people Joseph taught, like those Moses taught, their carcasses also fell in the wilderness. They were even told by the Lord of what had happened in the time of Moses, to help them avoid the same fate:

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; (D&C 84:21-25, emphasis added.)

How oft might a people have been the Lord’s and they simply would not.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D&C 88:33, emphasis added.)

Can you not feel the Lord’s exasperation with us today when we murmur and dispute among ourselves? Can you not feel greater light whenever you accept and seek to understand His words rather than when you fear and complain against them?

Those who have ears will hear this, and those who do not cannot.

Teaching

While I claim no right to control, manage or command any other person, I do claim the right to teach. Like any other person who believes in something greater than themselves, we all have the right to teach what is important to us and have others consider.

In the history of mankind, there are only two documented successes of establishing a city of peace that was visited by God. In the first, Enoch preached and taught. He assumed only the role of a teacher. People listened, repented, and were able to live in peace with one another. They had one heart and one mind. There were no poor among them. (Moses 7:18-19.)

Melchizedek also preached and taught. His message was for the people to repent. (Alma 13:17-18.) Although called a “prince of peace” and the “king of Salem,” Joseph Smith explained these terms were not because he had kingly rule over any group. But it “signifies king of peace or righteousness and not any country or nation.” (WJS, p. 246.)

When God reveals His mind to me, I have every right to teach and preach repentance and urge people to return to God. There are no active covenant people who can fulfill the prophecies on earth today. There is nothing special about any people yet. But the potential to lay claim on blessings and establish a covenant exists.

In 1832, the incipient restoration movement Joseph Smith was laboring to establish was condemned by the Lord. The nascent Mormonite movement (as it was then called) was rebuked by the Lord. He told them their minds were darkened because they treated lightly what had been given to them. They were plagued with unbelief. He condemned them and warned they would remain under His condemnation until they repented, and not only said but did what the Book of Mormon and other commandments directed them to do. (D&C 84:54-57.) Among other things, they were required to “bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom.” (Id. v. 58.)

By 1841, the earlier condemnation had not been cured. The Lord threatened them again, warning they would be “rejected as a church, with your dead.” (D&C 124:32.) He gave a sign to them: If they repented, He would come to their planned but unbuilt temple and restore the fulness which they had lost. (Id. v. 28.) He would not let anyone move them out of that place. (Id. v. 45.) But if they would not obey Him, then they would, “by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation and judgments” upon themselves. (Id. v. 48.) They failed to do as He commanded. They were moved out of their place. They failed to receive the fulness from Him. They suffered wintertime expulsion, hunger, famine, pestilence and the judgments of God upon them.

They did not receive the covenant because they were unwilling to accept what was offered by the Lord. He was willing to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for protection, but they were not interested.

When the Lord determined to renew His work and allow another people the opportunity to receive a covenant from Him, He spoke to me from heaven and provided instruction. Faithful to those instructions, I have labored for years to prepare the minds and hearts any who wish to receive what is offered by a kind and loving God.

The Book of Mormon is intended to be received as a covenant. The covenant MUST first be delivered to and accepted by the gentiles in order for the gentiles to be numbered among the remnant of God’s people. (3 Ne. 21:22.) The gentiles must have a covenant, or they cannot assist in any way to establish the New Jerusalem. (Id. v. 23.) It will be former gentiles who are called “Ephriam” once restored, to whom all other tribes must come to receive their part in the covenant. (D&C 133:30-34.) This will happen once the gentiles have been given the land as their land of promise, an inheritance from God given only to covenant people. (3 Ne. 21:22.) At present, the gentiles have been condemned and rejected by the Lord. Therefore, some few must repent and return.

In making an offer to establish a covenant, no one is obligated to accept His offer. The presumption is that gentiles will refuse, as they have done for many generations. Any gentile who does not want to obtain the covenant merely needs to refrain from accepting the offer, and they remain exactly as they are now. They do not need to rejoice in the offered gift, nor to even receive it. (D&C 88:33.)

But if even a tiny few gentiles are willing to accept the covenant, God will receive them and accomplish His work through them. It was always the Lord’s expectation that “few” would receive it and walk in a straight and narrow path. Almost all others will reject it and walk in a broad enough path to accommodate every other false religious idea, false promise, incomplete and damning path that competes with the Lord’s invitation to come to Him.

The work of getting an accurate restatement of what the Lord once offered, and what He now offers and instructs, has been underway for more than a year and a half. It has resulted in a preliminary draft of new scriptures now available for anyone to review and comment on as a draft. When the wise input has been gathered, and the text completed to the best of our present ability, it will be prayerfully submitted to the Lord for His approval. He has taken an active role in the project already, providing several additions of importance to Him. They have been added. Whatever man may think of the project, before it is proposed for acceptance as a covenant it will need to be approved and accepted by the Lord. I expect He will do so, because He has already accompanied the work thus far undertaken.

When a conference in Boise takes place this coming September, the completed project will be offered for acceptance. There will be many who will not want it. They needn’t do anything. But if even a few will accept it, those who do will become at that time part of the covenant people of God, numbered with the remnant, and entitled to inherit this as their land. In turn, God will protect them. If they abide the covenant, He will establish a New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge. His glory and terror will be there, and the wicked will not come unto it. To it will be gathered from every one of the tribes of Israel, and they will be the only people who are not at war with one another as the final chapter of the world unfolds. (D&C 45:65-71.) The Spirit of God will watch over His covenant people while it withdraws from the rest of the world. In the coming darkness, they will become progressively more warlike and violent, until the earth is filled with bloodshed.

If there are any others who are willing to do so, I intend to join them in accepting the covenant in September. That will allow me to address Christian audiences in California, Texas and Atlanta as a covenant holder offering to them the benefit of accepting what the Lord offers to everyone freely.  Any others who accept the covenant can do likewise.

No one is required to accept the Lord’s invitation. But if accepted, the covenant needs to be kept. No one other than the Lord will enforce the covenant. But He has at His disposal lightning, pestilence, famine and earthquakes. (D&C 43:25.) He has warned of a coming time when there is burning, desolation and lamentation. (D&C 112:24.) He has always planned to have covenant people survive that with His protection.

Anyone who objects to this is free to continue on without accepting God’s offer. They are free to attempt to persuade others to also reject the covenant and remain alone without God’s protection in the coming difficulties. But their opposition cannot prevent it from happening for others who choose to accept the Lord’s offer to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks.

2 Nephi 29: 4-5

 
“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
If you wonder at the Lord’s patience and willingness to forgive you have an answer here.  The Lord’s respect for and defense of the “Jews” as His “ancient covenant people” is unmitigated by any criticism of them. Instead He points to their “travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews” experienced in bringing forth this Biblical record.
 
The Jews deserve our thanks, our gratitude and our respect for this great work of preserving the record.

Twice the Lord calls the Jews His “ancient covenant people.” The Bible is a record of rebellion, persecution of the righteous, and slaying of prophets. It is a record of a fallen people who were often in apostasy, resisting true prophets calling for repentance, and suffering the judgment and condemnation of God.  When the New Testament record (also a product of Jewish writers–even in the case of Luke who, though born to gentile parents, was converted to Judaism) came into existence it was the Jews who resisted and persecuted the Lord. Yet He still calls them His “ancient covenant people.” He insists we have been ungrateful to the Jews for their work on the Bible.
 
This is the Lord speaking in the first person.  Nephi is quoting Him. These are the same people Lehi taught would be the only ones “who would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10: 3.) Yet despite that, Christ refers to them as His “ancient covenant people” to whom we owe a debt of gratitude! How merciful is our Lord?
 
Now, those who produced the Bible text are not merely the believers, true prophets, and victims of Jewish hostility and persecution.  The text may have originated with the prophets, but it passed quickly into the hands of the priests and Levites, scholars and Rabbis.  These others may not have had the same divine inspiration and association with angels, but they nevertheless attended with strict discipline to preserving the record of the prophets. Even those who directly challenged the Lord included the scribes who worked to preserve the records of the prophets. These “labors” and “pains” and “diligence” have produced gratitude from the Lord!
 
If He is willing to thank them, how generous is our Lord in His thanks to mankind! How ungrateful are we?
 
We tend to see those with whom we differ as enemies. But the Lord does not want us to approach religious disagreement in this way.  Instead he would have us “recover” them. He says: “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” As Joseph Smith’s History recounts, his persecutors ought “to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) That is the only way to obtain agreement – persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (D&C 121: 41-42.) Instead of “holding a court” against someone, we ought to preach the Gospel to them and teach them the truth with love and meekness. It is clear the Lord is showing by example how our attitudes ought to be displayed with those who persecute and reject us. But, then again, He taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 67) and in how He lived (John 8: 10-11) and died (Luke 23: 34). Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not. Nor does He who holds the greatest claim to condemn the Jews condemn them. Instead He says we ought to have gratitude for their pains, labors and diligence.
 
What does our ingratitude merit us? It merits us judgment. For the same judgment we apply to them will in turn be applied to us. We will see it used as the basis for His rejection of us:  “I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
Being a religious people is fine; but being a self-righteous people has always been perilous.  It is no different today. We should use the scriptures to inform our inner life. It is meant for internal use only. External application is likely to cause burning.

1 Nephi 14: 14

1 Nephi 14: 14: 

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” 

Once the whore sets about to destroy the Lamb of God, He does not remain in His pavilion away. He takes up the fight for His Saints.

What is the “power of the Lamb of God?”

Why does this “power” “descend” upon the Saints?

Why are there two groups identified, “the Saints of the Lamb of God,” and also, “upon the covenant people of the Lord?”  Are these the same or two different groups? If two, what is to happen in this descending of “power” upon these two?

Why are the “Saints” and the “covenant people” both “scattered upon all the face of the earth?” Why are they not gathered together in one place?

What does it mean to be “armed with righteousness?”

Why are “righteousness” and “the power of God” two different things?

Do the “covenant people” have to have “righteousness” to receive the “power of God?” Are they blessed for the covenant’s sake? What about the others? Who are “righteous” and their protection? Are they protected for righteousness sake?

Assuming the “power of God” is given to protect these groups, do they need munitions? Do they need intercontinental firepower? Do they need to form an army for their own defense?

What is the “power of God in great glory?” Will the children of the great whore be able to behold this “power of God in great glory,” or will it be hidden from them? If hidden, will they sense something? Will fear fall upon them that they flee from the presence of this glory? Wasn’t that the case with Daniel’s friends? (Daniel 10: 7.) Wasn’t that the case with the companions of Saul? ( JST Acts 9: 7 “And they who were journeying with him saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him who spake to him.”) Will Zion not be protected by this “power of God?” (D&C 45: 70.)  If it is to be like the days of Noah (Luke 17: 26-27), then won’t there be someone who can speak the word of God and mountains flee, armies held at defiance, and rivers turned out of their course? (Moses 7: 13.)

Will the same things happen that happened at the time of the great flood? If so, how much relevance does the history from Enoch through Noah have to our day? Should we be familiar with that pattern to know how the pattern may repeat itself? 

What can you do to be numbered with those who will be spared? Does the known history of the antediluvians tell you anything about how you need to prepare? Since Enoch had 365 years to develop a people who were worthy to be spared, how much greater a work will it be to prepare now that life spans are generally less than 90 years? How great a work lies before you?

1 Nephi 13: 30

The role of gentiles in the history of this land, promised to Lehi’s descendants, is not just covered in the Lord’s words. It is set out in some detail by Nephi. Therefore, we will look at some of Nephi’s prophecy from 1 Nephi Chapter 13.  Below is verse 30:

“Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren.”

This comes after an explanation of how the gentiles will flee oppression in another land (Europe), come here, and overtake this land. Nephi has been shown the establishment of a great church that alters the teachings to be given by Christ to the Jews. Then the prophecy continues with the above statement.

Flight from captivity has brought the Gentiles here. They came here (originally) for religious freedom. They wanted to follow their conscious when it came to matters of God and belief. This land was a land of religious freedom for these gentiles.

They then were “lifted up by the power of God above all other nations.” This “lifting up” is not only to enjoy religious freedom to worship God. It also included the power to retain that freedom against any foreign threat to remove it. Therefore, ancillary to the religious freedom, the gentiles were necessarily given economic and military might with which to retain that freedom against “all other nations.” But the “power of God” which “lifted [them] up” is conditioned upon them always serving the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ. (Ether 2: 12.) The power of God cannot be used to protect a wicked people.

The land is “choice above all other lands.” Why is that so? What is it about the American continent which makes it more “choice” than any other location on earth?

Notice that here again Nephi is told that the land has been given to Lehi’s descendants as “the land for their inheritance.” Whatever dispossession the gentiles cause, these people have God’s covenant to return the land to them. What does it mean to have this land promised by God through covenant to Lehi’s descendants? Does that promise contain any condition? Will these people forfeit their right if they are wicked? If they will not forfeit the right, then what will happen to them if they cease to serve the God of this land?

Because of the covenant, the Lord will “not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy” the covenant people? Note the “mixture of thy seed” mentioned to Nephi. Why is Nephi promised a “mixture of thy seed” will be preserved? Does gentile oppression remove the promises to Lehi and Nephi? If not, what then do the promises assure them?

Why does God make a covenant to a worthy prophet-patriarch and bind Himself to fulfill the promise even with a posterity which may not be similarly faithful? Has the Lord done this before with Abraham? With Isaac? With Jacob? With Noah? Even though we knew nothing of these covenants when the gentiles overran the land, are they nonetheless God’s promise and something which He will fulfill?  How certain should we be that the Lord will deliver this land back to those who descend from Lehi and Nephi?

Why can a righteous prophet-patriarch obtain such promises from the Lord? What reason is there for such covenants to be made? Can they still be made? How? What did Lehi and Nephi do to qualify to receive such a covenant? Was there any intermediary? Will the Lord employ a servant when making such a covenant?

Well, this is interesting stuff.  Worth continuing to consider, I think.

Peoplehood

One of the very substantial differences in the way we are currently evolving is almost unnoticed.  I’ve tried to capture the difference in what I’ve written by using the terms “movement” in contrast to “institution.”  Those terms help to explain the notion, but it is really something more than that.  I’m going to use a different way to explain it in this post, and see if I can get a little closer to the real underlying process which is now underway.

The original development under Joseph Smith was something quite distinct from all existing faiths.  It was not just a new religion.  It was a wholesale resurrection of an ancient concept of “Peoplehood.”  It was radical.  Its purpose was to change diverse assortments of people, from every culture and faith, with every kind of ethnic and racial composition, into a new kind of People.  They were to be united under the banner of a New and Everlasting Covenant, resurrecting the ancient Hebraic notion of nationhood and Peoplehood.  No matter what their former culture was, they were adopted inside a new family, a covenant family.  Status was defined not be virtue of what you believed or confessed, but instead by what covenants you have assumed.

What returned through Joseph Smith was not a religion, nor an institution, nor merely a faith.  It was instead the radical notion that an ancient covenant family was being regathered into a separate People.  This return to ancient roots brought with it, as the hallmark of its source of power, the idea of renewed covenants that brought each individual into direct contract with God.  It did not matter what they believed.  It only mattered that they accepted and took upon them the covenant.

Once inside the new People, there was a new culture where ancient ties returned to bind the hearts together.  There was a dietary regimen where the People were reminded at every meal that they were distinct and apart from the world.  There was the gift of sacred clothing, in which they were reminded of their separateness by the things put upon their skin.  There were financial sacrifice of tithes, gathered from the People to help the People.  The fortunes of all were intertwined with each other by the gathering of tithes and offerings into the Bishop’s storehouse to help the poor and needy among the People.  It was NOT a religion.  It was a People.  It was to become The People.  And The People were required to extend to all others the same equal opportunity to become also part of the covenant.

This is different from a religion.  It was cultural, personal, and as distinct as a Jew views himself to be from a Christian.  To a Jew, religion is a part of the equation.  They share blood with other Jews, and therefore even if a Jew is not attending weekly synagogue meetings, they retain their status as one of the Jews.

Religion on the other hand is merely a brand name for a sentiment.  One can be a Presbyterian or a Lutheran and still belong to the same Elks Lodge.  There is nothing really distinct between the two, other than where they meet for an hour or two on Sundays.  Apart from that, they identify culturally as “Protestants” and brothers.  There is no great distinction, and the theological differences which separate them are so trivial that a doctrinal disagreement between them is unlikely.

Mormonism has taken a direct course-change where the original elements of separate Peoplehood are now viewed as an impediment to wider acceptance.  The distinctions are being minimized in order to undo the conflicts that marred the relationship between Mormonism and the larger American society.  The lessons learned from those conflicts have led to the idea that we must become more actively engaged in public relations.  Our commitment to the public relations process has informed us that we have to become less distinct to get along with others.  We need to drop our misunderstood and offensive claims to distinctions that claim superiority, and urge instead the things that we share with the Presbyterians and Lutherans.  The ultimate end of that process is to make it just as meaningless and controversial a thing for a Mormon to belong to and fellowship with the Elks Lodge as it is for the Presbyterian and Lutheran.  This is one of the great goals of the Correlation process and the public relations effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The outreach at present is merely an attempt to get people to accept the church as another form of Historic Christianity, claiming equality among peers, without any desire to confront or cause conflict.  The notion of Peoplehood is being suppressed.  Any claims of superiority of the faith are suppressed.

Enthusiastic scholarship is working alongside the larger public relations effort.  The work of Robinson at BYU, for example, in his reconciliatory book, (co-authored with a member of the Evangelical-based Denver Theological Seminary faculty) “How Wide the Divide,” made an attempt to discuss Evangelical Protestant notions alongside Mormon notions and to minimize any differences.  The underlying presumption is that we are both merely religions.  As fellow religions we share an attempt to come to God through teachings we believe in and scriptural texts we share.

Reconciliation between what Joseph Smith restored and other religions should never have been a goal.  Joseph’s restoration was not a church.  It was not a religion.  It was not a bundle of beliefs.  By trying to reach a common footing among other mainstream Christian faiths we have to first abandon the very different footing upon which Joseph established the Restoration.

The original Restoration could never be like any of “them.”  They were churches.  Joseph restored Peoplehood.  To go from what Joseph restored to a common footing requires us to first abandon the concept that we are neither a new form of Christianity, nor a return to Jewish antecedents.  We are something quite different from either.  We are an Hebraic resurrection of God’s People, clothed with a covenant, and engaged in a direct relationship with God that makes us distinct from all other people.

When we view ourselves as a Christian faith, we deconstruct the very foundation upon which we began.  We aren’t that.  We can never be part of Historic Christianity.  And yet that has been our front-and-center effort through the focus on public relations and the scientific study of what words we should use to advance our acceptance in the world.

Read the earliest of Mormon materials and you will be shocked by how differently they viewed themselves from how we now view ourselves.  They were building a separate People.  They invited all to come and partake of the covenant, renounce their prior errors, and return to living as one of God’s New and Everlasting Covenant holders.


To rid ourselves of that tradition, we need to assume the elements of a typical religion.  Rather than defining ourselves as a separate People, we turn to defining a set of beliefs.  Establishing an orthodoxy and then insisting upon uniformity of belief to belong to the orthodox religion is the way of the Catholics and Protestants.  They are bound together NOT by their peoplehood but instead by their confessions of faith.  So as you de-emphasize our Peoplehood, you must then begin to emphasize and control an orthodox statement or confession of faith.

These dynamics are worth very careful thought.  There is an actual consensus among church leaders that this is the right way to proceed.  A discussion about it among Latter-day Saints has not even begun at the rank and file level.  The transition takes place over decades, and unless someone first creates a vocabulary for the problem, we don’t even have the capacity to discuss or notice what is happening and why.

This post has gone on too long.  Not really a blog post subject.  It’s a book-length subject.  I make fleeting comments about something that would take pages to develop.  But I doubt I’ll write the needed book.  Instead I will try to bring the idea into the consciousness of you good people and let it percolate about.  Surely some of you can do something about it.

Mosiah 18: 8-10

I was asked why the language of Mosiah 18: 8-10 related to membership in the church, and not to others outside the church.  Here’s my response.
 
These verses are talking about entering into a covenant and becoming “the fold of God.”  (Verse 8.)  This fold will be “called his people.”  (Id.)  The fold, who have this covenant, and who are called His people, are to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”  (Id.)  The whole passage is relating to the interrelationship between those who are of the covenant, the fold, and who are God’s people as a result of this covenant.  These are the duties owed internally to the fold.
 
It continues to explain that these people should be “willing to mourn with those that mourn.”  (Verse 9.)  The word “those” should be read in the context of the covenant, the fold, the people and the obligation arising from within the group.
 
These verses are church/fold/covenant people related, and govern the obligations which those who come into that fold owe to each other.  It arises out of the covenant of baptism.  (Verse 10.)
 
The obligation owed within the church membership to one another on the one hand does not eliminate other obligations owed to your fellow man.  Indeed, it is one of the chief obligations owed to all humanity to cry repentance and bring others into the fold.  Christ also extended the obligation to care for others without regard to their status, including in His parable of the good Samaritan.  So to say there is one duty owed within the church is not to say there are not other obligations owed to others outside the church.