Category: Holy Ghost

Clarifying Distinctions

The “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan. 2:44-45) is not a corruptible institution but an incorruptible Gospel.

There is no organization currently ministering the “gift of the Holy Ghost” as a right conferred upon an individual to remain always with them. There is an admonishment directing people to: “receive the Holy Ghost.” That admonishment is directed to the individual as advice, counsel or an objective to seek for, not as a right conferred indelibly upon them. (See, David Bednar, Receive the Holy Ghost, April 2010 General Conference; That We May Always Have His Spirit To Be With Us, April 2006 General Conference.) As recently as the Sunday morning session of the last LDS conference, President Eyring explained the limits of the LDS connection to the Holy Ghost. “We desire it, yet we know from experience that it is not easy to maintain. We each think, say, and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit.” (The Holy Ghost as Your Companion.) Anyone of any faith anywhere in the world can have the same experience as a transitory gift from God. (Moroni 10:4-5.) Remember God gives liberally to all; the wicked and the righteous.  People of faith throughout the world have as much access to the Holy Ghost as a latter-day saint. If it were not so, the LDS missionaries could not advise an investigator to pray and ask God – pointing out Moroni 10:4. If it were not so, Joseph could not have asked God relying on the promise of James 1:5. There is nothing special about the LDS admonishment, but it is a good, worthy and correct principle which all mankind ought to follow. If they do, no matter what their faith traditions, they will harvest the same results as those spoken of by President Eyring in the last LDS general conference.

Christ, however, can give the permanent gift of the Holy Ghost by His touch. (3 Ne. 18:36; Moroni 2:1-3.)

There are no “sealing” keys used by any Mormons in their temple rites: “Brothers and sisters, if you are true and faithful the time will come when you will be called up and anointed kings and priests, queens and priestesses, whereas now you are only anointed to become such. The realization of these blessings depends on your faithfulness.” It, like the Holy Ghost, is conditioned on your faithfulness. This same promise is made to all mankind by the Lord. (See, e.g., D&C 14:7; D&C 96:6; Alma 11:40; Moroni 7:41.)

Christ can and does seal a man up to eternal life. (See, e.g., Mosiah 26: 14, 20; Enos 1:5-8; D&C 132:49; 1 John 2:25.)

Institutions who use fear to control the hopes and aspirations of mankind concerning eternal life are in the gall of bitterness. Fear is of the devil. When the final remnant is gathered, they will have shepherds who remove fear. (Jeremiah 23:2-5.) When we are prepared by Christ, and by His word alone, we will not fear. (D&C 38:30.)

If we are warned we should warn others. But the Lord has instructed: “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.” (D&C 38:41.)

Second Comforter

As foreign translations of The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil are being considered, one question that has come up is whether the book ought to be updated to reflect changes since its original publication 9 years ago. There will be no changes made in the book. If there is a third edition, there will be no changes made there either.

I was an active, faithful Latter-day Saint when the book was written. It is a correct statement of the LDS Church beliefs at that time. The book preserves an important moment in time, before even more radical changes to the LDS Church were made.

When the book was written it was understood that “the second Comforter” referred to Christ. The footnotes in LDS scripture confirmed John 14: 16, 18 and 23 were referring to Christ. They were Christ’s promise that He would appear to His disciples. In the latest revisions to the LDS scriptures, the reference was changed and redefined to mean the Holy Ghost, and not Christ.

The LDS Church has not yet changed, altered or deleted the explanation to John 14:23 in the D&C. That volume of scripture still states: “John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.”  (D&C 130: 3.)

The elimination of the footnotes was not inadvertent. The LDS Church no longer teaches that it is possible for a faithful Latter-day Saint to receive the Second Comforter. As recently as June 13, 2015, LDS assistant historian Richard Turley and church apostle Dallin Oaks traveled to Boise, Idaho, and while there denounced the idea of church members having spiritual experiences that go “entirely against all the rules of order that we have talked about.” (Recording at 59 minutes.) Turley, quoting President Spencer W. Kimball, warned that this kind of experience “may not come from God. I am sure that there may be many spectacular things performed because the devil is very responsive.” (Id.)

Dealing directly with the Second Comforter, Turley denounced the claim, “only those who see the face of Jesus Christ in mortality will receive Celestial Glory.” (Id.)

Elder Oaks added: “the suggestions that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary.” (Recording at 1 hr. 30 seconds.)

If these statements are not enough, a talk at FAIR was covered by both the Church News and LDS Meridian Magazine. The Church News headlined their article “Speaker identifies ‘spiritual threat‘.” In that article, it reports it is spiritually threatening to have “an inordinate interest in the Second Comforter.” LDS Meridian Magazine reprinted the talk. The talk states it is wrong to have, “Inordinate interest in the Second Comforter or Second Anointing, complaints that the church does not teach or emphasize them enough, and belief that books or teachings by individuals who are not church leaders are the best way to obtain them.”

The last time the Second Comforter was mentioned in general conference was in the early 1970’s. It is not covered in Priesthood, Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine lesson manuals of the church. It is not on the correlation committee’s approved list of topics suitable for discussion.

The book The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil uses scripture, traditional sources and quotes from LDS Church leaders, including Joseph Smith, and books printed by Deseret Book and Bookcraft (a subsidiary of Deseret Book).  It is an entirely orthodox book 9 years ago. It represents the actual position of the LDS faith when it was printed.

The shift in just 9 years is so dramatic that the book needs stay just as it is. It demonstrates how very much the LDS Church has changed, and how quickly it did so. It is an important historical document preserving a snapshot that allows a stark contrast to be made in the minds of anyone interested in understanding a rapidly changing institution losing track of its most fundamental teachings.

BFHG, Part 2

At the time Joseph and Oliver were baptized, they had no authority from heaven with which to confer the Holy Ghost. (JS-H 1: 70.) They had no ordinance available to them other than baptism. (JS-H 1: 70-71.) They performed the ordinance as instructed. But afterwards, without any authority to confer upon one another the Holy Ghost, they nevertheless had the gift of the Holy Ghost poured out upon them. (JS-H 1: 73.) This was not merely a temporary visit. It lingered thereafter with them so they could understand the scriptures in the manner they were intended to be understood when these scriptures were first inspired by the Holy Ghost in the minds of the prophets who wrote them. (JS-H 1: 74.)

The Holy Ghost can come and visit with a person, but not tarry with them. (D&C 130: 23.) If it comes and visits with them, then it is said the person has “received” the Holy Ghost. This kind of visit is conditional. It is dependent upon the worthiness and desire of the recipient. If they “grieve” the spirit by misbehavior, it will depart from them. If you read general conference talks discussing this issue, you will find this is the form of Holy Ghost received by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the Holy Ghost to become a constant companion which tarries, it is said to be “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Because the one with this endowment has received a gift from God, and it is given to them by God to be theirs.

The ordinance given when converts are confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes these words: “And I say unto you, receive the Holy Ghost.” This is the formula given in the priesthood manuals of the church, and is included in the General Handbook of Instructions. It is an admonition from the church elder to the convert. The obligation to then search for and obtain a visit from the Holy Ghost is imposed on the convert.

When Christ was speaking of the Lamanites and their baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (3 Ne. 9: 20), He was speaking not merely of the Holy Ghost descending and not tarrying with them (D&C 130: 23), but of their possession of the gift which endured thereafter. (Hel. 5: 48-50.)

I was baptized on September 9, 1973 at Kittery Point Beach on the Atlantic coast by Elder Brian Black. The service was presided over by Brother Jim Mortenson, a counselor in the Portsmouth, New Hampsire Ward. After baptism, as I knelt on the sand, the missionaries confirmed me a member of the church and admonished me to “receive the Holy Ghost.” The service was in the evening. Just prior to the laying on of hands, Elder Black spoke about the symbols in the sky. The sun was setting, but still visible. The moon was also out, and the first “stars” were also faintly visible. [The “stars” we could see included Venus, hence the quotation marks.] Elder Black remarked that “all the signs of heaven were visible; the sun, symbolizing the Celestial; the moon, symbolizing the Terrestrial; and the stars, symbolizing the Telestial.” His beautiful remarks affected my thinking so much I can still recall them nearly 40 years later.

As the admonition was given to me, I felt a warmth begin at the top of my head where the hands were touching me. It proceeded downward through my entire person as if something was descending and filling me. The North Atlantic water was cold, particularly at that time of year, and the sand I knelt on was also cold. But I felt a warmth which came from within that filled my entire body.

When we finished at the beach, we all went to Jim and Monte Mortenson’s house for a gathering. It was dubbed a “birthday party” in reference to my baptism. When we arrived, Jim asked me to say the “opening prayer” before we ate. I was perfectly willing to say the prayer, but I hesitated for a few moments before doing so because I sensed the “spirit” wasn’t quite right yet. So rather than immediately interrupt the laughter and loud voices, I tried to bring the group spirit around to something more reverent. As I hesitated, I think Jim assumed I was not yet ready to pray in public (as many new converts are), and moved on to ask another to pray. She did, and we ate.

The boisterous spirit was still there after the prayer, and as the group of us sat in the Mortenson’s living room the spirit of the evening became more and more divisive. At a point there was contention between some of the group, and the evening was taking a turn downward, grieving the spirit altogether. At that moment I stood and got everyone’s attention. When silence settled in, I started with one end of the gathering, and spoke in turn to each person there. I began by saying, “whatever ambition the Adversary has for tonight, I intend to resist it.” I then spoke to their hearts, prophesied and let the love I felt within me pour out. The effect upon those who were there softened their demeanor, brought a spirit of friendship back into the gathering, and although none of them may remember it today, it is to me as clear as if it happened minutes ago. Jim Mortenson spoke up when I finished and said he was confident I would one day be a church patriarch– a remark that meant nothing at the time because I knew nothing about such a position.

You must remember that before conversion I was not even a likely candidate to become Mormon. When the elders were teaching me they asked that I read the Book of Mormon. I agreed.  After I had read some of it, they asked me what I thought of it. I replied: “It’s got to be scripture. It’s every bit as boring as the Bible.” I meant it. Neither the Book of Mormon or the Bible meant much to me. I couldn’t sense any Spirit or depth to it. Nothing in it thrilled me or touched my heart.

After baptism, however, it all changed. Like Joseph and Oliver I could say “my mind now being enlightened, I began to have the scriptures laid open to my understanding, and the true meaning of their more mysterious passages revealed to me in a manner which I never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (Compare JS-H 1: 74.) What I found was that the scriptures were now written for me. They were the means through which God could lay out His mind and His will and His voice in a way I had never dreamed possible before.

The journey back to Him begins with all He has provided and preserved of His word. It begins for each of us in the scriptures. One of the immediate effects of baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is to have the scriptures come alive; to have them overwhelm you with revelation, light and truth. It is not you doing this. It is you experiencing it, but the Holy Spirit opening and lighting them so the same Spirit which gave them at first now receives them in you.

This subject (baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost) is variegated. It is important to avoid reducing it to a single, simple explanation and ignore other important features of this great gift from God.

God’s Many Works, Part 5

The power of God and His many methods of accomplishing His will are not conveniently reduced to a simple vocabulary. The Father and the Son are clearly able to accomplish all their works using the power which originates from the Father, in the midst of eternity, to build all creation. Not only to build, but to sustain all creation. It is the power which causes creation to exist in an organized and functioning order.

But when it comes to identifying something by the title of “the Holy Ghost” or “the Holy Spirit” or “the Holy Spirit of Promise” there are underlying concepts associated with each of these. Titles and proper nouns are inadequate.

For example, look at the following statement from Alma as he recounts the many blessings the Nephites had received in their generations: “Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation.” (Alma 9: 21.) According to Alma, these many blessings come from “the Spirit of God” and include “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” What are these two different blessings? Why does Alma see them as distinct enough to mention them separately and by different names? Is the “Holy Ghost” a function or part of “the Spirit of God?” Can Alma accurately describe it in this manner? If he can, then what is the underlying truth that connects them together?

Why is the “Holy Spirit of Promise” the topic Joseph Smith had in mind as he described the sin of “denying the Holy Ghost?” Is there a relationship between the Holy Spirit of Promise and the Holy Ghost? Are they the same? Are they different? Do they both come from the Holy Spirit of God? If so, then are they different in nature or only different in degree? Can something be different in degree and be called by a different name?

It should be clear to you that the use of the terms are in some respects inexact, even in scripture. They are referring to ideas. You need to understand the underlying concepts rather than to focus on just the words. If you are going to understand exactly what is being discussed, then relying only on vocabulary will be insufficient.

What, then, does “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” consist of? The effect (fire purges and removes sin) is to permit you to speak with the “tongue of angels.” (2 Ne. 31: 13.) But Nephi also cautions that once this gift has been conferred, if you then “deny Christ” you would be better off having never known Him. (2 Ne. 31: 14.) This process will come to you after repentance, baptism, and comes to “show all things” and to “teach the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 39: 6. Compare to Moses 6: 61.) These scriptures, baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” teach you and show you things, just like Joseph’s remark that the Holy Ghost is a revelator and you cannot receive it without also receiving revelations. But to “speak with the tongue of angels” means you are elevated, your knowledge and your inspiration reckons from heaven itself. You have been elevated by “fire” which purges sins and purifies. In effect, you receive holiness through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This in turn makes your own spirit holy. Your spirit or your ghost is within you, connected to heaven to such a degree through this process that you are in possession of a “holy spirit” or a “holy ghost” within you.

Does this “baptism of fire” come from a personage, or from the “mind of God the Father and Christ,” or from the “light of Christ,” or the “Holy Spirit” or some source you can clearly define or describe. Or does it come from God, sitting in the midst of eternity as He sustains all His creations through His power? And if that is the source, can it be described in a specific term? What is the name of that term?

What do these terms mean:
-Holy (Who provides this to man?)
-Spirit (Whose? Yours? God’s? Both?)
-Promise (What promise? Given by Whom? Who recieves this promise?)

We need to consider language and terms, but more importantly we need to think about concepts that words alone can never convey adequately. Move beyond the limits of vocabulary and try to find a connection to the underlying concepts these words are attempting to convey. For in these are found connections which run from inside you back to the presence of God Himself. Or, more correctly, the Gods Themselves, for the Father and the Son are two distinct beings. They are sustaining you from moment to moment right now. You are more directly connected with Them than you can imagine. You are borrowing their power to exist at present.

God’s Many Works, Part 4

Peter explained the means by which Old Testament prophets received messages from God: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1: 21.) This Holy Ghost has been with mankind since the time of Adam: “And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.” (Moses 5: 9.)

Adam prophesied that the same Priesthood which he received from God in the beginning of the world would again return to the earth at the end of the world. (Moses 6: 7.) This prophecy was given through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moses 6: 8.)

From Adam till Christ, the Holy Ghost was the primary voice by which revelation was delivered from God to mankind. It is active and has been active in delivering the words of prophecy to “holy men” throughout history.

Then what is this voice of truth? Joseph Smith said, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” (TPJS, p. 328.)

He also said “The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage.” (TPJS, p. 276.) He also said “the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130: 22.)

He also taught that “All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.” (TPJS, p. 358.)

This last quote is very helpful to understand the concept of the Holy Ghost. It equates this kind of knowledge and experience with having the heavens opened, knowing God, and seeing the sun shine with the Holy Ghost. In another place Joseph’s revelation explained that heirs of Celestial glory will be sealed up to eternal life “by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” (D&C 76: 53.) These individuals who receive this “seal” are those who received from Jesus the testimony that He has saved them. (D&C 76: 51.) They have become part of “the Church of the Firstborn” as a consequence of promises given to them by the Father and the Son. (D&C 76: 54-57.) They have become “sons of God” by the decree of the Father. (D&C 76: 58-59.)

These individuals have received the testimony of Jesus, and the promise of eternal life which is the Holy Spirit of Promise. (D&C 88: 3.)

So we now have several different concepts found in scripture and Joseph’s teachings:
-A power which sustains all of creation.
-A “light of Christ” which is given to all mankind.
-A power which animates the sun, stars and even this earth.
-A power which lets man live, breathe and move, which sustains man from moment to moment.
-A source of revelation.
-An open vision of God the Father and His Son, which includes the promise of eternal life.
-A light or intelligence which proceeds from God’s Throne.

These are two distinct beings who are responsible for these various sources affecting mankind for the good: Christ, who has descended and then ascended throughout all of creation to bring the light to everything and everyone. The Father, who is the source from whom flows the power which Christ has brought into creation.

In addition to these two distinct beings, we also have something that can be called:
-“the record of heaven;”
-“the Comforter;”
-“the peaceable things of immortal glory;”
-“the truth of all things;”
-“that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things;”
-“that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.”
(Moses 6: 61.)

Therefore, it can be truly said, just as Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith, that the Holy Ghost represents the “mind of the Father and the Son.”

I had hoped to finish this tomorrow. However comments have made it apparent I will need to take two more days to complete this. So there are two more installments left in which we will draw together some of these various truths found in scripture.

God’s Many Works

When trying to understand how God touches us, it is better to start with His many works instead of a vocabulary. In fact, we often are misled into believing that once we know a vocabulary term we then understand what the term means. Last week the “Holy Spirit” and the “Holy Ghost” were used both in selected scriptures and in my comments. Forget for a moment what term applies to what attribute, and focus on attributes first.

God’s many works are held together and organized by His power. A description of this is given in Section 88, which states the following about Christ:

He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.  As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;  As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. (D&C 88: 6-10.)
This describes Christ. He both ascended and descended to enable Him to be “in all and through all things.” What does that mean? Why would He necessarily need to ascend above and then descend below in order to be “in all and through all things?” How is this related to being Christ? How does this activity stretching Him above and below relate to Him becoming “the light” to all?
How does this description relate to Christ’s introduction of Himself (containing His definition of who He is) to the Nephites, which states:
Behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. (3 Ne. 11: 11.) Is there a direct relationship between ascending, descending, and becoming “the light and the life of the world?” In other words, must Christ move into all the realms to bring the truth throughout in order to become the “light and life” throughout? 
Is there a connection between these requirements and Christ becoming “the power thereof by which it was made?” The things listed above in Section 88 are physical objects. The sun and its power, the moon and its power, the stars and their power and the earth upon which we stand are all physical things. These things rely on Christ’s “power” to have been “made.” If Christ’s stewardship required Him to be above and below, and throughout all in order to become “the light” unto all, then does Christ’s “power” extend beyond just redeeming them all? How does Christ’s ministry also relate to the “power” to bring these things into existence? How does Christ become “the light of Christ” which spreads throughout all creation? If His power extends to make the sun, moon, stars and the earth, how far does the “light of Christ” extend? Is it merely a moral force for good? Does it also include physical creation and power? What does the “light of Christ” have to do with “the power of the sun?” How dependent is all life, including plant, animal and human, upon the power of the sun? Without sunlight, what happens to this world?
How literally should we take “the light of the sun” to be a product of Christ’s light? What does it mean if Christ is “the power of the sun?” 
We tend to view “the light of Christ” as a moral source. That is, the “light of Christ” is most often spoken of as a moral conscience. From these verses, however, that view is too limited for this force or power. It is something much greater.

Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit

Are the “Holy Ghost” and the “Holy Spirit” the same? When Nephi refers to the “Holy Ghost” in 2 Ne. 33: 1, but then uses “Holy Spirit” in the next verse (2 Ne. 33: 2), does he have two different things in mind?

Joseph Smith defined the “Holy Spirit” as the “mind of the Father and Son” in the Lectures on Faith. Here is an excerpt:

There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things–by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space–They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;–he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh–and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father-possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all–the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father–possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father–a Mediator for man–being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. (Lecture 5, Paragraph 2.)

The forgoing was published in 1835.

In a lecture given in 1843, Joseph stated the following (which can be found in D&C 130: 22):

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

If the Holy Ghost is a “personage of Spirit” and it can “dwell in us,” and the Holy Spirit is “the mind of the Father and Son” then are they the same thing?

The scriptures have explained that the “Holy Ghost” which dwells in you – this personage of Spirit – has the following other descriptions, or attributes:
-the Comforter
-the record of heaven
-the truth of all things
-the peacable things of immortal glory
-that which quickeneth all things
-that which knoweth all things
-that which has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.
(Moses 6: 61.)
This is a description of the personage of Spirit which dwells inside you. This is the Holy Ghost. This is something that can be in contact with the Holy Spirit, or the “mind of the Father and Son.”

Perhaps you should look into this topic. Perhaps there is something to be found in this review.

There are many times when the term “Ghost” and the term “Spirit” are used interchangeably. The distinction is not appreciated by some translators. Therefore, if there is a difference between these two, you will need to be careful about trusting different translator’s use of the terms. They may not have any distinction in mind.

If there is a difference, then what does that say about revelation? What does that say about you? And, keeping in mind yesterday’s post, what does that say about 2 Ne. 33: 1-2?


Power in the Priesthood, Conclusion

All things are governed by God’s will. In general conference we are taught that we cannot have the Holy Ghost as our companion unless we are obedient and faithful. In a recent example, President Eyring explained how behavior such as looking at “images which incite lust” or inappropriate Internet or media access to pornography, or even immodesty or vulgarity will forfeit the companionship of the Holy Ghost. (God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder) This is describing how the Holy Ghost is a temporary visitor with most people, even in the church.

The power of priesthood, however, is speaking about a higher order of things. In that order the Holy Ghost is a “constant companion.” (D&C 121: 46.) These individuals are no longer wishing they had power in the priesthood, because they have obtained knowledge through the things they have done and the pattern they have followed. They have invoked the law ordained before the foundation of the world and have obtained the associated promised blessings.

The scriptures rarely speak about the instruments of power. In the context of priesthood, however, the Lord does use the image of “scepter”–an indication of wielding the power of God; as well as “dominion” –an image of acting with God’s appointment over a charge or stewardship or message given to you by Him. But in this revelation it is used as a symbol to show a connection of the individual to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. (Id.) The revelation ties “scepter” to “an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” coming once “virtue” has “garnished thy thoughts unceasingly.” In other words, you have come to see the difference between “virtue” and positive, directed action undertaken on the Lord’s behalf and at His insistence through the Holy Ghost.

This is how priesthood power is acquired. It is how all prophets, from Adam to the present, have been called of God and then endowed with power by Him. It is a principle of action, requiring you obey the law under which this power is conferred. It connects you to Him. For He alone is the source of power.

Truth and righteousness go together, but truth requires you to see things as they really are (D&C 93: 24), not through a distorted lens that tells you all is well when it isn’t (2 Ne. 28: 24). No person can behold the truth unless they are willing to be righteous, and act on what they learn. If they are willing, they will have a scepter forged in the truth and righteousness, in which they see clearly, as if standing in bright daylight while all around them people wander in darkness. (D&C 50: 23-24.)

Such a process gives man dominion over lusts, ambitions, pride and desire to succeed in this world or to have its praise. They follow their Lord and do as He did. (Matt. 26: 39.) They know Him because they have offered sacrifice for Him in the same pattern as He did. Having obtained dominion over their own desires, they are given that dominion everlastingly, for “[their] dominion shall be an everlasting dominion” and they have overcome the flesh. (D&C 121: 46.) The Lord overcame the world. His followers must overcome the world. (D&C 63: 47.) When you subdue the desire to be something in this world and lay everything on the altar other than your love of God, you have won the victory. Then the “god of this world” has no claim upon you; for you belong to another.

When the followers of the Lord have gained dominion over their ambitions and lusts, thereby overcoming the world, they receive an everlasting dominion which will allow them to go no more out into the world. They have learned the principles by which all things are governed, and by their knowledge “and without compulsory means it shall flow unto [them] forever.” (D&C 121: 46.) It is not “compulsory” because they follow the Lord, act with constraint of the Spirit, and know they cannot compel men to come to salvation. They have been taught the three grand truths by which God governs. They can invite, testify, and teach, but they cannot use compulsion. Therefore, they have arrived at the point it is possible to understand the doctrine of the priesthood. They live it, therefore they understand it. They are it, and their understanding reaches into heaven itself.

Joseph knew this. It was revealed to him, and to us through him, but to understand it we must live it like Joseph lived it. For the doctrine is understood only in the doing. (John 7: 17.) To everyone else it remains only a matter of mystery, or of abuse when they pretend to things which are not given to them.

Everything is in the scriptures and before us all. So we are all accountable for knowledge we claim we possess. Therefore, since we claim to have “all truth” and to offer “salvation” to all the world, even the dead, we will be judged by the standard we claim to hold. It would be wise, therefore, to begin to give careful heed to the scriptures.

Joseph Smith History, Part 5

Joseph’s education did not open his mind. Translating the Book of Mormon did not open his mind. He clarifies in his history the point at which his mind did open up. He writes of it: “so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (JS-H 1: 73-74.) This was the moment of greatest change. At that moment Joseph’s mind greatly expanded.

Later he would provide a description of the effect the Holy Ghost has on one who receives it: “This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, … for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene, and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence.” (TPJS, p. 149.)  This is in stark contrast to what some people think the “Holy Ghost” is about. They associate sentiment and emotion, rather than enlightenment and intelligence with the presence of this member of the Godhead.

Joseph could understand the meaning of the scriptures because he acquired access to the same source of intelligence which animated the authors when they composed the scriptures. He did not need to seek an “interpretation” or study the methods of Biblical exegesis. He knew what they meant because the enlightenment from God laid open to his understanding the true meaning and even the intentions of things that before were merely “mysterious.”

This is what Peter was referring to when he asserted: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1: 20-21.) In other words, no one has the right to assert any prophecy means anything because they think they can “interpret” the words, because such right belongs exclusively to the Holy Ghost. The words came (and still come to those who have received priesthood  —D&C 68: 2-4) from the Holy Ghost, and therefore, the meaning is only given from that source. [Section 68 was addressed to one of those who, in June 1831, was given the Melchizedek Priesthood at Isaac Morley’s farm. According to Joseph Smith, that was the first time the Melchizedek Priesthood was given to the Elders of the church. That is another topic.] Notice also, the appearance of John the Baptist was only to provide the means to be baptized. He specifically speaks about some future visit of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. (JS-H 1: 72.) Yet Joseph and Oliver received the Holy Ghost without any other ordinance and immediately following baptism. (1: 73.) This mirrored my own experience.

So in Joseph Smith’s History, we end at the same point where we began: His ministry as a prophet was directly connected with scripture. He walks through events that happened, including an audience with the Father and Son, repeated visits by Moroni, educational instruction given there, and the appearance of John the Baptist, but for Joseph, it was the Holy Ghost which enlightened his mind. When enlightened, the result was his capacity to understand the scriptures. He tunes into the very same frequency from which they originated. Sharing the mind of those who composed scripture, Joseph could understand what the authors meant. Therefore, when Joseph explained scripture to us, it was his right to tell us things we hadn’t known before, interpretations we hadn’t considered before, and the true meaning of what seems to us mysterious.

As people debate the meaning of latter-day prophecies, and think they can unravel the correct interpretaion of such topics as Zion, gathering, priesthood, sealing power, the “one mighty and strong” and many, many other things we learn of from our unique body of scripture, we should remember Joseph’s ministry. We ought to stop researching the threads of comments from oftentimes mystified commentators, and instead “ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally” to find the answer. Joseph did. It took him on a journey which resulted in him gaining a dispensation of the Gospel. He did not need to build on another’s work, because heaven worked with and through him.

Joseph was above all else, the prototype of a Latter-day Saint. Would that all men were similarly Latter-day Saints, who actually believed and practiced the religion restored through Joseph. A religion in which people are able to ask God and get an answer. A religion which Joseph began, but which God has yet to finish. One where no one needs to say to another: “know ye the Lord” because all know Him.

Little wonder the prophecy of Joel spoken of by Moroni was yet to be fulfilled.

Guidance from the Spirit

I’ve been reflecting on a commonly held belief concerning the Holy Ghost. Among Latter-day Saints the assertion is widely believed that the Holy Ghost will always leave a “good feeling” as the evidence of a message coming from God.  This is in contrast with Joseph Smith’s correct description of the Holy Ghost as delivering “intelligence” or “sudden insight” or, to use scriptural language, “light and truth.”  The feelings which follow an authentic encounter with the Holy Ghost can be anything from fear and dread to joy and rejoicing.  Our emotional reaction to the message can vary depending upon the information we’ve been given.  But “feeling good” about something is separate from the Holy Ghost.

When the message from God calls to repentance, the reaction can be best described as anger, or distress, or fear; but is not likely to be described as leaving a “good feeling.”  The message of repentance always requires change.  It will always confront the error and require you to alter what you are doing. 

I have noticed some reactions to what I’ve written measure what has been written against the standard of a “good feeling” and, as a result, some have concluded I’m not worth reading.  I suppose against that standard Abinadi would have been rejected.  Samuel the Lamanite, too.  John the Baptist, Elijah, Christ, Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith, Noah, Enoch, John the Beloved, as well.  Certainly Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon and Moroni. In fact, I can’t think of a single authentic message which did not include as its most important content information which violates the “feeling good” standard.  I think care should be taken when a standard gets employed.  Use a false standard and you risk reaching a false result.

This is one of the criticisms made by Grant Palmer in his Insider’s book. He took aim at a false notion (“feeling good” means the Holy Ghost) and then leveled criticism against the false notion.  Though a lifelong employee of the Church Education System, he was ignorant of the correct standard and lost his faith in the Holy Ghost’s ability to enlighten because of it.  His criticism was justified, but not the standard.  He, like many Latter-day Saints, confuses something which inspires with a witness from the Spirit.  You can be inspired by music, movies, plays and thrilling speeches coming from unenlightened sources which bring no light and truth.  You may be entertained, but you are not given greater light and truth or intelligence from such thrilling encounters.

The one thing I do know, and the truth I can proclaim is this:  Truth will come through and confirm itself when measured against the standard of: 1) imparting truth and light, which is intelligence; and 2) whether the message leads to greater belief in, understanding of and testimony of Christ.  These standards do not involve “feeling good.”  They do, however, involve enlightenment and edification.  Even if the result of gaining more light is to see yourself in a new way, requiring repentance, confession of sin, re-baptism, breaking your heart and becoming contrite in spirit.  Anyone who can teach a message which will pass this standard, whether they are high or low, rich or poor, great or obscure, has given something of value.

3 Nephi 12: 19

 
“And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled.”
 
This hearkens back to the doctrine of Christ given preliminarily to the audience. Repent. Be baptized.  Receive the Holy Ghost. These commandments are the foundation upon which all else is to be built.
 
To all that He explained before, He has added, “repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” Repenting will be accompanied by a broken heart and contrite spirit. When you turn to Him and see clearly for the first time how dark your ways have been, it should break your heart. You should realize how desperately you stand in need of His grace to cover you, lift you, and heal you. You can then appreciate the great gulf between you and Him. (Moses 1: 10.)
If you had to bear your sins into His presence it would make you burn with regret and fear. (Mormon 9: 3-5.) Your own heart must break.
 
When you behold how little you have to offer Him, your spirit becomes contrite. He offers everything.  And we can contribute nothing but our cooperation. And we still reluctantly give that, or if we give a little of our own cooperation we think we have given something significant. We have not. Indeed, we cannot. (Mosiah 2: 20-21.) He honors us if He permits us to assist. We should proceed with alacrity when given the chance to serve.
 
How patiently He has proceeded with teaching us all. We have the law, we have the commandments.  Still we hesitate. Still He invites and reminds us: Repent. Come to Him. Do what was commanded. The law is fulfilled, and He is its fulfillment. Look to Him and be saved.
 
The heart that will not break does not understand the predicament we live in. The proud spirit is foolish and blind. Our perilous state is such that we can forfeit all that we have ever been by refusing Christ’s invitation to repent and turn again to Him.
 
But we still hesitate. We still hold back.

He really can save you. He has that power. He holds those keys. Even death and hell are conquered by Him. (Mosiah 15: 7-9.) But His victory cannot become ours unless we repent and turn again to Him.

 
Think of those you have lost to the grave.  All those living will likewise be lost unless we come to Christ.  We have hope only in Him.

It seems too simple a thing to achieve so great a result. It has always been like that. (1 Nephi 17: 41.) Look to Him and be saved. Keep His commandments. Repent. He can and will lead you from wherever you find yourself at present back into the light. It really does not matter what foolish traps you have surrounding you. So soon as you turn to face Him, He will direct you back safely. Repent and keep His commandments and they will bring you to Him.

3 Nephi 12: 2

 
“And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” 
 
Some people are given knowledge. (D&C 46: 13.)  This would include the Prophet Joseph Smith. Others believe on their words and trust in Christ through what they have learned from witnesses of Him. (D&C 46: 14.) This would include President Thomas S. Monson, who in last General Conference testified he has no question about the testimonies of those who have seen Him. As President Monson testified: “I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord. I believe the testimony of one who, in this dispensation, spoke with the Father and the Son in a grove now called sacred and who gave his life, sealing that testimony with his blood. Declared he: ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.’ The darkness of death can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. ‘I am the resurrection, and the life,’ spoke the Master.Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ Over the years I have heard and read testimonies too numerous to count, shared with me by individuals who testify of the reality of the Resurrection and who have received, in their hours of greatest need, the peace and comfort promised by the Savior.” (He is Risen!, Sunday Morning Session, April, 2010 Session; footnotes omitted.)
 
Why would someone be “more blessed” because they “believe in the words” of those who have “seen Christ” than those who have seen Him? What is it about believing on the words of those who have seen which is “more blessed” than the ones who see Him?
 
Notice once again the connection between having seen the Lord and “ye know that I am.” Notice the use of “I am” in the statement of the Lord about Himself.
 
Now note too how the “believing in the words” is not enough, because He adds action to the belief. That is, those who “believe in your words” are required then to “come down into the depths of humility and be baptized” for the “blessing” to have any effect. It is not enough for someone to be moved to believe when they hear a witness of Christ, they must also respond to His invitation to be baptized. Before being baptized they need also to “come down into the depths of humility.” The intention and inner meaning are everything. But the outward act confirms the inner change which takes place.
 
Action is married to belief and intent. Both are necessary.
 
When it is done in faith, sincerity, complying with the steps the Lord has prescribed, He promises to visit the obedient “with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” This is how a person will know they have received “a remission of their sins.”
 
The instructions of the Lord are intended to change lives. Change is repentance. And repentance leads to redemption. He expects our behavior to mirror our beliefs, because if behavior does not model our professed beliefs then we are hypocrites – not converts.

This is why commandments are given to us. They tell us how we can continue to receive and renew a continuing conversion to Christ’s way of life.  Commandments are not a burden to bear but a roadmap to follow. They are not a measuring stick to judge and then abuse others. It is a light for us to follow.

These explanations by Christ are beyond the question of “faith verses works” because Christ is telling us we act from our heart in faith, receive ordinances because of our faith, then have our hearts filled again. We proceed from grace to grace. This is how Christ received the fullness, and the only way we may receive the fullness. (D&C 93: 12-14, 19-29.)

 
The task of knowing God always begins by trusting on the words of those who have seen Him. But it should never end there. Everyone is invited to lay aside their sins, call upon God in faith, obey His commandments, listen to the voice of inspiration and do as you are told, thereby coming to see Him face-to-face. (D&C 93: 1.) This is the reason for the book The Second Comforter. It is a manual for how any person can come back into the presence of the Lord and join those witnesses who can testify they have seen Him.
 
He lives. And He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

3 Nephi 11: 41

“Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.”
This is the charge given by Christ to the twelve whom He had called and given power to baptize. It was overheard by those who had been witnessing these events. But the charge is to the twelve.
The obligation to declare the doctrine of Christ, preach repentance, baptize with authority and make known the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is imposed upon the twelve. This burden, therefore, rests on them and is theirs to bear off “unto this people.” They are to warn everybody of these obligations. Not just those who were there.
The extent of the duty runs “unto the ends of the earth.” From where they were at the time Christ was preaching, to the entire North and South American continents and all those who may be living there at the time were the assigned mission field to whom the doctrine of Christ was to be declared.

The break between this portion of Christ’s teachings and what would follow is interesting to consider. The remainder of His teachings will form the primary message foundational to Christianity. It is the new, higher law which replaces the earlier Law of Moses. Yet this portion, declared by Christ as His “doctrine” is the part to be taken first and declared everywhere. Why?

A fair conclusion to reach is that before you consider the new, higher law you must first:
-Repent
-Be Baptized
-Receive the Holy Ghost
-Have a correct understanding of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost
These things precede His replacement of the older, lower law with His new, higher law. It is reasonable to conclude you will not comprehend His follow-on teachings if you have not first repented, been baptized, received the Holy Ghost, and understand the Godhead. Or, even more to the point: You will never be able to LIVE His new, higher law unless these steps are taken first. Until then you may aspire, but you will not be able to live them. They address the heart, rather than just conduct. They go to the deepest convictions inside you, what motivates you, and the reasons for your conduct. Your conduct will follow these precepts when you have been changed.  For the required change, the tools discussed first must be acquired.   

He will return to the themes of this opening statement, declaring nothing more or less than what He has taught should be given as His. (See 3 Nephi 18: 12-13.)
So we turn from this introductory, first statement of His doctrine to His great foundational Sermon at Bountiful in which the higher law is first given in one, complete statement of what we are to become. It is not merely direction to us. It is also a revelation of what kind of person Christ was. He explains it Himself…

3 Nephi 11: 40

 
“And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.”
 
Here is Christ’s explanation of why we must focus on these doctrines to be saved. I’ve heard more words of caution about speaking “more” than I’ve ever heard cautioning about “less.” Both are a problem. It is more fashionable today to speak less about Christ’s doctrine, or to circumscribe it into so narrow a meaning as to render it powerless in effect.
 
First, as to “more.” When we “declare more” we are getting ahead of the process. We aren’t to worship the “hosts of heaven,” nor a heavenly mother. Despite all we may know about Her, that knowledge won’t save. Other personages or ministers cannot save either. Gabriel will not. Enoch will not. Michael will not. Only the Son will save; and the Father will bear testimony of Him. Interesting stories about individual spiritual encounters or experiences will not save. They are evidence that heaven is still attending to us, but the details are for the individual. The experiences that will save have already been recorded in scripture for our general instruction. Outside of scripture those individual experiences are only useful to the extent they shed light upon scriptural accounts. If a person can help you understand Daniel’s visionary encounters by what they have been shown, then their personal experiences are not as important as the light they may shed upon Daniel’s prophecy. Similarly what I’ve written is helpful only to understand scripture, and not otherwise. Even the account of Gethsemane is anchored in scripture and useful only to the extent it sheds light upon what has been given to us in the New Testament Gospels, Nephi’s prophecy, Alma’s testimony and D&C 19. I do think my account goes further to explain what occurred than any other writing which has come to my attention. Nevertheless the scriptures are needed as the primary tool for understanding our Lord’s atonement. So the definition of “more” would include such things that supplant scripture or suggest anything is more important than the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; but things as may shed additional light on the meaning of scripture. 
 
Interestingly enough, when we “declare less” we are also condemned.  It works both ways. It’s a two-edged sword. Not “more nor less” is permitted. We sometimes greet preaching “less” with applause, because we want less. But that is no better than missing the mark while preaching “more.” Perhaps it is worse, because it represents a rejection of truth. It is active suppression of what needs to be proclaimed.
 
All of us must be concerned about declaring less. Deleting or omitting is as serious a matter as adding. Either will allow the gates of hell to prevail.
 
When you adopt creedal Historic Christianity and amalgamate the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into a single cosmic siamese-triplet construct, you are declaring them as less. The disembodiment of God the Father was a lie to supplant and replace Him by another disembodied pretender claiming to be the god of this world.

Christ’s teaching here is preliminary to the Sermon that follows. In the coming Sermon we will read a better preserved version of the Sermon on the Mount from Jerusalem, called here the Sermon at Bountiful. But this explanation of doctrine is given by Christ first. The foundation of doctrine of the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the conferral of power to baptize, and manner of baptism come before the great Sermon. First we receive the instruction to avoid disputes. These disputes lead to contention that lays the foundation for anger between men. This doctrine is so foundational that Christ covers it before any other teaching. Therefore, you should realize its importance.

We will be captured by hell if we do not understand and follow these teachings. Though they are Christ’s very first instructions, we almost never discuss them. You may want to re-read these verses again, and realize their fundamental importance.

Christ is saying it is “evil” to do more or less with His doctrine. It surely is, for ignoring, altering, omitting or enlarging leads to evil.

3 Nephi 11: 39

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”
This is the reason for this doctrine. It will allow those who accept and follow it to endure against all enemies. It will allow them to prevail.
Even the “gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” Meaning that death and hell can have no claim upon them. They will not be taken captive either in this world (Alma 12: 11) or when they leave this world (Alma 40: 13.)

When we consider the Father is to bear record of the Son, and the Son bears record of the Father, and the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and Son, then we realize this doctrine of Christ is designed to put us in contact with all three members of the Godhead. We are to join them. We are to be one with them.

There is no separating us from God when we have the record of each given to us.

It is interesting that the “rock” upon which we build is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. There is abundant evidence of other “gods” and of “goddesses.” It is beyond dispute that the “image of God” includes both “male and female.” (Gen. 1: 27; Moses 2: 27; Abraham 4: 27.) It is inescapable, therefore, that the God we worship includes a Father and a Mother. However, we are only to seek after the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as the “rock” upon which our salvation is to be built.

Oddly enough, mankind prefers a female deity over a male deity.  Catholicism has reconciled this preference by the doctrine of Immaculate Conception and the cultic veneration of Mary. Pope John Paul II was an ardent believer in the Cult of Mary and made no secret of that veneration. It is almost beyond dispute that Mary’s status is preferred over Christ’s in the lives of the common Catholic.

In the Old Testament, the goddess Ashtoreth, (in her various iterations) was a leading figure in apostasies of ancient Israel. She was the female consort to Baal (who also had various spellings). The Egyptian counterpart being Hathor, whose image appears in figure 5 of Facsimile No. 2 in the Book of Abraham. The representation there being Egyptian, that is, emerging through the great cycle of life, afterlife and resurrection coming through the womb. An understanding of which Hugh Nibley was setting forth in One Eternal Round. This work was reduced in volume by half before publication. This resulted in problems with the published text. That, however, is another subject not relevant here.

Notwithstanding man’s preference for the female god, for salvation we must anchor ourselves to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They are the “rock” upon which we must build to avoid the gates of hell, despite our knowledge of heaven, salvation and the necessary unity of the sexes before salvation is obtained. (1 Cor. 11: 11.) It is through the union of the sexes that mortals imitate immortality, for all of us will die. Yet if joined together we will continue through the seed forever, as the gods.  (D&C 132: 20-22.)

There is also the continuing trouble about polygamy which so often afflicted the discussions on this blog before comments were discontinued. Those who preach on the subject often speak out of the coarseness of ambition and insecurity (for those always go together), and without understanding how a marriage must work to warrant preservation beyond this life.

Ask yourself what kind of a relationship would be godlike? What association between a man and a woman would be something the heavens would want to preserve and continue? Is an ambitious man who looks upon a woman as someone to rule over worthy of heavenly preservation? Is such a man worthy of one wife, let alone several?

Wouldn’t you expect the relationship between a man and woman worthy of eternal preservation to evidence such things as equality, respect, kindness, joyful and voluntary interchange of thoughts, and to be grounded in love? Wouldn’t you expect such a marriage to be part of heaven, though the parties live as mortals on the earth? Why would you expect a form of marriage, having as its chief output, unhappy but frequently pregnant women, having an absentee husband to be godlike?

Have you read the tenth parable? If you have and still think you need a “brood” of women to become godlike, then you haven’t understood the tenth parable.

Foolishness never was enlightenment. Ambition is unbecoming in a candidate for exaltation. We will keep going into Christ’s sermons to the Nephites and, as we do, you will find He emphasizes how to become like Him through service and abasing yourself. By sacrifice and devotion to the best interests of others. Not by compulsion, dominion and ruling over others. 

If you want to prevail against the gates of hell, then Christ’s simple doctrines need to become yours. They need to be how you live and what you do. They are the only rock upon which you can build and have something which will endure the buffetings of hell itself.

If a man hasn’t made a single woman happy, why would he be trusted to have more wives? Why would he want them? What does such a man think the purpose of marriage to be? Gratification? Industrial baby-production? What’s the reason? If happiness is the end of our design by God, then wouldn’t you need to find someone who can live in peace and happiness with another person as their husband as the first step? If that is true, then why isn’t that challenge enough in a marriage between one man and one woman? Until that has been conquered, why should misery be multiplied by adding additional spouses into a failed interpersonal relationship?

Too many people are advocating too many alternatives which distract from the simplicity of what is really needed. There aren’t enough marriages worthy of preservation. Make yours one of them. That is a very good work and challenge enough for all of us at present. 

Onward, then…