Trinitarian Impediment

The doctrine of the Trinity which was settled, if not created, in the Council of Nicea is an impediment, and not an advantage, to knowing God. If “life eternal” is to “know God” (as John declared–see John 17:3) then of what value is a doctrine that makes God “incomprehensible?”

Even theologian, James R. White, from the Christian Research Institute makes damning admissions as he labors to defend the Nicene Creed. (See What Really Happened at Nicea? CRI Statement DN-206.) He explains that “every time they came up with a statement that was limited solely to biblical terms” it was unclear. They invented and used new terminology because “they needed to use a term that could not be misunderstood.” Meaning that they had to go outside the scriptures because the scriptures failed to say what they wanted said.

He elaborates that “they sought to clarify biblical truth.” He does not want to admit their extra-biblical creed was a departure, and struggles to claim the council was only accomplishing a limited and clarifying task.

What if instead of debating and focusing on “substance” (or the material of which God is composed), the debate did confine itself solely to biblical terms? Nicene terminology debated the terms homoousios and homoiusios to resolve their extra-biblical debate. The hetereroousios term was easily defeated.

These terms mean:

Homoousios: of the same identical substance

Homoiusios: of similar substance

Heteroousios: of a different substance

Why focus on “substance” at all? What in the New Testament makes that a Christian concern? The only time “substance” enters into the picture is when a very physical Jesus Christ accomplishes very physical acts during His ministry. Touching the eyes and healing (John 9:6), breaking apart loaves of bread (Matt. 14:19), handling a bowl, water, towel and touching feet (John 13:5), or when He was resurrected, allowing the disciples to handle His physical body to confirm it was Him (Luke 24:39). These physical descriptions of a Being composed of material substance, like us, are in the Bible precisely to inform us of Christ’s physical nature. All the biblical texts were discarded because they were insufficient to describe the kind of “substance” the theologians wanted to adopt.

The quest for singular and unknowable “substance” for God was because of the Christian embarrassment at their loss of monotheism. If Christ and the Father were different in any way from one another, then the monotheistic tradition of apostate Judaism would be lost. Earliest Judaism had a Divine Council with a Father who presided, a Divine Son, and angelic hosts. Their theology changed dramatically during the Second Temple period, which has been regarded by many scholars as a time of Jewish apostasy.

Like so many other false notions, however, this one is also solved by the Bible. Christ declared plainly how the Father and the Son were “one”.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23; emphasis added.)

The disciples were not of the identical substance. Peter was separate from John, who were both different beings than Andrew. Yet they were to be “one” in the same way the Son and the Father are “one.” Or, in other words, the unity of the Godhead is not clarified by a discussion on “substance” and is utterly confused by making them identical “substance” so as to avoid polytheism. The Godhead is “one” because they are united in purpose, accomplishing the same work jointly, and abiding by the identical principles of truth and righteousness. In that way men can likewise become “godly” by uniting in God’s purpose, working jointly to save the souls of men, and abiding the same standards of truth and righteousness.

Trinitarian theology is not an advantage to Christian orthodoxy. It is an impediment to understanding and knowing God. It alienates you from the Godhead, with whom you are intended to become “one.” And above all else, even the defenders of Trinitarianism admit it is extra-biblical and cannot be proven if the discussion is limited solely to the Bible.

Life eternal is to know Jesus Christ and His Father who sent Him. You cannot know an unknowable god. Trinitarianism was defended by Athanasius at Nicea and advocated by him afterwards. He developed a follow-on creed to help further explain what was done to the orthodox god at Nicea. Here is what he claimed they accomplished with their creedal explanation of god: “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible… As also there are not three … incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.”

The Orthodox Christian god is one great “incomprehensible” and unknowable being who cannot be defined if you limit the description solely to the Bible.  If you are an Orthodox Christian, that ought to trouble you.

You have become like the Samaritans whom Christ told worshipped “they know not what” (John 4:22), or the pagans Paul addressed on Mars Hill who did not know what or who they worshipped. (Acts 17:22-23.)

False traditions cannot save you, however sincerely you may hold them. Knowing God, however, is life eternal.

Christian Apostasy

Irenaeus lived approximately 130 a.d. to 202 a.d. The exact dates of his life are not known. Nor is the exact date he wrote his greatest work, a five-book series titled Against Heresies. His outline of heretical teachings is known to have been composed late in the second century. Until the discovery of the gnostic gospels at Nag Hammadi in 1945, it was from Against Heresies that most information about the gnostics was learned.

Irenaeus provides us a glimpse into the state of Christianity less than a century after the death of the apostles. What is revealed through that glimpse, is a bizarre bunch of conflicting views. Many of the teachings he condemned are so alien to today’s Christians that we would regard them as perverse aberrations. Yet they competed in the early Christian market place for converts, and claimed to be a true reflection of Christ’s teachings.

Christ foretold there would be “children of the wicked one” who would be planted among His “wheat” while they both grew together. (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.) The apostle Paul was astonished at how quickly the church at Galatia was corrupted with perverse teachings. (Gal. 1:6-7.) He predicted the entire falling away (apostasy) of the Christian church. (2 Thes. 2-3.)

While the apostles were alive and preaching, Christians divided themselves into contentious factions. Some followed one teacher, others another, and they emphasized their disagreements rather than their common beliefs. (1 Cor. 1:11-13.) “Ministers of Satan” were actively teaching inside the earliest bodies of Christians. (2 Cor. 11:13-15.) Paul lamented that “all of Asia” had fallen into error and rejected his teaching. (2 Tim. 1:15.) John warned of false spirits and false apostles who were spreading falsehoods that misrepresented Christ. (1 John 4:1-2.) By Nicaea, 324 a.d., the denial of Christ coming into the flesh was so widely accepted that a newly adopted and false teaching of the “Trinity” completed the overthrow of true doctrine regarding Christ who lived as a man in the flesh among us.

Even if falsehoods supplanted Christianity, John’s vision foretells that God’s patience will finally come to an end and the religions that worship devils, and gold, and silver and idols will be destroyed. (Rev. 9:20.)

If Christians were to examine the history of Mormonism, they would better understand how unclean spirits and false prophets overtook Christianity. (Rev. 16:13; also 2 Tim. 11:13-15.) Joseph Smith began Mormonism under the influence of one spirit, but upon his death, Brigham Young followed under the influence of another.

As a true shepherd would, Joseph gave his life for the sheep. (John 10:11.) Brigham Young declared he would flee and never surrender his life, a sign of a false shepherd. (John 10:12-13.) He proclaimed he was unwilling to lay down his life as Joseph did:

“But woe, woe to that man who comes here to unlawfully interfere with my affairs. Woe, woe to those men who come here to unlawfully meddle with  me and this people. I swore in Nauvoo, when my enemies were looking me in the face, that I would send them to hell across lots, if they meddle with me; and I ask no more odds of hell to-day.” (July 26, 1857.)

“A mob killed Joseph and Hyrum in jail, notwithstanding the faith of the State was pledged to protect them… I have broken no law, and under the present state of affairs, I will not suffer myself to be taken by any United States officer, to be killed as they killed Joseph.” (August 12, 1857.)

“Do you expect to stand still, sit still, or lie still, and untimely let them take away my life? I have told you a great many times what I have to say about that. I do not profess to be so good a man as Joseph Smith was. I do not walk under their protection nor into their prisons, as he did.” (August 9, 1857.)

Brigham Young advocated controlling people by holding economic power over them.  He explained how he envisioned keeping people in line and subordinate to him by getting them to consecrate their property to the church he led:

“If any man is in darkness through the deceitfulness of riches, it is good policy for him to bind up his wealth in this Church, so that he cannot command it again, and he will be apt to cleave to the kingdom. If a man has the purse in his pocket, and he apostatizes, he takes it with him; but if his worldly interest is firmly united to the Kingdom of God, when he arises to go away, he finds the calf is bound, and, like the cow, he is unwilling to forsake it.” (April 6, 1852.)

Brigham Young defied the US Government when its representatives were critical of his authoritarian rule in the Territory of Utah:

“What says the United States? ‘Let us send a governor there; let us send our judges there.’ But what do they cry? ‘We have no influence or power, for there are other men there who rule, and we cannot help it; they have the reins of government and turn the people whithersoever they will, and we cannot help ourselves.’ What did a gentleman say to [US President] Mr. Fillmore? Said he, ‘You need not send anybody there, for Brigham Young is Governor, and he will govern the people all the time; and there is no other man that can govern them.’ If there is any truth in this, it is, he will do so as long as the Lord lets him.” (October 3, 1852.)

On June 9, 1853, he threatened to kill any apostates or non-believers who opposed him in a public discourse. Beginning in 1855, God’s wrath at Brigham Young and his followers became evident in a series of natural disasters that caused famine and severe hardships. In response to these afflictions, Young increased his threatening and began a bloody period known as the Mormon Reformation. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was as a result, at least in part, by the fiery rhetoric Brigham Young preached during the Mormon Reformation.

Like the early Christians who were overcome by deceiving spirits, (Mark 13:5-6; 2 Tim. 3:13; 1 Cor. 15:33-34; Eph. 5:5-6) Mormonism was overcome by the lusts, appetites and ambitions of Young, who was animated by a very different spirit than Joseph Smith. The result of leading by that spirit is aptly described in the Book of Mormon:

“For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.” (1 Ne. 22:23.)

LDS Mormonism not only has been built up to get gain, but is a a multibillion dollar empire, able to undertake a trillion-dollar development for housing, and employing a population of 500,000 people in Florida on 133,000 acres. The LDS church is only partly religious, and has built a $2 to $5 billion dollar shopping mall-condominium housing-office complex across the street from its Salt Lake City temple. (The total cost depends on whether the retail establishment alone or the entire project is valued.) The LDS corporate church is now completing a similarly ambitious project in downtown Philadelphia adjacent to the temple it completed in September 2016.

Millions of faithful Mormons are entirely oblivious to the dramatic gulf between the scriptures, revelations and teachings of the founder Joseph Smith, and the replacement religion created through Brigham Young. That transition mirrors what happened to early Christianity. By the time only one Christian orthodox faith survived, it was also making merchandise of men’s souls. The description of Babylon the Great whore in John’s revelation accurately describes both the false Christian religious empire founded in Rome in the fourth century and the false Mormon empire founded by Brigham Young in the late 1840s:

“The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.” (Rev. 18:12-13.)

Christianity did not survive the second century. Mormonism did not survive it’s third decade. The answer to the question ‘why’ is the same: Both became more interested in getting economic gain, power over the flesh, becoming popular in the eyes of the world, and infatuated by the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, than in practicing and preserving the faith taught by Christ. The Book of Mormon describes the corrupting influences infecting churches.

Christ’s religion requires sacrifice. Its reward is later, after this world. In this world, if we practice the faith taught by Christ, “we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:19.)

How can we support with our donations the false ministers who preach for hire and neglect the poor among us? How can we assume we will be saved by the smooth things we hear from our hireling priests? (Isa. 30:10.) How would we even recognize the truth after being taught lies pretending to define what it means to be “Christian”?

John the Baptist

John the Baptist was the last messenger sent by God in the dispensation of Moses. (John 1:6.) He represents the end of one dispensation and the beginning of another. He overthrew the kingdom of the Jews and wrested all the authority that remained with the Jews from the original commission delivered through Moses.

John the Baptist’s message was to repent, warning that the “kingdom of heaven” was at hand. (Matt. 3:2.) The Jews were concerned at his message and sent representatives to inquire from him about the authority he had to start something new. (John 1:21-25.)

John the Baptist’s authority to baptize was recognized and accepted by Jesus Christ. He came to John and submitted to baptism because only by doing so would Jesus follow the requirements of righteousness. (Matt. 3:14-16.)

John was sent by God (John 1:6) and his right and authority was undisputed by both Jesus and the early Christians. Ignatius wrote about Christ’s baptism: “[He] was baptized by John, that He might ratify the institution committed to that prophet.” (Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter XVIII.) And, “was baptized by John, that all righteousness may be fulfilled.” (Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter I.)

Jesus posed the question to Jewish leaders of John the Baptist’s authority. He asked, “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” A question that the Jewish leaders knew if they answered would expose the problem of rejecting John. “And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?” (Matt. 21:25.) They concluded that they could not answer this question. (Id., v. 26.)

Jesus Christ described John the Baptist in these words: “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist[.]” (Luke 7:28.) Jesus said of him: “He was a burning and a shining light[.]” (John 5:35.)

John was born to a Levite father. (Luke 1:5.) But he was taken into the Judaean wilderness and hidden there to protect him from the authorities. (Luke 1:80.) When he returned from the wilderness, he came dressed in camel hair, wearing a leather girdle, eating locusts and wild honey. (Matt. 3:4.) These details suggest he lived without employment, home, or wealth, surviving on what God provided, as if Christ had John in mind when He taught in the Sermon on the Mount:

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt. 6:28-34.)

These things, which describe the life of John the Baptist, seem to us both fanatical and impractical. When cast out of the Garden, mankind was doomed to obtain bread by the sweat of our labor. (Gen. 3:19.) We are commanded to labor for our support (2 Thes. 3:11) and not steal (Eph. 4:28) nor expect another man’s bread to be given to us (2 Thes. 3:8). If a man will not labor, he should not eat what others produce through their labor (2 Thes. 3:10). Yet John seems to have abandoned everything to serve God, and in turn lived only on what God provided for him.

Would we have recognized and accepted John as a messenger sent by God? How would we have determined that this “homeless’ man was “‘sent by God”? If he had no pulpit, how could we know, that for a brief time, he alone could perform an ordinance required for salvation? If he was not part of the established system of religion, why would we give him any heed? If there was an existing temple, a presiding high priest, a governing board in the Sanhedrin, and established synagogues where scripture was recited and messages were delivered each week, why would we expect John to be more relevant to our salvation than the religious system in place? If the entire religious landscape was attributed to Moses, who was known to be a prophet (John 9:29), what makes us think we would choose to believe God sent the outsider, John? Why think salvation today will require anything less of a test than was required when John first appeared and began to preach? Why think we are any different than the Jews who rejected both John and Jesus? If our religion is a comfortable part of our lives, then what is its value?

Christ described what is required to follow Him:

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:51-53.)

And again, the Lord taught:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matt. 5:10-12.)

If our religion does not cause others to revile us, members of our families to be offended, or help us understand the life of Christ and the prophets, it is not Christ’s religion. If religion takes us to a comfortable church each week where we are assured we will be saved in heaven, it is not truly Christian. If it does not require sacrifice, then we have nothing in common with either Christ or the prophets.

It is still possible to practice Christianity, but not in comfortable pews, listening to flattery and praise. The Bible warns that the time will come when God will: “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” (Isa. 6:10; New American Standard version.) This happens every week in most “Christian” churches throughout the world.

Would we have recognized John the Baptist as a burning and shining light? How?

Christ Alone Saves

The atonement is our rescue. Christ alone performed it and He has proclaimed that He alone has accomplished it:
Isaiah 63:3: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me[.]”

In modern revelation, He has reiterated that He alone performed the atoning sacrifice required to save us from judgment and condemnation:
D&C 133:50: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me;”

He saves us through the atonement because He paid the price of the wrath of Almighty God for all sin:
D&C 76:107: “I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.”

Paul explained that through the original disobedience of Adam, a sentence of death was imposed on mankind, but that sentence was reversed and many will be made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ. (See Romans 5:12-19.)

It is Christ alone who will keep the way. He will allow those who have believed in Him, obeyed Him, kept His commandments and thereby walked in the path of His righteousness (to become righteous) to enter:
2 Nephi 9:41: “O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.”

It is Christ and His name alone which will provide salvation for mankind:
Mosiah 5:8 “And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.”
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

There are many others in heaven. God the Father and Christ are not alone. There is an entire host of beings with them:
Neimiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”

Some of the hosts are righteous, align with God, and follow His will:
D&C 88:112: “And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.”

Angelic hosts are on both sides, some on God’s right hand and others on His left:
2 Chronicles 18:18: “Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.”
1 Kings 22:19: “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.”

But angelic hosts retain the right to choose. It is possible for them to rebel and fall short. It is possible for angelic hosts to be cast down from heaven:
D&C 29:36: “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”

Faithful members of the heavenly hosts can further God’s work, and cooperate with Him in assisting mankind:
D&C 84:42: “And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.”

We cannot be saved by an angel. Nor can we trust any angel, even from heaven, to be the object of worship or adoration. That must be reserved for Christ and His Father alone:
Galatians 1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Even if an angel were to give you a covenant, promise or assurance; or a man were to “seal you up to eternal life,” unless it comes by and through Christ alone, it will be of no value in the afterlife:
D&C 132:12-13: “I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord. And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.”

Those who worship angels, men, or institutions instead of Christ risk becoming subject to a fallen angel:
2 Nephi 9:8: “O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.” (See also D&C 76:98-105.)

One of the adversary’s pretensions is to claim that he is “the son of God” or the “Only Begotten,” thereby hoping to mislead people to worship him instead of the Lord. (See Moses 1:19; D&C 128:20.)

Before accepting a message as truth, you ought to know the scriptures well enough to test the message against the words of Christ, His unwaivering voice from the time of Adam until the present, and the prophets. It should not be difficult to determine if some new thing is true or just vanity, without power, and offensive to God. You should be careful about allowing any angel or man to pretend to “seal you up” to some eternal reward. You may find yourself subject in the afterlife to a vile spirit who will claim the right to rule over you. There are pretenders, even among the hosts of heaven. Joseph Smith cautioned, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” (DHC 4:588.)

Believe in Christ, trust in Him, and seek salvation through Him alone.

Every Word of God

In answer to temptation Christ explained, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4.) In this our Lord quoted the scriptures: “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” (Deu. 8:3.)

This makes us responsible to listen for and respond to God’s voice.

The Lord was confronted by devout Jews who questioned His failure to respect the existing religious conventions. They thought He disrespected the law and authorities. They could not understand that He was sent to replace the existing order with something new. For them, anything that failed to conform to the existing pattern was to be condemned. They knew their traditions were true, they were God’s chosen people, and God had spoken through Moses and the prophets to them. Therefore, Christ’s failure to fall into strict conformity with the existing religious traditions seemed to them proof of His heresy.

Christ explained the change of direction His ministry would cause in these words: “No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” (Mark 2:21-22.)

God spoke through Joseph, who translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. Therefore to live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God we must accept the Book of Mormon, even if this causes us to abandon older forms of religious ideas.

Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of twonations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. (2 Ne. 29:6-11.)

γνῶσις

Gnosis (γνῶσις) is a Greek noun meaning “knowledge.” A celebrated but errant lecture in Provo recently characterized those who are learning about LDS history and forgotten doctrine, and thereby realizing there are gaps in LDS traditions, to be “Mormon gnostics.” She (and by extension FAIR) apparently are unaware of the many criticisms of Mormonism itself as “gnostic.” I have previously provided links to that talk, the Church News and Meridian Magazine‘s coverage of the talk. I usually don’t comment on such things, but it’s a smoky Sunday here in Sandy (California is burning again) and I’m on-line so I decided to put this up before my wife talks me out of it.

Joseph Smith taught that “Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.” (TPJS, p. 357.) In the same talk Joseph said, “If a man has knowledge, he can be saved.” (Id.) Gnosis is at the heart of the Mormonism Joseph Smith taught.

Gnostics often claimed to have “hidden knowledge” that the world could not receive. It was too sacred and would be profaned by public exposure. This characteristic of gnosticism is far more applicable to LDS temple rites than teaching about the Second Comforter, or Christ’s continuing personal ministry. If there is  “Mormon gnosticism,” it is practiced by the temple-attending latter-day saints. If gnosticism is a legitimate term of derision, then it describes the church FAIR attempts to defend.

The proper role is to point people to God and testify that any can come directly to Christ, without an intermediary, and receive Him. I have testified that to receive Christ means His actual appearing to you, not something that happens merely in your heart. We should all echo Joseph Smith’s teaching and the scripture within the LDS Doctrine and Covenants: “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.)

Guarding the Pathway

The Lord limited Nephi by commanding that, “the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write”(1 Ne. 14:25.)  This may have been to prevent different prophetic accounts from introducing errors, disputes and open conflict. Both Oliver and Joseph described and quoted John the Baptist. But their accounts relate it differently. They quote the angel differently:

Joseph: “…and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” JS-H 1:69. [Implies it will remain until an event, and then be removed.]

Oliver: “..which shall remain upon the earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!” JS-H footnote, taken from the Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, October 1834, p. 14-16. [Implies it may be here to stay, and will accommodate a righteous offering by Levites while here.]

It is not a significant difference. But it is just such different accounts that have produced disagreements, and disputes follow disagreements, and those grow into fanatical opposition between religious communities and eventually we have wars.

What if the Lord’s instruction was not to limit Nephi, but it was instead because God recognizes us as insecure, hasty and foolish beings. What if Nephi could have given a cogent retelling of the same events that were assigned to John. But since John was going to retell them so differently using cosmic imagery, drawn from heavenly constellations,(dragon-Draco; woman with child-Virgo; altar-Ara; the lamb-Aries; the lion-Leo; pouring out judgments/plagues-Aquarius; etc.) that we would make mush out of reconciling the two different approaches. Nephi talks about gentiles, waters, wars, books, and history in much simpler metaphors. Nephi may have understood Jewish learning, but he tried not to use it apart from quoting Isaiah.

Nephi may have understood the cosmic plan as well as John. John wanted to point to the testimony above, in the stars. Nephi may have given even a plainer version of it than did John. But Nephi was required to couch everything he taught in the words of those who already “had written them.” 1 Ne. 14:26. So Nephi employed Isaiah to teach his (Nephi’s) message. Thus a seeming conflict between two visionaries was averted–for our benefit.

Similarly, today we have people whose notions, visions, dreams and experiences are being promulgated through blogs, lectures, seminars, books and sermons. Most are unanchored in scripture. Because the scriptures are not being used to anchor these messages, there are widely disparate views of what is going on now and what is supposed to happen in the future.

What if the Lord restricted today’s visionaries the same way he restricted Nephi? What if the visionary information was used by the recipient to explain, expound and preach from holy scripture? Things would be much clearer for His people in these last days if we were given the assurance that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is the message of the scriptures. The scriptures are how God gets His word out to His people. Using the scriptures to expound the word of the Lord is not an antiquated notion. What if the Lord wants His word vindicated by referring to them now? Using them now? Expounding them now? What if the Lord’s example on the Road to Emmaus is to be taken seriously? His example was to teach using the law and all the prophets to show how in all things He was to suffer as He did.

It should be relatively plain to judge between what the Lord commissions and wants preached and what comes from the foolish imaginations of men and women. Apparently the best way to sift sheep and goats is to allow every wind of doctrine to come upon mankind and see which are wise and which are foolish virgins. Who keeps themselves unspotted and who runs to and fro with itching ears to consume on their lusts every new thing.

What a perfect test we are taking. Everyone knows they ought to be grounding themselves on a rock, but then mistake sand, leaves, air, wood and dung for the rock. There are people waste-deep in excrement who are certain they are standing on holy ground.

How much sooner might we be able to agree on the things that matter most if we put our understanding into words of scripture? How can we ever come to unity if we do not share a common scripture; an anchor to hold us together?

The pathway back is guarded by shiny trinkets that get all the wayfaring fools to step off a cliff to their ruin. Just because you are in the largest crowd leaving the pathway doesn’t mean the landing is going to be any less destructive. To stay on it the iron rod is needed.

Scriptures

“[F]or ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6: 16.)

“I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple.” (D&C 36: 8; see also D&C 133: 2-3, 3 Ne. 24: 1.)

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.” (D&C 93: 1.)

Virtue and Righteousness

There is a difference between virtue and righteousness. Virtue is laudable, required and necessary, but righteousness has priority. Virtue surrenders to righteousness, not vice-versa. The point can be illustrated from scripture:

It is not virtuous to kill. Nephi was repulsed at the idea, but the Lord required it, and Nephi complied. The doctrinal reasons justifying the killing are set out in The Second Comforter, and there were sufficient reasons both under the Law of Moses and the Lord’s standards of judgment to vindicate the Lord’s decision to kill Laban. The killing was offensive to virtue, but it was righteous.

It is not virtuous to mockingly taunt others. Yet Elijah was pursuing a righteous course against the priests of Baal when he did just that: “And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” (1 Kings 18: 27.) Mocking is both unvirtuous and uncouth, and in this context would qualify only as righteous.

It is not virtuous to rail against the religious leaders of any faith. Yet John the Baptist rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees as a generation of vipers: “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3: 7.) This term of derision, “generation of vipers” is graphic and in context it is both offensive and uncouth. Yet he was a righteous man, moreso than any other apart from Christ. (Luke 7: 28.)

It was not virtuous for Christ to rebuke His accusers: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, … ye fools and blind…” (Matt. 23: 14-17.) The language of the Lord here is quite blunt, uncouth and in the context of that language, gutteral. It was righteous, but not an example of virtuous language.

It was worse still for Christ to call Herod “that fox.” This is a term of derision comparable in our own language to calling someone a “son of a bitch.” (Luke 13: 32.) Yet it was righteous, justified and appropriate.

It was blunt and threatening for Joseph to tell his guards in Liberty Jail: “SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!” (Taken from The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, emphasis in original.) Calling another a “fiend of the infernal pit” is quite abrasive and offensive; it was intended to be so.

Those who prefer virtue to righteousness will handicap their ability to work for the Lord’s ends. He will always require righteousness to be done. When someone prefers virtue and neglects righteousness, or condemns the righteous for their lack of virtue, their inappropriate standard serves only one purpose. It gets applied against the one proposing to use it. They get to be measured by the standard they apply. (Matt. 7: 22.)

I choose to look at Elijah, John the Baptist, Christ and Joseph Smith, as well as any other person moved to rebuke me or anyone else by the power of the Holy Ghost as fully justified and Christlike. I do not resist the challenge of a righteous rebuke. I welcome them. No one should feel they cannot “damn” me. I’ll consider it important and will respond with my defense, or an apology if I think it is warranted.

It is important for you to know that I do not think Christ is a limp-wristed, lisping chap who dotes on us and has nothing but bouquets of flowers to dispense to us. I think He’s about to return in judgment, dressed in red to burn the wicked. He has said that is who He is and I believe Him. I would like to have as many people take that seriously and consider repenting. We are mistaken in our belief that we are chosen. We are mistaken when we think we are too good to be in need of continual repentance. We are nothing before God. We are about to see His judgments. I know these ideas make me irritating.

As Hugh Nibley put it, “there is nothing so irritating as being awakened from a sound sleep.” But my hope is to awaken some few. Therefore, it is worth offending a great number if the result benefit a few. That is the way things work here and I am quite realistic about it all.

It is also important to be clear about some things. First, the Strengthening the Members Committee is a real group, although its existence was denied for a while by the church. Second, they are not supposed to be pressuring local leaders to harass church members. When they do, it is considered a violation of the process because all church discipline is supposed to be 1) local, and 2) independent. When they interfere it is inappropriate. Third, I WANT them to know there are leaks, and they have spilled onto the Internet. They should do what they need to do to plug them. It should be noted that there have been several forum discussions related to me shut down and deleted since my earlier post. Fourth, I want everyone to know if there is a problem which has offended a distant and imperial committee, it is not because I believe too little in the Lord, but too much in Him and too little in men. Fifth, they are misbehaving in a cowardly, unmanly way by this stealth attack. It would be far better, if they want to be credible, for them to address it openly. Do as I have invited them to do. Show me where I’m wrong. Let me respond. Let some sunlight on the matter. It is shameful, even cowardly, to avoid and accuse from a shadow, only to later pretend they weren’t involved. Pressuring local, reluctant leaders who know better from personal experience with their local members is manipulative.

I consider the words chosen by me to be measured, appropriate and inspired by the right reaction to a cowardly and shameful act by this subversive committee. They are wrong to behave this way. They have probably engaged in illegal activity by leaking onto the Internet what should be kept confidential. I have done them a service by alerting them to this misconduct. Surely, no matter how misguided their deliberations may be, they intend to preserve their legal protection to claim to have privileges under the law. That protection is forfeited when they act this way.

Patience

I was recently in a discussion with a fellow regarding the topic of patience.
Moses spent 40 years in the Pharaoh’s courts. He apparently knew most of that time that he was to deliver Israel out of bondage. He killed the Egyptian, in part, because of his knowledge he would one day deliver them. Stephen explained, just prior to his martyrdom, the story of Moses. Stephen declared that Moses knew his calling from God made him the deliverer of Israel. (Acts 7: 24-25.) Moses presumed the Israelites would recognize him as the one promised to deliver them. He killed the Egyptian to identify himself to the Israelites. They were unimpressed, did not recognize him, and rejected his claim.
 
Seeing he had been rejected and betrayed by the Israelites, Moses fled for his life. (Acts 7: 26-29.)
 
Then, after another 40 years passed while he made a new life for himself in the wilderness, the “voice of the Lord” came to him and called him at last to perform as Israel’s deliverer. (Acts 7: 30-34.)
 
Moses knew his mission from his youth. But when he attempted on his own to begin that mission, his attempt failed. He was nearly killed for it and had to flee for his life.
 
After 40 years spent in the wilderness of Sinai, the time came and Moses was commissioned directly by the Lord to go forward.
 
WE control nothing. WE have no right to move the Lord’s hand. We may ask, but He alone commands. Timing is entirely the Lord’s. Although we may know what we have been assigned to do, it is the Lord alone who will decide when the assignment can be performed.
 
Christ wanted to begin His Father’s work at 12. (Luke 2: 41-49.)  It would be another 18 years before the Lord would be permitted to begin. In the interim, He “waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come. And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him. And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh.” (JST-Matt. 3: 24-26.) Although fully prepared for “many years” before, the Lord “waited” on His Father for 18 years.
 
If Moses waited 40 years, and produced only disaster when he attempted to begin his mission early, and Christ waited “many years” for “the hour of his ministry to draw nigh,” then what possible reason can any of us give for refusing to submit in patience to the Lord’s timing for our  lives, mission, ministry, assignments and calling?
 
Among the many lessons of mortality, Christ learned patience. (Heb. 5: 8.) How arrogant must we be to presume we can tell better than the Lord when a blessing should come? How little understanding would we get if the Lord responded to our impatience and excused us from the necessity to first learn this noble trait of patience?

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