BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Sunstone Symposium 2016

The annual Sunstone Symposium will be held in Salt Lake City, July 27 – 30. This year’s topic is: “Many Mormonisms and the Mormon Movement.” I will be presenting a paper at this year’s event titled: Was There An Original?

All the scheduling is tentative at this point. I am not certain which day I will present or in which venue/room. However, as the schedule is finalized I will put up further notice.

Talk in Moab

I delivered a short talk in Moab, Utah on Sunday, April 10th. The transcript is up in the “Download” section of this website.

 

Signs of the Second Coming

I hear comments from a wide variety of people who wish Christ would return. They welcome the idea, as if it were going to solve the world’s problems. I’m always daunted by what will happen immediately before His return. Whatever joy He may ultimately bring, this world will undergo widespread catastrophes prior to the return.

Jesus was asked about the signs which would accompany His return. He answered in Luke 21: 25-26:

And there shall be signs in the sun…

[the most common sign is always an eclipse. For some reason the transit of Venus across the sun went largely unnoticed. But the sun waxes and wanes in both magnetic effect, sunspot activity and solar flares. It affects climate, electromagnetic fields, crops and all life.]

and in the moon…

[the most common sign are blood moons and eclipses. But it can also be used to gauge the health of our atmosphere.]

and in the stars…

[these rotate predictably, but when they move from one age to another by the precession through the equinoxes, the new constellation was said anciently to be “a new earth.” And when the pole star moved from one to the next, the change was said anciently to be “a new heaven.” Both Aquarius and Polaris represent a change to a new heaven and a new earth.]

and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;

[most often associated with economic upheaval and warfare. But today there is both distress and perplexity from causes the modern world has no preparation to face and little hope of solving peacefully.]

the sea and the waves roaring;

[most often associated with tsunami activity.]

Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:

[most often associated with the lack of courage to face the adversaries and opposing forces that threaten our safety. It includes the inability to stand for principal and righteousness because men are weak. It also includes the growing cruelty of men toward one another.]

for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

[most often associated with apostasy and collapse of faith by men. But also includes distress felt by the angels who are over the earth and those sent by heaven to minister to others. The term “Powers of Heaven” is a proper noun, referring to angelic hosts.]

I’m not certain those who pray for the Lord’s quick return appreciate fully what they are asking.

Easter

We remember Easter foremost for the resurrection. The Lord remembers it foremost for the suffering in Gethsemane. In 1829, the Lord shared His reflection in a revelation to Joseph:

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. (D&C 19:15-20.)

It was important for the Lord to attain the resurrection, for it completed the process that frees mankind from death. But it was more important for the Lord to free us from sin. Because of what He accomplished in Gethsemane, we are able to be reconciled to God. It was “sore… exquisite… hard to bear…” and caused Him to “tremble because of pain,” and ask His Father that He might not drink the bitter cup. It caused the “greatest of all” to “shrink” away from the abyss of suffering.

By partaking anyway, and despite His desire to be spared, He “finished [His] preparations unto the children of men.” It was only “preparation” of an atonement because we are required in turn to receive its benefit through baptism and repentance. If we are unwilling to do this then it is as if no atonement were made for our sins, and we then are called upon to likewise suffer. The Lord has explained that if we refuse to repent then “our sufferings shall be sore.” Almost incomprehensibly difficult for us to bear.

The greatest response to the Easter celebration would be repentance and baptism.

Tangible? Spiritual?

I have exchanged emails with a man who is preoccupied with the distinction between a physical and spiritual appearance of Christ. I sent an email this morning trying to make it clear this distinction is not what he thinks:

The problem you are allowing to divert you is the issue of “tangibility” or “physicality.” You shouldn’t give that the attention you are allowing it to receive.

When the Lord appeared to Daniel only Daniel saw Him. All the others did not. (Dan. 10:7.) Daniel even calls it a “vision” and so, according to your separation of events it clearly it wasn’t physical.
But when Daniel collapsed onto his face the Lord picked him up and set him on his knees. ((Dan. 10:10.) So according to your separation of events, it clearly was physical. 
When Adam was baptized, it was through the medium of the Spirit, and so according to your separation it was clearly spiritual. (Moses 6:4)  
But he was “laid under the water” and then was “brought forth out of the water” and so according to your separation it was clearly physical.
When Christ appeared suddenly in the upper room where the door was shut and His appearance was clearly spiritual (John 20:19) according to your separation.
Yet He showed to them His wounds, and therefore according to your separation it was clearly physical. (John 10:20).
You are like Vizzini in Princess Bride, and do not see how it is possible for BOTH cups of wine to be involved in the same phenomena.  You want someone else to choose the wine in front of them so you can determine that, according to your understanding, it is the wrong cup.
It is for the reason that our Lord can appear physically to one, and yet be hidden and unrevealed to another, all at the same time, that Paul wrote: “whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell.” This was not an attempt to differentiate between physical and spiritual, but instead an acknowledgement by a man who encountered God that God is real, tangible, glorious and pure, and we may need to enter an altered state to behold Him. But He is nevertheless real and His appearance is physical to the one to whom He appears, and a mystery and entirely otherworldly to those who remain without. 

PTHG

In an email exchange about Passing the Heavenly Gift I sent the following:

I think it is a more correct account of the restoration than anything else that has been written. The Book of Mormon was not an attempt to give a “fair” or a “compete” account of events. It was selected precisely to accomplish the object of telling the truth about the Nephites and their failure. 

If you shaded the account with what Laman and Lemuel said, thought, wrote or did in response to Nephi, then we might not have the same view of Nephi at all. Nephi didn’t give us their story, except insofar as he recounts their reactions to him.
Mormon did not give more than a highly selective summary in the rest of the book.  It is because the history was condensed, edited, and abridged that we can treat it as scripture and inspired. Inspiration is not generally shared across competing viewpoints. Generally there is “right” and “wrong” and the scriptures identify which one is correct. There is no competing voice ever allowed to speak.
So PTHG took the words of scripture and prophecy and recast the story of our history to fit the prophetic model concerning us and our events. It is not balanced with opposing materials because the other opposing materials project a false narrative, a prideful vindication of ourselves while altogether ignoring the obvious failures along the way.

1, 2 or 3 Priesthoods?

There was a talk given by Joseph Smith on August 27, 1843 where he describes three kinds of priesthood. Here is a quote from the account we have: (See TPJS, pp. 322-323)

Respecting the Melchizedek Priesthood, the sectarians never professed to have it; consequently they never could save any one, and would all be damned together. There was an Episcopal priest who said he had the priesthood of Aaron, but had not the priesthood of Melchizedek: and I bear testimony that I never have found the man who claimed the Priesthood of Melchizedek. The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of ‘endless lives;’ for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken.

The law was given under Aaron for the purpose of pouring out judgments and destructions.

There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.

First, The king of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels, desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.

The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.

What was the power of Melchizedek? ‘Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.

Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.

Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.

How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the father to the children, and the children to the fathers.

The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.

‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

The Second Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

The Third is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.

I’ve explained at length how I understand these three divisions of priesthood in the talk in Orem titled “Priesthood” (which, in addition to my blog, is available as an audio on YouTube) and then supplemented the material in the chapter on Priesthood in Preserving the Restoration. I continue to receive emails asking for clarification. 

In the beginning there was one priesthood with one name. The original was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” (D&C 107:3.) Adam prophesied that this single, original form of priesthood will return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)

The original form was renamed after Enoch in his day. (D&C 76:57.)

Then later, it was renamed again after Melchizedek. (D&C 107:4.) The renaming did not change the priesthood, but merely used a different title to “avoid the too frequent repetition of his [the Son of God’s] name.” (Id.)

The original, unified, singular priesthood was held by the first Patriarchs. From Adam through Melchizedek, the single form of priesthood was held by “priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.” (D&C 76:57.) The full extent of that authority and the rights it conferred were important enough that the Pharaoh claimed it, and through it the right to govern the earth. (Abr. 1:26-27.) The original Pharaoh was a “righteous man” (Abr. 1:26) but it was not his right to govern as a holder of this original priestly authority. In the beginning of the world, while men rebelled against the authority, the righteous allowed themselves to be guided by it, and through it they repented and found favor with God.

The authority was passed down through Abraham. Although the chosen line through Isaac lost it, it was preserved through Abraham and Keturah’s son, Midian. (Gen. 25: 1-2.) The man Reuel (given an “El” naming by his parents-Exo. 2:16-18) descended from Midian. He received a new name from God. (“Jethro”-Exo. 3:1.) The new name from God indicates God accepted him as His son. Moses received his ordination through Jethro. (D&C 84:6.)

Now Jethro was a righteous man, but it was through Moses that God established the rule of the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. Therefore, it was through Moses that Egypt’s rule over Israel was overthrown, and the people liberated to follow God.

However, the Israelites were unwilling to abide this priesthood. It required too much of them and they hardened their hearts. They could not enter into God’s presence as a people. (D&C 84:22-25.)

In the days of Moses it was divided, and a lesser form of priesthood was carved out from the higher form. (D&C 84:25-27.) That lesser form was called “Aaronic” and authorized to act only in administering outward ordinances. (D&C 107:14.)

Joseph explained that in the LDS Church there were two priesthoods. (D&C 107:1.) But Joseph also described three priesthoods in the talk given August 27, 1843. In an attempt to clarify, I have associated the three kinds of priesthood with the following names and qualifications: Aaronic: Priests who associate with angels and have fellowship with them. Melchizedek: Priests who associate with the Son of God and have fellowship with Him. Patriarchal: Priests who have been in the presence of Father Ahman and have been accepted by Him. I admit this is not the way the names are used in the scriptures. I have renamed them in this manner as my attempt to harmonize understanding with the talk given by Joseph and to distinguish from LDS claims.

There are important points to consider. There was originally a single form of priesthood. It was the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. That priesthood is prophesied to return at the end of the world. God the Father decides who will stand at the head of the Family, with authorization to govern as a father (or patriarch) following the pattern given to Adam in the beginning. As Joseph explained it, “Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.” This will be required of us, just as it was before.

If we have any authority at all, we have some portion or degree of the original. Rather than limiting ourselves to some other form, ordain to the Holy Order and leave it to God to determine how much He decides to confer upon a man.

It is clear Jethro was approved of God. It is clear his parents worshipped the true God, and named him “Reu-El” to honor the God of Abraham. It is also clear that God did not honor Reuel with the responsibility of freeing Israel from Egypt and giving direction to them. It was in Moses that God reclaimed the original authority over His chosen people.

There will be a root of Jesse to whom the right will belong. (D&C 113:5-6.) This was never Joseph nor Hyrum. It could never be done by a “pure blooded Ephraimite” and therefore their bloodlines did not qualify to finish the House of God. Their lives were foundational for what will come next. What they accomplished is shown in the Nauvoo Temple as a metaphor. It was constructed to the second floor, and unfinished in design and construction at their passing. Although others tried to design and build what was left, it burned, and was then destroyed by a whirlwind. Only pictures and a few stones remain of the original. The House of God will return and the original authority of the Holy Order will likewise be here on earth before the return of the Son of God.

The Holy Order will submit to the Son of God, and freely acknowledge that it is His right to rule. He will be the King of kings, and the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) because no man with this Holy Order will compare themselves to Him.

Limiting what is said about these matters of priesthood hopefully prevents deceivers and pretenders from improving their false claims. It will not be entrusted to a fool, nor given to the proud and haughty. It will be held by the meek and lowly. True authority must persuade and invite using kindness and pure knowledge as their scepter, offering their lives as a sacrifice and not offering themselves as an idol to be honored.

Comments on “Marriage”

In response to the Recorder’s Clearinghouse article on Marriage, these are some of my thoughts:

First, a conference can be called by anyone at any time and include any group that gathers. There has not yet been a “general conference” where everyone has been invited, but that will probably happen at some point. In the meantime, there have been conferences and there will probably be more.

The article deals with two subjects: Marriage and sealing. They are two different topics.

On marriage, the transcript of the civil marriage ceremony in the 1835 D&C was not written by Joseph Smith. It was authored by Oliver Cowdery based on what he had witnessed Joseph doing when marriages were performed. It is as close an historical account of the ceremony Joseph performed during that era as we have. Between 1835 and the time Joseph died, it was the ceremony performed throughout the church. It is as appropriate as any other civil ceremony, and has the advantage of being nominally connected with Joseph Smith.

The article is not a commandment, but a suggestion. People are free to accept or ignore it. No one claims the right to issue a commandment on this subject for others to follow. It is the humble attempt of a group of people who are directly confronting this in their families to address the issue. Then that group of people provided their explanation for the possible benefit of others.

Some clarifications have been suggested by others who were in attendance, and Keith Henderson will post additions and updates based on those suggestions in the next day or two. One clarification will be to make a sharper distinction between marriage and sealing.

On sealing, I personally doubt the language used in LDS Temples has been preserved intact from Joseph until today. But it is as close as we have for the present, and has been handed down from earnest people through four generations. It makes sense to use the language and ask God to accept and preserve the marriages sealed using this ceremony.

Words chosen carefully should be read carefully. For example, the statement that “we know of no man on earth today claiming at this time the right to seal by virtue of the rites and ordinances he has received from on High” means just that and nothing more. That is a claim made by the LDS Church. There is no reason to concern ourselves about what will happen in due course in the future. Until there is a command to proceed with an errand assigned by God, nothing can be done with His approval. There is a lot of work left to do before the House of God returns.

Marriage

Last Saturday a group gathered to participate in a conference to discuss the upcoming marriages taking place between their children. Several were in attendance. I was there, along with Keith Henderson and other men and women whose children are preparing for marriage. Keith Henderson wrote up a description of the outcome, and a few of us helped edit and synthesize it into an article you can now find on the Recorder’s Clearinghouse website. The article is titled Marriage and could be of interest to anyone whose family includes someone contemplating getting married.