BOWbutton

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

 

How To Fail

What if the Lord were to give the opportunity to build Zion? What if the Lord wanted it to happen now? What would be done differently than was done by those who went before and failed?

There is a model to follow if we want to fail to achieve Zion. In Missouri, those who gathered were rejected and driven out because of their “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires.” (D&C 101:6.)

After the catastrophe in Missouri, the refugees from the failure reassembled in Nauvoo. The Lord offered another chance, promising that if they would follow Him they would receive the fullness of the priesthood He had taken from them. (D&C 124:28.) He made the offer in January 1841.

The work on the Nauvoo Temple proceeded haltingly and was never finished before the building was struck by lightning, burned, knocked over by a tornado, and the remaining fragment disassembled by the town because of safety concerns. It was foreseeable the offer in January 1841 would not be meaningful. Over a year later the Times and Seasons printed a letter from the Nauvoo High Council describing how they viewed the population working on the temple:

[We rejoice at] “the willingness to aid in the building of the ‘House of the Lord,’ we are grieved at the conduct of some, who seem to have forgotten the purpose for which they have gathered. Instead of promoting union, appear to be engaged in sowing strifes and animosities among their brethren, spreading evil reports;  …We feel to advise taking the word of God for our guide, and exhort you not to forget you have come up as Saviors upon Mount Zion, consequently to seek each other’s good, -to become one: inasmuch as the Lord has said, ‘except ye become one ye are none of mine.'” (Times and Seasons, February 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No. 8, The High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ, to the Saints of Nauvoo.)

It is easy to fail. Just gather people who will contend with each other and there will be failure EVERY time. It makes sense to try something new rather than repeat the pattern that will never work. First, provide an opportunity for those who are interested to display who they are, whether they can live peaceably with others. Once we know one another’s hearts then the Lord can gather only those who will avoid contentions, jealousies, strifes, envyings, and jarring. Like the pattern in Abraham, first men are “proven” and then they are gathered, or spared.

Prophecy, not Publicity

The most surprising thing to me is the Lord’s utter indifference to whether the world takes note of what He is doing. Prophecy was never intended to be the same thing as publicity. He works in obscure, unnoticed ways to bring His work to pass. The Book of Mormon calls it “small means.” He describes His labor force as “the weak things of the world.”

The people who expect something big, noteworthy and earth-shaking before recognizing God’s hand have never noticed His message or messengers. The world expects publicity. It expects God will always work through the “chief seats” when He rarely does.

The Lord will return as a “thief in the night” because He is unwanted, unwelcome, and although He gives many signs and sends a message, men choose darkness instead of light. For mankind it is always nighttime. They do not notice the dawn. They remain asleep, with eyes closed.

Sturge-Weber Disorder

A neighbor’s granddaughter (“Emery”) was born with Sturge-Weber syndrome and the family is asking for help with the costs of medical care. They set up a website to sell t-shirts, help raise money and raise awareness of this birth defect. Their website is called:

Emery’s Army

Emery’s grandfather and I served in an elders quorum presidency about twenty-years ago. He was later bishop of our ward while I served on the high council. Our families have been friends for years.  Our kids have grown up together. My wife has been Joy’s YW leader. We are happy to post this appeal in an effort to help the family.

FYI: The t-shirt sales will end on Saturday.

Correcting the Record

Jana Riess has posted a new portion of the interview I did with her a few weeks ago. It is titled: Did Joseph Smith Practice Polygamy–Denver Snuffer Says No.

Earlier I put a corrected version of the interview here and emailed Jana explaining that there were some errors needing to be corrected. I just got off the phone with Jana and her earlier version has now been updated and corrected. There was an honest mistake made and she has made the correction.

I appreciate that Jana has taken the time and trouble to get it correct.

Ephesians 4:29-5:16; 6:12:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

…For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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Given the nature of our fight (which is spiritual), we ought to resist the culture of conflict that poisons our time, and rise above disputing among ourselves to show by our godly example what it means to follow Christ.

Rebaptism

Edwin Wilde provided me some excerpts taken from his review of 178 early Mormon journals mentioning the widespread practice of rebaptism. Here is some, but not all, of the information he uncovered:

From the journal of Milo Andrus, (1814-1893): “In the spring of 1854, I was sent to Saint Louis to preside over the stake there. Stayed there one year, rebaptized and confirmed about 800 saints.”

From the journal of Elizabeth Brotherton: “March 19 1851 Mr. Pratt was appointed on a mission to the Pacific Coast to organize and set in order the Saints that had gone there not knowing where the church would locate. They went in the ship Brooklyn. I went with him to San Francisco, we traveled in company with A. Lyman, and C.C. Rich when they were going to San Bernerdino with a company of Saints. After a tiresome journey we arrived in San Francisco. Mr. Pratt remained there and rebaptized quite a number in about two months time.”

From William Clayton’s diary: “May 9, 1841 Joseph preached on his side on baptism for the dead (see Record.) Afterwards a number was baptized both for remission of sins and for the dead. I was baptized first for myself and then for my Grandfather Thomas and Grandmother Ellen Clayton, Grandmother Mary Chritebly and Aunt Elizabeth Beurdwood.” (Clayton was previously baptized October 21, 1837.)

From the journal of Warren Foote: “24th. [March 1842] This is the day that I have appointed to go down into the waters of baptism and thereby fulfill the covenant I made to the Lord when I was near death’s door. The meeting was at Elder Jacob Myers house about one mile from Father’s. I walked down there and in company with Amos Kimmins, Franklin Allen, and his wife, Samuel Myers, and Lovina Myers, was baptized by Daniel A. Miller, President of this branch, between five and six o’clock P.M. The foregoing named persons, had been baptized before, and now felt to renew their covenants. As it was concluded to have an evening meeting I thought that I would stay to it. The wind blew up from the north very cool and in going home, I took cold.”

Other entries in Warren Foote’s journal: “8th. [May 1842] Sunday. A very large congregation assembled to meeting. Sidney Rigdon preached. In the afternoon there were many baptized in the font in the basement of the Temple and forty three in the Mississippi River. They were mostly rebaptisms.” “[MAY, 1844] 26th. Attended meeting at Bro. J. Clark’s. After meeting I rebaptized Elihu Allen, Joseph Clark, and John B. Carpenter. We ordained E. Allen [a] priest, and Joseph Clark [a] teacher. It is so wet that we cannot plant corn.” “[JUNE, 1844] 9th. Sunday. My wife with five others were rebaptized by Elder J. B. Carpenter.”

From the autobiography of Joseph Holbrook: “On Saturday, January 5, 1833…I told Brother Lyons and Rich I would like to be baptized if they thought I was worthy as I had brought my clothes for that purpose. So after breakfast I was baptized with my Aunt Phebe Angel by Leonard Rich…My wife was taken very sick on the 7th of July [1842] and grew worse until she died, being taken sick nine days (July 16, 1842), aged 37 years, 11 months and two days…After my wife’s death, I was rebaptized in the Mississippi River by Brigham Young.”

From the autobiography of Joseph Hovey: “I, Joseph, for the first time bowed myself before God in secret and implored his mercy and asked him if what I had read out [of] the Book of Mormon was true and if the man, Joseph Smith, was the one who translated these marvelous records. I, Joseph, asked God for a testimony by the Holy Spirit and truly I got what I asked for and more abundantly. Therefore, my wife, Martha, and I did truly rejoice in the truth we had found in those records. We also searched the Bible daily and found that it did corroborate with the Book of Mormon. We were, therefore, born again and could see the kingdom. Hence, July 4, 1839, we were baptized with water and received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. One brother, Mr. Draper, baptized us…there was a committee appointed by the God of Israel to superintend those houses in the fall of 1840. The fund to commence the building of the temple were raised through tithing, that is every man put in a tenth of his property and thereafter his earnings every tenth day. …I, Joseph, did prosper well in good health but my wife, Martha, was not so well as myself. I, Joseph, did go to work in the stone quarry and I labored exceedingly for the Nauvoo House. I got out several hundred feet of stone during the season. I also worked on the Nauvoo temple cutting stone. In the meanwhile, my wife, Martha, was sick, even abortion took place and she was very low. But she was healed by going to the baptismal font and was immersed for her health and baptized for her dead.”

This is from the journal/autobiography of William Huntington Sr.: “In 1833, I found the Book of Mormon. I read the book, believed in the book that it was what it was represented to be. My mind thus being prepared to receive the gospel accordingly, in the month of April 1835, myself and my wife both united with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. …April 11th, 1841  Joseph [Smith] and Sidney [Rigdon] baptized each other for the remission of their sins as this order was then instituted in the Church. Accordingly, on the 27th of April [1841], I was baptized for the remission of my sins. Also, on the same day, was baptized for my brother Hyrum Huntington.”

This is from the autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson: “In the spring of 1835 before I was baptized, my mother and all her children met at the house of my sister, Delcena Sherman, to receive from Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., our patriarchal blessings. He blessed all according to age until be came to Joseph E. and myself, when he placed his hands first upon my head. My mother told him I was the youngest, but he said that mattered not–to me was the first blessing; and in blessing me, among other great and glorious things, he told me the Lord would call me to do the work of brother Seth, who had been called away by death. In this promise there was to me more joy than ever before I had known; my dear brother was not to be robbed of his blessings, and if I could only live faithfully his work would be done, and I should do it for him. I felt this was the greatest boon the Lord could bestow upon me. …Soon after this, I overstepped my father’s objections and was baptized by Elder Lyman Johnson… On the 13th of October [1838] we crossed the Mississippi at Louisiana, and began to hear of great troubles among the Mormons at Far West, and we were warned of the great danger of proceeding, but our camp was only stirred to greater desire to go on. Here I remembered my former purpose to renew my covenant by baptism, and as one of my associates, D. D. McArthur, was to be baptized, I went with him and was baptized by Henry Hariman. [Harriman]”
From the autobiography of Joel H. Johnson: “At the October [1856] Conference the heads of the Church preached the necessity of a reformation among the saints by confessing their own sins against God and their brethren and forsaking the same and by forgiving the sins of others and making restitution for all wrongs as much as possible. This glorious work of reformation and restitution soon commenced in Great Salt Lake City and spread with rapidity to all the branches of the Church; and all who confessed and restored were rebaptized for the last time for the remission of their sins.” “Thursday, September 18th [1856], I started with my wife Susan and little child accompanied by my son Nephi, with an ox team to go and visit our friends at Summit Creek in Utah County, and also in Salt Lake City, and attend the October conference, and to purchase and drive home a few sheep. We arrived at Summit Creek and Friday the 26th, and found our friends as well. We had a good visit with them and started on Tuesday the 30th for Salt Lake City, and arrived onFriday the 3rd of October, attending conference and done our business and started homeward on Friday the 10th. On our way we called at Lake City in Utah County and purchased 26 sheep, one of which died at Chicken Creek. We arrived safely home with the rest on the 25th and found all well, and was rebaptized on Wednesday, 29th [October 1856], at Fort Johnson by Issac C. Height, President of the Stake of Cedar City.”
The following comes from the autobiography/journal of Lyman O. LittleField: “My mother lingered for four or five days after my arrival. In the warmest terms she expressed her thankfulness to her Heavenly Father that I had come to be with her through her sickness. I conversed with her freely concerning the doctrines and principles of the Church, in relation to all of which she expressed her firm belief, and spoke of her great desire to get well that she might renew her covenant by being rebaptized. She felt that this would be a great satisfaction inasmuch as she had been absent from the Church for several years. She said this had been her desire for a long time, but she had put it off from time to time. “But now,” she said, “if the Lord permits me to get well, I will attend to it, and nothing shall hinder me.'” Also there was this not later in the journal: “While there [Kirtland] I made the acquaintance of Brother Luman Heath and wife and rebaptized her mother in the Shagrin River for the renewal of her covenant, according to her desire. I also made the acquaintance of Brother and Sister Kent and many others.”
From the autobiography of Nathan T. Porter “My brother Lyman Wight Porter, took passage on… the Union Pacific, to the state of Missouri to visit our eldest sister Melinda (Malinda) Chipman, whom we had not seen for many years… A disposal was soon made of the property she had for sale, so that she, with her son Sanford, was on their way with him for Salt Lake Valley… She soon renewed her covenants by rebaptism and received her endowments in which she had much joy and consolation.”
This from an early excerpt of Parley Pratt’s autobiography: “After we had arrived on the ground of Great Salt Lake City we pitched our tents by the side of a spring of water; and, after resting a little, I devoted my time chiefly to building temporary houses, putting in crops, and obtaining fuel from the mountains. …Having repented of our sins and renewed our covenants, President John Taylor and myself administered the ordinances of baptism, etc., to each other and to our families, according to the example set by the President and pioneers who had done the same on entering the valley. These solemnities took place with us and most of our families, November 28, 1847.”

This is from a letter from Parley Pratt to Brigham Young, August 28, 1851; while he was in San Francisco: “Since I have arrived here I have been diligent in the duties of my calling every hour, and have called upon God for His Spirit to help me with all the energy I possessed, and without ceasing. The result is, the Spirit of the Lord God has been upon me continually, in such light, and joy, and testimony as I have seldom experienced. Brothers A. Lyman and C. C. Rich have been here with me some of the time; we have called together the old members and others, and preached repentance and reformation of life. We have re-baptized many of them, and have re-organized the Church.”

From pg 118-119 of the journal/autobiography of Joseph Lee Robinson: “Now, prior to this, after we had fairly gotten up there we called a meeting of the people for it was a nice inviting country and a good many had come upon the lands. We talked to them some, inquiring if they were able and agreeable that I should be their president and bishop and that I should select two of their members and set them apart as my counselors and would they uphold us by their prayers and faith. I wished them to make it manifest by the show of the right hand and there was a clear vote, yes… Our ward was bounded at that time north of Cherry’s settlement and south of Weber River, a very large ward, but a few people. Suffice it to say, we met together often and preached and prayed and sang songs and sometimes, spoke in tongues. We were counseled to be rebaptized as we had been a long time traveling and all that wished to be Saints they should make it manifest. Consequently, there was a number baptized on the first of July, 1849 by John Harris, Joseph L. Robinson, Susan and Laurinda M., two of his wives, Daniel A. Miller, Hannah Miller, and Jacob, Lovica, James S., Susanna, Millers, and John and Olive Garner, Seth Dustin, Susanna Harris, William Harmison, all of which were confirmed by Joseph L. Robinson and Daniel A. Miller.  Also on September 9th, 1849, there were baptized by Joseph L. Robinson, Maria Robinson, Oliver Lee, Ebenezer J., Anna Maria, Robinsons, William P. and Sidney R. Burton, Elizabeth, David and Alma Hess, and Clarica Jane Miller all of which were confirmed by Daniel A. Miller and John Harris. Also onSeptember 9th were baptized by Daniel A. Miller, Benjamin and Rosanna Matilda Cross, Joel Ricks, Eleanor, Louis, and Sally Ann Ricks and Amanda Tomkins—all confirmed by Joseph L. Robinson and John Harris.”  Also there is this excerpt from that same book, pgs 420-421: “November 1891. Aunt Jane Slade died November 21st, 1891. She is gone. We tried to save her from death. The Lord told me he would forgive her and that I might bless her and if she would believe she should remain for a season and enjoy her new home and the society of her friends and have time to reflect and prepare to meet her God, We were really in hopes we could get her well enough that she could come and stop with us awhile, that we might get sufficient faith in her that she might get rebaptized, renew her covenants and baptized for her health. ”

From the autobiography/journal of Allen Russel: “Some time in the Summer, I think before Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother Hiram were killed in Carthage Jail in 1844. Father, Mother, my sister Sally, my brother Horace, and myself, went to the creek where Patriarch John Smith was baptizing, and we were all were re-baptized by Patriarch John Smith and confirmed by his son George A. Smith at waters edge. Baptized about May 10, and confirmed some time in the month of June.” Also from the same journal: “Thursday [May 1899] 11 – I did work for William and was baptized for my health and a man for Brother Ashman, then I was administered too.” Also he wrote: “Tuesday [October 1899] 24 – We went to the temple and Brother Ashman set as a witness. I was baptized for my health and administered to Horace Thorton being mouth and Brother Van Stewart baptizing me.” Still later he recorded: “Saturday [February 1906] 10 – I received $1.50 for temple worker. Preached the gospel to Ted Davis. He said he had been baptized but did not think it would hurt him to be again and said he desired to have his wife sealed to him. I preached to Albert Day and he said he was convinced of his error.”
Daniel Tyler recorded some teachings that he learned from Joseph Smith: “About the time the doctrine of rebaptism for members in the Church was first revealed in Nauvoo, Joseph, the great seer and revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made some remarks on the subject: On one occasion he read, among other scriptures, Hebrews, 6th chapter, 1st and 2nd verses, as follow: Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. The Prophet said the first verse should read: “Therefore, not leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, etc.”  This explanation not only made the entire subject of the two verses clear but reconciled them with other scriptures. Notwithstanding Paul is made to say “leaving,” etc., the inference is clear that if the foundation of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands should be relaid they would have to perform those works over again, as every careful reader of the text must see. This also corroborates a revelation to the Church of Ephesus: Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works. All latter-day Saints know that the first works after repentance are baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Here we find a presiding elder of a branch or ward of the Church commanded to perform these works over again, under pain of removal if he failed to obey the divine behest. Many more passages might be quoted to the same effect, but these are sufficient for my purpose. Joseph’s translation not only reconciles the text with itself, but also with other scriptures, as already shown, and as was explained by the Prophet.'”
Helen Whitney’s diary recorded: “The evening of the 16th, after witnessing the death of Brother William Gheen, who died at 7 o’clock in the evening, father took Sarah and Sister Winchester to the river and baptized them for their health.”
A statement by Orson Pratt found in the Journal of Discourses 18:156-61: “I will here state that Martin Harris, when he came to this [Utah] Territory a few years ago, was rebaptized, the same as every member of the Church from distant parts is on arriving here. That seems to be a kind of standing ordinance for all Latter-day Saints who emigrate here, from the First Presidency down; all are rebaptized and set out anew by renewing their covenants.”

Interview

I was asked about being interviewed for the Religion News Service. The inquiry asked about “my” movement. In response to the request I replied:

I would [be willing to be interviewed]. But I would not want this to either be or have the aura of self-promotion. The “movement” (if it can be called that) is not owned by me. The participants are independently motivated, and I exert no control over anyone.

Tithing is collected and distributed locally. No benefit comes to me. I donate when I am at a meeting where it is collected, and those who are present decide among themselves by common consent how the tithing is used among themselves. I have never been present when that decision has been made and of course I have not received one cent from anyone’s tithing donation.

There are fellowships across the globe, but I have not founded a single one. They are established by those who share the common belief in the need to be more scripture based, more seriously devoted and more individually accountable for the restoration through Joseph.

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.)

When I Clarify, When Not

There are hundreds of different topics that people discuss with me about which I have no opinion or view. These things matter to others, and in some cases are believed to be vital religious issues for them.

Just a few examples will illustrate:

Bishop John Koyle’s Dream Mine matters to some people. They have invested in it and study what Koyle taught, said and prophesied. I’ve heard them explain their views.

I have heard more than one account of “multiple mortal probations” from those who believe strongly in the idea. Some think it is at the heart of the gospel plan. I’ve heard them but have never been able to reconcile the strongly contrasting forms this idea has taken.

One man believes everything ever revealed since Adam can be extrapolated from the pre-1990 version of the LDS endowment. His complex theories have been evolving, encountering obstacles, taking a detour and reconstituting for years, but he stays on this theme as the basis for all gospel knowledge. I’ve listened to him.

There are many different views of the role and status of women. On one extreme they are breeding stock, of little value other than to be subservient to men and produce offspring. On the other extreme they are goddesses and men are mere brutes, to be endured by the divine feminine as a test in this fallen world; but men will get their punishment in the world to come where women’s true value is known. I’ve heard these various expositions of conflicting views about women.

I’ve attended meetings where strange ideas are taught openly. I’ve  listened and tried to understand what the speaker is attempting to teach. There are hundreds of examples, but I will leave it with these.

I can probably explain many of these strange ideas in the same way as they have been explained to me. But the fact I can listen to them, or restate what others have set out, does not mean that I share their beliefs or support their “cause.” I try to understand them, without the need to do anything more.

For me, these wildly varying ideas are important for one reason: I’m trying hard to understand the challenge we face to become “one” with each other. In the most peaceful, enlightened and enduring society (apart from Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s cities) we have only a brief explanation of their social order. But in the description it tells us four times the same important lesson:

4 Ne. 1:2 “and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” This was a first step. It was not complete. But the people managed to stop their disputes. They may not have agreed with one another, but they were no longer fighting among themselves about their different viewpoints.

4 Ne. 1:13 “And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.” This was a closer agreement where united faith among the people began to bear the fruits of the spirit. It is a second level and developmentally greater than the absence of contention that preceded it.

4 Ne. 1:15 “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” This was yet another stage of development. It came as people’s hearts were filled through God’s love so they would no longer just be avoiding contention, they were now in agreement.

4 Ne. 1:18 “the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.”

The experience these people went through was in stages of progression and development. Over many years I’ve tried to see what the landscape looks like among the different versions of the gospel as understood by widely varying people. I believe them (you) all to be loved by God. I believe them (you) all to be sincere. I let others explain themselves to me, I labor to understand them (you), and let all men go in peace. I believe it is important to allow all men to explain their views, and important to consider this cacophony because of how it separates us from becoming “one” with each other. It is a very real challenge. It is daunting. But it is important to understand as a point of beginning.

I do not interrupt people and challenge everything they say. I do not insist that people change their views to be exactly as mine. If I only tolerated my own view I would interrupt every person in every conversation and make myself an obnoxious mad man.

From time to time there are those who take the views they have announced to me as their belief or doctrine, and associated MY name with it. If they explain their views as theirs, they go in peace. But when they make their belief MINE, and their understanding of things MY understanding, or when it is not true or accurate, then I choose to clarify that I do not share that viewpoint.