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This is why I didn’t like it

I was asked by someone who liked the book Odds Are You’re Going To Be Exalted, why I disliked it.  My response is as follows:
I suppose first because it is filled with false doctrine and sentimental rubbish.  It is unanchored in anything other than pure sentiment, contradicts the scriptures, and attributes motives to Heavenly Parents which are held by the author. It is worse than useless, it is misleading.
The numerosity argument takes groups who could not possibly be the audience for his book and makes them the statistical weight from which he reaches his conclusion. He takes folks who lived during the Nephite centuries of peace, the City of Enoch, and those who will live during the Millennium (whose numbers he speculates to be in the billions), then adds to those numbers all who die before the age of 8 (also a speculative but big number), then, after claiming the speculative total of all these will be far, far greater than those who merely slog along in mortality like us, he concludes that the odds are you’re going to be exalted.  Here’s the logical fallacy of that whopper:  First, the Nephites in ancient history didn’t read the book.  They’re NOT in his audience.  Neither was the City of Enoch’s hosts; nor are the Millennial folk; nor are any of those who die before age 8.  Meaning that the argument, IF it had validity, is an argument that THEY are going to be exalted.  Not YOU.  That is, the speculative total of those hosts are the ones who will benefit from their lives’ condition.  But none of them are readers of the book.  So if the argument fits, then the title should have been:  “Odds Are They’re Going To Be Exalted.”
Second, the argument for the numbers is wholly speculative.  We don’t have a census for any of the prior Nephite, Enoch, City of Melchizedek, etc. populations.  So without an actual number, we can’t even make the argument.  His conjecture for the Millennium is based upon Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s speculation about the numerosity of that group.  Repeating what Elder McConkie admits is his conjecture does not reduce it to fact.  We simply can’t say what the final numbers will be for these other groups.
Third, he conflates the promise of “salvation” with “exaltation.”  So far as I know there are no children under age 8 who have been sealed in marriage – a condition required for exaltation.  Without an eternal marriage they are separate, single and angels; NOT exalted.  (D&C 132: 16-17.)  It is a quantum leap unsupported by scripture to conflate the promise of salvation for those who die before age 8, or who were not sealed in marriage from any of the other populations about which he speculates, with the promise of exaltation.
Fourth, he gives one bit of caution in his Introduction which the average reader will not catch.  That caution is: “What follows is my perception of God’s nature….”  p. xiv.  That caution should be in BOLD and capitalized.  In other words, the whole book is based upon his sentiments about God.  These unanchored sentiments are NOT and never will be doctrine.  They are just some guy’s effeminate effort to avoid the rigors of confronting the narrowness, straitness and fewness of the Gospel’s takers.
Going then to his sentiments about God, he writes:  “The thought that God would promote something that would ensure that the vast majority of His children would never again be able to dwell in His presence is incomprehensible.  And the assumption that our mother in heaven would idly sit back and allow such a guaranteed flop to eternally strip her of any interaction with her spirit offspring is equally unfathomable.  Such could not — and did not– happen!”
There’s not a stitch of support for this awesome conclusion.  How does he know that?  How does he presume to speak about a “mother in heaven” about whom nothing has been revealed?  How does he know that she is not the champion of the plan?  How does he know that she isn’t absolutely persuaded that obedience to the laws of perfection are the only protection of her children who do obey?  How does he not recognize that to dwell with someone living a higher law, when the person refuses to obey that higher law, is more miserable than being cast out?  (Morm. 9: 4.)  How does he fail to recognize that throughout nature from the hosts of animals born, relatively few ever reach adulthood and reproduce?  Again, this natural process is a symbol of God’s own great plan, is it not?  (Moses 6: 63.)  If so, why, if God cares with sentimentality about all His creations (i.e., that they fill the measure of their creation and have joy in their posterity), then why not let all them reproduce as adults?  After all it takes about 10,000 sea turtles before you get a successful reproducing adult.  Pretty much the case with frogs, sea life generally, and wildebeests – well, their young are essentially the roving McDonald’s menu for all the African meat-eaters.
When he doesn’t like a parable told by CHRIST, he attributes it to Matthew and dismisses it as Matthew’s conjecture about numbers.  (See footnote 2 on the top of page 133 of Odds Are You’re Going To Be Exalted)
He absolutely contradicts Christ when he claims, without any support other than his own sentiment, “God does not require perfection of us in order for us to gain exaltation.”  (page 13.)  But Christ commanded: “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”  (3 Ne. 12: 48.)
He is a PhD in Theology.  That education has done violence to his ability to see what the scriptures teach.  Instead of using that education properly (i.e. to understand the fallacies of man’s reasoning as they apply their philosophy), he has instead become persuaded by it and decided to measure truth by this damaging set of errors.
He thinks that if “most” people are lost then the plan is a failure.  The measure of the Gospel’s success does not lie in numerosity.  It lies in the fact that if the whole of creation produces but one successful couple, then it will have all been worth it.  Even then, if only one couple were exalted, then you still have an infinite number to follow, because they are by definition infinite and eternal as long as they produce seed.
I have marked up my copy for the first couple of chapters, then just relented and read it without a running commentary in the margins.  But the book was an insult to my understanding of the truth.  It attempts to urge the Calvinist notion of “irresistible grace” in new clothes.  It attempts to give life to “grace” as Martin Luther championed the concept in LDS garb.  It is a litany of Evangelical/Protestant philosophy mingled with scripture.  And most astonishing of all, this cacophony of error is published by the good people at Deseret Book, as if its creeds were not included among those denounced by the Savior in His first visit with Joseph in the Grove.
I keep running in my mind:  “Perhaps you do not believe in this great being Alonzo Gaskill proposes, who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure?”
And the response thunders back:  “I do not!  I cannot comprehend such a being!”
I cannot recall where that dialogue, which is now simply part of my consciousness, came from.  But it seems somehow sacred to me, coming from some source I trusted.  Something which goes back long before 1990.  But, alas, when I try to pin it down it eludes me.

I could go on, but I think it would degenerate into incautious words which will offend the average reader.  Given my upbringing in Idaho, I will soon be making scatological references to bovine feces, reverting back to the lexicon of my pre-conversion youth.  So I will meekly stop and settle back into the day’s work.

I hope that answers the question.

Philosophies of men

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a great whole.  It requires an overall harmony between all its parts to be understood.  Without that overall harmony it is jarring and discordant.
The problem with apostasy is that it forfeits truths which are necessary in order to comprehend the majesty of Christ’s teachings.  Those truths which get retained are not kept in balance with the rest.  Simple virtues are kept while overall righteousness is forfeited.
No one can argue with the virtue of tolerance.  But it is constrained and governed inside a larger context that prevents permissiveness and sloth.
No one can argue with the virtue of obedience.  Indeed, obedience is itself one of the bedrock requirements of the Gospel.  But divorced from the other virtues inside of which it is regulated, obedience can become a terrible weapon used to separate people from God’s Holy Spirit and drive them into submission to “Popes and Priests.”  (Any man believed to be incapable of leading you into error is a “Pope.”)
No one can argue against the virtue of patience.  But when it is urged to prevent necessary action to develop a god-like people, then it has become a tool for deception and error and not a virtue at all.

Take any virtue and remove it from its overall context within the great Gospel whole and you see how apostasy can warp a people.  They retain the conviction that they are still God’s chosen disciples, because the virtues they practice are in fact, godly.  However, they have become distorted, bloated and swollen.  They are without harmony, capable of great evil or neglect, all the while celebrating their fidelity to the “truth” as they understand it.

You MUST understand doctrine.  You MUST study the scriptures.  But more important than anything else, you MUST seek to gain further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord directly.  Harmony of the whole is dependent upon His direct guidance and blessings.  You simply cannot move forward a piece here and a bit there, while neglecting the whole composite picture of the Gospel.  He will open it to your view.  He will show you how one part is related to another, and that to another still, so that it all moves forward together.  It is not to all be comprehended at once.  It is to be gained a little bit of the whole here, a further harmony of things there, until the whole moves forward together.  Always moving in balance, in harmony and as a complete magisterial revelation of God’s will.
Latter-day Saints are not immune from this problem of disharmony.  Indeed, it is the great challenge which we have faced since the time of the First Vision.  Joseph’s recalibrating of his own life was constant.  He wanted to reward Martin Harris for his support, petitioned for permission to let him take the 116 pages of manuscript, and when he was told “no” he persisted.  When he finally got the Lord’s reluctant permission it was not for Martin Harris’ benefit, but for Joseph’s.  Joseph was to learn a hard lesson about disregarding good advice from a superior Guide.  (D&C 3: 1-8.)  This comprehension of the harmony of the whole is what provoked Joseph to teach: “the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him.”  (DHC 2: 8.)
Choose your teachers carefully.  None of them will neglect to emphasize a virtue.  However, without the whole of the Gospel in harmony in their own lives, they cannot bring it into harmony for you.  Finding that harmony IS the great challenge in this lone and dreary world, filled as it is, with the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Go about doing good

You should not look directly into the sun.  Whenever you do, your eyes are unable to adjust to the intensity of the light.  It is possible to even do damage to your eyes by looking directly at the sun.
Everything in mortality is a type or symbol of eternal things.  All things bear testimony of Christ and His great plan.  (Moses 6: 63.)  The sun bears testimony of the Son of God.  It is a great symbol of Him.
Our approach to gaining a relationship with the Son should be like that of our enjoyment of the sun – indirect. That is, entering into His presence is a by-product.  It is as a result of the way you live.  It is not the “goal.”
To approach Him, you must live as He did.  You must “keep His commandments.”  You must love others.  You must live the way He lived.  When you are walking in the same path He walked, you will find that He is walking there still.  He will come alongside you, as you are “in the way” and will open to your understanding all things which He would have you know.  (Luke 24: 13-32.)  I’ve written about this in the talk in the Appendix to Eighteen Verses and will not repeat it here.  But I would remind you that the account of those two disciples is a type of how He appears to those to whom He will minister.  He will see you as you are in the right way, and then join with you.

Go about doing good.  You will find Him as you do.  Do not think you will be able to find Him without setting about to do the things which He bid you to do.  There is a law irrevocably decreed which governs these things.

The Nephites were keeping the appointed times with the Lord in His year-end festivals.  In that process, He came to them.  Set about doing what He bids you to do and He will likewise come to you. (This is described in The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.)  Keep His ways.  He will be able to walk with you as you walk with Him.
One clarification that I think needs to be understood by those who have not read what I have written.  I have never revealed anything sacred that has been revealed to me. I have taught the path.  It is not necessary nor desirable to reveal personal matters, and I have not. It is important to teach the right way.  Read what I’ve written and you will find that nothing improper or even difficult is taught there.  It is taken from the scriptures.  The scriptures are sufficient to teach you the way to eternal life.  I only teach what I find in them.

Qualifying for the blessings under adverse circumstances

I was asked about someone who is an active, faithful man married to a non-member wife.  The issue is their chances to receive all the blessings associated with an eternal family, despite the spouse’s lack of faith.
 
From the question it is apparent that the person has first, has accepted and believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Second, is living everything they can at present. Third, would gladly take the spouse to the temple if the spouse were willing to go and enter into the covenants there.
 
This, once again, is a Section 137 issue in which the person qualifies for everything which they would have gladly received, had the circumstances permitted it:
 
  6 And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.

  7 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

  8 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

  9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.
 
By continuing to be loyal to, supportive of, and loving toward the non-believing spouse the husband is living an example which will, in the Day of Judgment, be credited him for righteousness.  This is particularly true when the husband remains loyal and faithful to her when she does not share his faith.  It reflects credit on his character to do so.  I cannot help but believe the Lord is pleased with such a man.
 
Finally, who knows but what the spouse will, at the end, convert and all the blessings be sealed upon them while still here anyway.  Life is not over yet.  There is something compelling and convincing to even a skeptic of the Gospel when they see someone actually live it. 

Conference on Chiasmus

The Conference on Chiasmus originally scheduled for May 15th has been continued to September.  There will be a further announcement on date, time and location once things have been finally arranged. 

Belief becomes knowledge

The post I put up with an excerpt from Lecture 6 a bit ago was deliberately chosen as a foundation for what was put up a few days ago.  That Lecture included the fact that you “know” not merely “believe” that what you are doing is in conformity with God’s will.  A person obtains “actual knowledge” that they are acting in conformity with God’s will.
Kisi asked a question regarding the idea of being asked to do something you regard as “wrong” or perhaps even “evil,” and how can a person avoid deception with such an idea.  The answer lies within the doctrine taught in Lecture 6.  You simply cannot proceed without knowing.  You cannot know without following the correct course.  You must make an acceptable sacrifice to obtain the knowledge.  Without making that sacrifice you cannot obtain that knowledge.  However, once you have possession of the actual knowledge, then it is not a matter of conjecture, or speculation, or desire, or “hope” as the world uses that term.  Rather it is an act in utter righteousness, in strict conformity with the will of God, whose will is known to the person because they have proceeded correctly in obtaining this knowledge.
To gain that knowledge a person keeps the commandments, pays their tithes, does everything they are asked to do to follow the will of God as understood by them.  Such a person will be “firm in their minds” and not weak minded or given to flights of fancy.  (Moroni 7: 30.)  They will have been qualified by the things which they have done in following God to possess this kind of knowledge.

The idea that a person would do something which they regard as “wrong” or to be “evil” is typified in the experience of Abraham (Gen. 22: 2) and Nephi (1 Ne. 4: 10.).  This is what the Lecture is talking about when it says:

“a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.”
Now I do not expect anyone to be asked to sacrifice their only child.  Nor to be told to kill someone and take their possession.  What I expect is that in the context of the life someone has lived or is living, they will be asked to do or not do something which is so specific to them that they alone will understand why it is a sacrifice to them.  If asked of another, it may be completely insignificant. But when asked of them, it will be exactly what the person will struggle to lay upon the Lord’s altar.  Hence the term “sacrifice” with its partial meaning of parting with something involving great value to them.  However, it is not possible to rule anything in or out – the Lord alone will know you and what is required for you to obtain this faith.
The terms for obtaining this kind of faith are the same for every man or woman who has ever lived.  Without making the sacrifice it is not possible to obtain the faith.

The process is everything – the answer is nothing

Process is everything.  Answers are nothing.
If you learn the process, you can develop godlike traits.  That is, the very tools that are required for us to develop as disciples of Jesus Christ are, in fact, the tools used by God Himself.

Faith in God is necessary for us to develop. God extends His kingdom by His faith.  Therefore, as we develop faith we are developing a characteristic that is godlike in its form and function.  He knows we are unable to have faith in ourselves right now.  Therefore, it is required for us to have faith in Him.  Indeed at this stage of development it is necessary for us to concentrate all faith in Him because this whole creation belongs to Him.  We are not self-existent yet.  Our organization and continuation is dependent upon Him.  (See Mosiah 2: 20-25.)  

Christ is our great example, and in this He showed the way as well.  While here, mortal, and before finishing the course, He declared: “I can of my own self do nothing.”  (John 5: 30.)  When resurrected, however, He declared “all power is given unto me in earth and in heaven.”  (Matt. 28: 18.)

The rules of Celestial glory are the rules of the Temple.  Obedience, sacrifice, Gospel, chastity and consecration are all the hallmarks of citizenship there.  This is why peace, order, kindness and love prevail in that society.  There is nothing to harm, threaten or break up families.

Why would an answer to a deep doctrinal question help someone who is not prepared to live in conformity with the Celestial standards?  And contrariwise, if they live Celestial standards, how can you keep them from understanding the doctrine?  (John 7: 17.)
Process is everything.  A mere answer will not fill the empty soul. Those who have read my books should understand this.  This blog is for them.  Those who do not have a doctrinal basis to understand what is going on here will not be satisfied by this blog.  It is not meant as a substitute for understanding what I’ve written.  It is only a supplement to it.

That does not mean that you must read what I’ve written to understand the Gospel.  There are many ways to obtain that understanding, the primary one being to study the scriptures.  In my opinion the quality of what we teach now is so diluted, so basic and simplistic. It leaves by the wayside so much of what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that you either have to read early church materials or else read what I’ve gathered (based primarily on the scriptures and secondarily on what Joseph Smith taught).  If you have been a Latter-day Saint for longer than about 4 years, today’s curriculum, in my view, is not adequate to inform you about the obligations devolving upon you as a disciple of Christ.

I labor to teach process.  I want you independent of me and every other teacher, able to get answers for yourself directly from heaven itself.  I want to avoid today what Joseph cautioned us against in Nauvoo: “[I]f the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving on themselves[.]”  (TPJS p. 237.)  Joseph did NOT want you dependent upon him for answers.  He wanted to teach you correct principles and let you govern yourself.

Any man who tries to put himself between you and heaven, claiming that he alone should be the source of your religious beliefs and education, is practicing priestcraft and will in the end lead both himself and you to damnation.

The process is everything – the answer is nothing

Process is everything.  Answers are nothing.
If you learn the process, you can develop godlike traits.  That is, the very tools that are required for us to develop as disciples of Jesus Christ are, in fact, the tools used by God Himself.

Faith in God is necessary for us to develop. God extends His kingdom by His faith.  Therefore, as we develop faith we are developing a characteristic that is godlike in its form and function.  He knows we are unable to have faith in ourselves right now.  Therefore, it is required for us to have faith in Him.  Indeed at this stage of development it is necessary for us to concentrate all faith in Him because this whole creation belongs to Him.  We are not self-existent yet.  Our organization and continuation is dependent upon Him.  (See Mosiah 2: 20-25.)  

Christ is our great example, and in this He showed the way as well.  While here, mortal, and before finishing the course, He declared: “I can of my own self do nothing.”  (John 5: 30.)  When resurrected, however, He declared “all power is given unto me in earth and in heaven.”  (Matt. 28: 18.)

The rules of Celestial glory are the rules of the Temple.  Obedience, sacrifice, Gospel, chastity and consecration are all the hallmarks of citizenship there.  This is why peace, order, kindness and love prevail in that society.  There is nothing to harm, threaten or break up families.

Why would an answer to a deep doctrinal question help someone who is not prepared to live in conformity with the Celestial standards?  And contrariwise, if they live Celestial standards, how can you keep them from understanding the doctrine?  (John 7: 17.)
Process is everything.  A mere answer will not fill the empty soul. Those who have read my books should understand this.  This blog is for them.  Those who do not have a doctrinal basis to understand what is going on here will not be satisfied by this blog.  It is not meant as a substitute for understanding what I’ve written.  It is only a supplement to it.

That does not mean that you must read what I’ve written to understand the Gospel.  There are many ways to obtain that understanding, the primary one being to study the scriptures.  In my opinion the quality of what we teach now is so diluted, so basic and simplistic. It leaves by the wayside so much of what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that you either have to read early church materials or else read what I’ve gathered (based primarily on the scriptures and secondarily on what Joseph Smith taught).  If you have been a Latter-day Saint for longer than about 4 years, today’s curriculum, in my view, is not adequate to inform you about the obligations devolving upon you as a disciple of Christ.

I labor to teach process.  I want you independent of me and every other teacher, able to get answers for yourself directly from heaven itself.  I want to avoid today what Joseph cautioned us against in Nauvoo: “[I]f the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving on themselves[.]”  (TPJS p. 237.)  Joseph did NOT want you dependent upon him for answers.  He wanted to teach you correct principles and let you govern yourself.

Any man who tries to put himself between you and heaven, claiming that he alone should be the source of your religious beliefs and education, is practicing priestcraft and will in the end lead both himself and you to damnation.

I am a fool

Joseph Smith once said about himself that if “he hadn’t lived it, he wouldn’t believe it.”  What insight that provides.
 
I believe in the complete equality of all of us.  God did not love Joseph Smith more than He loved Sidney Rigdon.  Joseph remained true to the end, and Sidney fell away.  That had nothing to do with God’s love for them.  It had to do with their love of God and willingness to sacrifice to have the faith to trust in God.
 
I do not blame anyone who questions my right to give answers.  I renounce any authority over anyone.  Even those over whom I have a position as father are treated with respect and urging, not by demanding they see or do things to please me.
If, however, I have the power to answer a question by the power of Spirit, and the answer seems to you to be filled with light and truth, then it is the Spirit you should thank – not me.  Such an ability will flee the moment I leave the path, seek to control others or become prideful.  You can mark it down as true: No man who has his own self as his concern will be able to declare the truth in purity and with the approval of the Spirit.
I have said before and I repeat it again – I am a fool.  You mustn’t trust me.  If the Spirit does not ratify what I have to say, then I’m not worth the time to even consider.
 
This blog is an attempt to explain what I believe to be true. It is for those who are trying to find truth for themselves.  Hopefully you will become acquainted with enough to begin to trust that God does exist, and that He will answer questions, and that He is no respecter of persons.  Hopefully you will venture into asking and getting answers from Him directly.  Then, when you have begun that process, I hope to encourage you to follow through and receive from Him what He alone can provide to us.  For salvation lies in “knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”  (John 17: 3.)  It does not lie in following other men.  Rather it is to be found as a result of you drawing near to Him. This will in turn cause Him to draw near to you.
 
He lives!
 
He answers prayer!
 
He cares about and loves you as much as He has loved any person who has ever lived on this earth.