Yesterday Channel 2 news (KUTV) interviewed me in my office for a news story they broadcasted yesterday and again this morning, titled “LDS church holds special meeting to denounce ‘false prophets’.” Their broadcast contained three excerpts from the interview. An audio recording of the entire interview is now available on the Downloads page.
I have a number of thoughtful and very religious friends I respect and discuss many subjects with, but with whom I have significantly differing views on many matters. I make no effort to change their way of thinking, and afford them the freedom to explain their views without interruption or disagreement. If I am pressed, I will offer my own contrary views, but for the most part I am not pressed and I do not comment on their “causes.” I regard them as friends and value their views. It is possible many of our conversations are as a result of them calling and wanting my input, assurance, or approval about something they are studying or discussing with others. For my part, I am not inclined to discuss with them anything other than what I believe. That does not include disabusing them of their strongly held beliefs. According to Joseph Smith, “It does not prove a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (DHC 5:340.) Below are a few of the major points friends of mine emphasize without necessarily having my agreement with their viewpoints:
Multiple-Mortal-Probations: Several friends believe almost all scriptural dilemmas are solved by using the “multiple mortalities doctrine” to explain events. They think many of the characters in scripture are the same individual returning again and again on missions to serve others. For them, it is very important that one know their prior life’s identity and from that everything else falls into place. I have friends who speak about the topic almost at every turn, and I listen to their thoughts, explanations and exegesis of scripture. I do not agree with their understanding of the subject. I doubt very much that anyone (let alone everyone) returns to this sphere in the normal course of history, although I do think the scriptures support the inevitability of progression by degrees through different estates. If returning were an option, it would be unlikely the Lord’s disciples would have looked upon “the long absence of [their] spirits from [their] bodies to be a bondage.” (D&C 45:17) If His disciples were going to have a “long absence of their spirits from their bodies” (meaning they were to die and remain in the spirit world), then a frequent recycling back into mortality was not going to happen for them. Hence their desire to escape the spirit bondage by either resurrection (coming quickly into the Lord’s kingdom) or translation (linger in the flesh) to remain of service as a ministering angel here.
It seems unlikely to me that we have more than one turn in any given creation for a mortal experience. When, however, a new creation is made, it seems inevitable that those who will populate it are chosen beforehand, participate in the planning, and are assigned to come live there as another “estate” in the long path of progression.
I dismiss the idea someone has been told by God that he is the former King Solomon returned to mortality, in part because I know of at least three claiming to be “King Solomons” living now. I know of several “John the Baptists,” enough “Peters” to form a congregation, and the plentiful “Jeremiahs” could play a college football game filling both rosters.
Most importantly, the concept of returning and knowing your prior identity seems counter-productive to me. The claim to have been some prior prophet, king or apostle returned again can quickly lead to arrogance, or complacency. Even if it were true, what good does it do? Does some past experience relieve you from passing the test now underway? If not, then what does it matter? No one claims to be the lowest ranking Roman soldier responsible for crucifying Christ. No one I know espousing this idea claims to have been an obscure, disease-ridden serf whose short life ended in filth or violence. They prize the idea because they were great before, trusted by God, and are now returned as a personal favor to the Divine King to slum with us a while for our good. It is vanity.
Devils: I say very little about opposing Satan and his minions by direct combat. For me the topic creates more mischief than if I leave it alone. I have a friend who spends a great deal of time dealing with the subject and actively working against such influences. Clearly the Lord’s ministry included confrontations, rebuking and freeing others from demons, and directly confronting the adversary. For me in helping others, the greatest problem created by our adversary is the confusion, false ideas, and subtle errors. Far greater harm is done with the general population by convincing people to believe a mixture of truth and error than through suffering from demonic possession. False traditions, priestcraft, and mixing philosophies of men with scripture is the wholesale way mankind is afflicted and harmed. The small retail operation of possession is a great concern, but only to a very few. I leave that issue for others to battle.
There is a paper written by the attorney Ron Poulton dealing with mental health issues and evil spirit possession. It is a very interesting work, written for psychologists. Ron has a rigorous mind and is a thoughtful man. His ideas are consistent with scripture. There are those who have been cured of mental afflictions using that approach. If it works, even for a few, then the benefit is worth it. I think his paper is available on-line.
Ancient Egypt: I have a friend who is extremely interested in ancient Egypt and all things Egyptian. There is a great deal of truth preserved by the ancients of Egypt, and he is intent on harvesting it. I applaud his efforts, but leave that work for him to pursue.
Egypt was founded as an “imitation” and not the real thing. (Abr. 1:26) What the founder of Egypt sought to imitate was the original “order established by the fathers in the first generations” including Adam. (Id.) We do not have that original, even in the Restoration. We have discussions of the original religion’s effect, but not its rites, practices and particulars. So an imitation may be useful to us. But by the time Abraham migrated to Egypt, the imitation was so corrupted that Abraham was sent to lecture on missing, confused, incorrect and misunderstood elements of the Gospel. (See Fac. 3) In Facsimile No. 3 Abraham is depicted with a crown “representing the Priesthood” which he actually held. The Pharaoh, on the other hand, was “of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood.” (Abr. 1:27) Therefore, what Abraham imported to Egypt came when they were already corrupted and off the mark. Depending on how you date Egypt’s dynasties and how you fix the date for Abraham’s life, he entered Egypt anywhere from as early as the Third Dynasty or as late as the Sixteenth Dynasty. The earlier the dating, the more severe the problem was for Egypt to preserve the original order.
When you compare what Joseph Smith was doing just four generations ago with what “Mormonism” looks like today, you can see how quickly things are altered, forgotten and supplanted. That is a cautionary tale to us about relying on the past as a guide to inform our understanding. If the Egyptians were like us, then by the Third Dynasty things were in disarray because their faith had been altered, important truths had been forgotten, and many original practices were supplanted by innovations and incompletions. By the Sixteenth it would have been quite a mess.
So the search goes back from the late Book of Breathings (perhaps an Abraham-era product/which would put things more toward the Sixteenth Dynasty than the Third), to the earlier Coffin Texts, to the earliest Pyramid Texts to try to get the most accurate version. But in the end even the stone of the pyramids could have been recarved, repainted, and altered by later dynasties to comport with what they later believed. So the fact something is carved in stone is no guarantee it had not been altered. The disparate dimensions of the head and body of the Sphinx, for example, suggest tampering with stone structures to supplant the earlier depiction of the constellation Leo with the head of a later Pharaoh. Was it the product of Khafra, Khufu, Djedfre or someone else? I appreciate the insights this friend recovers from his study. But I do not share his affection for Egypt, founded as it was by one excluded from the patriarchal line and only able to imitate it.
Keys to Interpret: I have friends who believe they have stumbled onto the absolutely reliable, completely infallible key to interpreting scriptural prophecy. These friends believe they can understand all the details, dates and sequence of future events, including some in the very near future. They believe they can calculate exactly what the prophecies mean, because their “key” unlocks the truth. Using their analytical approach, they believe they can “prove” their interpretation of scripture. They rule out, or rule in, what is possible for God by their “key” of interpreting. But there is no such thing, and interpretation belongs only to God. He alone will decide how to vindicate His word, His covenants and His promises.
I do not believe there is any ability to use prophecy to establish beforehand detailed knowledge of the events they foretell. Prophecy does not have that purpose. The purpose is to show ONLY that God knows the end from the beginning. (Abr. 2:8) He proves He is God by declaring beforehand. (Isa. 42:9) It is for one purpose: To prove God knows beforehand. (Isa. 48:3-5) It is not to allow us to know, only to prove after the event has happened that God knew of it beforehand.
For example, when Christ was here, the scriptures did not inform His followers in sufficient detail for them to recognize who He was or what He was sent to do. They did not understand the need for Him to die at Jerusalem. (Matt. 16:21-22) They did not expect His resurrection and did not believe it when first told it had happened. (Luke 24:9-11) When He expounded the scriptures to Cleopas and a companion on the Road to Emmaus the day of His resurrection, they did not understand the scriptures foretold all the events until after He explained it for them. (Luke 24:13-32) Even after seeing Him they did not understand the prophetically foretold new dispensation and their obligations to act in spreading the word. They returned to fishing. (John 21:1-5) These were the ones most directly in contact with the most important, most prophetically foretold figure in history. But they were unable to understand Him or recognize His role when He came. It was only after His ministry ended that He acquired the identity, the recognition and the role that vindicated prophecy.
Prophecy is not understood until after it is fulfilled. Those friends who think they have a “key” to interpret events and know how God will fulfill the prophecies cause them to miss what happens in plain sight right in front of them. Their “key” is another form of conceit.
Buddhists: I have friends who are Buddhist/Mormon or Mormon-Buddhists. They think their study of eastern mysticism gives them an advantage in enlightenment. I have had several conversations that illustrate the difficulties of a mere transcendent enlightenment experience.
In visionary encounters, friends have seen themselves as an enlightened beings, and in that role experienced peace, joy and love. They have overcome the pains, jealousies and distress of the mortal sphere, and believe this reflects great credit upon themselves. In fact, almost all come to see themselves through enlightenment as having independent worth, no longer in need of a savior or the Christ. They think themselves equal to the Christ and responsible for their own salvation.
The frequent comment I have heard from these transcendental meditation practitioners is that there is no need of a savior. We are all god.
With newfound enlightenment they have become more dissatisfied with LDS Mormonism than before, ceased activity, and within a few years disassociated altogether from Mormonism. This has caused problems in their family relationships as they seek for something more.
We all have need of a savior. None of us come to the Father apart from Christ. Salvation depends on our rescue by Him. Seeing ourselves in that role does not make it our role. We are given a glimpse of what He is like for the purpose of making us appreciate Him, seek for Him, model Him, and understand Him. When we are relieved of pain it is because He knows how to succor each of us in our weakness and sin. (Alma 7:12) Experiencing that relief is not to make us proud and independent, but to draw us closer to Him.
These Buddhist friends, as many others who seek for and obtain visionary encounters, neglect their responsibility to then take what has been shown them and integrate the understanding of it into the pattern set out in scripture. If they use the scriptures to guide their understanding they would have known that Christ is the only one who can deliver us, forgive sins, heal afflictions and provide us comfort. Instead of accepting the truth in scripture, many of them assume the newfound Buddhist explanation negates the need for a savior. But it is the Lord, not mere man, who was God. And abandoning Christ because of an encounter with “enlightenment” is going backward, not forward.
Progressive Social Ideas: I have a friend whose feminist leanings inspire all of his analysis of scripture, Joseph Smith’s sermons, and the temple rites. He advocates for a Divine Feminine Christ figure, and even names her. His keen insights into inequities and priestly exploitation of women are valuable and much of what he notices is entirely accurate. His solutions do not persuade me. They create more problems, in my view, and are contrary to the very scriptures he uses to support his arguments. I do not dispute him, and find a great deal of value in reading his ideas and analysis. He at least has the commitment and desire to search carefully, think deeply, and advocate forcefully about gospel topics. His voice should be allowed to add to the discussion. He uncovers the problems and makes them undeniable.
I do not have an agenda, political goal, or social cause. I want to conform my thinking to what I can understand of God’s will. It is more important to me to learn of God’s will than it is for me to change God’s will. I doubt very much my own insights will ever be wiser, more compassionate, or better informed than God’s. In that regard, all ideas (including my friends’) must first be advocated by God, and not opposed by scripture, before I could accept them.
I do not verbally or openly disagree or argue with any of these friends. Their ideas are interesting to me, and I enjoy their passion. I do not share their viewpoints, nor believe their ideas are necessary for me to either accept or correct. I try to do what I am asked, when I am asked, and how I am asked. I leave all else for the Lord to manage. I am but a single individual, and no one person can accomplish what God alone controls.
I say only a tiny fraction of what I understand, even with all I have spoken, written and published.
Friends have many strongly held beliefs, insights and opinions. They belong to them, not to me. I have no spokesman. No one should replace what I have taught openly, published and recorded (in now publicly available sources) by another, purportedly private discussion as what I “really think” about some mystery. I do not and have not ratified or endorsed any of the causes, claims or precepts advanced by others.
I speak for myself directly and without an agent. I let others speak for themselves.
There can be no doubt baptism is necessary. As explained in the Book of Mormon:
And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water? Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove. And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them. And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. (2 Ne. 31:5-11.)
It is required of us for our salvation because Christ made it so and the scriptures unequivocally state that is the case. There is no question about its necessity. The only question is: is your baptism sufficient as the Lord is preparing for His return? Ask yourself these simple questions: Would you be willing to participate in a rite designed by God to show you have repented? Is there any merit for you to establish a record today to show that you have repented? Do you acknowledge baptism a required sign requested by God for us to perform as a sign of our repentance?
Remember the Lord’s warning in 1831: “I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.” (D&C 45:2.)
Recall Jeremiah’s vision of the end when the Lord returns again: “Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:19-20.) “Graven images” can include anything and anyone which offers itself up as an object of devotion supplanting Christ. “Strange vanities” include well reasoned arguments fashioned to build up false faith or tear down true faith. Either one will leave us unsaved at the coming harvest if we do not repent, and accept the terms Christ established, including baptism.
Please consider whether the day may come when you may want to have been baptized to show your current repentance by the act Christ established as necessary for everyone’s salvation. Even His own.
I got an email from a friend complaining about Keith Henderson’s recent communications with him. The specific complaint is not important (or I would include it here). But the issue raised other thoughts which I think important enough to copy and post here. This was my response:
I have a couple of observations:
Baptism for the dead belongs in a temple, built to the Lord and accepted by Him.
Baptism for the dead by the Mormon community was rejected by the Lord because of the failure in Nauvoo. (D&C 124:31-32.) We are not going to cure the problem until the original conditions are met. A temple must be accepted and visited by the Lord as His House (D&C 124:28) for Him to restore the fullness. Baptism for the dead belongs only there.
We cannot meet the requirements for acceptable baptism for the dead on any other basis than what has been revealed.
L. Tom Perry of the twelve is now in advanced stages of terminal cancer. He will be receiving hospice care and is expected to pass in a few days.
He was the first General Authority of the LDS Church I met. After baptism on September 10, 1973 I traveled to Salt Lake City for General Conference the following month. I was told by ward members in New Hampshire that Elder Perry had been the stake president over the New England area before it was divided, and therefore many of them remembered him as their stake president. I was urged to try to see him and pass along their regards. Accordingly, I went to the Church Administration Building (without any appointment) and asked the guard if I could visit with L. Tom Perry. The guard was unfriendly, discouraging me from making the attempt, but reluctantly contacted Elder Perry about my request. To his surprise, Elder Perry came down quickly to the front door and escorted me inside for a visit.
He was gregarious, with a big-smile and warm, welcoming demeanor. He may seem a bit stiff on TV, but in person he was kindly, even disarming. For a less-than-a-month convert I was taken by how welcoming this high-up church leader was. He may have been “up” atop the organization, but he wasn’t at all uppity. I passed along the regards of those in New Hampshire and he seemed to genuinely appreciate them remembering him.
Within two months of that visit with him in October 1973, President Harold B. Lee died, and the following April L. Tom Perry was added to the twelve. His passing will mark another milestone in the loss of leaders who were there when I first joined the LDS Church. The only ones remaining now in leadership who were there at the beginning are Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer and L. Tom Perry.
I wish him and his family well. It saddens me to see him depart.
Days of distress are upon Baghdad and the days of their troubles are begun. Distress shall overtake them, for those who come shall have no pity.
Questions can be endless. Therefore I largely ignore them. But I responded to an email today and post it here because a few others may be interested:
Can LDS Temple ordinances have “power?”
It is an interesting question. The answer depends on each individual who participates. The ordinances can be either meaningless (or worse) or they can be beneficial.
Temple rites communicate information through symbols. If we look at the underlying meaning, and see more light and truth through them, then they can powerfully instruct and edify.
The rites warn us we need to be “true and faithful in all things” when we seek “further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil”–which is very good. Faithfulness to what light we’ve been given is a prerequisite for getting more light. Knowing that gaining further light and knowledge is possible, actually expected, is essential. Believing that God will converse with us is also foundational to salvation.
Perhaps the greatest idea is that we can converse with God through the veil preliminary to entering into His presence. In that idea is found the promise of communication with God, followed by Him allowing us to visit with Him through the veil. Every soul who has faith in that and acts consistent with their faith will obtain the most glorious assurances from God. They will not be barren or unfruitful in their knowledge.
If the rites are viewed as some authoritative guarantee of something in the afterlife, without regard to our need to search, they can be destructive. Instead of a humility and meekness before God, the false idea that the rites make you special, chosen or better than others can lead to pride and arrogance. That separates us from God. It increases the distance between ourselves and the light of truth. Such an approach makes the rites a tragic and negative misstep instead of a blessing.
I would encourage everyone to reflect on the message of the temple rites. In the right frame of mind, their symbols are useful. The form presently presented in LDS Temples is still a useful collection of symbolic teaching about the mortal quest to find God.
I have reconsidered a great deal while searching deeper and deeper into Mormonism, history, and teachings. It is very challenging to remain open to new ideas. This is particularly so when the object of Mormonism is to obtain further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil.
For more than three decades I repeated and concurred with what Brigham Young said of Emma Smith:
- “To my certain knowledge, Emma Smith is one of the damnedest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told here where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he ‘You got that poison from so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. he spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him. [Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 48, Winter 1980, 82] October 1868 General Conference, also found at The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 4, p. 2378.
I no longer hold Brigham Young in the same high regard I used to. He is not always a reliable source for truthful history. He viewed Emma as a competitor, who threatened property he wanted. She ultimately assisted a rival church which potentially undermined the organization he headed. He NEEDED to discredit her. His campaign worked so well that apart from the few paragraphs mentioning her in the 1933 Relief Society Magazine (a woman’s publication then controlled by women) there was nothing favorable published about her by the LDS Church for more than a century after her death. It was on September 16, 1978, when the Church News ran a favorable article, Two Great Women. The other Great Woman of that article was Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph’s mother.
Brigham Young’s damnation of Emma influenced others. Brigham’s story about Emma poisoning Joseph has drifted into conventional wisdom and become “the truth” for LDS Mormonism. Acute indigestion, ulcers, food contamination, gallstones, an allergic reaction or any number of things could have caused Joseph’s symptoms. In an age without refrigeration, the conclusion it was poisoning seems hasty.
Joseph’s journals do not support Brigham’s claim because a few hours after vomiting he attended a prayer meeting. All the poison available in that day that would have been strong enough to induce immediate vomiting would not have allowed Joseph to recover to the point of attending a meeting a few hours later. This incident is discussed by Linda King Newell in Mormon Dialogue, The Emma Smith Lore Reconsidered, Vol. 17-3 (Autumn 1984) pp. 87-100.
Brigham Young’s campaign against Emma included accusations that she was responsible for Joseph’s death. He characterized her as a semi-apostate opponent to Mormonism before Joseph’s death and a renegade, wicked woman after. Her place in Mormon history has been forever marred by his campaign. Others who knew her testified of her devotion, loyalty and love of her husband, Joseph. When Joseph had another bout of stomach ailment the next month, it was Emma who nursed him back from this episode. Given his repeated stomach ailments in the immediate time frame, it is doubtful Emma poisoned him, and doubtful Joseph would accuse her of that and then trust her the following month to nurse him back to health when suffering worse symptoms.
Of all the injustices to our history, perhaps Brigham Young’s worst offense was alienating Emma from the Mormon people in a way to leave her a legacy of harsh, judgmental condemnation for nearly two centuries.
Neither Emma Smith nor Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, had any economic, social, or personal reason to distance themselves from the body of Saints. The 18,000 or so Mormons would have cared for them, protected them, and given them assistance for the remainder of their lives. Yet both of them declined to follow Brigham Young and the twelve. The conventional LDS Mormon wisdom is that it was because of their apostasy. But LDS Mormonism uses that charge against anyone and anything that does not praise LDS leadership. It is more likely that the frequent charge of “apostasy” has been and is a cover for institutional insecurity. It is a highly charged term which closes minds and prevents rational thought.
Only by open acceptance of criticism, even inviting criticism, can a person, institution or group remain healthy. Every idea or teaching should be openly discussed, tested against scripture and common sense, weighed for its effects, and held open for refinement, correction or reconsideration.
I have come to the conclusion that Brigham Young is not reliable. If he told me the sun was shining I would want to look out a window before believing him. He may have told the truth on occasion, but other sources should be audited to see if he is corroborated before taking his word on anything. Even the LDS Church has “unequivocally condemned” him in their essay on Blacks and the Priesthood. He deserves the LDS Church’s unequivocal condemnation. He also has mine.
Trusting God and being patient go together.
Knowledge enters our life incrementally, a little at a time, as we notice it and focus on it. Light grows brighter and brighter because we become more sensitive to it. Oddly, we choose how much light we have by how much we notice.
The entire “universe” was once thought to be nothing more than our Milky Way galaxy. But our ability to detect has been magnified by lenses, greatly expanding our ability to see more. The universe did not change, but our ability to see more of it did. We have only recently been able to see the same distant lights that have shone overhead for thousands of years.
The scriptures have been with us for thousands of years (in some cases) and over a hundred years in almost all cases. But our sensitivity to them is so dull we are unable to perceive the light they contain.
Incorporating light into our minds is not accomplished only by hearing, reading or watching, but grows as we act on it. The scriptures are a guide to allow us to have our own experiences walking the path God’s people have walked since Adam.
There are two variations in the scriptures of the same concept regarding the Melchizedek Priesthood. One in the New Testament and the other in 1832.
From the New Testament, Hebrews 7:12-21:
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law was administered without an oath and made nothing perfect, but was only the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as this high priest was not without an oath, by so much was Jesus made the surety of a better testament.
he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
(In addition to the emphasis of bold and underlines, I have shown the JST changes to this text in red lettering and cross-out.)
The reference in Hebrews to the Lord swearing the oath to confer this priesthood is a quote from Psalms 110:4: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is part of a Messianic Psalm and describes Christ.
Then in 1832, D&C 84:33-40:
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
In both cases the “oath” is God’s. God is the one who confirms upon the recipient this priesthood and makes him to be His priest. When God makes this oath it is after the recipient has been so thoroughly proven that God “will not repent” and remove the authority given to the recipient.
Those who receive it likewise “receive” Christ, because they know Him and have stood in His presence. After receiving Him, Christ then brings them to the Father and the Father likewise “receives” the recipient. The Father is the one who then swears to the recipient that “all He [the Father] has shall be given to the recipient” because this is God’s oath to those few mortals who ever receive this priesthood. They are on a course which will lead them to become like His Son and like Himself.
Some men imagine this happens when a young man gets approval by a local congregation and some quorum leader “confers” this priesthood. That is fanciful imagination. The reality is that this is a very rare event, happening infrequently in mankind’s temporal history. God has made provision to deal with the frequent absence of this authority among men by having some linger here, as John the Beloved has agreed to do.
Christ serves as the model for these recipients, and He is the one who best exemplifies the kind of man to whom God the Father would declare, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Vanity is a poor substitute for redemption. As Joseph Smith put it, “How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart!” When men get a little authority, as they suppose (or in other words, as they imagine), they begin to abuse one another.
Those God trusts are like Moses, who “was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num. 12:3.) This is why the 1832 revelation calls the recipients “the sons of Moses.” (D&C 84:34.)
When pretenders exercise control, dominion and compulsion over one another it discourages the hearts of those who seek for God. The poor example makes everyone wary of the idea of “authority” given by God. Remember the Great Example of the Great High Priest, Christ. He knelt and washed others’ feet. He did not seek out the chief seats. He was cast out and associated with the least, proclaiming that it was they who were favored by God. He was despised and rejected because He held no position, rank or authority in the social order of His day. He called the presiding authorities of His time hypocrites, whited sepulchers filled with death and decay.
Christ came to serve, not to rule and reign with violence and intimidation. HE is the model of what real authority looks like. Real authority elevates others. It kneels to serve. It has others’ best interests in mind to the point of sacrificing everything to serve and save others. It is impossible to imagine Christ escorting the self-important into God the Father’s presence to have him given authority. The stink of such a man’s death and decay would contaminate the halls of heaven.
It is almost always the case that non-scriptural, anti-Christ ideas are likely to be rejected–until it is the “doctrine” or “dogma” of an institution. Then, because of mankind’s insecurities, falsehoods get propped up beyond all criticism because of the influence the institution holds in this world. It is the worldliness of the lie that makes it so appealing, so reassuring. Lies enjoy success which are so very unlike the example of the itinerate preacher Jesus, who submitted to others, paid the temple priests, paid taxes to Caesar, was cast out of the synagogues– and who founded the religion now profaned by wealthy men saying, but not doing, as He commanded.
On November 7, 1837 a general assembly of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held at Far West, Missouri. The minutes of the meeting recount the following:
[Sidney Rigdon as the Moderator of the meeting] nominated Joseph Smith jr. the first President of the whole Church, to preside over the same. All were requested (males and females,) to vote—who was unanimously chosen. He then made a few remarks, accepting the appointment requesting the prayers of the Church in his behalf.
President Smith then nominated Prest. Sidney Rigdon to be one of his counselors—who was unanimously chosen.
He then nominated Fredrick G Williams to be his next counsillor who was objected to by Elder Lyman Wight in a few remarks referring to a certain letter written to this place by the said Frederick G Williams Also Elder Marsh objected to Prest Williams Elder James Emmet also objected to Prest Williams
Bishop Edward Partridge said he seconded Prest. William’s nomination and should vote for him; and as to said letter, he had heard it, and saw nothing so criminal in it
President David Whitmer also made a few remarks in Prest. Williams’ favor.
Elder Marsh made further remarks.
Elder Thomas Grover also objected to Prest. Williams.
Prest. S. Rigdon then nominated Prest. Hyrum Smith to take Prest. Williams’ place. He then called for a vote in favor of Prest. Williams’ who was rejected. He then called for a vote in favor of Prest Hyrum Smith, which was carried unanimously.
Minutes of the Far West High Council, November 7, 1837.
In those days dissenting votes did not make headlines. They were normal, even expected. The views of members were considered important, and leaders were not above criticism or rejection.
A minister named Nephi was preaching in the years preceding Christ’s visit to the Americas. He was clearly authorized by God, as we read in Mormon’s abridgment. This is the description: “we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity—“ (3 Ne. 8:1.)
“Thus passed away the thirty and second year also. And Nephi did cry unto the people in the commencement of the thirty and third year; and he did preach unto them repentance and remission of sins. Now I would have you to remember also, that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water. Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins. And there were many in the commencement of this year that were baptized unto repentance; and thus the more part of the year did pass away.” (3 Ne. 7:23-26.)
Two years later Christ visited the same people Nephi had been preaching, ministering and baptizing. However, once Christ appeared, the earlier, authoritative baptisms were redone. Here is the record of what Christ required: “And Nephi [that same man] arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet. And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” (3 Ne. 11: 19-26.)
Nephi had authority to baptize before Christ came. When Christ came, He gave Nephi the authority to baptize again. Nephi baptized a group of people, then he baptized the same group of people a second time – he rebaptized them. Rebaptism is a sound gospel principle and is practiced every time God sends a message. The correct way to accept and proceed is to renew baptism, just like these people in the Book of Mormon did.