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What a difference an inning makes

I was at the Alta-Jordan baseball game yesterday.  It was almost unwatchable for the first three innings.  There were 6 runs scored without a single hit.  The 3-3 tie was the result of hit batters, walks, errors, and general bad play.  Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe the mess that went on in the beginning of the game.
 
Then both teams seemed to get over their hesitation and actually remember how to play again.
 
Jordan had an 11-6 lead going into the last at-bat in the top of the 7th inning.  Alta needed 5 runs to tie the game.  They put together a string of hits which pushed 5 runs over the plate and tied the game.
 
In the bottom of the 7th, Jordan got runners on, and had runners at the corners with only 1 out.  Alta’s defense rose to the occasion and kept them scoreless.
 
In the extra inning, at the top of the 8th, Alta pushed two runs over.  Then held Jordan scoreless in the bottom of the inning to take a 13-11 win. 
 
Worst three beginning innings of baseball I think I’ve seen in High School play.  Best five innings thereafter I’ve seen.  What a difference!

Have you heard Christ sing?

I had the following article brought to my attention:
 
 
It is my view that Christ’s Sermon on the Mount was actually a hymn.  It was announced as a form of “new law” or higher path.  Those to whom He addressed it would have readily recognized the propriety of it being sung, as the article above reflects.
 
I was then asked if I had heard Christ sing.  I replied, “We all have, but only a few can now remember it.”

An explanation

This came to me through an email and I thought I should address it here.  This is the email I received:
 
“I got information through the grapevine about a woman who is claiming that Denver ordained her to do something and that he put his hands on her head and set her apart for some type of work.  I don’t know all the details, but I was not happy when I heard that.  I know that he wouldn’t do that but thought that Denver should know that this woman is going around telling people this.”
 
I thought I would put it on the blog and explain.
 
First, I don’t have any idea what woman this is referring to; nor for that matter who wrote the information in the email. It was just forwarded to me, and I was given permission by the one who forwarded it to use it on the blog.
 
Second, I’ve not “ordained” a woman to do anything.  Nor do I intend to “ordain” a woman to do anything. 
 
Third, I have given blessings to my wife, daughters, home teaching assignments who are sisters, and other women who have asked from time to time, just as others do who hold priesthood and are asked to give a blessing.  That has never involved “ordaining” a woman to some assignment or work.
 
Finally, the only women I have “set apart” for an assignment was done while I served in a Bishopric at BYU, or while serving on the High Council.  Apart from that I haven’t “set apart” any woman.  I’ve done numerous “setting apart” assignments in Elder’s Quorums, and other assignments, but those were men.

All is well in Zion

According to the Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Restoration occurred because of the apostasy of Historic Christianity.  All churches “were wrong” and their “professors  were all corrupt.”  “All their creeds were an abomination.”  The people who inhabited these churches “draw near [to God] with their lips, but their hearts are far from” Him.  (JS-H 1: 19.)
 
This is the historic moment which justifies the Restoration.  It forces a choice upon the world. Mormonism is either correct, or it has no reason to exist.

This forces The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into a dilemma.  It must either proclaim that it is the only repository of saving truth, or it must strike a compromise which betrays the reason for its existence.  

 
Jesus Christ did not intend to let those who follow the work He was to commission through Joseph Smith to become popular, successful, or live in peace.  He intended to put them at odds with all the rest of the world.  The very reason for His strange act was to notify anyone who heard about it that they were to repent, change, accept new truths, or remain “corrupt” and with “hearts far from Him.”  It is an instant challenge to the world.
 
When we shape the message of the Restoration into a vocabulary which does not offend, we miss the point.  We are REQUIRED to offend.  We are REQUIRED to sound the alarm to “Awake! Arise!”  When the message to those who accept the Historic Christian faiths is that “you’re OK” we are contradicting Christ’s opening statement to Joseph Smith.
 
All of this is only true if what we are doing is continuing the work begun by Joseph Smith.  If we have abandoned what he restored, then never mind.  We can fit in and get along.  In fact, we can not only fit in and get along, but we can even mimic the other mainstream faiths of the day. We can adopt a positive mental attitude, and proclaim:  “All is well in Zion, Babylon, Athens, Rome and Nineveh.  In fact, all is well everywhere.  Don’t get up.  Stay asleep.  We’re just here to help make you feel better about yourself.”

HBO and Politicians

My wife has become a Republican County Delegate again.  I stayed home.
Given the sorry state of the current political class, I’m just glad when the political scandal of the day doesn’t involve sodomy of a parrot.

Sobbing politicians blubbering how sorry they are for the DUI/nude hot-tubbing with underage girls/oral sex or drug use require me to then explain to my kids things I would rather defer until they are older.  What good is it to not buy HBO when the evening news features Republicans and Democrats confessing sins as sordid as anything we get in R-rated movies?

Central America or North America?

I used to view the subject of where the events in Book of Mormon took place as one of those trivial matters (2 on my earlier scale).  However, I’ve found that FARMS has become quite animated about the subject.  They are quite critical of the North American model.  This has somewhat raised the subject’s importance in my view.
There are two views. One is that the events took place in Central America.  The other is that they occurred in North America.  The best explanation of the Central American setting is John Sorenson’s book: An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, published by FARMS.  The best defense of the North American setting is Bruce Porter and Rod Meldrum’s book Prophecies and Promises – The Book of Mormon and the United States of America.  FARMS gave a very critical review of the Porter/Meldrum book.
I used to think this subject was unimportant enough to allow it to remain undecided.  After reading both sides’ arguments, I am inclined to believe it has more significance if you accept Bruce Porter and Rod Meldrum’s view.  If you accept their view, then Joseph Smith knew something more about the Book of Mormon’s events than Sorenson advances.  Also the fit of Book of Mormon prophecies into a highly focused unfolding of events also follows.  In fact, the D&C comes into sharper focus when you accept the Porter/Meldrum view.
I am inclined to now view this as an important or very important issue (7 or 8 on my earlier scale).  I think everyone ought to read those two books and decide the subject for themselves.  Since the Sorenson book was written first, and the Porter/Meldrum book is somewhat a response to it, I think they should be read in that order.

Abinadi’s message

The significance of a prophet’s message can never be measured by the extent to which he is accepted or even acknowledged by his peers.  In the case of Abinadi, he was an outcast whose origins and even ethnic affiliation are unknown.  He is the only person in the Book of Mormon with this name.  His lineage cannot be determined from the name, and whether he is Nephite, Lamanite, or some “other” is not disclosed.

His only credential was his message.  He came to announce warnings, was rejected, and ultimately killed.  He had no success with the people, and made only one convert.

Abinadi is a hinge character around whom the entire remainder of the Book of Mormon will center.  His one convert, Alma, will become the spiritual leader of the Nephites, and that convert will become the leading writer of the Book of Mormon. Then his posterity will be the focus of the remaining history of the Book of Mormon.

Abinadi’s prophecies were cited from the time he delivered them to the end of the Book of Mormon. But measured by the events of his life, he failed.  His one convert fled persecution and hid in the wilderness.

However, measured by the full sweep of history, he is the pivotal character, the central figure from the time of his appearance until the end of the Book of Mormon.

I think there’s a profound lesson in Abinadi’s appearance and legacy.  If the Book of Mormon was edited by those who “saw our day,” and was edited to foreshadow our own history, then we ought to be cautious about discarding a message from someone like Abinadi.

The only meaningful credential is the content of the message.  Trappings of office, genealogy, name, status, and standing were all irrelevant to Abinadi.

Truth

There is “truth” which exists independent of what we think or believe.  (I use the word in the same sense as D&C 93: 24-25.)  Our collective forgetfulness does not erase truth.  Nor does our vain imagination alter truth. 
 
Whenever a doctrine is changed because of man’s planning or arguments, then we are teaching for commandments the doctrines of men; just as Christ complained to Joseph in the First Vision.  (JS-H 1: 19.)
 
During the Third and Fourth Centuries the debates over “adoptionism” were causing doctrinal havoc for the Christian movement.  As they solidified control over the movement, the leaders of the developing Historic Christian faith had a plan to cure the schism involving arguments that Christ was just a man who had been “adopted” at His baptism to become the Son of God.  The original words spoken at His baptism came from Psalms 2: 7.  These words supported the “adoptionist’s” arguments.  The answer was simple – change the text of the Gospels.  So they edited the words and changed them from saying, “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” to instead, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matt. 3: 17.)  That drove a stake in the heart of the “adoptionist” arguments.
 
Bart D. Ehrman has shown how this, and other controversies, affected the text of the New Testament in his book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament.
 
Patterns in history have a way of repeating themselves.  Men almost always find it easier to change doctrine than to conform to the truth; and to edit books to fit their failures than to follow direction.  Our challenge is to learn the right lessons from history. We should not succumb to the easy advantages of changing the principles our religion is founded on, in order to accomplish “good” and repel criticism by adapting to meet the critics’ arguments.
 
Truth is immutable and unchanging.  We either conform to it or apostatize from it.  We can’t change it.
 
How grateful I am to still have prophets among us.

First principles of the Gospel

Someone asked this question:

In one part of Come, Let Us Adore Him you talk about the Dispensation in the Meridian of Time.  How “Men of good faith and sincere desire doing their best to follow after God, lost the light of the Spirit, then lost sound doctrine, and ultimately lost their covenant status and drifted into darkness.” Did you mean this collectively?  Over time as a group?  As an individual of good faith, sincere desire, doing their best to follow after God, losing the light of the spirit, then sound doctrine and later drifting into darkness….   How tragic.  If after all that they still failed, what then is our hope for an individual now, in our dispensation?  Are we doomed to the same outcome?  I see many following the same course as anciently.  

My answer:

It is troubling.  It is the terrible problem of mortality.  We are all prone to drift and fail.  It is only by constant renewal of faith that we can hope to succeed.  No matter how far we have come, what great things we have obtained, we are still subject to failure.  This is why the FIRST principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: “faith, repentance, baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  We never outgrow these FIRST principles.

I believe them to be “FIRST” in the sense of primacy, not a singular event which happens and then you can take them off the list of stuff to do.  They are primary. They are foundational.  They are required to be used constantly.  Therefore, they are “FIRST.”

So, we always go forward in faith.  No matter how much we already know, we must use faith to go forward.  We live within the limitation of linear time.  We experience things in a flow that happens without our control.  Life unfolds as an unknown to us, and we must cope with all it hands us from day to day.  That requires faith to confront this uncontrolled, unfolding stream of time in which we are presently confined. 

Repentance is required because even if we are doing what we should be doing we are always going to learn more.  It is the nature of the Gospel that our light should increase.  Whenever we learn more, we must change to reflect what we have just gained.  Change is the heart of repentance. 

Baptism is to have sins washed away.  If you are already baptized, then the ordinance does not need to be done again, but the remission of sins and washing them away is required repeatedly.  For those already baptized, this is done through the Sacrament. It is still required for us to have sins remitted.

The Holy Ghost is should be a regular participant in our lives.  Its renewed companionship is also primary.  Its witness to us that we are on the right path is the only way to wage the necessary war against entropy which seeks to take you into darkness.  It is the source of renewed light that always enlightens when it comes. 

These are the only means by which we can avoid the same dismal fate as all others of all prior dispensations.  We must do this individually.  It does not matter if it is done collectively. I’ve yet to see any reason in the scriptures to expect great collective success by the Gentiles who inherit the Gospel in our dispensation.  There are individual promises to the few Gentiles who will repent, have faith, be baptized, enter into the covenant and remain faithful.  But the collective outcome is not particularly rosy.