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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.