A Kindle edition of Passing the Heavenly Gift is now available. It does not come up on the “Book” site on Amazon as yet. That will happen in due course. But if you go to the Kindle Store on Amazon, it is there.
The oral arguments this week before the US Supreme Court were interesting. They foreshadow a trend advanced by legal activists intent on taxing and punishing churches opposed to homosexual marriage. It is doubtful they will succeed in a single step (although they may), but their objective is now clear.
The cultural and social trends are headed in the direction advanced by pro-gay legal activism. Those under age 25 are overwhelmingly either indifferent or favor legalizing gay marriage. That includes Latter-day Saints. The LDS leaders know if they can delay the legal trend for another decade-and-a-half then they could accept gay marriage without any significant opposition by its membership. By that time, open acceptance will produce the same “it’s about time” reaction to gay marriage as did the 1978 change in priesthood for black members.
The paper I presented at last year’s Sunstone Symposium (Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge) is available on this site. It anticipated these trends.
The reason some will embrace all changes made to the church can be summarized as: “Jesus is in control and the leaders follow Him. Therefore, making the change to open acceptance of gay-marriage will be acceptable to Jesus. It is God’s will.”
The reason others will oppose the change can be summarized: “The scriptures unequivocally condemn homosexuality. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, God cannot accept homosexuality without changing; which is impossible. If the leaders make this change they are not in harmony with God.”
Cultural Latter-day Saints view the topic of gay rights without any concern about God. They doubt God cares one way or another. But they’d like to see the church open to everyone, including homosexuals.
The debate is unlikely to produce consensus among Mormons any more than the US Supreme Court ruling on the present appeal will produce a consensus in the country. We are no longer able to agree and so we look for those in power to provide an answer. We are polarized and intolerant even as we insist we are more tolerant.
If we were actually “tolerant” we would allow one another to defend and attack homosexuality as both uneventful and normal on one side and abhorrent and vile on the other. One side could defend it as the product of love, while the other condemns it as sinful and offensive to God. We would allow everyone to believe as they will, and openly declare what they believe and why they believe it. We would consider what everyone has to say on the subject and allow the ebb and flow of the discussion to continue while we seek for a consensus we may never find. But we don’t do that. We sue. We want the crude ax of legalism to force an outcome because we are unable or unwilling to persuade one another. Institutional Mormons want the leaders to dictate an answer for them, and expect everyone to jump aboard. Getting someone in authority to decide, relieves them of the painful process of reasoning, doubting, struggling and considering opposing views.
Our society is divided against itself, and tearing itself apart.
We have lost the capacity for critical thinking and suspending judgment while carefully considering a subject. Differing views are shouted down. It is painful for us to allow a competing thought to have an open venue for discussion. It threatens our security. When an idea threatens those who want power to enforce “truth,” then the idea is subversive, dangerous and hateful. Important ideas are dismissed as “phobic” and “hate-speech” when they have a legitimate right to be heard and considered.
Are there cultural, social, even biological differences between races? Are we permitted to discuss them? Is it racist? If so, is racism actually improper? Was Jesus racist when he referred to the Greek woman as a “dog” and the Jews as “children?” (Mark 7:24-28.) Was Abraham, the father of the righteous, racist when he instructed his servant to keep Isaac from intermarrying with Canaanites? (Gen. 24:1-4.) Was God the Father racist when He sent His Son only to the lost sheep of Israel? (Matt. 15:22-24.) Do any of these stories in that old book matter any longer?
Does history matter? Do recent inequities matter more than inequities suffered long ago? Are we responsible for the conduct of our ancestors. Does one generation owe another (long dead group of people) anything for the conduct of their progenitors. Are the circumstances of our birth accidental? Did God have the right to divide nations and assign them their circumstances? (Deu. 4:19.) Did God have the right to give some nations more, and others less, of His word? (Alma 29:8.)
What ideas are illegitimate? Which ones should be censored? Why does a secular society ever have “heresies” that cannot be talked about? If there are “heretical” ideas, can the society ever claim it is secular? Is it not just practicing another religion while claiming the opposite?
The trends we see unfolding are part of a false religion designed to control our minds and rob us of freedom. It falsely claims to be advancing the agenda of eliminating evil. Disagreement is not evil. It is essential. Opposing ideas are not vile, nor are they harmful. They are required.
The US elected a “community organizer” to lead it, and now reaps the reward of that ill-advised choice. Community organizing is grounded in stirring up discontent, protest and even violent reactions to mobilize social change. The community organizer does not have the skills to lead. It claims to be able to “lead from behind,” but that is not true leadership. The idea is to cause social exhaustion. Once enough people are upset, a dramatic and foolish solution can be adopted by people weary of dealing with the anger, protest and complaining. This is never a wise way for a society to conduct itself. It collapses thought, censors ideas and harms itself. Ultimately, it opens the door for a desperate population to choose poorly and accept bad solutions to end the chaos.
There is little chance we can make the necessary changes to be more reasonable, thoughtful and open with ideas. We are stricken and bound in chains because our minds are incapable of seeing the lies that imprison us. It is just a small step from where we are to a complete social collapse. To liberate ourselves from that terrible end, we need to repent and return. We do not need fewer ideas, we need more. We do not need less discussion, we need much more. We need to remember Joseph Smith’s description of how souls are saved, “…the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity–thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations–too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God.” (TPJS, p. 137.)
Which one of you, having a garden with both good and bad fruit, when the harvest comes will gather into your home both the good and the bad? Would you not gather the good, and leave the bad behind to be burned?
The Lord’s hand moves and it is largely unrecognized by the world. Most of those who see it reject outright what they see. Generations pass, and finally acceptance comes too late. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36.) Those who belong to it are strangers and sojourners here. Nuisances to those who do not see.
Christ was born in a small Roman-controlled province, far from the world’s power, governmental and social center. During His life, few people knew of Him. Of those who knew of Him, most rejected His message. Even more obscure was His forerunner, John the Baptist.
Christ explained that John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” (Luke 7:26) He declared, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet then John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28.) This messenger, although sent by God, was rejected by those in authority, while accepted and followed by the “least” among them:
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:29-30.) The people, including the lowly publicans, believed and were baptized. But the proud leaders rejected God’s counsel delivered by John. God’s counsel condemned them and told them to repent. They would not accept that counsel because it was “against” them.
Christ reflected on the sad state of affairs: “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:31-34.) It does not matter how the message is given, nor who the Lord sends, the world rejects, criticizes and judges.
Christ formally began His ministry in Nazareth in His local synagogue. He had been there many times before. Like He had done many times, He participated in the Sabbath service. This time, however, He offended those who heard Him because of His message:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, [He was in the habit of regular attendance at this synagogue. This Sabbath He would begin a new ministry.] and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place [He searched for these verses. He had a message to deliver and found where it was foretold.] where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me [He was the Messiah, or one anointed by God.] to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [See Isa. 61:1-2] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, [He started by unequivocally declaring He was the fulfillment of the prophecy.] This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. [The rest of His words are not recorded, but they were gracious and filled with light.] And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? [The idea someone as common as Jesus, who grew up among them, could be God’s anointed was too difficult to accept.] And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: [Which would be fulfilled as He was on the cross (see Luke 23:25; 27:41-42).] whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. [Not every one was saved, and not every one knew about it as it happened. Obscurity at the time it happens is never an accurate way to measure God’s hand.] And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. [They could sense something powerful in His message.] (Luke 4:16-32.)
The fact that God sends a messenger, (or even His Son), does not mean the world will notice or accept it while the message is being delivered. Only a few are ever willing to hear His voice. But the few who do are always chosen by God and acknowledged by Him as “His sheep.” (John 10:27.) They suffer rejection but then learn to understand the Lord through experiences shared with Him. He does not leave them comfortless. He manifests Himself to them, (John 14:18) because their hearts are broken and their spirits contrite. This is His gospel and it was meant to be lived. Very few people notice. Great things in God’s eyes are not the same thing as great things to this world. But those who choose to notice are given treasures of understanding. They hear, see and understand things which are entirely hidden from the world.
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The 40 Years in Mormonism talks available on this site are being put onto YouTube as well. They will be available there and remain available here. At this moment, the first two of them have been put up.
David was a man “after the Lord’s own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22.) But David “hath fallen from his exaltation[.]” (D&C 132:39.)
If A=B then B=A. Therefore it can be likewise said that Christ was a man “after David’s own heart.”
Was the Lord considering David’s situation when He refused to use power given Him to satisfy His hunger? (Matt. 4:3-4.) Was David on the Lord’s mind when He instructed those He healed to “tell no man?” (Matt. 8:3-4; Mark 7:32-36; Luke 8:54-56.) Did the Lord know admiration and praise had been toxic to David and would likewise be toxic to Him?
Was the Lord thinking of David when He refused “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them?” (Matt. 4:8-10.) Was David on the Lord’s mind when He declared His “kingdom was not of this world?” (John 18:36.) Did He remember David when He explained His example of servitude after kneeling and washing His followers’ feet? (John 13:4-16.)
Christ knew and stated He was “greatest of all.” (D&C 19:18.) He has explained He is “more intelligent than they all.” (Abr. 3:19.) Yet He came without crown, wealth, or earthly power. He was “meek and lowly of heart.” (Matt. 11:29.)
Did Christ know if He were made great by men He, like David, could be drawn away into the same sad end? He was tempted, as all men are. But He prevailed because He “gave no heed unto them.” (D&C 20:22.)
Did Christ remember David when He rebuked a man who praised Him and called Him “good.” He retorted, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matt. 19:16-17.)
If our Lord refused honor, acted as if a servant, and rejected praise from others, shouldn’t we also? How can anyone “aspire to the honors of men” or hold any “vain ambition” or seek to exercise “control or dominion or compulsion upon” others or claim to have “power or influence… by virtue of their priesthood”? (D&C 121:37-41.)
Christ behaved wisely and meekly. If He is the prototype of the saved man, who among us can be great without kneeling, serving, persuading, enduring with long-suffering, and relying on gentleness to bring others to come to Christ? Who would want to place themselves above their fellow-man, when the Lord knelt to wash men’s feet?
We should weep over our plight, and deal in kindness toward each other in our lost and fallen state. I hardly have the strength to speak when I consider what confronts us in this dark place. I think of David and the Son of David and fear for my own weaknesses, foolishness and pride.
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Joseph Smith wrote this counsel in a letter to the church in March 1834:
[T]he commandments of our Lord, we hope, are constantly revolving in your hearts, teaching you, not only his will in proclaiming his gospel, but his meekness and perfect walk before all, even in those times of sever persecutions and abuse which were heaped upon him by a wicked and adulterous generation. Remember, brethren, that he has called you unto holiness; and need we say, to be like him in purity? How wise; how holy; how chaste, and how perfect, then, you ought to conduct yourself in his sight; remember too, that his eyes are continually upon you. ( JS Papers, Documents, Vol. 3, p. 474.)
This is consistent with his many other letters and public sermons. He denounced sexual impurity and promoted chastity in word, deed and thought.
In that same letter he wrote:
[T]hough we cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients …we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John and the other apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Purgamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, walked in the fear of God and had power and faith to prevail and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach him in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good; communicated for our benefit; being our own property, (through the gift of God,) earned by our own diligence in keeping his commandments, and walking uprightly before him. (Id., pp. 483-484, italics in original.)
This explanation is consistent with Lectures on Faith. He urged us, like the ancients, to all approach God. He believed the religion of antiquity could be lived again by us.
In 1839, the Lord predicted the following regarding Joseph: “fools shall have [him] in derision, and hell shall rage against [him]; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under [his] hand.” (D&C 122:1-2.)
More than two centuries after his birth, he remains controversial and misunderstood. Even those who acknowledge him to be a prophet fail to understand the man. His legacy was entrusted to a group of people in Nauvoo. In his last general conference, April 1844 he said this about the members in Nauvoo:
You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born into the world. My voice is always for peace. …When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will know me then. (TPJS, pp. 361-362.)
If those he lived among never knew him, then what they bequeathed to us only makes our challenge to understand him even greater. Many people, even believing Mormons, attribute to him the worst of malignant conduct. They believe him to be morally corrupt, lacking virtue, an egomaniac and a liar. Can anything good come from a man such as that? Fools hold Joseph in derision still.
Recently, I was asked, “What would you change in your writings if you had it all to do again?”
If I were writing The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil today, I would write it differently. But I do not regret having written it in its present form, and will not go back and edit it to change the content. It is an accurate book for the moment in time it was written. It is important to preserve that moment in time.
When I wrote it, I was an active, faithful member of the LDS Church. The book was written inside that environment and represents a triumph of the faith. The triumph was achieved inside the institution. For that reason, the book continues to remind me, and every reader, that it is possible to devote yourself to Christ under challenging circumstances.
Nephi’s Isaiah is also a book I would not change, because it likewise demonstrates that an active, faithful LDS Church member can awaken to the terrible circumstances of our plight. It is a key book. It shows a pattern: God passes information forbidden to be revealed as a new, original revelation, and leaves Nephi to the task of teaching by using earlier writings. Nephi used Isaiah, Zenos and Zenok to deliver new revelation using old, familiar scripture. It is a key to understanding Nephi; and a key to understanding a modern burden I carry.
Things are changing rapidly. The books I have written reflect changes underway. Circumstances changed affecting the content of later books. The changed conditions and changed response are chronicled in the series of books. It is important to leave them as they are, reflecting the different moments in time.
As things continue to change, what I write will reflect the events taking place. Nothing is static. Everything is in motion.
I want to reiterate what was said at the end of the ten lectures (as it has been edited for the forthcoming book). Below is an excerpt dealing with the problems I warned were coming:
There are so many potential mistakes we can make we ought to remember the early problems in Kirtland. D&C 50:2-25. “Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name. But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life. But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment. Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed.” [This is not referring to the hypocrites, because He will not reclaim them. But He will reclaim those who are deceived by the hypocrites.] “But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me. And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand. Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth. And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong. Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God. And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you; He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.”
This is how we should edify one another, how we should be preparing our children. This is what we should seek: truth, light, understanding, knowledge of the principles of truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.
False spirits will come among you. Prideful and pretentious people will ask you to give them honor. Honor God instead. Do not let a personal revelation displace your attention from the scriptures. Our scriptures are sufficient for our day. I hope this new book demonstrates that. I have expounded the scriptures as Moroni did to Joseph, and as Christ did on the road to Emmaus the day of His resurrection. We must first remember and observe. Preserving the restoration requires us to be very familiar with the scriptures of the restoration. At present we should fear most our ignorance of them.
I had the following brought to my attention by an email this morning. It was written in January, but the content of this is so worthwhile I post a link to it below.
I was very encouraged by the discussion identifying false and deceiving spirits. Then the discussion about the limits and responsibilities within a sharing, cooperative community was insightful and instructive. I do not know who wrote this, and have not had time to read any other post on that blog, but this post was instructive and worth everyone’s time to read.
Whether we welcome or oppose it, the truth is going to win. Monuments and cultures erected on lies will weaken and fall to the dust. But truth has a strength that does not decay. Lies cannot defy it, greed cannot corrupt it, lust cannot tempt it, and wicked men cannot for long successfully imitate it.
The times of the gentiles is ending, and truth has begun to break forth; just as Christ explained to His disciples while living among them (and then repeated to Joseph in 1831):
And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land. But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (D&C 45:28-32.)
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering, O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matt. 16:2-3.)
The Lord described our day. But we live in it and do not see it right before our eyes.
Brian Hales has responded. His response misstates my position, teaching, testimony and message, but it is nevertheless his response. For those interested you can find it at:
His biggest error in the response is to cite as authoritative a number of sources I would question. Brigham Young’s ability to ignore revelations of others does not contribute to whether the revelations of others should be ignored.
The sharp differences in views are useful. I leave it to the reader to sort out the truth from error.
The voting on the Recorder has concluded and Ken Jensen sent me an email confirming the outcome. His email is below:
86% of the participants voted for Keith Hernderson
I asked Keith Henderson for his contact information and permission to post it here. He gave the permission and provided the following: