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Trials

On Friday Marie Osmond’s son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing.  There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building.  Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.

There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality.  But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled:  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Rev. 7: 17.)  If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.

Trials

On Friday Marie Osmond’s son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing.  There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building.  Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.

There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality.  But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled:  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Rev. 7: 17.)  If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.

Missionaries in Chile

According to this morning’s Deseret News, all LDS missionaries in the affected areas of Chile are safe and accounted for.  My wife suggested that there are readers outside Utah who may want news like that put onto the blog.
 

Becoming One

The idea of being “one” (as Christ put it in His great Intercessory Prayer in John 17: 20-23) has been oftentimes misunderstood and the source of abuse.  There should be nothing compulsory about this process.  “Oneness” is a byproduct, and not an end.  When we seek it as an end, then we have missed the opportunity to achieve it.
Believing “oneness” is achieved by making people think alike, look alike, be alike, or behave alike is so wrongheaded as to be Satanic.  The ideal expressed by Christ as He prayed to the Father was that we should each attempt, in our limited capacities, to be more like Christ.  The closer we approach that ideal, the more we become “one” as a byproduct.  Merely giving a list of behavior as the way to “oneness” is not only foolish, but it is impossible.  It must come from within, and cannot come from without.
Paul’s 14th Chapter of Romans is actually the only way in which “oneness” can be attained.  Let everyone decide what they believe will make them closer to Christ, and allow them the freedom to follow that path.  Let all others refrain from judging the behavior of others.  Whether they “eateth herbs” or “eateth meat” let each be free to do what they believe to be right before God.  “Judge not him that eateth: for God hath received him.”  Let everyone do what in their own heart they believe is right before God, because God will respect anything done on His behalf.  And let everyone else refrain from judging these honest efforts, but bear with one another.
This will give rise to widely diverse behavior. but will result in an absolute uniformity of intent.  Everyone should be free to do what they believe God is asking them to do.  And everyone should also respect the honest efforts of others.

Over time, perhaps over generations, behavior will grow closer as a result of the purity of the underlying intent.  Not because someone is compelling uniformity, but because light and truth will eventually bring harmony.

Being “one” just as building Zion cannot be a goal in itself.  It is always a byproduct of the kind of people which changed hearts produce.

In a private conversation with someone a few years ago he commented that he wished the definition of “Mormonism” would be changed.  He thought that anyone who was willing to accept the ordinances of the Church ought to be regarded as being Mormon, no matter what else they may differ on.  I’ve thought about his comment for years now.  I’m inclined to see a great deal of wisdom in that idea.  I’ve grown to see that those comments echo the earlier writings of the Apostle Paul.

Elder Oaks at Harvard

Elder Oaks spoke to law and divinity students at Harvard this week.  The talk was recorded and may be broadcast between General Conference sessions.  He spoke for about 45 minutes then took questions.  Among the comments he made was that neither the Church nor Evangelicals would identify Mormons as Evangelicals.  He also noted the hostility of higher education to religious values and beliefs, despite the widespread religious convictions of Americans.

A Tennesse Ward and the Lord

I have a friend in Tennessee who emailed me this week about a Latter-day Saint congregation he visited a few Sunday’s ago.  The congregation was of mixed races, and the meetings were louder, more animated and lively than the “typical” ward.  He quite enjoyed it.  His description of the visit made me long for the mission field again. In the mission field there are widely divergent congregations.  But the Wasatch Front is far different in texture and tone than anywhere else.  I think there are people here who believe a stoic face is required to be reverent.

My impression of the mortal Lord is that He was gregarious, lively, filled with life, and given to smiling often.  He surely was challenged by serious men involved in conspiracies to have Him killed, and for them His responses were serious.  But He was filled with life, and love and humor.  His many analogies drew from the common man’s experience to teach with simplicity the deepest of ideas.  I think He would have fit into the Tennessee ward my friend told me about.

I think when the scriptures note “He wept” it was because His normal demeanor was so upbeat, so positive and hope-filled that weeping stood out by contrast.

I’ve only sensed that I genuinely offended Him once.  All other errors and mistakes have merely “bemused” Him, even though I have felt terrible from my end.  He is a patient Teacher.  Who knows exactly when you are ready and then how best to teach.

Argument

I’ve never won an argument with the Lord.

The Telestrial

Here’s a troubling thought to ponder:  The Telestrial are those who have received and bear testimony of their faith in prophets, such as Paul, John, Moses, Elias, Isaiah, Enoch, and Joseph Smith, but who “received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus.”  (See D&C 76: 98-102.)

Security therefore lies not in following men, even men identified in the verses who are true prophets, but only in following Christ and receiving His Gospel and testimony.  What an absolutely uniform, individual obligation the Gospel imposes upon everyone. 

Popularity or Persecution?

A recent trend with Latter-day Saint scholars has been the publishing of several books that try to make Mormonism seem like Protestant Evangelicalism.  I do not believe the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is much akin to anything in Historic Christianity, and thankfully very different from Protestant Evangelicals.  It is instead a return of Primitive Christianity as found in the New Testament.  That is quite a different thing than what Historic Christianity has become, and almost altogether alien to Evangelicalism.  

I believe the Church will advance only by acknowledging the differences, explaining them and showing what great things Historic Christianity has lost.  Unless we have something different and important to offer, there is no reason for anyone to become a Latter-day Saint. 



The opening statement of Christ to Joseph Smith in the First Vision ought to be the point we most emphasize.  It was the many defects with Historic Christianity and its creeds which provoked the Lord to open the heavens again and start this great, final work.  When we neglect that message, and try to seem like another brand of Protestantism we are neglecting the only reason for our Church’s existence.

I know it is not up to me.  And I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.  

I suppose this post is nothing more than proof of my tendency to err in judgment.  But it is an honest and well meaning error which isn’t being tried by the Church at present.  When it was tried, in the early years, the newspapers railed against us, editorial cartoons mocked us, mobs persecuted us, and in turn the Church grew in numbers so dramatic that a single set of missionaries sent to England baptized nearly 7,000 converts.  The distinction caused by the persecution was valuable. Certainly not in a public relations sense, but very much in a “harvesting of souls” sense.

Sharp distinctions give the disinterested a reason to consider our message.  Persecution attracts the honest who want to know why the persecution is happening.  Joseph believed, and history has proven that persecution is the heritage of the righteous.  Its absence may not really be a good thing.  The cost of trying to avoid it is at the expense of forward progress. This is evidenced by the decrease in convert baptisms we see at present.



I have never seen any statement in scripture affirming that becoming popular in the eyes of the world was good or desirable.  On the contrary, I see the Book of Mormon listing that as one of the great evils.  (See e.g., 1 Ne. 22: 23.)