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Baptism of Fire

The question has come up about how the Lamanites could receive the baptism of fire and “know it not” when it happened.  Whole books have been written on this subject and I can’t do it justice in a blog.  So I won’t try.  I’ll make a brief comment:

The alternatives are:

1.  They knew something happened, but didn’t know what it was or what it should be called.
2.  They didn’t realize something had happened at all.

If the reason is 1, then the result is un-troubling because without a vocabulary to label the event it is easy to to understand whey they “know it not.”

Much more troubling is reason 2.  What if the baptism of fire is an event so subtle it could escape detection?  And if that is the case, then how is one to know when or if they have experienced it?

Some writers have made the baptism of fire such a remarkable event that it connotes salvation, even exaltation itself.  For those who accept that definition of the event, then to reduce it to an undetectable occurrence seems to somehow diminish it.

Joseph described the effects of the Holy Ghost on a Gentile (purges the blood and remakes them into an Israelite), and on a descendant of Israel (pure intelligence).  [I’m not going to give the cite from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, because I don’t have a copy with me while I’m writing this.  So you look it up.]  Both effects Joseph describes could be felt in a minimal way.  Neither would require it to be dramatic.

“Fire” is a description of quickening, purging sin, and receiving the love of God.  [Beloved Bridegroom gives a great explanation of fire as a symbol of the love of God.]  If you are living in conformity with such light as you have been given, receiving this kind of “fire” would not necessarily be physically detectable.  The real place where it would begin to show would be as a person prays, and then begins to receive answers, or “pure intelligence” as Joseph put it.  “A sudden flow of ideas,” which the recipient knows is beyond their capacity to think of or accomplish, would be another way in which the recipient would recognize its presence.

I think it is altogether possible for either explanation to be true.  No matter which explanation, I don’t believe it diminishes in any way the importance of this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  It is, in my view, the event marking the beginning of the process by which someone becomes ultimately a new creature.  It is not the end of the journey.  I would use other words to describe that.

What’s in a Name?

The site we use for this blog has the unfortunate label of “Followers” for those who read the blog, or receive regular updates on new posts.  The website comment goddess who works to manage this has attempted to change the name to “Readers” but can only do that within the fields open to be changed.

Now I realize those who follow this are “Readers” and only “followers” in the sense that they receive update notices.  I acknowledge the insult given you by the Google label.

As an aside, if you really are a “Follower” then let me make one thing clear:  You don’t want to follow me.  You should be a follower of Christ.  He can really do something for you.  I cannot.

That having been said, now let’s go on being bemused at  Google’s unfortunate choice of monikers for those who read a blog.

I’m really appreciative of the ability this forum has to reduce the need for repetition with many people.  I hope it is convenient for readers, too.

Increasing Light

Teaching is marred by the ineptitude of teachers.  It does not matter how complex a subject being taught is, a good teacher will make is both simple and enjoyable to learn.  When a subject becomes difficult to understand, more often than not it is because the teacher does not understand the subject well enough to make it simple.
 
For the Gospel, teaching is a matter of increasing light in the one learning.  To do that the student must learn how to improve their obedience to true principles.  Only someone’s obedience to truth will lead them to greater truth.  The teacher’s obedience cannot and does not benefit the student of the gospel if the student is unwilling to receive greater light and truth by obedience.
 
The necessary obedience is not obedience to a man, or men, or a set of rules devised by men.  It is not even obedience to a rigid set of commandments. Obedience and fidelity must be directed to the Lord.  No matter how well someone may teach for doctrine the commandments of men, those who hear will never gain more than a form of godliness, without any power.
 
We all must progress in the same way Christ did.  He grew from grace to grace, until as last He was called the Son of God.  He had the fullness of grace and truth. Read John’s testimony again found in the beginning of D&C 93. Pay attention to the first verse of Section 93, because it is the summary of what John’s testimony will include.
The teachings are real.  Increasing light is real.  But each must gain it in the very same way as Christ and all those who have followed Him gained it.

A good teacher will always work himself out of a job by teaching how to find light without him.  A bad teacher will call attention to himself, and try to make others dependent upon him.  The worst teachers are those who want to control those who will listen to them and to dictate what they do, what they think, and how they must follow.  Christ, and the light He brings, liberates, making each person an agent for themselves.  Satan’s plan is to put us into bondage, controlling us and making us fear.

The comment moderator (Goddess) thinks this is important

A comment on Adam-ondi-Ahman

The description in D&C 107: 53 refers to Adam giving a blessing to “them.” You have to determine to whom the word “them” refers.

I wrote elsewhere about Daniel and the way in which the Lord’s appearance was veiled from others who were present, Daniel alone seeing the vision. The same is true of the Lord’s contact with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Those with him did not have the same open vision.

When Joseph and Oliver saw the vision in the Kirtland Temple, they were behind a drawn canvas veil, and others were in the building. They didn’t see what Joseph and Oliver saw.

In the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the visions which were opened to some were not to others.

There was an inner group of high priests for whom the Lord’s appearance would be appropriate and they are named. Naming means something. The rest are referred to as “the residue” and are not named.

These patterns are very real. They are set out in scripture because they are real. There is a great difference between being one of “the residue” of good people and being a clearly named high priest, particularly when you encounter the number of seven for the meeting. The number is also important, as I’ve explained in books I’ve written.

The picture people get into their heads is difficult to remove. But this process is dependent upon the preparation of the individual, not membership in a group. I’ve associated importance with elements of the revelation which others may not think important. I believe naming the seven, the number of them (seven), identifying them as high priests, calling those others “the residue” and leaving their names out of the narrative, and the overall setting takes this incident and puts it into the Daniel/Kirtland Temple/Apostle Paul category of visions of the Lord. Where some present are excluded and only a specific group or individual whose presence was specifically invited by the Lord, are permitted to stand in His presence.

It is a terrible thing to enter into the presence of the Living God. Not all who are righteous are prepared for that. Hence my reading of the verses.

Jumping out a Window

When I first joined the LDS Church I thought every Latter-day Saint had revelations, visitations by angels, and miracles in their lives.  I thought, the Joseph Smith story was the common experience for those who were members of this Restored Church. 
It took a few years before I realized that it was the exception, not the rule, that such miraculous experiences took place. I learned that most saints were more akin to Hugh Nibley’s description of his grandfather, a member of the First Presidency, who said that if he ever saw an angel he would “jump out the window.”
 
I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.
I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. 
 
So was Christ weak-minded or of “a firm mind?”  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John? 
 
Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: “They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.”  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)

Comments

You learn all the time in life.  I’ve now learned that comments can take as much time as you let them;  and if every comment gets a response, then using a blog to try to simplify will not work either.  See previous post here. As a result here is how it appears it may work:
 
My wife, who is doing the mechanical work on this blog, will moderate comments and post them at her sole discretion.  You must appease the goddess if you want to get something approved by her and onto the blog.
 
There are those comments which will get responses from me.  Sometimes directly within the comment section of the post.  Sometimes as a new post.  Not every comment will get posted, and not every posted comment will get a reply.  The hope is that everything of particular value to people/readers will get onto the blog. Also, feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comment section.  Be nice – remember the goddess is moderating. 
 
I’m hoping this will not become a full-time job.  Primarily because I still work for a living and blogging doesn’t earn anything.  It is merely a form of public service for the bored internet surfer who may be interested in Mormonism and related stuff.
 
P.S.  We reserve the right to keep trying to make this work better.  

Self Government and Self Discipline

Self-government implies self-discipline.  Freedom requires self-restraint in conduct and speech.  People are free to say whatever they want, but when they want to say things that endanger others, then you have to consider limiting speech.  That is always unfortunate.  Ultimately, unless people share common values, common beliefs, and a common sense of proper conduct you cannot have “freedom” and “self-government” because it will end in violence.
 
When everyone agrees on first principles, there is little need for speech-limiting laws.  When, however, something is deeply offensive and insulting to one group, and valued highly by another, cycles of debate end in cycles of violence. 

The United States’ Constitutional form of government presupposes an agreement on fundamental first principles.  As that common consensus diminishes on fundamental principles, our form of government is increasingly less likely to work.  If the “Elders of Israel” are going to save the Constitution, it will not be through legislation or litigation, but by conversion of people back to a common set of beliefs.  Only then Constitutional government has a chance to survive.

Truth – anything more or less

I’m in the unique position of being powerless.  I preside over my family, nothing else.  I write for all others only to persuade.  I will not be penalized if someone who reads my writing rejects it.  The question then is really not: “what is my motivation,” but instead: does the Spirit ratify the things I have written to you? 

There is an alarming statement in D&C 93.  It follows the definition of truth found in D&C 93:24:  “Whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning” (D&C 93: 25); meaning that we are all required to find the truth.  Anything more or anything less is evil and means we have been deceived.  In addition, the follow up to the parable of the Ten Virgins found in D&C 45:56-57 warns everyone that the five foolish virgins who will not take truth as their guide are going to be hewn down and cast into the fire.

These decisions about what truth you must accept are important, but can only be made by trusting the Spirit.  You should look to the Spirit for the answer to where and what is truth in this day of so much deception.  Marketing, by its very nature, is deception. (See, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom, by David Kupelian)  All of modern commerce is based on deceiving you.  Making you think you need something when you do not.  Exciting your envy to get you to purchase something you really don’t need.  So when it comes to the truth, you will need to demonstrate some “sales resistance” to Satan, and not be fooled into rejecting truth although it comes from a lone voice, crying from the wilderness (as has been so often the Lord’s pattern in the past).



It’s all about you

I received an email over the weekend which finally helped me understand a reaction to The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.  Apparently there are readers who think that the book is about me.  It isn’t.  It is entirely about the reader.  If someone reads it trying to get to a ‘punch line’ or great ending, they are reading with the wrong intent.  The book isn’t about that at all. It is a manual.  It’s purpose is to provide the reader instruction while they are on their own path back to the presence of the Lord.  


To the extent that there are any personal matters in the book, they are designed to illustrate common mistakes.  My mistakes and errors are set out in the beginning of the chapters. Then the chapter explains how to get the principle right.  Other than showing how poor a student I have been, my presence in the book is entirely secondary.  I do bear testimony about the truth of the teachings, which I think is required for a book of that nature.  But the book is entirely about you, the reader.


I reiterate several times in the text that it is not a book for every reader.  It is not publicized, advertised, or promoted in any way.  It is entirely a word-of-mouth book which will find appropriate readers without any effort on my part to promote it.