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Principles and Rules

Question by someone:  What is the difference between “principles” and “rules”? 

Answer by me:
Assuming you define “Principles” as the underlying reason for the commandment, then you’re also speaking about what the Apostle Paul called the “Spirit of the law” as opposed to the “letter of the law.”  He said the “letter killeth” but the “Spirit giveth life.”  I think he was right.

Any rule can be abused.  Any rule can become broken even when it is being kept.  Rules can become harsh taskmasters, inflicting punishment when they were designed to bless.  The underlying principle, however, always seeks to bless.  The underlying principle was designed as a blessing.  When the rule begins to oppress, then is should be abandoned in favor of the principle. 

Rules have and do change.  But principles remain constant.  The brutality of the rules was exposed by Christ when He healed on the Sabbath.  He did that specifically to demonstrate the futility of ignoring the principle, while only adhering to the law/rule.  

In the English common law tradition there were cases “at law” and cases “in equity.”  They divided the Courts into separate forums, where courts of law could not do equity.  But courts of equity could ignore the provisions of law, modify them, or establish a higher principle which resolved fairly a dispute despite some legal impediment to the relief sought.  That tradition follows the Lord’s example.  


Principles ennoble.  Rules preoccupy.

I didn’t know

I was amused to find that my wife (who physically maintains this blog for me) had already made it active.  I’ve been sending stuff to her to post, but figured it would be a while before this actually became something available for readers. 

I’m also surprised that some people have already found it.  I got an email today thanking me for it.  So I did a search and found the blog is actually up and running and can be found through Google.
  

OK, then, welcome to this blog.  If you’re reading it, you’ve found it too.  I’ll try and add something at least every few days.  Hopefully something that will matter.

Questions and Answers

I get asked a lot of questions.  The other day someone asked how “to write only what the Spirit directs?”

Answer:
That requires something quite subtle and hard to keep.  The presence of the Spirit, its constant companionship, guidance and influence is so refined and difficult a matter to put into words that even the scriptures do not give an adequate account of the process. 

Obedience is required, but there are obedient people who are utterly without the Spirit.  Obedience can make a person rigid and unyielding, when they ought instead to be meek and pliable.

Discipline is required, but not if it makes a person dogmatic.  The word “disciple” is derived from discipline, but a disciple follows the Master.  A disciplined man can be on his own errand, rather than the Lord’s.  

These words, like so many others fail to capture just how great and fine a balance is required for the Spirit to provide direction.

Meekness is required, but not in the way the world thinks of meekness.  I’ve tried to explain the true quality of meekness shown by the Lord and His followers in Beloved Enos.  It involves power, strength, and certitude.

The process almost defies words.  It is very real, in fact tangible.  But the way in which you know it to be right involves an ability to feel the balance, taste the good, harmonize with the greater intelligence which pervades everything that is.  It comes from Him.  It is Him, in a very real sense.  All things were made by Him, bear record of Him, and are a testimony of His way.

Writing the words of eternal life require someone to have eternal life.  They can still be mortal, but they need the promise of eternal life.  So I suppose the Lord’s admonition: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added thereto” really answers the question.  Or as told to Hyrum: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word.”  The one must precede the other.  At least the statement of the Lord to His disciples, and the revelation to Hyrum Smith seem to indicate as much.

Words matter

I worry about things being attributed to me from private conversations or speaking events where the public was invited.  I choose words with great care.  The difference between truth and error can be quite a fine line in some important matters.  Therefore, when I say, teach, write or answer a question with exact language in mind, and the listener or reader does not retain the distinctions when they attempt to repeat what I’ve said, I wind up being confronted with things I never said, don’t believe and would never teach.  One of the reasons for this blog is so I can control what is attributed to me.  I’m very willing to be held to account for what I teach or write.  But I’m not willing to be held accountable for someone else’s understanding or partial recollection of statements I have made.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Apologetics

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and am loyal to it as an institution and as the proponent of a faith.  Although I am keenly aware of the flaws any body of men and women will display, those weaknesses inherent in the human condition do not diminish the greatness of an institution.  I believe in constructive explanations about shortcomings, ways to understand or process what appear to be flaws.  In that sense only do I believe in apologetics.  To deny the existence of shortcomings is, I believe, to depart from the warnings given to us by Christ, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, the Apostle Paul, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others.  I like the comment made by President Hugh B. Brown about us Mormons:  “We are a lay church; and this gives rise to much mediocrity.”
It helps to have a sense of humor if you’re going to try to be a faithful Mormon.  It also requires thick skin.

The Kingdom of Heaven contrasted with Hell

It is a misnomer to speak of the “kingdom of the Devil” because the description presumes something more organized than is the case.  It is difficult to organize when fear, hatred and anger are the primary motivations.  Love is a far more cohesive, creative and loyalty producing motivation.  All that Satan does is designed to destroy itself, as well as all those who follow him.
 

This Blog

 
I’m trying to put into a blog what would require many hours of individual emails and conversations.  Hopefully this will both answer the many questions I keep receiving and allow me to stay productive with my family, job and Church responsibilities.