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Name Calling

I have been called, among other choice words, “apostate” by some LDS folks in their indiscriminate, anonymous on-line rants. Name-calling by Latter-day Saints is a complete role reversal from where the Restoration began. When Joseph Smith was being abused by the religionists of his day, he observed “they treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil. That there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things [were confined to and the sole right of] the apostles.” (JS-H 1: 21.) The people who rejected Joseph’s beliefs were rejecting the Bible itself, which they pretended was the basis for their faith. Joseph did what James 1: 5instructed him to do, and got an answer. That is the faith he restored: A living faith in which God will speak to all who, like me, lack wisdom, liberally. I lack wisdom. I go to God with questions. So long as any of us ask in faith, He will answer. I know. He has answered me. Now Latter-day Saints think it is their right to denounce others who have asked God, and have been answered. If Latter-day Saints do possess the truth, then for those they think in error should be met with kindness, not reviling. (See JS-H 1: 25.) “If they suppose me to be deluded they ought to endeavor in a proper and affectionate manner to reclaim me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) Instead I read the accusation I am “apostate” by these smug Latter-day Saints. It must put a smile on the faces of authority and the devil. These disciples pretend to follow Joseph’s restored religion while acting the part of his persecutors. The saints have come full circle indeed.
Where exactly do you draw the line and begin to denounce others as “apostate?”
If we both believe in the Book of Mormon, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the Gospel, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both accept the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe in continuing revelation and that God has yet to reveal a great deal as part of the Restoration of all, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we have all of the foregoing in common, is that enough to respect one another as fellow-believers? Or do you require much more of me than I can give in order to avoid being denounced by you? How much do you want to micromanage my beliefs? Do you ever feel any twinge of concern about not permitting others to worship “according to the dictates of their conscience, and allow others the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may?” (Paraphrase of 11th Article of Faith)
If I believe priesthood has no authority over me, and you believe as Elder Oaks declared from general conference that the “keys” are the right to exercise authority, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” What if my belief is based on the scripture “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” which I hold in higher regard than a declaration from a church official to the contrary? (See D&C121: 41)
If I believe the Lectures on Faith are still scripture, but you do not, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the LDS Church has changed dramatically in my lifetime, and even more since Joseph Smith died, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the scriptures were given to control and govern the faith, and you believe whatever comes from living church officials can contradict or disregard the words of scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I can tolerate your view in this regard, even if I do not share it, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I use the scriptures and you use the scriptures, why are your views correct and mine incorrect? How did we arrive at the odd position that you get to call me “apostate” for believing the scriptures differently than you do? If you trust that “keys” are the thing that guarantees you salvation, what exactly are the “keys,” allowed by scripture, that bear that out?
If I will let you go in peace, why cannot you let me go likewise in peace. The LDS church is an institution of this world, not of the next. We should care less for the things of this world than we do. I am very content with my faith in God, and very much in harmony with everything He has asked of me. If you believe the same about yourself, then let that be your assurance and have the confidence to leave me to go my way in peace. Practice your beliefs in the way you think God wants, and I will do the same.
I will never again submit to another man’s priestly claim to dominion, control, judgment or oppression. It was denounced in scripture, and I reject such things. (D&C 121: 36-42.) If you think there is a priest who has the right to demand things of you in exchange for saving you using some “key,”  I do not share your belief, but I am perfectly willing to respect you if that is yours. Happy is the man who serves his God in faith and conviction. Happier still is the man whose God is Christ and therefore respects his right to voluntarily act for himself, accepting full accountability for his beliefs, and not expecting man to save him using authority to do so.

If, by your definition, I am “apostate,” then let me assure you I am content to be so. I am fully willing to accept whatever Christ’s judgment is for being so. More importantly, I am entirely satisfied I remain in harmony with what God expects of me, and I wish the same for you.

Grand Junction Transcript – Zion

The transcript for the Grand Junction lecture is now up on Scribd. The link is on the blog under the sidebar DS Talks on the right of the blog. Scribd is free. It just requires that you create an account. You do not have to pay to read Denver’s lectures on Scribd. I know there are some limitations, but eventually we will look into other options.

Abraham’s Sons

Last night I was awakened by this:

Did not Ishmael and Isaac mourn together and bury their father Abraham? Was not their father’s blood precious unto them both?

Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Isaac and Ishmael? Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Esau and Jacob?

Let Ishmael today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious still. Let Isaac likewise today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious again. For Abraham’s sake, let all the brothers who descend from Abraham now mourn when Abraham’s blood is spilled by any of his descendants.

If Abraham’s sons do not find his blood to be precious still, there remains nothing between them but the shedding of Abraham’s blood. For all his sons who fail to find Abraham’s blood to be precious will be held to account by God, who will judge between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael, the sons of Esau and the sons of Jacob for father Abraham’s sake, with whom God covenanted.

The sons of Abraham will not be permitted to continue this disregard of their common father’s blood without provoking God, who will soon judge between Abraham’s sons.

Elder Oaks’ General Conference Talk

I am trying to understand Elder Oaks’ talk. Taking everything he said at face value, here is what I think he said:

1. Women don’t hold the priesthood.

2. Those who hold “keys” can give assignments to others who then act under the authority of the priesthood of the key-holder.

3. In the temple sisters use the authority of the priesthood to perform washings and anointings, inasmuch as they were set apart by key-holders.

4. Therefore women use the authority of the priesthood.

From this it can be surmised: Sister missionaries will be able to baptize some day using the authority of the priesthood of a key-holder. This talk was designed to accomplish what the “Ordain Women” movement wants by approaching it in two steps rather than one. It is de facto ordination, incrementally adopted by careful measures.

A Covenant With the King

King Benjamin had an an objective. Better said, the angel of the Lord had an objective in mind when the king was told what to teach. The objective is more fully explained once the people had received the lesson.

“And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them. And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things. And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy. And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.” (Mosiah 5: 1-5.)

Here is the covenant-making King Benjamin had as his assignment. The Lord saves, but uses covenant-making as a part of His process. We don’t get to make covenants, but we do get to accept them if the Lord offers them to us. It must be the Lord’s offer and our acceptance for it to have effect. Here the words that were recited by the congregation were the words King Benjamin had asked them to accept: “And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them;” (Mosiah 5: 6.) Meaning they were exactly what they’d been asked to accept as the new covenant.

King Benjamin’s record continues: “and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5: 6-7.) This was the object. To extend the Family of God by adding sons and daughters. King Benjamin’s ministry was producing fruit suitable to be laid up against the harvest (as Jacob quoted Zenos to describe).

King Benjamin expounds on the central role Christ plays in our salvation. Only by connecting ourselves to Him will we be able to qualify for what He (as our Father) has to offer. “And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.” (Mosiah 5: 8.) Or, in other words, we always remember Him that we may always have His spirit to be with us.

He continues: “And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.” (Mosiah 5: 9-10.) Since Christ is the prototype of the saved man, all who would be saved must likewise be qualified to hold this same status or be called by this same name.

King Benjamin’s religion is like the one Joseph Smith was restoring. He offered his people an authorized covenant with the King, established by heaven through King Benjamin. It is remarkable how much of the deepest Gospel truths are found in the Book of Mormon.

Throw my hands up

Today is the last day of my last temple recommend. The church didn’t ask me to return it. I’m qualified to have it. But it will expire today. It can’t be renewed, of course.

I was asked by a young fellow about sustaining leaders in the upcoming general conference. I replied, “the Lorde recently said: “I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air, So there.

Grand Junction Lecture

Where:
Grand Vista Hotel Ballroom
2790 Crossroads Blvd.
Grand Junction, CO 81506

When: Saturday, April 12, 2014 @ 9:30 a.m.

Seating: 125

The Poor

King Benjamin does not concern himself with all the ways it is possible to get it wrong. (Mosiah 4: 29.) Mankind gets it wrong all the time. The great challenge is to finally get it right. His sermon is an attempt to lay out how a society may finally overcome the failures and draw close to God. Individual righteousness is a rare thing in this world, but it happens more frequently than societal righteousness. King Benjamin’s talk is about societal success, or social righteousness.

Once converted, the work begins. The work, as we have seen, involves eradicating poverty by helping the needy. We are forbidden from turning away the beggar. We are forbidden from judging them. We have but one duty toward them; that is to help them.

His sermon continues: “And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” (Mosiah 4: 24.) Even the poor are required to have a charitable heart. They may lack the means, but they cannot lack the heart. All society must have a disposition to help one another.

Unless we are willing to render aid to one another, we cannot possibly become one. Until we view the circumstances of the least member of the community from their vantage point, we cannot become one. It isn’t possible to bear one another’s burdens when we are oblivious to the burdens they bear. Alma would preach this as a requirement to be baptized. (See Mosiah 18: 8-10.) Until we are like-minded we don’t even qualify for the ordinance offered by Alma.

The Book of Mormon speaks of  the ideals that condemn us because we do not even recognize them. Even if we pretend to share the religion of those of the Book of Mormon, our social order is far from what the book preaches.

King Benjamin continues: “And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.” (Mosiah 4: 25.) Here is a failure so significant it absolutely prevents Zion. Coveting is a vile personal failure, and so foreign to becoming “one” as a people, that it is condemned in the Ten Commandments. (See Ex. 20: 17.) It prevents us from being equal. Equality is required for Zion.

When the Restoration was led by Joseph Smith, the Lord cautioned the early believers that they were required to be equal in temporal things. Because they refused to do so, they forfeited the Spiritual manifestations which necessarily accompany Zion. “Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.” (D&C 70: 14.) They failed. We do not even attempt it. We probably shouldn’t attempt it until we first repent and receive the faith the Lord once attempted to restore through Joseph Smith.

When Joseph was still ministering, the Lord foretold of a great work to be done. This work was the Lord’s to do, but even the mention of it inspired eagerness by the early converts. When hints of Zion emerged in Joseph’s prophecies, the Saints thought it was their right to have it immediately, and without the necessary patience and diligence that must precede it. They hastened to the center spot, where, as a result of the Indian Relocation Act enforced by Andrew Jackson, all Native Americans had been relocated. The line between the Indians and whites was drawn on the western border of Missouri. All eastern Indians, from Maine to Florida, had been resettled in the Indian Territory. The center of their population was, at that moment, Independence, Missouri. If the Indians were going to be taught, there was one center spot available for access by white missionaries. It was in Independence, Missouri. When Mormons attempted to cross the line and preach inside the Indian Territory, they were threatened with arrest and transport to Fort Levenworth, Kansas. At that brief moment in time, the closest they could locate to the target audience was Independence, Missouri.

By June 1844, when Joseph Smith was leaving to seek out the Remnant, the Indians had long since left the former relocation area. They were then scattered westward. Hence Joseph’s plan to go to the Rocky Mountains to find the Remnant and build the New Jerusalem.

When the Mormon missionaries located the then-closest, center spot the eager Saints filed into the area. Even if they had the right location at that moment, they were unqualified to be there. Had they followed King Benjamin’s sermon, they would have had a better chance. Instead they were anything but converted in their hearts to the kind of principles which would allow people to live in harmony with one another.

Here is how the Lord characterized the 1830’s ruinous attempt to steal Zion: “Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” (D&C 101: 6.) Once again, covetousness in the heart is prohibited in Zion. Though the Lord may have given them a potential inheritance, they squandered it.

King Benjamin’s sermon is about the ideal. It is what the heart should have within it for the man or woman to be able to live with others equally. We will fail, like all others have failed, if we are unable to first remove the impediments within our hearts. What good would be accomplished in any age to gather together people who are unwilling to be one, unable to live in harmony with one another. We have that society already. The mantra we recite to overcome the vast inequalities and dissimilarities among us in our fractured society is “tolerance” and “non-judgment.” These are as likely to invite evil as good.

Cease to be covetous and lustful. Have a disposition to no longer do evil, but to do good. Give to those in need and succor those who you are able to succor. Then you have some chance to avoid jarring one another, contending and envying one another. There is no reason for the Lord to gather anyone until everyone He would gather has the attributes taught by King Benjamin in their hearts. Once that is done, there will be time enough to gather. But if you gather together and there is but one among you with a covetous, lustful and envious heart, there can be no Zion.

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