A Question About “Seeds of Doubt”

This comment was a question I received this week: “You are hinting that we have ‘strayed from mine ordinances’ and broken the covenant as a people. Does this encourage faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? I would argue that it does not. You appear conflicted. You appear to be trying to plant seeds of doubt because of changes to the temple ceremonies over the years.”


This is a question only an idolator could ask. The question presumes the object of faith should be an institution. That is idolatry.


To the extent that the church teaches faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is of value. To the extent it teaches faith in itself, it will damn you.


Those who inherit the Telestial Kingdom, or the lowest condition in the afterlife apart from outer darkness, will keep company with liars, thieves and adulterers. (D&C 76: 103.) These damned folks, who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, (D&C 76: 106) are the ones who worship the church, but not Christ. They prefer the institutional leaders (D&C 76: 99-100) rather than receiving the testimony of Christ (D&C 76: 101).


These people are those who “love and make a lie” because the truth is not in them. (D&C 76: 103.) They lie about the terms of salvation. They substitute the commandments of men for faith in Christ. This is the heart of lying – to deceive on matters affecting the souls of mankind.


Let me be as clear as I possibly can: I am not trying to “encourage faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” That would damn anyone who would listen to me. I have tried to encourage activity in the church; to encourage payment of tithes, support of leadership, serving in callings, and living its standards. But NOT faith in the church.


I am trying to encourage faith in Jesus Christ. The Articles of Faith clarify who we are to have faith in: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Article of Faith 4.)


It is incidental to that faith that we believe in a church organization. (Article of Faith 6.) Nowhere in the Articles of Faith, nor in the scriptures does it require anyone to have “faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” for salvation.


The person (or committee) who posed the question should repent. They suffer from a damning form of idolatry, denounced in scripture, which will condemn them to hell unless they repent– if the revelations from Jesus Christ can be trusted. If they teach this as doctrine to others, they are leading them astray.


As to the other part of the question – that the temple ordinances have been changed, let me be clear on that also. Yes, they have been changed. Your question admits it. We all know that is true. They have been substantially reworked, deleted, portions eliminated, whole characters removed from the presentation, and even the parts that are identified as “most sacred” have been altered. They certainly have been changed. I leave it for each person to decide the extent to which these alterations are or are not important to them.


I will add, however, that when a Dispensation of the Gospel is conferred on mankind through a Dispensation head (like Enoch, Moses, Joseph Smith) then those who live in that Dispensation are obligated to honor the ordinances laid down through the Dispensation head by the Lord. For so long as the ordinances remain unchanged, the ordinances are effective. When, however, the ordinances are changed without the Lord’s approval [THE critical question], they are broken. At that point, the cure is for the Lord to bestow a new Dispensation in which a new covenant is made available.


IF (and I leave it to you to answer that question) you decide the ordinances are now broken by the many changes, then you should look for the Lord to deliver them again. IF (and I leave it entirely to you to decide) the many changes were authorized by the Lord and approved by Him, then you have no concerns. The covenant was not broken. Everything continues intact. It would be curious to know why He changed them. Particularly when Joseph (the Dispensation head) said that couldn’t be done. But if your confidence is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the instrument of salvation, then you should  not trouble yourself with this question. If your faith is in Christ, then take the matter up with Him and let Him explain to you what your state and standing is before Him. I know what mine is. I have no fear of His judgements.


I don’t know if I could be any more clear. Maybe I should add that if I were a church leader, I would never have agreed to any change ever to any of the ordinances. But I was not a church leader, and when the great changes were made in 1990 no one asked me to even sustain them. Those in charge imposed them. As a member, I wasn’t even afforded the chance to give a sustaining vote on the question. I have never been required to take a position, either by the church or the leaders or common consent. The church just DID it. To the extent that anyone is accountable for this, it cannot be me. That leaves everyone the freedom to decide individually what these things mean to them.


I would also add that if I’d been asked to vote I would have voted against it. Today, if the church provided periodic sessions using the earlier form, I would make it a practice to always attend only those sessions. I wish I could provide those for my own ancestors as I attend sessions now. I attended so frequently before the changes that, even today, when attending I still recite in my own mind missing portions of the ceremonies. I cannot avoid it. They are embedded and remain, despite not being present in the temple ceremony any longer.


Have faith in Christ. He doesn’t change. (1 Ne. 10: 18; 2 Ne. 27: 23Moroni 10: 7, among many others.) I concede that it’s weird an unchanging God has a predeliction in this Dispensation of changing His ordinances. He, at least, doesn’t change. If you lose your idolatry and anchor faith in Him, you will be fine.


So, where does that leave us with the issue of “seeds of doubt?” I doubt:
-men
-institutions
-lies
-foolishness
-vanity
-error
-pomposity
-arrogance
-ignorance
-good intentions
-the value of sincerity
-the commandments of men
-the present generation
-the popular solutions to most problems
-Hollywood
-opposing attorneys
-Chief Justice Roberts’ reasoning
-quantative easing as a long term solution
-quantative easing as a short term solution
-the assumptions contained in the question I have answered in this post.


But I do NOT doubt Christ.

Mormonism and the Temple

I have been working for some months with a group of scholars on a project which I believe to be of value to faithful Latter-day Saints. Today I am pleased to be authorized to provide the following announcement (which will be made through a variety of outlets simultaneously):

2012 Conference

Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition

The newly-formed Academy for Temple Studies and the Utah State University Religious Studies program announce an important conference, to be held Monday, October 29, 2012, on the campus of Utah State University, in conjunction with the USU Religious Studies program, and hosted by Professor Philip Barlow
Throughout the history of civilization, diverse societies have used temples and temple-places to both worship, and to commune with deity. This conference examines that tradition and its links with the temple tradition of the Latter-day Saints.

The academic field of Temple Studies has grown in interest and importance among scholars in recent years, with thousands of articles and books focusing on the temple traditions of the Judeo-Christain religions alone. This is conference will interest both academic specialists and other informed students of the ancient temple — as typified by the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem — and its modern significance for and links to Mormonism.
Featured speakers (whose personal religious traditions include Methodism, Catholicism, and Mormonism) are noted for their expertise in these domains. The creative research of keynote speaker Dr. Margaret Barker has drawn attention both of critics and admirers in temple studies in England and the United States during the past generation. Additional speakers include the Reverend Dr. Laurence Hemming, Gary N. Anderson, Frederick M. Huchel, Danel Bachman, John W. Welch, and Drs. Le Grande Davies, John L. Fowles, John F. Hall, and Daniel C. Peterson.
Registration for the day-long conference will be $50.00. Students with a valid student ID will be admitted for $20.00.
This conference marks an important milestone in Temple Studies in the United States. Seating will be limited. Call (435) 797-1300, to reserve your seat.
More detailed information on the conference will soon be made available.

Lehi’s Message

Lehi delivered two separate messages to his generation at Jerusalem. These two messages provoked two separate reactions.

The first message was that they were wicked, and were engaged in abominations before God. (1 Ne. 1: 19.) In other words, these were sinful people needing to repent and return to God.

When the people heard “the things which he testified of them” their reaction was to mock and ridicule him and his message. (Id.) They had the scriptures, the priesthood, the Temple, the ordinances, and they were absolutely certain they were living their religion just as God wanted them to. They were “chosen” and were holy people. This idea of being “wicked” and engaging in abominable practices while they lived devoted lives seemed rediculous to them. Lehi could not be taken seriously. If there was anything to this message, then they would expect it would come from the established hierarchy, not some obscure trader living in Jerusalem. He wasn’t even a Levite for that matter.

The second message was much more serious. He spoke “plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.” (1 Ne. 1: 19.) Since this was an idea the Jews of that day had rejected, Lehi’s testimony of Christ was too much. He was accusing them of apostasy. This aroused anger and even fury. The idea that these holy people, devoted to their religion, practicing the ordinances and preserving the Temple rites could be in a state of apostasy was too much for them to brook.

In response to this second message they had a second reaction: they wanted to kill him. (1 Ne. 1: 20.) They knew what to do with this kind of message. They would excommunicate, or “cast out” anyone who dared to preach this message. It threatened the pretenders who presided. It threatened the order of their day. It challenged the authority of the faith. It was too much.

Lehi would be either cast out (excommunicated). Or he would be “stoned” (an officially sanctioned religious punishment). Or he would be “slain” (a mob reaction not sanctioned by the religion). (Id.) The first two were to be imposed by the religious leaders. The third, however, would be popular reaction. An uncontrolled mob, showing spontaneous religious zeal, having been indoctrinated by their leaders to react in this manner. The leaders would prefer the third remedy. That would show their teaching was having the desired effect. If not, then the first two would be imposed.

Two messages, and two reactions. The popular practices of religion of Lehi’s day were condemning souls. No one was being saved. No leadership existed which would lead men back to God’s presence.

Lehi listened to the “many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent” (1 Ne. 1: 4). He learned for himself, directly from God that this was a true message. He took up the message and he delivered his own testimony.

This was a message from God, whom He had met. This was authorized and, whether the Jews of his day would acknowledge it or not, it was binding upon them. Therefore, when they rejected his testimony against them and his message requiring them to repent, they rejected God’s word.

These deeply religious peers of Lehi’s were astonished at the idea an obscure merchant could speak with and for God. Once again the first chapter of the Book of Mormon introduces us to a world where God alone decides who He will call. Then, after a private audience with the Lord, the commissioned spokesman proceeds to cry repentance. These are radical ideas, and prove the Book of Mormon is no ordinary text. It is a warning from God, and its precepts will bring mankind closer to the truth than the precepts you will find in any other volume of sacred text.

Lehi’s Message

Lehi delivered two separate messages to his generation at Jerusalem. These two messages provoked two separate reactions.

The first message was that they were wicked, and were engaged in abominations before God. (1 Ne. 1: 19.) In other words, these were sinful people needing to repent and return to God.

When the people heard “the things which he testified of them” their reaction was to mock and ridicule him and his message. (Id.) They had the scriptures, the priesthood, the Temple, the ordinances, and they were absolutely certain they were living their religion just as God wanted them to. They were “chosen” and were holy people. This idea of being “wicked” and engaging in abominable practices while they lived devoted lives seemed rediculous to them. Lehi could not be taken seriously. If there was anything to this message, then they would expect it would come from the established hierarchy, not some obscure trader living in Jerusalem. He wasn’t even a Levite for that matter.

The second message was much more serious. He spoke “plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.” (1 Ne. 1: 19.) Since this was an idea the Jews of that day had rejected, Lehi’s testimony of Christ was too much. He was accusing them of apostasy. This aroused anger and even fury. The idea that these holy people, devoted to their religion, practicing the ordinances and preserving the Temple rites could be in a state of apostasy was too much for them to brook.

In response to this second message they had a second reaction: they wanted to kill him. (1 Ne. 1: 20.) They knew what to do with this kind of message. They would excommunicate, or “cast out” anyone who dared to preach this message. It threatened the pretenders who presided. It threatened the order of their day. It challenged the authority of the faith. It was too much.

Lehi would be either cast out (excommunicated). Or he would be “stoned” (an officially sanctioned religious punishment). Or he would be “slain” (a mob reaction not sanctioned by the religion). (Id.) The first two were to be imposed by the religious leaders. The third, however, would be popular reaction. An uncontrolled mob, showing spontaneous religious zeal, having been indoctrinated by their leaders to react in this manner. The leaders would prefer the third remedy. That would show their teaching was having the desired effect. If not, then the first two would be imposed.

Two messages, and two reactions. The popular practices of religion of Lehi’s day were condemning souls. No one was being saved. No leadership existed which would lead men back to God’s presence.

Lehi listened to the “many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent” (1 Ne. 1: 4). He learned for himself, directly from God that this was a true message. He took up the message and he delivered his own testimony.

This was a message from God, whom He had met. This was authorized and, whether the Jews of his day would acknowledge it or not, it was binding upon them. Therefore, when they rejected his testimony against them and his message requiring them to repent, they rejected God’s word.

These deeply religious peers of Lehi’s were astonished at the idea an obscure merchant could speak with and for God. Once again the first chapter of the Book of Mormon introduces us to a world where God alone decides who He will call. Then, after a private audience with the Lord, the commissioned spokesman proceeds to cry repentance. These are radical ideas, and prove the Book of Mormon is no ordinary text. It is a warning from God, and its precepts will bring mankind closer to the truth than the precepts you will find in any other volume of sacred text.

Lehi’s Commission

When the first chapter of Nephi opens, Lehi is among those who listened to “many prophets prophesying” about the coming judgments against Jerusalem. (1 Ne. 1: 4.) Their message was not Lehi’s. Their message was apparently upsetting to him because he responded by praying on behalf of Jerusalem. (1 Ne. 1: 5.) His prayer is interesting. He offers it on behalf of what he regarded as “his people.” (Id.)

The result of his compassionate prayer for others was a calling by God the Father, delivered by His Son, Jehovah. (1 Ne. 1: 8-13.) God takes note of those who have compassion for others and whose charity seeks the best interests of their fellow-man. Such people possess love, and it is “unfeigned.” (D&C 121: 41.) It is precisely because of their love of their fellow man that they are called to render priestly service. (Id.)

Lehi was a man like Christ. Just like Christ, Lehi would intercede on behalf  of “his people” and did so “with all his heart.” (1 Ne. 1: 5.)

In response to this, Lehi’s vision endowed him with knowledge about the Lord’s great plan of mercy. He knew that the Lord would overrule everything for the good. Even the suffering that would be inflicted on the inhabitants of Jerusalem would be merciful, and would be predicated on the “goodness” of God. (1 Ne. 1: 14.) Lehi understood. Because he had this knowledge, he was able to see how God’s plans were always done for the benefit and ultimate salvation of man.

Before this encounter with God, Lehi was in the audience listening to the prophets cry repentance. After this encounter with God, he joined the prophets and also “began to prophesy and to declare” a message to Jerusalem. (1 Ne. 1: 18.) He could not “begin” to prophesy if he had been among the prophets previously. If that were the case, he would have “resumed” or “continued” to prophesy. He “began” only after encountering God. Therefore, we can know Lehi’s ministry to call others to repent did not start before encountering God and receiving his commission from the Lord.

This is what true prophets do. They do not advance their own agenda. They do not volunteer. They do not deliver a message of their own. They don’t look for witty quotes, or clever stories to retell. They receive a commission from God, and the result of their work is to offer those who will listen a chance to repent and return to God.

These individuals do not take the Lord’s name in vain. They cannot. They have been authorized to speak in the Lord’s name, and therefore their words are His. (D&C 1: 38.) He will vindicate the words of His servants because they do not speak an idle thing in their own behalf. They speak with His authority, and deliver His message.

So with the first chapter of the Book of Mormon we also get an example of how prophets are called: alone, in God’s presence, with an endowment of knowledge of God’s ways sufficient to enable them to deliver a message of repentance.

And this is only the first chapter! Imagine if we took the entire book to heart what we might find!

Lehi’s Priesthood

There is a key verse which passes by quickly. It establishes an important identity for Lehi. The verse confirms that Lehi saw God the Father sitting on His throne. (1 Ne. 1: 8.) In other words, Lehi beheld the face of God, the Father. This key verse identifies Lehi’s authority.

Following immediately after this view of the Father, sitting on His throne, Christ descended in His glory and ministered to him. His glory was above the brightness of the sun. (1 Ne. 1: 11-13.)

After Christ ministered to him, Lehi put the Father’s activities into perspective, declaring “unto the Lord: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!” (1 Ne. 1: 13.)

He saw the face of the Father. He was ministered to by the Son. This cannot occur unless Lehi had the highest form of priesthood. This is required for a man to see the face of the Father and live. (D&C 84: 19-22.)


Lehi required priesthood: “without… the authority of the priesthood, and the power of godliness…no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” (D&C 84: 21-22.) Lehi saw Him. Therefore part of the ministry of Christ to him necessarily included conferring priesthood.

Joseph Smith explained it like this: “All Priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS, pp. 180–81.)

In Lehi we have an instance of an Old Testament era prophet being “ordained by God himself” in the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon.

The phrasing in verse 8 (“he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne”) is an art form, or a formula. Alma would later use the same phrasing. (Alma 36: 22.) The best way to understand this formulation is found in Paul’s writings: “whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth.” (2 Cor. 12: 2.) Similarly, Joseph Smith’s encounter in the First Vision was either in the body or not, and during the vision he became physically incapacitated. (JS-H 1: 20: “When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.”) Daniel also physically collapsed when the Lord visited with him. (Dan. 10: 5-19.)

How much that book teaches us! It is only our neglect which renders it unable to teach us the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is only the first chapter of the book (1 Ne. 1) and it has an example of a vision of God the Father sitting on His throne, and the Lord Jehovah ministering to and strengthening a prophet of God! What great promise this book holds indeed if that is only the first chapter! Perhaps we should take it more seriously. (D&C 84: 54-57.) No wonder President Packer can lament in General Conference about the absence of priesthood power in the church. (The Power of the Priesthood.)

Lehi’s God

When Lehi first saw the Father sitting upon His throne, the description is as follows: “he thought he saw God, sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God.” (1 Ne. 1: 8.)

After being ministered to by Christ, (1 Ne. 1: 11) the description changes as Lehi reacts to his endowment of knowledge from the Lord. The record says: “And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God.” (1 Ne. 1: 15.) God the Father has ceased to be the impersonal “God” of verse 8, and has become Lehi’s God by verse 15.

It is in this sense that God becomes “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Matt. 22: 32.) God established His covenant with Abraham. Then He renewed and established His covenant again with Isaac. Then He renewed it again with Jacob. He was each of their God, by covenanting with each of them. None relied on a covenant given to their father, or grandfather, but each received directly from God a covenant in their own name.

Lehi also covenanted with God. He also knew the Father as “his God.” If you read what happened between verses 8 and 15, you will see how Christ ministers to a man and brings them into a relationship with the Father.

Compare 1 Ne. 1: 11-14 with Revelation 5: 1-8. In both there is a book, and it is Christ who is able to access the book. In both, a prophet, (Lehi and John) are able to then get access to the information which would be otherwise hidden from the world.

Lehi, as a recipient of the covenant directly from God, joined those who could call God “his God.”
It is the God of Lehi in the same way it is the God of Abraham; and the God of Isaac; and the God of Jacob; and the God of Nephi; and the God of Joseph.

Look at 2 Kings 2: 14 and you will see Elisha acknowledging that Elijah also knew God; and Elisha wanted to likewise come to know Him.

Is He also your God? If not, why will you not have Him to be your God? (1Ne. 17: 40.)

Faithfulness to the Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established by the Lord through Joseph Smith to deliver more information/revelation to mankind. The institution was authorized, or commissioned, to perform a variety of ordinances.

It was this church that baptized me. I’ve never belonged to another church. It was this church that delivered the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price to me. It offered the temple rites, and other blessings which I received willingly.

For all of those who are similarly situated, it seems to me that we all have an obligation to remain faithful to the church. Jesus was faithful, even observing the rites of the Passover in Jerusalem with His disciples on the week of His atoning sacrifice. He admonished His followers to respect those who “sat in Moses’ seat” even though they would ultimately crucify Him.

I believe covenants should be honored. We do not have the right to discard them. Therefore, we proceed with honor to follow what we agreed to follow.

The Lord wanted the church to remain together. The splintering began even before Joseph’s death. When he died the splintering accelerated, but there was and is an obligation to remain together. No matter what you learn, how far you progress, or what great blessings you obtain from the Lord, there is an honorable obligation to remain ‘gathered’ with the saints.

There is still a great deal left to restore. The work is terribly incomplete and when it resumes it will be among the saints, not among the Methodists, or the Hindus. The restoration will add to the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. It will not begin over again with people unacquainted with this latest body of revelation from the Lord.

I intend to remain faithful to the church, no matter what the issues are that exist because of human failings or errors.

Because I respect the order of the church, I refuse to get out ahead. No matter what I know, I am unwilling to step outside of my narrowly confined role. This confined role allows me to elaborate on existing scripture, and still limit what I say and do. I am forced to study the existing scriptures and our history to be able to confine what I do inside the existing order, while still explaining what I may be required to explain or declare.

I do not believe I would be of any benefit to the Lord or my fellow man if I were to rebel, abandon covenants I have made, or try to become something separate and independent. The Lord requires us to be meek, to respect authority, and to submit to others. It helps us to understand Him more fully. For me, respecting the order of things inside the church is also a matter of wisdom. It keeps all of us from becoming too much or too little as we follow the Lord.

Received of His Fullness, Part 3

The often quoted verses in Section 84 have an objective event that is consistently ignored. It is not merely “the ordinances” of the priesthood which are of value. The “power of godliness” (D&C 84: 20) is inseperably connected with these ordinances. (D&C 121: 36.) Without the “power of godliness” our rites are much like the apostate world Christ condemned in His initial visit with Joseph. (JS-H 1: 19.)

D&C 84: 20-22 tells us about:
-Power of Godliness
-Authority of the Priesthood
-Seeing the face of God the Father

These verses do not vindicate ordinances as an end in themselves. Far from it. Instead, they commend us to reach upward. If the ordinances alone were enough, there would be no mention of “power of godliness” and “authority of the priesthood” and “seeing the face of God, even the Father.” Therefore, how ought you to view the ordinances? If they have value, what value do they have? Why do we want or need them? What should they inspire within us?

Where and how did Joseph and Sidney “receive of His fullness?” (D&C 76: 20.)

Why, in speaking of “the power of godliness” and “the authority of the priesthood,” does it then connect with “seeing the face of God, even the Father?” (D&C 84: 22.)

Why, in the “oath and covenant of the priesthood” (as we have taken to identifying it), does it mention “receiving Christ?” (D&C 84: 36.) Is this to be taken as descriptive of receiving the priesthood, or as merely some future vague promise for the afterlife? If you read it as the afterlife, where do you find support for that reading in the revelation? Is that reading consistent with mortals having priesthood? If the priesthood is gained in mortality, why then is “receiving Christ” only post-mortality? Or, does the priesthood then become post-mortal as well?

Why does the Lord say if we “receive Him” we will also “receive His Father?” (D&C 84: 37-38.) How is coming into Christ’s presence related to coming into the Father’s presence? Are these connected? How? And how does this connect with “priesthood” since that is the topic of the revelation? Is the priesthood proprietary, meaning that it belongs like a franchise to some group, institution or individuals? Or is the priesthood instead best viewed as a relationship between God and man? If a relationship between God and man, then is it based on trust? Personal trust between God and the specific man? If that is the case, what is required to receive priesthood?

Who are His “servants” He requires you to “receive?” (D&C 84: 36.) How would such a servant aid you in coming to God and receiving priesthood? What is the relationship between receiving a servant, then receiving Christ, then receiving the Father? How is Joseph Smith an example of this?

Does the statement given in 1835 in D&C 107: 1 describe the condition of the church at that time? Or, does it describe a continuing presence of priesthood forever thereafter? Can priesthood be lost? (D&C 121: 37.)

Do you have His fullness? Why not? How do the scriptures say you receive it?

Is this what Nephi said he did in his record? Why does he walk us through his own experience? Is he bragging, or is he instructing and inviting us to do likewise?

Are ordinances enough? Do they testify to an underlying truth? Why receive the testimony of the ordinances and ignore the underlying truth?

No matter what we have received, retained or discarded from Joseph Smith, doesn’t his entire ministry come down to affirming James 1: 5? Can you ask of God also? Will He not “give liberally” to you? Then it is not lack of faith in Joseph’s ministry or your personal lack of keys held by those in higher priesthood offices that keeps you apart from God. Instead it is your unwillingness to do as James instructs, and your failure to ask God in faith.

Moroni told Joseph that Joel had not yet been fulfilled, but would be soon. He linked this to the “fulness of the Gentiles” which signals their end. (JS-H 1: 41; see also Joel 2: 28-32.) Is that time upon us?

Is the reason so few are “chosen” even though many are “called” related to this very subject? (D&C 121: 34.) Would you be better off trying to please God rather than getting noticed by other men?

Does it occur to you that this process in these revelations is the fullness of the Gospel in action? That the fullness of the Father, as well as the fullness of the priesthood, are part of the relationship which you are required to develop with God? Directly between you and Him, and not between you and someone else? If this is so, then what light is shed when the open vision given to Joseph and Sidney where the past rebellion of an angel in a position of authority is revealed, and the future final destiny of man is shown to them? Why is a man saved no faster than he gains knowledge? (TPJS, p. 217.)

Why did Joseph comment on the vision (in Section 76) by stating: “I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” (TPJS, p. 304.)

Received of His Fullness, Part 2

It will only be when the gentiles begin to have faith like the Brother of Jared that the Lord will make the fullness known again. (Ether 4: 6-7.) It was the plan to withhold the fullness from the gentiles, and not confer it upon them. The Lord told Moroni “they shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.” (Id.)

Joseph and Sidney “received of His fullness” in the vision. (D&C 76: 20.) The Lord once offered it again. Joseph may or may not impress you as a valiant soul (he certainly does me), but almost no one looks at Sidney Rigdon and sees a great, valiant soul. There has been nearly two hundred years of disparaging of Sidney by those who voted to follow Brigham Young and the Twelve and their descendants. It would be well to remember that Sidney “received of His fullness” and Brigham Young died hoping the Lord would visit him if he lived to be 85 years old.

If Sidney, despite all you have heard and read concerning him, and despite his subsequent disaffection from the church, “received of His fullness” then you should recognize this is NOT so great a thing as to be impossible for you. Take heart.

What is it that the Vision tells us about the exalted hosts?

They are the “church of the Firstborn.” (D&C 76: 54.) Meaning they are all sons and daughters of God.

The Father has given “into their hands” what is called “all things.” (D&C 76: 55.) That is, they have handled something.

They have “received of His fullness and of His glory.” (D&C 76: 56.) Both Joseph and Sidney recite this as having taken place. (D&C 76: 19-20.)

Though it would not be until sometime in 1843 before Joseph began to unfurl in private the process of becoming a “king and priest” unto God, Sidney and Joseph were acquainted with this in the Vision in 1832. (D&C 76: 56-57.) This is the only way such kings and priests can be made; although you can have a ceremony which symbolizes it. Joseph and Sidney’s accomplishment was an invitation for others to follow. It was not intended to be the end of the restoration process, but a harbinger of what would follow.

If Joseph and Sidney were the only ones who were to “receive of His fullness” then the prophecies promising a return of Zion could never be fulfilled.

Why are we allowing the restoration to end?
Why are we not looking to see a return of Zion?
Why are we content to trust others will bring it, when each of us has a responsibility to individually prepare to see it return?
What good does it do to study the revelations if we are unwilling to do the works required by the revelations?
Is theoretical knowledge and symbolic ritual enough?
Will Zion only return as a distant symbol in this dispensation?
Will the Lord only symbolically return?
Will the world only symbolically end?
Will the wicked only be symbolically destroyed?

What is it that you find so compelling about your current plight that you won’t awake, arise and look into the matter of the fullness as set out in scripture? To receive it you only need to “love him, and purify yourself before him” and He will “grant this privilege of seeing and knowing for yourself.” (D&C 76: 116-117.) But this must be “while in the flesh” and not after you leave here. (D&C 76: 118.) This is the only way you can then be able to “bear his presence in the world of glory.” (Id.)

Received of His Fullness

When the heavens opened to Joseph and Sidney Rigdon jointly in 1832, they saw and heard many things. Among the many things shown them was the Father sitting on His Throne and the Son beside Him. (D&C 76: 23.) The Vision included not just the final state of mankind in the various kingdoms of glory, but also included an explanation of the rebellion by an angel in a position of authority before God. (D&C 76: 25.) They saw the heavens weep over this rebellious angel. (D&C 76: 26.) They saw the terrible, inexpressible end to him, and all who follow him. (D&C 76: 44-48.)

They saw the final state of mankind. They also beheld many things they were not permitted to write. (D&C 76: 114-115.) Their knowledge exceeded what is lawful for man to know. Because of this knowledge, they were not like the others of their generation.

They entered into the Throne Room of the Father, and beheld Him in His glory. Because of this, both Joseph and Sidney “received of his fulness” (D&C 76: 20). This is how the fullness is received. It can be symbolized, ritualized, or conferred by an ordinance, but the fullness itself involves God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, personally. Therefore, when we speak of “fullness” through symbol, ordinance and ritual, we are speaking of the type. When we speak of the “fullness” itself, we are speaking of the real thing. There is a custom to accept the rites and symbols in place of the real thing. This is so much so that, today, some doubt the need for the real thing.

The “fullness of the Father” includes the “fullness of the priesthood.” It also includes more. Joseph and Sidney joined the holy angels who stood before God. (D&C 76: 21.) Therefore, they would be among those who “came to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.” (D&C 76: 67.)

By 1841 the fullness of the priesthood had been forfeited by the church. (D&C 124: 28.) Christ offered, on condition of the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, to come and restore that fullness again to the church. That required Him to come. (D&C 124: 28.) If He came, then men would be redeemed from the fall and return to God’s presence. (Ether 3: 13.)

To have Zion, God must come and dwell with His people. (Moses 7:  69.) To have Zion is to have people who:
-are of one heart, and
-are of one mind, and
-dwell in righteousness, and
-have no poor among them. (Moses 7: 18.)

There are many things which occupy the attention of Latter-day Saints. This short list, however, would seem to be the most important place to begin, assuming we were interested in having Zion return. We are not currently unified and for the most part are fragmenting. This is the inverse of what brings Zion.

Luke 1: 8-9

Luke 1: 8-9 refers to Zacharias (father of John the Baptist) officiating in the priest’s office.

“And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”

Those who were outside knew how long it would take to burn incense and offer the morning prayer, therefore when too much time had passed they were troubled by the delay. (Luke 1: 21.)

The prayer he offered was set, given each day as part of offering incense in the Holy Place, and is as follows:

True it is that Thou art Jehovah our God, and the God of our fathers; our King of our fathers, our Saviour and the Saviour of our fathers; our Maker and the Rock of our salvation; our Help and our Deliverer. Thy name is from everlasting and there is no God beside Thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to Thy name by the seashore; together did all praise and own Thee as King, and say, Jehovah shall reign who saveth Israel.

Be graciously pleased, Jehovah our God, with Thy people Israel, and with their prayer. Restore the service to the oracle of Thy house; and the burnt-offerings of Israel and their prayer accept graciously and in love; and let the service of Thy people Israel be ever well-pleasing unto Thee.

We praise Thee, who art Jehovah our God, and the God of our fathers, the God of all flesh, our Creator, and the Creator from the beginning! Blessing and praise be unto Thy great and holy name, that Thou hast preserved us in life and kept us. So preserve us and keep us, and gather the scattered ones into Thy holy courts, to keep Thy statutes, and to do Thy good pleasure, and to serve Thee with our whole heart, as this day we confess unto Thee. Blessed be the Lord, unto who belongeth praise.

Appoint peace, goodness, and blessing; grace, mercy and compassion for us, and for all Israel Thy people. Bless us, O our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Thy countenance. For in the light of Thy countenance has Thou, Jehovah, our God, given us the law of life, and loving mercy, and righteousness, and blessing, and compassion, and life, and peace. And may it please Thee to bless Thy people Israel at times, and at every hour with Thy peace. Blessed be Thou, Jehovah, who blessest Thy people Israel with peace. (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, pp. 128-29.)

When the angel appeared and said, “Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard” (Luke 1: 13), the prayer asked for “the light of [God’s] countenance” to shine again upon Israel. The promised son (to be named “John”–Luke 1: 13) was to “go before him in the spirit and power of Elias.” (Luke 1: 17.) The One before whom John was to go was “the light of [God’s] countenance” or, in other words, Jehovah. John was to be Elias to precede and prepare the way for Jehovah.

Following his birth, John was “ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.” (D&C 84: 28.) He prepared the way, was imprisoned and beheaded. Then he appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. (JST-Mark 9: 4; Matt. 17: 2-3, 13.) Moses opened, and John closed, the prior dispensation and met with Christ as the founder of the new dispensation.

John was as great a prophet as ever lived. The Lord said he was “more than a prophet.” (Luke 7: 24-28.) Foretold in  prophecy, born to bring “the light of God’s countenance” back to Israel, fulfilling an angel’s promise, named by heaven, ordained at eight days, sent to close one and open another dispensation, slain for his testimony, and then called to minister as an angel to the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, John was “more than a prophet.”

The Lord Delights in Chastity

Jacob’s sermon which touches on and condemns taking multiple wives includes this statement quoted from the Lord: “For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” (Jacob 2: 28.) In the same breath, and in connection with the topic of multiple wives, the Lord adds: “And whoredoms are an abomination before me.” (Id.)

All those who think they are living a “higher law” by taking multiple wives should be extremely careful about their actions, in light of the Lord’s overall caution about this subject. David fell from his exaltation as a consequence of offending this law, because it led to betraying Uriah, lying to protect against his immoral behavior, and ultimately taking life. (D&C 132: 39.)

How often has violence been the product of polygamous groups? How many murders have happened while wicked and ambitious men struggle for control over followers who take multiple wives?

Joseph Smith, the recipient of the revelation which has led to these various claims by different pretenders also had something to say about chastity and adultery. The very same man through whom the revelation came also instructed the Relief Society with this advice:

“Spoke of the organization of the Female Relief Society; said he was deeply interested, that is might be built up to the Most High in an acceptable manner; that its rules must be observed; that none should be received into it but those who were worthy; proposed a close examination of every candidate; that the society was growing too fast. It should grow up by degrees, should commence with a few individuals, thus have a select society of the virtuous, and those who would walk circumspectly; commended them for their zeal, but said sometimes their zeal was not according to knowledge. One principle object of the institution was to purge out iniquity; said they must be extremely careful in all their examinations, or the consequences would be serious. …[T]he Saints should be a select people, separate from all the evils of the world– choice, virtuous and holy.” (TPJS, p. 201-202, March 30, 1842.) Joseph also said: “If a man commit adultery, he cannot receive the celestial kingdom of God. Even if he is saved in any kingdom, it cannot be the celestial kingdom.”

“Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett’s letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the Church. “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”  Times & Seasons 3:909, Sept. 1, 1842.

Whatever you may think you know about Joseph’s intentions and practice involving plural wives, his public statements cannot be reconciled with promiscuity or exploitation of women for the gratification or vanity of men.

This may seem a contradiction. As if Joseph were talking out of both sides of his mouth. It is not. The careful manner in which the Lord controlled and permited taking additional wives to “raise up seed unto Himself” was covenantal, sacral, and did not involve indiscriminate breeding of multiple women. Other than his own, Joseph only sealed one plural wife to one man. For Joseph, the multiple wives were governmental, sealed to him to construct the family of God on earth. Tying together lines of what was to be a single family, with himself as the patriarchal father of a new branch of the Family of Israel. It was not, as the quote above demonstrates, a matter of lust and physical gratification.

Joseph’s practices were carefully guarded, hidden from public view, and so discrete that still today there are those who think he never had plural wives. If this were something for public display and advocacy, then Joseph would have done so. He did not. To the contrary, he also delighted in the chastity of women and condemned adultery and fornication.

In contrast to Joseph’s remarks, Brigham Young made a remark at the return of Thomas Marsh to the church in 1857. This is a reflection of President Young’s attitude toward women. I end this series with Brigham Young’s words. They were spoken immediately after Thomas Marsh addressed the Saints, pleading to be welcomed back after his apostasy. Brigham Young introduced him, and while Brother Marsh spoke he (Marsh) mentioned that he was “an old man” now. Folllowing his remarks, Brigham Young added the following:

“He has told you that he is an old man. Do you think that I am an old man? I could prove to this congregation that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband that can any of the young men.” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1329, September 6, 1857.)

Brigham Young added that the difference between his age and Brother Marsh’s age was “one year and seven months to the day.” (Id.)

Somewhere between Joseph’s Nauvoo and Brigham Young’s Salt Lake City, the idea of multiple wives transitioned from a carefully guarded, privately practiced, severely limited relationship requiring God’s approval, word and the Holy Spirit of Promise, into a broadly advocated, openly practiced, publicly defended, and church authorized form of marriage which was said to be required for exaltation. In Brigham Young’s form of the church a man could not be saved if he didn’t fetch multiple wives: “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise you that you will be damned.” (JD, Vol. 3, p. 266.) “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” (JD, Vol. 11, p. 269.)
It is my view that the question of taking plural wives arises with Joseph Smith, and was through a revelation to him when he inquired about the topic. He treated it as a limited, carefully curtailed, private matter. His implementation of the practice was limited to sealing his own plural wives, and one other man to two wives. 
With Brigham Young, however, taking more women became not only public, but it also became a topic used to prove his own verility. A comparison between Joseph’s and Brigham Young’s advocacy is stark, at least to me.

The subject could be discussed endlessly. I would discourage anyone from thinking this is something to advocate or practice. Even if you believe you are a well-read polygamist, you still don’t have enough information. If you think you have enough understanding to know what the topic includes, then instead of acting like Brigham Young and “finding more girls who would choose you for a husband” focus instead on qualifying to preserve one marriage.

Any man whose wife is unhappy, who is exploited and treated like his property, whose behavior fails to mirror Christ’s in the heart of the women who knows him best, has not yet qualified for his marriage to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That work should not be left undone, and certainly must precede any complication of life by introducing more women into a relationship. Stop this foolishness. Save yourself by approaching this with the caution required to avoid vanity, self-destruction, practicing an abomination, and reducing a relationship to whoredoms. You should never trifle with the souls of others.

Answer: Reading Scripture

I received a question this morning about the first two verses of Section 132. The questioner presumes the first two verses frame everything that follows. According to his manner of reading the first two verses the language dealing with eternal marriage requires plural wives.

Here’s my response:

God gives “liberally.” (James 1: 5.) This means something. The word “liberally” is illustrated frequently in scripture. For example, Joseph Smith inquired which church to join. (JS-H 1: 18.) The answer to the specific question was to “join none of them.” (Id., v. 19.) But the answer was not limited to the question posed. It also explained that:

-Their creeds were an abomination.
-The professors were corrupt.
-The practitioners draw near with their lips, but
-Their hearts were far from God.
-They possess only a form of godliness.
-Their form of faith is powerless.
-Their doctrines are merely commandments from men. (Id.)
Then the Lord added “many other things did he say unto [Joseph]. which [he] could not write at this time.” (JS-H 1: 20.)

This information, beyond which church to join is the Lord giving liberally.

When Joseph sought to know what his standing was before God four years later, he prayed to have his sins forgiven. (JS-H 1: 29.) In response to this inquiry, the angel Moroni appeared and gave him information about coming judgments, the future revelations to be poured out as promised in Joel, the restoration of priesthood, and a book buried nearby giving a history of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. (JS-H 1: 33-43.) The answer was far beyond the scope of the inquiry. This was God giving “liberally.”

When the Brother of Jared tried to solve the problem of interior lighting in eight barges, the Lord’s answer had very little to do with the lighting problem. (Ether 3: 1.) The Lord’s answer redeemed this prophet from the fall (Ether 3: 13), included ministering to him as the Lord administered to the Nephites at a later time (Ether 3: 17-18), and the Lord “ministered to him,” which would have included a great deal more than solving lighting issues (Ether 3: 20.) This is what “liberally” means.

The question asked by Joseph concerned plural wives and created the circumstance where the Lord could then “give liberally” to Joseph. The question is posed in verses 1-2. The Lord gives liberally, and explains the eternal marriage covenant (not responsive to the question asked). Then he also answers the question, beginning at about verse 34 and going through verse 44. Moreover Joseph receives his calling and election, and is given the sealing authority in verses 45 through 50. This, once again, has nothing to do with the question in verses 1 and 2. This is the Lord “giving liberally.”

Revelations from the Lord go well beyond the question asked. Oftentimes the issue which brings a prophet before God has nothing to do with the reason we later learn of the Lord’s answer. The highly local question (which church to join, how to light a barge, where to hunt food, why some ancients had plural wives, what repentance is required, etc.) is largely irrelevant to us. The “liberally” given material addresses matters of universal concern:

-Apostasy and restoration.
-Priesthood restoration to Joseph.
-The fullness of God’s revelations to mankind, including from the beginning to the end.
-Calling and election.
-Sealing authority.
-Visions of eternity.
-etc., etc.

It is the “liberally given” material which shows what the Lord really intends to bestow on mankind.

Therefore, although the question is posed in verses 1 and 2, the answer goes well beyond, giving liberally, and reveals for the first time the eternity of marriage. You can have plural wives without having an eternal marriage. That is what happens today in the various powerless cults. But the conditions for having an eternal marriage, bound by someone who has been into the Lord’s presence and received from Him that authority (as Joseph did), is another matter.

Therefore I do not think verses 1 or 2 frame what follows any more than I think the ministry of Jesus to the Brother of Jared is confined exclusively to lighting interior of barges; or any more than Moroni’s visit was confined exclusively to whether Joseph had good standing before the Lord.

Plural Wives

Section 132 speaks to two issues: As to entering into an eternal marriage covenant between a man and a woman in this life, before death, and having that occur by God’s will and word, sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, the revelation is clear: It is mandatory. As to taking multiple wives, the revelation states conditions, making it clearly NOT mandatory.

The problem with this whole sideshow is that the argument we have going on between devout people over the necessity for plural wives distracts from the real issue. Instead of seeking to have God, by His word, establish a union that will endure into eternity by sealing it through the Holy Spirit of Promise, the debate is over the non-mandatory issue of taking multiple wives.

This sideshow is, of course, a tool of the adversary designed to move focus away from what is required for exaltation onto an issue that will never save a man or woman. Stop being deceived. Stop being distracted. Stop being preoccupied by the second issue, and recognize you will fail in your desire to preserve yourself and your marriage if you neglect to fully comply with the first.

That having been said, the revelation is rather clear about the conditions for taking plural wives. The first requirement is that the Lord must command it in order to raise up seed. This requirement is not found in Section 132, but is in Jacob 2: 30. This is where the underlying reason is stated for the Lord to give the command. Before you presume you understand this underlying doctrine, I would like to pose a few questions to consider:

-If the foundation for giving the command is found in the Lord wanting to “raise up seed unto Himself” then what is to “raise up seed unto the Lord”?
-Are you certain this is childbearing alone?
-Does having children ever “raise up seed unto the Lord?”
-Was Joseph Smith commanded?
-Did Joseph Smith “raise up seed to the Lord?”
-Why did Joseph Smith only father children with Emma Smith?
-Does the commandment to Joseph mean something other than breeding children with multiple women?
-Can a man “raise up seed unto the Lord” as Joseph Smith did, never fathering a child with any other woman than his wife, Emma?
-Who are the “seed” which Joseph “raised up unto the Lord?”
-How were they made Joseph’s seed?

Section 132 gives two conditions for taking plural wives:

-If the Lord commands. (As in 132: 35 where Abraham was commanded.)
-If a man having the correct authority asks and obtains permission. (As in 132: 39 where David asked and the Lord, through Nathan, gave him these wives.)
-If additional wives are taken without the Lord wanting to “raise up seed unto Himself” thereby opening the way, and one of the two foregoing conditions being met, then taking additional wives is an abomination. (As in 132: 38.)

Further, in order to take an additional wife, someone (either the recipient or an officiator) must have the necessary keys to seal the marriage. This is complicated by the fact that there is never but “one man at a time” who holds this authority. (132: 7.) So if Warren Jeffs has these keys, Thomas Monson cannot. But if Owen Allred has the keys, then neither Warren Jeffs nor Thomas Monson can have them. And, of course, if Alex Joseph has them, then that deprives Allred, Jeffs and Thomas Monson.

The problem is, that if you are wrong in guessing which of the groups actually have the keys (because there’s only one, mind you), then you are guilty of an abominable practice and you are condemned. You not only will fail to preserve your marriage, you forfeit your exaltation and condemn yourself.

Though I do not often make disclosures of this sort, one of the reasons I am writing this series is because I have asked, and the Lord has told me Warren Jeffs does not hold these keys. Those who follow him thinking he is leading to a better condition in the afterlife have been deceived. I would advise them to abandon that group and repent. Has not his recent behavior taught you he is in error? Has not his last declaration about who can father children made plain the man does not speak for God? Have you not eaten husks long enough? Is it not yet time to return and repent?

Now, if you are of the view that you need to live polygamy, then you need to take every precaution to first know:

-The Lord has, in fact, commanded you; or
-You are in possession of the correct authority and you have asked God and been given His permission; and
-You are capable of “raising up seed unto the Lord” (which means that in the resurrection, you have the ability to take them with you in the ascent through the heavens, passing the sentinels who stand guard along the way, leading your company by the knowledge you have to endure that fiery ascent back to the Throne of God.)

If there is any part of that you do not understand, then you are utterly incapable of satisfying the conditions and you should run from this idea because you are not capable of living the conditions. If you understand and think you have authority to go forward, then I would further caution you that this is not something men take on themselves, but something which God or His ministering angels alone supervise. Do not trust some sentimental feeling, or “burning in the loins.” These are serious matters, not to be trifled with by the foolish and aspiring – and NEVER an invitation to the carnal.