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Priesthood Talk

The next topic will be priesthood. This will be November 2nd. I will not take time to give all the background information from the scriptures and history to lay out the many problems we have in the traditions taught by the mainstream LDS culture. I will simply assume you are already well enough informed to know about these topics:

Claims of priesthood were rewritten into our history later than the actual recorded events.

The first church offices, Elder, Priest, Deacon, etc. were elected positions.

David Whitmer thought the addition of High Priests was as a result of Sidney Rigdon persuading Joseph Smith. David Whitmer thought it was wrong.

High Priest and High Priesthood are not the same thing.

In the Old and New Testament there was only one High Priest at a time. He was of the Levitical order, presided over the Levitical priests and was essentially the ancient equivalent of the Presiding Bishop.

There is no account of the visit of Peter, James and John conferring Melchizedek Priesthood, but only passing mention of the event added later into Section 27. It was not there when first recorded. Joseph also mentions them in Section 128.

If I were to say to you that I own the keys to a Dodge pick-up, does that make you the owner of the same truck? Joseph wrote in Section 128 that Peter, James and John “declared themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fullness of times.” You should ponder those words.

Joseph and Oliver were the first and second “Elders of the church” before the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred upon them. Church offices include Elder, Priest, Teacher, etc. and do not require priesthood to possess.

President Grant changed church practice to ordain men to church offices, and to no longer confirm priesthood, a practice which lasted for over two decades.

If “all priesthood is Melchizedek” as Joseph Smith put it, “but there are different degrees or portions of it” then why did the Nauvoo Temple need to be completed to return the fullness? D&C 124: 28.

Joseph spoke of three priesthoods. We claim to have two.  D&C 107: 2

Even the idea of priesthood is not well explained in the many historic accounts of the restoration.

These are topics, not an explanation of the topics. I will not even mention these topics in the talk. I intend to clarify the overall subject of priesthood, and therefore cannot take time to address these other side-issues. But the more acquainted you are with these topics the more the clarity you will see in the next talk. The more you know beforehand the more you will get from the talk. But everyone will get something if they listen. Those who are only acquainted with the traditions will not get as much out of it.

A Friend’s Comment

I got an email from a close friend in Tennessee that said:

“I think if we live our life and don’t change our views over time, hopefully toward more correct, we are waisting our life. I suppose even if we become more incorrect, while trying to become more correct, then that is still better than not even trying to find out the truth.
Its hard though because the tendency is to search for proof of what we already think instead of just looking for the truth. 
I like that saying, ‘whatever there be that truth can destroy, it should.'”


I replied:

Well put.
Isn’t it curious how we adopt ideas like they are part of our anatomy and then refuse to give them up.  It’s like the ideas are more painful to change than cutting off a finger.  That’s quite strange when you think about it.  Ideas should be welcome when they come and welcome when they are replaced by something better.
Imagine if nature didn’t respond to changing demands.  Imagine if after a forest fire the birds refused to look somewhere else for seeds.  Everything adapts, except for the human mind in many people once we get past about 25 years old.  Then we think we know enough to keep holding onto the same tired ideas, even when they fail us in life.  We remain “devout” to the errors.

Questions

Four talks are finished. Two transcripts are up. I am working to complete the other transcripts.

The fifth talk will be on November 2nd in Utah County. If you are planning to attend and would like to submit a question, please bring it with you in writing and I will collect them before beginning. Questions will be difficult to incorporate into the recording of the talks unless I can read them as part of the discussion and then answer.

It would be good if questions did not change the subject, but related to the topics discussed this far. If a question is already part of what is coming in future talks, then it will get covered in the ordinary course of the material, rather than taking it out of context.

The next subject covered in Utah County will be the priesthood. I’m going to try to be there a little early to gather written questions beforehand from those who come. If you can’t attend, you can still send a question to me by commenting on this post and I will receive it.

Idaho Falls Transcription

The Idaho Falls lecture has been transcribed and uploaded to Scribd. You can link from the blog.

Next Talk November 2

The plan at the present is to have the next talk on November 2nd in Utah County. That is a Saturday, and I am hoping to find a venue that can be used in the morning. If possible, I’d like to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The next talk will be on priesthood. At that point, I will be half way done. I will continue sometime in the Spring in Grand Junction and that topic will be Zion.

All of this is really one long talk, delivered in 10 increments. But each one is a stand alone discussion. If you listen to them in order, you should be able to see how it fits together into one great whole.

Transcripts will be put up as they are completed. The recordings are all available now.

Last week I spent four days out of town in a trial, and then returned home to speak in Centerville. You should pay special attention to the scriptures in that talk. They are worth considerably more attention than can be given to them in a 2 hour lecture. I can only present ideas and then spend limited time directing you to where you can study them in the scriptures. The full import of the material is left to you to study out and reach your own conclusions.

Our thinking is tied to a model given to us by the Mormon traditions. The scriptures are not necessarily in harmony with those traditions. Therefore, it is necessary to look carefully at the scriptures, discard untruths, discover the revelations that are there and then believe what God has revealed. For many people that is too much to ask. I realize that, but the notion of people looking at things with new understandings should not be opposed. We all believe in Joseph’s ministry. We believe in the Book of Mormon. We believe in the revelations and translations given through Joseph Smith. That should be enough to allow us to have fellowship with one another.

Studying the revelations and finding something new or long forgotten is no basis for fighting with one another, or denying fellowship to those who choose to believe the works of God include something more than our traditions dictate. President Uchtdorf’s general conference address suggests the church welcomes different ideas. Whether that is true or not, our individual application of charity towards differing opinions and views should be broad, friendly and welcoming. On BOTH sides.

Centerville

The address for Sunday is 525 North 400 West, Centerville, Utah. Everyone has to be in a seat to comply with fire code. There are approximately 500 seats (including a balcony).

If you are in town for General Conference and want to attend, come by. All people from out of town will be admitted free. Locals are also free. Anyone arriving before the talk begins will be free. Come to think of it, this time it will be free to all. The talk begins at 7:00 p.m. 

Some Reflections on the Weekend

Saturday I was in Idaho Falls. After the conclusion of the talk my wife and I drove home. We went to church with the family Sunday morning, then she and I drove back to Logan on Sunday evening for the talk there.

Three talks have been given. There was an introduction, and then discussions about faith and repentance comprised the first three topics. The Centerville talk, this coming Sunday, will be about covenants.

There are about 7 1/2 hours of material covered to this point. This is about 30% of what will be covered. My original estimate of 25 hours seems to be about right at this point. I’m hoping to get another talk in before the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year time frame and then not do another one until the Spring. If another can be fit in after Centerville and before a winter break, then this will be 50% complete. That would be a wonderful accomplishment.

Now that three are done, I have learned how challenging it is to drive and speak in two venues in a single weekend. The only other time I expect that to happen will be in Las Vegas and St. George.

There continue to be warnings coming from the leadership about attending these talks. That seems to be attracting unwanted attention. The size of the audience in Boise and Idaho Falls was about the same. Logan was larger. Centerville should accommodate 500, but I’m hoping there will be empty seats. If the church continues to oppose, discuss, announce and call attention to this it will drive up curiosity. I don’t like that.

Here’s what happens. When someone who has been warned that I’m “apostate” comes and listens, they hear something that doesn’t sound like it is apostate. It seems rather more faith promoting and sincere than rebellious and angry. That produces another round of distrust of the church that is altogether avoidable if the church would just be quiet. Opposing won’t work. Ignoring is the best tactic. I’d recommend that the leadership and those stake presidents and bishops who want to prevent people from coming to hear me never mention my name. That way I can come and go unnoticed by those who are not interested enough to search out what it is I am doing. Let them sleep. I’m not trying to steal anyone. But people can be alienated by the false and unwarranted criticism being cast my way.

If what I am doing is of God, then that will show soon enough. If it is not of God, then it will fail of its own accord. Nothing needs to be done. The best approach is to allow the matter to unfold as it will. In the end, we will all know whether this is something the Lord has required of me, or if I am just another one of the long list of pretenders.

I give this advice in all sincerity. Smaller venues and a more intimate and informed group would be better Larger crowds, who are interested in a carnival atmosphere will be disappointed. I discuss scripture and doctrine. Deseret Book told me, “doctrine doesn’t sell.”

Equal in Authority and Accountability

The First Presidency are the primary organizational leadership in the hierarchy of the church. (D&C 107: 22.) They are the presidency of the church. They set the agenda and are accountable for keeping the church running.

The Twelve are equal in authority. (D&C 107: 23-24.) They differ from the First Presidency in their responsibility. They have no authority within organized stakes, but are missionaries, whose job is to spread the missionary work throughout the world. When there is no organized stake, they preside because of their role as a “traveling high council.” But their authority to administer in a stake ends once a stake is organized.

The Seventy are equal in authority. (D&C 107: 26.) Like the Twelve, they are missionaries. They fill missionary assignments when the Twelve cannot be present.

The stake High Council forms a quorum equal in authority. (D&C 107: 37.)

Joseph Smith never called a member of the Twelve into the First Presidency. They were sent on missions. In Nauvoo, Joseph presided over the sitting High Council, as you can read in the minutes of the Nauvoo High Council.

When Brigham Young wanted Sidney Rigdon excommunicated, he recognized as a member of the Twelve he had no authority to do so. Therefore, the trial was before the Nauvoo High Council.

When Joseph died, and Hyrum predeceased him, there was no one designated to replace Joseph. D&C 43: 4 required Joseph to designate his successor. He did this. It was Hyrum. (D&C 124: 91-95.) Therefore, there was no successor.

Interestingly, Section 107 was not referred to in the succession process in August 1844. Nor was there a revelation given to settle the matter. It was handled as a political event, with an election by common consent. Brigham Young campaigned for the Twelve, not for himself. Rigdon campaigned unsuccessfully to wait for one of Joseph’s sons to be old enough to assume the role. The election in Nauvoo was primarily between those two options. In the months following however, others would make claims and would peel off followers.

Once the Twelve were elected as the replacement leadership group, they have thereafter remained in control. Today there is an oligarchy of the Twelve governing the church, and they control everything, with the senior member becoming the automatic successor President, and the First Presidency invariably organized from the Twelve (though there have been exceptions).

Although the Twelve and the Presidency of the Seventy were responsible for my excommunication, they lacked the jurisdiction to implement their decision. Therefore, it was necessary to employ the stake, which had jurisdiction, to accomplish this.

I’ve appealed to the First Presidency. But what I find interesting is that the process in my case has involved the stake high council, the Presidency of the Seventy, the Twelve, and will now also involve the First Presidency. All of those quorums which are “equal in authority” are to be affected by this decision. Only the Lord could bring about such an interesting alignment of responsibility for this decision to excommunicate someone for their belief in scripture, belief in prophecy and their historical viewing of Christ’s prophecies about us and our behavior.

Idaho Falls

Please have your scriptures and The Lectures on Faith  for the upcoming Idaho Falls lecture.

Elder Christopherson of the Twelve gave a speech at BYU Idaho this week. It fits in nicely with the upcoming talk, therefore I am linking it here. I’d recommend you listen to it. His defense of the Prophet Joseph Smith is needed as more and more believing Latter-day Saints get a little troubling information, and collapse in disbelief. The cure, as Elder Christopherson explains, is to not know too little, but to immerse yourself in study and find the answers to any troubling information you unearth.

We have greater access to information today than we have ever had. But if we neglect studying it, then it serves no purpose. Whether Joseph was a prophet or not should matter to you. If you conclude he was, then he affords an opportunity to better understand the relationship between God and man. Joseph’s life is recent enough, with sufficient enough material, that we can learn things about him that are not available to us about Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, Isaiah, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Enoch or Adam.

Learning of the difficulties Joseph endured, understanding the tendency to attribute ill-will to his words and actions despite what motives were in his heart, and the subsequent drift away from his preaching and teaching is important to understand. That understanding should help you in your own effort to live in harmony with God.

I believe that the many revelations in the D&C identifying Joseph as the spokesman for God means exactly that: Joseph was and IS the spokesman God sent. Joseph’s words need to be heeded as if they came from God directly to us. No one has the right to change or ignore them. No one (and I mean NO ONE) has the right to claim they are Joseph’s equal. There are no “keys” or “key holders” who can alter Joseph’s teachings except at their peril. When they ignore or contradict Joseph’s revelations, and teach others that they can ignore the message and warnings given by that prophet who was called by God to begin this dispensation, they damn themselves and any who listen to them.

When Elder Christopherson defends Joseph, I want to rejoice and shout my own “Amen!” to his message. He is my brother in belief as he makes that defense.