Responses to Various Comments

Here, in no particular order are responses to various comments received since we opened comments up a few days ago:

To the fellow wondering if he’d wasted his time serving a mission: I don’t think so at all. The work of bringing people to knowledge of the restoration through Joseph Smith, introducing them to the Book of Mormon, and the modern revelations, as well as baptism, laying on hands, sacrament, and other ordinances offered through the church blessed and changed lives. It was a very good thing. Anyone you converted was given a great gift, and your sacrifice will be one of the things the Lord will account for righteousness.

To the one asking how to reconcile my ancestors contacting me while I did ordinances in the Jordan River Temple for them and the possibility we were rejected, I would respond as follows: Rejection of the church is not rejection of the individual. IF (and I have always left that tentative and for each person to decide for themselves) there has been a rejection, that does not mean anything other than the organized efforts were unacceptable. Each individual is accountable for their own conduct. There was a Temple rebuilt by Herod, presided over by wicked men who would kill the Lord, and yet He called it His “Father’s house.” In that Temple a publican came in and offered a great offering, and was rejected. A widow, however, entered and gave but a farthing, and she was accepted. The difference was not the building, nor the act of paying, but the intent of the individual. In the same Temple there can be acceptable work and unacceptable work proceeding simultaneously.

To the one asking if I would clarify the sealing power: I can tell you there are at least three different ways sealing power is made available. The church purports to have only one of those. I will not be able to do the topic justice in a blog post. It would require a lengthy paper which I will undertake at some point. If there is anyone who thinks they have command of the topic, perhaps they will come out and write something and then I wouldn’t need to.

To the one asking if I thought there was a hidden, wise, or heaven-sent reason to change the temple rites in 1990: I can’t think of any. It wasn’t introduced as a revelatory change, or as an improvement. It was done because the church had the “right” to change it. The church leadership asserted they held “keys” that made them powerful enough to take the changes on and implement them. That is quite different from being either a revelation, a command from God or necessary for salvation of man. The change came about because of the research done in follow-up to an article suggesting dissatisfaction with the temple experience. That article was confirmed in polling of approximately 3,600 families in Canada and the U.S. The whole process was provoked by the members’ concerns and dissatisfaction with the temple rites, rather than Joseph having gotten it wrong in the first place. The leadership had two choices – change the members’ minds or change the ordinances. They changed the ordinances. I do think, however, that when we give our common consent to the church leaders, and they stand in their offices and make changes, and we then sustain them after the changes are made, that we (meaning the entire church) are accountable for the change, not just the leaders. Therefore, we (all of us) are similarly situated and cannot just lament a change made by church leaders. All of us are together moving in the direction we move and are all equally accountable for the changes when we continue to consent by common consent to the implementation of changes.

To the one asking about how I pass the temple recommend question about sustaining church leaders: I sustain them. They have my common consent. I don’t think I have any right to call my new stake president last month, but Elder Nelson did. I don’t think I have the right to build a multi-billion dollar shopping mall adjacent to Temple Square, but the chuch leaders did. I don’t think I have any right to separate the “tithing dollars” from the “investment dollars” belonging to the Lord, but the church leaders have done that for generations and have the right to do that. I’m not a leader. I appreciate being able to attend meetings and to receive the sacrament. I’m grateful for it. I neither envy nor want to join the leaders. I think they have a heavy and unenviable burden to carry, and do a commendable job accomplishing it.

To the one asking about how I see Zion unfolding: Not the way most people do. I tend to think the scriptures are quite clear. It will be the Lord’s work, not man’s. It will be initially in the mountains, only later in the plains. It will be the work of angels to organize. The Lord will provide the means, not men. The residents will not be like the typical nosey, overbearing sort who meddles in other’s lives, like the Strengthening the Members Committee. In fact, I doubt very much anyone on that committee will be fit to invite, because they presume to judge others rather than to serve humbly and provide by their meek example a fit pattern for living as “one” with others who hold perhaps very different views. Those who come will be open to growing into a unity of faith, not asserting that they have the right to compel agreement on pain of some penalty being inflicted. They will use meekness, love unfeigned, and pure knowledge to persuade one another of the truth. While outside the gate the demanding, compelling, presiding and coercing sorts will be burned.

To the one asking about organized atheism: I agree. Organized atheism is a religion. They do attempt to impose their views and do persecute others, but I was speaking about the individual atheist, and in particular the persecutors of the Prophet. For the most part, they were not interested and didn’t care about what Mormons, or anyone else believed. The atheists I know are more broadminded, and tolerant, than the folks in the Strengthening the Members Committee, and a good deal more discrete, too. The Strengthening the Members Committee leak confidential information on the internet, compromise legal issues and the right to claim certain legal exemptions. I think that is a problem for the church, and ought to result in them abolishing the committee, or firing those responsible for this significant mistake.

To the one asking if I can explain the various events in priesthood restoration: I haven’t attempted to give that history for a reason. Therefore, I’m not going to undertake that now. I will get to it, but the blog is not the means to accomplish it.

To the fellow who wants to know why I don’t provide my books free for download: First, I don’t want everyone reading my books. If someone is interested, they must be inconvenienced to do so. That will remain the case. Second, there are others who need to make a living through publishing the books and with whom I have contracts I intend to honor. One of those involved suffered a stroke a few years ago, and is partially paralyzed. It is an honor for me to be able to provide some revenue through the books (though it is not much) for this man and his family. If you think you should have something free, then read this blog. I’ve put more words here free, (and in the downloadable papers) than in my books. But the books deal with a single topic, and require the entire scope to accomplish the discussion. It must be a sustained discussion. One of the books (Removing the Condemnation) is entirely on this blog. I’ve been encouraged to put the Jacob 5 series in a short book. I may do that, too, but it is available free here. Your suggestion that I’m profit motivated is foolish (and wrong). I’d suggest you borrow from the local library. We’ve donated books to many Utah libraries, but my wife tells me there are submission guidelines which may keep them from being made available. So I can’t control if they actually put them on the shelves, or throw them away, or if people just take them once donated.

To the one asking about lunch: No.

To the one asking if I’d be willing to come and talk at the family reunion: No.

To the one asking if I’d recommend an order to read my books: In the order they were written.

To the inquiry about Eighteen Verses: It is a selection of those problems currently facing the church. They are the eighteen most significant issues we have before us today. The verses were selected to allow that discussion to be put into a single volume, and to show how the Book of Mormon remains highly relevant to our current plight.

To the one asking about which one of the Twelve: You’ve got to be kidding.

To the one asking about a Harley: The Dyna Super Glide. The basic model. You can do whatever you want to customize it and add anything you want. To bump power about 20% just open up the pipes and air intake using the Harley shop’s Screaming Eagle slip-ons and you’ll notice an appreciable difference just seat-of-the-pants.

Joseph Smith History, Part 5

Joseph’s education did not open his mind. Translating the Book of Mormon did not open his mind. He clarifies in his history the point at which his mind did open up. He writes of it: “so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (JS-H 1: 73-74.) This was the moment of greatest change. At that moment Joseph’s mind greatly expanded.

Later he would provide a description of the effect the Holy Ghost has on one who receives it: “This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, … for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene, and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence.” (TPJS, p. 149.)  This is in stark contrast to what some people think the “Holy Ghost” is about. They associate sentiment and emotion, rather than enlightenment and intelligence with the presence of this member of the Godhead.

Joseph could understand the meaning of the scriptures because he acquired access to the same source of intelligence which animated the authors when they composed the scriptures. He did not need to seek an “interpretation” or study the methods of Biblical exegesis. He knew what they meant because the enlightenment from God laid open to his understanding the true meaning and even the intentions of things that before were merely “mysterious.”

This is what Peter was referring to when he asserted: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1: 20-21.) In other words, no one has the right to assert any prophecy means anything because they think they can “interpret” the words, because such right belongs exclusively to the Holy Ghost. The words came (and still come to those who have received priesthood  —D&C 68: 2-4) from the Holy Ghost, and therefore, the meaning is only given from that source. [Section 68 was addressed to one of those who, in June 1831, was given the Melchizedek Priesthood at Isaac Morley’s farm. According to Joseph Smith, that was the first time the Melchizedek Priesthood was given to the Elders of the church. That is another topic.] Notice also, the appearance of John the Baptist was only to provide the means to be baptized. He specifically speaks about some future visit of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. (JS-H 1: 72.) Yet Joseph and Oliver received the Holy Ghost without any other ordinance and immediately following baptism. (1: 73.) This mirrored my own experience.

So in Joseph Smith’s History, we end at the same point where we began: His ministry as a prophet was directly connected with scripture. He walks through events that happened, including an audience with the Father and Son, repeated visits by Moroni, educational instruction given there, and the appearance of John the Baptist, but for Joseph, it was the Holy Ghost which enlightened his mind. When enlightened, the result was his capacity to understand the scriptures. He tunes into the very same frequency from which they originated. Sharing the mind of those who composed scripture, Joseph could understand what the authors meant. Therefore, when Joseph explained scripture to us, it was his right to tell us things we hadn’t known before, interpretations we hadn’t considered before, and the true meaning of what seems to us mysterious.

As people debate the meaning of latter-day prophecies, and think they can unravel the correct interpretaion of such topics as Zion, gathering, priesthood, sealing power, the “one mighty and strong” and many, many other things we learn of from our unique body of scripture, we should remember Joseph’s ministry. We ought to stop researching the threads of comments from oftentimes mystified commentators, and instead “ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally” to find the answer. Joseph did. It took him on a journey which resulted in him gaining a dispensation of the Gospel. He did not need to build on another’s work, because heaven worked with and through him.

Joseph was above all else, the prototype of a Latter-day Saint. Would that all men were similarly Latter-day Saints, who actually believed and practiced the religion restored through Joseph. A religion in which people are able to ask God and get an answer. A religion which Joseph began, but which God has yet to finish. One where no one needs to say to another: “know ye the Lord” because all know Him.

Little wonder the prophecy of Joel spoken of by Moroni was yet to be fulfilled.

Joseph Smith History, Part 4

Once Joseph had an encounter with God through the veil, he hesitated to discuss the matter fully. Even at the end he remained reluctant, even forbidden, to share all he knew from the encounter. (JS-H 1: 20.) The first attempt to tell someone about the encounter happened only a few days afterwards. He records that it was to a Methodist minister, the sect he had been most impressed with as he investigated the various religions. (JS-H 1: 8.) This fulfills one of the laws ordained before the foundation of the world (D&C 130: 20-21) because it is necessary for the Lord’s servants, and even the Lord Himself, to first make an offering of the truth to the existing religious authorities before either Christ, or Joseph, or any of His servants could then move forward independent of them. (See John 1: 11; D&C 10: 57.) Query in your own mind what would have happened if the Methodist minister had accepted Joseph’s experience as authentic.

Joseph explains this encounter as follows: “Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he 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 had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.” (JS-H 1: 21.) This theme of the false minister opposing new revelation found its way into the endowment ceremony Joseph later restored. That portion of the ceremony was eliminated in the 1990 temple changes. Before then the endowment taught how professional ministers were men in Satan’s employ, but true messengers were angels, sent from God’s presence with a message from God. This endowment teaching came from the actual experiences of Joseph’s life, as shown above. It is repeated, of course, in the experiences of all those who follow God, are taught by angels, and opposed by professional’s making their living from religion. Ultimately there must be a choice between those who come bearing a message from God and those who oppose it, and claim there can’t be any such revelation, and that the organized faith they advocate (i.e., Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, etc.) is the guardian and possessor of the right to teach all truth. They claim to be the spokesmen for heaven and heaven does not really send any messengers apart from themselves. Of course it follows that those like Joseph Smith were “all of the devil” and not to be trusted.

Joseph lived this. As did Christ. The temple rites, until 1990, fortified the endowed against this particular deception of Satan’s.

Joseph’s history includes an observation about the reactions the religious critics had toward him. It is always the false, pseudo-religious who are offended by the truth; not the atheists or agnostics. The athiests and agnostics allow others the liberty of believing as they wish. The religious are another story. They were the ones who, throughout Joseph’s life, worked against him. Ultimately it was the disaffected within the church, and the ministers outside the church, who were directly responsible for killing him.

There is a passing comment in Joseph’s history which is so undeniably authentic it leaps off the page. He writes that he was “persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) Joseph is absolutely correct. The right way to proceed, if those who claimed Joseph was wrong and they were followers of God, would have been to have treated Joseph kindly, and endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed him from error. But they didn’t! This is a great key to understanding how the plan of God works. It conforms to a law irrevocably ordained in heaven. The false ministers cannot help themselves.

Why was it that the people claiming to be religious were persecuting Joseph rather than trying to persuade him with affectionate persuasion? It is because when men think that they have God on their side, and they do not, then they become abusive. They seek to have control, dominion and power over others in order to force the true disciples of the Lord to change and surrender faith. They abuse their position by claiming to follow God, while actually doing the opposite.

They had to follow the law of their master, Satan, who deceived them. This was because only in this manner could Joseph also obey the law ordained by God upon which blessings were predicated. For Joseph to grow, it was required for the men inspired by Satan to be revealed in their true light. They had to supress, oppose, persecute and defame Joseph because they could not “in a proper and affectionate manner” have ever reclaimed him while serving Satan. He had the truth and they did not.

Joseph “had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (JS-H 1: 25.) Joseph was following the law ordained before the foundation of the world, and so were his critics. This is the same battle fought endlessly when God intervenes in the affairs of men.

We see the same thing when King Noah feared that Abinadi may have actually been sent by God. Noah was about to release him, but the priestly committee he surrounded himself with interfered. They aroused the vanity and pride of the king to make him angry. As a result, King Noah did not repent, and instead followed the law of  the persecutor. (Mosiah 17: 11-12.) Joseph Smith lived according to law, and according to law he was persecuted. According to a higher law he was vindicated by God, though like Abinadi it required his life. We are the beneficiaries of Joseph’s death. Through it the latter-day work is sealed, and will ultimately triumph. Temporary set-backs will not prevent the final return of natural fruit, and at last Zion itself.

Joseph’s history is the story of how one individual obtained salvation by following the laws ordained for saving any of us. It is authentic. He shares details that conform to the same pattern all disciples of the Lord must follow. He is saved, while his persecutors who followed the law of their master, Satan, opposed the truth and were damned. It is always the case. Joseph explained: “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets….and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” (DHC 4: 574.)

Joseph was not just a source of new scripture, but his life conformed to the pattern of it. To study his history is to see the hand of God acting again to offer mankind the opportunity to repent and come to Him. The way never changes. The pattern never varies. Occasionally men who are initially following the law of persecuting the Lord’s chosen will repent. Mostly they do not. Instead they reject what is offered, and incur the wrath of God. Joseph’s life and death are testimony to this ancient, yet still intact, system of law by which men choose to be saved or damned.

Joseph Smith History, Part 3

Joseph Smith’s entire ministry was connected to scripture. It began with an encounter between him and God which he was only able to describe using the language of scripture. It extended to an encounter with Moroni which he again described using a host of scripture to convey the meaning of what the angel impressed into his mind.
It turned to translating a volume of scripture. This required him to take every thought of the ancient prophets and translate them from one language into another. The language of the Book of Mormon repeatedly adopts phrases from the King James version of the Bible to weave together the ancient narrative. Given the circumstances, and what we have been told of that process, Joseph’s mind was embedded with phrases that would have seemed familiar to him as he struggled to capture in his own tongue the ideas of the long dead authors. It would not have been derivative from the King James’ Bible, but would have sidled alongside it in phrasing, structure and concept.
Just like Nephi’s vision of the fullness of God’s works, Joseph Smith likewise saw God’s unfolding plan. Nephi was forbidden from disclosing what he beheld. To bear testimony, however, Nephi adopted the language of Isaiah to explain his own (Nephi’s) testimony. It is important for us to recognize that when Nephi was writing Isaiah, and then expounding on the material he’d etched into the plates, he was acting the role of a prophet. Isaiah’s words WERE Nephi’s testimony. They allowed him to tell us what the Lord wanted us to know, and to do it using the words of scripture composed by Isaiah.
Jacob accomplished the very same thing. Jacob adopted the words of Zenos, and the allegory we’ve been reviewing, to testify of the things he had seen and heard from the Lord. I went over how Jacob had, like his brother Nephi, been visited by the Lord. Jacob was also looking for the language to express his own vision. He invited his people to the temple where he was going to deliver to them his own prophecy. When they arrived, he read them the allegory, Zenos’ prophecy, the story of the olive tree. When he completed that retelling, Jacob announced the following: “as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy—that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass.” (Jacob 6: 1.) Jacob, who behleld the Lord and was ministered to by Him, bore his testimony and established his prophecy by retelling Zenos’ olive tree story.
Christ’s great Sermon on the Mount was based on the Law of Moses. The law of retaliation (lex talonis) set out in the prior law was contrasted with what the Lord now established as the underlying meaning for that law. Instead of striking back, bear the blow and forgive. Instead of refraining from adultery, remove lust from your heart. Instead of rebuking, harbor no ill will toward your brother.
Christ’s entire ministry was based on expounding the scriptures. Interestingly, He forbid us from calling one another “fools” in His great sermon. (Matt. 5: 22.) Then He called men “fools” for their blind misapplication of scripture. (Matt. 23: 16-19.) The same scriptures which, in the hands of the Lord will save a man, are the tools for deceiving men and leading them into destruction when used by the Pharisees and Scribes.
For Nephi, using Isaiah was the perfect means to preach salvation. For Jacob, using Zenos was the perfect means to preach and prophesy about his people and us. For Joseph Smith, using the words of scripture to translate into English the words of earlier prophets was a master work of a man who received a dispensation of the Gospel. For Christ, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He was able to show how necessary His own sacrifice and offering was to fulfill all righteousness.
However, for the blind guides, the use of scripture to develop as commandments the doctrines of men, the Lord only had the term “fools” to describe their wickedness. They would not enter into heaven, and would instead hinder others who followed them from entering.
Joseph was commanded to “translate” the Bible. His Inspired Version was a work which led in turn to some of the greatest revelations of our day. Reading about “heaven” in John 5: 29 led to an inquiry which provided Section 76 to us all. The Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory was given because of an inquiry about scripture. Earlier John the Baptist came because of an inquiry about baptism as a result of translating scripture. The work of the Prophet Joseph Smith was intimately linked and could not be separated from the words of scripture.
At one point a calm Lord told His critics to search the scriptures, because His detractors claimed they would have eternal life from what was contained in them. But, He added, they testify of Him. (John 5: 39.) So it is not merely claiming the scriptures support a proposition that deserves respect, but instead whether the matter taught has underlying it the truth. Joseph’s history shows what an adept prophet can do when employing scripture to inform the reader of God’s will. In that respect, Joseph Smith does not take a back seat to Nephi or Jacob. It is a marvelous thing to behold; assuming you recognize it as one of the signs that testifies Joseph was indeed a prophet.

Joseph Smith History, Part 2

Joseph was still a young man when Moroni visited with him. He was practically a child when he first saw the Lord and the Father. In both encounters, as Joseph recorded his best retelling of the incident, he used the words of scripture to weave his account together.

In the First Vision, when the Lord addressed Joseph, the account tells it in these words:

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Or, in other words, Joseph has the Lord borrow from Jude 1: 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And Isaiah 29: 13: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”

And from Titus 1: 14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”

And 2 Tim. 3: 5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Or, the Lord conveyed into the mind of Joseph an indelible impression of truth, which would remain with him and expand and distill as he pondered on its meaning. When at last Joseph was able to set it out in an inspired retelling, the words of scripture flooded into his mind and equipped him to compose an account that would ring with truth, convey what happened, and testify of the authenticity of the words of ancient prophets, while letting the world know what the Lord’s message was to Joseph. But the language, even the quotes, are not what transpired. They are an accurate retelling, but reduced to our form of communication. The Lord’s manner of telling is quite different. It is unencumbered by our vocabulary, and conveys pure meaning and intent. Therefore Joseph was able to capture and compose the information with power and meaning to us. But to do so Joseph had to resort to scripture.

Which again, begs the question: “Why?” Why do prophets resort to the scriptures to explain the truth as revealed to them? Why does a new revelation get put into the words of an earlier revelation? Why does a stunning new truth come forth as an exposition of the already familiar words of scripture?

In perhaps his greatest sermon, Joseph drew from and expounded on the scriptures to proclaim new doctrines, unheard of by those who had studied the Bible for two thousand years. As he did so he remarked: “It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries –new things– for my hearers. Just at the time when some men think I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood –just at that time I have the greatest right.” (TPJS p. 364.) He goes on to expound from the Bible on the true meaning of “eternal judgment” and the resurrection, “salvation for the dead,” the plurality of Gods, Abraham’s teachings, eternal glories and the pre-mortal exaltation of some who lived on the earth. “Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even before the foundation of the world.” (TPJS p. 375.) He used as his text the Bible.

Prophets see the meaning behind the words of scripture, and not the words themselves. This is because having been taught by angels and the Lord, they know the intent. Hence Joseph’s proclamation that it is his “province to dig up hidden mysteries –new things” using the scriptures. They are not a sealed book to them.

In like manner the Lord spent most of the day of His resurrection opening the scriptures in a private conversation between Himself and two disciples while they walked on the Road to Emmaus. “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24: 27.) The Lord could do this because the Lord was there when they were written, and they reflect His mind and His teachings. Therefore, He could see clearly within them the teachings about Him.

To bear testimony of his encounter with the Lord, and with Moroni, Joseph Smith employed the scriptures to expound unto us in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. How like his Master was this servant! Joseph completely mirrored the pattern of the One who can save! We should be able to recognize the Master in the servant! In Joseph’s case, the parallel is unmistakable.

Because he had received a dispensation of the Gospel to him from heaven, Joseph proclaimed the truth using scriptures to confirm the message. “It is the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood, but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.” (TPJS p. 375-76.)

Joseph, having secured the truth from heaven for himself, did not need to build on other men’s foundations. He was privileged to declare the truth to us from his own understanding, from his own knowledge and in conformity with his own dispensation of the Gospel.

The scriptures weave together the truth from dispensation to dispensation because those who wrote them had seen the same vision, conversed with the same heavenly hosts, and found the inspired language that allows the truth to be declared.

When Joseph wrote his account in 1838, he had pondered and gained the insight to be able to weave into his history the corroboration of his Divine mandate employing the words of scripture to justify what he taught. He was a prophet indeed! He knew the things of which he spoke. All he needed to do was expound the scriptures to be able to dig up hidden mysteries, new things, for those who would hear him. Those who heard him were amazed, just as the disciples on the Road to Emmaus.

Joseph Smith History

The Joseph Smith-History found in the Pearl of Great Price was composed shortly after John Whitmer left the church and took what history existed then with him. He was the church’s Historian at the time. The bitter Missouri conflict left a lot of former top level church leaders disaffected and no longer followers of Joseph or the church. David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and several members of the twelve were among them. Some signed affidavits supporting the Missouri citizens’ campaign against the church, and were responsible for persuading the legal authorities that there was reason to justify arresting and holding Joseph. This series of events resulted in Joseph beginning again to write the history of himself and his church.

Given the fact he was starting over in 1838, I think the account in the Pearl of Great Price is remarkable. I think Joseph, like Nephi, could measure the importance of events he had lived from the distance of some years’ reflection about them than he ever could have as he lived them. What we get in the JS-H is the benefit of Joseph’s considered hindsight. He also could write better the meaning, or intent, of the message he received. He could interpret the visits, and make much more sense of them than he could when they happened. Nephi did the same thing. His Small Plates of Nephi were a production of his history begun some 40 years after the departure into the wilderness from Jerusalem. He wrote with all the insight and understanding of how the early events led in turn to the later results. He could see the preliminary disputes in the wilderness against the backdrop of the rebellion and rejection of Nephi following the death of their father, Lehi. He could align his visions with his father’s, and show how the elder brothers rejected both.

Joseph Smith used the First Vision and his account of Moroni’s first visit to foreshadow in the narrative all of his later prophetic work. It was an inspired explanation, using both scriptural and doctrinal coordinates to establish the Divine and angelic origin of his history and ministry. The JS-H is all the more valuable because of this inspired approach. We are better informed about what was really going on in Joseph’s ministry because he told the account by using language of scripture to testify of what he experienced.

I want to comment on the process of Divine or angelic communication and how that makes its way into the written record of a prophet. It is more complex and subtle than most readers can conceive. For the most part, we read the scriptures as a completed work, and think the words give us everything we need to understand doctrine. That is not at all the case. We must arrive at the same place as the ones who wrote the scriptures in order to be able to understand what they mean. Until we share the same view, take in the same Spirit, and have similarly been exposed to the direct influence of heaven, the words are incomplete and can be very misleading.

The angel Moroni appeared to Joseph in his bedroom, and took hours to communicate understanding to young Joseph. The version of that visit we have in the JS-H was written about a decade and a half afterwards. It reflects Moroni’s meaning and intent, but accomplishes it by supplying direct quotes from scripture. The account we have looks like a doctrine class, with Moroni as gospel doctrine teacher and Joseph as student. It is doubtful, however, there were any “words” exchanged between Moroni and Joseph. It is also unlikely there were “scriptures” used. Instead, the encounter likely consisted of Moroni conveying directly into the mind of Joseph the thoughts of Moroni’s own mind. Joseph would later attempt to explain this using these words: “All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” (TPJS p. 355.) This makes it seem as if it were less “real” than if it involved normal faculties, but it is in fact far more real, far more precise, and far more communicative to the mind, heart and spirit. It “imbeds” the information within the person. As a result, the impression becomes more clear with time.

As Joseph worked to reconvey the information to us, writing in 1838, he resorts to using scripture to make the meaning clear to us. Moroni is quoting various passages of scripture to Joseph, as described in these words:

He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:

For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus:
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
He also quoted the next verse differently:
And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.
He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.” (JS-H 1: 36-41.)
You have two options to explain this retelling of the visit. 1) Moroni said these exact things and a decade and a half later Joseph could remember and quote it exactly as it was spoken, or 2) Joseph could remember exactly the impressions, and drew from scriptures known to him in order to convey to the reader the information Moroni passed into his mind on that evening.
I believe the second is the accurate way to comprehend the interview. Moroni visited with Joseph, conveyed the information precisely as if Joseph had no body at all, and did not rely upon the eardrums, or the vibration of atmospheric pressure, in order to clearly and accurately enlighten Joseph’s understanding. Then, when it came time for Joseph to inform us of the event, he resorted to familiar words of scripture to recount the event.
It begs us to ask: “Why?” That is where we turn next.

comments

I’ve been reading comments this morning. Those who have submitted them and wondered if they were getting through can know they are. And I have been catching up on all of them.

There are some things raised which I will eventually address. Next week, however, will be taken up with the Joseph Smith History all week. There are a few other posts to follow that. Then I will address some of these questions you’ve raised.

Criticism of the Church, Part 3

I reject the idea it is criticism or “evil speaking” to discuss candidly the church’s history. Here is a sample of one fact which I welcome anyone to correct if I am wrong:

It is my conclusion that the Nauvoo Temple was never completed. Those who worked on it, went inside it, participated in work on it, and knew its condition never claimed it was completed. Never. The words used by those who knew about it were carefully phrased. They said it was “considered sufficiently completed to dedicate.” That is much different than being completed.

Joseph Smith died before the walls were completed to the second level. The lower part of the Nauvoo Temple was essentially a copy of the Kirtland Temple. The upper levels were not fully designed. The top attic floor was largely open, a few offices at either end and a large, open area inbetween. When the attic was adopted as the location for endowments, the area was unsuitable because Joseph never lived to work with design and construction crews to adapt the facility for use in endowment work. It did not have the kind of privacy and separate rooms needed to initiate through the ordinance.

Joseph had ordered a large quantity of canvas to cover the outside bowery next to the Temple. The weather made public meetings unpleasant, and many ended early because of rain or snow. The canvas was intended to let these meetings continue despite the weather.

In the winter of 1845, when the pressure to abandon Nauvoo became so great, the decision was made to use the attic space to do the endowments. The canvas was used to partition off areas in the attic and divide the area up so the ceremonies would be possible. The attic was “tented off” into separate rooms where the endowments were performed from December through early February. As they pulled out of town, the church’s leadership prayed for the Lord’s assistance in completeing the Temple. The next day the attic caught fire and the attic area burned. The fire was extinguished, but not without considerable damage to the roof and attic area.

The roof was repaired, but since the attic was no longer going to be used, the interior was again not completed. The rest of the temple interior was never completed. It was merely “considered complete enough” and was dedicated.

A year after the dedication of the Temple and before there was any damage done by the mobs, a newspaper editor from Palmyra, New York toured the Nauvoo Temple and remarked about its condition. Among other things, he observed in an article titled “The Deserted Mormon Temple,” these things about various parts of the Temple:

“The first sight we had of it gave us a pang of disappointment, for it looked more like a white Yankee meeting house, with its steeple on one end, than a magnificent structure that had cost, all uncompleted as it is, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But as we approached nearer, it proved to be something worth seeing… [In the attic:] The chamber itself is devoid of ornament, and I was unable to ascertain whether it was intended to have any, if it should have been completed… [In the basement baptistery, speaking of the font:] It is very plain and rests on the back of twelve stone oxen or cows, which stand immersed to their knees in the earth. It has two flights of steps, with iron bannisters, by which you enter and go out of the font, one at the east end, and the other at the west end. The oxen have tin horns and tin ears, but are otherwise of stone, and a stone drapery hangs like a curtain down from the font, so as to prevent the exposure of all back of the forelegs of the beasts… The basement is unpaved… [Overall comment:] The whole is quite unfinished, and one can imagine what it might have been in course of time, if Joe Smith had been allowed to pursue his career in prosperity.” (The Palmyra Courier-Journal, September 22, 1847.)

In a 1962 Deseret Book publication, the Nauvoo Temple’s state of completion was described in these words: “Perhaps there were many rooms in the building whose walls were not covered with lath and plaster. Perhaps factory cloth, canvas, or other curtain material covered the walls and ceilings in the upper story rooms. There were some large assembly rooms and many small rooms that were not to be used in the temple ritual, so they were not put in order and beautifully decorated and furnished with the best of equipment. In all such rooms the pungent odor of fresh pine timber, uncovered by plaster, pictures or carpets, greeted the visitors. There may have been many plank floors and stairways uncovered with carpets, and many walls and ceilings presenting an unfinished condition. …Bare boards in many rooms, large and small, might have been visible, but the rooms that were necessary for the temple ritual were quickly prepared, and tne endowment was administered within the new temple though the building was not as elaborately furnished as was the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.” (The Nauvoo Temple, E. Cecil McGavin, Deseret Book, 1962, p. 56.)

The content of Section 124 is what it is, and requires what it requires. History shows the Temple was only “considered complete enough” and was not in fact complete. The diaries of church leaders commented on the incomplete condition of the Temple. It appears to be a fact that “considered complete enough” to be used in the endowment, and later for purposes of being dedicated, is not the same thing as completed. Subsequently, after the Saints abandoned Nauvoo, and after the Palmyra editor’s visit, the building was burned down. Later it was struck by a tornado. Then the remaining, partial structure was considered a hazard and demolished by the City. By the time it was reconstructed, not one stone of the original building remained on the site. Some excavation located the font area, and some artifacts were recovered, but the structure was gone.

My view is that this has some relevance to our history. I think the early Salt Lake City refugees from Nauvoo suffered through great want, difficulty and hunger. Because of their hunger, they were boiling saddles to soften the leather enough to be able to eat it. This was very real privation and seems to represent something other than God’s blessings upon them. In the context of Section 124, it is at least plausible it represented God’s displeasure, and not His vindication of the Saints. It states “If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.” (124: 44-45.) This was the revelation given in January 1841, three and a half years before he death of Joseph and Hyrum. The “servants” appointed were Joseph Smith, and the new Co-President, prophet, seer and revelator who was also to be ordained to the Priesthood and given the sealing power by the word of God, Hyrum Smith. (See 124: 91-95.) The saints were warned that if they failed to complete the temple, according to the revelation that: “I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfill the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.” (124: 47-48.)

It is clear we have history to help us answer the questions: Were they blessed? Were they not moved out of their place? Were they cursed? Did God’s wrath and indignation visit them?

None of this is criticism of the church. It is an attempt to understand history and to read the meaning of events through the lens of scripture, rather than through the lens of conceit. Why should scripture not be used to help us understand history? If God chastens those whom He loves (Rev. 3: 19), then why do we fear acknowledging chastening from God? Can’t that be a sign of His love? What is the powerful insecurity that prevents us even considering the possibility of an early failure and God’s displeasure? Even if the work was interrupted, we can still have faith in the Restoration. After all, the Book of Mormon predicts we will get off track. It also assures us the Lord will set His hand a second time to recover us. The allegory of Jacob 5 also foretells of the eventual return of natural fruit. What fear should we have? Why would we not want to fully understand the Lord’s work instead of some alternative carefully composed fiction, or in other words a cunningly devised fable telling us “all is well,” when the evidence strongly suggest things are not at all well?

This is not criticism. This is a labor of love to understand fully the Lord’s dealings with us and our true standing before Him. Why would we reject it? Because it requires repentance and return to Him? What right do we have to think we don’t have to repent? How much of our story is motivated by pride, contrary to scripture, and inconsistent with facts?

If you attribute ill-will to those who diligently seek the Lord, then we ought to just disband as a religion claiming to follow God, and admit we are content to be a social group instead. We would still qualify for tax-exempt status. Then we won’t be encumbered by any of the rigors of what required the lives of Joseph and Hyrum, and which requires the sacrifice of all things, including our own lives if necessary, to produce faith.

“It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtain faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.” (Lecture 6: 8; Lectures on Faith.)

When we will tolerate only praise for one another, and cannot abide correction from the Lord in the revelations He gave us, we are no different than the Zoramites scaling the Rameumpton and proclaiming our conceit.

There is a great difference between pursuing truth, accepting the unpopular role of saying what needs to be said inside a group who does not welcome it, and merely criticizing the church. I utterly reject the idea. I know I am not qualified to be popular, or advance in the organization because of what I write. The organization resents me, and has made that clear. Even as I seek its best interests, I find myself the object of its ire. On the other hand, I have come to know God by the things I have sacrificed for Him, and I would never alter that bargain; even for the whole world.

Criticism of the Church, Part 2

Frailty or insecurity in the mind of a person oftentimes interferes with the ability to cope with facts or truth. For example, a secure and healthy woman can be told “the horizontally striped dress you have on makes your hips and shoulders look large.” She will thank you for pointing it out, and take it into account. She may or may not change the dress. It is, after all, merely appearance. But an insecure and fragile woman whose self-consciousness interferes with interpreting facts will have a different reaction. She may think the person pointing it out to her hates her, thinks she is fat, even ugly. She will resent the remark and never pause to think there was no criticism or hidden insult in the observation.

Facts are not criticism. Opinions which differ from traditional historical opinions that I have fully explained and gathered the evidence from the sources to support, are also not criticism. If an event occurred and is accurately retold, it is not criticism even if the event is troublesome.

When it comes to evaluating our faith, indeed any faith, there are moments where two things are going to happen: First, you will encounter things you simply do not understand. For those issues, you may struggle with dissonance, or the inability to resolve the question sometimes for years, as I have. That is perfectly normal. It means you have more work to do. It does not mean you are wicked, lack faith, or are out of harmony with God because you are unable to understand a proposition. For me, plural marriage was a difficult topic which caused me to leave it unresolved for over two decades. It was not something I had time to resolve. During that time, the issue was an admitted “problem” for my faith. But despite that, I had a testimony, continued active in the church, paid tithing and served in callings. From time to time, when the topic was being discussed, I listened, asked questions, considered what others thought, and kept the matter in the mental file-drawer to be sorted through at some point. During that time many Latter-day writers took the effort to gather and publish histories of the practice. They aided me as I pondered the question. It was literally only a couple of years ago before I finally reached a conclusion. I’ve never fully explained my conclusions or why. I have, however, mentioned the matter in Passing the Heavenly Gift. That is a broad-brush treatment, and not an elaboration of my full understanding on the subject. I am now comfortable with how I view the subject.

Second, you are going to encounter information that proves what you believed before is wrong. It may be wrong because it was not true, or because it was poorly understood, or because it was based on a story or incident that never happened. It may be wrong because someone you trusted was mistaken, or they were dishonest. Whatever the discovery that reveals things in a new light, you will undoubtedly find along the path of faith that you were wrong at some point about some things in your religion. I’ve encountered that a lot since becoming a Mormon. When you encounter such things you have a choice to make – Either you can react with dismay and bitterness, or you can sort through what adjustments now need to be made, and proceed with faith and security in God to sort it out. In other words, you can act like the secure woman who was told the horizontal stripes had an unintended effect on her appearance, and proceed forward with that in mind.

There are those who have never ventured into our history. They don’t want to do so. They feel insecure and frail, unable to encounter the material because of fear that it will unhinge them from what they value. I get that. In the case of Passing the Heavenly Gift I’m not writing to even address them. For the life of me, I can’t understand why such a person would even read that part of what I’ve written. It was certainly not intended for them. The most frail and insecure of all, however, are those who have never read anything I’ve written and yet presume to be able to evaluate the intentions and even value of the work I have and am doing. I am not a critic of the church. I have never been one.

I have never said the church does not have the sealing power. Instead, I have discussed the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith, the revelations in the D&C, and Joseph’s public addresses, the critical moments when the authority has been conferred, and both how and why it is given. There are three chapters in Beloved Enos, and several chapters in Passing the Heavenly Gift, and some material in Eighteen Verses, along with a paper on Elijah in which I discuss things relating to the topic. In none of that have I ever said the church lacks sealing power. In Beloved Enos I discuss an example from President Monson where I refer to its use. I also concede regularly the claim by the church that it has it and I do not question that claim. Never have.

The fact that the power to seal is given in only one way is very clear in the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith. That is a fact. That fact has been shown in what I’ve written. Therefore, there are several facts which ought to be considered. First, in scripture, the sealing power comes to man by the voice of God and in no other way. Second, I have never said and don’t claim the church lacks that authority. Third, the church claims to have such authority, and I do not question the claim.

Frail and insecure church members, particularly those who presume they have the right to evaluate the faith of others are well advised to first ground themselves and their own testimony before deciding if an accurate observation about “horizontal stripes” is really an insult or merely a fact.

Here is a sample of the kind of foolishness my wife brings to my attention from various blogs:

Administrator
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Salt Lake
Age: 53
Posts: 2,590
Thanks: 3,255
Thanked 6,552 Times in 1,788 Posts

Rep Power: 108

JayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond reputeJayE has a reputation beyond repute
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Quote:
1. Have you ever been criticized by church leaders?
A: No. I’ve never been criticized nor asked to stop writing by any church leader. Not from my bishop, stake president, nor any higher authority. I have had some contacts, but they have been private, and encouraging me to continue. There have been a number of people who have returned to church activity because of what I’ve written. Those results are viewed with some support. The criticism I am aware of, some of which has been quite harsh, has come from overanxious church members who have not read the things I’ve written.

If this Q&A with DS was not in the last few weeks, then it could be true. The investigation by the church is currently in progress. I know that his stake president has spoken with him at least once recently and probably will again. I have a pretty good idea of what will likely happen, but I can’t say much about it.

__________________
Jay

“Far more important than the will to win is the will to prepare” -LaVell Edwards


NRA
 NRA is offline
No Running Away
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Magna, UT
Age: 58
Posts: 2,041
Thanks: 5,120
Thanked 2,677 Times in 901 Posts

Rep Power: 148

NRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond reputeNRA has a reputation beyond repute
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayE View Post
I have a pretty good idea of what will likely happen, but I can’t say much about it.

If you’re not going to say anything about it, then why even mention something like this? 

__________________
Brain has short-circuited
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Arizona
Posts: 3,328
Thanks: 16,090
Thanked 3,883 Times in 1,919 Posts

Rep Power: 88

Toni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond reputeToni has a reputation beyond repute
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayE View Post
If this Q&A with DS was not in the last few weeks, then it could be true. The investigation by the church is currently in progress. I know that his stake president has spoken with him at least once recently and probably will again.

It could be that his stake president did not criticize him, but merely asked him some questions. The Q & A is the result of an interview he did on Mormon Stories (a podcast) about a week ago, so I’d say it was created within the last few days.

__________________

Interesting that there are those who are “in the know” from inside the church who feel at liberty to gossip on the Internet about things such as this. What kind of an organization are they running? Why would the church pretend to have confidential conversations between members and leaders if there are going to be such leaks from within the COB?

Shame on all those involved. Shame on those who refuse to discuss openly the important issues rather than resort to subversion of members through back-channels.

For the Strengthening the Members Committee I have another thought for you: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Prov. 28: 1.) That was Solomon. Today, if it were me, I would say instead: “Grow a pair. For the faithful tire of dealing with eunuchs.”

If I err in doctrine, and you have several million words of mine propounding doctrine in very public places then correct the error. Show me the mistakes. Teach me the better view of history. Show the better argument. If I err, I will gladly be instructed. But effeminate men hiding inside a tower who lack the testicular fortitude to confront me and debate the truth are unworthy of  any serious consideration. They have chosen to hide from the arena in which ideas are doing battle. Anybody creeping about behind a pseudonym when they dare to comment at all is in sharp contrast to my own public disclosure, public accountability and public defense of the faith I hold as true.

Here’s another truth for the self-righteous eunuchs accusing me of wanting the glory of leading my own following: You can’t find a picture of me on this blog, or in any book I’ve written, or in the advertising to the very few speaking engagements I’ve accepted. You can look into the Chiasmus Conference at which I spoke and you’ll find that there is no picture of me in any of the material advertising it, nor in the book when it came out. My picture isn’t in any of the material from the Portland Conference I spoke at last year. I’m not looking to be recognized. It is my IDEAS that are advanced, not me. I am nothing. I don’t matter. You shouldn’t  recognize me, pick me from a line-up, or think you know me. I do not do that. Even the interview with John Dehlin was predicated on it being a voice recording, NOT a video. If it were a video, I would have turned it down. I’m not a publicity hog, and offer no competition to the folks who want a following. I do not want one. I do not accept speaking invitations. I turn down dozens of them and rarely speak because I do NOT want to attract attention to myself. I want the IDEAS to have a life, not me.

If you want to search for men seeking to rival the Brethren, take a look at CES. For example, one of my my former Bishops is able to fill a stake center to overflowing mid-day with Mormon housewives who dote on the man. I can assure you I have no intention of trying to accomplish anything similar. I KNOW that what I’ve written is deeply offensive to many, many church members. It has no advantage apart from being honest, and the honesty of the material is accompanied by my sincere belief in it also being TRUE. If it is wrong, then  grow a pair and openly confront the ideas, tell us your name, give us your basis for contradicting the material, and act like you are confident in your beliefs. Or keep your skirts on and snipe from the sidelines, but never expect me to respect the frail and insecure who are unable or unwilling to compete in the arena where the valiant are found suffering for the Lord’s cause. I occupy a place where insults come from those who ought to be supporting the struggle; making the Lord’s cause all the more difficult for those making the sacrifice He has asked be made. It is not pleasant, but it does conform to a law ordained before the foundation of the world upon which blessings are predicated. Those blessings are personal, between God and myself, and worth enduring your attacks. I will not be deterred by weakness and criticism.

I have a testimony of the church. I have and do serve whereever asked. I pay tithes to her. But the horizontal stripes nevertheless are being worn, and they do affect her appearance.

Enabling Comments

We have enabled comments. We will NOT be posting them. It is a terrible distraction and destroys the spirit. We will (within reason) read them all. We will NOT be responding to them. If there is something contained in a comment that would be useful to address in a blog post, we will do that.

Hopefully, this gives you all (supporters and naysayers alike) somewhere constructive to address your concerns.

This is a plea from the CM – the disclaimer at the top of the blog asking that you read Denver’s books before you start getting your panties in a bunch (over whatever), that many of you find so arrogant or distasteful is actually neither. It is designed to let you know there are places to find out what Denver believes and why. The books he writes are annotated with scriptures and bibliographies. The information he puts in his books is available to all of you. You don’t need to read either his books or his blog to find the information. Go find it for yourselves. Truly, the stuff on this blog is all ancillary and supporting material. There are many things that won’t make sense to you. If you don’t wish to read his books, that’s fine, just don’t comment. The gospel is not made up of “sound-bites.”

Criticism of the Church

I do not believe it is at all useful for anyone to criticize the church. When I write, I try to explain what I believe, avoid any direct criticism and leave the rest alone. I also explain history. It is my effort to grapple with the inconsistencies and omissions that plague the understanding of anyone who looks carefully into doctrine and history. Since the traditional stories we hear repeated in the normal discussions cannot be reconciled with primary historical materials, I make the effort to come to grips with the challenges and then to explain my understanding. I know there are others who grapple with the same issues. They receive the benefit of my efforts which I hope proves to be faith promoting.

What I do not do is force my opinions on others. When I teach in church, I use the church’s materials and scriptures. I have written eight books. Seven of them are about the Book of Mormon, the Gospel of Christ, and the prophecies given to us. They are written to be faith promoting and bring people to Christ. If someone wants to read what I’ve written, they have to go to the trouble of finding it. They then have to purchase it and read it. As for the eighth book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, it is my attempt to explain the issues I have grappled with as I have read and studied the Gospel and our history. If people have gone to the trouble of finding and buying that book, they have already learned about some upsetting issues and are trying to reconcile the matters for themselves. If they’re already trying to find answers, then they can look at what I’ve written to help them. On the other hand, if they are completely content with what they hear from the inside sources of the insular Mormon community they have no reason to have even encountered what I’ve written. Unless they have searched into the matter and made the discovery for themselves, my own ward members are unaware I’ve written books on church doctrine and history. I am not sold at Deseret Book stores, not advertised in any LDS publications, and I do not do advertising or book signings.

The church is an important and valued part of my life and the lives of my family. I attend weekly, and very much enjoy associating with my fellow ward members. I do not understand why people go out of their way to provoke a dispute with the church. If you belong, then follow the rules. If you’re unwilling to follow the rules, then why belong?

If in your own studies you find there are issues, then you should search for answers. I’ve done that. I’ve found answers and I am willing to state what I believe and to defend why I believe it. It is on display for those who are anxiety-filled and uncertain after learning of problems in doctrine, history, practice and scriptural interpretation. All I have done is help the fellow-explorer who has encountered the many issues which are not adequately understood or taught as yet.

When someone thinks they know all the answers, and can give the chapter-and-verse answer from some Deseret Book publication of a former or current general authority, I have no dispute with them. They are free to believe as they wish. They are free to consider only “orthodox” (although there is no such thing in Mormonism) sources and to confine their inquiries to the traditional stories. However, there are so many saints who no longer do that and who are in a crisis of faith as a result. Someone needs to take seriously the problems and attempt to give answers. If you have no crisis, don’t know there are issues, and think all is well with everything then you shouldn’t be reading either this blog or much of what I’ve written. I am writing for those who want to know what the scriptures say. I am writing to those who are interested in the prophecies in the Book of Mormon given to us, the Gentiles. I am writing for those who wish to seek the Lord and Savior. I am writing for those who wish to strengthen their testimony of the Gospel of Christ. I am writing for the troubled, the searching, and the inquiring open soul who honestly wants to believe in the truth but has become alarmed at what they’ve discovered about our faith.

There are answers to the problems. I offer my conclusions as a consequence of my own search and discovery. It is my belief the Lord is pleased by this effort, and has actively assisted me in doing so. I also know there are a great many who are offended by my work, and that I am unpopular among many of the saints. The Strengthening the Members Committee does not approve of what I am doing. I believe myself more accountable to the Lord than to them.

In the last book I wrote, I divided the church’s development into four phases. That is a convenient way to see how and why the church has changed. I am completely converted to my faith, but the version I believe in is the first phase, the original faith which Joseph Smith was developing methodically line-upon-line from the beginning in 1820 through his death in June 1844. It is the foundation of my relationship with God. I rejoice in that faith, and have found God through practicing it. I recognize there are many fellow latter-day saints who hardly understand that version of the church, and dis-prefer it to what is the fourth phase. While I explain my beliefs, and I willingly accept fellowship with anyone who shares faith in the restoration, I do not expect the church or anyone else to adopt a first phase view of Mormonism. It is largely gone. In that respect I am also antiquated. But as an antique Mormon I try to be low maintenance and not require anyone to accommodate me. Instead I’ll accommodate them.

I believe God still speaks, and will do so with anyone who follows the steps Joseph Smith followed. I would not want anyone to follow me, and have never even invited anyone to do so. I think everyone should follow Christ, who will lead them to the Father. I think Joseph Smith is the most current prophetic example of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because he was in Christ’s presence and rescued from the fall. That IS the Gospel. I do not worship Joseph Smith, but have tried to replicate the religion he held, and through it to come to know God. It has worked for me.

The church introduced me to Joseph Smith, gave me the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, baptism, ordinances and covenants. I took it all in, accepted and have honored the things I’ve received from the church and been benefited as a result. The church has my gratitude. I would not want to injure it. When there are others who are disaffected from the church, and who have discovered issues or problems, they are welcomed to look into what I’ve written as my best effort to state what I believe and why.

In writing I try to be candid. I know there are those who trust in fourth phase Mormonism who resent, even revile against me and what I write. I’m content with that. What God thinks matters a great deal more to me than what some errant blogger hiding behind a pseudonym puts on some discussion board. I am not a coward and intend to stand accountable for everything I write. I make no apologies for my faith. It is honestly and deeply held. As a result of study and prayer I think I know what I am talking about. Those who have spent only a fraction of the effort I have devoted to my religion cannot affect me by their criticism.

Long ago I realized this honest approach would disqualify me from being popular. It makes me “too suspect” for any significant church callings. That is perfectly fine. It was never the intention to become popular or successful in religion anyway. Only being true to what I believe matters. Everything else is, in a word, vain.

So if you want criticism of the church, you will have to look elsewhere. I try to avoid it. I would encourage others to search into what they believe, and stop complaining about what others believe. Search it out for yourself and be content to believe in what you find.

Mormonism is the last place where God touched mankind. It is the place where His hand will begin again in moving mankind upward. Therefore it is where I intend to faithfully remain.

Themes From Jacob, Part 3

The most striking theme of all is the Lord’s patience. The work of the vineyard is never immediate. It is generational. Those who enter the vineyard impatiently expect the Lord’s work will result in reordering the world for them while they spend their brief moment here.

There has been some confusion in Historic Christianity over the New Testament era expectation of the “end” of things. One of the questions Hugh Nibley asked was “the end of what?” He parsed through the material and arguments and suggested the “end” was of the church itself. The world would continue on, but the church would end. That is one of the themes of Jacob 5. The labor in the vineyard to bring back natural fruit is always against opposition. The success is brief. It requires considerable effort to coax the natural fruit back into production, and when left untended it quickly lapses back to wild, bitter fruit.

The Lord of the vineyard has never been in a hurry. The allegory was originally composed by Zenos in the time of the united Kingdom, some 2,900 years ago. It tells the story of Israel for the next 5,000 years. Jacob put it into his writing approximately 2,400 years ago when the events were only at about verse 14 of the allegory. This allegory was important to Jacob. It is also important to when Jacob’s record would be restored again. We are now at about verse 55, the era when the Lord and servants are trying to bring again some small appearance of natural fruit in the vineyard. We want the fruit from verse 73 to appear long before the story predicts it will return. We expect it to have begun as soon as He sets His hand to the labor by calling Joseph Smith. The allegory allows for no such interpretation. We want that because we think ourselves “natural fruit” and worthy to be saved against the season.

There is a great preliminary work with only the grafting back at first. It started with Joseph Smith. That graft hasn’t taken hold yet, nor produced fruit. It wasn’t intended to do so at the start. The graft will require the branches to take nourishment from the original roots; hence the notion of “restoration,” but the roots from which nourishment is to be taken are quite ancient. At first it is likely (measured by our conduct and preaching) that the only aspiration of the graft is to become merely another New Testament era faith, and not to find nourishment from the ancient roots which run back to the beginning. It is apparent, however the natural fruit will not reappear until the original, first generation teaching’s of man, which were in the beginning, return again at the end.

The Brother of Jared was redeemed from the fall, and was taught about the history of man from the beginning. Enoch’s vision included the story of man from the beginning until the end. Moses also. The vision on the Mount of Transfiguration included a similar visionary show of mankind’s history from the beginning. The reason Zenos composed, and Jacob transcribed this vision of the history of Israel through the end was because they shared in that instruction of what the Lord is trying to bring back into His vineyard. Joseph Smith was not being inadvertent when the accounts of Moses and Enoch, in the Book of Moses were restored. Nor when the Book of Abraham was revealed. These, as well as the Book of Mormon, pre-date the New Testament era. They tell about an original, ancient faith which was to return again so there would be fruit, or in other words, the hearts of the children would turn to the fathers.

When we take our reckoning from the New Testament era and claim ourselves to be like the other “Christian” faiths, we are not looking to the rock from whence we came. We are not taking nourishment from the roots. We now hardly understand Joseph’s preoccupation with the most ancient of themes and religion. Joseph now seems antiquated to us, and he hardly began to introduce the ancient faith which is still to come.

God’s patient cultivation of the tree can continue for so many generations as needed, and will linger without the return of natural fruit so long as we choose not to take nourishment from the original root where the strength lies. The Lord of the vineyard creates the conditions which allow growth, but it is the tree itself that must respond and grow.

Our impatience and expectation that God has given us all we need, and everything He intends for us to have, precludes us from taking in what we still lack. God may intend to yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God, but it will fall on deaf ears if we think we have everything we need for our salvation and exaltation already restored to us.

God’s very long-term view contrasts sharply with our ‘must-be-in-our-lifetime’ outlook. Generations come and go and think themselves saved while God waits patiently for natural fruit, willing to take nourishment from the strength of His Gospel, to finally reappear. Proud and vain men strut about proclaiming how special they and their cultic-following are before God, while God pleads for our repentance, humility and willingness to return to Him. Lofty branches still need trimming and only produce bitter fruit still. We witness how blind, fallen men think it is sufficient for the branches to feel themselves vindicated by reason of their loftiness. If our present form of “Zion” wasn’t “prospering” then we might be more acutely aware of our sickness, sores, disease and stench. We use the measuring rod of Babylon and conclude we are among the greatest of people rather than the standard of heaven against which we are loathsome, bitter fruit.

It is good the Lord of the vineyard is patient. It is good He waits for natural fruit to begin to appear before the next round of cutting down and casting into the fire. We should be grateful for His patience, but never fooled by it. His hand does not stay because we deserve it, but instead from His hope there will yet reappear the natural fruit He can lay up against the coming season.

Themes from Jacob 5; Part 2

Here are five more themes:

6. The work of the last labor will not be abandoned. The Lord did not establish the restoration of the Gospel only to abandon it. Though it will take some time before it produces natural fruit, the Lord intends to stay with the grafts, labor with them, and trim away as necessary. Joseph Smith suggested the church needed to stay together, and the Lord’s hand would continue to watch over the church. As they have left, the splinter groups have all fallen into neglect, and ultimately abandonment. Whether it was Sidney Rigdon, the William Marks/Emma Smith “reorganization”, the William McLellin departure, or the various “fundamentalist” movements, the temporary prosperity or success has ultimately ended in collapse and failure. The Lord intends to work within the church until the natural fruit reappears. Though the church may not be synonymous with the “Gospel,” it is the means by which the Lord preserves the Gospel. To see the Lord’s hand, all you need to do is be near to the laboring full-time missionaries. The Lord does bear testimony to the investigators that the Book of Mormon is true, and Joseph Smith was His prophet, and the revelations are trustworthy, and the sincere soul should receive baptism at the hands of the elders of the church. I received this testimony when I investigated, and have received also the blessings associated with fellowship among others who accept and believe in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the restoration scriptures, and all the associated practices we have inherited. Though we have departed somewhat from the roots that came from Joseph’s ministry, at this moment, for the first time, the church has begun publishing The Joseph Smith Papers. We are the chosen generation who can see the records for ourselves. The ability to take nourishment from the roots has become more of an opportunity for us living today than any of the prior saints, from Joseph’s day till ours. Thanks be to the church for opening this valuable library that has remained unavailable to the common church member for these last three or four generations. It is as if the Lord has finally moved, despite all we have done to forget our beginnings, to make important change possible and return to His foundation by giving us the original records.

7. The natural fruit involves more than just the regrafting. The establishment of the church was the necessary first step, but the prophecies do not mention The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the target church. The revelations speak of another name for the Lord’s church. (See D&C 76: 54; 78: 21; 88: 5; 107: 19; Hebrews 12: 23; among many others.) The temporal church is essential to produce another group within it. They are not going to reappear as a group disconnected from the temporal church, but instead from within it. The Gospel net will gather all manner of fish, but the angels will gather the good and cast away the bad. (Matt. 13: 47-49.) Being gathered into the net is not the sign of being good and worthy of gathering by the angels. It is only the first step. There is another step beyond that which requires the virgins to have oil in their lamps in order to be with the Bridegroom.

8. The history of the tree is told from the most ancient of our preserved history until the distant end of a millennium of peace. There is no other history that will take off in a different direction. The tree is fully accounted for in the allegory. You needn’t look for another, separated, surprising or unaccounted for sequence of events or long interruption of the Lord’s labors. He is working NOW and it is currently underway. The story is complete. Although the reappearance of the natural fruit is not immediate, it is going to reappear. When it does it will be in the young, tender growth. The high minded and lofty which are barren and tend to grow in their own self-interests, but do not seek the welfare of Zion itself will be trimmed away. The Lord’s hand will be most apparent inside the church, not outside of it. But likely in a young, tender place where nourishment from the roots has taken hold. Watch, therefore, and you will not be mistaken when it begins. This is, after all, the Lord’s work, and it is marvelous in the eyes of those who can see it. (Mormon 9: 16.)

9. Although there are many different groups of people, the Lord’s work has always focused on the House of Jacob and the potential for it to return to covenant status as the House of Israel. This is the “natural fruit” that the Lord seeks to have return to His vineyard. Although having some religious connection to God is desirable, the “harvest” is looking for this particular kind of “natural fruit” to preserve against the season. This kind of fruit requires the very same thing Joseph was so excited about in his last few talks in Nauvoo. The Elijah Talk followed on the history retold in Passing the Heavenly Gift, and goes to the heart of this need to reconnect with “the fathers in heaven,” or the original Patriarchial Fathers who were chosen by God as His. It requires us to track back, reconnect to the roots of the restoration, and return to belief in doctrines long neglected if we want to participate in the Lord’s work. The Lord invites all to know Him, to come to Him and to form this connection with Him. However, if you are waiting for the process to be unfolded in a weekly Gospel Doctrine class, you will first need a new manual. Nothing of these topics remains in our formal curriculum, though the information is still available if you will search for it.

10. The Lord has actually considered burning the entire vineyard before, and fully intends to burn all but the natural fruit in the future. The risk of the entire earth being cursed at His coming is not just an idle notion designed to make us luke-warm in our church affiliation. It is intended to cause us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philip. 2: 12; Mormon 9: 27.) When we think our simple affiliation with our church is enough, we are deceived and show disrespect to the requirements of the Lord’s plan. The best scriptural passage to put the problem into context is Mormon’s description:

“. . . Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws? Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.” (Mormon 9: 3-5.)

That day will come; now, if you prepare for it, but it will come. If that day “burns you up,” then you were not natural fruit. (Mal 4: 1.) Therefore, it makes sense to do what is needed now, repent, call on His name, and live by every word which He imparts so you may see His face and “know that [He is.]” (D&C 93: 1.)

Themes from Jacob 5

There are important themes in Zenos’ allegory. Here are five of them:

1. The Lord of the vineyard controls overall history through His involvement and the involvement of His servants. However, they can only accomplish two things:  1) removing the bad, bitter fruit by cutting away branches and burning them. 2) encouraging the good, natural fruit by pruning, grafting, nourishing and laboring. Whether or not the natural fruit reappears is left to the tree itself. Mankind cannot be compelled to be good. As agents of their own, they are free to choose. No amount of ministering will force the natural fruit to appear. The Lord and His servants can only present the opportunity.

2. The tree and its branches are prone to repeatedly producing bitter fruit. Producing natural fruit does not come easily. From the beginning, the tree was prone to loftiness and pride. It required cutting away, scattering and destroying the main top in order to have a chance to cause the natural fruit to reappear. This is  the tendency. As soon as people learn they are “called” they will presume they are “chosen,” even though these are two entirely different things. The Lord of the vineyard has learned by sad experience that it is the nature of almost all men that they begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over one another as soon as they have a little authority as they suppose. This is why He does not distribute, and cannot confer, the priesthood on mankind through generations of hand-me-down lines of authority. As soon as it is abused, it is lost. And when the Lord says “amen to the priesthood of that man” he is powerless to give it to another.

3. The Lord has occasionally come to the vineyard. On one occasion He labored directly within the vineyard, choosing to mingle with the scattered branches and to personally minister among them. This produced a period of production throughout the vineyard. However, it was short-lived. The vineyard lapsed into bitter fruit everywhere. There came a point where the entire vineyard produced nothing but bitter fruit, in every part of the Lord’s possession. When that time came, the Lord determined to labor a “last time” in the vineyard, and to bring a “few servants” to assist. Again this return would involve His personal appearance, but it took the form of periodic appearances with His servants, as in the First Vision and Section 76. When He appears He confers authority. Joseph and Sidney both “received of His fullness” when He ministered to them. (D&C 76: 20.) Indeed, no one can behold His glory and not receive of His fullness. (D&C 84: 22.) To receive His priesthood, He must redeem from the fall (Ether 3: 13) and thereby receive Him. (D&C 84: 35.) This is not an apperance in the heart, but is rather a personal appearance, The idea it is something merely in the heart is an old sectarian notion and is false. (D&C 130: 3.)

4. In the Lord’s last labor in the vineyard, the commencement of the work does not signal the end of His involvement. Once begun, He will continue to labor with the tree to encourage it to produce fruit. He will send servants who will labor with all their might to bring the fruit about. However, it will be the tree’s response and not the Lord’s nor His servants’ work that will bring again the natural fruit. This will take a long time before the roots are able to take hold again. The grafted branches will require pruning and additional work before they respond and return to respect and take nourishment from the natural roots. What was shocking and hard to bear with will need to be accepted in humility and gratitude before the natural fruit can appear once more.

5. When the natural fruit begins to appear, the Lord will begin to trim away the bad to make way for the good to prevail. Therefore, those who fight against the natural fruit will be cut down. Even those who entertain high positions will be struck down if they oppose the return of the Lord’s natural fruit. (See, e.g., D&C 85: 7.) The Lord of the vineyard controls which branches are allowed to survive with His tree, and not the tree itself. The inclination to produce the lofty and high minded remains the tendency of the tree. But those unwanted and unproductive branches will be cut away, burned, and not allowed to interfere with the natural fruit.

Jacob 5: 76-77

Zenos wrote at the time of a united Kingdom, before the days of Isaiah, and in another dispensation than John. However, when it comes to the prophetic destiny of the vineyard, Zenos and John tell the same story, using different images to tell the tale.

The allegory has a “long time” in which the vineyard produces natural fruit. (5: 76.) This peaceful and productive era is Paradisiacal. (See Articles of Faith, 10.) The vineyard will allow the Lord to “lay up the fruit of [His] vineyard” because there will be an end to this era of the vineyard. (5: 76.) There will come a time for final accounting. The vineyard will need to be re-created, and a new one brought in its place. But before that day the vineyard will produce “for a long time, according to that which I have spoken.” (Id.) During that time Satan is bound and children grow up without sin.

The story of the end of this creation culminates in the last, great day, when Satan is loosed again for a season: “But when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard” will happen after the period of Paradise. In the allegory, it is when “evil fruit” returns. In John’s vision it is when “the thousand years are expired.” (Rev. 20: 7.) John describes how “Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” at that time. (Id.) When he is, he “shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.” (Rev. 20: 8.)

Despite all the Lord of the vineyard has done for His trees, the accuser will still find fault. The things of God will again be challenged, criticized, debated, accused and maligned. The Lord’s motives will be questioned, and His means will be derided. Why so little natural fruit? What right is there to discard the bitter fruit? Is not the worth of each soul great enough the Lord of the vineyard should have done more? Why should so much of the fruit have been gathered and burned? How can the Lord have the best interests of the vineyard in mind when there were so many who have not been gathered as natural fruit? What of those who came into the vineyard and were produced through wild branches, how can it be fair to leave them for the burning when they were given an unfair challenge? Their plight is not of their own making, and the Lord of the vineyard is unfair!

You see it is one thing to claim you believe in and follow the Lord when in your mistaken arrogance you assume His plan requires nothing from you and will exalt you to the sides of the north. (See Isa. 14: 12-13.) But it is another thing when you realize “the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.” (D&C 45: 2.) Then will they lament: “O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God.” (Hel. 13: 33; see also 3 Ne. 8: 24.) When all men stand before God and realize He did expect obedience, sacrifice, consecration, chastity and a godly walk of all who are saved, then many who profess to follow Him when it was to their vanity and pride will find they cannot profess to follow Him when it is to their shame and condemnation. They will, with the accuser, join in denouncing the Lord. They will also compass the camp of the saints and make war against them and their Lord.

The Lord of the vineyard has done all He could, and respected the agency of men. The arguments at the end of the Millennial Day will prevail. John reports that the number of those who align with the accuser will be so much greater than the camp of the saints, that they will “compass the camp of the saints about” because their numbers so vastly exceed the mere “camp” of the righteous they will be able to entirely surround them. (Rev. 20: 9.)

These rebellious branches are “burned with fire” (5: 77) or, as John describes it, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Rev. 20: 9.)

This then leads back to the major themes of the allegory. It was included by Jacob for us so that when these things come to pass we are not left surprised or wondering why we were not warned by the Lord.