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Hyrum Smith, Part 2

In order to have a meaningful discussion about Hyrum, it is necessary to provide background information that may seem strange to most modern Latter-day Saints. We have a much different story today than the story told in the beginning. To communicate across the barrier of mistaken and incomplete understanding, there are some ideas that seem strange that are required as background to begin to explain why Hyrum was so significant.

Hyrum was given the calling of “Priesthood and Patriarch” in a revelation in January, 1841. (D&C 124: 91.) That seems a curious statement to us, since everyone is presumed to have held the “priesthood” as soon as they were “elders” in the church. In the beginning, however, it was not understood the same way it is now. The offices of “elder,” like other offices, (priests, deacons, teachers) were offices in the church. (D&C 20: 38.) They were not coincidental to having priesthood. They were “offices… in the church of Christ.” (This was the original name of the church.) These offices were elected, approved by common consent, and then filled by those elected. After Section 107, the two things (church office and priesthood) were conflated to mean the same thing. The office belongs to the church, and whether there is priesthood present or not, the right to preach, teach, expound, exhort, baptize, lay on hands for the Holy Ghost, bless and pass the sacrament, are all things which the Lord commissioned the church to perform. This is also why, at the time Joseph and Oliver received only the Aaronic Priesthood, (JS-H 1: 69) they began to call one another the First and Second “elder of the church.” (JS-H 1: 72.) This is also why Joseph and Oliver received the Holy Ghost when baptized (JS-H 1: 73) even though the angel said the priesthood given did not have “the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (JS-H 1: 70.) They had the right to baptize, they were called the “First and Second elders of the church,” but they did not have the “power of laying on hands” for the Holy Ghost. This is not inconsistent, but it is different from what we now overlay onto the idea of priesthood. Today we are more confused than ever even when we think ourselves in possession of the truth.

In any event, when the January 1841 revelation came, Hyrum had already proven valiant. The time arrived when the Lord wanted Hyrum to be ordained to “Priesthood” and “Patriarch” so that he might “hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people.” (D&C 124: 93.) This same revelation appointed another “prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto [the Lord’s] church.” (D&C 124: 94.) This was the word of the Lord establishing this status and entitling Hyrum to claim this position.

He was then to “act in concert also with my servant Joseph” as co-president of the church. (D&C 124: 95.) Joseph had restored to him “all things” and could ask and the Lord would “make all things known unto” him (D&C 132: 45). Hyrum was likewise able to “ask and receive” answers from the Lord. (D&C 124: 95.)

Because of this ordination by the word of the Lord, Hyrum was given the power to seal: “Whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (D&C 124: 93.) These rights made him co-equal with Joseph, though Hyrum always acted only in concert with Joseph. He was meek, like Moses (Numbers 12: 3) and like Nephi, son of Helaman (Helaman 10: 5). They could be trusted by the Lord because they would do what the Lord wanted, not what they wanted. (See also Alma 14: 10-11.)

This is the  kind of man Hyrum was. He was trusted by the Lord, and chose to die with his brother. Had he lived,  He would have been Joseph’s successor. Brigham Young said this during the debates over who should succeed Joseph as the president: “Did Joseph Smith ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum…” (Times & Seasons, October 15, 1844, Vol. 5, p. 683.)

This is an interesting fact because Hyrum was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time he was killed. However, even Brigham Young, who won the initial debate having argued that the twelve should lead, and then ultimately won an election in December 1847 to become the president of the church, acknowledged it was Hyrum’s right to succeed Joseph. With Hyrum gone, and without any clear direction to follow, the church elected first the twelve, and then Brigham Young.

Brigham Young was never ordained to be church president. He was elected. The initial offices of Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon were elected positions. Brigham Young viewed the office of church president as similarly elected.

He explained how he thought this should operate. Anyone could lead the church. All that was required was an election, then the prayers of the members. Here is the system: “Take any man in this kingdom, and if the people say that they will make him a President, or a Bishop, or elect him to fill any other office, and the faith of the people is concentrated to receive light through that officer or pipe laid by the power of the Priesthood from the throne of God, you might as well try to move the heavens as to receive anything wrong through that conductor. No matter whom you elect for an officer, if your faith is concentrated in him through whom to receive the things which he is appointed to administer in, light will come to you. Let a presiding officer or a Bishop turn away from righteousness, and the Lord Almighty would give him the lock-jaw, if he could not stop his mouth in any other way, or send a fit of numb palsy on him, so that he could not act, as sure as the people over whom he presided were right, that they might not be led astray.” (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1379, November 29, 1857; the talk can also found at JD Vol. 6 beginning on p. 93.) In this system, the power of being elected coupled with the members’ prayers were enough to always insure the answers you got through that leader were exactly perfect.

This was in the early days when church leaders were elected to office. Church authorities may offer names, but the congregation, stake, or church members elected them to office.

With Hyrum’s death, we lost something of great value. If he had outlived Joseph, he would have been the unchallenged church president. His succession would have set the pattern for later church presidents. They each would have chosen their own successors before they died. (See D&C 43: 2-5.)

By the time Brigham Young established the twelve as the seat of power, the pattern was set. Instead of the replacement being chosen by the sitting president through revelation, the senior apostle was presumed to be the next in line. Today’s legal structure using the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the succession is automatic. The corporation’s sole member is the longest tenured apostle. This is in place because Hyrum did not outlive Joseph. So we are all affected by the loss of Joseph’s brother.

Hyrum Smith

Hyrum Smith would eventually replace Joseph Smith as the prophet of the church. However, in 1829 he was given a revelation through his younger brother, Joseph. This was given before the Book of Mormon was published, before a church was organized, and while the work of the new Dispensation was in its very first stages. The content, however, is important. Not just for Hyrum, but for all of us.

Just like others, Hyrum was reminded of what it took to be called to the work: “whosoever will thrust in his sicle and reap, the same is called of God.” (D&C 11: 4, see 3 also.) It wasn’t an extensive application and approval process, but it was based on the willingness to do what God wanted that created “the call of God” to the laborer. Without ordination, or setting apart, the relationship was between the individual and God. It is an interesting series of revelations at the beginning of the work which uniformly leave God’s calling to the individual, based on their desire. (See, e.g., D&C 4: 3; D&C 12: 4; among others.)

The first stage, however, was limited to crying repentance. Hyrum was to “say nothing but reptentance unto this generation.” (D&C 11: 9.) The potential for Hyrum doing more later was certain, provided he would follow the Lord’s counsel. (D&C 11: 10.)

Hyrum was instructed on how to know he was proceeding in the right way: “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.” (D&C 11: 12.)

Then, despite his desire and the call, Hyrum was told to temporarily stand down. The Lord instructs him: “Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.” (D&C 11: 15-16.)

The Lord told Hyrum essentially to ‘stand down’ and not do anything, even if he were “called” to the work. There was more needed before he could be of use to the Lord. He needed to accomplish one work: “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.” (D&C 11: 20.)

Then, one of the great voices of the Restoration was told: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and they shall your tongue be loosed.” (D&C 11: 21.) Hyrum needed to study. He needed to fill himself with information before he began his work. “Hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.” (D&C 11: 22.) Hyrum had homework to do. He needed to “study” things.

Hyrum would become the church prophet and Patriarch. He would be co-president and co-testator with his younger brother, Joseph. Joseph had several other brothers, but it was Hyrum who followed the forumla given him by the Lord. It was Hyrum who qualified himself to the work by his diligence and heed.

Hyrum was the designated successor to Joseph as the head of the church. But Hyrum fell first, and he and his younger brother died martyrs.

Another Inquiry About Adam-God

In response to several comments (actually complaints) about my mention of Adam-God doctrine as taught by Brigham Young. Rather than remaining silent and inviting further comment I’ll add this and then leave it alone.

Brigham Young is presumed by almost everyone to have been closer to Joseph than he was. He is presumed to have understood Joseph’s teachings better than he actually did. He was not with Joseph during most of the years of his Apostleship when Joseph was alive.

The question to me is not what Brigham Young taught. That does not clarify the matter to my understanding. The question is what is true? Whether Brigham Young understood it or not, or whether he was able to explain it or not, what is true?

The answer to that question is best solved by going to the scriptures. I’ve tried to address the question in the paper: The First Three Words Spoken in the Endowment. You can download it from the blog. In it I go through the scriptures showing that the group called “noble and great” were also called “the Gods” in Chapter 4 of the Book of Abraham. Also, that Joseph referred to this group as “sons of God, who exalted themselves to be gods, even from before the foundation of the world.” (TPJS, p. 375.) Joseph mentioned the word-name “Elohim” is plural. “El” is the singular, Elohim is the plural. The identities of the “Elohim” is best understood in Abraham Chapters 3 and 4.

Joseph was excited about this in the last sermons he gave in Nauvoo. That is why the paper focused on Joseph’s treatment of the Book of Abraham material.

The problem is not that I haven’t studied Brigham Young enough, but that I do not draw my conclusions from him. He is not consistent in his comments. Furthermore, he was trying to repeat what he thought Joseph was teaching. You can by-pass him and go to the scriptures and figure it out for yourself, without straining the truth through Brigham Young’s effort to explain something.

There is something to the doctrine. But I’m not persuaded that Brigham Young understood the matter as well as I do. Further, I am quite confident that Brigham Young did not understand Joseph Smith as well as most Latter-day Saints presume.

The question is answered using scripture.

Also, for those who think they are better read on some questions than I am, I’ve spent decades studying Mormon history and doctrine. Recently, I’ve been studying Brigham Young’s statements now available for the first time in a single comprehensive collection. This five volume collection has become the best single work on the words of Brigham Young. After reading thousands of pages of his talks, I have reached a number of conclusions about Brigham Young that I will eventually write about.

Brigham Young claimed there was only one “Father” of all mankind, both as the first man and again in the pre-existence. There is more to that story than this simple reduction. But the push by the church to be more like other “Christian” faiths, along with the criticism this doctrine has brought to Mormonism, has made it a matter the church would like to leave alone. Once President Kimball denounced the matter as a “false theory,” it was over as far as the church was concerned. The greatest interest in this question exists now only among fundamentalists. They have suffered greatly because of the credibility they have given to Brigham Young.

To the extent that I have felt any need to touch on this matter, it is in that paper. As to Brigham Young, however, I intend to write more about him, but not here.

Clearing Off Some Pending Questions

Do I consider myself “a prophet?”
The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. (Revelation 19: 10.) I have the testimony of Jesus.

What if someone has prayed and “still not been visited” by the Second Comforter?
The problem is in the word “still.” What makes you think you control timing? What makes you think you are prepared? The Lord alone determines timing. And the Lord alone judges preparation. The Lord does not come to cause faith, but in response to existing faith. If your faith would be increased by such a visit, it will not occur. The faith necessary requires the sacrifice of all things. You must develop that. That is why I wrote The Second Comforter.

Which version of the ordinances, 1870’s, 1920’s, post-1990, or current, would I prefer to see in the Temple?
Brigham Young’s effort to “complete” the endowment was entrusted to him by Joseph. I have to admit, there are some things he did that were excessive, but nevertheless he completed the charge. They weren’t reduced to writing until the 1870’s. There are steps that needed to be taken. Joseph understood what was needed, and Brigham Young likely did not. Nevertheless, Brigham Young was tasked with the job and therefore, he operated under Joseph’s charge. Details matter. Not merely in the rites but in how the rites came into being. When the Lord allows something, then what the Lord allows (and only what He allows) is permitted. When we go beyond that mark, we lose the commission and we are on our own. I’m acquainted with all the changes. I have found them all and studied them all. I know all of the many differences. In the context of the previous post, it was not important to distinguish between the original, incomplete rites above the Red Brick Store and the later developments. Nor was it necessary to suggest there were other changes between the final version written in the 1870’s and those made most recently. It is the issue of changing, not which changes, that I was responding to in the post. The answer did not attempt to give information beyond the narrow issue. To parse through the history of the temple is a task which I’ve not attempted in writing, and I have no intention of undertaking such a thankless job. Those who would be most benefitted from it resent the discussion. Others revel in the information and have no benefit from it.

What can you do if you’re not acquainted with the pre-1990 endowment?
I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue is whether you will take your present covenants seriously and live true and faithful to them. Treat them as a matter between you and God, and look to Him for the further light and knowledge which He promises to send to those who are faithful in all things. If you remain true and faithful, then you should expect to receive further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil. He employs no servant there. He will meet you and will give you such information as you need to then enter into His presence. The rites are a symbol. Treat them as such. The confirmation of the Lord’s intention to preserve you as His will come from Him, not some ordinance worker practicing altered rites. What remains is still enough to inform you of the Lord’s ways. Walk in those ways.

You disagree with submitting to authority as I have suggested:
Then don’t. See what your rebellion gets you. As for me, I trust the Lord was sincere when He admonished following Annas and Caiphus because “they sit in Moses’ seat.” But, He added, we are not expected to “do as they do.” The tradition has been handed down, and we fit into that tradition. We study the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and we thank the institution which prints and distrubutes them. However, we look to the contents of those for the Lord’s word and will. Even the church’s authorities tell us consistently the measure of truth is found in the scriptures, and the president of the church cannot contradict them. The church doesn’t require much of us. Tithing, fasting, serving, supporting leaders, etc. These are nothing compared with overcoming our hearts and minds and living as a sacrifice to God.

Where do women fit into the Second Comforter?
The first person to receive the risen Lord was a woman. More women saw Him before ANY of His apostles  following the resurrection. The apostles were rebuked because they didn’t believe the women’s testimony. The requirement for priesthood is related to the man. For women, their condition and covenant with the Lord from the time of Eve is different that the condition and covenant of Adam. Male and female relationships with the Lord are not governed by the same terms. It is the partnership of those two different roles which produces the image of God. When viewed from God’s perspective, woman completes the man. Without her, his condition is “not good” because he remains incomplete.

Wouldn’t membership in an apostate branch of the restoration do more harm than good?
No. The Lord will gather primarily from those who already accept the restoration. Those who accept the restoration as far as it got, who honor Joseph Smith’s status as a Dispensation head, who accept the Book of Mormon, D&C, PofGP and the temple rites are far better off and more able to receive what will come before Zion is built than the rest of this world. The Lord’s gathering at the last will be composed, primarily (although not exclusively) from among these people.

As to Zion:
Just because you have the idea in front of you doesn’t mean you have any concept of what will be required to have the angels gather you into that company. It is like the notion that you’re going to be “exalted” without any idea that the eternities are completely isolated from the unworthy. No one will or can be “exalted” who is not adequately prepared. Anyone who attains that status will be required first to suffer what is suffered, minister what is required to be ministered, to prove here their fitness. How could a selfish soul ever provide to their ungrateful and abusive offspring everything necessary for them to develop? Exalted beings sacrifice themselves, and endure punishment on behalf of the guilty. They take upon themselves burdens which they do not deserve. They forgive, they succor, they uplift the unworthy. Pride is incompatible, and selfishness utterly disqualifies a soul from “exaltation.” The principles which govern there are hardly understood here. Most of the faithful Latter-day Saints imagine they will able to employ means much like Lucifer’s to accomplish their expected outcome. They have no concept of the sacrifices and selflessness required to be trusted by the Lord. He is the prototype of the saved man. He lived His entire existence as a sacrifice. Read 3 Ne. 11: 11 and you will find in His introduction of Himself what a saved man must do. There is no other way. The prideful expectation that someone here is going to attain that status hereafter is based, for the most part, on foolishness and vanity, uninformed by the great things required to become like our Lord. Only those who are exactly like Him will be given that status in the eternities. Zion will be formed from people who are willing to endure His presence. That is no small thing.

If Christ doesn’t change why aren’t we living the Law of Moses?
Because He fulfilled that law. It was “added” and then fulfilled. It was added because the Dispensation intended to be delivered through Moses was rejected by Israel (D&C 84: 19-24). Much like what happened with us. The Dispensation the Lord wanted to hand us was not received (D&C 124: 28). Therefore, something less was added. We get to partake in what we were willing to receive, but we were not willing to receive what we might have been given (D&C 88: 33). Now that about four generations have passed, at some point the Lord will open the heavens again, and we will see His hand moving to allow another opportunity. When that happens, things will be finished. It will be different from what we got through Joseph. It will reflect what might have been given anciently through Moses, and what was offered and rejected through Joseph Smith. It will make possible the establishment of a city of refuge where the Lord can come and dwell with His people (D&C 101: 16-18). You should note, however, that the Law from Moses till Jesus Christ did not change. Dispensations mark changes, like the great dance in the sky moves from constellation to constellation. The turning shows change, the Dispensations here reflect it, the heavens testify the Lord knew the end from the beginning. This is why the stars testify of the Lord’s plan and move to bear that testimony (D&C 88: 45-47). But inside Dispensations, ordinances have traditionally been respected and kept unchanged. The only notable exceptions being the one given through Christ and the one given through Joseph Smith. In the case of Christ, the changes marked the apostasy, not the Lord’s approved course of conduct. We claim our changes have been made with the Lord’s approval. I would note, however, that the explanation given with the changes NEVER claimed the alterations of the Temple rites were because of revelation. They were made based on the claim that the church leaders “held the keys” which allowed them to make the changes. There has never been any claim made contemporaneous with any of the changes that attributed the altered ordinances to revelation from the Lord.

A general note:
Some issues would require a book to lay out the information. They are unsuitable for a blog post. Never conclude that some brief mention is all that is required to set out a matter. I’ve avoided some subjects because it is misleading to give a brief comment about them. As I contemplate the subjects which require some explanation, I realize it would take another book. Don’t presume a comment is more than an allusion to a subject. I try to be helpful., but there is so much more that needs to be understood. I hope the answers illustrate the need for you to devote years of study. Study and prayer are the only way to unlock the mysteries of God. I cannot substitute for that, and do not attempt to provide a shortcut for you. You must engage the Gospel yourself. If you are unwilling to do that, then you will never profit from what I offer. I only refer to the least part of these matters. I raise topics. These are important. You need to investigate them. They are vast. They are hardly understood anymore. They are no longer taught. If you want to understand God, you will have to accomplish that in the same way as all who went before. Take Enoch and Abraham as examples. They studied everything they could find before asking God to show them more. God refused to move their intelligence upward until after they had first obtained a sound understanding, by study, of what He had previously revealed to the fathers. (See Abr. 1: 28, D&C 107: 57, for example.) These past saved men were not merely simpletons like us, surfing the web and looking to the blogosphere to provide them shortcuts. You will delude yourself if you are not spending hours each day studying the scriptures to see what they contain. Sometimes I think the Lord has me on a fool’s errand doing more harm than good. Many of you think that this is a hobby of mine; or that my opinion is just as ill-conceived as your own; or that you can get what you need by what little I post here without the effort of approaching God yourself. I think the harm from that is enough the Lord ought to just let me withdraw from this endeavor and finish the rest of what needs doing in private. He has higher regard for your potential than I have on days like today. But, then again, there are other days when I am filled with hope for all of you. Today is just not one of them.

What is the “Abrahamic test?”
The Lord adapts the test required to prove a person to their unique circumstances. The test given to Abraham was adapted perfectly to him. To understand how great the sacrifice was, the account needed to inform us of the difficulty encountered by him and Sarah to obtain this child of promise. We needed to know the promised future inheritance of a posterity as numerous as the sand or the stars was tied directly to this son’s survival. It was, in the context of Abraham’s life and promises from God, the sacrifice of everything. All his hopes, all his promises from God, all his joy with Sarah, all his future descendants were to be laid on the altar and sacrificed. His heart could only be proven through this means. The Abrahamic Test, therefore, will ask the same of you. It will be adapted to what you hope to receive, or have been promised to receive from God. It will end the work of years, and will require you to sacrifice all to God. What one person prizes is never the same as another. What would be easy for one will be nearly impossible for another. The test is adapted to each person. But it will be equally painful, equally difficult and equally proving of the person. Until the heart is tried in this manner we can never know we will submit everything to the Lord. If such a test has not been given you, then it is because the Lord knows you are not prepared to face it. As soon as you are prepared, you will encounter it. For most people they will likely be in their 50’s, after having spent many years preparing to overcome themselves. There are notable examples who were much younger, namely Samuel or Joseph Smith. Those are exceptions. Abraham was between 70 and 100, depending on how you reconstruct the chronology. Moses was 80. Those are not atypical examples. Until you know your own heart is purified before God, you cannot bear Him nor have the required faith in Him. This is not an avoidable option, but an essential ingredient in knowing Him. This is why there are years of preparation generally required, and warnings given about continuing forward. The recipient must volunteer. And they must be warned beforehand.

What was the difference between Korihor’s claims and Lehi’s?
Lehi followed Christ. Korihor did not. Lehi was a disciple of the Lord’s. Korihor was an enemy of His. Lehi propounded a true message, Korihor a false one. Lehi was Christ-like. Korihor was an anti-Christ. Lehi spoke the truth. Korihor was a liar. They were polar opposites. But the question illustrates that the god of this world is imitative. The difference between truth and error does not lie in the difference between religion and irreligion, but instead between true religion which will save, and false religion which cannot save. If it were any less a test, the very elect would not be deceived in the last days. Unless there are false prophets claiming they are authorized by God to preach false and idle messages, God cannot send true ones to declare the truth. The opposition of the one is required for the other. The enemy of your soul does not create a new religion, but imitates the true one. The Lord’s messenger will be mirrored by the adversary’s, but the reflected image will be reversed. Those who follow the image will find themselves descending, while they think they are ascending to God. Hence the name: “the Deceiver.” He deceives, and even mirrors God’s angels by the claim to be an “angel of light” while spreading darkness. The Deceiver’s false prophets will point you to themselves, to their great works, wonderful accomplishments, and the pride you should take in following them. The Lord’s will point you to Him and preach repentance. The false prophets will speak of riches here, and suggest God’s favor can be measured by success in this world. The Lord will speak only of riches in another world which are only obtained through the sacrifice of all things here.

One comment said I don’t know what I’m talking about, because all the temple ordinance changes have been through revelation. The people in charge are prophets, seers and revelators, and therefore they invariably operate through revelation. So I’m misleading people because I’m not well informed.
When the changes were made, for at least a week, sometimes longer, a letter was read to temple patrons explaining there had been changes made. Those letters invariably referred to the “keys” held by church leaders as the source to justify the changes. I listened closely. There was never any mention made of a revelation requiring the change. Further, there are obligations imposed by Acts, the Book of Mormon, and the D&C which require church leaders to provide testimony to the church of any visit from Christ, or from an angel, or declaration from God to them. That is the role of the “prophet” and the “seer” and the “revelator.” Therefore when a change is made because of an angelic visit, they should testify or witness of it (Moroni 7: 29-32). They should also testify if the Lord visited (Acts 1: 22, D&C 107: 23). Given the absence of that explanation in the letters read to Temple patrons, and the clear statement in the letters from the First Presidency when changes were made, that holding “keys” entitled them to make the change, it is curious to me that a revelation from God would be ignored in the statement. It seems unlikely that in a Temple setting involving changes to Temple rites the fact it was changed because God revealed the change would be something “too sacred” to be stated. Accordingly, unless you impose something which those responsible never put into their statement, they have never received a revelation requiring the changes. If they wanted me to conclude the Lord revealed the change, all they needed to do was to state that. The difference between your view and mine is that I trust these leaders are fully able to say exactly what they mean. Therefore I take them at their word. You, on the other hand, think they lie incessantly and conceal some of the most important information required for their callings. I do not think they are liars.

A Question About “Seeds of Doubt”

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


But I do NOT doubt Christ.

Mormonism and the Temple

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

2012 Conference

Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition

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

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

Lehi’s Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehi’s Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehi’s Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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