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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.