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It Will Be Again

As it was once, it will be  again. Adam was born again and received the Record of Heaven, or in other words the Holy Ghost. (Moses 6: 66.) Adam was born of the Spirit and quickened in the inner man. (Moses 6: 65.) Through this he was after the Order of the Father. (Moses 6: 67.) This same Order will return again at the end of the world. (Moses 6: 7.) The end of the world is the destruction of the wicked (JS-M 1: 4) to happen at the Lord’s return. (Matt. 13: 38-40.)

This same Order is connected with surviving the day of His return. “There are, in the church, two priesthoods.” (D&C 107: 1.) “There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to [in the Epistle to the Hebrews]” (TPJS, p. 322-23; DHC 5: 554-55.)

God, who presides over this process, created Adam in His likeness and image. The image of God’s body consists of both the male and female, and they together are called Adam. (Moses 6: 9.) Through it, the man and woman called Adam begat a son named Seth. (Moses 6: 10.) From this we can see the procreative power, which produces offspring, is possible only through the man and woman called Adam, because together they possess this godlike attribute. Apart they are not in God’s image. Their seed continues, which is what God does. (D&C 132: 19-20.) The return of this Order, that was from the beginning, requires the man and woman who have had God’s Spirit poured on them, and have been quickened. It is promised to return again before the end of the world.

We do not inherit these things by imposing our views on God, but by allowing ourselves to become converted to His views. His are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. (Isa. 55: 9.) We must receive counsel from Him, not give it. (D&C 22: 4.) God alone makes us a son of God. (Moses 6: 68.) Enoch was also a son of God. (Moses 6: 27.)

Noah, whose days are like the Coming of the Son, was ordained to this same Order by God. (Moses 8: 19.) Noah called upon men to repent, but men did not listen to him. (Moses 8: 20.) Moses told them to repent and follow Jesus Christ, receive the Spirit and be taught by heaven which will reveal all things; but the people did not listen. (Moses 8: 24.)

When they refused to repent, God destroyed all flesh because of their corruption and violence. (Moses 8: 28-30.) “But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man.” (JS-M 1: 41.) The good news is that this Order will return. There will be the opportunity to repent. God intends to make sons again. This promise should make us all search the matter and freely repent of our sins, using the Spirit as our guide to find God’s will. Then we should have the courage to conform to it. This is good news, as long as we are willing to heed it.

Cake: Shadow Stabbing

Cake’s lyrical prose sometimes strikes a chord of truth. I’ve puzzled over why they aren’t recognized for their musical genius by more folks.

“Adjectives on the typewriter
He moves his words like a prizefighter
The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell…

Outside, outside the world
Out there you don’t hear the echoes and calls
But the steel eye, tight jaw,
Say it all, say it all
But the white paint, plastic saints
Say it all, say it all, say it all…

Say somebody’s got to say it all
Somebody’s got to say it all…”  (Cake: Shadow Stabbing.)

How much wasted time is devoted on the umbilical keyboards of the Internet ranting over things that have no value, giving the mis-impression of accomplishing something important? In the din of opinion, we gather that the truth no longer has an independent existence. It is all opinion. If you should sway it then you’ve done something godlike, because in the polling and measuring what people think really matters.

Outside there is still God. Even if we don’t hear the echoes and calls of the flood engulfing mankind when we turn to Him. There, apart, outside the world, if you should encounter God you will find yourself with a steel eye and tight jaw, and no longer able to look upon the white paint and plastic saints where the world continues to adore and worship.

Somebody’s got to say it all….

Not to please others, but to just speak what desperately needs to be said. Somebody’s got to speak it.

I am a Latter-day Saint. But that is merely a congregation. It dosen’t matter much, really. Within that congregation there are those who want to control what I think. They are waging a losing battle. To win they must persuade, not condemn and intimidate. Show me the errors and I will gladly abandon them. Demand I walk away from truth and I will die first. This is why truth can only ever be spread by gentleness and meekness, by persuasion and kindness. It cannot be dictated. (D&C 121: 41-42.)

When all you have left is a hollow cry that you have authority, you’ve lost the argument. YOU (no matter who “you” are) don’t have any authority. Only heaven has that. (D&C 121: 35-36.) And it isn’t sharing it with the proud, vain, ambitious and controlling. (D&C 121: 37.)

Quoting someone in a position of “authority” who is not in possession of the truth should not persuade anyone, and certainly does not persuade me. Those echoes and calls can’t even be heard once you’ve gone outside the world.

Ignorance can be put on stilts and equipped with a bullhorn, requiring everyone to notice it. But it remains unworthy of the time it takes from you.

It would be better to know God than to please men. I doubt many men who know God ever do please men again. Instead they look with pity at the white paint and plastic saints. It would be good to reach them, but it is only necessary to let God reach you.

The Importance of Scriptures

As a sign of the Lord’s keen interest in the scriptures He pointed out to the Nephites they had neglected to include Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy in their records. He admonished them to “search the prophets” who had testified of Him. (3 Ne. 23: 5.) Samuel the Lamanite was an outsider, whose ethnic identity was with the largely apostate enemies of the Nephites. His genealogy was not kept among the Nephites. He did not live among them. Where he came from and where he went afterwards was apparently unknown to the Nephites. None of that mattered to the Lord, because the Lord sent him.

Samuel had no Nephite credentials. Everything necessary to assess his relevance is summed up by the Lord: “Verily, I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people[.]” (3 Ne. 23: 9.)

When he spoke, Samuel modestly stated his credential: “Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart[.]” (Hel. 13: 5.) And, “behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me[.]” (Hel. 13: 7.)

Samuel warned them they were condemned because of their love of riches. (Hel. 13: 20-22.) This love caused them to be filled with “great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.” (Id. v. 22.) Samuel warned them they boast they would have accepted the true prophets and not persecuted them (Hel. 13: 25), but they were worse than their predecessors because “if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquites, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.” (Hel. 13: 26.) In contrast, when a man comes to declare the people are righteous, and do not need to repent, but all is well with them, such a man “ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.” (Hel. 13: 27-28.)

Though the Nephites rejected him, and he fled from among them, when the Lord came He acknowledged He had sent Samuel. He criticized the Nephite records for neglecting to include the full extent of Samuel’s prophecy, asking “How is it that ye have not written this thing[?]” (3 Ne. 23: 11.) The content of scriptures should always reflect the Lord’s words, no matter the source He elects to speak them.

This example from the Book of Mormon is a clear warning intended for our day. Christ’s admonition to “Search the prophets” is just as important an admonition now as it was then. So the challenge remains to keep ourselves ready, and listen to the words of the Prophets. It is our common misconception, however, that there will never be another Samuel the Lamanite who is an outsider and without credentials to be given a message for us by the Lord. We expect that if there is a message for our day it will come from the head of the church, not some obscure outsider, like Samuel. We imagine it is always safe to disregard such characters. It is curious, however, that the Book of Mormon, which is the “most correct book” includes this odd departure as an example. It is odd the Nephites never figured out our system. It is so much better than theirs was. We really are a royal generation, the most blessed of all who have ever lived! We never face such a test, because we imagine we have an authorized source of truth, an institutional charisma that can never fail, and through which we can never be led astray. The Lord has made it so much easier for us in our day. It somehow makes sense to us, but leaves me wondering if the Lord ought not apologize to the Nephites for making it so much harder for them. Then there is that unfortunate recent announcement by the church a few days ago about church leaders speaking “in the absence of revelation” which complicates these questions.

It makes me wonder if our eternal salvation depends on sorting out the truth from error. Or, alternatively, if it matters in the more immediate unfolding history preliminary to the Second Coming and the whole earth being cursed if we get it wrong.

Fullness of the Gospel Among Gentiles

I’ve written about the issue of the “fullness of the Gospel” being rejected by the Gentiles on this blog in connection with a discussion of the Book of Mormon remnant and 3 Ne. 16: 10. There is another mention made of this matter by the Lord in a prophecy He spoke to His Apostles at Jerusalem. That prophecy was restored by revelation through Joseph Smith.

The Lord explained to His Apostles that:
-Men’s love to one another would wane.
-Iniquity would increase.
-The Times of the Gentiles would come in and the Gospel light would be restored to them.
-The Gentiles would not be willing to receive it, however.
-They would turn their hearts away from Christ.
-They would prefer the precepts of men.
-Then, because the Gentiles refused to accept His fullness, the Times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled.
-Nevertheless, there would be a few disciples who would stand in holy places and not be moved by the overflowing scourge poured out.
(D&C 45: 27-32.)

In the prophecy, the Lord returned to His parable of the Ten Virgins. For those who would take the Holy Spirit for their guide, and because of that “have not been deceived” they will abide the day and not be hewn down by the judgments to be poured out. (D&C 45: 56-57.)

This revelation to Joseph Smith was in March 1831. It anticipated more would be given as the scriptures were revised. Matthew Chapter 24 was translated later that same year and appears in The Pearl of Great Price, as “Joseph Smith-Matthew.” The latter-day tribulations begin with verse 31. There the warning again refers to the widespread latter-day deception. Even His “elect” will be vulnerable to being misled. However, before His return His ministering angels will preserve and gather those few who “treasureth up [His] word.” (JS-Matt. 1: 37.)

The Lord’s prophecy focuses on two things His elect will have to rely on: Angels and the Holy Spirit. These two are the last days source through which His elect will find safety. Conspicuously absent are men, or perhaps more accurately, the arm of man.

Interestingly, the elect will be able to see this as it unfolds. (JS-Matt. 1: 39.) They will recognize it is like the time of Noah. (Id. v. 41-42.) Then again, if those who thought themselves wise actually knew when the thief was coming in the night to overtake them, they would not have remained asleep. (Id., v. 47.)

Taken in aggregate, it appears the Gentiles do have a fair chance given to them. We can understand the Lord’s lament, “what more could I have done?” Still, there is always a difference between saying, “I am of Christ,” and “receiving the testimony of Christ.” (D&C 76: 100-101.)

More Ado About Church History And Race

We have yet another pronouncement concerning the church’s past ban on priesthood for blacks. This is the most recent church statement:

“The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that ‘no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.’ Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject: ‘The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.'”

If this is altogether accepted as a carefully considered, inspired and accurate statement of the truth, it raises some interesting questions about the church today and in the past:

President Hinckley’s statement, reiterated again today, is that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.” If this is correct, how are we to now regard Brigham Young?
[“In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. .. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants. …Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction…” (Address to the Legislature by LDS Church President and Territorial Governor Brigham Young, Feb. 5, 1852, spellings not corrected.)]

John Taylor?
[“Why is it, in fact, that we should have a devil? Why did not the Lord kill him long ago? . . . He needed the devil and great many of those who do his bidding just to keep . . . our dependence upon God, . . . When he destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he [the devil] might be properly represented upon the earth (Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, Oct. 29. 1882, p. 336)].

Many others, even President J. Reuben Clark who objected to pictures in the Deseret News showing black and white children mingling together, made disparaging remarks. What of them? Are we now to regard them as not true disciples of Christ? If so, then what does that do for the church’s status? Did the church pass through a lengthy era of being led by those who were not true disciples of Christ and yet retain all of our blessings, entitlements, power and priesthood? How did that operate? Can a non-true disciple of Christ pass along priesthood authority? Or is President Hinckley’s declaration an overstatement because it proves too much? Does any of this raise the possibility that church leaders can in fact “lead us astray?” Or instead is it that we are never led astray, but they can make mistakes? If so, how are we to distinguish between mistakes, and errors so serious they cannot be regarded as “true disciples of Christ” and yet preclude leading us astray? Doesn’t something have to give? Were the church members who opposed the ban “true disciples” even though they were out of harmony with their leaders? If that is the case, how can we know where “true disciples” are to be found, if there is a possibility for the lesser, dissident members who are out of harmony with those leaders to be “true disciples of Christ?” Does it mean we can have “true disciples” led by those who err in teaching for doctrine the commandments of men? Isn’t this the problem the Lord intended to solve in His opening statement to Joseph Smith? Are there some leaders now serving who are “not true disciples of Christ?” How do we distinguish between those who will be regarded as “not true disciples of Christ” at some future point but who are now serving in leadership? When do we know we are being taught for doctrine the commandments of men?

These are very interesting questions. What a great opportunity this presents for more study and careful contemplation by us all. Should I agree with President Hinckley and think the worse of earlier leaders? It seems harsh to think them “no true disciple of Christ” on the one hand, but on the other their remarks are quite disparaging of those of another race. Actually, disparaging of one specific race, not other races generally. Should culture bend a “prophet’s voice” or does a “prophet’s voice” require culture to bend? Were they originally just reflecting social values when speaking disparagingly about the race, and are they doing the same now there is widespread antipathy for racism? If that is the case, then do we really need anything more than popular opinion to guide us then and now?

If these church leaders spoke “in the absence of revelation” how were they “revelators?” Or weren’t they? If they were sustained as “revelators” but spoke in the absence of revelation and were wrong, how often has that happened? How often does it happen? How do we tell the difference between truth and teaching for doctrine the commandments of men? Aren’t we told essentially everything coming out of the hierarchy is entitled to respect as if it were the Lord speaking? Does that apply when they speak “in the absence of revelation?” What a fascinating assortment of issues the church has now given us to ponder.

Does our eternal salvation require us to resolve these things correctly?

There are so many more questions I can think of now that the church has given this new announcement. I wonder why they weren’t addressed in the latest announcement.

Question on Sealing

Someone asked about sealing power. This is something that I’m not going to be able to answer on the blog. It would require too much, even for a multi-part posting as I have done on the Remnant and on Interpreting History. On the subject there are three chapters at the end of Beloved Enos, written from a perspective that accepts the church’s claims to this authority. All the first seven books, to the extent the issue arises, accept the church’s claim. In Passing the Heavenly Gift, the history is viewed from another perspective, but the question of whether this perspective is better than the traditional narrative is left to the reader to decide.

The closest thing to a direct discussion of how the Father seals someone His is found in the last parable in Ten Parables. Even there, however, the story is focused on the interplay between heaven and mankind, not those ordinances that exist in the unexplained events happening in the background.

Because of the importance of the subject and the many scriptures and important details which bear on the topic, it cannot be adequately explained without significant effort to marshall together the critical information. That is not appropriate for a blog. Nor are blog readers necessarily even going to understand the posts if they are unfamiliar with why the question would be asked.

I’ve pointed out that our ordinances contemplate a further ratification from heaven. In D&C 121: 36-37 the power of heaven must ratify priestly power, or it is nonexistent. This is the same principle Joseph wrote about in Liberty Jail. (D&C 121: 36.) In D&C 132: 26 the ratification through the “Holy Spirit of Promise” must confirm a sealing for it to become eternal. Then in D&C 132: 7 we learn it is possible for this to be conferred “on but one on the earth at a time” which made it possible for Joseph Smith to seal up to eternal life. In effect, Joseph became the Holy Spirit of Promise through operation of the Divine appointment to hold the right. That term “Holy Spirit of Promise” we use without adequate appreciation that it can be an office held by Divine appointment. The office is held by more than just a single mortal man at one time, and includes others who minister here as well.  These, at a minimum, are the Lord, John the Beloved, the Three Nephite Disciples, Elijah, other angelic ministers, as well as potentially others about whom we know nothing (D&C 49: 8). There is also the meaning of limiting it to one man “on the earth at a time” when it comes to widely separated people without any probability of contact during their lifetimes. An example would be when the Lord in His post-resurrection ministry appointed Apostles in Palestine and Disciples in the New World. He also may have had others in other locations during His many appearances in that season, all of whom were given similar authority to seal. Were they so geographically separated they could be said to be on different earths for all practical purposes? Or is there an exception undiscussed in Section 132 because the world has become smaller and more integrated since the Meridian of Time? I take no position on that, only pose the question.

The Missing Virtue focuses on the love between the man and woman. That love is what attracts the notice of angels, the approval of the Lord and the effort by heaven to bring the couple to salvation. They become fruit worth laying up against the season. Therefore, the work assigned by the Lord to the angels was to repair what was lacking in the man so as to preserve them against the day of the harvest. The underlying reason, the driving force, the preservative justifying heavenly attention in the story is the love between the man and woman which the angels recognize fits the pattern of heaven.

John said “God is love” (1 John 4: 8). Of all the power in earth and heaven, the greatest form of power is love. It is the power of creation, and motivation of God, the reason for existence and the purpose behind all we see here. It is the harmonizing attribute between man and woman, man and fellow-man, God and man, our descendants and ancestors. Our love motivates the highest aspirations, causes our greatest anxieties, moves us to action and summons our greatest will. This is godlike.

The ordinances matter a great deal. They are the physical manifestation of our love for God. They are important and symbolize everything we hope for, and all we desire to be in God’s eyes. Our service to our ancestors through Temple work matters. It is the way we show our love for those who went before, even if we do not know a thing about them. The devotion and service we render does not go unnoticed by heaven.

God will preserve our love above everything else. It is in that attribute we find ourselves most like Him. Or, in other words, most like Them. Heaven is a community. The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn are all elevated by their love for one another and love for their posterity, and are able to live in peace because they are given over to love.

Beyond ordinances and rites there is a power by which God governs. It is the power which creates, and which binds together as nothing else in the universe. The ordinances point to it, but you must become love for the Lord to pour power into the things you hope to have preserved.

No act of service will go unnoticed. No act of devotion is meaningless. Our ordinances matter a great deal. When done with love they have power. But the power to seal should be viewed as related to this great power, not as an administrative authorization or a corporate franchise. That view is so skewed and divorced from heaven that it almost always results in abuse, ambition, and perversion of men’s hearts. When that happens, amen to the priesthood or authority of that man. If used to favor friends or to control and exercise dominion over others, it is political power, not priesthood power. But you have the revelations before you so you should already know that.

If I were to recommend any answer to someone troubled by the issue I would suggest first, it is a matter between you and heaven, not you and another man. The Lord has ample means to seal you up to eternal life whether you live in the most remote location on earth or in downtown Salt Lake City. That is irrelevant. Second, the greatest preservative is your love of God and your love of your fellow-man. (Matt. 22: 36-40.) This matters a great deal more than your calling, your connections, your income, your social status, age, genealogy or education.

Ether’s Reference to Christ as Father

Here is a question taken from the Book of Ether. The question: “Explain Ether 4:12 where the Lord says: ‘he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me.  For behold, I am the Father…’ I understand that the Father and Son are unified in everything and I understand that the Son is the Father because he has begotten us through the atonement and that He was also the creator. How would you explain that verse to someone just reading it for the first time?  It sounds like a description of the trinity as many Christian religions view that the Father and Son are literally one being.”

Response: Foremost in this creation is the reality of Christ. He lived. He died, voluntarily, as a sacrifice. His death was unmerited. (1 Peter 2: 22; Alma 22: 13-14.) He died because of other’s sins, not because of His own. (1 Peter 2: 21-23.) He did so to make an offering to appease the ends of the law. (2 Ne. 2: 6-7.)

Law has one purpose: It establishes required conduct that when violated requires a punishment to be imposed. Without punishment there is no law. (Alma 42: 22.) We came here to live in a fallen state where we are subject to law and knowing when violate the law the result would inevitably require punishment. (Alma 42: 18.) Christ came to suffer that punishment. (1 Peter 3: 18.)

Overarching all else in this creation are the acts of two parties. Adam fell. (Moses 6: 48.) Christ arose. (Alma 11: 42.) Adam introduced death. Christ overcame it. (Mosiah 16: 8.) Through Christ the law was made unjust because death could make no claim upon Him, but He willingly died to suffer the punishment He did not merit. That forever satisfied death’s claim. (Mosiah 15: 9.) Once it had claimed the life of one who did not deserve to die, it could no longer make claim on Him or those He came to redeem. His punishment was infinite, because His sacrifice was infinite. If He did not merit death then death took from Him what was infinite and would have no end. (Heb. 4: 15.) He submitted. His death satisfied the need for dying.

Mankind still die. That is just; but after their death, Christ’s sacrifice makes it possible to live again, just as He did. (Jacob 6: 4.) But you know all this already.

The “Father” of your eternal life will be Christ. (D&C 35: 2.) He is your Father who is in heaven, because your continuation after the grave will come through His sacrifice. He will literally provide you with the resurrected body you will inherit. This makes Him the Father. (See Mosiah 5: 7.)

Secondly, they are His teachings which will provide you with more than just resurrection. He will provide the further possibility of glory to you on the conditions He has made possible through obedience to Him. The one you follow, whose teachings you accept, whose ordinances you accept, is also your Father. (1 Cor. 4: 15.) The role of the Father is to raise His seed in righteousness. Christ’s teachings are given in His capacity of a Father to all who will follow Him. Through His teachings you can have a new life here and now. You can be “born again” as His seed. (1 Peter 1: 23.) To do that you must first accept His role as your Father/guide. Then you must further accept His role as Father/Redeemer. When you do that, He gives you a new life by His teachings and new life by His ordinances.

Here, excluded from the presence of Heavenly Father Ahman, we have no way back except through Christ. (Mosiah 3: 12.) (For the name “Ahman” see D&C 78: 20 where Christ mentions His Father’s name.) He must become our Father to bring us back again into the Ahman’s presence. Christ visits here. Christ labored here, lived among us, ministers still among us, and though resurrected still walked alongside two of His disciples. He appeared in an upper room, cooked and ate fish on the lake’s shore, and appeared to many. He will come to dwell here again. The Father Ahman, however, only appears in a state of glory, has not stood here since the Fall of Adam, and awaits the completion of the work of Christ before He will again take up His abode here.

Christ is not the same person as Father Ahman. Christ becomes the Father of all who are redeemed through Him. Therefore, by redeeming you Christ has become your Father in Heaven. You will have many fathers, including Christ, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and in our dispensation, Joseph Smith as well. And all these will also be children of Father Ahman.

More Ancient Than the New Testament

Someone made this comment: I was listening to an interview in which you were talking about the current LDS church being like the New Testament church, as opposed to being like a much older patriarchal religion. I don’t see the difference between the two. On my mission, a woman related the following story:  Her brother had served his mission in Italy and on a p-day, while participating in some tourism activities, they toured an ancient Roman Catholic cathedral which had some fascinating murals on the walls. This missionary was amazed by the murals, took pictures, and she showed me copies. I requested copies of the pictures which she gave to me. They were pictures of paintings of people wearing robes which were unmistakably temple robes, the most amazing painting was depicting the veil in a temple. The temple robes were different from what we wear today in some respects, but with enough similarities there was no mistaking them. They had similar hats to what the men wear and they had the fig shaped aprons and most tellingly, they had symbols of the compass and the square. The painting of the temple depicted several posts covered by the veil between the posts. One of the posts had a little mallet hanging down and a hand sticking out between the curtain and the post. According to the story, the missionary asked the priest about the paintings and the priest could tell him nothing other than they were old paintings. The missionary knew better, as did I and anyone else who had ever been inside a modern temple.”
My response: Read Nibley’s book Temple and Cosmos and you’ll probably see these ancient paintings, murals and mosaics. He has gathered together some interesting material. Val Brinkerhoff’s two volume set The Day Star also gathers together a good deal of photographic material showing the antiquity of the temple themes and ceremonies. There is no question there are temple rites restored through Joseph Smith that relate to antiquity, and not merely to updating and correcting Masonic-inspired innovations.There was a liturgical return to antiquity in the post-New Testament era which many believe was grounded either in secret teachings of Christ during His ministry, or developed in His post-resurrection forty-day ministry.
However, in the case of the Restoration, had Joseph finished his work, there was something more coming. That is the issue I was referring to in the podcast. Look at Facsimile No. 2, Explanatory notes numbers 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21. You’ll see there was more to come. Take a look at the TPJS, also, and you will find Joseph intended for something more than the New Testament era religion. His work was intended to bring back the very religion of the first man. This was to be more than merely a church, but “this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.” (D&C 22: 1.) 
You can also look at Margaret Barker’s work such as The Older Testament, The Great High Priest, The Great Angel, Temple Theology, The Lost Prophet, Hidden Tradition, and Temple Mysticism and you will find a Protestant scholar whose thesis is that Christ was restoring the older faith, not creating a new one. Her work has so impressed Mormon scholars that she has been invited and spoken at BYU, in addition to presenting at the Smithsonian Conference on the Bicentennial of Joseph Smith.


Margaret Barker’s writings suggest there was some very ancient covenant, along with an ancient priesthood that Christ was returning to the earth through His ministry. The New Testament church was not the objective of either Christ or Joseph Smith. Both were engaged in returning “that which was from the beginning.”


Joseph’s restored Temple rites are set in Eden. The quest to find God runs through the earliest contact between God and man involving the experience of the first man, Adam and his wife, Eve. They lived in God’s presence at the beginning and the Temple message is that we must return there. Our quest is not to stop with a partial return, but a complete return to the beginning.


We tend to think we “have it all” and we got it from Joseph Smith. We have a New Testament church which is by far better than any other form of Christian organization, Catholic or Protestant. We tend to think that was the object the Lord had in mind when Joseph was spoken to from heaven. Then we claim to have preserved it perfectly from then until now. I’m suggesting two things: First, Joseph may not have given us everything because he died before the Nauvoo Temple was completed. The Lord’s planned visit there did not happen. We got a lot, to be sure. Whether we have “that which was from the beginning” in the full panoply of what may have been received had the Lord come to restore the fullness in the completed Nauvoo Temple remains an interesting matter worth at least contemplating. Second, we may not have perfectly preserved what we were given. After the November 1845 to February 1846 endowments ended, the endowment was not performed again until 1855. It was not reduced to writing until the 1870’s. Several of the church leaders remarked at how surprised they were at how much Brigham Young could remember. That does not mean it was perfectly preserved, only that the volume of recalled material was surprising to them.
You are free to believe as you choose. You can presume the restoration was intended to deliver a replica of the New Testament church. We got that. If that was the objective, I would not dispute it was accomplished. However,  I ask the question of whether the purpose was to reach back much further, and has yet to be accomplished. Will the time come when the restoration will have a look and feel rather more like the days of Noah than like the New Testament? I think if Christ knew what He was talking about then this is likely to be the case. I am of the view that there are many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven which He has yet to reveal. (See, e.g., Article of Faith 9.)


I think the path to God will run back to the very beginning. It will involve a return to the the original, paradisaical glory which was Eden. Zion is connected to that very return. (See, e.g., Article of Faith 10.)


This is why I made the remark. It is my view, and certainly not the view of many others. You are in very good company if you think otherwise. We are, after all, allowed to believe according to the dictates of our own conscience, and are free to exercise that privilege according to how we each understand God’s will and intentions. (See, e.g., Article of Faith 11.) 


I like the idea that if an idea troubles you, then set it aside. It is either true or not true, and you are not yet in a position to comprehend it. Either way, it is not for you. Since we are all in the search to find our salvation before God, I trust God will deal with each of us in His patient, benign way and the truth will unfold before each sincere seeker. Until God in His wisdom makes a matter clear, no one should presume they can rush another person into accepting it.


I also believe the Lord will not leave the sincere seeker uninformed. He will not answer one person and deny another if they both ask and do so in sincerity willing to accept the answer. Any person who comes before God acknowledging He is a God of truth and cannot lie will learn the truth from Him. (Ether 3: 12.) That also means if you are not willing to accept truth from Him, but require Him to meet you standard then there is really no point for Him to clarify things for you.


I am personally satisfied that the objective of returning to the most ancient, original faith, both was and is the purpose of Joseph Smith’s calling. And that objective remains an unfinished work. It will finish, I think coincidentally with establishing Zion. 

Question on Priesthood/Monarch

I received the following question:
“I was reviewing the audio version of Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and came across the part where Joseph makes the comment that High Priests are to administer in Spiritual things and hold communion with God.  But not to ‘exercise monarchical government’, or appoint meetings with out the approval of the Elders.  Considering the limited comment you recently made on your blog regarding the divine right of kings, but also considering the invitation found in the temple to be both a priest and a king, I wondered how these thoughts reconciled and was interested to hear your thoughts.”

My response:
The object of the Lord’s return is governmental. More specifically, Monarchical. He will return to be a “King of kings” and a “Lord of lords.” (See Rev. 19: 16.) To be a King who presides over “kings” requires the existence of other kings. To be a Lord over other “lords” requires the existence of other lords. But the church’s High Priests are not qualified to be that, and therefore cannot exercise such a monarchical form of government. To do that is a revolutionary act inside the United States of America. That is one reason the Lord has decreed there will be a full end to all nations. (D&C 87: 6.) He will institute a new form of government that will not be compatible with other national interests.

The Lord’s plans are quite different than we sometimes presume them to be. Joseph Smith was apparently tuned in to that in a surprisingly revolutionary way. It is no wonder he was killed. He represented a new era where old things were to be thrown down and a new order established.

Joseph represented an opportunity; but we weren’t interested in it. Ultimately it was the Saints themselves who complained and got him to return and surrender. He remarked that if his life was of no value to his friends, it was of no value to him. He realized the Saints were unwilling to follow into the kind of remaking of the world his ministry offered.

I doubt Joseph Smith would be any more welcome today than he was in his own time. I think we’d treat him like a crank, who entertained delusional ideas and offered a foolish, magical view of the world unworthy of serious consideration.

Kingship is tied to the promise of land, as we see in the case of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Lehi and Nephi, among many others. When the land is given to the Lord’s “king and priest” it comes from the Lord by His word and is everlasting. It is received by covenant, and when received the king is the land in a very real sense. He and it are connected by the covenant, and what goes on thereafter is a reflection of how the king (or his descendants) honor or dishonor the covenant.

Although the Melchizedek priesthood cannot exercise monarchical government (a form of government involving Patriarchal rule), there will be a return of this kind of order before the Lord returns. The remnant will build Zion. There will be an Ephriamite with the authorization there to “crown” those kings and lords who will rule with Christ at His return. (D&C 133: 32.) Everything will happen as foretold. But we can’t and aren’t supposed to be able to see it beforehand. We are only supposed to witness it unfold before us. We cannot comprehend God’s strange act. Those who take the Spirit for their guide will not be deceived or hewn down. (Mark 13: 5-6; D&C 45: 57.) This was the original form of priestly order from the beginning of time. It will return at the end of the world again. (Moses 6: 7.) This priestly order is what allowed a small group to gather at Adam-Ondi-Ahman where the Lord visited with them and comforted Adam. (D&C 107: 53-55.) That scene, involving Adam and seven who held this same priesthood will be re-enacted again at the end. We are working our way back in a great chiasm of history as the Lord counts us back to the beginning and we draw to the end. He calls it His “strange act” (D&C 101: 95; Isa. 28: 21.) Joseph’s ministry took us back to an earlier time. The Lord intends to return us back further.

But, again, these are things Joseph understood and began to put in place. Now we have only a tattered remainder of that original purpose and an ambition to become something more modern, like the other faiths. Today we have no capacity for monarchical government under the present organization of things. That might be a good thing. We get into less trouble that way.

Ambition for these things will not accomplish a thing. It will be the Lord’s doing or it will not happen at all. He always tells us emphatically that it will be HIM who brings again Zion, not us. (3 Ne. 16: 8; Mosiah 12: 22; Isa. 52: 8; D&C 84: 99, among others.) Our ambition will not bring it to pass. Only His will can do so. The challenge, of course, is to be among those invited by the angels to participate rather than to be left among the residue who will be hewn down.