This forces The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into a dilemma. It must either proclaim that it is the only repository of saving truth, or it must strike a compromise which betrays the reason for its existence.
Sobbing politicians blubbering how sorry they are for the DUI/nude hot-tubbing with underage girls/oral sex or drug use require me to then explain to my kids things I would rather defer until they are older. What good is it to not buy HBO when the evening news features Republicans and Democrats confessing sins as sordid as anything we get in R-rated movies?
His only credential was his message. He came to announce warnings, was rejected, and ultimately killed. He had no success with the people, and made only one convert.
Abinadi is a hinge character around whom the entire remainder of the Book of Mormon will center. His one convert, Alma, will become the spiritual leader of the Nephites, and that convert will become the leading writer of the Book of Mormon. Then his posterity will be the focus of the remaining history of the Book of Mormon.
Abinadi’s prophecies were cited from the time he delivered them to the end of the Book of Mormon. But measured by the events of his life, he failed. His one convert fled persecution and hid in the wilderness.
I think there’s a profound lesson in Abinadi’s appearance and legacy. If the Book of Mormon was edited by those who “saw our day,” and was edited to foreshadow our own history, then we ought to be cautious about discarding a message from someone like Abinadi.
The only meaningful credential is the content of the message. Trappings of office, genealogy, name, status, and standing were all irrelevant to Abinadi.
I believe them to be “FIRST” in the sense of primacy, not a singular event which happens and then you can take them off the list of stuff to do. They are primary. They are foundational. They are required to be used constantly. Therefore, they are “FIRST.”
Repentance is required because even if we are doing what we should be doing we are always going to learn more. It is the nature of the Gospel that our light should increase. Whenever we learn more, we must change to reflect what we have just gained. Change is the heart of repentance.
Baptism is to have sins washed away. If you are already baptized, then the ordinance does not need to be done again, but the remission of sins and washing them away is required repeatedly. For those already baptized, this is done through the Sacrament. It is still required for us to have sins remitted.
These are the only means by which we can avoid the same dismal fate as all others of all prior dispensations. We must do this individually. It does not matter if it is done collectively. I’ve yet to see any reason in the scriptures to expect great collective success by the Gentiles who inherit the Gospel in our dispensation. There are individual promises to the few Gentiles who will repent, have faith, be baptized, enter into the covenant and remain faithful. But the collective outcome is not particularly rosy.
Since the white stone and new name mentioned in D&C 130: 10-11 are referring to the state of exaltation and inheritance, and since the promise which the Second Comforter (Christ) is working to obtain for those to whom He ministers is the promise of exaltation, that equivalency may also be made. The difference as I see it is that those described in the verses in D&C 130 are in a future state, in which they have actually inherited the condition of exaltation, have entered into the Celestial Kingdom to dwell there and possess the white stone on which their new name is written; whereas the promises Joseph speaks of in the quote above and the promises in D&C 88 are given to a mortal and are to be realized fully in the future.
Finally, since the mortal who receives these things is already in company with the Lord and the Father, they are already occasional visitors in a Celestial Kingdom although they are still here in mortality, required to endure to the end, suffer death and then await resurrection. Despite this, they are celestial and their lives are punctuated by contact with celestial beings from time to time, as the Lord determines is appropriate or necessary.
PhD’s are generally so schooled in their discipline that they view the Gospel in the light of their educational training. A scholar studies economics and then everything looks to him like it can be explained in economic terms. Or a scholar studies philosophy and then everything looks like it can be fit into a paradigm matching their school of thought.
Joseph Smith’s early education was so limited that our children have a comparable education at the conclusion of fourth grade. But what he learned from on-high, by revelation, made him a towering pillar of light and truth.
Joseph once commented that if you could gaze into heaven for five minutes you would know more that if you read everything that had ever been written on the subject. Now imagine the libraries that are filled with material written by the world’s scholars and theologians about heaven. Those who have written include such luminaries as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Dante, Rabbi Bacharach and Buddha. Yet five minutes of “gazing” would supplant all they had to offer.
The wonder of it all is that so few are willing to trust a prophet’s advice. We read endlessly uninspired books written by the uninformed, and bypass the process commended to us by the scriptures.
A bad education (which is most educations) is worse than no education when it comes to the things of heaven. When men are learned they think they are wise, and therefore have little reason to trust in God or revelation from Him to correct their misunderstanding. I think the Book of Mormon had something to say about that. (See 2 Ne. 9: 28-29, 42.) I consider myself a fool. (That is the one advantage I have over those who also hold doctorates. I know it does not provide me with any advantages, but does impose considerable disadvantages because of its corrosion to my thinking.)
Heaven is an endless source of surprises. There’s nothing mundane going on there.
The Priesthood is separate from the church. For example, when someone is excommunicated they are told to stop using their priestly authority. When they are re-baptized they are never re-ordained. They are simply given authorization to now begin using their authority again.
We do not re-ordain someone when they are re-baptized because re-ordination is unnecessary. They held priestly authority even while they were not a member of the church.
Priesthood preceded the church and is the basis upon which it was organized. It will last beyond the church, at least in the final, Patriarchal form. That priesthood will endure into eternity, for it is the basis upon which the eternal family is predicated. The eternal family is the government of God, not the church. After this life, the church will come to an end. But the family, as a form of government, and priesthood of a Patriarch and Matriarch, presiding as a king and queen, priest and priestess, will endure.
I’ve figured out part of the problem I have in discussing Mormon issues with others. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between how important the two parties view the subject being discussed. To illustrate the point, I’m proposing a completely arbitrary method of ranking an issue on a 10 point scale of ascending importance as follows:
1. Completely meaningless
4. Somewhat significant
6. Very significant
8. Very important
10. Essential to salvation
When I think a subject is “1” and someone else thinks it is “10” then naturally I don’t care about the point. They think I must be convinced of the point or I am going to forfeit salvation itself. When that is the case, we don’t connect very well. If we do reach an agreement, I don’t think the agreement amounts to much. They on the other hand, think they’ve won a major point, or provided a valuable service. I would likely be bored with the discussion, and since I didn’t value the subject’s importance would probably offend the other party by my disinterest.
On the other hand, views change. At one point I am convinced that some behavior or conduct is either 9 or 10, only to later realize that it is more likely a 3 or 4. That change in attitude may be due to nothing more than living longer, getting more experience and developing a little humility about life and its challenges.
I think that a lot of discussions, disagreements and strong arguments are rooted in an assignment of different levels of importance to the subject.
For example, when I was an Elder’s Quorum President, Home Teaching by Quorum members was something between an 8 and 10. I’m not an Elder’s Quorum President any longer, and I go home teach my families because I really care about them. I like them. I want to be with them. I find them interesting. I’ve been 100% for many months and, if I miss at all, it is due to either their absence during the month or mine. But I try to keep in close touch, not because of some “assignment” but because I like them. If I were to assign a level of importance to home teaching now, based on the scale above, I would candidly give it a 5 or 6.
There are people who believe the center piece of the relief society room during a lesson is a 10. I don’t relate well to that. And there are those who think President Monson’s General Conference Addresses are a 1. I don’t relate well to that, either.
Before a discussion begins about gospel subjects, I think it is always helpful to first find out how important the subject is to the person with whom you are speaking.