There are some great comments on the previous posts. I’ve not wanted to interrupt what I was doing to address them. Before moving on to another set of scriptures relating to those questions and comments, here are a few responses:
To whom has the Book of Mormon been written?
What possible good would it be for a message to be written for an audience who would never read the Book of Mormon?
If the term “Gentiles” is sometimes quite broad (and it is in some contexts), does the message get addressed to all of them? Is the message tailored to those who would read the book?
If the warnings are read to apply only to non-LDS occupants of the land, then what do the warnings accomplish? Do they make us proud? Do they make us feel better than “them,” since only “they” are condemned and not us? What kind of a warning is it if the only ones being warned are those who will never read the book?
Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at least retain the power and authority to preach the Gospel and administer the rites of baptism, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost? When I prayed, as the missionaries were instructing me, I got an answer that led me to baptism. I believe that baptism to be authoritative and approved by the Lord. Does anyone think the church lacks the authority to baptize for the remission of sins? I do not. If, therefore, the church has that authority, does it not continue to occupy an important, even central role in the Lord’s work?
If you teach someone, and they want to “convert” and be baptized, would you not baptize them into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
What is the mission field for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Who is not included?
If all the world is the mission field for the church, what, then, becomes the mission field for the Church of the Firstborn? [I do not hold that the Church of the Firstborn is a formal organization, existing here as a formal order. I believe its members associate with others who are not of this world, and consequently the Church of the Firstborn is never in competition with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.]
Would members of the Church of the Firstborn not pay tithes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Would they not attend its meetings? Would they not support its programs? Would they not use The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to assist them in raising their children? Would they not have their families baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Even if they held authority given them directly from the Lord, would they not continue to be faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? To uphold and respect the authorities who are given the duty to preside?
Until the Lord brings again Zion, where should we all join in fellowship?
Would members of the Church of the Firstborn ever envy those presiding in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Ever challenge their right to preside? Did Christ ever try and displace Caiaphus? Did He not admonish us to follow His example?
Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints limit the amount of light you can acquire by your own heed and diligence? (D&C 130: 18-19.) Can any man prevent God from pouring out knowledge upon you if you will receive it in the proper way? (D&C 121: 32-33.) Can any soul approach the Lord, see His face, and know that He is? (D&C 93: 1.)
Of what relevance is it if other Saints give no heed or are not willing to receive knowledge from the Lord? Should we belittle them? If not, what then is our responsibility toward them? (3 Ne. 12: 16.)
What does it mean to let a “light shine?”
Why, upon seeing that light, would someone “glorify your Father who is in heaven” rather than heap praise and attention upon you? What is it about the nature of the light which you are to shine that produces notice of the Father rather than notice of you?
David Christensen’s definition of “whoredoms” was interesting. Whether you take the meaning in 1830, or you take our modern sexual meaning, would it change the result of any analysis? One fellow who worked at the Church Office Building told me that approximately 60% of active adult male members of the church regularly view pornography.
Kisi also raised a question regarding Ishmael’s Ephriamite lineage. Orson Pratt, Franklin D. Richards and Erastus Snow all said Joseph Smith mentioned in passing that the lost 116 pages included a reference to Ishmael’s lineage and he was from Ephriam. Does this change anything? If so, how? What other outcome might then be possible? Would this potentially even further limit the Gentile involvement?
On the subject of Joseph’s statements contained in the Nauvoo era transcripts: These were the very materials from which Joseph’s talks were reproduced. The Documentary History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Jr., was compiled from these original materials. When The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith was prepared, it was done using these materials. The paper I wrote included the original source materials, not the derivative compilations.
As to the importance and reliability of these materials, first, those involved were the leading church fathers at the time. Thomas Bullock was the official scribe for Joseph Smith during the Nauvoo talks. His versions were kept at Joseph’s request and were official accounts. Second, the Joseph Smith Papers project now underway through the Church Historian’s Office is attempting to make more of these original source materials available to the Saints. If they are not important, then the Church would not be investing millions of man-hours and dollars to bring the sources into the hands of the Saints.
It is not wise to dismiss as “mud” the very kinds of materials that give the best source for Joseph’s teachings. Indeed, D&C 130 is an amalgam of comments Joseph made in a talk given April 2, 1843 recorded by some of the very same scribes used in the paper I wrote. I’m just using original materials, rather than derivative, second hand interpretations made years later by others who were not present (or living) when the statements were made by Joseph.