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.