I just noticed that the last time I posted was over a year ago. I have plenty of material ready to go, but I have been busy on another project for the past few months. I will post again soon.
Christ isn’t going to do anything for you that you can’t do yourself. The atonement is not going to erase all your problems; give you knowledge you haven’t learned; give you experience you haven’t had; make choices for you that you didn’t make; give you abilities that you haven’t developed.
I have been a veil worker, temple sealer, officiator, and leader of prayer circles. I was also on a committee to revise the Endowment for LGBT people in the RCJC. At first, I thought all the ordinances and rituals were a bunch of empty mumbo jumbo, until I really immersed myself in the work. I had to memorize the lecture given in connection with the prayer circle, and how to conduct the prayer circle. I was determined to learn it by heart, so I walked around and around this big city block in LA until I memorized it. After the 10th time around the block, I realized that there was something very important and powerful to this.
I am going to toss out a few seemingly unconnected statements of Joseph Smith and others for you consideration, and for you to connect the dots:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water.—Hebrews 10:19-22.
“Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings;” D&C 124:97
“You do not know how to pray and get your prayers answered.” Joseph Smith
“There are signs in heaven, earth, and hell. The Elders must know them all to be endowed with power,to finish their work and prevent imposition. The devil knows many signs but dos not know the sign of the Son of Man, or Jesus.No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be in the Holiest of Holies.” —Joseph Smith, Diary, in “Book of the Law of the Lord.
“Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord.” (See Malachi 3:3.)
I am not convinced that if you are just doing vain repetition, an ordinance is a waste of time, but with understanding and the Spirit, these can literally open the heavens to you, and educate you about the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation in a way that nothing else can.
Here is a very brief summary what I have learned on this subject. I can back all of this up from the D&C, the temple endowment, the Bible, and church history.
Some of this stuff might sound new to you because it is not taught in Sunday School. But it is a lot simpler and much more fair that than is being taught. The main difference is it is not calculated to install fear, but freedom and personal responsibility.
The reason for this is it comes from the revelations of God, not the teachings of an institution who is only interested in self-preservation and maintaining control over its members.
When Christ established his church, he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The gates of hell are meant to keep people IN, not keep people OUT.
Terrestial are the honorable people who were deceived by the craftiness of men.
Telestial are those crafty men who lie in wait to deceive.
Celestial are the people who are honorable who neither deceive, nor are deceived.
It is important to remember that not all the judgments of God are revealed. Also, God wills that all mankind will be saved. Also, Christ saves all the work of the Father’s hands. Also, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.
The vast majority of Mormons is not good enough for the Celestial Kingdom, and nowhere near bad enough for outer darkness. Read D&C 76, 130, 131.
The bracketed comment in 131:2 was not revealed through Joseph Smith, but was added later by Orson Pratt, under the direction of Brigham Young, in order to support plural marriage.
Even outer darkness is not a final state, but the folks there will have to wait billions of years for another chance.
There are kingdoms above the Celestial Kingdom.
The Telestial Kingdom is hell. It is also the world in which we live. This is a kingdom composed of people of many degrees of glory, as the stars differ in glory. You will run across Celestial, Telestial, and Terrestrial people here. The deceivers, the deceived, and those who are not deceived.
The reason why we have so many different churches and philosophies here is because God is trying to reach out to everyone and speak to them in terms of their own time, culture, language, and understanding.
We progress from kingdom to kingdom as we progress and obey the laws pertaining to that kingdom. Otherwise, we keep returning to the same kingdom until we learn and obey those laws and show that we are ready to move on.
The words damnation, condemnation, and judgment all refer to the state where we are “dammed in our progress”. We are stuck in one place, where we “suffer the wrath of God”, which really means we stay here and face the trials and lessons of mortality until we learn all the lessons we are supposed to learn and prove ourselves ready to move on.
“Eternal punishment” does not refer to the length of the punishment, but to the quality and intensity of the punishment.
By the same token “eternal life” means the kind of life that God lives. We can obtain and enjoy eternal life, even in this life. We not only can, but we must.
“… and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead…”
We can also volunteer to remain behind and help other struggling souls climb higher. This is why the sacrifice of Christ was so important and significant. Christ said “come follow me”. It is important to understand the full import of what that means, and always be ready to follow Christ, wherever he leads us, or asks us to go.
We are constantly taught, take a covenant at baptism, and renew that covenant every week to take upon ourselves the “name of Christ”. This principle is demonstrated quite literally and visually in the temple. The name of Christ means something and is not just a euphemism.
I don’t believe in being confined to a static destination for all eternity, no matter what that destination is. THAT is the definition of damnation. I expect to keep growing, learning, and progressing, as in the words of the hymn:
The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.
So, keeping an eternal perspective i’m focused on the HERE AND NOW, and making the most out of this life, and assisting others to do the same. There is no reason why we can’t create heaven on earth. It will come when we are ready for it.
As the Lord said through the prophet of the Community of Christ:
“Zionic conditions are no further away nor any closer than the spiritual condition of my people justifies.” [D&C 140:5c – Israel A. Smith – April 7, 1947]
Zion is just the start. After Enoch built
Don’t be waiting for God. It’s up to us.
This is the whole crux of the church’s incorrect doctrine enshrined in “The Proclamation on the Family”. It is that in the Celestial Kingdom, exalted males and females produce spirit offspring, and thereby bring new beings into existence.
Joseph Smith NEVER taught this doctrine. He taught that man was in the beginning with God and is co-eternal with God. The idea of producing “spirit children” originated with Brigham Young and Orson Pratt in order to promote and legitimize polygamy, and is false.
Joseph Smith, in one of his final speeches on the resurrection, said that the saints should be constantly be seeking to find out the mysteries. This is in stark contrast to those who would tell us to avoid the mysteries and, thus, remain in darkness.
Here are a few mysteries from the D&C that bear looking into. It is said that the best place to hide a mystery is to put it out in plain sight. These “mysteries” are all out in plain sight in the D&C, for anyone to read.
It may be that when these mysteries are finally “revealed” (and I am providing an “out” for the church), they may well prove that same-sex marriages are not only welcome, but necessary, for the fulfillment of God’s plan, which is the eternal joy, happiness, and progression of ALL of his children.
1. We are told that God has not revealed all his judgments.
2. We are not told the purpose of the lower two degrees of the Celestial Kingdom.
3. There are kingdoms of a higher order than the Celestial Kingdom.
4. Polygamy is not the only new doctrine taught in D&C 132.
These principles are all found in the D&C. Go look for them, and when you find them, go ask the church leaders to explain them to you, if they can.
I must know a couple of dozen people who left the Church, but without the drama, the soul-searching, the gut-wrenching, the torchlight vigils, the parades through the park, whining to the press.
However, did they do it? Answer: they just did it. They followed the best that they knew and just did it.
I did it so I could have the type of relationship I yearned for and believed I could have. I walked through that door and found that the Lord was on the other side of the door waiting for me.
My son did it because he sincerely believes that no other success can compensate for failure in the home. Here’s one parent who put his kids above the church.
I know another man who left because of freedom of conscience and because he felt he had a calling to teach the truth.
I know another man who was being groomed for high positions in the church because of his family connections, but he just didn’t believe it, and had to beg and plead to be excommunicated. He left it all behind.
Why is it so hard for some some people to just leave it all behind. If you really think you are now on the right course, then don’t look back? No man, having put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom.
Or, on the other hand, do you really know what you want? You just know what you DON’T want? Blind, indecisive, and regretful. That’s no way to go through life.
According to the evidence I have observed, first hand, and from people I personally know and trust, we have always existed and will continue to exist.
“Afterlife” is a misnomer, as is “pre-existence”. They both beg the question. If life and existence always IS, there is no such thing as a “before” or an “after”. So, in that respect, I don’t believe in an afterlife, or a pre-existence, either. And, I don’t believe in “fairy stories”, either.
For me, it’s not a belief, and I cannot present evidence to others if they have not, cannot, or will not observe the evidence for themselves.
But, I can point out a couple of things that could point in that direction.
(1) On the TV show Brain Games, a bunch of children are busily skipping rope and doing some very incredible maneuvers. The announcer tells us that in the background, unobserved by most, a man comes on the scene wearing a chicken costume. He promptly leaves. Some people saw him. Some didn’t. We could argue all day and even get religious about whether or not there was a man in a chicken costume.
The question is one of attention and observation. If we are so focused on grubbing our way through the things of material world, we may not spare a little attention to focus on what’s BETWEEN those things, and though we might assume that there is nothing in that empty space we might assume that if we didn’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But, that’s not really scientific. We can’t see germs, but they exist.
(2) We have all heard about ultrasound. I read just last week that ultrasound can stimulate the brains of mice and reverse the effects of Alzheimers disease. Who would have believed 100 years ago that a vibration that we can’t even sense could have a physical affect on the brain. What if there were even higher vibrations, so high we cannot detect or measure that also have an affect on the human brain, perhaps causing the mind to perceive people and things of an even high vibration, which we cannot measure or detect with present technology.
I offer these two points, not as proof, but as possibilities.
Doctrine and Covenants 10:67-68 – “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.”
It is easier to prove from the Bible that Christ established the kingdom of God than to prove that he founded a church.
Same with the LDS church. Nowhere do you find in revelations. prior to the actual legal organization of the church that God commanded JS to organize the church as a legal entity, but God does acknowledge it after the fact.
Now my own experience. In the 80’s a group of gay excommunicated Mormons decided to start meeting together in homes and partaking of the Sacrament. While we were praying for directions from the Lord, he instructed us by revelation to organize ourselves into a Priesthood body. He mentioned NOTHING about a church, only the Priesthood. And, the revelations came not just to one of us, but two. There was a true second witness. Sometimes the revelations came to us simultaneously, even though we were in different physical locations. I take all of this to mean that the Lord was serious about us knowing that he approved of what we were doing.
As we grew larger, and into multiple locations, we organized ourselves into families. The impression came to me that since we had, in many cases, been disenfranchised from our biological families and couldn’t marry at the time, we should gather into de facto families and seek out committed relationships.
But, somewhere along the line, we stopped listening to the Lord and started imitating the LDS church. We sought legal recognition, organized a “First Presidency”, and formed branches. One revelation warned us that we had “followed the arm of flesh in organizing branches”.
The group ceased to grow, and more and more internal strife ensued. Certain individuals began seeking for power and position and staged a political coup, ousting the original leadership. After the takeover, the group began to take on more and more of the LDS characteristics and become a closed organization.
By this time, I was out of the group and pondered for years where we went wrong, with a group of friends, turning out to be enemies. I came to the conclusion that the exact point where we went astray was when we switched focus from being a group of families, united by the Priesthood, and turned into a group of branches, organized into a church.
There was a church founded in 1985, called The Church of Jesus Christ of ALL Latter-day Saints. It wasn’t a break-off. It was founded by revelation and a new dispensation of priesthood. We received all the keys, the same as Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
The LDS church sued us over the name, so we changed it to The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t just a church for gays and lesbians, but was intended to be a home for all those thinkers, activists, dissidents, feminists, intellectuals, etc. We ordained women. We conducted temple ordinances. We married couples for time and eternity. And, all of this, with keys and authorization from God.
But, just stop and think about this for a minute. God loves and values all of us so much and doesn’t want any of us to miss out on the blessings that flow through the Priesthood. There were people who loved God and wanted to serve Him, but the church, supposedly set up in His name, prevented them from doing so. Therefore, God had to make an end run.
We followed the open model of common consent used by the Community of Christ, which meant that in Conference, any member could discuss and disagree with any proposed revelation of leadership change, without consequences. After a couple of years, the entire presidency was voted out, and the church was reorganized after more traditional LDS lines, so that such a leadership coup could never happen again. Following that, the church limped along and eventually lost most of its members, finally disbanding in 2011, after a 25-year run.
If necessary, and if and only if directed by God, I could re-establish such a group, but I feel no need for it, no demand for it, and most of all, no direction from God to do so. In fact, I am under the same direction as Joseph Smith when God told him: “Join none of them!”
The idea of churches and organized religion is a failed model, and is failing us as an institution. I am praying that God will reveal something better, going forward, and frankly, I don’t care whether direction come through me or through somebody else. But, I don’t see anything like that happening until more people are sick and tired of tolerating and denying failure, and trying to fix what isn’t working, and are hungering and thirsting after something better.
In the meantime, there are many enlightened and motivated individuals, each following their conscience and working to achieve progress on many different fronts. I consider these my co-workers, though I have to keep reminding myself that, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, each of us is following his or her highest light.
We have all read the news, and hopefully by now, those who were in denial have now read the writing on their Facebook wall from sources they trust. There will continue to be angst, wailing and gnashing of teeth, scripture quoting, statements from groups attempting to build bridges, calls for suicide prevention, etc.
But the question is this: given that the Church is answerable only to itself, and you have no input or recourse, what are you going to do?
Spend the rest of your life whining and complaining, or look for something better?
Is your loyalty to the church or to your God? Do you believe that a God who wills everybody to come to Him has not provided other ways to approach him?
Are you still under the illusion that the Church will someday moderate its policies and let you live your life, that is not really a life, but a half-life? Toward which direction are they moving? More acceptance or less? Once they have declared something “apostasy”, how can they ever back down from that stance? How can they ever come back in 1 year, 10 years, or 100 years and admit that they were wrong?
The real test in life for each of us is not what happens to us, but how we decide to deal with it. This is the stuff of life: a problem or challenge, (which is really an opportunity or blessing in disguise), and a decision that need to make. We can choose to confront the problem and solve it and gain the experience and blessing, or we can choose to whine about the problem, but refuse to confront it and just let it fester and damn ourselves in a quagmire of indecision.
We can’t see past choices we can’t understand, but to understand the choice, we first have to recognize and confront that choice. The pain and angst that I see expressed is not because of what the Church has done, but because people are being force to see a choice that we don’t want to see. If you haven’t seen it before, the choice is now placed clearly before you. It might be painful to look at that choice, but once you face that pain head-on and deal with it, you can then continue your life and that moment of pain will seem as a brief moment. You may even look back and laugh at yourself for getting to hung up on such a triviality.
So the question again: what are you going to do? I know what my husband and I are going to do, but if I told you what to do, I would be no better than these blind guides who crave your blind obedience. This is your life. This is your choice.
These people described as “doubters” seem to want remake the Mormon church from a hard-Right political institution into a hard-Left political institution. And when they post their remarks on blogs and Facebook, they get both agreement from the other so-called “apostates” and demonization from the so-called TBM’s (true blue Mormons). These are your typical, expected, knee jerk Facebook responses. This is really nothing new.
What I have to offer, and it seems refreshingly new to me, is that nobody besides me is pointing out:
(1) Nobody in all of history ever reformed a church or religion, including Christ. Christians were driven out of the synagogues and formed their own congregations.
(2) Obsessive love or hatred for the Church is two sides of the same coin and indicate an attachment to the Church. It’s the Tar Baby from Uncle Remus. Once you get stuck, love it or hate it, you can never break lose. (Unless, of course, you find something more appealing to take your attention off the church and what you love or hate about it.)
(3) Joseph Smith was both a genius and a charlatan. Like all of us, he was a complex mix of both good and evil. This was prophesied by Moroni who said his name would be known for good and evil. Moroni never said that either reputation was undeserved.
We need to discern the true principles that Joseph Smith taught and find ways to apply them to today’s world, not the nineteenth century world. We need, also, to clearly identify his ruses and his mistakes, and take care to not repeat them and call out others who do.
Joseph Smith taught some principles that will empower us as individuals, as families (both traditional and non-traditional), and remake society and the whole world. But, this cannot be accomplished using the failed model of the traditional church or organized religion. We must find something better.
But, the haters don’t want to see this. They are too busy fighting brush fires and kicking against the pricks to see the larger picture.
And, why is nobody else pointing out these simple facts? Because nobody wants facts. Facts end the argument and stop the discussion. Bullshit keeps the argument, the discussion, and hence the game going.
I’m sorry to step in and spoil your game, but as I said above, the only way to get people to pry loose from the Tar Baby is so offer something better. A bigger game. A more important game. That’s what this blog is all about.
I think it’s time for people who feel they have been harmed by the church, to just let it go and move on, rather than to continually wallow in their grief and publicly revel in their sorrow by staging yet another media spectacle.
If you have forgiven somebody, then just forgive them and get on with your life. If a specific individual has harmed you, then settle it alone between you and them, if that is possible.
You have been hurt. Acknowledge that. Also acknowledge that this is what religions do: they set up little circles of inclusion and exclusion. If you were once in the circle, they have the power to enforce conformance in thought and action, and if you don’t comply, they ostracize you. So what? If you happen to be an atheist or somebody who never believed in the doctrine anyway, what do you care? Good riddance.
But, if somebody was a member of any church and harbored a feigned allegiance or born a false testimony, then it is they who have sinned against the church, and not the other way around. The church needs to forgive you, and not the other way around.
How many of these people are still connected with the church in some way? Have they actually been officially excommunicated, or simply sent a letter of resignation. Have they made a clean break, or are they still connected in some way? Love and Hatred and both forms of connection. The difference is only in degree.
We stand of the verge of achieving full marriage equality for all people in all 50 states. The LDS church has no business excommunicating people who are simply engaging in legal activity. The only possible objection that the church could and should have is fornication or adultery.
In response to this post”
“Here is an essay that rationally speaks to the dilemma of what to do with the future of inclusion of LGBT people in the LDS church. It suggests a middle road of non-prosecution and acceptance, which I wholeheartedly agree with.”
This is my response:
I agree, “we should not throw anybody away”, but to characterize gays as “sick” and afford them second-class membership is insidious and wrong.
The choices the author poses are only “hard” because they are rationalizations, and rationalizations are always hard. Doing the right thing is easy, and it has never been easier and more clear cut than over this issue.
When all is said and done, the true test of our righteousness is whether we quality ourselves to move ahead to the next kingdom. The temple teaches us this. The temple also teaches us that if you are not true and faithful to the covenants we take upon ourselves, of our own free will and choice, we will remain in Satan’s power.
There you have it. The choice couldn’t be more clear. Progress, or remain condemned. What you hear over the pulpit doesn’t matter. It’s in the temple, where the real covenants are taught and made, that the rubber hits the road.
So, what exactly is this particular covenant that we take upon ourselves. It is called the Law of Chastity, and in the 1990 Endowment Ceremony, it reads as follows:
“… the Law of Chastity, and to put them under covenant to obey this law, which is, that the daughters of Eve, and the sons of Adam shall have no sexual relations except with their husbands or wives to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded, …”
It doesn’t say the sons of Adam must be married to the daughters of Eve. It specifies only the role of “husband” or “wife”, which are or can-be gender-neutral roles.
What? You never heard this before? How many times have you been to the temple and watched the drama? Seen the actors playing roles? Did it ever occur to you that everybody in the endowment is playing a role. At one point you are to vicariously play the role of Adam or Eve, and at another point you are to take upon yourself the Name of mission of Christ.
The actors are playing roles; they are acting in various offices. Art imitates life.
There’s your doctrinal exposition. Straight out of the temple endowment you have been sleeping through all these years.
Sometimes revelation does not involves something new and unheard of coming down out of heaven. Sometimes revelation means pointing out something that has always been there — right in front of you.
The truth you need to know is often in plain sight.
Last night, before I went to sleep, I got the distinct impression from the Lord that he had something important to reveal to me. Many times this happens while I am asleep, and the information is communicated to me either unconsciously, or in a dream. This time it was both.
Now, maybe you already know what I am about to say, or you think you know what I am about to say. If so, then why haven’t you shared it? Or, quite possibly, you only think you know what I am about to say and you think it’s a repetition of what has already been said that you didn’t understand in the first place. Or, maybe it’s a new take on something you know already.
In the dream, I was reading Facebook — page after page, idea after idea of peoples’ theories of what was wrong with the Mormon Church. There were lots of creative ways to presenting the problem, but no solution. I got the distinct impression that I was being smothered. I felt claustrophobic — closed in. I was coughing from breathing all the exhaust fumes. You know how you are trapped in an airplane cabin, and the same old air gets circulated and re-circulated, but no new air is coming in? That’s the way I felt.
I remarked to somebody yesterday that the doctrine of the Church was indeed evolving — or perhaps devolving if you consider evolving as a step forward, and devolving as a step backward. Instead of moving from the Law of Moses forward toward the Law of Christ, the official doctrines of the church appeared to be moving backward from the Law of Christ back to the Law of Moses.
The freedoms and reforms of the Restoration that began with the teachings of Joseph Smith are systematically being rolled back, until there is little difference between the church claiming to be the “one true church”, and the rest of Christianity, whom the Mormons claim are apostate.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Gal. 3:24-25
This was nearly 2,000 years ago. Christ had given our his teachings and had left the scene, but people back them, as they do now, still needed this concept explained to them.
Another woman wrote a poem and posted it on Facebook. In the poem, she lamented about how people went to the temple and gave false promises to obey covenants they knew they couldn’t keep, and how they beat themselves up inside when they caught themselves breaking these covenants. Several commentators stated that this was exactly how they felt.
It is strange to me how humans tend to look outside themselves for the source of their problems. And, since the source of their perceived problems is from the outside. they assume that the solution must also lie outside them, if they look for a solution at all.
Ain’t It Awful?
There is a social game called “Ain’t it Awful?”. It used to be played by a group of people all sitting around in a parlor exchanging gripes about the problems of the world. But the root meaning of the word “parlor” derives from the French “parler” (to speak) as in “Parley vous Francais.” In short, a parlor is a room for talking, but not a room for doing. In modern times, we don’t have parlors. We don’t talk to each other. We go to terribly mis-named family room, where we don’t spend time with the family. Unless you count mutual passive entertainment from the TV as spending time. But, we now chat on talk radio, and over the Internet. The medium is new, but the content is basically the same — sit and gripe, but accomplish nothing.
This might seem a bit tedious, but in order to understand this, we need to revisit the original meanings of a few words.
Back to the “schoolmaster”. In Greek times, a schoolmaster (a “paidagogos” or a pedagogue, Literally: one who leads children.) was a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.
The purpose of the schoolmaster was to educate those in his charge. The original purpose of education was to train via discipline (hence the word disciple), to impart knowledge, and something forgotten today: to evoke or bring out the best of what is in each person. The original goal of education wasn’t primarily to stuff information into a student in order to fit him or her for society, but it was hoped that training would help bring stuff out of the student, who would then use it to fully participate in society. Remember, we are talking about an elite class, and we are only talking about the males, Today, the goal is to educate both males and females in all classes of society, but unfortunately, we have concentrated more on the “put in” and less on the “bring out” aspects of education.
Now, relating this to both education and experience as a church member, people mistake both as a passive experience.
Fill them up with enough new knowledge, or the same old knowledge, repeated over and over each week, but with no active participation and no evocation of that which lies within each of us, Gods in embryo though we are. The assumption is that this will eventually bring a person to Christ where they begin to truly follow Christ, take on the Name of Christ, take on the attributes of Christ, and fully act in the Name of Christ.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The purpose of the Law isn’t to lead you step by step along the way, until the next step in the logical flow is to accept Christ and live by the Spirit.
Instead, the purpose of the Law is to lead you step by step along the way, until you see that the next step ahead of you is not a tiny step, but a giant leap of faith, where you have to jump into an entirely new paradigm, a new way of thinking about things. The old pedagogical ways have only prepared you to appreciate your new-found freedom, and they have taught you the practice of discipline so that you can maintain that freedom. And, they may have also given you insights so that you can, in turn, lead others to freedom. But, other than that, the Law of Moses has little to do with the Law of Christ.
Instead of telling people what to, the Spirit changes them. It changes their nature so that they have no longer a desire to do evil, but to do good continually. And, it’s no longer a struggle to keep temple covenants, or any covenants. Keeping true to ones covenants becomes part of their new nature.
Think about it another way in comparison to education. Some student plod along, get good grades, memorize the information, play the game, and graduate. These don’t usually turn out to be the leaders. Some of the most well-known leaders, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, dropped out of school. They got enough information to see greater opportunities, and realize that they were ready to take that giant leap of faith. Being a college graduate and having a Master’s degree, I would not denigrate the value finishing college because it shows that a person can set a goal and see it through to completion. Gates and Jobs also found goals and saw them through to completion.
And that’s the point: In the long run, it doesn’t matter WHEN you see that point of crisis, but that you DO see it, and ACT upon it.
“Watch that last step. It’s a doozy.” These are not idle words.
Relating this specifically to the Church. This is one schoolmaster who is blindly doing his job. He thinks his job is to gain more and more students, more and more dependents. He doesn’t see any of his students graduating. He doesn’t know what a graduated student looks like. In fact, if he his students them taking that leap of faith for themselves, he will kick them out of his school.
Students: don’t see this an an expulsion. See it instead as a forced and undignified graduation. You have graduated. You have moved ahead. You are ready for the next level.
Here’s what a graduated student looks like: He looks like Christ.
If the schoolmasters were even slightly acquainted with the Being in whose image they were trying to remake us, when they saw progress in that direction, they would reward it, instead of condemning it.
I had a bishop who one stated that once people really know who Christ was, they wouldn’t have to be told what to do and when to do it, they themselves would move heaven and earth to do whatever had to be done.
I’m at the end of this article, and I realize that I haven’t spelled out a solution. Real leaders and potential leaders will do with I have suggested, and see through all this pedagogy.
What’s the solution? The solution is you.
Excerpts from a talk given by Scott Ferguson, Dept. of Religion, BYU-Idaho
The quality of our instruction can be measured by the level of inquiry it produces in our students. One way to measure the quality of inquiry is to observe the depth of the questions that flow from our teaching and assigned work. Knowledge gained through our own inquiry is more likely to facilitate understanding than learning not preceded with similar effort. Understanding born of inquiry generally produces longer-term growth. Learning that results from inquiry is not necessarily measured by having access to the right answer.
What is the value of knowing the right answers to the wrong questions? Rather it is recognizing the correct question to ask at the right time.
Richard Paul notes: “Every intellectual field is born out of a cluster of questions to which answers are either needed or highly desirable. Furthermore, every field of study stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously.”
Instructional models designed to inspire inquiry and questions are dependent on the exercise of students’ agency. Agency coupled with inquiry will always produce greater understanding. In inquiry-based instruction, a student’s inspired question becomes a summation of understanding as well as an invitation to expand understanding. I cannot expand that which I don’t understand in the first place.
All too often we want new knowledge without any effort on our part. This seems to be a universal characteristic of too many of our students. Perhaps we should share in the lesson Oliver Cowdery received from the Lord: “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right … Now, if you had known this you could have translated” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-10).
Oftentimes our present knowledge is biased with self-deceit, and challenging it can be difficult. I cannot even ask an inspired question until I possess enough information or willingness to challenge this safe, inside boundary. A person’s bias might be as simple as: “This information isn’t that important.” Or it might be more complex: “If idea x is true, then I must be wrong about y.” This, I believe, is one of the major duties I have as an instructor of the scriptures—motivate students to ponder and search the scriptures sincerely enough to willingly make adjustments as a result of inquiry.
At the moment my inquiry produces new and exciting questions — inspired questions — I am inviting new knowledge; I am willingly expanding When inquiring, we must discern the right questions. Learning how to ask and answer inspired questions at truly inspired moments enhances our students’ ability to become inquirers.
To the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “As often as you have inquired, I have given you knowledge.” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:14). If we are not actively seeking all knowledge, we become careless and casual in the inquiry process. Over time we become too much like the individual Winston Churchill spoke of when he said: “Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”5 Too many of our students have become casual truth seekers. I am fearful that Latter-day Saint culture has become one of talking, talking, and still more talking, but little or no inquiry.
An Impostor to Inquiry
The Book of Mormon provides a wonderful key to recognizing instruction born of the spirit (see also 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). The ideal teacher/learner relationship was described in this manner: “The priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal” (Alma 1:26). That is, equal in the process of inquiry, each is able to expand or stretch the boundaries of his or her learning according to the several abilities and desires for learning.
Let me suggest a workable approach that I have found.
- First, define what “true” means. What do you mean when you ask “is the church true?” or “is the Book of Mormon true”? You have to be more specific and have a definite question in mind. For example, is the story of the Book of Mormon factually true from a historical standpoint? Is the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon (Gold Plates, Urim & Thummim) true from a historical standpoint? Are the principles taught in the Book of Mormon really going to bring a person closer to God? Are there unique principles taught in the Book of Mormon that are not taught elsewhere, or same principles with a fresh perspective, or nothing new?
- Second, you have to study out the question to the best of your ability in your own mind and form a conclusion, a proposition, or a hypothesis.
- Third, you are now ready to take that proposition to the Lord: “Lord, I have asked this question, studied it out, and this is the best answer I can come up with. Is this answer correct?”
- Fourth, listen for the answer. It may come immediately. It make take a couple of tries. Sometimes, the Lord answers you before you even form the words in your mind. I sometimes get this, and by this, I know that I am really on to something.
- Fifth, the Spirit only bears witness to TRUTH. The Spirit testifies if something is true. The Spirit does not testify that something is false. If you bring a up a proposition that it false, you may receive a stupor of thought, which means you won’t be able to hold a clear thought in your mind, or you might even forget what you asked for. Or you might receive nothing. It is only if the proposition is true that you receive a confirmation.
- Sixth, what kind of confirmation? The burning in the bosom, or something stronger. This is not an emotion. This is a higher tone or vibration than an emotion. It is more like intuition. Joseph Smith said that you will feel intelligence flow into you. This has happened to me on occasion. I start getting all sorts of new ideas I never thought of before. I get different insights into my original question. I sometimes get the feeling that I could ask God any question at that particular moment and receive an answer.
- Seventh, God told Oliver Cowdery this same process, essentially. He said it was how the Spirit of Revelation works. He said this was the spirit by which Moses led the children of Israel. You may even feel the urge to write down your impressions, while you are feeling the spirit. If you do, then that’s the same process by which Joseph Smith, and other church leaders received revelation. Save what you receive. If it contains predictions, you may notice them being fulfilled in course of time.
- Eight, commit yourself to follow whatever answer you receive. You may ask a second time for confirmation, but don’t keep second-guessing your answer, and don’t ignore it. If you make a practice of non-commitment, the Spirit is grieved and will withdraw from you.
- Nine, if you receive a positive answer, probe a little to see whether the Spirit is confirming all of your answer, or just part of your answer. Sometimes, the Spirit may just tell you that you are getting warmer.
- Ten, in some traditions, the Holy Ghost is considered to be a female. I find it is helpful to consider her a female, and to court her as you would a female. You are on a date with her and you want to bring your best self and treat her with respect. In one Hebrew tradition, God is saying that he has to leave, but he will leave his (female) companion (the Spirit) behind, to remain with us, as an assurance that he will return.
“The Lamp burns bright when wick and oil are clean.” H. P. Blavatsky
“I speak ‘with absolute certainty’ only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any ‘authority’ let alone ‘divine revelation'”! H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. XI, p. 466 (October, 1889)
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Every teacher needs to be a full time student, else he should quit teaching.” Ed Dawson
“Each ascension is a new creation in a new unit of time, because it really isn’t fully inside the stream of time. There is no repetition of ascension. Impossible.” Ed Dawson
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it. ” Alan Kay
“Do not enter into an unclean area, unless you intend to clean it up.” Mary Baker Eddy
Bottom line is that the polygamy proclaimed by Joseph as a revealed concept was then and remains entirely bogus. It was bogus then, it is bogus now and we only silly ourselves up by trying to pretend that somehow the Mystical, Magical Thinking Man-Child somehow had a special corner on God’s ear and mouth as regarded the rest of humanity.
Joseph truly made it up as he went along.
Perhaps, but he came up with a pretty compelling story. Even people who compose fiction and who reach within themselves for thoughts and ideas can bump into truth and revelation, now and then. There are passages in literature that deserve to be considered scripture.
As part of the thinking-people-everywhere, where would you like to go from here?
Since you asked, here’s my vision in rough form.
I would like to see the Restoration put back on course and continue, right up to and through the Millennium. Churches, organized religion, prophets, apostles, and the lone reformer (after the mold of “the one mighty and strong”) have all been discredited. What’s needed is something new. We have a responsibility to establish a true Zion, and prepare the world for the second coming of Christ. I don’t believe he will come until we are ready. We will not be idle spectators to events that unfold, but through the power of the priesthood, through our UNITED faith, we will control future world events. I don’t believe Christ will come until we are ready, and we invite Him to come. He will not come to impose his will on people, or solve our problems, but we, the people of the earth, can undo the problems, we ourselves created.
I see it continuing through a NEW dispensation, building on all former dispensations, in harmony with principles laid out the Joseph Smith dispensation, but not copying it. I see God working through MANY men and women to bring this about, not just one “chosen vessel”.
In order for the new “church” to be born, the old “church” must die — in the hearts and minds of the people. By new “church”, I mean “church” in the Greek sense “ecclesia”: the out-called — the gathering of the elect. By old “church”: the Old English “cir”, meaning the building or the legal institution.
It is one thing to complain about the faults of people and institutions, but it is quite another to take active positive steps to effect change, or create a better alternative. This is what I have been about for the past 30 years, and I’m not about to throw in the towel. The change I am talking about involves all of us taking responsibility for the conditions we find ourselves in.
The Restoration is far from over. If we don’t renew and reinvigorate it, apostasy will and already has begun to creep back in. I’m ready to step up to the plate and make sure it doesn’t die with Joseph Smith, but this time it will not founder or fail. Why? Because this time it will not be the work of just a couple of men, followed by wave after wave of uninspired caretakers. It will be the shared vision of MANY people, all working in concert, all working together, all connected to God, all able to reach out to others in ways they have never been reached before.
The supper of the Bridegroom has been set, and the rich, the wise, and the able have been invited, but they turned up their nose at the offering, while casting out the despised and rejected, the thinkers, and those who care enough to make a real contribution. Now, the invitation is sent out again, and again, all are invited.
You can read the invitation at http://john144.com/blog/?p=182. Joseph Smith said we ought to have the founding of Zion as our greatest object. Is it your greatest object? Is it even on your radar?
Read the invitation at the address above, then, don’t RSVP to me. RSVP to the Lord. In other words, pray about what you read and do as the Spirit directs you.
I am looking to start or join any organized church. I am not looking for disciples, followers, or sycophants. I am looking for co-workers and fellow servants.