God and man exist upon the same principles. There never was a father without there first being a son, meaning that the being that we consider God the father, was first a son to another father, just as Christ showed us how we could become sons to him as our father.
One thing the endowment teaches so plainly and so up front that most miss it. The players in the drama are playing ROLES. They are acting in certain offices, just as the patrons are to consider themselves in the roles of Adam and Eve. The art of the drama imitates the life of the reality.
God is our god and our father, not only because he demonstrated a superior intelligence, but because we all sustained him/her as such. Satan demanded God’s honor, which is his power. God’s power comes as much from our faith and support as from his/her ability to marshal, command, and channel that faith and support.
We are really much more powerful beings than we give ourselves credit for. And the path to full godhood is as much learning how to become a god as it is to unlearn that which us prevents us from being a god.
Joseph Smith said that “man will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression”.
93:38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
93:39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
If we find ourselves out of the presence of God, as Adam and Eve were, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We have an awful lot to unlearn, and churches do us no favor by forcing us to conform and avoid sin, rather than taking responsibility for it, learning from it, as we are supposed to do. Your church that preaches against damnation is actually damning or condemning you by holding back your progress.
But the course of God is one eternal round, and I don’t mean “God” in the sense that most religious people think of it. In fact, I can’t find an English word or words the corresponds to what I mean. I guess the closest I could come is the concept of god, not as a being, but as a principle, a pattern, or an order which is repeated throughout eternity.
We we say “in the beginning”, or we talk about God surrounded by intelligences, we are taking the ring of eternity that Joseph Smith spoke of, and cutting it at an arbitrary point, for the same of explaining an eternal principle to finite minds. In the book Dune, Herbert had in mind a huge back story leading up to the Saga of Paul. This is why he said, and why the historian Irulan said “beginnings are such delicate times”. Where to begin? Where to begin?
Just think about it and see if it doesn’t make more sense to you.
Any true teacher should make statements which the student can then confirm for himself. No more.
A real “guru” gives you methods whereby you can look for yourself.
Unfortunately, most people are not up to doing so.
Teachings are very valuable as they can guide where to look. That saves lots of time as one has the chance to inspect the relevant things first instead of engaging in endless journeys.
Manipulators like to indoctrinate others with truths that make them do things which is of benefit for the manipulator. The combination of certain truths are then known as ideologies. They are not made for the benefit of the people who live it out.
A temple, in and of itself, is a pretty, but useless relic.
It’s people who use the temple that make a temple a temple. It’s their participation and attentiveness to the ordinances. It’s their sincerity in entering into the covenants made therein.
And it’s the Spirit of the Lord that should fill the temple.
Rather than emphasize more temples, I would emphasize more temple preparation.
At the eastern entrance to every temple, there is a door which is intended for the Lord to use, should He determine to visit the temple. Emblazoned above the door are these words: “The HOUSE of the LORD. HOLINESS to the LORD.”
This is not just a logo, a slogan, or a catch-phrase. This is a greeting and a reminder of the attitude which we should bring with us into that house. Reading this ought to prick our conscience and cause us to reflect every time we enter.
Rhetorical question: If the Lord should walk through that door of your temple, looking for Holiness, would He find any?
As far as my personal belief in God, I see God as the combined intelligence in the universe. As such, we are each part of God, and as we humans become more united in heart and mind, we are able to begin to collectively exercise the kind of power we normally associate with a God. Joseph Smith and John Taylor both taught that no man (you could just as well add women), exercises the Priesthood alone, but does so in concert with all who now hold and have held the Priesthood in the past.
Churches, such as the LDS church, think they own and control the Priesthood, but the power of god is nobody’s exclusive right. To think otherwise, is like claiming an exclusive right to air, rain, and sunshine. They are available to everyone.
But, I also believe there are multiple planes of existence, and those who have evolved farther than us, exist on these higher planes, and through the exercise of natural laws, which we don’t fully understand, and aren’t yet ready to live, are so much more advanced than we that we would consider them gods, though they are really our friends and co-workers, possessing enough enlightened self-interest to understand that when they reach down to assist us, they are, at the same time, reaching up to beings above them, and we are all lifted up together.
Therefore, I see god as somebody I relate to on a personal and daily basis as a friend and co-worker — somebody I can deal with as an equal.
Let’s start with the definition of “perfection”. The word is mistranslated from a Greek word meaning to be whole, complete, finished. It has nothing to do with moral exactitude or following authority. Christ commanded to all to be perfect, and the famous scripture in Nephi says that the Lord will not give us a commandment without showing us a way that we can fulfill it. Therefore, if a person finds themselves constantly striving, but never achieving, then the thing to do is to to stop beating themselves over the head and look at what perfection really looks like.
This attitude might make the present-day general authorities mad, and your bishop might not like you telling him this, but I actually got a knowledge of this principle from an old stake president, and from Steven R Covey, in a class at BYU. We don’t achieve perfection over night, but we gain perfection in one area at a time, and we do that by making a promise to ourselves and the Lord that we know we can keep, and we keep it. To that extent, we build up our personal integrity, or our wholeness in that one area. Then, when we have mastered it, we go on to another area.
This is not striving. This is achieving. And, when you have mastered even a small area, instead of feeling discouraged, you get a sweet feeling of success and accomplishment like nothing else. This is a great feeling, and there is nothing wrong with getting addicted to this.
I didn’t get this from listening to church leaders, alone. I study the scriptures a lot, and that’s where I get a lot of my spiritual nourishment. There is a passage in the D&C that says if your eye be single to God, your whole body will be filled with light. And in the NT, Christ taught us to love God with ALL our heart, might, mind, and strength. These are just other ways of saying that we need to be whole, have integrity, be without hypocrisy and without guile.
For my own life, after fitting all this stuff together, I felt like I finally really understood what the Gospel was all about. The Gospel is doable, and a joy, not a job. It’s really not all that difficult, but the only hard part is to strictly follow it, not try to live up to some impossible, arbitrary code.
“You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men will be teaching the history of the Church this school year. This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now.”
“Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.”
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.”
“Some things that are true are not very useful.”
“That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. … Do not spread disease germs!”
– Apostle Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect”, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271
People don’t just leave the Mormon Church. They have to stage a dramatic exit, then slam the door behind them. All for the affirmation, agreement, and amusement of those who have already done this. Otherwise known as preaching to the choir.
You brought up new evidence. You stated it more eloquently than most could, but the story is the same: somebody who made a man-made church their idol, but now has seen that idol has come crashing to the floor.
Have you ever considered what it might be like had you built your world around a real, personal relationship with God, and personal ethics in your life, rather than worshipping a legal entity and paying lip service to the fictional God they have created?
I built my entire life around following the Spirit of God. I learned about the Gospel as a youth, not from the church, but from reading the scriptures and the writings of the early leaders of the church. I basically converted myself to Mormonism because I wanted to know and live the truths experienced by the leaders in the scriptures, and early church leaders.
I made the mistake of thinking that all Mormons felt as I did. However, when I finally became directly acquainted with the Church, I found people who only saw the Church as a short-cut to doing their own thinking and blazing out their own personal search for truth.
I found myself in the same position as truth seekers in Joseph Smith’s day — there was no church teaching the truths of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and D&C. Claiming to have the same organization as the primitive church is not going to save anybody and hasn’t saved anybody. In the end, salvation is an individual affair. We need a Shepherd to guide us through life, and there is only one Shepherd, worthy of the name.
Then, I discovered the Church endorsing, if not master-minding, a plan, reminiscent of the people of Ammonihah to destroy the liberties of their fellow Americans, not through the force of arms, but through the force of law.
When I found all of this out, I could no longer reconcile the two.
Here’s proof that you can demonstrate for yourself.
If a man’s words ring true to you, speak to your soul, edify you, call forth your own intuition, or induce the spirit of revelation in you, then you can safely assume that, at that particular moment in time, the man is in touch with God and is speaking truth.
In that brief moment in time, he is a prophet, as are we all, given similar circumstances. But, to automatically and unconditionally proclaim a man to be a prophet in every circumstance, and because of that, to follow him unconditionally, is idolatry of the worst kind.
There are certain passages in the D&C and certain speeches like Joseph Smith’s address to the Twelve, Oliver Cowdery’s address to the twelve, and Joseph Smith’s final two addresses that stir me to the very depths and make my bones to quake. There are other occasions when he was a blustering fool. He created drama and crisis wherever he went, and seemed to thrive on it, by stirring up jealousy, suspicion, and keeping everybody else off balance, to his advantage.
Question: When did you first begin to lose your “Mormon faith”?
Don’t put words in my mouth. No church is the proper object of anybody’s faith, but I’ll play your game.
It started for me when one of my religion profs at BYU planted the idea in my mind that the church and the gospel were not the same thing.
I started noting a disconnect between what the scriptures taught, what the church taught, and how church members lived.
I grew up in small towns in the Pacific Northwest, where the members were all faithful and stuck together. I was shocked when I first visited Utah and Idaho and saw the lack of reverence and respect for the temple and how the supposedly “good” church members of Provo preyed upon the BYU students.
I also noticed that after sitting through long, boring sessions of General Conference, I could go back to our little student ward where our bishop addressed us and feel more Spirit there than I had in all the sessions of Conference put together.
Over the years, I stayed close to God and the scriptures, and mostly ignored the church. When I was excommunicated, it felt more like a graduation than a condemnation.
What I eventually discovered about the real Gospel, the true God, and about reality and existence in general completely eclipsed the meager understanding and limited world-view of Mormonism. Yes, Mormonism is pretty mind-blowing, when compared to the other Christian sectarians, of which Mormonism is quickly becoming a part. But, what I found is even more mind-blowing.
Yet, I can fit the fundamental teachings of Joseph Smith completely within this greater view. He was onto something. Maybe he was just concocting a bunch of fairy tales to captivate a frontier audience, but along the way he stumbled onto some profound truths, and in tapping into the “ethers” to pick up some of his ideas, God saw an opportunity to work in an idea or two, edgewise. And what ideas!
As true Mormons, we are supposed to keep searching for truth wherever we find it, and not get so stuck in something we think we have found that we that we are afraid to progress beyond that point.
I’m not bitter toward the church. I think it is a great upbringing for young kids, but they need to be taught to move THROUGH it and BEYOND it.
You don’t stay stuck in the 4th grade all your life, unless you keep flunking out. But, what if you discovered that you were stuck in the 4th grade and realized that you weren’t learning anything new, but were repeating the same boring stuff over and over? Then, the teacher figures out that you know this, and instead of pointing you toward more advanced educational opportunities, she condemns you and kicks you out of the class to fend for yourself?
This is what I see happening with so many people either leaving or questioning the church today. At its core, there are some fantastic ideas. But the leaders lack the vision to execute on them. Further, they lack the vision to harness the drive and talent and instead drive it from the church.
So, my advice to everybody is to realize that the church and the gospel are not the same thing, and to make a clear distinction between the two. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
A comment from Steven B Stew:
One word. Epistemology. The moment I realized that people use “know” language for things they can’t possibly know, everything started making so much more sense. Mormons will tell you themselves. If you don’t trust your feelings (the spirit) more than the apparently observable facts, if you don’t put faith over science, Mormonism doesn’t work. So for me, it doesn’t work anymore.
Steven B Stew, I agree with you. People who say they “know” when they merely believe are liars and bearers of false witness. To me, belief is a poor imitation of faith. Faith is a tool with which to obtain knowledge. Knowledge is obtained by experience and observation.
But, experience and observation take in far more than just the dense physical plane. There are higher and more refined spiritual realities, and more senses than just the five that we acknowledge.
Many people object to discussing any and all aspects of the LDS Temple Endowment in or out of the temple. While there are specific items which we are under covenant not to divulge, I believe it is important to know and understand the various covenants which participants will take upon themselves in the ceremony.
As I have mentioned in other articles in this blog, it is of utmost importance to our personal salvation and to the salvation of society, that we voluntarily make and keep various covenants. And, in order to make and keep these covenants, we must first understand them. And, in order to understand them, we must first be able to read them.
If it was important for the children of Lehi to have the brass plates in order to have the laws and covenants of God, then it is equally as important for modern-day saints to have access to the written versions of the covenants which they will take upon themselves. To this end, you can search for these on the Internet.
But, this blog will concentrate on one specific covenant — the Law of Chastity.
The Law of Chastity, having to do with marriage, is one of the foundational covenants, as it grounds the marriage and family, which in turn, are the building blocks of society.
Unlike previous versions of this covenant, this covenant does not explicitly state that the daughters of Eve are restricted to sexual relations with their husbands, nor are the sons of Adam restricted to sexual relations with their wives, leaving open the future possibility of the daughters of Eve taking wives, and the sons of Adam taking husbands.
… 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, …
I am assuming that Church authorities read this blog from time to time with interest. They should. And, if they do, they are free to take anything they find here, publish it unaltered, and call it a revelation, with the proviso that they give proper credit for it.
No, not me.
But, taking a negative view of things, once this change in the covenant is pointed out to them, they will hasten to amend the wording yet another time so as to preclude any possibility that two men or two women in a committed, monogamous, and legal relationship actually could be keeping the Law of Chastity.
I recently read a book which made reference to “a vision about a mother in heaven” that was had by Joseph Smith. Since this is not widely known, I did some research, and this is what I found. There are actually two accounts of this, and they differ slightly in their details.
One day the Prophet Joseph Smith asked him (Zebedee Coltrin) and Sidney Rigdon to accompany him into the woods to pray. When they had reached a secluded spot Joseph laid down on his back and stretched out his arms. He told the brethren to lie one on each arm and then shut their eyes. After they had prayed he told them to open their eyes. They did so and they saw a brilliant light surrounding a pedestal which seemed to rest on the ground. They closed their eyes and again prayed. They then saw, on opening them, the Father seated upon a throne; they prayed again and on looking saw the Mother also; after praying and looking the fourth time they saw the Savior added to the group. He had auburn brown, rather long, wavy hair and appeared quite young.” Abraham H. Cannon Journal, 25 Aug. 1880, LDS archives
Zebedee Coltrin’s journal records the event two years before Abraham Cannon’s journal did. Coltrin said the man and woman were Adam and Eve. The following comes comes from my book that will be published soon:
According to Coltrin, he and Oliver Cowdery were walking with Joseph Smith outside one day when Smith stopped by some wild grape vines and said, “Let us kneel down here and pray.” After the completion of the prayer, “Joseph stretched himself on his back upon a grassy spot with his arms extended like one upon a cross. He told me to lie by his side with my head resting upon his arm, and Oliver in like manner upon the other side”…. “We did so,” said Coltrin, “all three looking heavenwards. As I looked I saw the blue sky open. I beheld a throne, and upon the throne sat a man and a woman. Joseph asked us if we knew who they were. We answered ‘no’, Joseph said, ‘That is father Adam and mother Eve.’” Zebedee Coltrin, Diary Excerpts of Zebedee Coltrin (1878); as quoted in my book Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo (John Whitmer Books). (Mike Reed)
Cannon says it happened with Rigdon, while Coltrin (who allegedly had the experience) says Cowdery. Cannon also says Father and Mother in Heaven and Coltrin reported Adam and Eve. Cannon evidently conflated two of Coltrin’s visions into one. And in the context of the Adam God doctrine there is even less contradiction.
As you may know… Zebedee Coltrin reported all sorts of visions, another being of Jesus crucified on the cross in the Kirtland Temple.
HC 2:50 reports that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Zebedee Coltrin were all present on this occasion.
Once after returning from a mission, he [Zebedee Coltrin] met Brother Joseph in Kirtland, who asked him if he did not wish to go with him to a conference at New Portage. The party consisted of Presidents Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and myself [Zebedee Coltrin]. Next morning at New Portage, he noticed that Joseph seemed to have a far off look in his eyes, or was looking at a distance and presently he, Joseph, stepped between Brothers Cowdery and Coltrin and taking them by the arm, said, “Let’s take a walk.” They went to a place where there was some beautiful grass and grapevines and swamp beech interlaced. President Joseph Smith then said, “Let us pray.” They all three prayed in turn—Joseph, Oliver, and Zebedee. Brother Joseph then said, “Now brethren, we will see some visions.” Joseph lay down on the ground on his back and stretched out his arms and the two brethren lay on them. The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two aged personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind he ever saw. Joseph said, “They are our first parents, Adam and Eve.” Adam was a large, broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was large in proportion. (“Statement of Zebedee Coltrin.” Minutes, 3 October 1883, Salt Lake School of Prophets, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 66-67 ?)
Note: In a different account of this same vision, Coltrin said of Adam and Eve that “their heads were white as snow, and their faces shone with youth” (See “The Papers of Zebedee Coltrin,” in E. Cecil McGavin, The Record of the Spanish Fork Branch [29 April 1866 to 1 December 1898], LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 251 ?)
Here is a recent conversation on Facebook
Comment 1: I Know that, but i still believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints still moving and no one can stop it.
John Crane: The fundamental ideas (like eternal progression, knowing the truth, seeking wisdom through study and faith, direct human experience with God, building a society where each person esteems his brother as himself, a person is saved no faster than they gain knowledge, etc.) behind the church will keep moving and no one can stop them. These are ideas that appeal to everybody, once they hear them explained. However, it seems to many people that the church, as now constituted, is no longer the vehicle for spreading and supporting these ideas, but has degenerated into a conservative, reactionary relic of the 19th century.
Read this quote from Joseph Smith. He doesn’t say a thing about the church:
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
Rob Lauer said: “The truth of God will go forth boldly…” As soon as anyone reduces the truth of God to nothing more than an organization, or one particular creed or nation or program or group of people–then amen to the priesthood of that person. The Spirit–the Light of Truth that is in ALL things and through ALL things; the same Light that is in ALL people, that quickens the understanding of ALL people–this Spirit is grieved and withdraws.
She’s exercising Priesthood right now. She’s speaking. She’s teaching. She’s writing. She’s organizing. She’s serving others as she sees it. Those are all Priesthood functions. They are just not in the church.
It’s easy to stand on the outside and look at the men in the church and think they have so much power. But, that is not true. Any male who has ever held the priesthood and tried to exercise it within the LDS church knows how little power he really has.
As a local leader, he has very independent latitude to make decisions, because all the thinking has already been done for him and placed in the handbook. Teaching by the Spirit? Not likely. Teachers have to strictly follow the manual. Speaking by the Spirit? That used to be one of my delights in the church. But, I understand now that topics for Sacrament Meeting talks are now assigned.
Even if a general authority says something in General Conference that is not in line with the current thinking of the authorities. Google “Ronald Poelman” and find out what happened to him when he dared stand up and say that members ought to follow their free agency.
We all hold the priesthood. The church never gave it to us, and the church cannot take it away from us. The power of God is a gift we all have from God, simply because it is one of the attributes we inherited by virtue of being children of God. The question is whether a person can develop power in their Priesthood and whether or not he or she can function in their priesthood within the LDS church, or any other church that believes in the Priesthood.
If we have desires to serve God, we are called to the work, but sometimes God calls us to do requires that we serve OUTSIDE the church. This is a shame, because the Priesthood is best exercised in concert with other Priesthood holders, as Joseph Smith and John Taylor taught. But it can be done, if God wills it, and if we have the faith to do it, He will provide all the assistance and support we can use.
If nothing else this Kate Kelly thing has got me thinking. I don’t agree with her methods, but I agree that women should be ordained. I have been scratching my head trying to figure out with scriptural justification for denying women the opportunity to serve. In the Bible, there were female prophets, judges, deacons, and priests. I just saw a problem on Islam today. It explained that the way they treat their women came from a misinterpretation of the Koran and a long-standing cultural norm that predates Islam. In other words, there’s no reason other than “we say so”.
However, lets not get the cart before the horse.
- First, priesthood leaders must be open to the IDEA that God has Priesthood callings for women as men, and that a women could fulfill the office as well if not better than a man could.
- Second, ordination to the Priesthood for ANYBODY should be by inspiration, and not done because a person has reached a certain age, or they are related to a high church official, and certainly not done because a person demands it. (Remember the story of Simon in the Book of Acts. Remember also, the story of Mozart’s Magic Flute.)
- Third, women as well as men must be trained in their duties as priesthood holders.
- Fourth, women as well as men must be held accountable for how they use their priesthood.
- Fifth, women as well as men must be unleashed and unmuzzled from the constraints of the church handbooks and encouraged to follow the promptings of the Spirit, which always accompany who answers the call to serve and humbly seeks guidance.
There, ladies, still want to be ordained? The field is white already for harvest.
There is really only one great commandment, which, if you live, you are automatically living all the lesser commandments.
Moses said be holy. Christ said to be perfect. That is essentially the same commandment. (Lev. 19:2). Holiness and perfection both mean to be whole, finished, complete.
But, HOW does one become “holy” or “perfect”? For those who need elaboration, Moses and Christ expressed the same principle as two commandments.
“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut 6:5)
“Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18)
Knowing God and your neighbor and loving God and your neighbor go hand in hand. The more you know the more you love, and the more you love, the more you know.
The three great principles of the Gospel are in the old and new testaments. You can’t really love God or your neighbor, completely, totally, and without reservation, unless you are a whole and complete person with integrity. If you are fighting yourself, or you heart says one thing, but you mind says another, you are not a person of integrity or wholeness.
But, one or even two commandments were too simple for a people who constantly wanted to look beyond the mark. They wanted more commandments. They wanted to be told what to do in every given situation so they didn’t have to think about it, or rely on the transforming power of the Spirit to change their nature, as the Book of Mormon teaches. This need was as true for the children of Israel as it was for the Jews of Christ’s time as it is for today’s Mormons.
So Moses and the LDS church multiplied commandments. “Meet the new schoolmaster. Same as the old schoolmaster.”
Then, Mormons moan and groan about how they are “striving” for perfection, but can never quite make it. But, why would God give us a commandment if it were impossible to live it? That would really make God a cruel and jealous God. Once, you understand what perfection and holiness really mean, and once you develop love connections with God and your neighbor, living a life of perfection and wholeness is not only natural, it’s a joy.
Righteousness has more to do with judgment than it does with personal morality. Judgment is an attribute of God. We are all gods in embryo and one of the purposes of the nursery school which we all are attending is to “learn how to be gods ourselves”, as Joseph Smith put it. We learn judgment by exercising judgment. i.e. making decisions.
What is God’s will? God’s will is not to much what we decide as THAT we decide. If our decision has undesirable consequences, we can always repent and decide again. If our decision has desirable consequences, we can continue to pursue that course. That is God’s will. There is no guesswork. There is only an application of eternal principle. The only times eternal principles don’t work is when we fail to apply them.
The Doctrine & Covenants has clearly spelled out how we may discern the will of God. Sometimes, its obvious. Sometimes, we have to think about it or consult others. Sometimes, we have to plunge into the darkness and “guess”. But, there’s no harm in guessing as long as you know you are guessing, and you are prepared to take responsibility for the consequences, whatever they may be.
Here is a good, workable definition of humility: know where you are on the path and act accordingly.
I agree, too. I don’t go along with the explanation of the facsimiles, but the contents of the books are revelation. If we are going to have a true Restoration of all things, and I believe the Restoration is an unfolding process that didn’t begin or end with Joseph Smith, we need to consider, not just going back to the primitive Christian church from the time of Christ, but all the way back to Adam and the Patriarchs.
Enoch actually succeeded in building Zion. He gathered a people. He taught them true principles of righteousness, because he and the other patriarchs were preachers of righteousness (the LDS don’t even know what that means, but the CofC have their Evangelists who come a little closer); Enoch’s people obtained the Presence of God, and Christ came down and dwelt among them. The Book of Moses finishes with the promise that when we build a similar society in the latter-days, Enoch and his community will descend from heaven and join us. And Christ will also join us.
THIS dream or vision is, to me, the most exciting thing about Mormonism, and the religion that has the beginnings of a practical plan to bring this about — a plan that was never quite realized.
Every effort since that time has been a failure. Righteous men and women down through the ages sought for that land, but were unable to obtain it, and they had to confess that they were strangers and pilgrims wandering the earth.
What is the secret that Enoch knew that seemed to escape everybody since? Christ probably knew it, but because of the stiffneckedness of the Jews was unable to implement it. Joseph Smith revealed these two books and tried to implement it, but even he was so caught up in imitating the failed religions of his time, and his followers had no inkling of what he was trying to tell them, and the whole thing degenerated into polygamy.
I know that’s a radical statement to say that Joseph Smith tried to imitate the religions of the day, but if you really step back 1,000 miles and look at the Mormons, the Jews, the Catholics, and the Protestants from a distance, they share most of the same spiritual DNA. Like humans and chimps.
What we need to do is to revisit those books and use the aid of modern revelation — both modern revelation from the days of Joseph Smith and modern revelation from today — meaning the 20th and 21st centuries. We need to see what is missing and try to recreate it.
No, it’s not just buying a plot of land in Timbuktu, Missouri, putting on your overalls and taking up farming. If we build an autonomous community without changing our fundamental nature or mindset, all we do is export our problems to a new locale and start another failed church.
You might want to check out the references at http://john144.com/blog/?page_id=62, with particular attention to The Foundation of Zion Volume 2, and the revelations to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff.
Mainstream Mormons are used to communicating in a certain rhetoric, and anybody who strays from the accepted script is in trouble. If anybody doesn’t believe me, then just try restating standard orthodox Mormon doctrine, but do so in your own words. They won’t understand you.
If we once lived in the Presence of God, but do not do so now, then we need a Redeemer in order for us to return to the place and condition from whence we came. But, that Redeemer is us. Christ showed us how to do it, but it is we who must do it. That’s what it means to follow Christ and to believe in Christ. To follow Christ is to do what Christ did and live as he lived. To believe in Christ is to have faith that following Christ will redeem us.
I see the Mormon church, the Mormon culture, the Priesthood, and the Gospel as separate entities. Most Mormons and ex-Mormons conflate all of these, but I do not. The church is NOT the Kingdom of God, much as the Mormons would like you to think they are one in the same. They are not. I can cite you hundreds of references in the D&C to prove that in the mind of God and in the understanding of Joseph Smith, they are not the same thing. There is also a handful of revelations to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, but the church refuses to present to its members, much less publish, which not only clearly state the differences between the church and kingdom, but outlines their differences in function and purpose.
It is far easier to prove that Jesus established the Kingdom of God than that He organized an institutional church. When he said “upon this rock I will build my church”, he was using the word that meant “a gathering of those who have been called”. The word we use in English means “a place or seat of power”. The two could not be more separate.
Nobody can decide to join or leave the Kingdom of God. If you are a human being, you are part of the Kingdom of God.You can, however, choose whether you want to recognize this and act upon it, or not. I choose to recognize it, to act upon it, and to accept all the rights and obligations that come with it.
I am a former member of the Mormon church, but never much of a member of the Mormon culture. I was not born in Utah, though I lived there for 6 years while attending BYU. I couldn’t wait to get out. My mother and father retired in Utah, but my dad expressed the strong wish not to be buried in Utah, so he in buried in our native Portland, OR.
I still have a testimony of the Gospel, the Priesthood, and the covenants I made in the temple. I believe in the Restoration, but I believe it did not begin and end with Joseph Smith. Like a tree, the Restoration had many roots, and it has many branches. There are many Restoration churches. God is too big to fit into any one church.
I was taught that the word “saint” means “a true follower of Christ”. If that is true, than I am a Latter-day saint (LDS). I am not a member of any church, nor do I intend to join any institutional church. The Kingdom of God functions through families, not churches.
Can a person still believe in God, have a testimony of God, serve God, and have a righteous life and still not be a member of the church? I know that it is possible. My testimony of the Gospel and my relationship with God has done nothing but improve since my excommunication in the early 80’s.
I got into the culture of Mormonism, but didn’t get into me. I didn’t grow up in Utah, but I spent 6 years there going to college — just long enough to know I hated it and wanted desperately to escape. Actually, it didn’t take that long. I was a lifelong member of the church until I was excommunicated in the early 80’s. What attracted me to the church was not the people or what’s laughingly called “Mormon culture”. It was the fundamental principles of Mormonism and the Gospel. When I “graduated” from the church, I took those enduring principles with me, and left the rest behind.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anybody would insist on simultaneously being a Mormon and being gay. Christ said no man can serve two masters. James said a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Alma said “wickedness never was happiness”. The great sage Anonymous said “you cannot have your cake and eat it, too”. Bottom line: we are free to choose, but some choices, if we are to be completely honest with ourselves, are mutually exclusive.
I have been accused by some of Wendy’s friends by always taking the negative side of their arguments. What I am about to say is not to negate the quote, but before taking sides, you must understand the nature of the conflict, then pick your battles carefully. Otherwise, you might end up on the wrong side.
This is what I see happening over this Duck Dynasty debacle. BOTH sides are using it to make political points, and an unsuspecting public is being lured into it. There are militant nazi-types on both sides trying to use an uninformed and unsuspecting public as pawns. I suggest that before jumping into any side of a conflict, we first understand what the conflict is about, how it came about, who benefits from perpetuating the conflict, and whether in the long run it really matters at all.
“These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being,”
Folks, isn’t that that life’s all about? The ability to make and keep promises, contracts, covenants, and agreements is the basis of society.
Mosiah 29:32 “And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.”
Mosiah 29:26 “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law–to do your business by the voice of the people. ”
Mosiah 29:27 “And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. ”
D&C 134:4. “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights …”
Why, after all these years, is this coming up now? 35 years later? The Mormon Church never does anything unless it is forced to do so. Sure, all churches had a racist past, BUT the Mormon church always presented itself as an exception — the true church of Jesus Christ, living prophets who were in constant communication with God. They didn’t moisten their finger and stick it in the air. They talked to God. Joseph Smith ordained women to the Priesthood and at least one black man to the Priesthood. The racism really flowered under Brigham Young.
If they were mistaken, why didn’t God step in and correct them sooner? According to Church doctrine, God will never allow the prophet to lead the people wrong. Is this now an admission that God lead them wrong, or an admission that they never asked God about this in the first place? Which is it?
I believe the reason the church is doing this now is they are setting the stage to soften their stance on Gays. They won’t come out in full support of Gays, but they will soften their stance in a few years. Then 35 years later, they will admit they were totally wrong for being homophobic and were “just caught up in the the times”. 35 years too late to save the families they destroyed and bring back the people who committed suicide because they were falsely told that they offended God.
If you tell them you are gay and if you are in some way “acting on it”, (Whatever that means. The church’s definition, not mine.) you stand in a position to be excommunicated.
If you just have an attraction, and never “acted on it”, you are probably safe in telling your bishop. But, IMO, it’s none of anybody’s business, if you’re not acting on it. If you can live that way, (I did for over 20 years.) more power to you. Living a lie for so long was tearing up my life, and I had to come clean with myself and the rest of the world.
At this point, the choice is up to you. But, it has to be your choice. Don’t let some “Gay community group” talk you into coming out if you are not ready. They already have enough martyrs. They don’t need you to be their next victim.
Some people are afraid of excommunication and try to stay in hiding for the rest of their lives, hoping the church will never find out. I told them and they excommunicated me. I don’t really mind, and I have no hard feelings. I may have lost the church, but I never lost God, and that is what’s really important to me.
One of the things that helped me reconcile all of this back in the 80’s was a pamphlet from Affirmation about excommunication. It basically explained that it was not the end of the world.
I have, over the years, seen the church lose some of its best, smartest, most capable, and most faithful members because they came out as gay. This, IMHO, is a terrible shame and a waste, but this is the game they want to play.
But, before you do anything, I would make sure you have a strong support system of friends, associates, and hopefully family to back you up, whatever your decision is. It going to be tough to make any decision, and it’s going to be tough living with any decision, but such is life. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and this is how we grow.
Sorry to have to say this because many church teachings actually clarify and elucidate some of the darker passages of the Bible, but, here, the LDS Church has fellen into the same trap of mis-interpretation, mis-translation, and mis-application of Biblical passages that the sectarians have fallen into.
Nowhere does the Bible provide a definitive definition of marriage, and nowhere does the Bible condemn a stable, faithful, committed relationship or marriage between two people of the same sex. The D&C tells us (29:30) that not all God’s judgments are given to man. So, until God sees fit to reveal them all, we must never presume that we know them all.
Some say: “Gods laws are eternal, and it is not our place to question them.”
Let’s dissect this statement.
(1) These are not “God’s laws” in the sense that God owns them, or they originated with God. These are laws that God has to follow, himself. As Joseph Smith taught, following these laws is how God became God. Or, as the Book of Mormon teaches, unless God follows these laws, “God would cease to be God”.
(2) Man becomes like God, or more correctly, develops those godlike attributes inherent within him, on the same principles.
(3) But, if any church, teacher, prophet, guru, etc. claims to speak for God and tells you what God’s laws are, our religion teaches us that we have not only the RIGHT, but the DUTY to question those pronouncements and find out whether the laws are true or fabrications. There are two ways we can do this: (A) By going directly to God, ourselves, or (B) Discovering these principles, for ourselves, by life experience.
(4) It IS your place to question what a church teaches and claims to be a “law of God”. In the end, it is you and you alone who is responsible for your own salvation. You stand or fall based on your freewill obedience to divine principles, not on your blind or forced obedience to what some church tells you are divine principles. You can either live the Gospel, or what you think it the Gospel. In this light, it is IMPERATIVE that each man learn the truth for himself.
(5) If a church comes to you claiming to teach the “law of God”, it is up to you to judge whether they are “(A) telling the truth, (B) the whole truth, and (C) nothing but the truth”.
- (A) As I previously said, the principles the church cites in this article are not factually true, if their sole basis for their claim is the English translation of the King James Bible.
- (B) The church is not telling the whole truth, because there has been no fresh revelation, (to them at least, though God will reveal His mind and will on this subject to any person who is humble enough to ask for it), and we are told that the judgments of God are not all given to man, neither are we told what qualifies a person for the lower two degrees of the Celestial Kingdom.
- (C) Given their statement, it is impossible to separate out what are the laws of God and what is the cultural bias of the evangelical right-wing political rhetoric, so they are guilty of adding to the truth.
(6) But, if a person chooses not to follow those laws set up by some man-made church, either through ignorance of them, or through blind rebellion, or because he chooses to follow the laws of God, not the laws of man, what right does any church or religion have to step outside of its own ecclesiastical circle and trample, in the public area, on those individuals who choose not to these laws which they believe to be of God? I refer you to D&C 134, which clearly delineates the boundary between church and state.
As same-sex marriage inevitably becomes legal in more and more states, thoughtful members and investigators must ask themselves: if the Church believes so strongly in marriage, and believes that families are forever, and since same-sex marriage and families headed by same-sex couples are the law of the land, why does the LDS church still frown upon this, and excommunicates whose who also strongly believe in the institutions of marriage and family?
I don’t see it as much of a doctrinal stretch for the LDS church to embrace same-sex marriage.
- The first step, of course, would be to approach God on the subject and be open to new revelation that somes. Revelation comes in answers to questions. If a person believes he already knows all the answers and that God has spoken the final word on the subject, he will not seek the mind and will of God, and is no better than the sectarians who deny modern-day revelation.
- The second step would be to insist that the Law of Chastity applies to all. The 1990 version of the Endowment describes this covenant in a non-gender-specific way. Same-sex couples must be under the same obligation to be faithful to their husband or wife, the same as opposite-sex couples. There is no special pass for gay couples.
- The third step would be to realize that, as the D&C says, not all of God’s judgments have been given to man. Why? One reason why is we have not asked to know them, or they have not been relevant until now. One question all Mormons have is what happens to those who do not inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom? This has never been explained to us, and is a “mystery”. But, our founder, JS, Jr. specialized in uncovering the mysteries. Therefore, if there is a living prophet cut out of the same cloth, he should be able to do the same. This brings us back to point 1.
This is a commentary on this link http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/08/we-dont-need-new-church.html
The man is right on. Zion is an idea. This idea is not owned by any one man or group of men. (women either). It exists in the hearts of us all. Someday, conditions will cause it to blossom forth, and then, nothing can stop it.
There is nothing more powerful than a great idea, when its time has come. Great walls cannot keep it out. Armies cannot kill it. Propaganda engines cannot corrupt the vision, when all can see it for themselves.
I believe it will start when enough people are so sick of the way the world has been running all these years; they will realize that our efforts so far have been a FAILURE; and they will try to institute a new order. Eventually, we will succeed.
We were having a discussion on Facebook about how people are sealed to one another. Here is a comment from Rob Lauer:
“We seal ourselves to one another by the Holy Spirit of Promise which is that spiritual bond that we create one with another. And whatever glory we possess when we enter into eternity is the glory that we have cultivated within ourselves; it is not given to us or granted to us by some outside power or authority. As the eternal aspect of each of us is eternal and uncreated, without beginning or end, we possess the power and authority to order our lives and to progress on our own. When we cultivate any degree of glory within ourselves, it is because we have lived in harmony with the eternal natural law upon which that glory if predicated. Ordinances and rituals are–like scripture–works of art, the creations of human beings. This gives them even deeper meaning to us as they can speak powerfully to our individual conditions; but ordinances and rituals only celebrate a spiritual reality or aspiration. In and of themselves they do not (cannot) grant blessings or powers or insure results of any kind.” Rob Lauer
I agree with what Rob said, but I also believe that authority and keys need to be conferred.
How, do you recognize the two ideas? After thinking and praying about this issue, this is what makes sense to me.
We, as gods in embryo, or as part of the great whole called “God”, whichever way you want to look at it, already possess the power that God has. Nobody can give you any more power than you already have. But, God has one thing that we don’t have.
(1) He has knowledge of HOW to use this power. Without this knowledge, the power is useless and ineffective. Keys in the Priesthood consist of knowledge of how to use the Priesthood. I duscuss elsewhere in this blog, in “The Foundation of Zion Vol. II” how we obtain this knowledge and these keys from God. If a man claims to hold the keys, but possesses no knowledge, then he does not have any keys, nad therefore, no power in his Priesthood. If a man has knowledge of how to use his Priesthood, then, he must, of necessity, recognize that he possesses keys. And he must know that he has the keys.
A formal ordination does not confer Priesthood. It simply means that a body of people recognize your Priesthood and acknowledge that you are able to exercise it within their purview. The article mentioned above describes how receive the ultimate power, knowledge, and keys in the Priesthood from none other than God.
(2) Joseph Smith recognized that no man exercises the Priesthood in a vacuum. Each person who holds the Priesthood, exercises it in concert with every other Priesthood holder who is alive, or who ever lived and held the Priesthood. President John Taylor also taught this principle. Priesthood can only effectively function when we are linked together with our brethren through the ages, and our immediate brethren in a Priesthood quorum. This principle needs to be more fully taught, understood, and lived. We are far more powerful when we organize ourselves into groups of individuals and work and act together as one.
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
In light of what my teacher, Stephen R. Covey, said in his bestseller, and what we Mormons have heard over the pulpit for years. And, also in light of what the Savior said about a man lusting in his heart having committed adultery already. In light of this, men who profess to be “apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ” have stated the following:
“The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.” mormonsandgays.com.
How can somebody have attractions without having thoughts and feelings about them? And, how can somebody harbor these thoughts and feelings without eventually acting on them? So, I guess what they are really saying is “Go ahead and have those thoughts and feelings. Suppress them. Turn them off. Take lots of cold showers. Sing hymns. Marry in the temple. Put yourself and others through hell and misery. Then, when you finally can’t take living the lie (thinking without acting), you take that step, and when you do, we’ll get you.”
This is like a person getting a testimony of the Church, but is forbidden to join the church. (Incidentally, missionaries are told not to proselyte Gays, for this very reason.)
Here is a more excellent way. Or, another way to think about it. God has made all things for the benefit of man, and are to be used with care and wisdom, in moderation, always acknowledging the Divine Hand that gave that gift. (D&C 59)
Every other attraction, feeling, emotion, thought, aspiration that we experience, is neither good nor evil, until it is expressed in action. It is the expression thereof which is either a blessing or a sin. There is a time and a place for every thing (Ecc. 3:8). But, not THIS?? There has to be a way to express these attractions in a healthy, and not a sinful way. And, not in a way that harms others. There is a way for everything else, why not this? Have you ever thought about this before?
Here is a suggestion. What is the sin if these attractions find their expression in a stable, committed, monogamous legal marriage? That option is now on the table in most advanced Western countries, and in many US states. Why do those who process to be servants of God fight against the principles of the Gospel, and against the very means (legal marriage) which will provide a way to fulfill these attractions AND live the Gospel? Adultery is still adultery. Infidelity is still infidelity. The real sin is that we make a covenant of marriage and fail to fulfill that covenant. Those who find themselves outside the walls of Zion looking in will be those who love and make a lie. (Rev. 22:15).
So, in one respect, the Big Brethren are right. The key is how we RESPOND to these attractions. But, they offer no proper or effective way to respond to them. I have offered a way to respond to them. I hope you will consider this response, and I hope that somebody who is in a position of authority in the Church will prayerfully consider this response, and put it to the Lord, as I have.