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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bad Logic: If the Book of Mormon is True, Everything Else is True

I have pondered much on this topic, and would write a post myself, but someone else already did.

I endorse every word as written:
http://reclaimingtherestoration.blogspot.com/2015/08/all-or-nothing-false-approach-to-church.html

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oliver Cowdery and Failure to Translate

If you've ever attended institute, Sunday School, or (I'm guessing) seminary, you've heard this story a million times. Oliver Cowdery was acting as Joseph Smith's scribe. He wanted to translate. Joseph inquired of the Lord, and the Lord told him he could (see D&C 8). He failed to. Then they ask God why and he tells them (see D&C 9). The Lord chastises Oliver for not following the pattern he had laid out in the previous revelation. Then all the people in the class are supposed to learn how revelation requires one to study things out and listen in the heart, etc.

Here are the two sections' corresponding D&C manuals:
http://institute.lds.org/manuals/doctrine-and-covenants-institute-student-manual/dc-in-001-8.asp
http://institute.lds.org/manuals/doctrine-and-covenants-institute-student-manual/dc-in-001-9.asp

Why did Oliver fail?

The second link above states that "The Lord assigned Oliver’s failure to translate to the fact that he did not translate according to that which he desired of the Lord. Oliver had to learn that translating as Joseph Smith was doing was by the gift and power of God. Evidently, Oliver had received sufficient instruction, but instead went his own way, using his own wisdom. He was therefore stopped from translating."

I think the confusion on this topic stems from statements such as these. The problem, which is the consistent problem with most false doctrine today, is that it distracts us from learning the more meaningful lesson here.

Let's dissect this.

What was Oliver's gift?

"I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation....Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction." (D&C 8:2,4)

Oliver was given the gift of revelation by the Lord. He was made a revelator. At least, he was instructed that he could be if he "appl[ied] unto it," or followed God's instructions.

How does one reveal things?

The Lord told Oliver that he would reveal things through what God would tell him "in [his] mind and in [his] heart, by the Holy Ghost." That is the spirit of revelation. Did the Lord tell Oliver he would see something? No. He would be TOLD (audible) in his mind and in his heart. The eyes were not mentioned in any way.

What was Joseph's gift?

Joseph was a seer. He was also a prophet and a revelator, but let's stay focused on seership. What is the gift of seership? Ammon described it in Mosiah 8.  "I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer."

A seer has something he can look into which provides the translation of the records, or allows God to show him what he is meant to see. That is why they are called SEERS. They SEE with their EYES what God wants to reveal.

I will allow you to google "how did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon"to get all the sources, but here is the gist: He looked into the urim and thummim and/or his seer stone, and saw, in English, the current sentence of where he was in the translation. He read off that line, and then a new one appeared. Joseph had to have faith, he had to be worthy, and he had to have this gift from God in order to accomplish the translation. He did not have to study anything out. All he had to do was read.

Oliver's Situation

Now let's think about poor Oliver. Here he sees Joseph looking into a hat and reading off what the Book of Mormon says like he's reading the family bible, and he wants a try to. The Lord even tells him that he's going to have a turn. He gets all ready and tries, and nothing happens. Note that the Lord doesn't tell him to look into the seer stone. He tells him to study it out, etc. In other words, he tells Oliver to translate by a process other than the one he has seen Joseph using. I strongly wonder whether Oliver sat there and stared at the plates, trying to "study it out," or whether he tried looking into the urim and thummim. It isn't recorded in D&C, and I don't know the answer to it.

So next time we think of Oliver as an example on how NOT to receive revelation, let's think twice. It's really not surprising that he expected to get the translation without effort on his part; that's exactly what Joseph was doing!

A Better Version

The church manual SHOULD read: "The Lord assigned Oliver’s failure to translate to the fact that he tried to translate in the same way that he had observed Joseph translating, instead of following the Lord's instructions to study it out. Oliver had to learn that the gift of being a revelator was not the same as the gift of seership."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Mormon Newsroom: Reading Between the Lines

The church's top spokesman recently said, "Our task is to find language that most accurately reflects what's in the Brethren's minds." To do this, they have written a creed to encapsulate what they think the brethren might say if they were writing their own material:
We have faith in God, strive to live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and embrace God’s plan for His children, bringing joy into our lives and the lives of others.
We are strong supporters of the family, defenders of strong, enduring marriages and child bearing, and of raising well-educated children with high moral values.
We value and defend freedom, including freedom of religion, respect individual agency and moral choices, freedom to worship and freedom to share our faith.
We hold and try to live by strong moral values, including personal honesty and trustworthiness, and other Christlike attributes.
We serve others, including those in our own faith and those not of our faith. Charity, or love of our fellow men and women, is a source of joy.
We strive to demonstrate through the redemptive power of the gospel that lives can change for the better. We think of this in terms of faith, repentance and the Atonement.
The PR team writes up releases on all sorts of topics, then submits them for approval "to a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' committee, made up of two apostles, a senior member of the Seventy, the presiding bishop, the church's legal counsel and a female officer." (source) Sometimes there are corrections made, other times the article stands as ghost written.

TODO quote on single person does not...

Does it make sense that the LDS public affairs team should be making doctrinal proclamations when only two of the 15 men they speak for oversee them? I thought only the prophet can speak for the whole church? Ironically, it was the PR office itself who issued the following edict:
Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. 

Isn't it odd, then, that the newsroom would issue such dramatic doctrinal statements such as:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."
It seems that in an environment where such bold statements are made without commensurate tie-in to the stakeholders of the church (the 15), it is very likely that at some point--should the 15's actual position be or become markedly different--they can plausibly deny the statement of the PR office with impunity. That seems to undermine the idea of having a PR office in the first place, that is, if your objective is to pronounce true unchanging doctrine.

Furthermore, it seems like doing so without all leaders involved would be asking for mistakes to be made.

For instance, the LDS newsroom article on "Apostle" starts with the leading line, "The highest priesthood office in the Church." This is false. The highest priesthood office in the church is that of King. It is the office which comes above priest (Melchezidek priest, not Aaronic), which in turn comes after prophet. Joseph taught that Hyrum was ordained to be the prophet of the church so that Joseph could go on to be its priest. He was ordained king by the counsel of 50 shortly before his death. Heber C. Kimball wrote that this blessing comes with the fullness of the priesthood:

Those who come in here and have received their washing & anointing will [later] be ordained Kings & Priests, and will then have received the fullness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth. For Brother Joseph said he had given us all that could be given to man on the earth (Heber C. Kimball Journal kept by William Clayton, 26 December 1845, Church Archives).
Joseph taught:
There are 3 grand principles or orders of Priesthood portrayed in this chapter
1st Levitical which was never able to administer a Blessing but only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear
2 Abrahams Patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church 21
3d That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of King & Priest (Words of Joseph Smith, 27 Aug 1843)
On 6 August 1843, Brigham Young said,
"If any in the church [have] the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood [I do] not know it. For any person to have the fullness of that priesthood, he must be a king and priest."
But, the anonymous committee that oversees the spokesperson's ghost writing probably did not know that.

Under "Prophets," the newsroom opens by saying, "One designated by God to be His spokesperson." If the 15 are God's spokespeople, the term used by the newsroom writers, perhaps we are to understand that they operate for God the same way that the newsroom spokespeople operate for the brethren. Perhaps the brethren's "task is to find language that most accurately reflects what's in the Brethren's minds on God's mind." Maybe they've even constructed a creed to give them some pointers.

This suggestion may seem crude or irreverent, at least until you read the newsroom's article for "Revelation":
Most often, revelation unfolds as an ongoing, prayerful dialogue with God: A problem arises, its dimensions are studied out, a question is asked, and with sufficient faith, God leads us to answers, either partial or full. Though ultimately a spiritual experience, revelation also requires careful thought. God does not simply hand down information. He expects us to figure things out through prayerful searching and sound thinking.
So when we see someone in the church who claims to receive revelation for the church, what they really mean is that they find problems, pray about them, and then think up solutions carefully. One thing's for sure, "God does not simply hand down information."

After all, we all recall that our religion is founded on a young boy reading "if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God," fully expecting that the only result would be that he would have some undetected guidance in his effort to study out the scriptures that he had heretofore studied without said undetected guidance for some two years in his efforts to know which church was true. Oh, wait...

I would venture to guess that most Mormons think of revelation, particularly that they envision the brethren receiving, as "simply [God] hand[ing] down information." After all, isn't that what he has done throughout the scriptural record to prophets, seers, and revelators? Did Joseph have to study out the Book of Mormon and gradually think out what the book said? No. He looked at his seer stone and read the words that appeared. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joseph and the rest repeated the words that God said to them. This was not an intellectual exercise. It was simply repeated what had been said to them. This is what makes it God's word instead of men's word.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Proof Texting: D&C 42:11

Of all people, latter-day Saints ought to expect true messengers from unlikely places. After all, the Book of Mormon provides yet another witness that it is God's rule to call outsiders to call apostate hierarchies to repentance. Joseph Smith himself was an outsider. Jesus was as well.

Opponents state that God operates differently in our dispensation. They state that God has promised that in this dispensation, he will never ask anyone to preach the gospel unless they are sent from church leaders. They use D&C 42:11 as their proof text, which reads:

11 Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.

1. Ordained by someone who has authority. Someone who claims that Christ himself ordained him to preach would, if correct in this claim, clearly have been ordained by someone who has authority. Is it a strange things for God himself to ordain people? No. If you were to enumerate the individuals with the priesthood in scripture, you would find that the exception is to be ordained by men, not by God. In fact, Joseph said, "All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself" (TPJS, pp. 180-81).

2. Known to the church that he has authority. This requirement is ambiguous. Does the "he" refer to the individual in question, or to the "some one who has authority"? In the case of the latter, if the individual in question claims that Christ ordained him, there should be no question that the church should know that Christ has authority. In the former case, the situation of Christ himself should be illustrative. When Jesus came with authority, he said he was sent of the father and that the Spirit testified of his authority.

 13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
 14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
 15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
 16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
 17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
 18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8)

The Jews didn't think that was sufficient. Perhaps they supposed that he was not bona fide because he did not come from the ruling counsels?

3. Been regularly ordained by the heads of the church. The same people who are likely to use D&C 42:11 as a proof text are also those who are most likely to say that Christ is the head of the LDS church. If the individual in question were ordained by Christ, would that not satisfy this requirement? As to the regularity of such an ordination, if regular is taken to mean normal, the entire standard works demonstrate that the normal form of ordination is under the hand of God, not man.

Yet, as is usually the case with proof texting, context provides stronger refutation than a direct assault of the verse in question. The entire passage reads thusly:

11 Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.
 12 And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.
 13 And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.
 14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
 15 And all this ye shall observe to do as I have commanded concerning your teaching, until the fulness of my scriptures is given.

To this we ask:
1. Do church officers teach the principles of the gospel in the Bible and Book of Mormon, or do they omit topics that are currently unpopular or misunderstood?
2. Do they use the covenants and church articles (refering to the Lectures on Faith and 1835 D&C) to govern the church, or have they replaced those covenants and articles?
3. Do they allow church meetings to be directed by the Spirit, or do they read pre-edited talks and enforce ritualistic meeting structures and schedules?
4. Do church officers withdraw from the invitation to speak when the Spirit does not tell them what to say? Or do they ghost write manuals and train church members to read what is written and stick to the manual during teaching opportunities.
5. What did the Lord mean when he said "until the fulness of my scriptures is given"? Is this passage even valid anymore?

Perhaps most significantly, does the church not send out tens of thousands of sister missionaries a year to preach the gospel without any ordination whatsoever? Should an organization who itself neglects to follow the instructions in the passage in upwards of 50% of its gospel teachers be permitted to cite these instructions as reasons why those outside of church leadership are not true messengers of the gospel?

In summary, anyone who quotes D&C 42:11 to suggest that a true messenger can only come in the form of a church officer does not understand the scriptures, and should be the last person you listen to for gospel advice.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Church History

Then: “.. there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose.  ( Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation 3:225-226)

Today: "In fact, historical evidence shows that in addition to the two seer stones known as “interpreters,” Joseph Smith used at least one other seer stone in translating the Book of Mormon, often placing it into a hat in order to block out light. " (Ensign, Oct 2015)

This is only the most recent of very many historical errors from official sources. In the October 2014 General Conference, Elder Nelson stated, "No Prophet has ever been elected."  Yet Brigham Young himself said, "I was unanimously elected President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Winter Quarters, Dec 27, 1847, Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Signature Books, 2009, page 267).

Here are others:


  • For decades, the church actively misrepresented Joseph's practice of polygamy.
  • For decades, the church lied about plural marriage after the 1890 manifesto, claiming either that there were no church sanctioned plural marriages after 1890 or that the only sanctioned ones took place in Mexico where it was legal. Both were lies, as polygamy was just as illegal in Mexico and Michael Quinn documented very many sanctioned marriages post 1890 (authorized by the first presidency, and not just in Mexico).
  • For decades, the church said that Brigham Young's policy of not ordaining blacks to the priesthood and banning them from temple ordinances was a commandment from God. THIRTEEN subsequent presidents of the church maintained that position, calling the priesthood ban "not a matter of the declaration of policy but of direct commandment from the Lord." (Aug 17,1951 - Official First Presidency Statement). Of course, President Monson's administration has said that Brigham was wrong, and that it wasn't a commandment.
  • The church continues to misrepresent the history of the Nauvoo temple, which I have detailed elsewhere on this blog.

  • These omissions and misrepresentations should be no surprise to those who have noted that it is official policy to intentionally hide anything that doesn't fit the official narrative, whether it is true or not:

    "My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors."
    - Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii

    “That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith....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

    "Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid."
    - Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “Truth—and More,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, page 69

    "It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. ... The Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the Lord's anointed, or of Church leaders, local or general. This reality should be part of the spiritual evaluation that LDS readers and viewers apply to those things written about our history and those who made it."
    - Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, "Reading Church History," CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B

    "Truth surely exists as an absolute, but our use of truth should be disciplined by other values. ... When truth is constrained by other virtues, the outcome is not falsehood but silence for a season. As the scriptures say, there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, page 68)

    "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." (Apostle Boyd K. Packer, "The Mantle is Far,Far Greater Than the Intellect," 1981 CES Talk).

    This policy neuters members' ability to exercise their agency in an informed matter. It seeks to give members shallow emotion-based "testimonies" that cannot stand the abundant opposition existing today. It arms adversaries who need only state the truth to get members to become angry atheists who lose their faith in Jesus through realizing that church leaders, who claim to represent him, have lied to them.

    As someone with unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ, and a testimony of Joseph Smith informed enough by facts that no one has been able to rationally argue against it, I advocate for giving members full access to the history of their church. In the information age, it is the only remedy for the seen and unseen bleeding of members from the church due to discovery of historical omissions and misrepresentations.

    Given the vast contradictions in "official" historical accounts past and present from the church, either one is right and one is wrong or both are wrong.

    Given that the change did not occur from the appearance of any new sources, we can only conclude that the differences are due to willful omission or exceeding negligence.

    Nevertheless, the church recently gave this counsel:
    "To help members with their study of Church history and doctrine, the Church publishes reliable information on topics of current interest. This information is found in the Gospel Topics section of the Church’s website, at lds.org/topics.
    The purpose of the Gospel Topics section is to provide accurate and transparent information on Church history and doctrine within the framework of faith. It includes an article titled “Gospel Learning: Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith,” which explains principles of seeking truth.
    When Church members have questions regarding Church history and doctrine, possibly arising when detractors spread misinformation and doubt, you may want to direct their attention to these resources. Also help them understand that prayer, regular study of the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets, the exercise of faith, and humility are fundamental to receiving inspired answers to sincere questions." (Letter to Bishops and Stake Presidents, Sept 9, 2014)

    Given the propensity towards error, to trust the LDS church in matters of history OR historical doctrine, you'd have to have a compelling reason to believe that somehow something has changed and the church is now avidly studying its own historical sources without bias and with honesty, whereas in the past they have not done either. I cannot find such a reason, and therefore will continue to seek non-official sources that provide our best access to LDS history (which the church continues to keep locked away from the public eye).

    For doctrinal history, check out:
    -"Words of Joseph Smith" (the original source material that was edited to create "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith) If you can't find a copy, email me and I will give you one.

    The must-read list for every member include:
    -"David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism" (which is based on President McKay's diary)
    -"Mormon Heirarchy" books one and two (written from notes taken during the 10 year window when the church opened the archives to historians)
    -"Passing the Heavenly Gift"

    We should not fear true history. We must resist the pernicious tradition in the church that there is a such thing as non-faith-promoting history. History, if true, is truth. The efficacy of truth is not dependent on its source or how it is presented. Truth "is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;" (D&C 93:24). It is NOT things as we wish they had been. When you learn new truth, you can guarantee that it will affect your belief structure. However, whatever you lose as a consequence of truth wasn't helping you get closer to God, anyway--even if you thought it was. Saul was probably very disappointed to find out that all his pre-theophany Phariseeism was actually leading him away from God, despite his contemporary beliefs to the contrary. Still, he recognized that what Jesus had told him--the truth--would draw him closer to Christ than all that Phariseeism ever did. He said, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." (Phillipians 3:8). Paul had no sacred cows, no false idols he wasn't willing to let go of when provided the opportunity to embrace mutually exclusive knowledge of God. Are you willing to embrace truth at all costs?

    ALL church history is faith promoting, because the only thing it can displace is something that isn't true. And falsehoods can never save you. False traditions damn us. They prevent us from progressing towards God. You cannot have real faith in something that is false. Alma wrote that "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21.) Even when it is painful, true church history will bring you closer to Christ through freeing you from false tradition. The heading in a chapter from the Joseph Smith priesthood manual says, "The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth; the faithful accept the truths God has revealed and put aside false traditions." Joseph taught that “To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions.” (Joseph Smith, HC 5:554) It is not false tradition, but knowledge that leads us to eternal life.

    What Latter-day Saint can say that they are not interested in church history, when their very salvation depends on rooting out the many false traditions present in their understanding of the gospel, which can only occur through knowing church history? This attitude is opposite of what Joseph demonstrated. He said, "When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom." (HC 6:477)

    If we fear church history, if we neglect our opportunities to study it, if we just take someone else's word for it, it says an awful lot about where we stand. It says that we fear the truth, that we don't dare discover that something we worship turns out to be a false tradition. It says that we fear that we might have false idols in our lives. It says that we fear that our personal relationship with God might be so dependent upon others as to be unable to sustain the absorption of true facts.

    As an institution, we need to repent of our dishonesty, even if it requires a serious and reaching reevaluation of fundamental claims. God will not honor anything built on lies. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

    Sunday, August 9, 2015

    The World is Not Going to End in Sept 2015

    VERY many have made predictions that something big is going to happen next month. I have heard that there will be a financial collapse starting next month and leading into the winter that makes 2008 look like a walk in the park. I have heard other predictions.

    My belief: Eventually, there will be extreme financial distress. There will be an end to value of money. There will be an end to the abundance of food that we enjoy. There will be food shortages that cause severe global instability, house to house instability, and martial law.

    My knowledge: God has shown me that the tribulations to precede the Second Coming, which have already commenced, will not occur in a flash. He showed me that one way he is warning the world of what is to come is by causing glimpses of the catastrophes to occur and stop short or to occur in miniature. In each case, it is only God's mercy that provides the very unlikely avoidance of the full potential of the disaster. He will provide a specific warning for every type of calamity he will send before the Second Coming.

    The scripture given to me as an illustration of this principle is the following:

    87 For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.
     88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
     89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
     90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
     91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. (D&C 88)

    A catastrophic earthquake is not a warning. It is a judgment. A catastrophic thunder is not a warning, it is a judgment. And so on. However, a miniature earthquake, tsunami, etc., serves as a warning.

    One example is the Ebola epidemic. Many died globally, but many, many more should have. The fact is that the world responded beyond sluggishly. The airlines refused to close down flights. World governments stalled beyond measure in deploying mobile hospitals to Africa. The United States refused Russia's offer of a vaccine proven effective against the disease. It was discovered that only 2 hospitals in the entire US have the capability to treat patients with deadly communicable disease. Their total number of beds is something like 10. The patients treated in the US unveiled the absolute lack of any protocols or training of US personnel. An op-ed by a prominent physician admitted that many (most?) doctors and nurses would abandon their posts rather than be infected in the event of an outbreak. And so on.

    The ONLY reason Ebola didn't ravage the United States is because God intervened. Only a miracle could explain the lack of an epidemic in the face of such absurd hubris and criminal negligence. The same goes for Africa (although many died, it could and should have been much, much worse).

    God has shown us very plainly that a biological threat could easily wipe out 25% or more of the earth's population in very short time. Who has repented because of it?

    THREE AND A HALF YEARS
    There will be a 3.5 year period of warning before God's judgment is poured out on the earth. It is my current understanding that this period will begin with the closing of the LDS temples, probably due to government pressure to seal homosexuals there or risk substantial penalty. The 3.5 year period will end, according to my current understanding, with the performance of a homosexual sealing in an LDS temple.

    Until the LDS temples close, I strongly believe that any disasters the US may face, including financial distress that could exceed that sustained after the 2008 collapse, will be very very minimal compared to what comes after the end of the 3.5 year period, though taken in abstract any of the warnings may seem quite extreme to those directly involved.

    WHAT THIS DOES NOT MEAN
    We do not know when the 3.5 year period will begin (though I am very confident it has not yet begun). What we do know is that, even if it began today, 3.5 years provides a substantial period of time to prepare oneself spiritually and temporally. This does not, however, mean that we should be slothful in our belief of or action on the Lord's word. As God said about another topic, "let these things be done in their time, but not in haste; and observe to have all things prepared before you." This is relevant and wise counsel. How many can say in that awful day, I did not have enough time to get my spiritual house in order? How many can say in that day, "Lord, please help me do what I need to to survive" when you had over 3.5 years to devote your time and energy to preparing, but you did nothing?

    ANOTHER VISION
    I don't know that I have ever shared the following vision publicly, though I did make reference to it in the talk I gave in Colorado and have spoken privately with others about it. Zion will not appear out of nowhere one day. It will not consist of one large group that is directed to come together all at once. The Lord showed me in a day vision that Zion would form as a river does: First from small, almost imperceptible springs, converging into creeks, converging into tributaries, converging into a river. The flow of the water represents time. God will gather together small groups of like-minded and similarly prepared individuals. As a group, they will suffer through the experiences they need to overcome the specific weaknesses they possess. Over time, they will be led to combine with other groups with different strengths and weaknesses. Through the passage of time, there will be gathering and growth and unavoidable winnowing of those who choose not to learn what God is trying to teach them through the weaknesses and strengths of others. Gathering into a large group right away is a surefire recipe for disaster given the weaknesses endemic to modern people. The entire group will be immediately subjected to the weaknesses of the common denominators. Without sufficient charity, both the strong and the weak will fly to pieces, and Zion would be lost.

    I bring this up because (and this has not been the first time), the bloggers at 2ndwitness.com have nailed it with their own description of how Zion will come to be.  The original post is here.

    SUMMARY
    Don't worry that everything is going to fall apart next month. Many will lose their jobs. Many will lose their houses. The "recovery" from this next recession will be worse than the recession itself due to the interventions the government will likely undertake. Yet, it is just a warning, and there is still plenty of time and plenty of resources to prepare for the real tribulation. In the meantime, don't be sluggish in seeking the Lord for instruction on what to do and when to do it. The scriptures are a wonderful Urim and Thummim for obtaining this instruction. The books of Isaiah and Jeremiah are particularly beneficial.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

    Seers

    You should read this:

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng

    I thoroughly enjoyed most of that article. It is refreshing that the church is turning the page and becoming more honest and transparent about history. Some things are still not as direct as they should/could be in this article. I appreciate the inclusions of the pictures, but it seems they are doing everything they can to justify the past use of the graphics, instead of dismissing them as historically false. They still don't have/use any of Joseph translating with the hat, though I'm glad the description is included in the article.

    Though this is probably the most honest historical article I've seen officially published by the church, there are still omissions and misrepresentations. The most glaring of them refers to the attempt by the author to minimize the need for a seer to use a Urim and Thummim in order to actually be a seer.

    "As Elder Pratt watched the Prophet translate, “Joseph, as if he read his thoughts, looked up and explained that the Lord gave him the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced in the Spirit of inspiration. But now he had advanced so far that he understood the operations of that Spirit, and did not need the assistance of that instrument.”21
    Brigham Young told an audience of his thoughts about receiving a seer stone. “I don’t [k]no[w] that I have ever had a desire to have one,” he reflected.22 Brigham’s statement expressed his understanding that seer stones were not essential to being a seer."

    The facts are:
    1) A seer needs an object to see into just as much as a prophet actually has to prophesy to be a prophet.

    This is what the Book of Mormon says about it:
    "13 And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.
    14 Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages;
    15 And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people;
    16 And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times." (Mosiah 28:13-16)

    2) Joseph did not grow out of using seer stones. He continued to use seer stones his whole life. If I'm not mistaken, he carried one in his pocket every day till the day he died. If I'm not mistaken, one of his seer stones (I think it was the green one) was found on him at the moment of death.
    From wikipedia:
    "After finishing the Book of Mormon translation, Smith gave his brown seer stone to Oliver Cowdery, but he occasionally used his white stone to gain revelations, including his translation of what later became known as the Book of Abraham.[32] There is no evidence that Smith used the stone to dictate any of the Doctrine and Covenants revelations after November 1830;[33] during his work on his Bible translation, Smith told Orson Pratt he had stopped using the stone because he had become acquainted with "the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation" and no longer needed it.[34] Nevertheless, in 1855, Brigham Young told the apostles that Smith had had five seer stones, and Young made it clear that Smith "did not regard his seer stones simply as relics of his youth" but had found others while church president.[35]"

    It saddens me that church historical articles have to be "fact-checked." It saddens me that there would be any non-LDS resource that would be a better source for LDS history than an LDS source. It saddens me that, in light of the glaring omissions and carefully crafted misrepresentations in the recent LDS.org essays and this article, it can only be concluded that the church's new posture on history is just as dishonest as ever. Instead of finally uncovering the truth, they are letting out just enough truth mingled with falsehood to inoculate members against undertaking their own research. Right now, when a lifelong member sees a glossy, well-written post online describing how Joseph actually translated the Book of Mormon with a rock in a hat, they flip out because they had never heard about that, and yet here is the indisputable evidence. They conclude they've been lied to, and end up leaving the church. Now, someone will bring up a rock in the hat, and they will say, "Oh, the church told me about that years ago!" and won't bother researching it further. There is a big difference in telling us what they know compared to telling us what they want us to hear. We are still firmly in the latter category. The article doesn't even talk about the other seer stones! (There is a green one and a white one, and the church has all three).