Maybe the term “liberal mormon” had its origin at the University of Utah with a group of men who were referred to as the “swearing elders”.
This is an interesting and revealing history from Hugh Nibley’s life. This account makes it clear that Hugh Nibley was first and foremost a testimony bearing member of the church.
From Hugh Nibley’s: A Consecrated Life, p. 160.
At some point before his 1955 debate with Sterling McMurrin, Hugh was invited to speak to a meeting at the University of Utah, of the “Swearing Elders”-a group of liberal Mormons associated with Utah universities. After giving his presentation, Hugh says they took him aside and told him “You’re among friends now, you can say what you really feel about the Book of Mormon.” Hugh simply bore his testimony that the Book of Mormon is, in fact, a true record of ancient people and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. “Oh, were they mad,” Hugh states. “They were just boiling.” He recalls one member of the group launching into a harangue about the Book of Mormon and how “we have to get rid of it. It’s driving the best minds out of the church! You can’t see it, but with my training, I know it. Joseph Smith was a deceiver, but he was a sly deceiver.” Hugh was chilled by such reactions: “They had a real active hatred of the Book of Mormon.” These were, for the most part, members of the Church in good standing.
From the same book, page 159, Hugh in a letter to Sterling McMurrin makes an interesting comment about the church, along side another testimony: Continue reading
In his new book, Face To Face, brother Wilcox relates his struggle to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon.
He says that he “was raised by a mother who had a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. It had been the key to her own conversion as she struggled out of inactivity and rebellion.”
Because of his mother’s testimony he never doubted the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He had assumed when the time came to read it for himself that he would gain his own witness. So at age fourteen he decided to read the Book of Mormon independently for the first time.
He writes, “however, for whatever inexplicable reason, as I started to read it I was filled with darkness. Doubts seemed to consume me. I sometimes physically trembled with a gripping fear that at certain moments was terrifying. How could my mother be wrong? How could the wonderful people and organization I loved have arisen out of fraud and deception?”
As the weeks turned to months and then into years he continued to struggle the Book of Mormon. He hoped that studying the Book of Mormon in his senior year of high school seminary would bring about the testimony he needed. It didn’t, he tried to drop out but his Bishop pressured him to stay. Continue reading
The gift of the Holy Ghost is available to those who enter into the waters of baptism and are confirmed members of the Lord’s church. In order to actually receive this gift one must hunger and thirst for it. Without the ordinance of baptism, by one having authority, the gift of the Holy Ghost is not available.
The prophet Joseph Smith touched on this subject. He explained the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost:
There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. History of the Church 4:555.
I think it is accurate to say that most of the manifestations of the Lord’s Spirit given to mankind come by the Light of Christ. The Holy Ghost is a gift for the saints and the Light of Christ is a gift for all men. Continue reading
The following sacrament talk was given by Michael R. Conder. Michael, his wife, and four children live in Colorado. He is a system engineer.
I contacted Michael by email recently (Oct 29, 2013) and asked for his permission to post his talk on this blog.
Joseph Smith has said, “It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation.”
About a year ago, it had seemed I had completely forgotten that principle as I experienced a major crisis of faith. I didn’t know why at the time, but I felt disconnected from God. There were a number of issues that my family and I needed His help with, but it seemed He was not speaking to me anymore. I began to wonder if He ever had. So, I began to search for Him. Because I felt spiritually separated I turned my search into a purely intellectual pursuit.
I studied some of the right things and many of the wrong things. I didn’t read the Book of Mormon much. After all, I knew what was in it. What more could I learn from that book? When my wife would read an Ensign article to me, I would say something like, “Do you really think the answers are that simple?” And so it was, that I wandered on strange roads and wide paths, letting go of the rod and being completely overcome by the mists of darkness. Eventually, there began to be a fevered desperation to my search as I continued to feel lost and alone not really understanding why God would not speak to me as he had in the past. Continue reading
I believe, as a general rule, the scriptures reveal to mankind the laws of the Celestial world. The purpose for doing so is to prepare as many of the sons and daughters of God as possible for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom of God. In our pre-mortal state we lived in the presence of God, but at some point we must have relocated to spirit earth to exercise our agency and to participate in the “war in heaven”. In Fathers presence sin was not possible, thus the war in heaven must have taken place elsewhere, and we know that the earth was created spiritually before being made temporally, so it is reasonable to opinionate that is where we lived while en route to the world we now live on.
Parley P. Pratt wrote:
In order to multiply organized bodies, composed of spiritual element, worlds and mansions composed of spiritual element would be necessary as a home, adapted to their existence and enjoyment. As these spiritual bodies increased in numbers, other spiritual worlds would be necessary, on which to transplant them. Key to the Science of Theology, P. 62.
As in this world, there mankind exhibited varying degrees of faith and good works. Jesus Christ was the central figure there, and to our knowledge, there was no veil of forgetfulness, as there is here. We walked by sight there, whereas we walk by faith here, but we had our agency to choose good or evil, and certainly we must have fallen short of keeping all the laws. That being the case, repentance there, as here, was necessary. Were their souls who initially followed satan, but were persuaded by the followers of Christ to “repent”? Certainly, this must have been the case. If so, then we would have relied on the future Atonement of Christ to repent there, as we do here. Continue reading
Heavenly Father has revealed that it is His work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). In other words, to make it possible for each of His sons and daughters to become as He is—a God. The promise continues—He will give us all that He hath (D&C 84:38).
Heavenly Father’s plan is to give us power, the unimaginable power to create worlds without end (Moses 1:4, 33) and to possess knowledge, all knowledge such that there is not anything save we’ll know it (2 Nephi 9:20).
Just as a journey of a thousand miles beings with the first step, the path to exaltation has a point of beginning. Joseph Smith had this in mind when he said:
“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top and so it is with the principles of the Gospel – you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.” (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348) Continue reading
And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. 3 Nephi 12:6
For church members desiring the companionship of the Holy Ghost this scripture is packed with meaning. The Lord draws on basic needs all of us experience on a daily basis; hungering and thirsting—to teach us what it takes to be filled with the Holy Ghost.
In another scripture we learn …the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith… D&C 42:14.
I see two separate and distinct ways to receive the Holy Ghost. In the first scripture, the result is to be “filled” with the Holy Ghost and in the second scripture; the result is something less than being filled.
D&C 42:14 and other scripture like it seem to be saying that the Holy Ghost will visit us for a season. Continue reading
Acquiring and growing a testimony is like climbing a mountain. As we ascend we can turn and view the vista behind us, and feel a sense of accomplishment at how far we’ve come. As we continue to climb we arrive at the top and feel a rush of accomplishment and growth. However, as we look into the distance we soon become aware that there are towering peaks before us that need to be climbed. We know if we leave theses unclimbed we’ll be missing out on experience, experience that we need and should not put off.
Not all who climb continue to climb, it is difficult and many chose to ignore the invitation of the inviting peaks. It is easy to plateau in our journey, especially when everything is going well where we’re at.
This is when we begin to forget the Lord and take side paths that we can mistake for climbing towards the peaks. These side paths have many destination but none of them offer the rewards of climbing towards the peaks.
The peaks represent the things the Lord knows we are in most need of. The side paths represent the struggles we allow ourselves to wander into because we’re not staying focused on moving steadily towards the peaks. Continue reading
The scriptures testify, abundantly so, of the propensity of men to sin. This is even true for those who have been given significant Spiritual experiences. One would suppose that those who have been so blessed would never sin again, but the scriptures and church history provide a different prospective. Prophets and church leaders are subject to sin and error just like the rest of us.
For example, Nephi, the son of Lehi appears to be a near perfect man. He does everything his prophet father asks of him, even with the intolerable burden of two older brothers working against his every effort. Nephi’s propensity for goodness is matched by his older brother’s propensity for wickedness. However, the impression of Nephi perfection is diminished when he reveals the turmoil going on in his heart when he says, “notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. 2 Nephi 4:17-18
Actually, I’m relieved that Nephi revealed this part of his mortal experience. It helps me relate to him and gives me hope. I think Nephi made many errors in the way he dealt with his brothers. If he would have been more kind to them things might have turned out a little better.
Other Book of Mormon prophets emerged from a life of sin to become examples of the power of the atonement. The father son prophets, Alma Senior and Junior were wicked men. The scriptures even characterize Alma Junior and his buddies, the four sons of the Mosiah, as the vilest of sinners. These boys were the sons of prophets and yet they wandered as far from the faith of their fathers as one can possibly imagine. Continue reading
The prophet Nephi wrote and prophesied about our day. He referred to us as Gentiles and said that we would “put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning… (2 Nephi 26:20).
Unfortunately, I think we are living in that day. But at the same time we live in a day where God’s miracles are available to those with faith. I believe all men and women have access to miracles at some level, be of whatever faith they may. However, Latter Day Saints have been given additional access to miracles because of the restoration of the gospel. We are eligible to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (if we seek diligently for it). In addition, we have the priesthood, restored by angelic messengers.
Miracles Follow Those Who Believe
There are two kinds of miracles according to Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Continue reading