I’ve read the Book of Mormon many times. And each time I have been moved intellectually by Lehi’s teachings about “opposition in all things”. His discussion of this topic has provided me with many worthwhile insights. It is an intellectually stimulating topic. It has helped me understand the purpose and value in some of life’s experiences that are difficult to bear, let alone find purpose and value in.
Lately, I have been thinking about another dimension of this topic that may be worthwhile to consider. The idea of opposition is clear in its meaning, but I’ve wondered lately about the “in all things” part. He didn’t say opposition in “some” or a “few” things, but he said, “in all things”. If I apply “all” to the challenges that are currently visiting Mormondom I come away considering some things I haven’t before thought.
Could Lehi’s teachings about opposition in all things explain why the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon, two of Joseph Smith’s greatest contributions as prophet, are nowadays open to penetrating criticism and question? In years past, I had supposed that the Book of Abraham and Book of Mormon would be unassailable by critics.
Did the Lord allow or could He have even arranged for circumstances to come about, so that His purposes could be accomplished by the opposition church members experience in our day? Is there evidence in the scriptures that God would permit or do such things? Continue reading
The purpose of nearly every talk in General Conference, every talk in sacrament meeting, and every gospel doctrine class we attend is to help us come unto Christ and be perfected in him.
The prophet Joseph Smith 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”.
In the 4th Article of Faith Joseph Smith enumerated the first four principles of the gospel: Continue reading
As members of the church we can follow the Savior at a distance, or up close, the choice is ours.
The scriptures provide examples of those who are close to the Lord, as well as those who follow Him, but at a distance. Those who follow at a distance can draw nearer to the Lord, maintain their distance, or fall away altogether. And of course, those who are close to the Lord can move even nearer to the Lord or sadly, move away, and follow at a distance, or even fall away.
The Book of Mormon provides examples of various kinds of followers.
Following—at a Distance
Amulek understood enough about the Lord to recognize His hand in the preservation of the Nephites. He also testified that he had been “called many times” but would not hear. He had other things to do, and chose to resist the Spirit’s invitation to draw closer to the Lord. This is a form of rebellion against God, also known as a hardened heart (Alma 10:5-6). Continue reading
Most of those reading this post are enjoying prosperous times. We have been nurtured by prosperity unlike any other recent generation. Nearly all of us have have been free from hunger. Few, if any, have been without shelter. Educational opportunities have been plentiful. Some in the bloggernacle have advanced degrees. We live in good times.
So, what do the good times have to do with procrastinating the day of our repentance?
I’ll answer this question, by asking another question. Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? If you have to think about this question for very long you probably hunger and thirst after after other things.
Prosperity, especially prolonged prosperity, is the enemy of righteousness (see Helaman 12: 1-6). Even the faithful, the very elect, suffer spiritually in times like we are living in. Mormon points this out in the last chapter in the Book of Mormon. He warns us not to deny the gifts of God (Moroni 10:7-8) and says “that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief” (Moroni 10:24). Continue reading
Critics of the Mormon Church are delighted when events make Mormon prophets and apostles look like average, every day men, men who can be fooled. Such is the case with the Mark Hofmann forgeries. Critics reason:
How is it that church leaders could meet several times with Mark Hofmann and never discern the dark spirit inside him? How could they not recognize the devil within their midst? Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators were unable to see and discern that they were in the same room as a liar, forger, and soon to be murderer.
Did Mark Hofmann fool Mormon prophets and apostles? It appears he did. Is that surprising? It shouldn’t be, but there is a notion that prophets and apostles should be infallible because they are on the Lord’s errand.
Where did this notion start that prophets and apostles can not be fooled or deceived? Do the scriptures teach that the prophets and apostles can discern the thoughts, intents, and motives of every person they come in contact with? No, the scripture do not teach such a principle. In fact, the scriptures teach that prophets and apostles can be fooled. The Lord taught Joseph Smith: Continue reading
A former Mormon, John D. (I’m not going to give his last name, but he is now a self-employed, highly paid anti-Mormon) recently wrote the following analogy about the Mormon Church.
“Imagine that you and all of your extended family became heavily invested in a pyramid scheme, entrusting your entire life savings therein. Then imagine one day stumbling upon a preponderance of factual evidence proving that the entire scheme was fraudulent.”
To support his oddball analogy he went on to write three reasons, after careful thought and consideration, why the Mormon church is a fraud.
- The LDS church was not open and honest with its history and punished people for decades for speaking openly about it;
- Members have given time and money to the church without having a full understanding of the church’s founding narrative — and many of them, had they been given the full and accurate narrative, might have made very different choices with their lives and money; and
- Precious family relationships and friendship are being destroyed over these religious differences.
To begin, I agree that the three reasons John D. provides have kernels of truth, but when closely inspected, they don’t even come close to supporting his outlandish, oddball analogy that the church is like a pyramid scheme. Continue reading
A former Mormon, John D. (I’m not going to give his last name) recently wrote the following critique about his experience with “revelation”.
“Did I have incredibly powerful and inspiring emotional experiences in a LDS context when I was a child, teenager, and young adult? Absolutely. Was I explicitly instructed from a very early age — by the church — on precisely how to interpret those emotional experiences? I believe I was…I remember very explicitly being taught in early morning seminary that if I were to feel any of these emotions in a church context, I was to interpret them as the Holy Ghost bearing witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only true church on the planet. I was taught to teach my “investigators” as a missionary the same thing. If we could ever get our investigators to feel an emotion, we would immediately say, “See! Those are the fruits of the Holy Ghost testifying that this is the true church, and that you should be baptized!”
…And for the record, I still cannot find a believer to explain to me the meaningful difference between “emotion” and the “Holy Ghost.” I certainly could never tell the two apart when I was a believer. This was made clear to me once when I felt as inspired by the Muppet Movie as I was by any LDS General Conference talk. It was very confusing for me as a teen, believe it or not.”
Even though John D. is no longer Mormon, I think John brings up some good points in his critique for active, believing members to consider.
I’ve been an active member for 50 years. During this time I have pondered the points John makes many times. I’ll give an answer to John’s question based on my understanding, and more importantly, my experience. Continue reading
1. True or False
Nephi, being led by the Spirit, knew exactly what to do to obtain the Brass plates when he and his brothers tried for the third time?
“And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand
the things which I should do.” 1 Nephi 4:6
2. Fill in the Blank
“And it came to pass that I was _______by the Spirit that I should kill Laban.”
Constrained (1 Nephi 4:10)
3. Multiple Choice
What does it mean to come out in “open rebellion against God”?
A. To be excommunicated
B. To be convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison.
C. To dwindle in unbelief and stop attending church.
D. To withdraw yourself from the Spirit of the Lord. Continue reading
Heavenly Father Provides Us with Mountains to Climb So We Can Become Like Him
Acquiring and growing a testimony is like climbing a mountain. As we ascend the mountain we can turn and view the vista behind us, and feel a sense of accomplishment at how far we’ve come.
As we continue the climb we will 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, it is difficult and many chose to ignore the invitation of the inviting peaks beckoning them. It is so easy to plateau in our journey, especially when everything is going well.
This is when we can begin to forget the Lord and take side paths instead of climbing towards the peaks. These side paths have many destinations but none of them offer the rewards of climbing towards the peaks. Continue reading
I prefer to blog about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and receiving the Holy Ghost. The topic of this post is speculative. I don’t have any idea how long it will be before the prophets warn the Gentile nations that “destruction awaiteth this people” save they repent and have faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
I don’t have any idea when such a warning will be given, but I expect that one day the Lord will command the prophets to deliver a warning to the Gentiles: repent or suffer.
The Book of Mormon provides a benchmark, an indicator to help followers of Christ to assess the times they are living in. Mosiah taught:
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.
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. Mosiah 29:26 – 27 Continue reading