Friday, April 30, 2010

Sacred things

I was asked this question:

"What do you say to people who state: 'I doubt people who've had an audience with Christ would be out writing books and blogs about it. We are counseled not to talk about sacred things. (Followed by several GA quotes.)'"

I would say that they should accept counsel from whomever they trust and follow it.  I might add that if they read The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil they will get an answer to the question.  But, if they are hostile and offended and ask the question out of fear, I would not add the clarification.

It is not necessary for everyone to be stirred up by argument or persuasion to listen to something they do not want to hear.  What is coming will stir up everyone who has not been already touched by the Spirit.  Patience.  We're headed somewhere.  The Lord remains in charge and has a plan to cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess the truth of who He is, what He has done, and what He has been doing.  We shouldn't rush people forward.

There is more mischief in introducing people to truth before they are ready to comprehend and welcome it than there is in remaining silent.  It is uncharitable to tell someone a great truth which they are unprepared to accept.

Communication from the Lord

I was asked how a witness of the Spirit is felt.  Here are a variety of ways in which we receive communications from the Lord:
There was a talk I still recall where Elder LeGrand Richards used the expression "goose flesh."  He was referring to the feeling he got upon hearing something he knew to be true as soon as it was spoken.  He got "goose flesh" as he listened. That is not a bad way to describe how some people feel the witness from the Spirit.  This form can also be replicated by stirring music, art or other performances.  So if this is how one feels the Spirit, they must distinguish between an emotional outpouring and a manifestation from the Lord.
I believe that everyone's capacity to hear the Spirit bear testimony to them is more or less equal, as all have given to them the "light of Christ."  (D&C 84: 46; 88: 7; Moroni 7: 19.)
How someone recognizes the witness to them is person-specific at the start.  Whether it is Elder Richards' "goose flesh" or a burst of unmistakable insight coming from beyond, or a warmth in the heart as D&C 9: 8 describes, is based upon individual sensitivities.  How you feel this may differ from how I do.
When it has progressed from these initial stirrings to the "voice" which you hear within you, that assumes a more uniform experience.  The "voice" is clearly not your own, and introduces ideas or concepts that are clearly not your own.  You can have a dialogue with this "voice" in which your ideas are juxtaposed with those coming to you.  It is not audible, but you hear it inside.  It is clearly not your own voice, but that of another. 
When you have proven yourself faithful and true to all required of you by the "voice" that comes into your mind and heart, then it becomes possible for angels to visit with you.  Angels all come from this earth and have their mortality here.  (D&C 130: 5.)  If they appear as disembodied (not-resurrected) spirits, they may appear only as beings dressed in white.  They will not make physical contact with you.  Satan may attempt to appear as such a being, but since he invariably tries to deceive, if you attempt to make physical contact he will reciprocate as part of his deception.  As a disembodied spirit, however, you can detect his lack of physical presence when such contact is attempted.  A true messenger who lacks a body will not attempt physical contact, but will deliver his message to you.  If a visitor is either resurrected or translated, they may appear without glory, in which case their physical appearance will be as any other person.  The only difference you will likely note is that their countenance is pure and radiates a purity that other mortals rarely manifest.  If resurrected and appearing in glory, they bear unmistakable signs of Celestial Glory.
The closest image I have seen to the glory shown by a resurrected, glorified, celestial personage is the upper pattern, in gold, imprinted onto the Dome of the Rock Mosque.  When I saw it for the first time a few months ago, I was startled by the pattern and its radiant glory.  It is the closest earthly pattern I have seen to depicting a Celestial Glory.  I do not know who fashioned the pattern, but they were depicting something that I recognized to be inspired by what lies beyond the veil and patterned after Celestial Glory itself.
Beings appearing in Celestial Glory do not show themselves, or in other words, cannot be seen, except by those only who are prepared to behold them.  Others who may be present when they appear will feel a presence that often frightens them, as in the case of Daniel's companions in Daniel Chapter 10.

The final stage in development requires one to "see" the things that are being communicated.  This happens when the "answer" to the inquiry is opened to view, but only inside the mind. You can actually "behold" something as if it were before you, without actually being there. Such a process is physically demanding, despite the fact it is so intangible a matter as to defy description.  Seeing things by this process is not limited to time, place or location.  A person exercising this gift, for example, may be able to behold Abraham as he receives the box containing the records from his father, who held the box in no particular regard because he could not open it.  
When the person has developed the ability to "see," the answers to inquiries come almost entirely through the exercise of this gift.  Although all these forms of messages and communication from the Lord and His messengers are still available to a seer when conditions or the circumstances warrant it.
There are seers among us.  In fact, we "sustain," institutionally, fifteen men to be such every General Conference.  The development of the gift, however, comes not by consequence of office alone but by the diligence of the individual.  All are on equal footing before the Lord.  Therefore, although it may be conferred upon you or them, the realization of these blessings depends upon their/your faithfulness.  Elder Scott, for example, uses terms in some of his talks which intimate seership.  The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead (D&C 138) has language I recognize as a seer's.  So does D&C 76.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Repentance and redemption

I was asked this question:

In D&C 138:57-59 it states: 

"the faithful elders from this dispensation, when they depart this life continue their labors by preaching to those who are in darkness and under bondage of sin, etc."  

The scripture then says that the dead who REPENT WILL BE REDEEMED, THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO THE ORDINANCES OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. I thought temple ordinances, including baptisms for the dead, were only necessary for those who are heirs to at least some degree in the Celestial Kingdom. See Doctrines of Salvation, II, p. 191. If this is so, then why does the scripture go on to say "[a]nd after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation." 

If they repent and are redeemed through the ordinances of the temple then why are they paying the penalty for their transgressions? I understood D&C 19:15-18 to mean if you repent then because of the atonement you do not suffer because Christ suffered for us. As I read this scripture it can only mean one of two things. First, some people who end up in he Celestial Kingdom must suffer for their own sins.  Second it could mean that these people are not going to the Celestial Kingdom ("for they shall receive a reward according to their works"). So am I wrong that an "heir of salvation" (not "exaltation") can end up in the C, T or T Kingdom, as all are kingdoms of glory and the heirs of each of these kingdoms are saved with a "resurrection of endless life and happiness"? (Mosiah 16:11) And if so then why did they need the ordinances of the temple?

My response:

To enter into the Celestial Kingdom requires the ordinances of the Temple.  As explained in D&C 131: 1-4:
 1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
 2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
 3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
 4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

This statement defines the "highest" as the only one involving the covenant of marriage.  The other Celestial Kingdom residents would require all Temple ordinances, from washings, anointings through endowment to be able to enter and pass by the sentinels who stand guard there.  Only the highest requires the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.

As to who will "suffer for their own sins" and yet enter into the Celestial Kingdom, there are at least two categories:  First, those who have received their calling and election, but who return to sin, but not an unpardonable sin.  Those are required to "pay the price" for this misconduct.  (D&C 132: 26.)  Second, those who are "sealed up" through the faithfulness of their parents, who claim them as children of promise as a matter of right because of the sealing upon the parents.  Such children will need to either qualify in their own right, or if inheritors of the promise through the merit of their parents' sealing they will have to suffer to become clean in order to inherit what is sealed upon them by this right.

It is a good question.  It shows the order in heaven and the way in which things are governed by laws established before the foundation of the world.  (D&C 130: 20-21.)

Abraham and Sarah

I have been thinking a lot lately about Abraham and Sarah and their relationship. Their story is one of the greatest in history.

Little details in the story are touching.  The "ten years" that Sarah waited (Gen. 16: 3) before urging Abraham to father a child with Hagar is based upon a custom at the time.  Abraham's willingness to follow the custom was because the Lord promised him children, Sarah could not conceive and Sarah urged him to do so. In fact, of the three, Sarah's urging was what seems to persuade Abraham.  Her urging is tempered by making it seem she is looking out for her own interests: "it may be that I (Sarah) may obtain children by her."  (Gen. 16: 2.)  This softens the request, makes it a blessing for Sarah, and casts it in terms which do not belittle or dismiss Sarah.  Then, as the account reads: "Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai."  (Gen. 16: 2.)

Abraham was willing to wait on the Lord's promises of children. He was willing to forego the customs that allowed a man to take another wife.  It was Sarah's gentle persuasion that convinced Abraham to take Hagar. Sarah was loved by Abraham with his whole heart.  It was this great marriage relationship that allowed the Lord to preserve them as the parents of "all righteous."  A new Adam for the Lord's covenant people.  And, of course, there cannot be an Adam without an Eve.  Sarah becomes the "Mother of All Righteous."

This is more critical than most people recognize.  It was because of this important relationship that the tenth parable in Ten Parables begins with the marriage relationship.  Without this, there was no reason to save the man.

Marriage is separate from its two parties. It has a life of its own.  The husband and the wife may be parties to the marriage, but the marriage itself is a separate and living thing.  It is distinct from the two partners in the relationship, and greater than either of them.  It lives.  It is real.

The only people whose right to eternal life has been secured, to my knowledge, came as a result of the marriage relationship and its worthiness to be preserved into eternity.  Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.  Therefore, if you are interested in eternal life, the very first place to begin is inside your marriage.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A "friend" of God

Here's a concept to ponder . . .

In the beginning, our relationship with God is rather primitive.  We start out fearing Him and following His "commandments" in the hope of appeasing Him or avoiding punishment.

We later get some insight that allows us to see Him as a more loving God.  As a result of that insight and growth, we begin to view the commandments as warnings and blessings that will benefit us if we heed them.  

Developmentally there is a point somewhere far distant along this path where we become a "friend" of God.  Abraham achieved this.  When he did, the relationship was quite different than what it was in the beginning.

When the Lord requested Isaac be sacrificed, it wasn't a "commandment."  The language in the KJV Bible is too coarse to really communicate the idea underlying what happened.  It wasn't a "commandment" to Abraham.  It was more of a polite suggestion.  It was an expression of the Lord's preference.  The suggestion was quite gentle. Abraham responded to this polite suggestion from the Lord by proceeding without question.  He was willing to sacrifice his long awaited heir.

Now if you can get your hands around this idea, then you can begin to see the difference between where our relationship with God starts and where it should eventually end.  At the beginning, our relationship with God is quite primitive.  At the end it is a trusted, loving friend in whom absolute confidence resides in the one who has become His friend.

There is such a profound difference between one end of the spectrum and the other that it hinders our understanding of the examples we see in scripture.  We distort things considerably when we view His relationships with others in the scriptures in the same context we relate to Him.  

When a person has become a "friend" of God, they are introduced to another level of language and experience with Him.  When they become a member of His family, they have yet another kind of relationship.  The openness and love that exists, and the accompanying trust that goes with it, is something quite distinct from the coarse beginnings of the path.

The faiths which view our relationship to God as "slave to master" are only in the beginning of the process.  From that end things which seem to be alright (and may even be alright) are different from what is found further along the progression.

Your end is to become part of the household of God, a member of the Church of the Firstborn, and a family member of God the Father.  When that happens, the relationship is considerably more polite and respectful than it is when you are first experiencing awareness of God's existence and His commandments to bring us light and truth.

Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit

I was asked this question:
Can you comment on the Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit and who Jesus is and who the Father is, etc...  Also, is it possible that Jesus is the same Spirit as the Holy Ghost? Moses 5:9
This is fraught with debatable language in the scriptures.  There are those who will absolutely disagree with what I have to say.  I can explain how I have sorted it out to my understanding, but you should recognize that there are others who would take a different view of the scriptures and of the definition of these roles of the Godhead.
First the clarification:  
The Holy Ghost is a personage.  It is an individual.  It is a Spirit that will dwell inside you.  (D&C 130: 22.)
The Holy Spirit is the power of God which fills the immensity of space.  (D&C 88: 12-13.)
Now the problem:
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is called the "Light of Christ" rather than the Holy Spirit.  (D&C 88: 7-11.)
Sometimes the Holy Ghost is called the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11: 13.)
Whether you are reading something about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is something that must be determined by the context, not the language used.
The relationship between the Holy Spirit or Light of Christ and every living thing, whether a planet, plant, animal, human or ecosystem is direct, immediate and continual.  They are all borrowing power from the Holy Spirit to live, move breath, remain organized, and do according to their own wills.  (Mosiah 2: 21-25.)  This is the means by which the Holy Ghost, which resides inside of you, receives intelligence from Christ.
The Holy Ghost is the "record of heaven" which lives inside you and that you have lost contact with because of the veil.  It is a personage of spirit who resides inside you, and you must "receive" it after baptism by finally listening to that inner "truth of all things" or "record of the Father and the Son."  (Moses 6: 61, 66.)
The Holy Ghost bears record of the Son.  When the Son speaks to you through the Holy Ghost you hear the words in the first-person.  Hence the Holy Ghost speaking that it "is the Son" in Moses 5: 9.
I'm keeping this short because the more I explain the more questions will arise.  So clarity on this topic is almost invariably related to brevity.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Opposing wickedness through violence

There is a continuing unease about the subject of opposing wickedness through violence.  So I thought I would add this additional explanation:
I do not foresee that a gun will be effective against radioactivity; nor against weaponized anthrax.  I read the plagues that are coming and the descriptions in D&C 29: 15-21 and I do not foresee a handgun doing me any good under those circumstances.  I see wicked being killed, but no role for me and a sidearm to join in the fray.
I do not foresee any need for Zion to be protected by armed machine-gun nests around a perimeter when a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night hangs over them. (D&C 45: 65-71.)  In the description, it does not say they go up with songs of joy, interrupted by occasional gunfire and all hell breaking loose.  It says they proceed quite peacefully, singing songs of everlasting joy. (verse 71.)
When sickness and scourge are poured out, there will be widespread death and destruction.  But there is no need for me to join in the killing.  In fact, all those who take up the sword are included within the ranks of the wicked scheduled to die.  (D&C 45: 30-33.)
I think the "power" we need in the Priesthood of God will be necessary to protect us from plagues.  To stay the disease which will be poured out.  To keep at bay the effects of the illnesses caused by the wickedness and evil of men who, killing one another and leaving the unburied dead to rot, will spread cholera, diphtheria and other illness.
I do not foresee the need to take up arms.  The violence of nature will be responsible for killing many.  In fact, the depopulation of the earth will be as a result of the following, as I understand it:
Pestilence incident to war
Famine (incident to war and pestilence)
Drought (incident to wickedness)
Hail (to destroy what few crops remain)
Earthquakes and Tempests (targeting those who remain alive but who are wicked and threaten Zion)
Nowhere on my list is there an entry for a Zion-based sniper unit.  (I'm just trying to let a little humor into this, not mocking this idea.  It is a serious idea to be sure, deserving serious thought and pondering.)
What we are going to face is global genocide.  A handgun won't do much good against the things that are prophesied.  There may be isolated opportunities to shoot a bad guy.  But there may also be the same isolated bad guy who, in his fear and cowardice, may be vulnerable to conversion to the Gospel if we don't shoot him.  What is coming will intimidate mankind so fearfully that men's hearts will fail them.  I think preaching to them while they are in such a stupor rather than shooting them may work.  And if not, well then I haven't taken my brother's life.


God is no respecter of persons

I am surprised by how people regard me as something special.  I have been blessed by the Lord to be able to write some books and put some information on this blog. However, if you were raised LDS and put forth some nominal effort to living your religion, you have lived a better life than I have. I wasn't raised LDS and had no understanding of the Gospel, or the underlying reasons for the commandments.  Therefore, I never obeyed even a fraction of the commandments that you have grown up following.

I am absolutely convinced that any one of you is a better candidate than I was to receive an audience with the Lord.  The wonder of this process is not that someone has done it, but that so few have.  Given that I am probably the least qualified, the point should not be lost on you.  If it has happened to me, then it absolutely can and should happen to you.

God is no respecter of persons.  All are alike to Him.  Qualifications are based upon the behavior and faith of the person, not on their status or past mistakes.

You probably think your errors are more serious an impediment to God accepting you than He ever has.  He doesn't want to judge you, He wants to heal you. He wants to give you what you lack, teach you to be better and to bless you.  He doesn't want to belittle, demean or punish you.  Ask Him to forgive and He forgives.  Even very serious sins.  He does not want you burdened with them.  He wants you to leave them behind.

His willingness to leave those errors in the past and remember them no more is greater than you can imagine.  It is a guiding principle for the Atonement. Asking for forgiveness is almost all that is required to be forgiven.

What alienates us from Him is not our sins.  He will forgive them.  What we lack is the confidence to ask in faith, nothing doubting, for His help.  He can and will help when you do so.

The sins that offend Him are not the errors, weaknesses and foolishness of the past.  He is offended when we are forgiven by Him, and then return to the same sin. That shows a lack of gratitude for His forgiveness.  Even then, however, there are addictions, compulsions and weaknesses that we sometimes struggle with for years, even decades.  When the sin is due to some difficulty based on biology, physiology or  an inherent weakness that we fight for years to overcome, then His patience with us is far greater than our own.  He will help in the fight.  He will walk along side you as you fight.  He does not expect you to run faster than you have strength.  When, at last, because of age or infirmity, a troubling weakness is at last overcome, He will readily accept your repentance and let you move forward clean, whole and forgiven.  That is His ministry - to forgive and make whole.

I know all my mistakes.  They are greater than most of yours. I am in awe of His mercy and forgiveness.  I am not at all impressed by my worthiness.  It is nothing.  It consists of borrowed finery from Him who has let me use His great worthiness to cover my own failings.  To the extent that I have any merit, it comes from Him.  I remain astonished that He would condescend for someone like me. 

It is a wonder some think I have an advantage.  I assure you that the promised blessings are available to ALL.  If that were not true then someone as weak, simple and flawed as I am would never have had the hope that I now have in Christ.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Get busy!

Another statement from Joseph Smith worth considering as part of deciding how seriously you would like to be a disciple of Christ's:
 All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject. Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. (DHC vol. 6, page 50.)

The definition of "ordinances of God" are not all contained in a formal church setting.  Read again the experiences of others in scripture and you will find that a great deal takes place between the Lord and those who follow Him.  When He appears He also ministers.  There is also the description of the "sealing" which will qualify those living in our day to become a member of the Church of the Firstborn, which involves an ordinance performed by "angels to whom is given power" and to whom this ministry belongs.  (D&C 77: 11.)

Search the scriptures.  They testify of all things.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints administers the ordinances of salvation and prepares you to receive further light and knowledge directly from the Lord.  If you have received what the Lord offers through the church, but have failed to take the final admonition to receive further light and knowledge by conversing directly with Him, then your salvation has not been perfected.  You still have work left before you.
Get busy.


From time to time I am constrained to say something that is beyond what I feel comfortable saying in a public venue.  This is one of those times.

The content of this may not be for everyone. In fact, I think there can be a lot of mischief done by reading this if you are unprepared. Nevertheless, I'm constrained to cover this by Him who knows much better than I do - I readily recognize I am a fool.  When something like this happens, I bury my own feelings and do what I'm told.

I pointed out a bit ago that Joseph Smith received the sealing authority in a revelation to him sometime between 1829 and 1843, the exact date is not known.  The way in which he received this authority was by a direct revelation to him from heaven.  The "voice of the Lord" came to Joseph making the declaration.  At the same time Joseph's calling and election were made sure.  Here are the verses from Section 132:

  45 For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time. 

  46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven. 

  47 And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God. 

  48 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven. 

  49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father. 

  50 Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.

No one noticed this when I put it up, and no one has asked any questions about this. Therefore it is apparent that none of you have been prepared to receive what this is talking about.  I am going to try to help you to see things by asking questions.  I will not be answering them.  I just offer them to you to ponder:

Did you notice this is referring to "power" and not authority?

Do you see any connection between this "power" and President Packer's talk in General Conference about the church's inability to disseminate "power" among the saints in the same way the church has been able to disseminate authority?

Does sealing authority and calling and election necessarily go together?

Can a man hold sealing authority if his calling and election have not been made sure?
How does this authority come to a man?

Must it come from the word of the Lord, declaring it from heaven, or can it come by some other kind of laying on of hands from another man?

Since Joseph received it from the declaration of God from heaven, and Nephi received it the very same way (see Helaman 10: 6-11), is this the only way to receive it?

If it comes from heaven alone, can any institution ever control this "power" generation after generation by handing it down from man to man?

Why did Joseph receive this power by the declaration of God from heaven, perhaps as early as 1829, outside the Temple and apart from the vision in Section 110?

Since Elijah's words in Section 110: 13-16 do not mention the "power to seal" did Joseph really get the sealing "power" from the vision in the Kirtland Temple?

Does Elijah only confirm the process of restoring keys has completed, but sealing "power" came from somewhere else? 

Is it possible that the institutional church has one understanding, but the truth and the scriptures teach another understanding?

If that is possible, then why have you not been studying things out for yourself to decide what the truth is concerning where this kind of "power" comes from?

Is this related to the "sealing" which is done, not by the church, but by the angels as revealed in D&C 77: 11?

Should you get a testimony of Christ, rather than recite merely that you "know the church is true?"  

Can the church be true, and yet your soul not saved?

Do the ordinances of salvation, including sealing you up to eternal life, require you to have "power" given to you from heaven?

With respect to the words in D&C 121: 36:  "That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness."  

Do these words relate to this same subject?

Do these words confirm that if priesthood "power" has been lost that the remaining priesthood "authority" cannot bind or seal?

Do the words "that they may be conferred upon us, it is true" (in 121: 37) confirm the very real distinction between "authority" and "power"?

Is President Packer trying to alert us to something very important missing in the current state of the church?

The questions are not intended to suggest any answer.  They are food for thought.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so important a subject that you ought to be thinking deeply about it.  Joseph Smith said:  

"[T]he things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity-thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men." (DHC vol. 3, page 295.)  

We should not be dealing with the Gospel at a superficial level.  We should be ashamed of how we have been treating it.  Again, Joseph said:   

"How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now."  (Id.)

A religion that allows you to foolishly waste the days of your probation will not save you.  That religion is NOT the faith that Abraham followed or that Jesus Christ taught.  If you are attending "vain and trifling" meetings that are "low, mean, vulgar and condescending" then you must do something about your own education in the faith to obtain exaltation.

The path trod by the ancients is exactly the same path every saved soul must walk.  Read this again.
I testify that you can know for a certainty the answer to these questions.  Anyone can.  Even the least of the Saints.  

I wish all mankind might be saved.  Neglect and indifference seem to be such prevailing impediments to the salvation of the souls of men that Satan must rejoice, look up at heaven with a great chain in his hands, and declare that he has bound all mankind!  How little the world has changed since the time of Enoch.



Your soul is in jeopardy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What does it mean to possess your soul?

I was asked this question:

"In one scripture the Lord connects patience to possessing your soul.  What does it mean to possess your soul?  And it's connection to patience?  This is a very new connection for me."   

My answer:  

That's a great question.  The verse is D&C 101: 38, reads: "And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life."  To possess your soul is to have body and spirit inseperably connected, in a resurrected and immortal state.  D&C 88: 14-16 explains: "Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead. And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul." To possess your soul, therefore, is to have the resurrection.

In the context of 101: 38, it is also saying that while in that resurrected state you will "inherit eternal life."  This means to receive exaltation.  So the concept that these words are covering is the concept of exaltation and receiving, in the resurrection, a Celestial inheritance.

Patience is tied directly to this. Indeed, patience is required for this.  No person arrives in this state without offering sacrifice sufficient to develop the faith to lay hold on eternal life.  That is explained in the post a day or so ago about the Sixth Lecture on Faith.  This kind of sacrifice is very rarely done in a single act, but over a number of years by faithful obedience to the Lord's plan for your own life.  It is developed by learning the Lord's will for your life and then following that will. 

The whole concept begins by framing the issue around, "seeking the face of the Lord always."  That is, possessing your soul, eternal life, and exaltation are all tied to the quest to return to God's presence here in mortality.  It is tied to the path of seeking the Second Comforter.  As you know, I've written about that process and it takes more room than this blog can accommodate.  But this verse it speaking about that process.

It's a beautiful verse.  It is another affirmation that the Second Comforter is intended to be a regular minister to mankind. Not some distant, unattainable visit, limited to a select few because of its difficulty.

What can they share?

I was asked: "For those among us who have had a personal visit with the Lord... what can they share with us that have not ? Can they share what our Lord looked like? His eye color? hair? height? how was he dressed? Is he among us now? How did he sound? Is this too sacred to be discussed openly?"

From the beginning, mankind was told not to make idols and displace their reverence for God by a physical image or talisman.  It has been enshrined in the Ten Commandments ("Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:" (Ex. 20: 4-5.)  The commandment extends to the "likeness of anything that is in heaven" and would include the Lord.

The images I have seen of Him are for the most part inaccurate. The reason we don't have accurate pictures is in all likelihood related to the fact that those who come to see Him would understand the importance of avoiding idols and would question the wisdom of recreating an image of Him that might be used by others to displace their attention and worship.

What is appropriate is to affirm that He is real, that He lives, that He has been resurrected from the dead, and that He came, sacrificed and rose because of His role as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.  I've written as much as I've been asked to write about Him by way of testimony in the Appendix to Eighteen Verses, in Come, Let Us Adore Him, and a brief physical description in Nephi's Isaiah.  However, the brief physical description is not enough from which to reconstruct an image.  It merely refers to some of His physical attributes and then tie them to the scriptural accounts to show why the narrative in the New Testament would read as it does.

The most important understanding of Christ is tied to what He suffered in Gethsemene.  D&C 19: 16-20 and my testimony about Gethsemene are both useful in understanding what He went through and what role our own actions will play in obtaining the benefits of His Atonement.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I've been asked why I remain faithful if I think things are off track.  (That's an abbreviated way of stating a long question.)

I believe in the Book of Mormon.  Therefore I expect that the Latter-days will be filled with trouble, difficulties, and the church will be struggling with perplexities.  If we didn't have problems we wouldn't fit the pattern Nephi, Mormon and Moroni warned about.  So when I see problems I do not get anxious, I accept what is and deal with it.

I don't blame anyone.  We didn't get here by some single person's failings.  We have proceeded carefully, and with the best of intentions.  But we still have challenges.  That is part of being here in the Telestial Kingdom.

Doing a little good, conferring a little hope, and bringing a little light into the world each day is as much as a person can hope for.  I can do that.  I am grateful for the limited sphere inside of which I serve.  I fight on that small bit of ground and leave the bigger picture for those who are responsible for the bigger picture. 
I have a great deal of sympathy for those who are required to lead in this troubled world.  I doubt I could have done any better, and fear I may have done a lot worse.  So I temper any shortcomings I see with the recognition that things aren't as easy as we sometimes think they are.  I'm grateful for what I have been given and am content with life.

Who will save you?

I was asked if some mortals, like Jesus Christ, are inerrant, perfect and without sin.  Actually, the questions was phrased differently.  The question asked if I thought the church president could make mistakes.  [I suppose my rephrase gives my view.]  But to clarify:
I do not think any person should trust ANY other person to save them.  Don't trust another man, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Don't trust me.  Don't rely upon those who are gifted, those who lead you, or any man.
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way” ( Discourses of Brigham Young, 135).
If a man is a leader and he has the Spirit of God upon him, and speaks by the Spirit of God words of eternal life, then I follow the Spirit of God, not the man.  I trust no one.  And I look to find the Spirit of God, wherever it speaks, without regard to who possess it. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

"... for it shall be sweet unto them."

I received another inquiry (in the form of a comment on this post) about the subject of self-defense, citing various scriptures from the Book of Mormon as proof I have a flawed view.  This is the comment:
"I have thought it would be so nice and easy to just let them kill me and go to the spirit world scot free as it were! Clasped in the arms of Jesus again! No blood on MY hands...
But then I read in the Book of Mormon, the commandment of Jesus:

"And again, the Lord has said that: "Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed." " Alma 43:47
Very clear. So I do not think I am obedient to Him if I refuse to take up arms. How do you reconcile this, Denver?

There is a further warning from this marvelous Book for our day that is apropos:
Alma 48:24: "they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by ... barbarous cruelty"

You see, I cannot ignore the high probability that I will need to defend my wife and children from "massacre by barbarous cruelty" in the Last Days.

I plead with you NOT to suffer to just lay down your life and watch as you see them massacred."
I debated over whether to let the subject die or to respond.  I decided I'd give the following reply:
The Book of Mormon history of an escalating arms race between the smaller Nephite people, against the greater Lamanite people, teaches us many things.  First, technology can level the playing field.  The Nephite technological adaptations kept them safe from Lamanite aggression.  Second, an arms race continues after each encounter.  The Nephites began using armor. The Lamanites adopted the use of armor.  Later wars included this technical advance on both sides of the battlefield. The result was still more innovation by the Nephites, with controlled fortifications, limited points of entry, and kill-zones with cross fire from towers aimed at the aggressive Lamanites.  All of this reads like the modern Military-Industrial Complex (to use Pres. Eisenhower's term).  It ended badly, however.
Ultimately, it was not the force of arms that brought about peace. It was conversion of the Lamanites, and the Divine power in judgment to destroy the wicked.  Conversion allowed some Lamanites to survive the destruction.  But the hand of the Lord was what ended the widespread wickedness, killing and disorder.
The conversion of the Lamanites was greatly accelerated when the group converted by Ammon determined to lay down their arms, even at the cost of their lives.  Over a thousand of them were killed before the killing stopped.  When it stopped, however, more were converted than had been killed.
When the Lord visited them and they experienced a two century long hiatus from warfare, their Zion did not have arms, killing or war.  When they divided again, they set in motion a return to the earlier cycles, ultimately ending in the complete destruction of the Nephites.  They left a record.  Their advice cannot be divided from their history.  Their history was filled with violence.  It ended in the genocide of the "good guys."  The end of the record is referred to by Mormon all throughout his abridgment of the records.  We should not miss the end of his story as we read the unfolding story.
Death is not the end.  John the Baptist was arrested and beheaded.  He suffered no loss.  He returned to minister to Joseph and Oliver and bestowed upon us a lost priesthood.  Peter and James were martyrs.  They suffered no loss either.  Stephen was stoned to death, and had the heavens open to him and a visit with the Father before his death.  He died forgiving those who stoned him, as he was at that moment filled with grace and charity toward others.  Stephen suffered no loss.  Joseph Smith was killed by a mob.  He suffered no loss.  He moved to his inheritance.  Isaiah was put inside a hollow log and sawed in two.  He suffered no loss.
Killing is not as easy as the theoretically-macho may think.  It changes a person. My father landed on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944.  On the morning of June 7, 1944 he was the only one of his company who was able to continue fighting.  He was there at the liberation of Paris.  He fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  He killed men.  It affected him.  He could hardly speak about it.  What few comments he made were separated by years in between.  A sentence here, a comment there.  Even when asked directly, he wouldn't offer more than a paragraph.  It wasn't a memory he could either forget or bring himself to discuss openly.  It is a great and terrible thing to kill another. 
Using popular culture to illustrate the point, there is a younger partner of Clint Eastwood's character in Unforgiven.  He talked about how much he wanted to kill someone.  After he had finally killed a man, he said to Eastwood's character,  "I'm not like you."  Meaning that he couldn't reconcile himself to having taken a man's life.  That is only a movie and Hollywood and perhaps overwrought.  But it nevertheless touches upon something absolutely true - killing is irrevocable.  There is no repair for having taken another's life. Those who do carry that to the grave.
You can toss about quotes from anyone you please.  But when you cause another's life to end you have done something irrevocable.  You have crossed a line which, even with all your prayers and regrets, you cannot reclaim. 
Given the choice between killing and being killed, I think a perfectly rational person can decide they would rather be killed than kill.  And I think the Lord could respect a decision of that kind, as well.  Death can be sweet for those who are prepared.  (D&C 42: 46.)

Ultimate Source

I really appreciate my status as a lay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I'm no-one who any of you should think important.  I'm just like you.  I offer my opinions and they are yours to consider as you try and sort out the challenges of this life.  The ultimate source for light, truth and salvation is the Lord.  Not me.  Not even an institution.  Not some other man.  You should be dependent upon the Lord for your knowledge and Him alone.  The Spirit brings you words from Him.

As you listen to any man speak, measure what he has to say against the standard found in the scriptures and against the whisperings of the Spirit to you.  Any man who tries to come between you and the Lord is seeking to make themselves an idol and they will lead you astray.  There is no-one who can stand between you and the Lord.  He alone is the keeper of the gate, and He does not now and never has employed a servant there.  (2 Ne. 9: 41.

You should obtain your own independent knowledge of everything another man tells you.  If you don't then you are surrendering what should never be surrendered: your own agency and responsibility.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kim Smith Concert

Subject: Kim Smith Concert

April 30th 7 pm 2001 S State Street North Building Main floor (Salt Lake Council)

The traditions of men, part 3


This subject causes a great deal of anxiety for saints.  The fact it causes anxiety is proof that the saints have become conditioned to a mythology which requires everything to be good, all to be well, our current path a direct line to Zion itself, and all questions concerning the current state of affairs to be wrong.  More than "wrong," questions are evidence of weak faith and the road to apostasy.

From the questions which started as soon as this subject began, I see I need to reiterate what I said at the first.  I have a testimony, I am active in the church, and I am not in a position to change things.  I support the brethren, pay tithing, serve where called and do not challenge the right of the regularly constituted authorities to manage the affairs of the church.  I rise when President Monson enters a room I am in, I sustain him with my vote, my prayers and my confidence.  I admire him.  I posted about him a few days back.  I meant what I said.  I do not envy him nor aspire to church leadership.  I am not called and do not anticipate I would ever even be considered; in part because of things like this subject appearing on this blog and concerns raised in books I have written.

I love the church and I am content as a Latter-day Saint.  I love my ward and serve gladly wherever I am called.

The fact that those clarifications need to be added again, although it should have been apparent from the beginning remarks, is again revealing how shaky the saints are today.  We do not have a foundation that allows us to consider alternatives.  We have a single "on/off" switch for all subjects and for our testimonies.  That is NOT as it should be.  We should be able to confront dilemmas, difficulties, troubling news and failures by leaders while we suspend judgment and tolerate dissonance.  We want instant messages, instead of having the patience to see the Hand of the Lord work over decades to bring good things from bad.

An open, candid and critical look at ourselves is not possible with people who are so insecure that they feel threatened.  The progression of these insecurities will be disastrous unless at some point it is reversed.  When those who raise questions are excluded, told they are weak in the faith and are on the road to apostasy, eventually everyone who is thoughtful is chased away from the church.  Instead of celebrating their critical thinking and working to understand issues better, we chase some of the best minds out of the church.  I wish all our critics were active members.  I wish all our discussions were open enough to allow the marketplace of ideas inside the church to air everything.  As I have said before, I believe the truth will prevail.  You can knock it down, burn it, pave it over, kill it and threaten it, but it will prevail.  A whisper of truth will overcome a hurricane of opposition.  It endures. It will triumph.

I've only touched on a few matters here.  I'm not going to go further at this point. However, the greater mischief we face at present is the de-emphasis of doctrine.  We are raising a new breed of Latter-day Saint today whose familiarity with doctrine is negligible.  They understand only a fraction of what has been restored, and for many of the doctrines, their understanding is incomplete, or so skewed that they are incorrect.  Doctrine has become less important.  We feed upon "inspirational stories" that salve the emotions, but do not edify the soul or bring the personal changes necessary to return to God's presence. More and more of the saints grow up inside this new environment and have never even gained a fundamental command of the doctrines which Joseph Smith restored.  Gospel Doctrine classes rehash the same material every four years, which is quite challenging to those who have a memory which goes back decades.  The format adopted for teaching involves group discussions, and the teacher becomes a "discussion leader."  Little is learned.  The group is made to share fellowship, and feel better for having attended, without any forward momentum in understanding the doctrines of salvation and exaltation.

When, over time, the leadership is replaced at all levels by those who are raised in the current milieu, the church will have completed a transformation back into a Protestant, powerless body of good people who want to do right and feel good about themselves.  But the power of godliness will have fled them.

President Packer again sounded the alarm in General Conference.  It was a brilliant talk.  I use the term "brilliant" to describe the light within it.  He said we had done a "good job of correlating" the priesthood "authority" but we had failed to disburse any "power" in the priesthood.  I think it was a wonderful talk.  What I would like to see discussed is whether there is a cause-and-effect between the correlation process on the one hand, and the admitted failure of priesthood power on the other hand.  That discussion, however, cannot happen in the current environment.  To ask the question about the underlying wisdom of the correlation process would be to directly challenge the "inspiration" of the prophet Harold B. Lee, who created this process.  Therefore, any questions about correlation demonstrates that the one asking questions is weak in the faith and on the road to apostasy.  So the discussion cannot occur.  That is until we become a little more secure in our faith and are willing to de-mythologize the cult of personality and recognize that questions are the first step to getting answers.

I love the church, and my fellow saints.  I mourn many of the changes.  However, I also celebrate the fact that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its gifts, privileges, opportunities and power remains still on the earth.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints administers the fundamental ordinances of that Gospel.  How far you take it is up to you.

There was a talk in General Conference given by a Seventy named Poleman, in which he distinguished between the church and the gospel.  The talk is still available on-line in its original form.  However, he was required to re-record the talk to conform to the correlation department's challenge to any statement which distinguished between the church and the gospel.  Right now testimonies within the church recite the mantra "I know the church is true."  The correlation process has made the church into god.  People's testimonies of the "church" have supplanted their testimonies of Christ.  Read any Ensign issue of any Conference held within ten years after the triumph of the correlation process, and consider how many of the talks focus upon the church and the church's processes and goodness, in contrast to how many of the talks focus upon Jesus Christ and His doctrines.  Christ's role has been diminished by the emphasis upon the correlated church.

These are trends and traditions.  They are at their incipient stages.  We are a 180 year old church.  Barely out of the cradle, so to speak.  But trends endure.  Add another 200 years of progression of these trends and you will vindicate the fellow who said:  "When Mormons have been Mormons as long as Catholics have been Catholics, the Mormons will be more Catholic than the Catholics."  If you want to see the future of the church in its present course, attend Mass this Saturday evening (held on Saturday so as to keep your Sunday open for basketball playoffs and MLB play now starting).

The traditions of men, part 2

Originally, the view of personal revelation or any visionary experiences was quite different than what many believe today.  In fact there are those who claim that ANY vision, visitation or revelation not received by the Prophet (meaning the president of the church alone) should be viewed as false.  God speaks to the Prophet, and only to the Prophet, and we are to wait to hear what God wants us to know from the Prophet. This is an extension of the adoption of the term "Prophet" and the resulting cult of personality.
During Joseph Smith's time, he welcomed the revelatory experiences of others.  He neither discouraged them nor felt threatened by them.  His enthusiasm for what others told him of their revelations, and the acceptance of others' revelations is readily apparent in the first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers.  Today the tradition is quite the contrary.  Today, if anyone has a revelation they are advised to keep it to themselves. When others hear about them the cautionary attitude adopted is - 'if it were something important then the Prophet of God would have told you about it.'
The effect of the adoption of the term "Prophet" for the living church president has been far ranging and dramatic.  There has been a dramatic change in people's expectation of personal revelation, as a result of this title shift. The result is, of course, if you do not expect revelation you are not going to receive it.  The expected charismatic gifts of the Spirit during the early church is now replaced by the assumption that charismatic gifts are driven by office and position.  Bishops get revelation for wards (and by extension no one else does or can).  Stake presidents get revelation for stakes (and by extension no one else does or can).  Mission presidents get revelation for missions (and by extension no one else can or does---except in the notable case of the recent earthquake in Chile, as I mentioned before).  What has always been true is that presiding authorities alone are the final say on revelation or guidance for their calling.  What is not true is that no-one else can, has or does get revelation.  Revelation comes to those who are prepared.  It comes in response to seeking, asking, knocking, and not automatically as a result of a new office or position.  Now someone called to office may humble themselves, begin seeking, asking and knocking and then get revelation.  But the revelation was always available, and the same information is available to all, "even the least of the Saints" as Joseph Smith put it.  The proposition that there is a control over available revelation is one of the results of the post-1955 development of the cult of personality centered on the President as the Living Prophet of God.
Another change now firmly in place is the administration of temporal affairs within the church.  For example, the Presiding Bishop's office controlled the operations involving all the church's construction projects until the David O. McKay presidency.  As a result of some problems (beyond the scope of this), the First Presidency decided to take construction over as part of their duties.  One of the members of the First Presidency got involved in some difficulties (again beyond the scope of this), and to placate the Quorum of the Twelve, the responsibilities were shared.  The result was that the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve now have budgetary involvement with the church's building program.  This is a massive undertaking.  It involves worldwide construction of church facilities.  It is a major duty devolving upon these men.  However, it was one time an Aaronic Priesthood assignment, and the duty of the Presiding Bishop's office.  Temporal concerns are associated with that order of Priesthood.  On the other hand, the higher Priesthood is involved primarily with the spiritual concerns of the church.  It's all in the D&C.  But the shift of Aaronic/temporal concerns onto the shoulders of the Melchizedek Priesthood leaders has its effect.  The extent of that effect has been reflected in comments made by those who serve in the Twelve or First Presidency.  They hardly have time to do more than move from one meeting to another.  One said he never had time to reflect or meditate.
The original Twelve Apostles of this dispensation were given a charge by Oliver Cowdrey that their ordination was not complete until they had received an audience with Christ.  That audience was what would entitle them to be a witness of the resurrection.  The charge was given to newly ordained Apostles from the time of the first called Twelve until 1911, when the charge was discontinued.  It was discontinued because so few of them had ever received an audience with Christ.  Since then the Apostles have been encouraged to bear a witness of Christ based upon their spiritual conviction that He lived, died and rose from the dead.  The manner in which this is done is to suggest an actual witness of His resurrection.  But the words are carefully chosen.
When he was put under oath by the Senate Confirmation Committee, President Joseph F. Smith was asked directly if he was a "prophet of God."  His response was, "my people sustain me as such."  The senator asking the question didn't understand the answer, and asked again.  After some back and forth, President Joseph F. Smith was asked directly if he had ever had a revelation; to which he responded that he had not.  He added a bit later that he, like all other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and Jesus Christ had appeared to him.
[Now as an aside, this testimony was in 1905.  Later, in 1918 President Joseph F. Smith received the vision now published as Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants; the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead.]
The church holds the tradition that the First Presidency and Twelve are sustained as "Prophets, Seers and Revelators" and as a result of that sustaining vote they must necessarily have all seen Christ.  This idea/tradition is so widespread that even when the brethren clarify what their testimony consists of most members of the church won't listen to, or accept what they say.  I've posted about President Packer's talk on his own testimony a little while ago in another post.  There are those who don't believe him, and insist he is holding back because such things are just "too sacred to be revealed."  However, the calling of an Apostle, as set out in Section 107, is to bear witness of Jesus Christ.  There isn't anything "too sacred" about bearing testimony of Him that would prevent an Apostle from stating without equivocation they are a witness by having seen the Risen Lord.  President Packer has been truthful, forthcoming and honest.  I accept what he says at face value and I respect and sustain him all the more because of it.  He is indeed an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  And he is also an honest witness of Him.  However, he has essentially explained what his testimony consists of honestly, truthfully and fully in General Conference.  People continue to ignore his words and substitute the myth for the reality.
The terms "prophet, seer and revelator" come from scripture where the president of the church is to "be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God."  (D&C 107: 92.)  The way this is read in the church today is that any person who holds the office of President of the High Priesthood is ipso facto a "seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet."  Meaning the office defines the gifts.  What if that is not the intent of the scripture?  What if the scripture means, instead, that a person who is these things is the only one to be called to the office?  That is, unless the person "be" such a person possessing these gifts, he is not and cannot be the President?  Such questions are not even possible to be asked today.  They are, according to the current reading of that verse, evidence of weak faith and evidence someone is headed for apostasy.  Therefore a discussion about this verse's meaning and possible differences of meaning are excluded and no other view is possible to be discussed.
President David O. McKay did not get a testimony of the church until sometime after he had been called as an Apostle.  President Gordon B. Hinckley, when asked about revelation, said "I don't know that we need much revelation anymore."  President Packer has defined revelation as when the presiding authorities reach an agreement.  President Nibley (a counselor in the First Presidency and Hugh Nibley's grandfather) said if an angel were to appear to him he would jump out the window.  There are other examples, but the point is that there are many statements which have been made by the highest authorities in the church which contradict the popular myth that the Lord has and does regularly appear to, meet with, and speak face to face with the presiding authorities.  Despite this, there are people who presume the Lord is in the weekly meeting in the Temple, every Thursday, telling them how to run His church.  In contrast, President Young said when he asks the Lord for guidance and then he receives nothing, he will make his best judgment and proceed.  And the Lord is bound to sustain him in his decision, since he asked for guidance.  That approach is healthy, and allowed President Young and others to move forward.  However, it is one thing for men of good faith and decency, who are making honest and worthwhile efforts to manage the church to have our prayers, faith and confidence; and quite another to assume these men quote the Lord with their every breath.  As a church this subject is just not discussed.  As a result those who suspect that the brethren are making great efforts and are good men, but who may not have had an audience with the Lord are kept from asking the question.  When a Gentile reporter has the impertinence to ask such a question, they are rebuked and told things like that are sacred. 
A Prophet of God is not required to have seen Him.  A prophet can and has been inspired to speak for the Lord by the inspiration of the Spirit.  But when the scriptures use this phrase "and the word of the Lord came unto me, saying..."  This formula assures the listener that the words which follow originate from the Lord and not a good and honest man's best advice.  All this has happened in the past and therefore you cannot discount a prophet's calling because the word of the Lord comes by the Spirit, rather than from a personal visitation.  Visitations are rare.  However, the calling of a prophet in scripture was not institutional.  The Lord was directly, personally and individually involved.  Moses was told by the Lord, directly, as the Lord stood in a pillar-cloud at the door of the tabernacle: "Hear now my words:  If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."  (Numbers 12: 5-6.)
When the Church was led by a president (from the death of Joseph Smith until 1955) there was no cult of personality around the church president.  He was the presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood.  When the title shifted, things began to change.  Today a discussion about this process is not possible because the subject matter is too charged. 
The difference between good men doing good things in good faith, who are entitled to our support in their calling and efforts on the one hand, and a prophet of God whose words are questioned at the peril of eternal damnation on the other hand is the overwhelming difference which now plagues the church.  We cannot have a discussion that questions the wisdom of church policies, procedures or decisions.  When even obvious mistakes are made, people who notice are not to speak of it, and if they do they are told that they are weak in the faith and on the road to apostasy.  Criticism is essential to a healthy mental state.  Without feedback and criticism you cannot raise a normal, healthy child. Try raising a child to whom you lavish only praise, and to whom you say, without regard to how bad, poorly or evil an act they commit: "You are inspired!  You are right!  It was good of you to have done that!  God Himself inspired that act!"  What you would raise up would be a monster.  Without criticism and challenges to decisions made, no-one can ultimately become anything worthwhile.
We have a church in which those who love it the most, and whose perceptions may be the keenest, are required to take a host of questions, suggestions or criticisms and never give them voice.  The only negative feed-back must originate from either outside the church, or if inside they are cast out because they are weak in the faith and on the road to apostasy.  This was the inevitable evolution from the cult of personality.  It is still unfolding.  It will progress in a funnel which narrows over time until, at last, when the work has been fully completed, we will have a Pope who is infallible.  Not because he is always inspired, but instead because he holds the keys to bind on earth and in heaven, and as a result God is bound by whatever he does.  History assures us this will be the case.  UNLESS, of course, we open things up to a more healthy way of going about our Father's business.
Well, this is too long.  I'm not done.  But I'll add more later.