Friday, June 11, 2010

Alma 13:9

"Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen."

Several things about this formulation are interesting.  Most interesting is the closing declaration, "And thus it is.  Amen."  It is iconic.  It is as if the statement were an authorized, serious message, intended to be accompanied by the requisite formalities to let the reader know that this is serious stuff.  This is "most holy." This is not just a passing description. It holds terrible, eternal significance.  So the material that preceded it holds important keys to understanding. Important warnings and knowledge. Perhaps, as a result of the concluding punctuation, we should be very, very careful about the words that preceded it.  [This is why I'm conducting this exercise.]
Now look at the beginning-
"Thus they become..."  These individuals have become something.  The "high priests" about whom this material has been written have been in the process of becoming something holy from before the foundation of the world. This is pre-earth or pre-mortal existence stuff. The history, or background leading up to finding a holy high priest in mortality is eons in the making. It goes back to before this world had been reorganized.
"..high priests forever..."  This priestly authority and holy order is not mortal. It is without beginning in this mortal phase of existence.
Now comes the formula of the authority: "after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth." Look at it in pieces.
-After the order of the Son
-After the order of the Only Begotten of the Father
-After the order of Him who is without beginning of days or end of years
-After the order of Him who is full of grace
-After the order of Him who is full of equity
-After the order of Him who is full of truth.
What does it mean to be "begotten" of the Father?  (Psalms 2: 7.)
What does it mean to be a "son" of the Father?  (1 John 3: 1-3.)
What does it mean to be full of "grace?"  (D&C 93: 11-20.)
What does it mean to be full of "equity?"  (Proverbs 2: 9.)
What does it mean to be full of "truth?"  (D&C 93: 24.)
This is interesting. What are we to make of such "holy" men who are "high priests after the order of the Son of God?"
Do you think we make a man such a thing by sustaining him in Ward, Stake and General Conferences?  Can we make one of them at all?

If we never realize who they are, does that mean they don't exist? Does it mean they weren't ordained before the foundation of the world?
If they come, minister in obscurity, never hold high office and never have a single building at BYU, BYU Hawaii or BYU Idaho named after them, are they any less?
Does our recognition of them make them any more?
Are they here to be recognized? Are they here just to teach so that others may be brought back to God by learning His commandments and enter into His rest?

This is quite different than what I've been told in Gospel Doctrine class. It is beginning to look and feel a lot like what Joseph Smith was saying right at the end in the Nauvoo period.  I wonder why we neglect this today?


  1. Denver,
    Where do I read "what Joseph Smith was saying right at the end in the Nauvoo period?" Thank you.

  2. I wonder if Denver was thinking of The King Follett sermon as an example?

  3. This is helpful too (for me):

  4. If the world knows not God, as I John states, why should anyone who is truly becoming like Him expect any notice or recognition? It doesn't matter who notices or what recognition comes. The only thing that matters is that God knows and you KNOW that He knows. This leads me back to D&C 121. There is a lifetime's worth to chew on in these 9 verses. Alma 13 has always been a favorite of mine. The funny thing is, I hardly understood or understand it at all. There is much to be done. Thanks Denver and those making comments, Dan

  5. He was talking about all receiving the same keys or fulness of priesthood (K&P) that Joseph held. He was teaching the "Fulness", teaching others that they can have a similar connection with heaven that he himself held. See Words of Jopeph Smith for some good commentary by Joseph on what he was teaching in the last days of his life, especially 42-44. But, these things can ONLY be given by one truly holding the authority from God to give it... and the Lord himself ok's it. I would think that such a man obtains a status of godhood in this life (C&E made sure) before he can be a sealed servant/son for the Lord passing on this holy ordinance. Personally, I would prefer the Lord Himself to grant such.

  6. The book titled "The Words of Joseph Smith" by Andrew Ehat and Lyndon Cook is the current best source of the Nauvoo era talks. However, it is out of print and has a substantial cost due to its rarity now. You can find electronic versions in the LDS library discs which Deseret Book sells from time to time (also currently out of stock). They come back every two years or so.

    If you're willing to be patient, the material from which Ehat and Cook took The Words of Joseph Smith will appear as part of the Joseph Smith Papers.

  7. Part I:
    I think Alma chapter 13 is saying something very deep about those who "became high priests forever" (v. 9) in the preexistence. In verse 5 Alma indicated that "in the first place" these individuals "were on the same standing with their brethren". In other words, after we all became spirit children of God we all had the same opportunity to progress in the spirit world. Some progressed much faster than others due to their diligence and obedience. Christ led the way by perfectly and fully conforming to the words or laws of God and therefore was called the "Word" of God because with his compliance he personified the word of God in every way. (John 1:1-2.) However Christ was not born in the Spirit world as a God. He had to progress and follow eternal laws to get to that status. I recall reading in one of Denver's books (I don't recall which one at this point) a reference to D&C 93:12-14 which states:

    12. And I, John, saw that he received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace;
    13. And he received not of the fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness;
    14. And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fullness at first.

    It was pointed out that when these verses are read in context with verse 7 of the same section ("And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was IN THE BEGINNING, BEFORE THE WORLD WAS") that one can conclude that verses 12-13 not only refer to Christ's progression in mortality but also refer to his progression in the spirit world. Christ set the example for us all. He stated "come follow me". This would be true both in the preexistence and in mortality. Hence if Christ could obey the commandments and continue from "grace to grace" until he became a glorified being, or a God, in the preexistence then why could not others. (As pointed out in the blog entry this week dealing with Alma 13:3, Joseph Smith stated there were: "Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for." TPJS p. 375, this is the exact quote--Denver's was a paraphrase.)

    If Christ is the example we should follow, and if he went from grace to grace in the preexistence until he achieved Godhood, then surely as pointed out by Joseph Smith, it must have been possible to follow Christ's example and receive the same blessings in the preexistence. How else would someone become a "high priest forever, after the order of the Son" in the preexistence. I believe this is what Alma chapter 13 is talking about.

    Jim Boud

  8. Part II:

    There is more scriptural support for this concept. If you read Abraham 3:22 through Abraham 4:1 you learn that in the preexistence there were "many noble and great ones", or spirits, in the preexistence of whom God said "I will make my rulers" (Abr. 3:23). These spirits helped Christ create the earth (v. 24) for the purpose of proving the other spirits who were in a group which was not part of the "great and noble" spirits (vv. 24-25). Then in Abraham 4:1 it states:

    "And then the Lord said: Let US ("us" referring to the "noble and great" spirits led by Christ as previously set forth in Abr. 3:24) go down. And THEY went down at the beginning, and THEY, that is THE GODS, organized and formed the heavens and the earth." (Emphasis added.)

    If this is a correct reading of Abraham 4:1 then the "noble and great" spirits in the preexistence (which specifically included Abraham-Abr. 3:23), who God said he would make his rulers on this earth, all progressed to the point of becoming Gods in the preexistence. I believe Alma lays out this same concept in chapter 13 with respect to these preexistent spirits who "became high priests forever". If you go back to Alma 13:6 it states:

    "And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, THAT THEY MIGHT ALSO ENTER INTO HIS REST."

    Note what this scripture is really saying. First, those who received this ordination unto the "high priesthood" in the preexistence ALREADY ENTERED INTO GOD'S "REST" IN THE PREEXISTENCE. And, second, they are commissioned "to teach his (God's) commandments unto THE CHILDREN OF MEN (this has to refer to teaching in mortality because there were no "children of men" in the preexistence, as we were all spirit children of our Father in Heaven there), THAT THEY (this clearly refers to he "children of men" not those who received the high priesthood in the preexistence) MIGHT ALSO ENTER INTO HIS REST."

    It is important to note that since God is "no respecter of persons" (D&C 1:35 and 2 Nephi 26:33), women would also have progressed in the preexistence to the point where they would have entered into the "rest" of the Lord and gained exaltation.

    In summary, I read Alma 13 as teaching that those who followed Christ's example and progressed like Christ did in the preexistence entered into the "rest" of the Lord, received the fullness of the gospel, and were exalted there. They come to the earth and have a mortal experience even though they (the male portion) are high priests forever and have a responsibility to teach God's commandments unto "the children of men". The purpose of their teaching here on the earth is to give those who were not part of the noble and great spirits in the preexistence the chance to accept the gospel and its ordinances so that they may progress and "might also enter into his (God's) rest" thereby gaining exaltation.

    What I have set forth are my opinions--nothing more. While I believe my tentative conclusions can be derived from the scriptures I have quoted, I often find my initial conclusions are wrong and need a lot of refinement. I am therefore keeping an open mind on this subject. I have enjoyed reading the blogs and comments thus far with respect to Alma 13 and feel my mind is being opened to new concepts I had never considered. Thanks Denver for asking questions that cause us to think and ponder. Jim Boud

  9. Jim: I'm pleased. Though I might add some to your comments. There will be a paper which is being edited right now which I will make available in a few days. It will echo and amplify what you have written.

  10. Jim…two thoughts come to mind: 1) your comment “the male portion”…do you remember the temple ceremony – “priestesses?” 2) I’m curious why no one has mentioned the terrible word – “reincarnation” Not as an ant or a goat but as a possible route to progression from world to world?

  11. lc, I hold reincarnation has inherent problems, both philosophically and theologically. Do research on traducianism comparing what the Catholics, LDS, and others believe. [ to begin: and many others ].

    You have to ask yourself, how and when is the baby's spirit inserted into the body? If the spirit is not "stuck" there (i.e. it can come and go as it pleases) until some fixed time, how does the baby's body stay alive if it is the baby's spirit that animates the body?

    If one is reincarnated, how and when does the reincarnation spirit take over the body?

    If it doesn't enter the new baby body at conception, does reincarnation require a "possession" then a "ejectment" (possible death) of a "spirt"?

    Would that be "stealing", as in body snatching?

    Or in the case of a "spirit death", murder? And does a murderer have "eternal life"?

    Brigham Henry Roberts mentions, and I think personally wrestled with, traducianism in his masterpiece, "The Truth, the Way, the Life".

    I am aware of the Potter's Wheel analogy and the attending solution based upon a viewpoint (like so many) no longer in vogue because of what I consider a mis-intrepretation of some parts of the King Follett Discourse.

    Just too many problems with reincarnation, a healthy dosage of Occam's principle should be applied here.

    As for world to world (I presume you really mean 'earth to earth') progression, do you mean a return in a baby body, or full grown? With or without your "prior" knowledge?

    Certain combinations of these, like the first subject matter, have philosophical and theological problems.

    It's those silly doctrines and principles interactions, like medical interactions, sometimes you get an adverse reaction.

    Heretically speaking, there is one solution which was taught in the nineteenth century is the solution to the problem.

  12. I suspect in your last paragraph you are referring to a teaching(s) of Joseph Smith that maybe we don’t accept or look at anymore?? I’d absorb some enlightenment there, if you are willing.

  13. His last public address, in which he took up again the subject he first broached in the King Follett Discourse. I've written a paper on that, but can't figure out how to put it up on the blog. But it is related to this whole line of discussion. Anyway, that last address given on June 14th, as I recall (ten days prior to his surrender).

  14. First, to all I must apologize for my editing skills. Sometimes my posts look correct, then when posted, the errors jump up and down waiving their arms saying, "look at me, look at me". In my last post, the last sentence should read: there is one solution which was taught in the nineteenth century that is the solution to the problem.

    lc asked about the last paragraph of my post [June 14, 2010 12:18 PM] as to what teaching I was referring. It was a doctrine taught by Brigham Young, whom he said Joseph had taught him -- about how Adam and Eve became mortal -- I'll let you do your own research [I am more inclined to express a more complete version my views in private, after all; this is the Snuffer's blog].

    How one chooses to view the answers to my above questions, for goodness or not-so-goodness, that view becomes the lens through which other doctrines and principles are viewed, either magnifying or distorting them (singly or in combination).

    Snuffer I'd love to peruse your paper on the King Follett, [but I do not know where or how to get either that or your books] and explore your analysis of this masterpiece. I'm always up to another point of view.

    I think, over the years, 3 major commonized mis-conceptions have come about because of the mis-intreptation of some critical, but ambiguous, elements of this sermon, two of which relate to this thread: (1) the true nature of God and (2) the nature of intelligences.

  15. In my post of June 14, 2010 12:18 PM, I said, "It's those silly doctrines and principles interactions, like medical interactions, sometimes you get an adverse reaction".

    I guess I should suggest a couple that reflect on this thread: Exaltation and Glory.

    Just what, exactly, is exaltation? And what is glory?

    PS: I am more concerned about the Truth than I am about any particular dogma; therefore I might seemingly step on some toes, or appear saintly, or unsaintly.

  16. Stone:

    If you can leave an email address, I an email you the King Follett Discourse paper.

  17. Just an FYI. "Words of Joseph Smith" is now available on the Kindle store for under $10.00 at I have no connection to Amazon. I was just happy to find this when I saw the used book prices. No Kindle device is needed. Amazon has free reader software for PC, Mac, and other devices.



  18. So I’m still wondering, how do we recognize these holy priests? Is it even important that we do recognize them or is their ministry disconnected from the fact that we must recognize them? Is an apostle such a priest? Is every apostle such of priest or just some or non? If so, how is their calling different as an apostle versus their ordination as a holy priest? I honestly have no idea to the answer to these questions, in contrast to Denver who often asks these type of searching questions already knowing the answers but is just inviting us to discover for our selves the answers. So anybody’s thoughts on these questions would be appreciated.

    In Denver’s mentioned paper (which he said he is now updating and which I found JRB’s statements paralleled extremely closely) Denver said that we do not know if we are a noble and great one (or one of the others which are being tested) until it is revealed to us. So the earthly (mortal) ordination (assuming there is one) may be associated with when it is revealed to you if you are one of the noble and great ones. Boy, this stuff is blowing my mind. Talk about paradigm shifts.

  19. In my opinion, the knowledge can be received at any time. it doesn't have to be when an ordination occurs. Search your Patriarchal blessing. There may be hints included in there. If you dare, simply ask the Lord to let you know who you truly are. In His own way and time He will manifest that to you. I say if you dare, because you may not like what you're told. On the other hand, you may be blown away by it as well.

    Also, you'll recognize them by the spirit. They will teach and testify by power. That power can only come by one who has been properly endowed with it. If one has the Spirit in their lives, they won't be duped by one pretending to have the power. See Matt 7: 22-23. It's not the words or the public actions of the individuals, but rather the power or spirit that accompanies them. Just my 2 cents worth.


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