Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Controlled Revelation

Joseph Smith did not attempt to control or limit people's revelations except in only one regard. When it came to revelation involving governing the church, that was limited to him alone, as President. (See, e.g. D&C 43: 2-5; 21: 4-5; 28: 2.) Reading The Joseph Smith Papers, however, it is clear that for Joseph,  it came as a matter of some considerable satisfaction to him that others received revelation as well. 
The declarations of Joseph's revelations raise two interesting questions: First, if Joseph's status as the prophet, seer and revelator are foundational, then can any subsequent person change anything restored through Joseph? Even if there is another person elected through common consent to be the president of the church, is such an office holder free from the obligation to receive Joseph's words as God's words? Are we all, including subsequent office holders, required to "give heed unto all his [Joseph's] words and commandments, which he [Joseph] shall give unto you as he receiveth them"? Or instead, does Joseph get relegated to obsolescence once he has been replaced by President Brigham Young, and so on?
Secondly, the question arises whether possession of the office Joseph held (church president) automatically entitles such an office holder to be in every whit exactly like Joseph. That is, do subsequent office holders also get the automatic right to claim everyone in the church must give heed to their words, too?
In Joseph's case, the only way to replace him in his position was for Joseph himself to designate his successor/replacement. This is set out in the revelation to Joseph as follows: "[N]one else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him [Joseph]; for if it is taken from him [Joseph] he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead." (D&C 43: 4.) Implicit in the revelation, if you read it carefully, is that Joseph's choice of the one who would succeed him would necessarily come by revelation to Joseph. "And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations, which you have received and shall receive through him [Joseph] whom I have appointed." (D&C 43: 5-7.)
In Joseph's case, he did receive a revelation which identified who would replace him, just as the revelation provided. "[T]hat my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right; That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the Patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people, That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph..." (D&C 124: 91-94.)
Hyrum, however, died in Carthage Jail before Joseph. The issue of "succession" was decided by common consent in the votes taken in Nauvoo following Joseph's death. Then there is all that stuff about Joseph giving "the keys of the kingdom" to "the council." But "the kingdom" was the Council of Fifty, not the church. The "council" to whom Joseph made the remark was the Fifty, not the Twelve. But we sorted that out in Nauvoo by common consent, choosing to follow the Twelve.
Revelation is foundational to the church. No one comes into the church without revelation. Missionaries ask investigators to ask God, based on Moroni 10:4, and get their own answer to prayer. A convert is expected to have received a personal revelation before becoming a Mormon.
This gives rise to some other interesting issues: Moroni 10:4 has as its scope the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But Moroni 10:5 expands the scope so that a sincere inquirer "may know the truth of all things." Therefore, there is no limit on what a person might inquire about and receive a revelation concerning. 
Now a convert who has discovered that they have already obtained an answer to prayer is likely (as I was) to continue to inquire. Converts who have had such an experience become rather like Joseph Smith following his first vision. That is, they "had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as [they] previously had one." (JS-H 1: 29.) So people who have succeeded in obtaining an answer to prayer go on to make further inquiries and get further answers. The scope of such inquiries can be, as Moroni 10: 5 informs us, into literally ANYTHING. They can get to know "the truth of all things" by making such inquiries.
The interesting issue arises when the church then informs the convert that they can't have revelations involving things which the church wants to control. They can't ask and get an answer about anything that contradicts or opposes what the church says. If they do so, they are told they have a false revelation, or they are being inspired by the devil.
A great problem arises when someone who has received authentic revelation, and has been inspired as a consequence of that revelation to join the church, is then told by the church that their subsequent revelation is false, or of the devil. The convert must then choose. Revelation led them into the church in the first instance. If the church then tells them their continuing revelation is false or of the devil, they must grapple with whether the original revelation which led them to convert was also false and of the devil? Of course, if they reach that conclusion they leave the church. The other choice is that the revelation, both the original and the following revelations, are from God. If that is the conclusion they reach, then they know the church is overreaching. This gives rise to a continual anxiety about the church's motives, and reliability about things which matter most.
Joseph's delight in the revelations others received is akin to Moses' delight in the same thing: "Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Num. 11: 29.) The church's jealousy on the same topic makes an interesting contrast, where those who have revelation oftentimes know God has spoken to them, but also know the church will not tolerate revelation which goes any further than knowing the Book of Mormon is true, Therefore, you have an obligation to join the institution which publishes and proclaims that book.
These are big topics. They are worth a lot of careful thought. One conclusion which leaps to mind, however, is that the loose grip Joseph and Moses took on the reigns of control extended to management decisions at the highest level. At lower levels people were free to develop their gifts, including revelation, without any molesting by the top. Our own scriptures say as much. To the church is given a variety of gifts, disbursed throughout the body:

"To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful. And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men. And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal. And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom. To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge. And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed; And to others it is given to have faith to heal. And again, to some is given the working of miracles; And to others it is given to prophesy; And to others the discerning of spirits. And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues; And to another is given the interpretation of tongues. And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God." (D&C 46: 12-26.)
Well, if they all come from God, and are spread to people throughout the church, it would seem incredibly wrong-headed to condemn such things or to attempt to limit them. It is an interesting thing to try and limit the Spirit. As Christ put it, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3: 8.) Such things are free indeed. To hedge them in, correlate them, and attempt to subjugate them, oftentimes does not convince or persuade those being controlled. 
Fortunately, history generally sorts it out correctly. And today's heroes become tomorrows villains - just as today's fools become tomorrow's venerated examples. How we sort it out in our brief moment here is not necessarily how either the Lord or those in the future will do so.
Well, enough of that. I do so look forward to General Conference this coming weekend.  I'm hoping to get some input on the things which really do matter most. There are so many important questions facing us today. It will be nice to hear what counsel we are given on these many perplexities.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Response to Question

When you write something, a reader can put into what you've written something that is not there. Some of the questions I get asked result from misreading the information, rather than confining the things I've written to the writing itself. I got one this morning which I thought was worthwhile enough to put on the blog.

The question related to the role of the Holy Ghost. In effect, the person I spoke with thought I "denegrated the role of the Holy Ghost" by focusing upon Christ. I responded I did not believe that was the case.

First, I explained in everything I've written, beginning with The Second Comforter, that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to prepare and bring us to Christ. Without the Holy Ghost we cannot come to Christ. Further, in that same book I acknowledged the Holy Ghost's foundational role by telling the reader that they must receive a witness from the Holy Ghost as they read the book or they do not have the required two witnesses. Without the Holy Ghost's ratifying confirmation, I tell the reader to discard what I've written. Far from denegrating the Holy Ghost's role, I have made it a central part of the process, without it no person can come unto Christ.

It is not overemphasis on Christ at the expense of the Holy Ghost, but rather it is showing how the members of the Godhead work together. Just as Christ taught, the Comforter (Holy Ghost) will abide with us and bring us to Him. The Holy Ghost's vital role is unchanged. But to ignore the continuation of the ministry of the members of the Godhead, particularly the role of Christ as a continuing minister of salvation, is to cast aside His promise as the Second Comforter.

He also asked about his conclusion that our "priesthood line of authority" was meaningless. I explained that was not anything I'd written or thought. Rather quite to the contrary, the church extends an authoritative invitation in ordination to the priesthood which is a vital prerequisite to acting on the invitation and receiving the "power of heaven." Without an authoritative invitation, I do not see how a person can obtain the "power of heaven." In fact, there are recent talks in General Conference which lament the absence of "power in the priesthood" within the church. I've cited to those before. The church itself has recognized and taught the need for going beyond mere ordination into receiving power in the priesthood. Therefore, what I've written is consistent with, and respects, the church's rights, as well as the necessity of ordination through the church system.

When we finished talking, he said I'd removed his concerns. Said he would go back and read it again with less emotion.

I spent the day defending the latest book yesterday. I received much welcomed criticism, which allowed me to answer questions. I enjoyed the opportunity very much. Criticism does not bother me. It allows me to understand what the reader has misapprehended, or leaped to conclude, which in turn better informs me about how others can err in attributing motives or positions. I also got some needed corrections (editing never ends), and spelling corrections which are needed. To me it is all worthwhile and quite interesting.

Today I'm going to teach the Priests about testimony. I hope to discuss my own conversion story with them. Some of them are going to be missionaries soon and I want them to know how the potential convert thinks as they approach a monumental change to their life by joining the church.

I do not think I'll mention this to them: Within the first year of joining I'd received visits from angels, and been attacked by the adversary and a hoard of his minions. My life was threatened by those who are darkness iteslf, and was delivered by beings of light. As a new convert, who had recently joined after studying Joseph Smith's experience, I thought this was normal for Mormons. I thought this kind of stuff happened to everyone. I learned, however, that it was not and I should not talk about such things because some became easily offended. So the things I say are heavily redacted that no one may know anything other than I am a believer in Mormonism, with a witness of our Lord. I do in fact have a witness and testimony of Christ. I also have a testimony of Joseph Smith. I have empathy for those who have once believed and find they can no longer. To them I write what I hope will persuade them to believe in Christ that they will return and join in fellowship with the saints.

As to others who misunderstand what I've written, it is a small thing to be evil spoken of when the criticism is not warranted. If even one person is brought to see the truth in Christ, any price required to be paid is modest.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Surfing for Gossip

I don't read other blogs or follow what's happening in the blogosphere. But my wife, who maintains this site for me, does. She has the ability to track stuff all around the 'net, and also has traffic information given her through the site itself. And from time to time she updates me on what she thinks I would be interested in learning about the various gossip mongers who feel free to discuss me.

I do not think I'm worth a minute of anyone's time as a topic to discuss. I really do not matter one bit. Some of the things I've written are quite important. Those ideas are worth time, even a good deal of time, spent in careful contemplation. Some things I've been privileged to write are important enough that a careful soul will make it a matter of prayer, as well. But me? That's just a waste of time. There's nothing about a  man worth anyone's time as a topic of gossip, speculation or discussion.

Apparently some number of folks have come to this blog for a week or so to find what I've said about President Boyd K. Packer.  He's someone I've quoted more frequently than perhaps any other living church leader. I have a great deal of regard, respect, even admiration for him. Some of the talks he has given have been quite profound and worth reading by everyone. I've also lamented the conflict that developed between him and Paul Toscano. I wish that whole episode had not happened. But, as I've said before, I put the blame on Paul, not on President Packer, for provoking the conflict. I wish Paul were still a member of the church.  We are the poorer for his absence.

I'm not sure why anyone would be interested in comments I've made on President Packer, but mentioning him again here will at least give this in answer to a search.

I've been hoping to drive the Alpine Loop when the colors change. They're changing now. Hope I can find time to do that.

General Conference is coming soon. I always go to the Marriott Center at BYU for Priesthood. It's a tradition. I'm looking forward to doing so again in a week or so. I think General Conference Priesthood should be done in a large group. Apart from the Conference Center itself, I think the BYU Marriott Center may be the largest assembly in the world.  At least I think they've mentioned that before. Perhaps now the MTC has more.

For Sunday's sessions I like to take a drive with my family and listen in the car. Seems more like an "event" when we do that.And I think the kids like doing that. Oftentimes we'll drive by the Conference Center to see the anti-Mormon stuff. It's always entertaining to see folks spending their time blasting our religion under the pretext of establishing theirs. Not sure how that's supposed to work. But nevertheless someone thinks that is worth their effort. Maybe go the Alpine Loop on Sunday.

My wife tells me some people are offended by others using the word "crap"-- when she said so I inquired if "bovine feces" would be a better substitute. She didn't know.

Saw Stewie and Brian step in and try to rescue Christmas last night. It turned into a home invasion. I laughed so hard I nearly hurt myself. I laugh at the idiocy on the TV. My wife laughs at me. So we both get entertained.

I'm reading a book by a Catholic Theologian who teaches at a Protestant Theological Seminary in New York. Interesting book. When I finish I think I'll put some of his stuff on the blog. His focus is the post-Apostolic era from about 70 a.d. to 125 a.d. It's an interesting moment of rapid change. I disagree with some of his retelling, and I reject his Catholic lens, but nevertheless he has some important things to say.

Well, to return to what started this ramble, watch your gossip. My wife may be watching you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Joseph Smith's Limited Plural Marriage Sealings

Yesterday, while at a college baseball game, I got an inquiry from David C. asking the following:

A few people have contacted me and told me of “apparent errors” in your book… primarily that Joseph Smith performed a lot more plural marriages.  
This in part of an email I received from a friend:
Under the plural marriage section of Denvers book, I remember that he mentions that only 1 other plural marriage was performed for another man besides Joseph before his death... making his case that not many others lived it. When I came across that a couple nights ago, I was pretty sure there were more... Brigham, Heber, Will Clayton, etc/ I came across 2 different books tonight, one "The Refiner's Fire" by JL Brooke - said that there were over 20 different men who also participated before Joseph's death. The other: The Persistence of Polygamy by Bringhurst and Craig Foster (Pres of FAIR) states on pg 126, quoting from Brian C Hales' extensive research and soon to come book, that 34 plural marriages were done for Joseph, and 29 for other men before Joseph's death. These they called sealing ceremonies. Many of these brethren that later lived PM in Joseph's time were also performing PM sealings before they lived the law themselves -p. 128.

The reference this inquiry makes to the "apparent error" in my book (Passing the Heavenly Gift) can be found on the bottom of page 163 and top of page 164 and includes footnote 210. What I wrote on those pages is as follows:

"Of the 23 marriages sealed by Joseph prior to his death, other than his own, only one involved a plural wife. If eternal wives was necessary for exaltation, as was taught in the second phase, proof of that cannot be established through Joseph's actions." This is accompanied by a footnote which gives all the names and cites to Lisle G. Brown's work The Holy Order in Nauvoo, appendix 1. You can find The Holy Order in Nauvoo online, if you look for it. There you can read the names, or you can look at footnote 210 in my book where they are also set out.

The question raised in the email is confusing two issues. The specific topic being discussed in my book involves the narrow issue of the connection between exaltation and plural wives. I explain that eternal marriage is necessary, but plural wives is not. I distinguish between Section 132 (and other statements) during Joseph's lifetime and what became an absolute requirement for exaltation during the phase of Mormonism immediately following his death.

Another recent book contains the same list as the Lisle G. Brown article cited above. It is Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera's book Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845. The list can be found in that book on pp. xxxiv-xxxv.  

To put the two different issues into contrast, you need to focus on the topic I am discussing, namely the relationship between requirements for exaltation and plural wives. Joseph's ultimate indication of what was required for exaltation is not found in civil unions, or even church marriages he performed. It is found in the final ordinances, including the second anointing, in which exaltation was assured and a person was sealed up to eternal life. That final step is found in Joseph's organized Quorum of the Anointed, as it was then called.

Joseph Smith performed civil marriages. Joseph performed religious marriages. But the link between exaltation, eternal life, sealing up to a kingdom as an eternal inheritance, is to be found unconditionally in the final order he organized known as the Quorum of the Anointed. My book is focused only on that step.

Joseph was able and did perform civil marriages. Joseph also performed other forms of religious marriages. However, on the subject of sealing an eternal union, with the promise of eternal life, that kind of union represents something different. In that form of union we find what Joseph understood would be a marital union that would include exaltation.

In the context of that form of union which is associated by Joseph with exaltation itself, there was, apart from his own, only one other plural marriage. Therefore, if plural wives was REQUIRED for exaltation, as taught subsequently by Brigham Young, the proof for that cannot be based upon Joseph Smith's actions.

In the second book cited above (Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845), they observe this about the final Quorum of Anointed which represent heirs of exaltation in Joseph's practices, "Still, many polygamists were not admitted into the quorum during Joseph's lifetime. Of the twenty-eight men who are presumed to have entered plural marriage during Joseph's lifetime, sixteen (57 percent) joined the quorum prior to Joseph's death; twelve (43 percent) did not.  Acceptance of plural marriage did not automatically assure admission into the quorum. (See Table 2.)" (Id. p. xxiii; the referenced Table is the same list as I was referring to in footnote 210 on page 163 of Passing the Heavenly Gift.

Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845 also, referring to those who were polygamists and included in the Quorum before Joseph's death, observes: "No plural wife received the ordinance prior to Joseph's death. '[D]uring the lifetime of Joseph Smith,' Quinn concluded, 'polygamy was only an appendage 'to the highest order of the priesthood' [the second anointing] established on 28 September 1843'" (Id. pp. xxxv-xxxvi, citing to Quinn, Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles, p. 88.)

When I write, I try to be very specific. When speaking about a limited topic (i.e., the requirements for exaltation established by the actions taken by Joseph Smith), I am not referring to other topics. Nor did I take the added step of suggesting that the unsealed plural wives might be evidence of concubinage, or marital relationships which were not intended to continue after this life. That subject isn't even raised in my book. So the better approach would be that the topic I am discussing be read narrowly, and the context I am addressing be carefully considered, before assuming there are "apparent errors."

People assume deep topics and carefully composed language can be read with the same superficiality as reading a text message. I do not write that way. In fact, someone who has hastened through the book probably won't even understand it. The careful reader will find a good deal more in everything I've written than will the casual reader. It took careful, solemn, ponderous thoughts to learn what I've learned.  Reading it in casual haste will never yield to such a reader what can be found.

As I also mention in the latest book, everything I've written is focused only on one topic. There has only been one theme to it all.  Therefore if someone is interested in being redeemed from the fall, they will find there is a description of the path back in these commonly-themed books. Whether it involves discussion of The Book of Mormon, my testimony of Christ, or church history, it is all centered in redemption of the reader from the fall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

" . . . speak unto us smooth things . . ."

There is a false notion that is so invidious it precludes us from emerging from our current widespread spiritual slump. The false notion is that anything from God will invariably be "lovely" or "of good report" as implied by the 13th Article of Faith. This false mantra however, is so wrong it alone empowers the darkness to grow all around us.
If you only need to listen to the voices of praise, and adulation which speak to you that "all is well in Zion" then you can never recognize an authentic call from the Lord to repent. Instead, like Laman and Lemuel, you will erroneously think any message that condemns your misbehavior is "sharp" or "angry" (2 Nephi 1: 26.) Yet Nephi's only intention was to seek "the eternal welfare" of Laman and Lemuel. (2 Nephi 1: 25.)
When we will only listen to vanity and praise, we are not much different than those who only wanted "smooth things" anciently. (Isa. 30: 10.) 
The cure for some illness requires a knife to be used first before healing can begin. The purpose is not to injure, but only to heal.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A lesson to the priests

I was asked by someone who also teaches priests about the lesson to the priests on sex I mentioned on this blog. Here is a brief summary of what was covered:

When Adam was alone it was "not good" in God's view. (Gen. 2: 18)

The story of Eve's creation is allegorical, not actual. The allegory says she was made "from a rib" taken "from Adam's side." (Gen. 2: 21-23)  This is not intended as an actual explanation of her creation, but instead as a description of the way she is to be regarded. Part of him. Taken from his side, making her his intimately connected associate in whom he should recognize companionship runs within himself. Her presence is intended to satisfy what was before "not good" about Adam's condition. She is literally not only a part of him, but also completes him. This completion is the "image of God" because God is both a Father and a Mother. (Gen. 1: 27.) Among mankind, when you see the "image of God" you will always see a couple who are as one. (1 Cor. 11: 11.)  [As an aside, I would add this is why there were two angels upon the Mercy Seat. Ex. 25: 22. He would not permit them to behold His image without seeing what is also symbolized in Adam and Eve.]

The purpose of the creation of the two was that they may "become one" or unified. (Gen. 2: 24)

The first commandment given after the two are joined by God was to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1: 27-28).

When they were expelled from the Garden, Adam "knew his wife" which is a euphemism. The word "know" or "knew" is a reference made throughout the Old and New Testaments to sexual intercourse. As a consequence of this Eve became pregnant. (Gen. 4: 1)

This is fulfilling the commandment to "be fruitful," and is the way intended for new human life to be brought into the world. When joined by God (temple marriage) and then used to produce a family, the union of the man and woman is pleasing to God. It is order. It is harmony. It produces life, peace and "fulfills the measure of creation" which "brings joy." Unfortunately, when it is employed in other ways, it produces pain, misery and sometimes catastrophic results.

Keeping the power of procreation inside the bounds which produce joy was included in the 10 commandments. (Ex. 20: 14, 17)

David was a man after God's own heart. As a youth, he had such faith to follow God that although still a lad he was able, with God's help, to slay Goliath. (1 Sam. 17: 34-37; 45-46.) He was so favored by God, that God made him His son, established his throne, and promised him He would watch over him. (2 Sam. 7: 14-16)

But David committed adultery. (2 Sam. 11: 2-5) To conceal the sin, he committed murder. (2 Sam 11: 14-15) As a result of these sins, he fell from his exaltation. (D&C 132: 39) The result was that a man "after the Lord's own heart" lost everything because the power of procreation was not used in the way to produce joy, but instead used to gratify lust.

When the solution to an unwanted pregnancy is abortion, then the person has elected, like David, to do something akin to murder. This is forbidden. (D&C 59: 6)

Adultery and lust leading to adultery deprive us of the Spirit. (D&C 42: 22-24)

The purpose of sexual relations is to have joy. To bring you children. To put those children into a setting where they are loved by both a father and a mother. When it is used in any other way, it produces misery. Almost all crime in the United States is related directly or indirectly to violating this commandment. Even what seems to be unrelated crime often occurs because the person involved was not raised in a home environment where they had a father and mother.

It is a right of every child to come into a family where they have the benefit of the family as established by God. The father and mother are literally symbols of God. They are in His image and likeness. When the image is imprinted upon the child in their early years and innocence, they develop a stability and foundation that is their right as an inheritance from God. Conforming to God's pattern is intended as a gift from Him to every child.

I then took a few moments to speak about individual fathers of the respective young men, including one whose father has passed away. The deceased father was a great man, whose influence is still felt by his son. I expressed my genuine affection for his father, who, although now no longer among us, left a great influence on others in addition to his son. I challenged all of the young priests to become fathers who will bring their children into an environment where they will look with gratitude and affection upon them as fathers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A fair and full hearing

The new book has hardly become available to anyone. However, I did receive some feedback from a friend who has not attended church for many years. He was one of the more conscientious saints. He learned and studied and reflected for several decades as an active member. He served in several bishoprics, high priest group leaderships and as a gospel doctrine teacher. His study led him to a number of unfavorable conclusions about the church and its history. He read the new book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, and called to tell me he had returned to sacrament meeting a week ago, and for the first time in nearly a decade took the Sacrament.

I've already been called "apostate," as well as "on the road to apostasy" from some who have not read the book and have no intention to do so. I suppose there will be a great deal of that. But it is a small thing. The truth is that this book, as all I've written, testifies to the truth as I understand it. It has already done some good in one reader's life. If the only price to be paid for reclaiming another's faith is to endure some evil speaking about myself, it is truly only a small thing.

Another person's ignorance can never define your own faith. Some people do not study our faith, but claim to practice it. If Mormonism truly is of God (as I believe), then it is important enough to warrant the closest of study. When any matter is studied with great care, issues will surface. Quandaries will arise. There will be gaps, problems and failings. Human weaknesses will be exposed. Some things will get quite messy.

The underlying truth, however, deserves a fair and full hearing. Study of Mormonism which goes only far enough to discover the quandaries has not proceeded far enough. It should search into it deeply enough, prayerfully enough, and searchingly enough to find the answers.

When one person has sought deeply and another has not, there is a gap between the understanding of the two which makes a common understanding problematic. The one in possession of less is really not in a position to correctly judge the one in possession of more. Oddly, however, the one who has less is altogether more likely to judge the one with more, while the one with more is equipped to look more kindly upon the other. After all, the one with more has struggled from the lesser position.

I understand the criticism I've received. I expected it. No one needs to defend me. No one needs to argue the point, get angry or deal unkindly with people who have not yet studied enough to form an appropriate conclusion. Only a fool judges a matter before they hear it. Such souls warrant our kindly efforts to persuade, not our censure or condemnation. We all carry foolishness, learning year by year, struggling to overcome the many things we've neglected in our study, prayers and contemplation. God does not grade on a curve. Therefore, when you begin to think you've outshone your fellow man, you should reflect again on Moses' reaction to seeing the Man of Holiness: "Now for this cause I know man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1: 10.)  None of us have anything to boast of, even if you know more than your fellow man.  We all know less than He who is "more intelligent than them all." (Abr. 3: 19.)

Whenever I contemplate the gulf between He who is Holiness and myself, and the great charity required from Him to condescend for me, I can hardly bear the thought of feeling triumph because of the ignorance of my fellow saints. How unkind. How foolish. How uncharitable. More than that, how very unlike the Lord whom we all claim to serve.

I teach the Priests in my Ward. I love the calling and love their openness, their eagerness and desire to learn. The last lesson I taught was about sex, based in the scriptures, and candidly covered the topic in a way which I hoped would both inform and edify. I was genuinely thanked by these 16 to 18 year old young men afterwards. I hope their lives will be better for the lesson.

So, also, I hope any who read Passing the Heavenly Gift will find their lives better for having read it. If you find yourself upset by it, I'd hope you would realize at least one person has returned to church after many years of absence because it restored in him a desire to fellowship with the saints, and again partake of the Sacrament. That one soul's renewal was to me, worth any petty or foolish reactions that may now come from others.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Passing the Heavenly Gift

The new book, titled Passing the Heavenly Gift, is now available on Amazon.com.

I have explained previously that the book may not be for everyone. If you elect to read it, you should read it all. Reading the entire book is necessary so that you will understand the full meaning of the material. Foundational things are discussed that will be revisited later to show how they fit into a larger picture - then revisited again to complete the construction of the matter from beginning to end. If you do not complete the whole book, you will not be able to evaluate the matter.

I do not expect many will enjoy the book. Although I believe anyone who reads it will be benefited by its contents. The object is to be faith promoting. Not in the sense that it will create false or naive hope, but instead it will inform you of the responsibilities resting upon anyone who seeks to know Christ. The result of the Gospel has always been intended to bring us joy. I think this book offers a greater opportunity for you to come to find joy in this life than the errors which merely use flattery or praise to distract you from the truth.

For any who elect to read it, I would hope if you choose to recommend it to others you will permit them to discover the contents of the book for themselves. Editorial summaries or statements taken out of context in this book will be more misleading than they would be with any other book I've written.