Be sure to check out my new blog “The Second Coming of Christ” for an in depth look at prophecies related to the Second Coming and discussions about getting spiritually and physically prepared.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why do bad things happen to good people

A few months ago I taught a lesson in Elder's Quorum that had a story in it that didn't set well with me. It was about how a four year old girl without warning became critically ill and was hospitalized. Her father prayed and prayed, but she was not healed. She eventually died. The story was suppose to teach the lesson of "thy will be done," but it just left me feeling pretty low and empty. I left this story out of my lesson but continued to ponder on it. Could the taking of this little four year old been part of the plan. Is that what God wanted? Did he want her not to have the chance to learn and grow and become like him? Did he want to cause her family grief and anguish? Is that really what he wanted? As I continued to ponder on this, an idea came to me and that is what I'd like to discuss for a bit. What if that wasn't part of God's plan? What if it isn't what he wanted? Does God always get what he wants?

I came to the conclusion that God doesn't always get what he wants. He wants us all to live in such a way that we will become like him and return to his presence, but that doesn't always happen. He wants us to love one another, but that doesn't always happen. He wants us to serve one another, but that doesn't always happen. God doesn't always get what he wants because of agency. His children have agency, and because of this, they don't always listen. They don't always obey. I began to wonder, does this principle extend farther, beyond us? Does everything have the agency? Even the elements? If this were the case, then perhaps there are elements that are disobedient just as we are. Take a young four year old with cancer for example. God wants her to live. God wants her to experience all that life has to offer so she can learn and grow and become like him. God wants the cancer cells to stop their destructive presence. But if they have agency, perhaps they do not listen. Perhaps they do not obey. Could God force them? Can he force us? If God takes away agency, then he would cease to be God. Could this explain why some are miraculously healed through prayers and blessings while others are not? Sometimes the destructive presence (cancer cells, disease, infection) listens and obeys, sometimes it does not. It comes down to agency.

So, do things other than us have agency. Can they choose to obey or disobey. There are a few references that make a case for this.

In a discourse given by Brigham Young on Feb. 12, 1854, he said,

"There are multitudes of spirits in the world. Everything we see, and have a knowledge of, has got its own peculiar spirit, or else there is no life in it. The spirit constitutes the life of everything we see. Is there life in these rocks, and mountains? There is. Then there is a spirit peculiarly adapted to those rocks and mountains. We mark the progress of the growth of grass, flowers, and trees. There is a spirit nicely adapted to the various productions of the vegetable kingdom. There is also a spirit to the different ores of the mineral kingdom, and to every element in existence."

In the creation account in Abraham chapter 4, there are several verses that refer to things other than mankind that "obeyed"

(1) And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth. (2) And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters. (3) And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light. (4) And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness. (5) And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night. (6) And the Gods also said: Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and it shall divide the waters from the waters. (7) And the Gods ordered the expanse, so that it divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so, even as they ordered. (8) And the Gods called the expanse, Heaven. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and this was the second time that they called night and day. (9) And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered; (10) And the Gods pronounced the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, Great Waters; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed. (11) And the Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass; the herb yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they ordered. (12) And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed. (13) And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the third time. (14) And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years; (15) And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so. (16) And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also; (17) And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness. (18) And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed. (19) And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was day; and it was the fourth time. (20) And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life; and the fowl, that they may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven. (21) And the Gods prepared the waters that they might bring forth great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters were to bring forth abundantly after their kind; and every winged fowl after their kind. And the Gods saw that they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good. (22) And the Gods said: We will bless them, and cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas or great waters; and cause the fowl to multiply in the earth. (23) And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and it was the fifth time. (24) And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so, as they had said. (25) And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind; and the Gods saw they would obey. (26) And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them. (28) And the Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (29) And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat. (30) And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, behold, we will give them life, and also we will give to them every green herb for meat, and all these things shall be thus organized. (31) And the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and behold, they shall be very obedient. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and they numbered the sixth time.

It seems very clear that there are things other than man (and woman) that have the ability to obey...and hence disobey. They have a spirit. They are intelligences.
Man was "very obedient" in the beginning, but eventually, due to agency, fell. Mankind has continued to become more and more disobedient. Could this be the case with the rest of God's creations, including the very elements. Could this explain increasing disease and natural disasters?
All intelligences have agency. They can act for themselves (D&C 93:30). They have the ability to submit to the will of God and obey, or rebel and disobey. Some will obey and some won't. God doesn't want bad things to happen to his children. God doesn't want us to suffer in pain and anguish. God doesn't want four year old girls to die from disease. But because of agency, there are some things that just disobey. God with his infinite knowledge will work it out, but I don't think things happen the way he wants them to all the time. If our loved one wasn't healed or protected when we prayed and someone else's was, we don't have to wonder if God loved them more. We don't have to wonder why God abandoned us. He didn't. He does love us, every one of us. It's just some things obey and some things don't. It's just…agency.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Temple Musings

I remember from long ago signing in primary, that the temple is a holy place, a place of learning.

Also something you should know about me is sometimes I get a nervous stomach which requires me to find a restroom pretty quick. Recently I attended the temple and one of those nervous stomach situations might have occured.

During this time as I was pondering what I should do, I could not help but think, if the temple is a holy place and I end up going to the restroom, would that be "Holy Shit?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do you see what I see?

Ok. so it's getting so I can't watch movies with anyone anymore. My tough guy image is really starting to suffer. Here is the problem, I've begun to notice gospel analogies in everything, and they're always making me bawl. I know, if you're embarrassed about it, why are you telling everybody? Well, I'm hoping that if I get it out there then I won't be as embarrassed when someone catches me. Case in point. A week or so ago, I was at my parents house and flipped on the TV and TNT was doing there little back to back to back Lord of the Rings marathon. There was about a half hour left in the second one, so I decided to watch. Well, I'm doing just fine and then here comes this scene.

What a metaphor for the second coming. A time when everything has fallen into darkness. A time when wickedness abounds and hope is fragile. A time when the saints must gird up their loins, take courage and continue the fight.

"Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them." ( Aragorn, The Two Towers)

"Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord." (D&C 133:10)

“At dawn look to the east.” (Gandalf, The Two Towers)

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:27)

And when all seems lost, He comes.

"The Lamb shall stand upon Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his Father’s name written on their foreheads. Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, and it shall be answered upon their heads; for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil. O Lord, thou shalt come down to make thy name known to thine dversaries, and all nations shall tremble at thy presence— Yea, when thou comest down, and the mountains flow down at thy presence, thou shalt meet him who rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, who remembereth thee in thy ways. And so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God." (D&C 133:18,28,41,44,49,3)

So I'm right in the middle of the scene, tears streaming down my face and my Mom comes in. Well, I try to play the old something in my eye routine, but I don't think she fell for it.

Since TNT is doing their back to back to back Lord of the Rings, the third installment comes on next and I decide to watch it. There are several scenes that cause my tear ducts problems. And to top it all off, my Dad comes in a little way through and decides to watch it with me. Ughhh, you can only pretend like your scratching your face but secretly drying your eyes so many times. Then comes the scene that always does me in. Even the first time I saw it in the theater I was a mess.

How can one not think of the savior in this scene? "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" (Sam, The Return of the King)

There are lots of scenes through the Lord of the Rings trilogy that seem to cause my "allergies" (I don't think people are buying this excuses anymore either) to flair up, but the gospel metaphors don't seem to be limited to just fantasy movies about hobbits. I keep seeing them everywhere, all the time. It's reached epidemic proportions.

Anyway, do you have any favorite movie scenes that remind you of spiritual things?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Son of Righteousness, in comparison to the Lord of Hosts

Son of Righteousness, in comparison to the Lord of Hosts

As I was reading the scriptures today I read Ether 9:22,

“And after [Emer] anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead he lived four more years, and he saw peace in the land; yea and he even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace.”

Having a passion for visitations of Christ I was pleased to see Christ visit yet another person, however as I decided to search for more examples of “Son of Righteousness.”

The footnote from Ether sends us to 3 Nephi 25:2, which is the same as Malachi 4:2, with the exception that the Malachi uses the word “Sun” in place of “Son” and a few extra commas. Now Malachi 4 is one of the chapters that Moroni read to Joseph Smith when he visited him, so these verses do pertain to our day specifically. But why? I will quote 3 Ne. 25:1-2:

“ For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall.

In verse one above we see that the Lord of Hosts is speaking by the “saith the...” statement. Verse two begins with I assume the same voice of the Lord of Hosts by the “that fear my name.” Now this is where a new person comes in, the Son of Righteousness. I might me misreading this, but I think there are two people spoken of in verse two. One the Lord of Hosts and second the Son of Righteousness.

The only explanation for who this is just that the Lord of hosts is God the Father and the Son of Righteousness is Christ. If this is the case a simple word search for “Lord of Hosts” can give an look into something that we rarely talk about, the role of God the Father, verses God the Son. Lord of Hosts seems to be the destructive one with all the vengeance.

Another verse to support the Son of Righteousness as Christ would when Nephi talks about the Christ visiting the Nephities after his resurrection, be 2 Ne 26:9, “the Son of Righteousness shall appear to them, and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him...”

Please let me know your thoughts on this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thinking in Your Heart Verses Life Changing Moments

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7

So I have been living in the Netherlands for the last three months for work. While over hear I have been with out my family and home. I am looking forward to going home next week to see my family again. However, three months ago when looking towards my time over here, I was thinking great. Look at all I can accomplish by myself, I can lose 20 lbs., finish reading “Isaiah Decoded” and “In Sacred Loneliness” spend some time learning sleight of hand, in order to make a routine for a magic show.

Well now is my time to return and report, so to say. As far as losing weight, I think I have gained 10 lbs instead. I didn’t even open the books mentioned. (I did read “Mormon Scientist,” about half of “Rough Stone Rolling” and a few fiction books.) I I have only briefly worked on the sleight of hand.

So is it true that as a man thinketh so is he? Why when I desired so much change in my life, did I become fat and lazy instead?

One reason I will state up front is I never wrote down these desires on my own. I goal is if it not written down and studied is nothing more than hope. So the first thing I needed to do was be serious about change and write down goals for it.

But I want to broaden this topic to more than just the frivolous things that I listed above. It applies to any change that we want in our lives. Change to become better, what else can people do to change for the better?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A sign of the times?

I thought I’d post a few thoughts I had as I studied 3 Nephi 16.

The Lord seems to be talking about two modern day groups of people; the Gentiles, which are those people of European decent, and His people, which are those that are descendents of the Nephites and Lamanites. These would be the modern day Native Americans, as well as those indigenous people of Central and South America. I will now refer to them as Lamanites.

7 Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fullness of these things shall be made known unto them.

In the last days the gospel will be restored to the Gentiles.

9 And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—

The Lamanites will be persecuted by the Gentiles. There is definitely evidence of this as the Americas were settled and colonized.

10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fullness of my gospel from among them.

This verse is a little puzzling. I’m not sure if he is including Latter-Day Saints in with the Gentiles in general, or if he is exclusively talking about Latter-Day Saints that have the gospel, or if he is talking about those Gentiles that do not have the gospel. I tend to lean toward the idea that he is talking about Latter-Day Saints. The phrase sin against my gospel implies to me that they have the gospel and can therefore sin against it. They have turned from the fullness of the Gospel. I believe this has already started. We are right in the middle of verse 10. Oh, members of the church aren’t vocally denouncing the prophet. But remember what the Lord said in Matthew. In the last days “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” If this is true, then at the end of verse 10 it says that the Lord will bring the fullness of his gospel from among us.

Is the Lord bringing the fullness of his gospel from among us?
One example that comes to mind is the Time Magazine article. When President Hinckley was asked if the church still teaches that God the Father was once a man like we are he replied, “I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it."

Could this be evidence that the Lord is bringing the fullness of his gospel from among us? Could this be evidence that we are right in the middle of verse 10.

13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.
14 And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

The Lord says in these verses that if the Gentiles will repent then he will not let the Lamanites “tread them down”.

15 But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.

Here the Lord says that if the Gentiles don’t turn to Him (and I’m sure he means with their “hearts”, not just their “lips”) then he will let the Lamanites “go through among them” and “tread them down”. Are we in the middle of verse 15 also? I can’t help but think of the immigration issues facing the United States (Gentiles).

According to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal immigrants. Thirteen Americans are killed by drunk illegal immigrant drivers every day. Eight American children are victims of sexual abuse by illegal immigrants every day.

Illegal immigrants cost Americans an estimated $2.5 billion in Medicaid costs; $2.2 billion in treatment for the uninsured; $1.9 billion for food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches; $1.6 billion in the federal prison and court systems, and $1.4 billion in federal aid to schools.

The vast majority of illegal immigrants are from Central and South America. Could the previous statistics be examples of the gentiles being “tread on”

Now the point of this post is not a political debate on illegal immigration. The point is that I think there is good evidence that we can no longer talk about verse 10 and 15 in the future tense. I believe they are happening now. We have sinned against his gospel. We have rejected the fullness of his gospel. He has begun to bring the fullness of his gospel from among us. (verse 10) The Lamanites have began to go through among the gentiles, and tread them down. (verse 15)

I guess we had better pay attention to verse 13 and 14.

13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.
14 And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

Time for a little R&R...repent and return.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Truly united and the work for Zion.

During the past few week as the election has dominated the headlines, both in the United States and abroad, this scripture has often come to my mind, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they where of one heart and one mind...” Moses 7:18.

Yes, the Democrats have won the presidential election, the Senate, and the House. Republicans are now weeping, but are we truly the United States of America. Offhand, I can think of two times in the last 50 years when, in my opinion we were “United.” One being a great time the other a horrific time. The first being in the race to put a man on the moon. Americans truly wanted to see this great achievement and see an American on the moon. The second time I think we were united was shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11 2001. For a short time after that Americans were humbled, people were nicer to others on the street, I believe it was a kinder gentler nation, for a brief short time we pulled together as a Nation and came up with the slogan, “United We Stand.”

But what about now, Democrats are going to blame Republicans, Republicans are going to blame Democrats. Independents, Greens, Libertarians are all going to blame a two party system. Now, it doesn’t matter who you voted for. Even if, like me, nothing we voted for passed or our candidates were not elected. Even if we disagree with how certain aspects are handled. We can not continue to do the blame game. We must pull together as a nation. What do we really need to do to unite as a people? As a country? As a world?

I really don’t want to turn this blog political, however these same things that apply in government, apply in church and believes. How many different churches are out there claiming they are correct? The readers of this blog certainly believe theirs is the correct church, but which aspect of it? Even among the church there are so many different believes and ways of thought, all rationalized and practiced. Mainstream Mormons verses the bloggernacle. Back row Mormons verses the Molly Mormon and Peter Priesthood. No caffeine verses caffeinated Mormons.

How far and what do each of us need to accomplish to establish a people of one heart and one mind? What are we to do to establish Zion?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why do good things happen to bad people?

Does the Lord bless the wicked? We’ve all seen it. It’s the converse of bad things happen to good people. Sometimes good things happen to bad people.
In church we are taught that everything we have comes from God, both spiritual and temporal blessings. We are nothing by ourselves and that anything we attain or accomplish is only because of God. We are taught that we should give praise and thanks to God and that it is wrong to take credit ourselves. We are also taught that we are blessed because of obedience and sacrifice. So what are we to make of when we see the wicked blessed? When we see good things happen to bad people. Did it come from God? Did it come from the Satan? Or can the person just take the credit themselves as it is a product of their own means?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Withstanding Temptations

So I got looking at some scriptures on withstanding temptations. So this post is just a compilation of what I found. Sorry no additional commentary to go with them. If we really want to be blessed it looks like withstanding temptation is they way to go about it. Most of them are common knowledge, but when we truly read these scriptures, not just turn off our mind because we know them they do talk to us.

James 1:12 “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

D&C 23:1 “ ...But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation.”

2 Peter 2:9 “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations”

1 Nephi 15:24 “And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.”

D & C 10: 5 “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”

Ether 12:27 “ 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Alma 13:28 “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;”

D & C 62:1 “Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted”

D & C 93:1 “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you”

Also this is how temptation is defined on the official church web site, “Temptation is a test of a person's ability to choose good instead of evil. It is an enticement to sin and follow Satan instead of God. Part of the experience of this life is to learn to overcome temptation and to choose right over wrong.”

It really looks like humility is key to overcoming temptations.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

They don't understand

They Don't Understand by Sawyer Brown

The lesson the song above teaches finally sunk in recently. I’ve liked that song for a long time. Recently I had an experience that re-affirmed the lesson taught in the song. I teach math. I have a student in one of my Algebra II classes that is also in my math lab class. In math lab on the day we had reviewed for an upcoming test, he asked me for help on a problem that I had done for his class earlier that day. In my mind I’m thinking, “Gosh, why didn’t you just listen in class today,” but with a smile, said “sure.” As I started to help him, he halfway apologized, saying that he had a hard time paying attention in class today because he had just prior to class received some stressful news about his brother. I helped him with the problem and didn’t think too much more about it. The next day (test day) I saw him standing outside my door as I was teaching the period before his class. I went out to see what he wanted. In his tough high school football player voice he said, “I’m not going to be in class today, can I take the test another time.” Then with tears filling his eyes and his voice cracking, he said, “They don’t think my brother is going to make it.” I won’t go into the details of our exchange after that. But I will say that I went back into the classroom wondering to myself how many times I had judged a student’s behavior without really knowing what was going on? I gained a greater appreciation for people that day. How often do we judge others on what we see them do when what we couldn’t see was “their brother wasn’t going to make it”? We don’t understand.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Justice, mercy, forgiveness, the atonement, and Alma 42

I'm going to start by first quoting some verses from Alma 42

15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.

24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

In Alma 42, as well as in other scripture and literature, justice is personified, meaning it is given attributes or characteristics of a human. For example in verse 24, "justice exerciseth all HIS demands". In verse 15, "the demands of justice". While this makes for interesting writing, I don't think it helps in understanding the concept. Justice is not a person, justice can't demand anything. People demand justice. So in the context of Alma 42, WHO is demanding justice?

Another question is that of the relationship between justice and forgiveness. If God forgives us, then why does he still demand justice (payment of the debt = atonement). If someone owes me money, but I forgive the debt, I can't expect payment. Forgiving the debt means that the payment doesn't need to be paid anymore. This has been discussed a bit here.

As I've discussed this with several different people, I've run across several different theories about God, justice and forgiveness. I'm going to try to summarize them here.

Theory 1 God freely forgives. It is not God that demands justice (payment) but an outside "organization" (council of gods, society of gods, etc.). This may be viewed much like our earthly system of law and society. Perhaps you steal my wallet. When the police finally catch up with you, they find that you have spent all my money, as well as used my credit card. If I demanded justice, you would need to pay me back, but let's say that I forgive you and don't require that the debt be paid. That's not the end of it. There is an outside organization (police, courts, society) that may require a punishment anyway, perhaps paying a fine or jail time. In this theory Christ’s atonement would be paying the debt to the "organization"

Theory 2 God freely forgives. It is not God that demand justice but the people who are wronged and don't forgive. For example, you punch me in the nose. You have obviously offended (sinned against) me because you punched me in the nose, but you have also offended (sinned against) God because he asked you not to punch people in the nose. With this theory, God forgives you for sinning against him and does not require any payment. I now have the choice to forgive or demand justice. If I forgive you then it is over. No justice or payment is required. I don't get to hit you back, the debt is forgiven. Because all is forgiven, there is not a debt to be paid and Christ’s atonement is not involved in this situation. If I don't forgive you and demand justice, then a payment is required. This is where the atonement comes in. In this theory Christ’s atonement would be paying the debt to all those who don't forgive, but demand justice.

Theory 3 God freely forgives. At this point justice is no longer demanded. But although God forgives the debt, it is still there, unpaid. He just isn't demanding payment. It would be analogous to the following situation. You rack up a huge debt on your credit card. Then the credit card company says, hey, you know what, don't worry about paying it. They aren't going to wipe the debt away, it will still show up on credit reports and things like that. You just don't every have to pay it. In this theory Christ's atonement pays the debt to God so you can have a clean "record"

Theory 4 God doesn't forgive. It is he that demands justice. Christ pays the debt and then it is Christ that has the right to demand justice. Christ freely forgives, meaning he forgives and doesn't require that the debt still be paid. In this theory Christ’s atonement would be paying the debt to God.

Theory 5 God doesn't forgive the debt, but forgives the debtor. This is kind of like a status thing. Justice is demanded. God doesn't forgive the debt, meaning it still needs to be paid, but when he forgives the debtor, the debtor is brought back up to the same relationship status they were in prior to incurring the debt. In this theory Christ’s atonement would be paying the debt to God.

Each of them seem to have their own problems. What do you think? What do you see as problems with each theory? What is good about them? Do you have any modifications or other theories that will help explain justice, forgiveness, and the atonement?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Embraced by the arms of Christ

So the other night I was trying to get my 18 month old daughter to go to sleep. She is a beautiful girl, however she never likes going to bed. My wife and I had done the usual bedtime routine: a bath, Pajamas on, read a story, soft music playing, only the night light on. She still would not settle down for bed, so I was playing with her on the floor in her room. At this same time a lighting storm was now visible from the windows in her room. At first the bright lights only slightly startled her. However within a minute or two the thunder was also audible. (Where I live we get pretty big thunder storms in the summer.)

At this point my little girl begins to get really scared by the thunder. To aid to this, she is also tired since it is past her bed time. She normally is a Mama’s girl, but whenever she is scared she tends to want me and curl up in my lap. So she curled up in my lap and buried her head into my chest crying and terrified about what the sound and noise was outside. I embraced her and after the first initial cry she turned around to face the window so she could watch the lighting storm safe in daddies arms. She soon began to point at the lighting and smile making sure I also saw the bright lights. The thunder remained, but she was no longer scared she realized she was safe and everything will be okay.

At this time I got an insight, or spiritual download as some call it, into what believe in Christ can do for you. In this situation with the Thunder storm and my daughter the only thing that changed was she sat in my lap and felt of my love. Outside nothing changed, the storms were still raging. The same thing happens when we believe in Christ. The situation outside may not change, however we can metaphorically curl up in Christ lap, feel of his love for us, realize that we are safe and everything in the end will be okay! As we progress and work to build our relationship with Christ we can enable ourselves to feel more and more of his love, as we continue to grow eventually we will be able to be embraced in the arms of Christ.

Now I attend church faithfully and fulfill my callings to the best of my abilities, however I am constantly struggling to increase my faith. I am at the point where the church and a believe in Christ makes sense and I hope I am making the right choices in my life. But I really want to increase my hope to a knowledge of the truth. By knowledge I am not speaking of the multitude that profess every fast Sunday that they “know beyond a shadow of a doubt.” I refer to what Joseph Smith said, “
No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be in the Holiest of Holies” (May 1, 1842 WJS) This is why I occasionally write my thoughts here, an attempt to organize them and hopefully grow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Faith Promoting Stories or Fact?

I have always enjoyed the vision of Wilford Woodruff where the signers of the Declaration of Independence, appear to him in the temple and request that there temple work be done. Part of this may be the fact that even though I reside in New Mexico part of me still considers St. George home. I even took out my own endowments in the St. George Temple.

However I recently read a small article that someone linked to on the Juvenile Instructor Blog. Brian Stuy's article in the Spring 2000 Journal of Mormon History “Wilford Woodruff's Vision of the signers of the Declaration of Independence" You can read the whole article here. Just look for the Wilford Woodruff vision in the column on the left hand side.

According to Stuy, Haden Wells Church and John Bernhisel had already preformed the baptismal ordinances for the people mentioned in Wilford Woodruffs vision, and the endowment was not yet available at this place. (ibid pg. 76) He goes on to assume evolution of Wilford Woodruffs night visions into visitations. I think we as Mormons often mistakenly assume that visions and visitations are one and the same. But that is another topic altogether.

I tend to agree with Stuys conclusion on this point. But the point I want to bring up is the concept of Faith promoting stories vs. Faith Promoting Fact. I can believe this story has inspired many a person to preform temple work for the dead. Which is great and wonderful. However many a person has left the church upon finding out that the great stories from Mormon History are not quite as they are retold in Sunday School. I have always believed that Mormon stories are like a fine wine and they get better with time.

My question is this, at what point does a little fabrication, cause more harm than good?

Second point I wish to make is to put a plug in for the New FamilySearch program. It is amazing how far the church has come with its Genealogy and temple tracking. With this interactive program we can make sure that temple work isn't repeated, like in the case of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Missionary work and The Second Coming

Yesterday during Priesthood someone made a comment about how prior to the second coming everyone will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, which included all the Muslims. And how great it will be to get missionaries into the Muslim countries. The person who made this comment is the person who I am sure is in a lot of wards. Mainstream Mormon all the way. Gospel Doctrine teacher, member of the Elders Quorum Presidency, brother in the Stake Presidency, knows and quotes all the little catch all phrases all too common in the church. Now I have heard this and it was quite comforting while I was a missionary that I was giving all these people a chance to hear the Gospel, however as I have progressed this answer doesn’t seem to but it anymore. But is this something that we really believe or is it just Mormon Folklore? Does everyone need to accept Mormonism in “one eternal Round” or is that what the eternities are for?

At the end of May I noticed online that there are people in the Amazon who are still “uncontacted” by the outside world. Look here for one article on it. If we really believe this doctrine than this tribe would have to be contacted not only my Christians, but Mormons also.

This to me doesn’t seem to connect. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus all seem to be blessed and have many truths in there lives. For me and my family, yes Mormonism is true and there are many blessing that we have received from our believes. However, with cultural differences and all I am sure that other major faiths, if followed, will benefit people where ever they are.

Help me out here, I seem to have a major disconnect with this concept.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why we do the things we do

What is our motivation to not sin?

For some it is the fear of punishment. The problem with this motivation is that it is not always immediate or even evident. There are two kinds of punishment that we fear.

1. Fear that sometime after this life is over we will be punished. Here is the problem. Fear of a punishment that we don't understand, can't comprehend, and that will happen at some point in the distant future (assuming we have enough faith to believe it will happen) is just not a good enough motivation to get us not to sin.

2. Fear that we will be punished in this life. Something "bad" will happen to us. The problem with this is, number one, it's not consistent. Let me relate this to something we are all familiar with. Speeding. Whether speeding is a sin is a discussion for another time. I'd like to think of it in terms of a completely temporal law for now. If you break this law then there is a penalty...we'll sort of. Why do so many people speed? I think it's because a person may speed once, twice, three times, etc. and not see any negative consequences for the action, so they continue to do it. It's like that with us and sin as well. Perhaps we commit a sin once, twice, three times, and we don't notice any real consequences. Our lives are just as good as before we sinned. So what is to stop us?
The second problem with using fear of punishment in this life as a motivation not to sin is that even if we didn't sin and were perfect, bad things would still happen to us. Look at Christ. He never sinned, and he still had bad things happen to him. If bad things are going to happen anyway, I don't think that using that as a motivation not to sin is going to work very well.

Fear of punishment doesn't seem to be a good motivator to not sin. What about reward?

If we don't sin then we can go to heaven. In LDS terms, be exalted. What does that mean? Well to some people, heaven is fishing every day on a secluded pristine lake, to others it might be relaxing on a beach listening to the waves roll in. You may envision heaven some other way, but the reality is, the ultimate goal is to become a God (D&C 132:20) So here is the problem with that as I see it. Most of our sins pretty much boil down to selfishness. Both sins of commission and sins of omission. We do A, B, and C because we want to and we don't do D, E, and F because we don't want to. So why in the world would we want a life (being a God) where we have to be selfless and think about others 24/7. If that seemed like a great reward and what we truly wanted, we would just do it now. Why wait for a life like that if that's what we truly wanted? We could just have it right now. See, most of us don't want to think of others 24/7 so that doesn't seem like much of a reward. Certainly not enough to motivate us not to sin.

So if fear of punishment is not enough and the hope of reward is not enough, what is our motivation not to sin?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's the deal with Satan?

So I've been reading Milton's Paradise Lost. It's got me thinking about the LDS view of Satan. Several questions have come to mind, so I thought I'd just throw them out there and see what people think.
1. We've had discussion on this blog about how involved God is in our lives. How involved do you think Satan is?
2. What is Satan's ultimate goal?
3. How much of the plan of salvation does he know?
4. Most of the LDS views make him out to seem pretty dumb. How smart is he?
5. How powerful is he?
6. Can Satan still be forgiven and redeemed at some point?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Future Hall of Famers

In the NBA (as well as with other sports) sometimes players come into the league and before they’ve even played a game they are touted as future Hall of Famers. I remember this being the case with LeBron James. When this happens, what the sports community assumes is, that if the player continues on the course he has established in his pre-NBA career, he will make the Hall of Fame. Eternal Glory will be his. Is it guaranteed? Not exactly. Injuries could cut his career short. Perhaps he could get into trouble off the court that could cut his career short or keep him from the Hall of Fame. But, we assume that barring any of these types of things, the player will be in the Hall of Fame. So why play? What is the purpose of their basketball life? What becomes the responsibility of a player like this?
I think it becomes the responsibility of players like this to make the players around him better.
To raise them up and make his team better and lead them to a championship. Individual glory will already be theirs (Hall of Fame) but a championship gives glory to all. At the same time that a player lifts his teams as a whole to a championship, he adds to his own glory as well. He can also help other players attain individual glory by making them better. So what is all this talk about basketball. I’d like to draw an analogy between members of the church and future Hall of Famers. I think members of the church come to earth as future Hall of Famers. Think about it. Of all the billions of people that come to the earth, only relatively few are born into or become part of the covenant people. Why? People must end up here in this blessed situation because of the course they started on in their pre-earth life. Just like the NBA player that arrived at future Hall of Fame status because of the course he started in his pre-NBA life. Like LeBron James entering the NBA, members of the church come to earth with all the abilities to receive eternal glory. Now I think far too many are letting “injuries” and “off the court problems” get in the way of their making it to eternal glory, but that is another discussion. Let’s assume for this discussion that we stay on the course that we started and don’t digress. What then is the purpose of life? Why “play”? Here is the key. It’s about others people! Members of the church have an extraordinary responsibility for others. It’s not about us. We have been set on a course. Born into a good family, baptism, Holy Ghost, Priesthood, mission, married in the temple, raise a family. This is the course that many LDS members were set on. If they don’t let “off the court” problems interfere then they’re on a course toward eternal glory. In another post the question was brought up, then what is the purpose of life for these individuals? It is this. Like Lebron James, it is the responsibility of future Hall of Famers to raise others up. It's about other people. It's not about individual glory. It's about glory for all. I recently saw an interview with Magic Johnson. He made an interesting statement. He said he couldn't remember what years he had won the MVP award. But he could definitely remember the years his team won the championship. It's not about individual glory. It's about glory for all. That's how we raise our altitude. That's how we get to the next level. It's about other people.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Do we believe in Karma? I will use the definition of a Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation. For the sake of argument, let us ignore the reincarnation portion of it. Also I am not looking for an official church stance on this issue, but rather just thoughts.

To give a history of why I am asking this, let me tell a story. Yesterday as I walked out from work, I noticed my supervisors car was sitting a little low on one side. I walked by and noticed that he had a flat tire. I personally have nothing against this supervisor and fell he does his job well. I felt bad for the guy, but he was in a meeting so I couldn’t inform him about his misfortune. I would have gladly helped fix the flat if I could have. I don’t consider myself a kiss up or anything, just it would suck to have to change a tire by yourself. Although I will admit that I did get a laugh at the fact that my supervisor had a flat.

So as I was driving home 20 minutes later, my tire gets a hole and I get a flat tire. I get the spare tire on and go get it fixed, no problem. Was this Karma for laughing at my supervisor?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Does God Show Favorites?

I hear people bear testimony and thank God all the time for blessing that they received, but these blessing came at the expense of other not being blessed. Does God really show favorites like this? With some of the “blessing” that we ask for, we are in competition with other of God’s children. How does God decide who to bless, or does he even get involved at all? Here is an example of what I mean. Suppose you and several of your co-workers are all eligible for a certain promotion at work. It means more money, better hours, and the ever popular office with a window. This is something that you desire so you ask Heavenly Father for it. The twist is that all the eligible co-workers also ask Heavenly Father for this blessing as well. So how does Heavenly Father decide? Does he go by whose the most righteous? Who “needs” it the most? (assuming that any of them “need” it at all) Or maybe he doesn’t get involved at all? If he is going to get involved, how is he going to ensure that the person he wants to bless gets the promotion? What if the boss is not in tune with Heavenly Father?
So what do you think?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What is the Purpose of Life?

This seems like a strange post to post here, but my mind can’t seem to grasp this one so I am looking for input. At first it seems like a simple question, What is the Purpose of Life?

There are a lot of answers that I have heard on this Topic:

1. “Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

2. “And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” (2 Nephi 2:21)

3. “... therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us which is after the resurrection of the dead. (Alma 12:24)

I feel these scriptures summaries all the general answers. We are here to have joy, repent while in the flesh, and prepare to meet God. All good so far.

Well, now let us look at a generic persons life. Let’s say they work 40 hrs a week, fulfills callings at church, temple recommend, overall a good person. I believe most LDS people will fall into this category. It just seems that there is a big gap between the Purpose of Life and the generic person. I believe I fall into the category of generic person qualities listed above, but I am still left wondering what is the Purpose of Life? Isn’t there anything more to this life than this?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Suffering for Sin

Let me preface this post with saying that I believe the atonement was necessary. The why and how is what I don’t yet understand. What punishment did Christ suffer for me? I don’t mean to belittle the atonement or what Christ did for me. Nor am I trying to say that there isn’t a punishment for sin. I believe what Christ did was magnificent and essential. That is what Heavenly Father has told me. I just want to understand what he did. So what is the punishment for sin that Christ suffered for me? In the “What is the punishment for sin” post, here are some of the punishments that were put forward.

1. The punishment for sin is the natural consequence of the sin. For example, if you steal, you get put in jail; have to pay a fine, etc. This doesn’t seem to be the punishment that caused Christ to suffer for me. If it were, then I wouldn’t have to go to jail, pay the fine, etc. He would do that for me and suffer in my place as long as I repent. This just isn’t how it works. This must not be the punishment for sin that Christ suffered for me. I will still suffer the natural consequences.

2. The punishment for sin is not being exalted (not making it to heaven, celestial kingdom, however you want to say it). This doesn’t seem to be the punishment that caused Christ to suffer for me. If it were, then he would be the one that is not exalted and suffering not being with the Father instead of me. But he is exalted, and is with the Father, so he can’t suffer that punishment for me. This must not be the punishment for sin that Christ suffered for me. I will still be the one to suffer this punishment.

3. The punishment for sin is sorrow for committing the sin (guilt, bad feelings, whatever you want to call it). This doesn’t seem to be the punishment that caused Christ to suffer for me. If it were, then I wouldn’t have to experience those feelings. But since sorrow for sin is a part of repentance, that is something that I must experience. It would seem like an awful waste for Christ to have to suffer all that sorrow for sin for no reason because I also need to feel (and have felt) that too. This seems to be the one most open to discussion. I can see the argument that says, “yeah, you feel sorrow through the repentance process, but then after the repentance process you can be free from the sorrow, and it is that continued sorrow after repenting that Christ suffered. That way you don’t have to suffer that sorrow the rest of your life.” That sounds great but logically doesn’t make a lot of sense (Why would you still feel sorrow after Heavenly Father forgives you regardless of whether Christ suffered your sorrows or not). But the big reason I don’t buy that argument is that it makes the atonement a nice thing, but not necessary for exaltation. It saves me from a lot of sorrowing for sin, which is a nice thing, but the absence of sorrow is not a necessity for exaltation. Most of us suffer sorrow from many other things besides sin (trials, tribulations, etc). This must not be the punishment for sin that Christ suffered for me. I will still suffer from sorrow.

So what say you? What is the punishment that caused Christ to suffer? And how was that punishment going to keep us from progressing toward exaltation, thereby making the suffering Christ did for us essential?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Trivial Pursuit?

I've always been taught that I should involve God in everything I do. To quote from the New Era, "The Lord wants us to pray about whatever concerns us. Nothing is unimportant or trivial if it is a concern in our lives." Is it true?

As I was getting ready for church today, I decided that I wanted to wear a certain sweater. I had a problem though. I have only one tie that matches this sweater and I couldn't find it anywhere. Now I've been taught all my life that if I've lost something I should pray and Heavenly Father will help me find it. In fact I've probably heard hundreds of stories during my Mormon existence testifying of experiences like this, from primary to sacrament meetings. I've done it myself. I've prayed about lost items and they have subsequently been found. So I'm getting ready to ask Heavenly Father to help me find my tie, when for no reason a thought popped into my head. I thought about all the people who were probably praying at that very moment, many of them that needed Heavenly Fathers help much more than I did. About 16 thousand children die every day from starvation. That's one child every five seconds. In the five minutes or so that Heavenly Father might have helped me find my tie, 60 children would die because they were hungry.
I felt pretty selfish and stupid. What a trivial thing. A tie. Children are starving and I'm worried about a tie. I just couldn't justify asking Heavenly Father to help me find my tie. I told Heavenly Father to help his children, I didn't need that tie.
I wore a different outfit.
Should I have prayed about my tie? Was I showing a lack of faith? I mean, He is all powerful. I'm sure he can help more than one person at the same time. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is Mormon Doctrine?

My sister and I had an interesting discussion the other day about "mormon doctrine". It seemed to us that there isn't really any "official Mormon doctirne". Rather, "mormon doctrine" is simply an interpretive tradition that is codified by practice. Let me see if I can explain with an analogy. It is much like how our laws and the Constitution work in the United States. We have the Constitution. The Constitiution is "set in stone". But the interpretation of it is not. Laws are made with the idea that they are in line with the Constitution. But the constitiution is open to interpretation and laws can change if they are deemed to be not in line with it by those in authority at the present time.
We have the scriptures. The scriptures are "set in stone". The interpretation of them is not. That is the beauty of revelation. As we recieve more light and knowledge, the intererpretation of the scriptures expands. Sometimes it even changes. Does that mean the church isn't true? Does that mean that so and so wasn't a prophet because things aren't the same now as they were when they were president of the church? Absoultely not. It means we have modern revelation.

So what do you think? "Official Mormon Doctrine" or interpretive tradition that is codified by practice?

Interpreting the Spirit

I normally go to the Gym on Monday and Wednesdays after work for a minor work out. The purpose of this is mainly just to fight off my ever growing belly. Sometimes this journey to the Gym is easier than others just by pure motivation. Yesterday, I really had little desire to go the gym, and I already new that a person I normally go with wasn’t going to make it. So my desire to go was really low. I decided that I just needed to “Man-Up” If I want to get rid of this gut I need to go to the gym. While en route to the gym I get in a car accident. Luckily no one was hurt, and I wasn’t cited or at fault. It does look like my little car is toast. But the reason I am posting this here is this, was my lack of desire to go to the gym a Spiritual Prompting to prevent this accident? If so, then had I been more in tune with the Spirit could this accident have been prevented?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Three Grand Orders of the Priesthood

I finally got some time to research out and Post on the Three Grand orders of the Priesthood and Second anointing. I decided to start a new thread on this topics. So it wouldn’t get lost at the end of the “Who says nobody’s Perfect” thread.

Sorry for the sources on this one. The fundamentalist just seem to be the only ones who have expounded on this topic that I seem to agree with. I basically read the accounts of the August 27th 1843 discourse, in Odgen Krauts Calling and Election he has a pretty good chapter on 3 grand orders of the Priesthood, and finally I transposed what Fred Collier said in his Doctrine of the Priesthood Vol. 7 No. 8 Analyzing the Different Orders of the Patriarchal Priesthood Pages 14-15

“In was in the prophets August 27th ,1843 discourse, wherein he stated that Abraham, before he was blessed my Melchizedek (as in Genesis 14) possessed certain Sealing Power which was sufficient to admit him into the presence of God (WJS 246) . A careful analysis of this speech reveals the following: That there are Three Different Orders of Priesthood referred to in Hebrews chapter 7. The prophet names these three orders as follows. A. The aaronic or Levitical Priesthood. B. The Patriarchal Priesthood of Abraham, which he held in three different degrees at different stages of progression in his mortal probation. Inherent within the first and lowest of these were certain Sealing Powers which Abraham held before he met Melchizedek ( as in Gen. 14), and which were sufficient to admit a man into the presence of God. This Priesthood is the same that is given in our day to the Church Patriarch and consists of Being a High Priest and Patriarch in the Melchizedek or “High Priesthood”, along with its accompanying Sealing Keys. The second stage of Abraham’s Priesthood was the higher “Patriarchal authority” Which he received from Melchizedek on the day that he met him after the slaughter of the Kings. It was on this occasion that Abraham received his Endowment, wherein he was anointed a King and Priest and entered into covenant that he would order his life in accordance with the Law of the Fulness of the Priesthood. The Prophet refers to this Priesthood as “the greatest [Priesthood] yet experienced” in the Church (WJS 245). The third and highest stage or increment in Abraham’s Patriarchal Powers came when he obtained his Second Anointing, wherein he received the Keys and Powers of Endless life, or Sealing Keys of Elijah. It is these last Sealing Powers which constitute the Fulness of the Patriarchal Priesthood. Abraham did not obtain these Keys until after he had proven himself in his probationary state, wherein among other things, at the command of God he willingly offered up his only son Isaac. So taught the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS 322) The Third Grand order of Priesthood which the Prophet referred to in this speech is the Priesthood which Melchizedek held. This Priesthood is clearly described in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis chapter 14, as also in Hebrews chapter 7 and the Prophet’s speech referred to above. This last Priesthood can only be obtained direct from God, by the calling of His own voice and involves a personal covenant between God and the individual who thus receives it.”

Okay so it seems that Abraham got his Second Anointing and Third level of the Priesthood at the same time. But if this priesthood can only be obtained directly from God, than I would state that in Latter Day time that this would be another ordinance on top of the Second Anointing. So from the above article it seems that for us the Aaronic is the same as Joseph Called it, but what we call the Melchizedek, is actually the "Patriarchal Authority" and the Priesthood we receive from God himself is the Melchizedek Priesthood or the "Patriarcal Priesthood".

Does this make sense with everybody else, or did I just confuse everybody?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gifts of the Spirt

In Doctrine and Covenants 46 and Moroni 10 it talks about gifts of the spirit. After reading these chapters it seems we are given guidance to go after these gifts. For example:

D&C 46:8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

Moroni 10:30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift.

My question is this. How are we supposed to seek after these gifts? I mean the obvious answers are pray, fast, temple attendance etc. the standard Sunday school stuff. Does anyone out there have any guidance for this? I would really be interested in practical stories where people sought after gifts and received them.

One last question Moroni 10:14 speaks of one of the gifts of the spirit, “And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;” This gift isn’t mentioned in the modern scripture of D&C 46 only discerning of spirits. Why?

Friday, January 25, 2008

God's Evolution?

Last Sunday, I listened to someone discuss how much comfort they received from the fact they believe in a God and therefore didn't have to believe the idea of Evolution. This in and of it self is a long battle God vs. Evolution. But as the discussion ensued it was brought up again my this individual how corrupt the idea of Evolution is and how we as LDS don't have to believe in that. I dodn't say anything then, I didn't want to offend this person.

I just want to get some other peoples idea's on this subject. I personally am LDS, I fully believe in God and that he is the creator of all things, but I also believe in Evolution. I believe that God took time to plan out a way to get from no life on earth to intelligent beings. I have said it before, but I believe in "God the Ultimate Scientist."

What are your thoughts on this idea?

Friday, January 11, 2008

What is the punishment for sin?

Is the punishment for sin (in terms of an eternal perspective) just the absence of the reward (living with God) or is there an additional punishment? I realize that there are sometimes immediate punishments for sin particularly if you violate a law. But what about when this life is over? Is the punishment for sin simply the negative consequence of how your sin affects your life right now, or is there an additional punishment dealt out by God after this life is over?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What does it mean to forgive?

What does it mean to forgive? This is the first of several questions that I have, related to the atonement. If I were hear somebody ask this question a month or so ago I would have considered this as one of those "duh" sunday school questions. So what changed my perception of the question? It was my study of the mediator parable of the atonement. The way this parable has been explained to me is as follows, God is the creditor, Christ is the mediator, and I am the debtor. In the parable, does the creditor really forgive the debt? From what I understand, if you forgive a debt, it means that you don't get paid. But in the parable the creditor still gets paid. If God forgives (think of this in terms of sin), why does he still require payment (the atonement)? This doesn't seem to fit my understanding of forgiveness. How can you say that you forgive someone of a debt, but still require payment? So what do you think? What does it mean to forgive?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Atonement Part 2: The Theories

In my studying of the Atonement, I've run across several theories of Atonement. Many of them are not applicable to an LDS discussion of atonement, but I think that several are. Here is a list:

The Ransom Theory: The earliest of all, originating with the Early Church Fathers, this theory claims that Christ offered himself as a ransom (Mark 10:45). Where it was not clear was in its understanding of exactly to whom the ransom was paid. Many early church fathers viewed the ransom as paid to Satan. Essentially, this theory claimed that Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall; hence, justice required that God pay the Devil a ransom to free us from the Devil's clutches. An extension of this is the "Christus Victor" view which focuses less on paying Satan off as a Ransom and more on defeating Satan through the atonement.

The Satisfaction Theory: The formulator of this theory was the medieval theologian Anselm of Canterbury (1034-1109), in his book, Cur Deus Homo (lit. Why the God Man). In his view, God's offended honor and dignity could only be satisfied by the sacrifice of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Anselm offered compelling biblical evidence that the atonement was not a ransom paid by God to the devil but rather a debt paid to God on behalf of sinners. Anselm's work established a foundation for the Protestant Reformation, specifically the understanding of justification by faith. Anslem believed that humans could not render to God more than what was due to him. The satisfaction due to God was greater than what all created beings are capable of doing, since they can only do what is already required of them. Therefore, God had to make satisfaction for himself. Yet if this satisfaction was going to avail for humans, it had to be made by a human. Therefore only a being that was both God and man could satisfy God and give him the honor that is due him. The classic Anselmian formulation of the Satisfaction View needs to be distinguished from Penal Substitution. Penal Substitution states that Christ bore the penalty for sin, in place of those sinners united to him by faith. Anselm, by contrast, regarded human sin as defrauding God of the honour he is due. Christ's death, the ultimate act of obedience, gives God great honour. As it was beyond the call of duty for Christ, it is more honour than he was obliged to give. Christ's surplus can therefore repay our deficit. Hence Christ's death is substitutionary in this sense: he pays the honour instead of us. But that substitution is not penal; his death pays our honour not our penalty.

The Penal-Substitution Theory: This view was formulated by the 16th century Reformers as an extension of Anselm's Satisfaction theory. Anselm's theory was correct in introducing the satisfaction aspect of Christ's work and its necessity, however the Reformers saw it as insufficient because it was referenced to God's honor rather than his justice and holiness and was couched more in terms of a commercial transaction than a penal substitution. This Reformed view says simply that Christ died for man, in man's place, taking his sins and bearing them for him. The bearing of man's sins takes the punishment for them and sets the believer free from the penal demands of the law: The righteousness of the law and the holiness of God are satisfied by this substitution.

The Moral-Example Theory (or Moral-Influence Theory): Christ died to influence mankind toward moral improvement. This theory denies that Christ died to satisfy any principle of divine justice, but teaches instead that His death was designed to greatly impress mankind with a sense of God's love, resulting in softening their hearts and leading them to repentance. Thus, the Atonement is not directed towards God with the purpose of maintaining His justice, but towards man with the purpose of persuading him to right action. Formulated by Peter Abelard (1079-1142) partially in reaction against Anselm's Satisfaction theory, this view was held by the 16th century Socinians. Versions of it can be found later in F. D. E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and Horace Bushnell (1802-1876).

The Governmental Theory: God made Christ an example of suffering to exhibit to erring man that sin is displeasing to him. God's moral government of the world made it necessary for him to evince his wrath against sin in Christ. Christ died as a token of God's displeasure toward sin and it was accepted by God as sufficient; but actually God does not exact strict justice. This view was formulated by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) and is subsequently found in Arminianism, Charles Finney, the New England Theology of Jonathan Edwards (the younger), and Methodism.

The Declaratory Theory: A version of the Moral Influence theory, wherein Christ died to show men how greatly God loves them. This view held by Albrecht Ritschl (1822-89).

The Guaranty Theory: Reconciliation is based not on Christ's expiation of sin, but on His guaranty to win followers and thus conquer human sinfulness. This view held by J. C. K. von Hofmann (1810-77).

The Vicarious Repentance Theory: by John McLeod Campbell (d. 1872). It assumes that a perfect repentance is sufficient to atone for sin. In his death, Christ entered into the Father's condemnation of sin, condemned sin, and by this, confessed it.

The Accident Theory: Christ's death was an accident, as unforeseen and unexpected as that of any other victim of man's hatred. This view is usually found outside of mainstream Christianity.

The Martyr Theory: Christ gave up His life for a principle of truth that was opposed to the spirit of His day. This view is usually found outside of mainstream Christianity.

So do you have a favorite here? A variation? A new theory?