I can appreciate that fact that there are many people who have eventually found the gospel after anti-Mormons have prompted them to seek after the real truth. After my wife was introduced to the gospel via the Hill Cumorah Pageant, she went to the library to find out more, and there she found anti-books. However, this didn't do damage, and she was receptive when she was later taught by the missionaries a few years later.

However, let us not kid ourselves regarding the deadly work that anti-Mormons do. Yes, the church as a whole will not be shaken or damaged, but anti-Mormon literature and efforts do close minds and delay conversions. Anyone who has served a mission in Anti-Mormon areas know how many people that quote this material and have their minds totally closed. Yes, maybe they aren't the "elect", who will hear His voice, but they are affected. It is a very sad and evil work that leads people away from the truth.

"Persecution is an essential part of the creeds of all false religions...The only effective weapon of false religions and it yields only momentary to persecute true believers." (Bruce R. McConkie, MM p.317)
"For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (D&C 123:12)
It makes me happy to hear that many people find the church as the result of anti-mormon efforts, but let us not fool ourselves into thinking that they bring more people into the church than all the people who they KEEP FROM the church. I do think that they probably bring more people into the church than they do persuade people TO LEAVE their church membership...however this is very sad when it happens.

For those of you on Alma-l who read my experience bringing my friend Ken into the gospel, I didn't mention that his sister joined the church while we were both away on our missions. However, her anti-Mormon friends would slip literature into her locker at school and kept after her. My Dad (bishop) spent hours with her, trying to help her, yet she finally fell away. A very sad story. Anti-Mormon efforts do cause damage. Don't forget what Joseph Smith's reaction was to the Nauvoo Expositor.

> Anti-mormon publications may stir up interest and increase
> testimonies, but it pulls far more tender sheep away from the flock
> than it draws to it.

Notice one description of those of the terrestrial kingdom:

"There are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men." (D&C 76:75)
Doesn't this describe these "tender sheep?" They are blinded by false teachings or by pride, and close their minds to the fullness of the gospel. Our anti-mormon "friends" are in business to draw people away from the celestial kingdom.

Yes, some of the anti-mormons aren't very crafty, thank goodness, and people can see through their lies, and many times are redirected to the truth, but many are truly crafty.

But I totally agree with what has been said regarding their effect on the church as a whole:

"Our enemies have never done anything that has injured this work of God, and they never will." (Heber J. Grant, 1909).

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Plan of Salvation

I contend there were not TWO plans voted on in the council of heaven. This rendition of two plans is probably some offshoot of "My Turn on Earth" false doctrine.

First, let's hear from Elder McConkie:

"One of the saddest examples of misconceived and twisted knowledge (vintage McConkie!) is the all-too-common heresy that there were two plans of salvation, that the Father, presumptively at a loss to know what to do asked for other proposals...that the father chose between them...The father originated his own plan, announced it, and then asked for a volunteer to be the Redeemer." (Bruce R. McConkie, MM 1:48-9)
Check it out in Moses 4:1-4 and Abraham 3:27-28.

Satan rebelled against God's plan...had his own ideas, but they were never "put on the agenda" or voted upon.

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> Does the Lord always answer our prayers?

In Alma 24, notice that the Lord did not immediately answer the people of Alma's prayer. I know they weren't asking for truth to be revealed, but they were asking for a specific favor, freedom. They cried "mightily to God." Amulon tried the old "pray and you're dead" approach. So they prayed in their hearts. The Lord started to hear their prayers and eased their burdens. What did they do? "They did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." Finally, because of their faith and patience the Lord granted their prayers.

"Help from the Lord generally comes in increments. He can immediately cure serious illness...but the general pattern is that improvement comes in sequential steps. That plan gives us opportunity to discover what the Lord expects us to learn. It requires patience to recognize His timetable. It provides growth...and opportunity to express gratitude for help given." (Richard G. Scott, 1991)

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> Is kneeling prayer important?

"Parents, we must start each day by kneeling in family prayer." (A. Theodore Tuttle, Apr 1984)"

"When we kneel in family prayer, our children at our side on their knees are learning habits that will stay with them all through their lives." (Spencer W. Kimball MOF)"

"It is a wise and true maxim that families that kneel together stand upright before the Lord!" (Ezra Taft Benson, Apr 1984)"

"Daily we should kneel in family prayer and study the scriptures together." (L. Tom Perry, Mar 1990)"

"The family should kneel together daily in family prayer." (LeGrand R. Curtiss, Oct 1990)"

"Brethren, each of you should always kneel with your wife in prayer before you retire in the evening." (Hartman Rector Jr.)

"God and his program will be found only in deep pondering, appropriate reading, much kneeling in devout humble prayer and in a sincerity born of need and dependence." (Richard G. Scott)

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> In the pre-existence, we knew one another, associated together, etc.
> How much did we know about our upcoming earth life? Did we know who
> would be our brothers and sisters, parents, children etc would be? Did
> we know of the trials that many of us would face? Just how much did we
> know?

"We have no scriptural justification...for the belief that we had the privilege of choosing our parents and our life companions in the spirit world. This belief has been advocated by some, and it is possible that in some instances it is true...Most likely we came where those in authority decided to send us." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Way to Perfection, p. 44-5)

"We believe that ties formed in this life will be continued in the life to come, then why not believe that we had similar ties before we came into the world, and that some of them at least, have been resumed in this state of existence?" (Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Joseph Fielding Smith in WTP, p.45)

"Hence, as it is a great advantage to be born in the covenant, it is but reasonable to suppose that noble spirits will seek the opportunity to come into families where they will have all the blessings and promises which pertain to the covenant." (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 2:87)

"In the pre-existence we dwelt in the presence of God our Father. When the time arrived for us to be advanced in the scale of our existence and pass through this mundane probation, councils were held and the spirit children were instructed in matters pertaining to conditions in mortal life and the reason for such an existence...In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church News, June 12, 1949)

"...very likely we put ourselves under certain obligations that we would discharge certain duties devolving upon us when we came here into our second estate." (Lorenzo Snow, CR Apr 1898)

"...we were chosen to come forth in this day and generation and do the work which God has designed should be done." (Wilford Woodruff, JD 21:193)

"It is reasonable to believe that there was a Church organization there. The heavenly beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed." (Joseph Fielding Smith, WTP p.50-1)

> If we lived with our Father in Heaven before we were born, in a home
> where no uncleaness existed, how could Satan entertain and promote wicked
> ideas that were contrary to the nature of God? Who inspired him with
> these ideas?

An important scripture to look is D&C 93:38:

"Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeem man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God." (D&C 93:38)
Of this scripture, Elder McConkie stated:
"This means that spirits started out in a state of purity and innocence in the preexistence, and God redeemed man from the fall, men again became in their infant state, innocent before God meaning all children start out their mortal probation in purity and innocence because of the atonement." (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign Apr 1977)
Orson Pratt discusses this further and points to the repentance process:
"All spirits when they come here are innocent, that is if they ever committed sin, they have repented and obtained forgiveness through faith in the future sacrifice of the Lamb. So far as innocency is concerned, they enter this world alike." (Orson Pratt, The Seer p. 55-57)
And Brigham Young:
"The spirits that live in these tabernacles were as pure as the heavens, when they entered them." (Brigham Young, JD 10:105)
We know that some were more valient that others. Many were "noble and great ones" who were made our rulers (Abr 3:22-23). Thus, somehow they made better choices than others and developed their talents further than others. And of course there was a large number of people who chose extreme wickedness, rebelled and were cast out forever.
"The Lord Almighty suffered this schism in heaven to see what his subjects would do preparatory to their coming to this earth." (Brigham Young, JD 14:93)
Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
"In the preexistence we dwelt in the presence of God our Father." (DS 1:57)
Were we "perfect" in the spirit world and could thus be in God's presence? We were far from perfect!
"When we lived in the presence of our Father, we were not like him; we were just spirits...In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality...God gave his children their free agency even in the spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 1:57-8)

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War in Heaven

> Was the war in heaven a war of bloodshed?

"This war in heaven was not a war of bloodshed. It was a war of conflicting ideas--the beginning of contention.... Scriptures repeatedly warn that the father of contention opposes the plan of our Heavenly Father. Satan's method relies on the infectious canker of contention." (Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, May 1989, p. 69)

"The battle to bring souls unto Christ began in the premortal world with the war in heaven (see Revelation 12:7). That same battle continues today in the conflict between right and wrong and between the gospel and false principles. The members of the Church hold a front-line position in the contest for the souls of men. The missionaries are on the battlefield fighting with the sword of truth to carry the glorious message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the peoples of the earth. No war has ever been free of risk. The prophecies of the last days lead me to believe that the intensity of the battle for the souls of men will increase and the risks will become greater as we draw closer to the second coming of the Lord." (M. Russell Ballard, CR Oct 1989)

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"Some members of the Church are now teaching that priesthood is some kind of free-floating authority which can be assumed by anyone who has had the endowment. They claim this automatically gives one authority to perform priesthood ordinances. They take verses of scripture out of context and misinterpret statements of early leaders--for instance, the Prophet Joseph Smith--to sustain their claims.

"What is puzzling is this: with all their searching through Church history and their supposed knowledge of the scriptures, they have missed the one simple, obvious absolute that has governed the bestowal of priesthood from the beginning, said as simply as this:

'We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.' The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. It has been so since the beginning. Regardless of what they may assume or imply or infer from anything which has been said or written, past or present, specific ordination to any office in the priesthood is the way, and the only way, it has been or is now conferred." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, CR April 1993, p.23)

No, the priesthood power does not flow from a husband to a wife by virtue of temple ordinances. Regardless of stories or experiences past or present, these are the words from our living prophets and they are the words of truth.

1. "A wife does not hold the priesthood with her husband, but she enjoys the benefits thereof with him; (Joseph F. Smith)

2. "Such an administration would not be by virtue of the priesthood, but a manifestation of faith." (Joseph Fielding Smith AGQ 1:150)

> Maybe your view is too narrow, Dave.

Yes, my views on using the priesthood power are very narrow. I hope they are narrow enough. Since holding the priesthood is such a sacred trust, and the power is not ours, having a strict, narrow view on how it should be exercised is very important. If the priesthood is not used properly,

"behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man." (D&C 121:37)
Finally...I must of course include some quotes:
"In our desire to be broad-minded, to be accepted, to be liked and admired, let us not trifle with the doctrines and the covenants which have been revealed to us, nor with the pronouncements of those who have been given the keys of the kingdom of God on earth."
"The priesthood operates in a system of sublime order. The priesthood in not, however, a floating essence. It must be conferred by ordination with specific offices. It is held by men under sacred duty to use its authority to accomplish God's work for the blessing of men, women, and children alike. No one can claim priesthood authority and except it is conferred openly by those possessing the authority 'and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.' (D&C 42:11)" (Elder James E. Faust, CR Oct 1993)

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Priesthood Offices

> Is the First Presidency an ordained priesthood office?

"In the early days of this dispensation, however, the word ordain was used in a dual sense that included both ordinations (as we now classify them) and also the ordinance of setting apart to office. Thus the revelations speak of men being ordained high councilors (D&C 20:67), or members of the First Presidency (D&C 107:22), and women were ordained to executive positions in the auxiliary organizations. Our present usage is that persons are set apart to these positions. (Bruce R. McConkie, MD p.549)

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> Does anyone know of a definitive statement from one of the prophets on
> progression/regression between kingdoms?

Here are some of the more recent statements in this area, even one included in the Priesthood manual.

"Elder Spencer W. Kimball, of the Quorum of the Twelve, cautioned us as follows: "After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal! That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 243-44)" Melchizedek Priesthood Guide, 1989 p. 167)

"There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were. This belief lulls men into a state of carnal security. It causes them to say, "God is so merciful; surely he will save us all eventually; if we do not gain the celestial kingdom now, eventually we will; so why worry?" It lets people live a life of sin here and now with the hope that they will be saved eventually. The true doctrine is that all men will be resurrected, but they will come forth in the resurrection with different kinds of bodies-some celestial, others terrestrial, others telestial, and some with bodies incapable of standing any degree of glory. The body we receive in the resurrection determines the glory we receive in the kingdoms that are prepared... They neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, it is within a sphere." (Bruce R. McConkie, BYU, June 1980)

"No Progression From Kingdom to Kingdom. No Advancement from Lower to Higher. It has been asked if it is possible for one who inherits the telestial glory to advance in time to the celestial glory? The answer to this question is, No! The scriptures are clear on this point. Speaking of those who go to the telestial kingdom, the revelation says: 'And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.' (D&C 76:112) Notwithstanding this statement, those who do not comprehend the word of the Lord argue that while this is true, that they cannot go where God is "worlds without end," yet in time they will get where God was, but he will have gone on to other heights. This is false reasoning, illogical, and creates mischief in making people think they may procrastinate their repentance, but in course of time they will reach exaltation in celestial glory. Kingdoms progress in different directions." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 2:31)

"Within each glory, however, there may be advancement. The law of progress may be utilized by every intelligence in the universe. Those who inherit the telestial, terrestrial, or celestial glories may progress, and progress eternally. But, let it ever be remembered that the prower to progress is greatest in the celestial glory, and is decreasingly smaller in the lower glories. There can be no talk, therefore, of those in the lower glories overtaking those in the higher...Once the final judgement has been uttered and our place assigned, we remain there, though we may progress forever, and everlastingly increase in power. Meanwhile, in all such matters, and with respect to all such questions, we can safely rest ourselves upon the mercy and justice of the Lord. Our only concern need be so to live as to win a place in the celestial glory." (Widtsoe, E&R p. 282-3, 1st Edition)

I'm interested in the quotes of any of the brethren who at one time felt there was progression between Kingdoms. Here's an interesting second-hand quote attributed to Hyrum Smith:

	Hiram said Aug 1st-43  (August 1, 1843)
	Those of the Terrestrial Glory either
	advance to the Celestial or recede to
	the Telestial else the moon could
	not be a type "It waxes & wanes"
	Also that be (br? bi?) George will be quickened
	by celestial Glory having been ministered
	to by one of that Kingdom
	Also That Infants Live born but who
	never breathe will receive a Spirit
	in the Resurrection being formed for one
        (Franklin D. Richards)

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Some words on prophets:

In Numbers 11:29 we find:

"And Moses said unto him, 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."
Joseph Smith was once asked by a reporter "Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?" I think he answered this question in a humble way be also with great meaning:
"Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.(Rev 19:10)" (Teaching of JS)
"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is a gift of the Spirit. It comes in full measure only to faithful members of the Church. It is reserved for those whose right it is to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is the spiritual endowment which sets a man apart as a prophet." (Bruce R. McConkie CR 1974)

"A prophet is not an ordained office in the priesthood, although all priesthood holders and or should be a prophet." (Bruce R. McConkie NWAOF 349)

"No man is a minister of Jesus Chirst without being a prophet." (JS, Teachings p.160)

> Can Prophets lead us astray?

One of our great missions as church members in these latter-days is to proclaim to the world that the gospel is restored and that we have living prophets. By following the words of these prophets great happiness will result. However, there are many people who seem to spend all their energy warning the world about the dangers of following our true prophets. Is being led astray by our prophets a significant problem in the church today, worthy of all this energy and attention? Or is there a greater problem, that of ignoring the prophets words? I think a close reading of this past conference proceedings will result in a very clear answer. Why doesn't this list spend its energy discussing all of the wonderful counsel that we receive from our prophets and discuss ways that we can follow this great advise?

Here is the message we should be proclaiming to the world and within the church:

"And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people." (D&C 1:14)
Yes, we should be warning the world against false prophets, but why spend all this energy warning people not to follow true prophets? How many people have lost their souls by following our prophets?

"There are those who insist that unless the prophet of the Lord declares "thus saith the Lord" the message may not be taken as a revelation. This is a false testing standard." (President J. Reuben Clark. CR 1954)

"You may not like what comes from the authority of the church...your safety and ours depends upon whether we follow them. He knows whom me wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. The Lord doesn't do things by accident." (President Harold B. Lee, CR 1970)

"We do not lack a prophet; what we lack is a listening ear." (J. Reuben Clark, 1948)

"Let the conference report be your walk and talk during the next six months." (Harold B. Lee)

"No text or volume outside of the standard works should have a more prominent place on your personal library shelves than the most recent conference report." (Spencer W. Kimball, 1968)

"Let us hearken to those we sustain as if our eternal life depended on it, because it does." (Spencer W. Kimball, CR 1978)

"It is an easy thing to believe in dead prophets, but it is a greater thing to believe in living prophets." (Marion G. Romney, CR 1953)

"You may not like what comes from the authority of the church...Your safety and ours depends upon whether we follow them. He knows whom He wants to preside over this church...The Lord doesn't do things by accident." (Harold B. Lee, CR 1970)

You need to get a copy of the conference proceedings for our last conference (Oct 1994) and read how many times the brethren asked us to follow the prophets and not pick and choose which teaching we want to follow. Also read President Hunter's closing address where he puts his "stamp of approval" on the things spoken of during the conference.

"...they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people." (D&C 1:14)

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There has been some talk about what ancient prophets look like. Do we have any descriptions? Here are a few. Can you find more?

Adam and Eve:

"Brother Joseph then said, 'Now brethren, we will see some visions.' ...The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two aged personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind I ever saw. Joseph said, 'They are our first parents Adam and Eve.' Adam was a large broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was as large in proportion....faces shown with immortal youth." (Zebedee Coltrin to School of Prophets, Oct 1883)

During the Kirtland Temple Dedication, a heavenly messenger, identified by Joseph Smith as Peter, the ancient apostle, was seen entering the temple and sat near Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith Sr. Heber C. Kimball described him as being tall, with

"black eyes, white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals." (JD 9:376)
"Paul is about 5'5", very dark hair, dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembled the roaring of a lion." (JS, Jan 5, 1941, Teachings p.180)
"He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom." (JS 1:31)

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