> Will our local leaders lead us astray?
I have been part of a bishopric and mission presidency and have witnessed first-hand the miracles that can and do happen to by-pass human weakness and receive revelation from the Lord. It does happen. Can leaders goof? Sure. For some strange reason, some people like to dwell on these rare goofs, rather than on the far more numerous inspired and wise direction that comes from these leaders. What are the safety mechanisms that the Lord has put in place to help protect us from things that can really cause us damage?
President Stephen L. Richard said:
"The genius of our Church government is government through councils...I have had enough experience to know the value of councils. Hardly a day passes but that I see...God's wisdom, in creating councils...to govern his Kingdom....I have no hesitancy in giving you the assurance, if you will confer in council as you are expected to do, God will give you solutions to the problems that confront you." (SL Richards, CR 1953) (Quoted by Elder M. Russell Ballard, CR Oct, 1993)Notice that at conference, President Hunter said he would not do anything on his own, he would always work with his councils. This is the government that the Lord has set up and he promised us that it will continued to be used.
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"Everyone who receives an ordinance must make a covenant, else the ordinance is not fully satisfactory...he who is administered to for sickness, and the administrators, covenant to use their faith to secure the desired healings." (John A. Widtsoe, Improvement Era, Feb, 1948)
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Some clarifications on the Oliver Cowdery case. He withdrew from the church before he was excommunicated. He stated
"I will not be influenced, governed, or controlled, in my temporal interests by any ecclesiastical authority or pretended revelation whatever, contrary to my own judgement....I only respectfully, ask leave, therefore, to withdraw from a society assuming they have such right." (Cowdery letter to Bishop Partridge, CHC 1:433)The Lord himself said stated that he gave Hyrum Smith "keys...and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery." (D&C 124:95)
Joseph Smith gave these keys to Hyrum:
"I crown upon his (Hyrum) head, the bishopric and blessing and glory and honor and priesthood that once were put upon my servant Oliver Cowdery." (Times and Seasons, 2:15)Joseph Smith didn't invite Oliver to return to the church until 1843, an invitation that he didn't accept. Oliver Cowdery returned to the church in 1848, humble, realizing what he had lost by leaving the church.
"Had Oliver Cowdery remained true to his covenants...he, not Hyrum would have gone with Joseph Smith to the martyrdom at Carthage." (Joseph Fielding Smith DS 1:218-9)
B.H. Roberts made a biographical project out of the life of Oliver Cowdery to present him as a man of "almosts" who came close to destiny but who finally was stripped of his gifts and leadership. In response to prayer, Elder Roberts became convinced that Oliver Cowdery had completed his mission and that his private estrangement from Joseph Smith added weight to his unrelenting witness of the Book of Mormon. B.H. Roberts threw his manuscript into the fire. (Georgia Roberts, BYU Studies, 1979)
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The Book, "My Best for the Kingdom," written by William G. Hartley, Research Professor of History at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at BYU, published by Aspen Books, 1993, includes a very interesting and very well documented history of the Danites.
"The Danites appear in fiction and anti-Mormon writings as a secret band of fanatical cutthroats who swore oaths to murder, rob, and lie for Church leaders and to protect the Saints from the law...Historians have painted blurry pictures of the Danites. LDS histories usually admit Danites existed but were apostates acting without Church sanction...such as BH Roberts' CHC...During the 1960's, Leland H. Gentry was the first LDS historian to demonstrate that Church leaders knew about and approved of the earliest Danite efforts...only at a later stage did Danites perform illegal acts outside of Church leader' awareness.Danites included these famous Mormons: John Butler (my ancestor), Lyman Wight, Jared Carter, Sampson Avard, Judge Elias Higbee, George W. Robinson, Reynolds Cahoon, Anson B. Call, Hosea Stout, Moses Clawson, and many others who were faithful members of the church.
"An estimated three hundred to four hundred men belonged to Danite groups between June and November 1838. The units were created to perform public safety and military tasks, and their assignments shifted in response to the changing problems faced by the Saints. It is certain that some Danites played the thief, and it is possible, although unproven, that one or two were murderers. But a balanced assessment indicates that Danites operated similarly to how National Guard soldiers or civil defense units do in American communities today...
"Danites were first called "Brothers of Gideon," later "Daughters of Zion," and finally "Danites." The term Danite apparently was derived from the tribe of Dan, which fought offensively and defensively for ancient Israel.
"Danite purposes evolved through three stages. First in June 1838 Sampson Avard organized Danites to deal with apostates. Evidence indicates that President Rigdon knew about them and gave them his blessing. What influence these Danites had over apostates was won by intimidation and threats, not by force.
"By the end of June, the dissenter problem eased and a second Danite phase began. From then until October, Danites devoted themselves to preparing to defend the Saints in case of outside attack....Danites were not a secret organization. Church leaders and rank-and-file members knew of their existence. Danites marched and drilled 'freely and openly in Far West and Diahman.' They marched as a unit in the 4th of July parade at Far West, and the Church's 'Elder's Journal' noted with nonchalance that Danite leaders held positions of prominence at the day's ceremonies.
"A third Danite stage of activity, involving defensive retaliation, came when war broke out in October 1838. ...the Danites defended the Saints by riding into the countryside to intercept invading mobs, rescue Saints and Saints' properties, spy, burn buildings being used by or useful to the enemy, and forage for food and supplies.By the way, my ancestor, John Butler was always a faithful member of the church, a "body guard" for Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, went on several missions for Brigham Young, and was the Bishop of Spanish Fork, Utah.
"Because popular opinion among Gentiles in upper Missouri blamed Mormons for causing the warfare, Judge Austin King conducted a biased investigation into alleged Mormon wrongdoings. At the Richmond Court of inquiry held Nov 1838, he tried to determine if prosecutors' evidence warranted a trial of 64 Mormons accused of driving settlers from their homes...A second focus was the Battle of Crooked River, and a third involved claims that Mormon leader were guilty of treason. First witness Sampson Avard testified the he helped organize and direct Danite units but that such were subject to the LDS First Presidency...The few Mormon believers allowed to testify said nothing to refute the charges of Church-sanctioned Danites.
"After the Richmond testimonies, Danites became legendary villains and bogeymen in the populance's imagination and sensational publications. Stories swirled around Missouri and beyond that portrayed Danites as feared gangs, bound by oaths of secrecy, who murdered and stole whenever Mormon leaders asked them to. Crimes allegedly committed in Nauvoo area and later in Utah often were attributed to supposed Danites...However, Danites ceased to exist following the Fall of Far West, and claims to the contrary are unsubstantiated."
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"Shun discouragement. One of Satan's most powerful tools is discouragement. Whisperings of "you can't do it," "you're no good," "it's too late," "what's the use?" or "things are hopeless" are tools of destruction....He wants you to quit trying. It is important that discouragement is cast out of the lives of those who are waiting. This may take a decided amount of work and energy, but it can be accomplished." (Marvin J. Ashton, CR Apr, 1988)
"Two of Satan's greatest tools today are spreading impatience and discouragement." (Marvin J. Ashton, BYU 1972)
"There are bound to be times when we are disappointed, but we should never be discouraged. Discouragement is a tool of the devil." (O. Leslie Stone, BYU, 1976)
"Satan wants to discourage you, for he knows discouragement and hope cannot exist together. So if he gets you discouraged enough, out goes hope." (John H. Groberg, BYU 1984)
"Satan will do his best to deter us and let discouragement impede our progress." (Marvin J. Ashton, CR Oct, 1981)
"Once a person has transgressed, Satan tries hard to discourage that individual and take away his (or her) hope of ever being completely freed from that sin." (Theodore M. Burton, CR Oct 1985)
"We should seek to be happy and cheerful and not allow Satan to overcome us with discouragement, despair, or depression." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, CR Apr, 1992)
"Has one of you ever had the feeling you are walking alone down a dark tunnel that gets ever more depressing No one seems to care? Life gets more and more complicated and discouraging? You may have been following a path many others have trod. It often begins with self-pity, then self-indulgence, and, if not checked, leads to gross selfishness. Unless overcome by serving others, selfishness leads to serious sin, with its depressing feelings and binding chains. It is the crowbar Satan uses to open a heart to temptation in order to destroy agency. He would bind mind and body through crippling habits and separate us from our Father in Heaven and His Son by cultivating selfishness. If you have had such feelings of depression, turn around - literally turn your life around. The other end of the tunnel is filled with light. No matter where you have been or what you have done, that light is always available to you. Satan will try to convince you that you have gone too far to be saved. That is a lie. You will need some help to get started. The scriptures are a good place to begin. A father, mother, brother, sister, bishop, or friend will help. As you move nearer the light through repentance, you will feel better about yourself and more confident in your future. You will rediscover how wonderful life really is." (Richard G. Scott, CR Apr 1989)
"When we are marred spiritually or physically, our first reaction is to withdraw into the dark shadows of depression, to blot out hope and joy the light of life that comes from knowing we are living the commandments of our Father in Heaven. This withdrawal will ultimately lead us to rebellion against those who would like to be our friends, those who can help us most, even our family. But worst of all, we finally reject ourselves. Those who are alone and lonely should not retreat to the sanauary of their private thoughts and chambers. Such retreat will ultimately lead them into the darkening influence of the adversary, which leads to despondency, loneliness, frustration, and to thinking of oneself as worthless. After one thinks of himself as worthless, he then ofttimes turns to associates who corrode those delicate spiritual contacts, rendering their spiritual receiving antennas and transmitters useless. What good is it to associate with and ask advice of someone who is disoriented himself and only tells us what we want to hear? Isn't it better to turn to loving parents and friends, who can help us reach for and attain celestial goals?" (Robert D. Hales, BYU 1986)
"Just as discouragement and depression feed on themselves (can't you just hear Satan saying, "You can't do it, you are no good, you'll never make it"-sometimes he says that right to your heart, and sometimes he uses others as his agents), so does hope regenerate itself Can't you likewise hear the Savior saying, "You can do it, you can make it, you are worth something. I laid down my life for you. I love you. I redeemed you. I paid for you because I know you can make it. You can come home. Trust me. Follow me." Again, sometimes he speaks directly to our hearts and sometimes uses others as his agents. But there is always hope in him.... Darkness, discouragement, pessimism, depression, anger, lack of hope-all come from Satan and his forces, whereas optimism, light, encouragement, hope, even to a perfect brightness of hope-all come from the Savior. Now some may say, "Well, you are bordering on calling discouragement a sin, and we know that we all get discouraged sometimes. It's just human nature." True enough, it's human nature. All humans get discouraged sometime. All humans die sometime, too. But through the Savior we will overcome death and through him we must overcome discouragement as well, and we can. I am not saying that discouragement or pessimism is necessarily a sin (for it may be a test, or a growing experience). But what I am saying is that Satan is here (on the left) with discouragement and darkness, and we want to get out of there as soon as we can. And the Savior is here (on the right) with hope and light (and maybe hope and light are synonymous) and encouragement. We have to move from the left to the right. When we find ourselves on the left, we must go to the right. (John H. Groberg, BYU 1984)
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Let's take a look at the Doctrine & Covenants
"In my judgement there is no book on earth yet come to man as important as the book known as the Doctrine and Covenants, with all due respect to the Book of Mormon...The book of Doctrine and Covenants stands in a peculiar position above them all...But this Doctrine and Covenants contains the word of God to those who dwell here now." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 3:198-9)I especially love this next quote:
"The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants are bound together as revelations...to gather and prepare His people for the second coming...they testify of each other. You cannot believe one and not the other...The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone." (Ezra Taft Benson, 1987)
"A deep and thorough study of the Doctrine and Covenants is more than equivalent to a university education." (R. Clawson, 1839)
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This subject was debated by Joseph Fielding Smith and B.H. Roberts before Elder Robert's death. Elder Roberts believed in the possibility of pre-Adamites, and death before Adam. This was publicly debated.
President Heber J. Grant wrote in his journal:
"I feel that sermons suchas Brother Joseph preached and criticisms such as Brother Roberts makes of the sermon are the finest kind of things to let alone entirely. I think no good can be accomplished by dealing in mysteries, and that is what I feel in my heart of hearts these brethren are both doing." The First Presidency, on April 7th, 1931 had a four hour meeting of all the General Authorities and announced and discussed their decision.
"After prayerful consideration, they said, they had "decided that nothing would be gained by a continuation of the discussion of the subject under consideration....The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: 'There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth,' is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has accepted as a doctrine at all."They did end with one doctrinal pronouncement upon which they felt all must agree, "Adam is the primal parent of our race." Anything more or less than that was not official Church doctrine. See also a 1909 statement by the First Presidency.
"Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of the world. Leave Geology, Biology, Archeology and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church."
My source for the above information is an article written by James B. Allen which is in the preface of B.H. Robert's "The Way, the Truth, the Life," published by BYU Studies.
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In the Lectures on Faith, the scripture Matt 17:2 is discussed. First the scripture:
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: you verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard see, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matt 17:12)in LOF 7:3,
"We ask, then, what are we to understand by a man's working by faith? We answer--we understand that when a man works by faith he works by MENTAL EXERTION instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith."Has anyone moved a mountain by faith? Enoch did (see Moses 7:13) and the Brother of Jared did (see Ether 12:30).
Should we be overly concerned if we don't have the gift of faith to move mountains?
"If a man has not faith enough to do one thing he may have faith to do another. If he cannot remove mountains, he may heal the sick. Where faith is there will be some of the fruits: all gifts and power which were sent from heaven, were poured out on the heads of those who had faith." (Joseph Smith, HC 5:355)
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"...wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence..." (2 Ne 2:23)
"Under the conditions in which he was living at that time it was impossible for him to visualize or understand the power of good and evil." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 1:107)
"She feared no evil, for she knew it not." (James E. Talmage, AF p. 59)
"And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day;" (Moses 4:14)
"Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him." (Brigham Young, JD 9:148)
"The Scriptures inform us that, prior to his transgression in Eden, Adam held direct and personal communion with God;" (James E. Talmage, "The Vitality of Mormonism, p. 51)
"And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end." (2 Ne 2:22)
"When Adam came into this world, he was not subject to death. He was immortal. He could have lived forever. Had he remained in the Garden of Eden and not transgressed the law that had been given to him, he and Eve would have been there yet." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 1:91)
"They must become mortal. Death must enter the world. There is no other way. They must fall that man may be." (Bruce R. McConkie, PM p.221)
"Mortality could not come without violation of that law and mortality was essential, a step towards our exaltation." (Joseph Fielding Smith, BYU 1955)
"Because of the Fall, we are blessed with physical bodies...None of these privileges would have been ours had Adam and Eve remained in the garden." (Gospel Principles, p. 33, LDS church)
"Except for the fall, the earth would not be peopled; we would still be in the preexistence living as spirits." (Bruce R. McConkie, New Witness, p.85)
"And they would have had no children..." (2 Ne 2:23)
"...we never should have had seed..." (Moses 5:11)
"And again, they would have been incapable of increase;" (John Taylor, M&A p.130)
"Adam and Eve could never have been the parents of a mortal posterity had they not become mortal themselves." (James E. Talmage, Sunday Talks, p.66)
"...they would remain childless and innocent in their paradisiacal Eden, and the spirit hosts would remain in their celestial heaven." (Bruce R. McConkie, PM p.220-1)
"When Adam and Eve received the first commandment, they were in a transitional state, no longer in the spirit world but with physical bodies not yet subject to death and not yet capable of procreation. They could not fulfill the Father's first commandment without transgressing..." (Dallin H. Oaks, CR Oct 1993)
"And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying; Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." (Moses 5:11)
"Adam and Eve both considered that they had gained, instead of suffered loss, through their disobedience to that law;"(John Taylor, M&A p.130)
"...the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility..." (2 Cor 11:3)
"Yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall;" (Mosiah 16:3)
"Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (1 Tim 2:14)
"Eve was fulfilling the foreseen purposes of God by the part she took in the great drama of the fall; yet she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan." (James E. Talmage, AF p.63)
"Eve partook without full understanding" (Bruce R. McConkie, New Witness, p. 86)
"We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least." (Brigham Young, JD 13:145)
"Her act, whatever it nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life...we celebrate Eve's act..." (Dallin H. Oaks, CR 1993)
"We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve's great courage and wisdom. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done." (Russell M. Nelson, CR 1993)
"Adam voluntarily, and with full knowledge of the consequences, partook of the fruit." (Marion G. Romney, Seminary and Institute, July 1966)
"Adam's part in the great even was essentially different from that of his wife; he was not deceived; on the contrary he deliberately decided to do as Eve desired..." (James E. Talmage, AF p.63)
"Not deceived, but with eyes open, and knowing all the consequences he ate the forbidden fruit offered by a loving hand--one who so loved him that she would have him as 'God, knowing good and evil.'" (B.H. Roberts, TWL p.350)
"It is a thrilling though that Adam and Eve were not coerced to begin God's work on earth. They chose to do so, by the exercise of their free agency." (John A. Widtsoe, E&R p.192)
"...he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment..." (D&C 29:40)
"Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden." (Moses 6:53)
"Adam did not commit sin in eating the fruits, for God had decreed that he should eat and fall." (Joseph Smith, 9 Feb 1841)
"I do not look upon Adam's fall as a sin, although it was a transgression of the law." (Joseph Fielding Smith, BYU 1955)
"The fall was no a sin in the usually accepted sense of that word." (John A. Widtsoe, E&R p.73-74)
"Some people believe Adam and Eve committed a serious sin when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, latter-day scriptures help us understand that their fall was a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us." (Gospel Principles, p.33, published by LDS church)
"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell, that man might be;" (2 Ne 2:24-25)
"Did they (Adam and Eve) come out in direct opposition to God and his government? No. But they transgressed a command of the Lord and through that transgression sin came into the world. The Lord knew they would do this, and he had designed that they should." (Brigham Young, JD 10:312)
"Adam and Eve came to this world to perform exactly the part that they acted in the Garden of Eden; and I will say, they were ordained of God to do what they did, and it was therefore expected that they would eat of the forbidden fruit..." (Wilford Woodruff, JD 23:125)
"Eve was fulfilling the foreween purposes of God by the part she took." (James E. Talmage, Sunday Talks, p.67)
"The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise, and was the means of furthering the purposes of the Lord in the progress of man, rather than a means of hindering them." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 1:114(
"Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, forbidden in a rather peculiar manner for it is the only place in all the history where we read that the Lord forbade something and yet said, "Nevertheless touch mayest choose for thyself." He never said that of any sin. " (Joseph Fielding Smith, BYU 1955)
The fall had a twofold direction, downward, yet forward. It brought man into the world and set his feet upon progression's highway." (Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Boyd K. Packer 1993)
"It was not a mere yielding to temptation, they came on a mission." (Orson F. Whitney, IE 1916)
"Just how this "fall" was accomplished is not known, and probably cannot be understood by the mortal mind." (John A. Widtsoe, E&R p. 73-74)
"We have been given only enough information about the creation and the fall to enable us to understand the purposes of the Lord, to exercise faith in him, and to gain our salvation." (Bruce R. McConkie, New Witness, p.86)
"To this question the Apostle John replies: 'Sin is the transgression of the law' (1 John 3:4) In the original language of the Biblical records, many words occur for which our single term sin is used, all, however, conveying the common idea of opposition to the divine will...According to the technical definition of sin it consists in the violation of law, and in this strict sense sin may be committed inadvertently or in ignorance."if you want to use a strict definition for sin, I have no problem with agreeing with you that Adam and Eve did sin.
However, I believe one of the missions of our modern prophets have been to proclaim to the world that Adam's fall was not terrible and did not bring great evil to the world, as most of the Christian world believes. Thus, over the past six months I have given you probably about 5-8 or more prophets and apostles who have declared that Adam's action was a transgression and not a sin.
"Adam did not commit sin in eating the fruits for God had decreed that he should eat and fall--but in compliance with the decree he should die--only he should die was the saying of the Lord therefore the Lord appointed us to fall and also Redeemed us." (Joseph Smith, Words of JS, p. 63)Elder Oaks pointed to this passage and said,
"Joseph Smith taught that it was not a sin because God decreed it." (DHO, CR 1993)I love the following explanation by Elder Oaks:
"Some acts, like murder are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating with a license are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall, was not a sin, inherently wrong, but a transgression, wrong because it was formally prohibited." (DHO, CR 1993)This is one of the great messages of the restoration! For this reason, I don't call their act a sin, which has gross negative connotations, rather I refer to it as Joseph Smith translated it in Moses 6:53, a transgression. See also, our second article of faith.
"Her Eve's act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life...we celebrate Eve's act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall." (Dallin H. Oaks, CR 1993)
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> Some soul opined that Satan/Lucifer was really the first born of the
> spirits, but that he sinned/fell/transgressed, so Jehova got the
> chance. He also tried to explain that "christ" is a priesthood office
> that falls on the first born by rights of primogeniture -- much like
> the office of Presiding Patriarch. Where do these thoughts come
Well, I guess he knows something that Joseph F. Smith and his son, Joseph Fielding Smith didn't know.
"Among the spirit children of Elohim, the firstborn was and is Jehovah orJesus Chirst, to whom all others are juniors." (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 70)
"Just what authority Lucifer held before his rebellion we do not know, but he was an angel of light..." (Joseph Fielding Smith, CHMR 1:281) The Savior told Joseph Smith this:
"And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;" (D&C 93:21)
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"It may be argued, however, that...neither the mortal parent nor the human forecaster had power to alter the respective course of events, while God can direct and over-rule as He wills. But, be it remembered that God has granted agency unto His children, and does not control them in its exercise by arbitrary force. He impels no man toward sin; He compels none to righteousness.I don't feel uncomfortable believing as Elder McConkie did that
"The Father of our spirits has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition of each of His children, a knowledge gained by observation and experience in the long ages of our primeval childhood, when we existed as unembodied spirits, endowed with individuality and agency--a knowledge compared with which that gained by earthly parents through experience with their children in the flesh is infinitesimally small. In that surpassing knowledge God reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of me collectively. He knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He foresees the future of men and nations as a state that naturally and surely will be; not as a state of things that must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall be." (Talmage, "The Vitality of Mormonism", p. 307-8)
"there is no truth he does not know, no wisdom hidden from his view, no laws or powers or facts for him to discover in some distant eternity. His wisdom and knowledge are absolute and have neither bounds nor limitations. He knows all things now; he is not progressing in knowledge; he is not discovering new truths; there are no higher spheres than the one in which he now walks. His mind is infinite; his knowledge comprehends all things, and he is in fact the source and author of truth." (NWFAOF, p. 52)
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I think a lot of people misunderstand the following scripture:
"But if he trespass against thee the fourth time thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord..." (D&C 98:44)First, who is this scripture directed at? It is a law that pertains to nations. (see vs 33-36)
"In the 98th section the Lord gives the law that he gave in ancient times to his people when they were to go forth to battle." (Charles W. Penrose, CR 1917) See also George Q. Cannon, CR 1898.Now I know that some feel that nations should be governed by the same laws and principles that we as individuals must live by. (I will let that be argued over on the MORONI list). But in this case, there does seem to be a difference.
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive ALL men." (D&C 64:10)He didn't say just the ones that repent.
"Yes, to be in the right we must forgive, and we must do so without regard to whether or not our antagonist repents, or how sincere is his transformation, or whether or not he asks our forgiveness." (Spencer W. Kimball, MOF p.283)What is my motivation for forgiving others?
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Father will also forgive you." (Matt 6:14)I have a lot of sins I hope the Father forgives me for, so I've got this figured out. If I forgive lots and lots of people, chances are he will be quicker to forgive me.
"Forgiveness of sin, like other blessings is predicated upon the obedience to law and IS NOT based upon personal favor." (B.H. Roberts, "The Truth, The Way, The Life" p.407)Part of this law is to forgive others.
Finally, several years ago, unknown to me, I offended a co-worker. I considered him a close friend. Almost a year later he came to me and stated "I know things haven't been good between me and you...and this is why... " I was in shock, I had no idea that I had offended him, but all this time it was bothering him with anger and though I begged for forgiveness, I think to this day he still holds a grudge."
"It frequently happens that offenses are committed when the offender is not aware of it...Do we follow that commandment or do we sulk, in our bitterness, waiting for our offender to learn of it and to kneel to us in remorse?" (Spencer W. Kimball, CR 1949)The higher law asks us to take the first step.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool. He who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool" (Brigham Young quoted by Marion D. Hanks, CR 1974)
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Don't you think non-members are forgiven for their sins without baptism?
"It should be remembered that these commandments from the Standard Works of the Church are to "all men, and there is none to escape." This means that the call to repentance from sin is to all men and not to the members of the Church only, and not to those only whose sins are considered major ones. And the call promises forgiveness of sin to those who respond. What a farce it would be to call people to repentance if there were no forgiveness, and what a waste of the life of Christ if it failed to bring the opportunity for salvation and exaltation." (Spencer W. Kimball, Miracles of Forgiveness, p.344)Here's a couple of quotes for the other side of the argument:
"...and he Spake unto me Saying Joseph my son thy Sins are forgiven thee." (1832 First Vision account)
"Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee." (1835 First Vision account)
"For those who have not accepted the gospel...the course of forgiveness is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to repent, to be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands." (Bruce R. McConkie, MM 2:50)So where does this leave the "honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men?" Is their faith in Christ and petitions for repentance null and void? Perhaps many of them are which bear no fruit, but what of the sincere petitions for forgiveness? I think that they do bear some fruit. For sure they bear fruit if they later accept the fullness of the gospel and are baptized. And what if they do not, are these petitions lost?
"Faith alone will not justify; faith and repentance alone will not justify; faith and baptism alone will not justify; but faith, repentance, and baptism will justify and bring remission of sins through the blood of Christ." (Orson Pratt, A Series of Pamphlets p. 6, quoted in "Review of Books on The Book of Mormon," 6:2, p.28)
We know that
"these are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fullness." (D&C 76:76)There is not room for debate that their efforts to repent will not bring them eternal life, since baptism and acceptance of the fullness of the gospel is required. But for these who will receive a Terrestrial glory, we know there will be some for of repentance going on in the spirit world. I think (my opinion) that they will not have to suffer for these sins which they "repented" of during their life. They will eventually accept that fullness of the gospel, but there is no evidence that baptism will be part of their acceptance process. Joseph Fielding Smith states firmly that baptism is a celestial ordinance and is not effective for those of the lower kingdoms.
Regarding repentance in the spirit world:
"'Oh,' someone says, 'the Lord is just and merciful...The Lord will reinstate him after he is dead when he repents.' Every one has to repent eventually and every knee has to bow, even those going into the telestial kingdom...but that does NOT mean the bowing or bending of the knee...is going to put these people in the celestial kingdom." (Joseph Fielding Smith DS 2:195)I'm not sure what to conclude with at this point except to say that I think "Gentile" repentance can bear fruit. Those who won't accept the gospel but do have some faith in God and Christ should repent of their sins as far as they are able to.
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It has been mentioned that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel. What you you think this means? Do any of the other scriptures also contain the fulness of the gospel? The Lord reveals this in section 20:
"And gave him power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon; Which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also;" (D&C 20:8-9)Joseph Smith said Moroni told him:
"...that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants." (JS 1)In the "Introduction" of our current edition of the Book of Mormon, we find this statement:
"The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, AS DOES THE BIBLE, the fulness of the everlasting gospel. (emphasis mine)So this is interesting...it looks like the Bible contains the fulness of the Gospel too. The Lord tells us:
"And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel." (D&C 42:12)This could be read that collectively, the fulness is found in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. But you could also read this to mean the each individually contains the fulness.
OK...what do the prophets have to say?
"He (the Lord) did not mean to convey the impression that every truth belonging to exaltation in the kingdom of God had been delivered to the Nephites and was recorded in the Book of Mormon...The fulness of the gospel then, as expressed in the Doctrine and Covenants, has reference to the PRINCIPLES OF SALVATION by which we attain until this glory (exaltation.)" (Joseph Fielding Smith, AGQ 3:95-96)
"Well, what is the fulness of the gospel? You read carefully the revelation in regard to the three glories, Section 76, in the Doctrine and Covenants, and you find there defined what the gospel is. There God, the Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son, and the Holy Ghost, are held up as the three Persons in the Trinity--the one God, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, all three being one God. When people believe in that doctrine and obey the ordinances which are spoken of in the same list of principles, you get the fulness of the gospel..." (Charles W. Penrose, CR Apr 1922)
"The fulness of the gospel consists in those laws, doctrines, ordinances, powers, and authorities needed to enable men to gain the fulness of salvation...Our revelations say that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel. This is true in the sense that the Book of Mormon is a record of God's dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and therefore the laws and principles leading to the highest salvation are found recorded in that book. In the same sense the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants contain the fulness of the gospel." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 333)
"It contains the fulness of the gospel, meaning that it is a record of the Lord's dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and meaning also that in it is found a summary and a recitation of what all