Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I Am Found of Them Who Seek After Me

The Holy Spirit inspired Joseph Smith to make thousands of changes to the Old and New Testaments. However, Joseph only made a few changes in the Book of Isaiah. Here is the most significant clarification.

KJV Isaiah 65: 1-2

I am sought of them that asked not for me;
I am found of them that sought me not:

I said, Behold me, behold me,
unto a nation that was not called by my name.

I have spread out my hands all the day
unto a rebellious people,
which walketh in a way that was not good,
after their own thoughts

I know that GOD is greater than anyone can conceive. However, these 2 verses push the envelope of incredulity to the breaking point. Why would a person be rewarded by GOD for not trying to find Him?
Why would He bless people who do not care about His laws?

As it turns out, JEHOVAH is being misquoted courtesy of someone or some group in the past that altered the text. For those who think that other modern versions correct this mistake, think again. The problem is the underlying Hebrew which states for verse 1:

I allowed myself to be sought by those who did not ask.
I allowed myself to be found by those who did not seek.

Here is what it should say:

JST Isaiah 65: 1-2

I am found of them who seek after me,
I give unto all them that ask of me;
I am not found of them that sought me not,
or that inquireth not after me.

I said unto my servant,
Behold me, look upon me;
I will send you unto a nation 
that is not called after my name,
for I have spread out my hands all the day
to a people who walketh not in my ways,
and their works are evil and not good,
and they walk after their own thoughts.

GOD was so frustrated with ancient Israel that He had to send people like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lehi to them because they did not deserve to hear from Him directly. For the modern world the same thing is happening. Just do not mistake anyone headquartered in Salt Lake City, the Vatican, or Mecca with being authorized by GOD. True prophets always come from outside the predominant religion of the area. 

I, like most people, struggle with the Book of Isaiah. Now, thanks to Joseph, I struggle over one less problematic passage.
It was CHRIST Himself who told the righteous descendants of Lehi "great are the words of Isaiah"* and now they are even greater.

*3 Nephi 23:1

Monday, May 6, 2019

GOD Keeps Changing His Mind?

There are 16 million Mormons in the world. Roughly 4 million of whom are truly active on a weekly basis and still foolish enough to give ten percent of their income to an institution that neglects the poor and builds great and spacious buildings.

This week we get another policy change (or was it a revelation?) from Salt Lake. This new edict ends the need for couples to wait one year for the magic pixie dust sealing if they had the audacity to be married in a civil ceremony first. 

In the initial days of the attempted restoration of the Gospel GOD gave to Adam and Eve, Mormons were taught that marriage required a public ceremony. At some point after Joseph and Hyrum were killed the church changed marriage into a secret ceremony that was apparently designed to make marriages a time of mourning. Grief and pain for those not able to gain admittance into the Masonic-like temples to see the "sacred" ceremony. I am using sacred as ironically as possible here. 

Now the PR arm of the LDS church has informed the pretended prophets that changing this back to how it was in the time of a true Prophet would make for some great publicity for the church. One thing the PR guys and the leadership failed to consider was that this change creates another in a long line of recent deviations. The danger for LDS inc. is if someone with above average common sense asked themselves, "why does GOD keep changing his mind?" 

Apparently in Utah, GOD is not the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Fishers of Men

The King James Version of Matthew renders 3 verses from chapter 4 like this:

18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

First, for non-speakers of Shakespearean English straightway means "immediately." Second, the sea of Galilee is an inland lake. Language and geography are not really that important to this incident, but the more you know the more you can know.
This is the great "call story." But there is more to this invitation to follow GOD the Son. No modern Bible contains what follows.

Joseph Smith added some wonderful context under the direction of the Holy Spirit (which is the mind of the Most High God and not a personage of anything, but that is another post for another day).

Joseph's "Inspired Version" explains the calling of the first 2 apostles with these words (the verse numbers are different because Joseph combined two earlier verses in chapter 4 into one in his translation).

17. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren,
Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, his brother casting a net into the sea;
for they were fishers.

18. And he said unto them, I am he of whom it is written by the prophets;

follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

19. And they, believing on his words left their net, 
and straightway followed him.

You might think that JESUS' commanding presence and the simple invitation is all He needed to get 1/6 of His apostles to join him. Isaiah 53 verse 2 has a passage that explains that people of JEHOVAH's day were not persuaded by his physical appearance or religious resume. 

New International Version Isaiah 53:2

...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

No one followed Him then for superficial reasons. You were going against the state religion of Judaism and you were going to be a literal outcast. The cost to follow Him then was exponentially harder than it is today. Today it is common to wear a cross around your neck as your get out of a hell free card, while serving no one but yourself.

The JST makes it clear that CHRIST first told them that HE was the Messiah. Peter and Andrew would have understood that the only thing that the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible prophets ever talked about unitedly was the coming Savior. They heard this astounding proclamation and were courageous enough to leave behind their business and their home in an instant. HE was not asking them to sacrifice everything to follow HIM because He was handsome or popular or wealthy or any of the reasons modern people idolize (as in idolatry) present day celebrities. 

JESUS made the simple, yet truthful declaration that He was the Son of God. HE then left it up to the 2 brothers' spiritual discernment to decide what to do. HE did not compel them, HE did not tell a humorous anecdote, and HE did not tell an embellished "faith-promoting" story. One declarative sentence, followed by one imperative sentence with one promise. 

Fishing is a noble profession, and even today it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Fishing for men is infinitely harder. Andrew and Peter to their credit, figured all of this out in less time that it took you to read this post.

Monday, April 1, 2019

2 Verses Missing from Genesis Chapter 1

Please ignore the date of this post. This is not a prank.

Joseph Smith restored 2 verses from the beginning of Genesis chapter 1 that you will not find in any other version of the Bible. He called it the "New Translation." The RLDS church (now called "The Community of Christ') calls it the Inspired Version. The LDS church calls it the Joseph Smith Translation. I would call it The Restored Text of the Bible.

Here are the 2 verses that you can label verse -1 and verse 0, or verse 0 and verse 00. They preceded what you will find in all other versions of the Old Testament. Joseph simply labeled them 1 and 2 so that his version of Genesis 1 has 33 verses instead of 31. 

0. And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Moses,
saying, Behold, I reveal unto you concerning
this heaven and this earth;
write the words that I speak.

00. I am the Beginning and the End;
the Almighty God.
By mine Only Begotten I created these things.

I love the restoration of the Most High God speaking in the first person. Other bible translations have references to God in the third person, which I believe is less personal, less powerful, and immensely less profound.

I relish the inclusion of a reference to JESUS in the creation because there is more than one God at work. I believe the exclusion of CHRIST was done to create confusion about His divinity. I have no doubt that JESUS is divine. I believe He created this world after the pattern delivered to Him by His Father.

I thank Joseph for giving us the best possible narrative we are going to get, until the Brass Plates come forth. Whether the scriptures taken to the Americas via Lehi and Nephi were brass or bronze is trivial. They exist. Someday people are going to read them and see how flawed our present Hebrew Bibles (Old Testament) actually are.

If I were a Christian of any denomination, and I heard of Joseph's work on the Bible, I would at a minimum want to read it for myself. Most people today do not want to hear anything new, it might disrupt their flawed version of reality. They might have to repent, and if they repented they might find GOD.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Thoughts on the First Vision

I would be willing to wager a lot of money on the following hypothetical.

If Joseph Smith were alive today, 
and he decided after reading James 1:5
to go out into the woods to vocally pray about what church to join, 
he would get the same answer he got the first time...


Friday, February 8, 2019

Feel Free to Justify Your Behavior on One Verse: Loopholes are for Fools

Back to Jacob 2. Even if I concede that verse 30 is a loophole for the abomination of plural marriage, people desiring to take this concept on (mostly men) need to take extreme care. The historical LDS narrative of "GOD can command whatever He wants, including polygamy" is true with a massive caveat. When GOD tells you personally, you can then choose to break a commandment.  If He is not telling you to your face that you can violate one of the 10 Commandments, then you must take stock of your motives. Is it a desire to obey or a desire to get away with something?

Here is my example using another serious sin, the taking of life. Two books earlier in the Book of Mormon, the LORD (via the Spirit) "constrains" Nephi to kill Laban. Many people have a problem with this, but I do not. Laban deserved to die for violating the provision for armed robbery in the Law of Moses, and the brass plates were worth killing for. But that does not justify anyone other than Nephi in taking a life. If I were foolish enough to use the Mormon's church rationale here of "if it is in the scriptures once or twice then GOD permits it," I can just start randomly killing people. Sounds patently ignorant, and it is. It is just as stupid as using one verse in all of the Book of Mormon to create a culture of adultery that has seriously crippled the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Brigham's Mormons Were the Modern Day Mulekites

Today I want to talk about a disturbing thing I have learned about the Mormon exodus. Brigham and his followers traveled to Utah without 3 important documents:

1. The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. 

This was put into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House. When it was taken out years later it had suffered water damage so that roughly 25 percent of the text remains. That would fit approximately with the remaining truth left in the modern LDS church. Most of what is left is erroneous, but a fraction of it is still viable.

2. The printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon. 

This was retained by Emma Smith and given to the Reorganized Church (now The Community of Christ). They still have it, and in my opinion they have a just claim to it because of their fidelity to what is in the text.

3. The manuscript of the Joseph Smith revision of the Bible. 
Same basic story as #2.

This astounds me! But as I thought about it occurred to me that this is wonderfully appropriate. The wagons came West without the foundational documents of the religion. Why bring the texts with the truth, when you are just going to make most of it up when you get there?

Sure, the pioneers had copies of the Book of Mormon. They apparently were not reading those copies, because Jacob 2 is a clear warning against the dangers of polygamy. (And no, verse 30 is not a loophole, but that is another blogpost.) The Lamanites' physical survival was promised and delivered by the LORD because they did not practice plural marriage. That is why I feel the Community of Christ rightfully owns the best remaining copy of what Mormon edited and Joseph translated.

The tragedy of traveling to a new land without correct information reminds me of the Mulekites. They came to the Americas without any sacred texts and basically lost all cultural connection with the Old World. Divine intervention in the form of King Mosiah's people stumbling upon them was the only thing that kept them from disappearing altogether.

I have learned from Royal Skousen's work on the original text of the Book of Mormon that the Mulekites should be called Mulochites (or Molochites). This was because King Zedekiah was so abominable that he named one of his sons after the pagan god Muloch (Moloch). Muloch was the god that required child sacrifice in a furnace! There may be a connection being getting blinded by your enemies and trading the law of Moses for the god Muloch. 

Zedekiah was literally blinded for his abominations. Brigham Young was figuratively blinded. Brother Brigham's blindness was his lust for power, sex, and money. I am personally blinded by my own fallen nature. Only the word of GOD can heal any of us from spiritual blindness. Nothing but divine truth can get us through the mists of darkness on the way to the Tree of Life.

The word "sophistry" came to mind when I read the LDS chapter heading to Jacob chapter 2. It states "the Lord commands that no man among the Nephites may have more than one wife." If you take out the words "among the Nephites" you get the actual truth. That idea was just as clearly explained in the original section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants, but that got removed in 1876 in favor of a hodgepodge of misinformation, section 132.

Anyone considering joining the LDS church should please pray specifically to know whether the church is truly approved by GOD. Praying to know whether the Book of Mormon is true has nothing to do with religion. Do not conflate the truth of one concept with the validity of a second. I think the Book of Mormon is true, but I think Brigham's version of Mormonism is false. The Bible being true does not make the entire Christian world true. Our prayers need to be more focused or we risk lumping things together that are meant to be considered individually.

What are the lessons for we present-day wanderers in this worldly wilderness?

First, take your scriptures with you wherever you go. 

Second, if you are not sure about something, ask GOD. 

Joseph Smith asked GOD for revelation and got it. 

Brigham Young left those revelations behind: physically and mentally.