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.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Adam, where goest thou?

In the third chapter of Genesis, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, they hear GOD in the garden (although with all the trees it may be an orchard). They hid, and GOD asks them,

Adam, where art thou? (KJV 3:9)

This question is "where are you?" in all modern translations (NIV, RSV, NET, ESV, NRSV, and even the Jewish versions)

I know people argue that this is a rhetorical question, or it would seem that GOD does not know everything. The question has always bothered me because Christians have to explain why GOD appears to be so limited only three chapters into the Bible. 

Fortunately for people who trust that Joseph Smith was guided by JESUS via the Holy Spirit to fix most of the problems with the KJV, we get a better question. The new question teaches us that this is not GOD playing hide and seek with our first parents. 

Adam, where goest thou? (JST 3:15).

In modern English this becomes "Adam, where are you going?". But that question is only found in Joseph Smith's version. GOD does know everything capable of being known. HE is smarter than all of his creation put together. GOD knows what question HE asked Adam, and he let Joseph know so we would know.

In my opinion GOD is asking, "why are you avoiding me?" This is not a question of our first parents' location, it is a problem with their motivation.

Where is Adam going? Of course he is moving away from GOD, which is what 99 percent of humanity is currently doing. What was Adam's end goal? What is ours? 

It is possible to live without GOD in this world. I know, I have tried it, and I was miserable. I, like our first parents, have tried to hide from GOD. Now I would love above all else to meet Him and His Father. I am not righteous by any stretch of the imagination, but I finally understand how critical it is to get information from the true GOD of this world, JESUS CHRIST.

Peter eloquently summarizes this when asked by CHRIST if the disciples were leaving JESUS's team after the Bread of Life sermon. Peter speaks for the 11 faithful apostles when he says "Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of Eternal Life, and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (KJV 6:68). By the way, Joseph made no changes to the entire exchange between CHRIST and Peter.

Let us ask ourselves honestly where are we going, and if it is not toward GOD, then we need to repent and head back in the direction of CHRIST. After all that is what repentance means, turning to face GOD. 

I stand with Peter in declaring that JESUS is the only way back to the MOST HIGH GOD.