Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Plug for Another Project

A friend of mine passed this on:
A small group of us has spent most of the year going through the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, reaching back to the original manuscripts to get as true a version of what Joseph offered us as possible and showing what changes have happened since his death. We are getting bids to have a triple combination volume printed in the coming months. For the moment we want to make people aware of this effort. Electronic versions of the scriptures are free for download at anoffenderforaword.blogspot.com in Word, PDF and some ebook formats. There are also instructions for using a Kindle reader or app with the PDFs as an ebook. The PDFs give a clear representation of how the volume will look. 
We will notify everyone when orders can be placed for your own copies. We are trying to keep the cost to around $20 per copy. These will be printed on biblestock paper and will have large margins for easy note taking. An effort to produce a complete JST bible is also underway. A complete Kindle JST KJV is available by Ken Lutes on Amazon. He is the one working on a complete print version. When that work is ready to order we will let you know. He is not a part of this movement.  
This volume of scripture is not "official" to the Remnant Movement in any sense, and we hope they may be of interest to Mormons of all types. While many of us felt inspired during the process, we offer this volume as a gift to our Lord and to our friends and families. Feel free to take this work and improve on it. 
It's the kind of project that appeals to me - I use a copy of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, edited by Royal Skousen, for my personal scripture study.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Discipline of Christ

If we are to love God,
if we are to love our neighbors,
if we are to make no oaths,
if we are to not swear that something is true,
if we are to be forthright in our speech rather than speak evasively,
if we are to make no preparations for tomorrow,
if we are to build up no storage of goods nor money nor food nor substance for ourselves,
if we are to do alms to the poor,
if we are to give to everyone who asks,
if we are to forgive every debt owed us,
if we are to lend to all comers without asking for our stuff back,
if we are to not ask for our stuff back from those who take it,
if we are to sell our possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor,
if we are to avoid the desire for possessions,
if we are to refrain from lust,
if we are to pray always,
if we are to be merciful,
if we are to not resist evil,
if we are to turn the other cheek when struck,
if we are to comply with those who compel us,
if we are to concede to our opponents even before they take legal action against us,
if we are to let those who sue us have what they sue us for,
if we are to refrain from judging,
if we are to refrain from condemning,
if we are to love our enemies,
if we are to bless those that curse us,
if we are to do good to those who hate us,
if we are to pray for those who spitefully exploit these things against us and use us,
if we are to send back good for evil done to us,
if we are to forgive every offender even until seventy times seven,
if we are to not expend effort to preserve our own lives,
if we are to do every last thing we want done to ourselves to others,
if we are to wholly walk in these ways as God wholly walks in these ways,
if we are to both do and teach all these things,
and
if we do these things we are the church and family of God,
and
if we do not do these things we are not the church and family of God,
then
what else is there to talk about?

Monday, December 12, 2016

FORGIVE

KJV John 14
15 ¶If ye love me, keep my commandments.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me[.]

23 If a man love me, he will keep my words[.]

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings[.]

KJV Luke 7:47 [T]o whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

These words, taken together, imply that whosoever does not keep the words, sayings, and commandments of Christ, the same is not forgiven - or, in other words, we are forgiven to the degree that we keep Christ's commandments.

KJV Luke 6:37 [F]orgive, and ye shall be forgiven[.]

This suggests that Christ's commandments, which are summed up by the Golden Rule, might alternatively be summed up as "FORGIVE;" that is, always and instantly forgive everyone of every debt and trespass: hold nothing against anyone, ever.

If, then, entrance into the kingdom of God is given only to the forgiven, then the only real sin - indeed, the unpardonable sin - is failure to forgive everyone of everything, including God himself, for their apparent or alleged trespasses or failures towards us.

KJV Matthew 18
21 ¶Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23 ¶Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

This applies to all Christians who acknowledge the KJV Bible as authoritative.

As an aside, one does not normally get rich - come into possession of more than one actually needs - by always forgiving everyone every debt and trespass; rather, one normally gets rich by doing the opposite. Hence, this.

KJV Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

The other woes Jesus pronounced can be likewise analyzed from the vantage of failure to forgive.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Divorce in Jesus's Teachings

3 Nephi 12:27-32, Earliest Text

Behold, it is written by them of old time
that thou shalt not commit adultery.
But I say unto you
that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her
hath committed adultery already in his heart.
Behold, I give unto you a commandment
that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart.
For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things,
wherein ye will take up your cross,
than that ye should be cast into hell.

It hath been written that whosoever shall put away his wife,
let him give her a writing of divorcement.
Verily verily I say unto you
that whosoever shall put away his wife,
saving for the cause of fornication,
causeth her to commit adultery;
and whoso shall marry her who is divorced committeth adultery.

Fornication is the physical act of sex outside of the marriage, in context. Christ is not justifying divorce; in particular, he is not saying you should initiate a divorce against an adulterous spouse. He is merely saying that if a man divorces his wife for any reason other than her own physical adultery, then he causes her to commit adultery (and thus brings her blood upon his garments), and that whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. There is no "out" mentioned for abuse. There is no way mentioned for another man to marry a divorced woman without committing adultery.

KJV and JST Matthew 5 is substantially similar to 3 Nephi 12 on this subject. And this teaching was repeated.

KJV Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

The JST of this passage is substantially similar. Unless it is because his wife fornicated, if a man divorces his wife and marries another woman, then he commits adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. There is no "out" mentioned for abuse. There is no way mentioned for another man to marry a divorced woman without committing adultery.

KJV Mark 10:2-12

2 ¶And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Which sounds an awful lot like Jesus is forbidding human-initiated divorce. The disciples thought so, too.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Note - there is no "out" mentioned for adultery or abuse: human-initiated divorce and subsequent remarriage is to commit adultery. The JST of these verses is the same.

And again:

KJV Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

The JST of this passage is substantially similar. There is no "out" mentioned for adultery or abuse. A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

To sum up that which is written:

*If a man divorces his wife for any cause other than her committing physical adultery, then he causes her to commit adultery.
*If a man divorces his wife for any cause other than her committing physical adultery, then if he marries another he also commits adultery.
*If a divorced woman marries another man, both she and her new husband commit adultery.

Notably missing from Jesus's teachings is justification for divorce for the cause of spousal abuse. The absence of this justification is consistent with the Sermon on the Mount. Read this in contemplation of applying it even towards an abusive spouse.

3 Nephi 12:38-48, Earliest Text

And behold, it is written:
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say unto you that ye shall not resist evil,
but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat,
let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee,
and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

And behold, it is written also
that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.
But behold, I say unto you:
Love your enemies!
Bless them that curse you!
Do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you,
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,
for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.

Therefore those things which were of old time
which were under the law,
in me are all fulfilled.
Old things are done away,
and all things have become new.
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect,
even as I or your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Or, in sum, "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets." This applies even to the enemies, the revilers, the haters, the abusers, and the persecutors who we might be married to.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

By the Mouth of the Lamb

1 Nephi 13:40-41, Earliest Text

40 And the angel spake unto me, saying:
These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles
shall establish the truth of the first,
which is of the twelve apostles of the Lamb,
and shall make known the plain and precious things
which have been taken away from them
and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people
that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world
and that all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved.

41 And they must come according to the words
which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb.
And the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed
as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Wherefore they both shall be established in one,
for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.

All men must come unto the Lamb or they cannot be saved, and they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.

So what are the words established by the mouth of the Lamb - that is, spoken by Christ himself in person - in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament? Whatever those words are, all men must come unto Christ according to them - that is, all men must come to him by doing whatever those words say. Therefore, it seems to be of vital importance - if we desire to come unto Christ and be saved - that we identify the words Christ spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, and do what he instructs us to do in those words.

Fortunately for us, Christ made it plain which words he spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, by which all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved. The words he spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament are the words he spoke in person to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, chapters 12-14, the content of which closely follows the words he spoke to the Jews in person in Matthew, chapters 5-7. This is confirmed by what he said afterward.

3 Nephi 15:1, Earliest Text

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings,
he cast his eyes round about on the multitude and saith unto them:
Behold, ye have heard the things
which I have taught before I ascended to my Father.
Therefore whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them,
him will I raise up at the last day.

The words he spoke in person in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament were the Sermon on the Mount. We may therefore see clearly that Christ's sayings in the Sermon on the Mount are not idealistic platitudes, but literal instructions to be performed by all men who want to come unto Christ and to be saved. They are to be remembered and actually done.

If we trust in Christ and desire to come unto him and be saved, we will actually do the things he said to do. If there is a conflict between Christ's instructions and any religious leader's teachings, or those of an official, philosopher, teacher, or scientist, we will choose to be faithful to Christ's words.

As an aside, the word "willing" as used in the sacramental prayers means "desiring with determination" or "determined to do" or "resolved." The word "witness" therein means "testify." The word "keep" therein means "perform," "do," "practice," "obey," or "fulfill." Each time you eat the bread, you testify to God, the Eternal Father, that you are resolved to actually obey Jesus's commandments.

After all...

3 Nephi 14:24-27, Earliest Text

24 Therefore whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock.

25 And the rain descended and the floods came,
and the winds blew and beat upon that house.
And it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not
shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand.

27 And the rain descended and the floods came,
and the winds blew and beat upon that house.
And it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fellowship Meeting October 15th, 2016

Assuming there are no snow impediments, there will be a gathering at the Mt. Pinos picnic area (at the top of the road up the mountain; by the big parking lot and ski lodge; can't miss it) in California on Saturday, October 15th, 2016, at about 3pm.  There is no set format, and there are no set speakers.  If you feel inspired to bring anything, please do.  Sacrament will be served.

If you come early, you might join Tim Malone in a hike to the peak area.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Much Else to Say

I'm going to pretend this is my last blog post.

Wish to have peace of conscience?

D&C 1:32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven[.]

Wish to have confidence before God, and your prayers answered?

1 John 3
 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Seek out the commandments in the scriptures, and for understanding through mighty prayer and, above all, acting on the Lord's requests rather than simply reading them.  Rather than substituting your own judgement for the Lord's commandments by appealing to "what works," instead obey the commandments of the Lord with exactness.  Remember - he doesn't receive what he hasn't appointed.  His ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts.  What we think "works" doesn't serve the same purpose as what the Lord has commanded.  Substituting their own judgements for the Lord's commandments is how men go, and lead, astray.

The Lord said that if any man loves him he will keep the Lord's commandments, and that if he doesn't keep the Lord's commandments, he doesn't love the Lord.  Through diligence and exactness in keeping the Lord's commandments we can become Zion, the pure in heart, of one heart and one mind.  And if we are to be one, there can be nothing withheld between us.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves means that if we would do a thing for ourselves, we had ought to do it also for our neighbor.

If you lack love, and desire it, call upon God with all the energy of heart to be filled with his love.  Pursue this prayer whilst keeping the commandments until he answers you.

And, lastly, who's worth listening to?  I look for three things: are they teaching the commandments?  Are they keeping them?  Are they contentious / combative?

Alma 13:1, 6
1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people [-] And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest[...]

Mosiah 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

3 Nephi 11:29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Always err on the side of mercy.  The same standards we judge others by shall be applied to us.

We have the commandments before us in the Bible (most importantly, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain) and in the Book of Mormon (Sermon at Bountiful).  It is through keeping these commandments exactly as they were delivered by the Lord to his people that we may become priests unto God, having association with angels.  Isaiah 58 is also of note, containing more commandments and promised blessings.  The Lord, after all, changes not, and his law has always been the same.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

That's all there ever was to it.  And his commandments may be summed up: all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lay Not Up Treasures Upon Earth

3 Nephi 12:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

This does not mean "give to the poor." This means "give to him that asketh thee," or, as rendered in Luke 6:30, "give to every man that asketh of thee." It does not mean to give only the deserving, it does not mean to give to just some, it does not mean to give to most, but instead it means to give to all who ask.

This, on the other hand, means give to the poor.

3 Nephi 13
1 Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

2 Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;

4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

So both are commanded: giving to all who ask, as well as giving to beggars, who may not ask you directly, let's say, but might be holding up a sign or something.

The reason why people do not keep the first commandment, to give to every man that asks, is because they have their security, their trust, in their substance, and not in God. These have received their comforter.

The reason why people do not keep the second commandment, to do alms unto the poor, is the same, and also coupled with a judgement against the beggar in his petition, which judgement is performed that they may withhold their substance and appear justified (for example, "He has made poor life choices to bring him to his current state, such as indulging in drink or drugs or other investments I disapprove of, or shall sin with my substance by so indulging, so I should withhold lest I injure him through giving him what he asks for. It's for his own good!"). As Benjamin says, those who perform this judgement have no interest in the kingdom of God, and if they do not repent shall perish forever with their substance.

But to those who hear his words, Christ says this.

3 Nephi 13
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Treasures upon earth are precisely those things that can be corrupted or stolen. Anything made out of the substance of this world qualifies. Even digits in a bank account.

Why does laying up treasures for oneself upon earth break the law of God?

By definition when you lay up treasures for yourself upon earth, you are withholding your treasures from others, therefore you do not love, and are not loving, others as yourself.

No retirement funds, no savings bonds, no Roth IRAs, no 401Ks, no nothing. Our confidence, trust, and faith must be in God, and not in the perishable substance of this world, neither in men, or we shall perish with them.

I have written a short explanatory essay on the concept of private property on my secondary blog, where I treat things that I find interesting. Be warned: as those who know me in real life may attest, I deploy vulgar language to make my points, and I am not a fan of modern political ideologies. If you can tolerate four-letter words and vulgar references to bodily functions, then read on: Private Property.

I love that man better who swears [curses, uses vulgarity] a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 303

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Musings on the Law

The law: whatever you wish others would do to you, do to others.

Alternatively: if you would do a thing for yourself, you ought to do it for others. If you would not do a thing to yourself, you ought not do it to others.

In other words, treat others exactly as if they were you.

The meaning of the law: they are you.

Maybe younger, maybe older. Maybe lighter, maybe darker. Maybe smarter, maybe stupider. Maybe wiser, maybe more foolish. Maybe consecrated, maybe desecrated. Maybe male, maybe female. Maybe secure, maybe insecure. Maybe confident, maybe fearful. Maybe rich, maybe poor. They are all you. Just at different developmental stages.

Passing through experiences in abuse and power and fear, just as you are. Learning who and what they are, just as you are. Learning what they like and dislike and inflicting or absorbing the same, providing the same lessons to others, just as you are. Enabled for themselves by experience to discern between good and evil, having the gift of choosing according to their own wills to associate with you or to depart from you.

Not everyone wants to be you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Rule of Interpretation

What is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. Understand it precisely as it reads. - Joseph Smith, TPJS 276

In the last post, I noted that current science, if correct, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89 - "hot drinks are not for the body or belly," with the operational word being "hot," which is a word denoting having a high temperature - just exactly that simple.

But even if the science turns out to be incorrect, the interpretive issue remains, for me, settled, leading to the following question: why did I ever listen to anyone tell me what the scriptures mean? Well, once upon a time, I did not have experience and trusted people I thought were trustworthy on topics I knew nothing about. A natural, developmental mistake.

Now, I recognize that the difficulty in understanding scripture comes from lack of experience in the things the scriptures speak of. When we attach meaning to words without understanding, we may well not be speaking of what the scriptures are speaking of when we use the words - indeed, it seems to me this is almost inevitably the case. For example, to those who have not been baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, the phrase "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost" communicates no real meaning. It becomes an abstract symbol, relating in unknown ways to other concepts. When we assert meanings, and then interpret other things by those asserted meanings, well, our readings are only as true to God's word and intended meanings as our assumptions are.

Better to not pretend to knowledge - direct experience - one doesn't have. The path to experience is calling upon the name of the Lord in mighty prayer, even until one has faith in Christ, and from thence keeping his commandments, praying always. The promise is if we do this, we will always have his spirit to be with us, and will therefore be able to comprehend the things of God.

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity--thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 137

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hot Drinks Seems to Mean Hot Drinks; Who'da Thunk It?

An interesting article which, if true, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89, commonly called "The Word of Wisdom," on the subject of "hot drinks," but does not vindicate the interpretation that is taught in its stead in the Church, nor the sources of that interpretation.

Very Hot Drinks Are 'Probably Carcinogenic'

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Narrative Doesn't Matter

Please notice the primary complaint Jesus had against the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites, was not that they lacked "priesthood" or "keys" or "authority." We don't see him bringing up the subject in the scriptures, neither does it seem he instructed his disciples to challenge their authority. This is what he did say.

JST Matthew 5
21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

22 For I say unto you, except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph taught that to be righteous meant to be just and merciful. To be just means doing what has been asked of one, or what one has agreed to do. To be merciful means to have no malice even towards one's enemies, but to be of a mind to let them go even when they are in your power after their having come upon you, and perhaps blessing them in the bargain. Joseph also taught that becoming righteous comes about by obedience to God's commandments. The Scribes and Pharisees were not keeping the law and commndments, and lacked mercy.

JST Matthew 7
1 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.

2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

3 For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

4 And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

5 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

6 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.

7 Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?

8 Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


A hypocrite is an actor, one who pretends to be what he is not.

Notice Jesus did not instruct the disciples to challenge the authority of the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites. The subjects of "priesthood" and "keys" and "authority" seem not to have been a consideration - even though by this time John, the Baptist, had "wrested the keys" and "overthrown the kingdom of the Jews." Jesus's complaint was that the teachers were not observing to keep the law nor the commandments. We know already they had long perverted the ways of the Lord, as John had come to make straight his paths, therefore whatever they were teaching was contrary to the law and the commandments. In other words, the situation of the teachers of the Jews was similar in most respects to that of the priests of King Noah to whom Abinadi was sent.

Remember also that Jesus never did get formally excommunicated - put out of the synagogue. Anyone can get themselves tossed - and several have gotten themselves tossed - by asserting the leadership lacks priesthood, authority, keys, or whatever, and that the historical narrative which buttresses their claims is false. Here's what Jesus said to do instead.

9 Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.

10 And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.

The dogs, in this context, are those who do not recognize the Lord's voice in the words of his servants, who start barking where the law and commandments contradict the teachings of the leadership, preferring the leadership's teachings. The swine are the contentious who argue every little point and accuse.

11 For the world cannot receive that which ye yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you.

The pearls, or mysteries, being revelations of the operations of God's kingdom, apparently - those things Jesus taught in parables to hide them from the unbelievers.

12 Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

13 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

Teach them that God answers prayers. Sometimes, we must weary him (Luke 18:1-6).

14 And then said his disciples unto him, they will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.

15 And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.

16 Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, thus shall ye say unto them,

17 What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?

18 Or what man is there among you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?

19 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

20 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

God will answer the sincere seeker.

21 Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Every last thing you wish people would do to you, do to others. This is the meaning of the law, and of the teachings of the prophets. This short, simple explanation of the entirety of the law of God cuts through all the accretions of men, the claptrap and clutter surrounding the law and the commandments.

As an aside, you can't escape the requirements of this, the Golden Rule, by appealing to the so-called "Greatest Commandments." If you love your neighbor as yourself, then if you would do a thing for yourself, you had ought to do it for your neighbor. Let that thought sink in.

22 Repent, therefore, and enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat.

23 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The strait gate is repentance and baptism by water, after which cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The narrow way that leadeth unto life is this, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful. Few find it because they fear the obvious consequences in this world of obedience to Jesus's sayings and commandments, therefore they disbelieve him and do not obey, and they teach others to disobey, saying things like "you're a simplistic fool if you give to everyone who asks you to!"

Hence this: "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven."

The purpose of a priest is to teach the law and the commandments, remembering they are not his, but his who sent him.

24 And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

25 Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

26 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

27 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

28 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

29 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Very simply: do they keep the commandments and teach them, building up others, or do they instead break them and contend, seeking to aggrandize themselves?

30 Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

31 For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.

32 And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?

33 And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity.

Those who actually keep the commandments will know him; those who say and do not will not.

34 Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.

35 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

If you hear these sayings of his - the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful - and do them, you will be founded upon a rock. If you hear these sayings of his and don't do them, you will fall.

36 And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings with his disciples, the people were astonished at his doctrine;

37 For he taught them as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes.

Jesus seems not to care so much what we believe so long as we believe on - have full faith and trust in - him and keep his commandments. The rest is taught directly from heaven.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Servants of All

JST Matthew 23
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

2 All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.

3 For they bind heavy burdens and lay on men's shoulders, and they are grievous to be borne; but they will not move them with one of their fingers.

4 And all their works they do to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi, (which is master.)

5 But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your master, which is Christ; and all ye are brethren.

6 And call no one your creator upon the earth, or your heavenly Father; for one is your creator and heavenly Father, even he who is in heaven.

7 Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, even he whom your heavenly Father sent, which is Christ; for he hath sent him among you that ye might have life.

8 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

9 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased of him; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted of him.

JST Mark 10
42 But Jesus called them, and said unto them, Ye know that they who are appointed to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

43 But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, shall be servant of all.

44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45 For even the Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

JST Luke 9
46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, who of them should be greatest.

47 And Jesus perceiving the thoughts of their hearts, took a child and set him in the midst;

48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him who sent me; for he who is least among you all, the same shall be great.

JST Luke 22
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they who exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors.

26 But it ought not to be so with you; but he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he who is chief, as he who doth serve.

27 For whether is he greater, who sitteth at meat, or he who serveth? I am not as he who sitteth at meat, but I am among you as he who serveth.

Mosiah 2:17
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

You are not their servant if you deny their requests.[1]

[1]In case of conflict between others' requests and God's, choose to obey whoever you want your reward from.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Does God Answer Prayers?

An objection has been leveled against Jesus's explicit, thrice repeated commandment to give to everyone that asks us.

The objection runs as follows:

1. If God issues a commandment and means it literally then God himself must keep that commandment.

2. God does not answer every prayer.

3. Therefore, since God himself does not give to everyone that asks him then he didn't mean the commandment literally.

4. Therefore, men are justified before God in literally breaking God's commandment to give to everyone that asks them to.

Point 1 - the principal claim upon which the rest of the argument depends - is exactly contradicted by D&C 64:10: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." Here, God issues a commandment and makes it quite clear he means it literally, while explicitly stating that he himself will do according to his will. There are other examples which illustrate this point (say, "thou shalt not kill" while he destroys cities; or "judge not" while he standeth to judge the world, &c.), but this suffices to directly refute the principal claim of the objection on scriptural grounds.

The objection is false in principle.

But more interesting is the "fact" that the false principle was intended to weaponize against God's commandments - the claim that God does not answer every prayer. To the disciples whom he had commissioned to go forth into the world teaching the people, Jesus said: "Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (JST Matthew 7:12-13).

Was Jesus lying? If they asked of God, would they receive? Yes, if they believed. Those to whom the disciples said these words, if they believed the disciples, could ask and be answered.

Belief is always the necessary precondition. When Jesus went forth performing miracles, he would commonly ask - do you believe I can do this? Where belief was lacking, he could not grant their requests.

"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth" (Mormon 9:21).

I cannot say that I have ever believed God would grant my request and God did not grant it. When I have asked this question of others - have you ever truly believed God would grant your prayer, and God not grant it? - the answer has been uniformly "no."

What would your answer be?

The next interesting aspect is to inquire - how can I believe? How can I believe God will answer my prayer?

"Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth" (JST John 9:31).

And, cutting straight to the punchline...

JST 1 John 3
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16 Hereby perceive we the love of Christ, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only; but in deed and in truth.

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God.

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Loving one another entails "giving to every man that asketh," as Christ commanded. Why not simply believe that he means it, just as a little child believes his father? And if you serve him as a faithful son serves his father, will he not grant you according to his word?

To quote Joseph - "I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blinded by the Subtle Craftiness of Men

Once upon a time, someone pointed out to me that Christ didn't visit Bountiful until almost a year had passed since the Crucifixion. I was surprised, so I looked it up, and lo and behold, that's what the book says. But why was I surprised? Why did I think Christ came to the Nephites immediately after the Crucifixion?

It's because that's what I was taught at Church. And when I read the Book of Mormon, the details that contradicted what I was taught at Church simply slid past my eyes unseen - they didn't register - with the narrative I was taught at Church substituted for them in my mind. Until someone pointed the discrepancy out.

What we are taught at Church - and it seems nigh unto universal, independent of sect - is that Jesus didn't mean what he said; Jesus was something of a huckster, you see, who was giving us sentimental ideals, not literal instructions. When he said "give to every man who asketh thee," what he meant was merely "be generous." When he said "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them," what he meant was merely "be kind." And when Jesus said that unless a man hates his life and everything in it, he can't be Jesus's disciple, what he meant was... well, literally anything but that.

Thus even when they cite the teachings of Jesus, purporting to teach them, they pervert his ways, dishonor his commandments, substitute other commandments in their place supplemented with additional precepts not from God, and lead us astray while they blind us to the truth.

So, when the veil of ignorance is drawn aside from your minds, and you see clearly what Christ actually said to do - which is the primary purpose of this blog - then you have a choice: do you do it?

Friday, June 3, 2016

The First Test

Alma 32:22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.

The first test is simply to believe.

Helaman 14:13 And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

If you believe, you act.

Alma 7
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

Are you willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with God to keep his commandments? Have you witnessed to him your willingness to repent and enter this covenant with him by being baptized?

Note that baptism is a witness to God either that you have repented of your sins and entered into a covenant with him to keep his commandments (Mosiah 18:10), or that you are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments.

2 Nephi 30
1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.

2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

Alma 32:16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

Belief is a choice.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Was Jesus a Hypocrite?

In math, at lower levels, we're taught that you can't divide by zero. If you are taught that division is repeated subtraction, then it can be explained that the reason you can't divide by zero is because there is no defined, fixed number of zeros you can subtract out of any given number (you can always subtract one more zero out of any given number, you see). Therefore, the result of division by zero is undefined. Then, if you pursue math into calculus, you find out you can divide by zero... sorta... through the limit process, by using numbers that are as close to zero as you care to get without being exactly zero.

And, again, we learn in school algebra something called "the order of operations." It's the order in which we perform competing tasks given in a problem. There's a nifty mnemonic called PEMDAS which stands for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction, reminding us that when we have multiple operations to perform, then we must do them in that order.

And, if we pursue math further, we find out "the order of operations" is no such thing; the deeper explanation is that, for logical coherence and uniformity of results, certain operators have precedence over others, and with this understanding we can work problems in whatever fashion we like so long as we honor the order of operator precedence.

So it is with the law of God. We might think of the "arithmetic" level of the commandments is the "thou shalt nots." The "algebra" level is the "thou shalts," and the "calculus" level of the law is this: every last thing you wish people would do to you, do to others. That is the Golden Rule, and it is the entirety of the law; all the other commandments are merely implications of this law.

All of this is a setup to say that just as calculus may seem, to the grade schooler, to contradict what he understands of math, so also might Jesus's conduct seem to contradict the commandments he gave, and for the same reason. Jesus comprehended the totality of the law, and, analogously, was teaching arithmetic to those who did not understand the law, algebra to those who did understand, while he himself was practicing calculus. Calculus gets taught to the diligent and self-motivated student who loves the subject for its own sake.

The requests Jesus did not fulfill were those which break the Golden Rule, or those in which God had a contrary commandment in place. "Lord, take my side and impose my will upon another!" No. "Lord, give me that which I cannot understand will destroy me!" No. "Make God jump through hoops for you!" No. "Save yourself!" No.

The most interesting one was where he granted the legion of demons their request, but declined to grant the newly-freed man his wish to follow him. Christ had a mission to minister to all Israel, and the knee-jerk reaction of the people of that city to this deed was fear - of him! They were so afraid they begged him to leave. To fulfill his mission to them, which God had given, Jesus asked the man to stay as a witness to his power and glory among them, that after their initial fear had left them, they might, if they wished, find Jesus. And the man did so.

If, therefore, you meant it when you witnessed to God that you were willing to keep Jesus's commandments, then go and give to everyone that asks - and perform every other commandment Jesus gave - that you also may understand the law, and comprehend the problems that it solves.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Other Side of the Coin

Christ commanded his followers that they give to everyone who asks. This is not an interpretation of what he said; it is what he said at literal face value, repeated three times. There is wisdom to this, and it is not the wisdom of men, but of God. We have been asked to suspend our own judgement in favor of executing God's expressed will.

By granting others' requests, they experience the consequences of their chosen principles and can change if they see a need. But there is another side to that coin: by granting God's requests, we choose and experience the consequences of God's principles, as expressed in the commandments.

In doing what God does, we experience what he experiences, and we come by these means to understand him and his purposes. As we pursue the course of keeping the commandments of Christ with full purpose of heart, he works changes in our nature and we become more like him.

There is an interesting implication of Benjamin's sermon - that God is continually and actively upholding our existence so that we may live and move and execute our wills. God even actively supported and sustained Hitler's life so that Hitler could move and act according to his will and bring about the death of six million Jews, whose lives God was likewise supporting and sustaining so that they could move and act according to their wills. We have to be made of such stern stuff as well if we are going to be what he is - in God's place, we, too, would have to actively sustain and support Hitler so that he could do his deeds. If God had the will to cut off a third part of his children from the outset, we likewise have to have this mettle. Compared to that, it seems a paltry task to give to everyone who asks.

Keeping the commandments can be seen as a mutual test of integrity. In keeping his commandments, we test God to see if he keeps his word, and likewise through his commandments God tests us to see if we keep ours. When we are each convinced of the others' integrity, then we have faith and are proven faithful in all things; then we are like him.

If we don't keep his commandments, then we won't be like him; we won't have fulfilled the conditions upon which his grace is sufficient for us - which is the keeping of his commandments. One of the things people find intolerable about each other is ideological differences. Would you willingly live with someone you vehemently disagree with, who says things you don't believe and wouldn't say, who does things you wouldn't do, and whose motives you cannot understand, forever and ever, worlds without end? Would that be heaven to you?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hidden Wisdom

JST Luke 6:31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

JST Matt 5:44 Give to him that asketh of thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.

3 Nephi 12:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

Repeated three times.

Those who love God, who trust God, who believe the scriptures, who believe God asks this of his disciples, and who desire to be the disciples of God that they may become even as God is, will keep God's word.

Objection: By giving everyone who asks what they ask for you potentially facilitate their bad choices and reinforce maladaptive behavior. Those are bad things that shouldn't be done for the good of the recipient.

Answer: Here is hidden wisdom. We learn by experience - indeed, experience is how we become persuaded of what is good and what is evil. When we give someone what they ask for, we are merely accelerating them down their freely chosen path that they may gain experience. If one should hit the end of one's chosen path and observe that one doesn't like where one has ended up, or if one discovers the end of that path is not what they want before hitting the end, then one may change one's mind and choose a different path - repent, in other words. On the other hand, if one is only prevented from travelling a path by lack of means, then one cannot understand why one might not want to travel down that path, and will still desire to take that path; it is by our desires and our works that we are judged. Therefore you haven't done them any favors by withholding from them, and you have not gained the experience that you otherwise would have if you had been obedient to Jesus's commandment.

Recall the parable of the prodigal son. The father represents God.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Don't Get Me Wrong

Let us assume you, the reader, have been through the LDS endowments and take them seriously. You would have been told that you had covenanted before God, angels, and witnesses that you would obey the law of God and keep his commandments.

Alternatively, let us assume you, the reader, have at some point in the past repented of all your sins and cried mightily unto the Lord until you received a remission of them and were visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost. You would have had a covenant of obedience to God impressed upon your soul at that time, howsoever that was phrased to you as an individual.

Now comes the test: do you take these covenants seriously? Will you actually do it?

God's not going to hound you or nag you. He will simply wait to see if you will do it. And here's how you may be tested.

Say you give alms, as Jesus taught, and the beggar asks for your phone number. If you keep the law of God, you'll give it to him - for Jesus said to give to everyone who asks you to. And they start calling you and asking for money or other services. And if you keep the law of God, you fulfill their requests according to their desires. And, if you do better than me, you won't murmur or complain at them about it, for you will remember that your enemies can have no power over you save it were given them by God, just as it was for Jesus.

Of course they'll mistreat you. But so also did they mistreat Jesus and the prophets. Why would you expect to fare differently? And that is also part of the test. Will you honor God's commandments even under duress? Possibly even to the loss of every worldly thing, even your life? Will you love your enemies, do good to them who hate you, and bless them who despitefully use you and persecute you?

If you don't, then God may have to look elsewhere for his saints and prophets, who ofttimes are sent to testify to the wicked that their deeds are evil, and be tortured and killed for it.

You see that you are, if you take the law of God seriously, a servant to all, a willing slave to all, by your own obedience to the commandments of God. After all, you're asking to be made a God, and what do Gods do? Examine Jesus's ministry and the teachings of the prophets for the answer.

So I'm not whining about how bad I have it, nor am I asking for help. My point was to invite you to likewise willingly enter the refiner's crucible and begin the process of having your impurities burned from your soul by the trials and affliction that shall be visited upon you if you take your covenants seriously and keep the commandments of Jesus, as foolish as they may seem, so that you may be able to offer an acceptable offering to the Lord.

It would suck if at the end one was found merely honorable, or not valiant in the testimony of Jesus, don't you think? I mean, if we, with our worldly wisdom, prudently avoided the tests and trials that were intended to prove our mettle and strengthen our souls and make of us pillars in the house of God, but were, you know, "good" people who never did "bad" things, and occasionally gave a beggar a dollar.

If - and this is a pure hypothetical - we keep coming back until we are either saved or lost, and if we desire to be saved, why not do it now? Why not drop the world's ways of abuse and control and manipulation, confess and make restitution, and cry mightily for forgiveness and to recieve the Spirit of God, and keep the commandments with all our might, mind, and strength?

As an aside, the slavery motif occurs quite often throughout scripture. Do you suppose that's significant? Remember Alma's people being enslaved by the Lamanites. And Nephi was a servant to his brethren until they sought to slay him - they were his trial. And I wonder if Joseph Smith's trial was being a slave to the Church, ultimately laying down his life at her request? And did not Jesus both serve and die for the sake of all, both his enemies and his friends and family? Can we hope to be what he is by doing less?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Take Ye No Thought for the Morrow

I still sin. Like the Pet Shop Boys sing, "Everything I've ever done, everything I ever do, every place I've ever been, everywhere I'm going to - it's a sin!"

When one knows of the perfection of God - and I don't know it fully - then one sees there's no way to get there from here by one's own efforts. At all. All must necessarily fall short. There's no way not to. I'm just not what he is. I don't think like he thinks, nor feel like he feels, nor know what he knows.

The only way to go, to become what he is, is by honoring his requests, keeping his commandments with all my heart, might, mind, and strength - and then he will change me according to my desires. I haven't got the power to change myself. All I can do is imitate and emulate.

And I just want to be done - finished, completed, perfected. To be full of peace and love and light and joy and truth, no more to be tempted by fear, lust, judgement, or malice. To be exactly what God is. And then it will no more be me: I've felt it. And I'm fine with that - I'm not terribly fond of me as I am, and particularly not with even partial knowledge of the Godly alternative to being what I am.

I committed an actual, though private, sin, for which I afterward made public confession and was publicly rebaptized to witness repentance, according to Moroni 8. Upon committing the sin, I expected to be smitten - if you expect the worst, you can't be disappointed, right? The Lord came to me immediately, unseen, and squatted next to me, and utterly without judgement said "Do you suppose God is unmerciful?" Well, no, I thought, I expect he's all about mercy, actually.

Yet I have had a great many occasions since to ponder that question - what is mercy? Is it, as I think, forbearance and accommodation of one's weaknesses? And what does God's mercy exclude, if anything?

This comes up for me again and again because of a continual trial I undergo. I once gave someone my number who calls me at least weekly and hits me up for cash. This has been going on for several years now. The calls come at inconvenient times, and you may well believe that when that person shows up on caller ID my day has been pretty well ruined. Whatever amount is asked for is changed a few minutes later, and additional inconvenient requests added which add to the overall total and time. I am lied to frequently - honestly, I wish the sob stories just wouldn't be told and that the requests were shorn from all pretense and made into naked demands for set amounts that I could simply dump and be done. The person does not account for my needs neither respects me as a person - why should they? Any mercies or gifts above their requests simply sets expectations that they can take more from me later, confirming to them my perceived weakness and further justifying their conduct towards me in their eyes. They don't wish for my friendship nor companionship; any information about my personal life they have managed to find out is used in efforts to manipulate me into courses more aligned with their values and needs, to be able to take greater advantage of me. They only care about me insomuch as they get something out of me to further their own ends and goals, and no more. I find their goals and ends reprehensible and foolish, but that's not for me to educate them on; my role is simply to serve them. I have tried everything within the law of God to persuade them to alter their course towards me, but all to no avail; I tried once demanding of them why I shouldn't simply cut them off or treat them the way they treat me (because I can't simply say "no" - that breaks the law of God) - and felt the bright, hot, crushing, painful disappointment of heaven for a long time afterwards in response to that effort.

I could go on and on - it's like being trapped in a loveless marriage with a spendthrift adulterer - or, more to the point, it is like how the world treats God: as a slave, a universal cuckold, supporting enemies, false spouses, and children that aren't his. But in the end none of it matters. I know I can't change them, and that they're behaving completely rationally as one might who had found the biggest sucker in existence. The only one in this scenario that can be changed is me, so that I no longer feel the anger, the irritation, the frustration, the fear that I will myself be left without my needs met. I know I can be changed by God to be filled with love and light and joy, to bear my burdens with grace, love, and mercy - hence, what does the mercy of God exclude, if anything?

Yet I have not had my needs unfulfilled, even though I have had to play the beggar to friends and family to meet them. I guess that's why it is written: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." It doesn't say I will be self-sufficient or even self-sustaining: I will simply be given to, presumably when I ask. And I make sure to ask for the minimum necessary to meet my actual needs, for I resent it mightily right now when someone asks me for more than that which is necessary. Because I fear.

"Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."

Yet it is still hard, being carnal and therefore an enemy to God. I know, in my mind, that I had ought simply to give without upbraiding, yet in my heart I feel resentment, irritation, frustration, and judgement - fear, in a word - and my mouth follows. I know it does no good, and I had ought to simply shut up. But I don't.

Even so, I wish to be different. I wish to be free from fear. I wish to be merciful and filled with grace. Then may good things come from me.

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.

So I chafe under the yoke, but yet I bear it, that I might be made strong and no more feel it.

There are only two possible ways to be, in the end - two ways to think, to feel. We are, in the end, either exactly what God is, or we are exactly what the devil is. There are only two ways to relate to our fellow beings - either we use them to build ourselves up, or we spend ourselves to build them up. I don't suppose the middle ground can be occupied eternally, and I know how I wish to be: a perfect human.

Therefore, to reference the book Dune, by Frank Herbert, I keep my hand in the nerve-induction pain-box of the commandments of God, to prove that I am human, to be made into that perfect being I desire to be. That the work may be completed and I be finished, that I may no longer fear, so that I may no longer need come back, save it be once.

"Perfect love casteth out all fear."

"Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure."

Monday, May 16, 2016

He That Understands and Endures

JST Matthew 13
17 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

18 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart; this is he who received seed by the wayside.

19 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word and readily with joy receiveth it, yet he hath not root in himself, and endureth but for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

20 He also who received seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

21 But he that received seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the word and understandeth and endureth; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred-fold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Go and read the Sermon on the Mount and Isaiah 58 at this point - they are omitted here for space considerations. For the purposes of this post, that is the word of the kingdom.

JST Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

JST Genesis 18
1 And the Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plains of Mamre. And he sat in his tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him; and when he saw, he ran to meet them from his tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said;

3 My brethren, if now I have found favor in your sight, pass not away I pray you from thy servant.

4 Let a little water I pray you be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that you shall pass on; for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

5 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead, and make cakes upon the hearth.

6 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf, tender and good, and gave it unto a young man, and he hasted to dress it.

7 And he took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set them before them, and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Those are the works of Abraham, who knew not that it was the Lord when he received him.

JST Mark 13
52 And what I say unto one, I say unto all men.

53 Watch therefore, for ye know not at what hour your Lord doth come.

54 But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up; but would have been ready.

55 Therefore, be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.

56 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

57 Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.

58 And verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

59 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

60 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.

61 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; and thus cometh the end.

Do you understand? Are you continually imparting to the poor, the homeless, the hitchhikers, the bums, as the Lord has commanded? If he should come in disguise, will he find you so doing?

JST Matthew 25
32 When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory;

33 And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats; the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

34 And he shall sit upon his throne, and the twelve apostles with him.

35 Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

36 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me;

37 I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

38 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

39 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee?

40 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

41 And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

42 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

43 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;

44 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

45 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

46 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me.

47 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.

2 Nephi 31
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.

Friday, May 13, 2016

More on 84


D&C 84
17 [The holy] priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;

26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.

28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.

29 And again, the offices of elder and bishop are necessary appendages belonging unto the high priesthood.

Question: Once Moses was taken from their midst, along with the Holy Priesthood, was Israel the church of God?

Answer: Clearly not, since the Holy Priesthood continues in the church of God in all generations. When it ceases, so does the church of God. From that fact, at this point in D&C 84, it appears that the Holy Priesthood is the defining characteristic of the church of God; those who are not members of the Holy Priesthood are not the church of God. Therefore, Israel was never the church of God, but they were his covenant people - God's wife, as he repeatedly characterizes her throughout scripture. Like a wife, Israel could be true in the sense of faithful to her God, or false in the sense of adulterous, itself in the sense of lusting after and pursuing and obeying things other than her spouse. In modern LDS terms, Israel was a false church, lacking power to administer salvation, though she had a legitimate priesthood and temple rites to point the people up towards the heavens. Yet she remained a focus of God's efforts for the duration of Biblical history.

Question: If elder and bishop are offices belonging to the high priesthood, then were Israel's bishops and elders really bishops and elders?

Answer: Well, men were certainly called elders and bishops in Israel.

NET Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!

You'll notice that they were "called of God" prophets and priests. Isn't that curious? Of what significance is it, then, to be "called of God"? Apparently, being "called of God" is of absolutely no help in distinguishing true, faithful, wise, just, diligent, or good servants from false, faithless, foolish, wicked, slothful, or evil servants. The real issue is whether they are chosen of God, and God alone can reveal whether any particular individual is chosen, instead of merely titled or labelled - "called," in a word.

D&C 84
33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

It is as we thought from earlier - the holy priesthood constitutes the church of God.

D&C 84
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

Question: How do we "receive this priesthood?"

Answer: Words matter - "receive this priesthood" can mean either to "obtain these two priesthoods," as per verse 33 (leaving the shift from the plural unexplained), OR it means to receive one who has obtained these two priesthoods, one of the servants of the Lord, as verse 36 says, into your home; for a member of the priesthood on the Lord's errand represents the body of the priests, or, in other words, the priesthood. As we learn later on in D&C 84, the Lord has, as an enduring policy, sent out his servants as itinerant street preachers, homeless bums, vagrants, to find them who would receive them. To receive them means to take them into your home as the Lord has asked his disciples to do for strangers - for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

D&C 84
89 Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money.

90 And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward.

91 And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.

You see, it's not the creeds or doctrines or prophets we claim to believe, but what we do that reveals us. Priesthood is received - in both possible senses - by keeping the commandments and working righteousness.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Does God Lie?

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him. - Leo Tolstoy

The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text
2 Nephi 9
27 But woe unto him that hath the law given,
yea, that hath all the commandments of God, like unto us,
and that transgresseth them and that wasteth the days of his probation,
for awful is his state.

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one!
O the vainness and the frailties and the foolishness of men!
When they are learned they think they are wise,
and they hearken not unto the counsel of God,
for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves.
Wherefore their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not;
wherefore they shall perish.
29 But to be learned is good
if it so be that they hearken unto the counsels of God.

One who has attained learning hearkening unto the counsels of God doesn't happen very often, which is why what came before and what comes after is uniformly negative towards worldly learning. After all, those who think they already know stuff can't be instructed.

42 ... [T]he wise and the learned and they that are rich
which are puffed up because of their learning and their wisdom and their riches,
yea, they are they whom he despiseth.
And save they shall cast these things away
and consider themselves fools before God
and come down in the depths of humility,
he will not open unto them.
43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever,
yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.

One of the major tasks typically undertaken through apologetics is persuading the world that the religious moderate also disbelieves in and disapproves of the naive and literalistic faith of his fundamentalist brethren, while simultaneously pointing the finger of scorn at the literalists with greater ferocity than even the unbelievers, thus signalling his virtue (and wisdom and learning and enlightenment). That's an exercise in status-seeking.

Thus we see staunch defenses of evolutionary theory, weak references to intelligent design, and condescending derision aimed at literalistic readings of the scriptures in apologetic venues. Yet if the scriptures are literally false on any substantial claim, then on what consistent principle do we accept any of it as literally true? Is a literally resurrected Christ any more acceptable to naturalism, the reigning philosophy of our age, than a literally 6000-year-old Earth, or a literal worldwide flood?

But here's a more interesting question: does God lie? If God has never lied to you, and if you believe the scriptures are, indeed, inspired of God, then why not believe him? What changes in your life, functionally, if you should choose to believe the Earth entered temporality around 6000 years ago, or that Jonah was really swallowed by a whale and was vomited out three days later? It's not like what you believe alters reality, even if it does alter your perception of your proper relationship to others.

The narratives we spin to explain the current state of affairs are necessarily distinct from the current state of affairs. These stories do, however, make a difference in how we perceive our relationships with others and the world around us, and what course we ought to take into the future. Most claims to rule begin with "I know the way things really are!" After all, who would knowingly follow a fool or an ignoramus?

But what can we really know? Strictly speaking, one only knows what one is directly experiencing, and nothing else - that's a definition. For ease of communication, we may also extend the label of "knowledge" to one's memories of one's experiences, though memories may be flawed in several respects, both in forgetting, embellishing, or perhaps even invention. Interpretation of experience, however, constitutes a narrative - a story we tell to explain the meaning of our experiences, constructed using philosophical assumptions about the way things really are, applied to our experiences. Interpretation of knowledge is not properly knowledge because of those assumptions, which can't be known to be true (if experienced, then they'd be knowledge and not assumptions). An example of a narrative is "I am rich because I worked hard." The assumption is that the hard work resulted in becoming rich; the knowledge is that one worked hard and that one is rich. Everything else we think we know consists of reports of knowledge - claims to experience - made by others, intermingled with their assumptions and narratives, which claims, assumptions, or narratives we have assumed are true or false. Needless to say, people have been known to lie or be mistaken.

Assuming there exists no human alive whose age currently exceeds 150 years, there is nobody with knowledge of a 4.5 billion year-old earth. The claim is actually a narrative intended to explain a certain set of experiences in conjunction with some philosophical assumptions about the way things really are. Those assumptions are not value-neutral. Without guiding assumptions, one does not arrive at the ancient-earth narrative from the experiences.

So, you face a real and consequential choice as to whom to believe, and what assumptions you will make. You can choose the world's assumptions, accept the world's narrative, and play the world's game, or you can assume God is telling the truth, choose God's story, and play his game. Which game pays off? After all, in both scenarios, you're dead at the end. In the world's version, that's the end of the game and your story, forever. In God's version, your story never ends.

Imagine a God so gentle and protective of your freedom to choose your own path, according to your desires, that he provides the bare bones, if you will, that can be interpreted to support a plausible alternative narrative that you can choose to believe instead of the story he tells you. Has he ever lied to you?

The "Keystone" of Our Religion

If, then, Abel was a righteous man he had to become so by keeping the commandments[.] - Joseph Smith

To be righteous is to be just and merciful. - Joseph Smith

The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text
2 Nephi 9
41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One.
Remember that his paths are righteousness.
Behold, the way for man is narrow,
but it lieth in a straight course before him.
And the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel,
and he employeth no servant there.
And there is none other way save it be by the gate,
for he cannot be deceived,
for the Lord God is his name.
42 And whoso knocketh to him will he open.
And the wise and the learned and they that are rich
which are puffed up because of their learning and their wisdom and their riches,
yea, they are they whom he despiseth.
And save they shall cast these things away
and consider themselves fools before God
and come down in the depths of humility,
he will not open unto them.
43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever,
yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.

"And save they shall cast these things away..."

It is taught that we should hoard money and supplies (riches), and get as much worldly credentialing (learning, wisdom) as possible - the very things it seems we must divest ourselves of to enter the presence of God. It is an interesting exercise to go through the Book of Mormon and see how many of its precepts are exactly contradicted by our paid ministry.

Mosiah 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

Imagine if we actually applied that standard in our voting to sustain people in their callings in all things and at all levels in the Church, and particularly at the level where they take money for their labors.

2 Nephi 26:31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

Those who accept paid callings are not to be trusted, apparently.

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. - Joseph Smith