Monday, February 22, 2016

The Unjust Steward, Revisited

Here are my answers to the questions I asked in the post on the Unjust Steward.
  1. Who does the rich man represent?
  2. What are the Lord's goods?
  3. What does it mean to waste the Lord's goods?
  4. Who has actual power to call every one of his Lord's debtors to himself and "adjust" their bills?
  5. Who then does the steward represent (see question 11)?
  6. Who are the Lord's debtors?
  7. What do the bills represent?
  8. What does wheat represent?
  9. What does oil represent?
  10. What does it mean to be unjust?
  11. What does it mean for a disciple to fail?
  12. What houses / everlasting habitations is the Lord referring to?
1.  The rich man represents the Lord.
2.  The Lord's goods are the resources of the earth.
3.  To waste the Lord's goods means to use the resources in a manner he hasn't asked for them to be used in.  Specifically, it can mean to use the resources to try to manipulate people into a course of discipleship they haven't the interest, or the commitment, to complete.
4.  Those who hold rule in the Lord's house in every age have actual power to call every one of the Lord's debtors to themselves to "adjust" their bills.
5.  The Lord's steward, then, is the leadership of the Church in every age.
6.  The Lord's debtors are those who have entered into a contract, or covenant with him, publicly witnessed by baptism, to be obedient to him.  At this point, one might recall the following verses.
1 Nephi 20:1-2
1 Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.
2 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.
Granted, "or out of the waters of baptism" was an interpolation introduced in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon, and was apparently made by Joseph Smith.  If Joseph was correct in this interpretation of "com[ing] forth out of the waters of Judah," then we readily see we're dealing with people who have publicly witnessed that they have repented of all their sins and received a remission of them and have a determination to serve [obey] the Lord until the end of their lives, yet are witnessing falsely.  They don't have an interest in serving God by keeping his commandments, even if they say they are of Zion, the holy city; and they don't rely upon God.  We might conclude that we're looking at a society of baptized pretenders; a Church full of hypocrites pretending to be Zion, as it were.

7.  The bills represent the commandments of the Lord, which the debtors have agreed to render to the Lord, witnessing this publicly by baptism.
8.  I'm inclined to read wheat as the word of the Lord.  The debtor was supposed to teach all the word of the Lord, but the steward conspires with him that he only need teach most of it.  That fifth which is omitted can sometimes be quite significant.
9.  I'm inclined to read oil as symbolic of works of righteousness, which give fuel to the Spirit of God in our hearts.
10.  To be unjust means to do more or less than what was agreed upon.
11.  For a disciple to fail means they did not finish the course of discipline to become as the master, refusing to complete the training through diligence and practice in the teachings of the master, and are thus not like the master and don't know what he knows.  Lacking experience, they don't understand the master and don't know him.  They don't know why his rules are the way they are.  That's not what they're interested in.

One might consider a kung fu movie, where you have a master who has dedicated his life to his art, and disciples who follow him because of his displayed skills and powers.  They aren't terribly interested in the ascetic self-discipline and teachings of the master, lacking the pure dedication to his art, but they are deeply interested in the respect he commands and resulting sense of security - nobody messes with him - and the attention he gets from women.  So they slack off on the actual practice of the master's discipline, and instead fly his flag, wear his colors, behave belligerently towards students of other schools of kung fu, cash in on the reputation of the master, and avenge the dignity of the master against resultant perceived slights, confident the master will rescue them from situations they can't handle.  When the master passes on, the show continues with his erstwhile, and failed, disciples opening a school in his name, teaching a bastardized and adulterated version of the master's art, flashy to impress the rubes and the ladies, while omitting the self-control and self-mastery necessary to perfect the skills described in the master's scrolls.  After the generation who knew the master passes on, the new disciples disbelieve the reports of the powers the master displayed and so do not seek after them nor teach others how to obtain them; the common arts of the common schools suffice for their purposes.  Since the failed disciples, and their disciples, don't have the skills and powers the master had, they have to intimidate people as a preemptive measure to avoid being tested in their prowess, and gang together just in case they actually are ever put to the test.  Eventually, they rule their little province, and have a nice side business teaching thuggery to any willing to pay, and whose victims, of course, typically end up being those who haven't joined the team.

One can imagine how these thugs would react if one arrived in their province announcing that he had the long-lost skills and powers of the master, which were obtained through the same ascetic self-discipline and diligence in applying the teachings of the master.  Why, they'd probably try to kill him, or at the very least cast him out of the province.  After all, he would be a disruptor to their kingdom, seeking to take possession of the whole of it, wouldn't he?  People would start following him and training in his schools, and that would be bad for business.

And that puts me in mind of this section of scripture.
JST Matthew 21:21-56
21 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, by what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?
22 And Jesus answered and said unto them. I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I, likewise, will tell you by what authority I do these things. 
23 The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men?
24 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people, For all people held John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus and said, We cannot tell. 
25 And he said, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
26 But what think ye? A man had two sons; and he came to the first, saying, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. 
27 He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went.
28 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I will serve; and went not.
29 Whether of these twain did the will of their father?
30 They say unto him, The first.
31 Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. 
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and bore record of me, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him; and ye, afterward, when ye had seen me, repented not, that ye might believe him. 
33 For he that believed not John concerning me, cannot believe me, except he first repent. 
34 And except ye repent, the preaching of John shall condemn you in the day of judgment. And, again, hear another parable; for unto you that believe not, I speak in parables; that your unrighteousness may be rewarded unto you. 
35 Behold, there was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it; and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
36 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 
37 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
38 Again, he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did unto them likewise.
39 But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
40 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
41 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
42 And Jesus said unto them, When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
43 They say unto him, He will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
44 Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord's doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
45 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 
46 For whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 
47 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
48 And they said among themselves, Shall this man think that he alone can spoil this great kingdom? And they were angry with him.
49 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they learned that the multitude took him for a prophet.
50 And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them?
51 Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me.
52 I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken. 
53 And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.) [D&C 109:60 - that's us.]
54 Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. 
55 And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 
56 And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.
12.  The everlasting habitations / houses the Lord is referring to is wherever that society goes which has not obeyed his commandments.

"What is the damnation of hell? To go with that society who have not obeyed His commands." - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 197

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.

D&C 82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

If you break one of the least commandments, and teach others likewise to break it, he is bound; if you do and teach his commandments until you fulfill them, he is bound.