Joseph Fielding Smith manual – Chapter 10: Our Search for Truth reviewed by Stephen Livings

teachings-president-joseph-field-smith

Having been given free rein to pick a chapter from this year’s LDS adult Sunday School manual to review, I decided to see what would be being taught near the time my post was due to go online. I discovered that it was chapter 10, entitled: ‘Our Search for Truth’.

The title seems entirely appropriate, given the aims, intentions and purposes of our website.

The chapter begins with this quote:

“It is a requirement that is made of us, as members of this Church, to make ourselves familiar with that which the Lord has revealed, that we may not be led astray. … How are we going to walk in the truth if we do not know it?”

As a Mormon, one feels a sense of being in a safe place when immersing oneself in this world of church publications, which are all so well-produced to a high standard and give off an air of authority. The program is all there for you as laid out by the church, and all that is needed is to read, teach and learn from these authorised materials and you come away with a sense of purposefulness and security which is greatly appealing to those who feel lost or directionless in the world. So, from the standpoint of us who contribute to this website, what may be said of the intention of this chapter, that of making, “ourselves familiar with that which the Lord has revealed, that we may not be led astray”? Well, I intend to show that focusing on, and being familiar with, ‘that which the Lord has revealed’, can be a tricky business for the LDS seeker of truth.

Looking to LDS scripture, one can become easily confused when trying to ascertain a clear picture of the nature of God. For example, the Book of Mormon is clear in Alma 11 that there is only one God: “And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.” There are many other passages in the Book of Mormon that affirm the same teaching, and the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon support this also, as stated at the end of their testimony printed at the front of the book: “And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God.” When reading from The Pearl of Great Price, those words start to become problematic, since we have Moses 2 on the one hand, which reads: “And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light” whilst in Abraham 4 one reads: “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.” The problem of knowing what to believe when confronted with words that the LDS church claims are revealed by God starts to become apparent.

Further LDS teaching relating to the nature of God merely adds to the difficulties. For example, the Book of Mormon God is a spirit: “the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem? And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth.” (Alma 22:9-10) but the Doctrine & Covenants God “has a body of flesh and bones, as tangible as man’s”. (D & C 130:22)

The contradictions between the Book of Mormon and later LDS scripture continue when faced with the teaching of whether or not God may dwell in people’s hearts:

Book of Mormon: “the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell” (Alma 34:36)

Doctrine and Covenants: “the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” (Section 130:3)

Again, one can see in the following example that Book of Mormon teaching goes against subsequent teaching/ practice carried out in the LDS church. Let me present to you the words of Ether 8:18-19:

“And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God; For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.”
Here it is plainly the writer’s intention for it to be understood that God does not go about working in a secretive fashion. This brings to mind Jesus’ words when on trial, “I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.” (John 18:20)

Yet we know that, for Mormons, God does indeed work in secretive ways, since the actions and wording involved in the secret temple oaths past and present are nowadays accessible to all who wish to learn about them. The ‘obligation of secrecy’ regarding the oaths taken in the Mormon temple are of the utmost seriousness to the temple-worthy Mormon. It is clear that the Book of Mormon theme of ‘secret combinations’, which is mentioned in several places throughout the book, presents a view that would suggest that God would not tolerate secretive oaths (even blood oaths as they were) to take place in his one true church.

I could continue with a great many more such differences, but will add only one more. Let us look together at Jacob 2:24, “David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” There are a great many examples in the Book of Mormon where such a stance regarding plural wives is taken. Yet other LDS scripture has the opposite view, expressed in strident terms: “I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory… David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.” (D & C 132: 4 & 38)

Clearly verse 4 is stating in no uncertain terms that the ‘new and everlasting covenant’ of plural marriage is essential in order to ‘enter into (God’s) glory’, and part of the justification for this ‘new and everlasting covenant’ comes from the precedent stated in verse 38, that of David, Solomon and Moses receiving many wives (and concubines!) which was not sinful of them! Yet the Book of Mormon has God saying this was an abomination. Great confusion reigns here once again.

To return to chapter 10 from the ‘Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith’ manual, remember those words quoted earlier: “How are we going to walk in the truth if we do not know it?” Points 2 and 3 from chapter 10 state: “The Lord has commanded us to search the scriptures… We have a great responsibility to hearken to the message of truth that the Lord is now revealing to His servants.” I wonder how the truth can be known using LDS scripture with so many blatant contradictions with which to contend.

Fortunately, there is another way:
“ …whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:4-11)

This is the way. HE is the way. HE is the truth! Ultimately that is what counts. Not seeking ‘the truth’ in LDS scripture. It is about knowing and (more importantly) being known by, God Himself. When we trust that Jesus is our way and is the truth, we can begin to understand that He is also ‘the life’. This is His gospel and it is far richer and more liberating than the ‘impossible gospel’ of Mormonism.

27 thoughts on “Joseph Fielding Smith manual – Chapter 10: Our Search for Truth reviewed by Stephen Livings”

  1. This was not a review; it was a citation to a lesson, used as an excuse to re-make old arguments about my beliefs and my scriptures, arguments that do not withstand scrutiny.

    With respect to the oneness of Christ and the Father, see http://meiklesmusings.blogspot.com/2012/02/8-i-believe-in-christ-who-said-that-he.html , and the other entries in that series. Nothing you quote is inconsistent the fact that Christ and my Heavenly Father are one God. Christ’s prayer before his crucifixion describes how he and his Father are one, and in that prayer he prayed that all his disciples would be one as he and his Father are one. John 17. That is the scriptural explanation of how Christ and his Father are one; instead, traditional Christianity ignores Christ’s words and prefers the negotiated conclusion of a convention held 300 years after Christ.

    With respect to God being Spirit, he is indeed. He also is flesh and bone, combined into a being so glorious as to be incomprehensible by us in our present state. That is how Christ ascended into heaven, and that is how he will return. Acts 1:9-11.

    With respect to whether God dwells in our heart, the D&C passage you quote simply makes clear that other scriptural statements that the Lord dwells in men’s hearts are properly read as figurative–our hearts can be subject to his Spirit. They do not mean God literally lives in our heart.

    With respect to Christ doing nothing in secret, you forget the very reason he taught in parables: “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:2-13

    Also, Christ spent 40 days after his resurrection with his apostles–not with all people, just with his apostles– “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Maybe Christ did nothing in secret during his pre-crucifixion ministry, but after his resurrection he spent 40 days meeting with his apostles in secret, as it were.

    With regard to the new and everlasting covenant, you erroneously equate it with plural marriage. That is not what it is. If you want a discussion about what it is, I would be happy to oblige, but there is not room here and now to do so.

    Plural marriage, when given by God, is not a sin, as evidenced by the stories of Abraham and even David. However, when a man goes beyond what God gives, it is sin, as shown by last phrase of D&C 132:38, quoted by you: “and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.” You claim this is inconsistent with the Jacob 2:24 in the Book of Mormon. It is, rather, totally consistent, if you also read the verse you left out: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” Jacob 2:30. Jacob was saying the only time polygamy would be allowed was in those specific instances when the Lord commanded it. Thus David and Solomon sinned when they took wives beyond those given them by the Lord, and anybody during Jacob’s day would be sinning, because at that time it had not been commanded by the Lord. Those early members of my Church who had multiple wives were obeying God’s commandment. He later ended that commandment. If I were to take multiple wives today, I would be sinning.

    I have joyed in the scriptures–including the Bible and the other scriptures of my Church–my entire life. The additional scriptures help me better understand the Bible. They are consistent, not contradictory.

    Finally, thank you for quoting from John 14. If you truly want to know the relationship between our Savior and our Father in Heaven, also read and ponder John 17. Jesus Christ and God the Father are indeed one God, as explained by Christ himself in that prayer. Jesus is my Savior–he and only he has the power to save me. Yes, you and I believe in the same Savior, only I know so much more about him because of the additional revelation He has shared through his prophets of these latter days.

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  2. Stephen,
    In the spirit of seeking truth :-), the Joseph Fielding Smith manual is NOT a Sunday School manual. It’s the combined Priesthood and Relief Society manual. Here is a link to the current Sunday School Study Guide which this year is the study of the Old Testament: https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-class-member-study-guide?lang=eng.

    In joining with Ted’s thoughtful points, I would emphasize that
    1) the covenants of the Temple are “sacred covenants”, not secret combinations. (ie. Matthew 3-4: 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 which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.)
    2) plural marriage is NOT a requirement of the new and everlasting covenant.
    3) with regards to confusion studying LDS scriptures: When I study LDS scriptures, including the New and Old Testaments, in their direct context and in the context of the totality of scripture, I find great clarity, direction and assurance.

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  3. Hi Ted and Michael. Thanks for your responses. Michael, thank you for your point about the JSF manual not being the Sunday School manual. I think that I would have actually remembered it as the manual for the ‘Gospel Doctrine’ class, but perhaps the names have changed.

    Ted, I accept your point that what I wrote was not a ‘review’ in the sense of how I would normally do a review. I do normally go through many main points that I think are worthy of comment, but this time I chose to respond more to the general theme as I saw it.

    One interesting point you make is regarding plural marriage not being a requirement of the new and everlasting covenant. This topic is difficult then, since Brigham Young taught that: “”The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). This contrasts then, with the current Gospel Principles manual, which in its chapter on exaltation does not mention polygamy but does mention that those who are exalted will become gods. Was Brigham Young in error or is the current LDS church in error for not including polygamy as a necessary part of becoming exalted?

    One other point I’d like to make is that, whilst the resurrected Jesus did visit his disciples, there is no evidence that he instructed them in anything related to temple work, or that the early church took part in anything resembling the LDS temple ceremonies. In fact it is key to the atonement narrative that we read of the curtain in the Jewish temple being torn. This represents the change that Jesus’ sacrifice replaced any notion of priestly intervention on our behalf. As Hebrews explains, Jesus has now become our high priest and through him we have direct communion with God. Rebuilding temples in order to re-create some exclusive access to God would undo Christ’s atoning work and sacrifice. For this reason, for me personally (and quite possibly for many others), the insistence on the requirement of temple ordinances is the biggest barrier in stopping me seeing LDS members as Christians.

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  4. Stephen, It sounds like its been awhile since you’ve participated – understandable. The Gospel Doctrine course is a class within Sunday School and occurs during the 2nd hour of Sunday services after Sacrament meeting (1st Hour) and this year the study subject is the Old Testament. The 3rd hour is when the women meet together in Relief Society and the men meet together in Priesthood. It is during this time that the Joseph Fielding Smith manual is used for 2 of the Sundays during each month during this year. Next year there will be a different manual.

    With regards to the quote you shared from Brigham Young from over 100 years ago, Elder Andersen (current Apostle) provides clarity, “A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades (in this case over 100 years ago) ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

    The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.””
    With regards to temples and temple ordinances, I would quote Jesus in Matthew 5: 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    The ordinances (covenants) of the Temple today assist in leading people to Christ and to His godliness. As Christ taught, “Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” and as Paul taught Romans 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

    The restoration of temples has been prophesied throughout the Bible. For more information of why the LDS build temples today in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and what goes on inside the Temple, visit: https://www.lds.org/church/temples/why-we-build-temples?lang=eng

    Out of time for now – headed to Church 🙂

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  5. First, there is a great difference between the Secret Combinations and the Temple Ceremonies.

    A secret combination works in secret. Their very existence is hidden from the world and individual members are expected to not only keep their oaths secret, but to keep their membership secret. They work in secret, so that those outside their organization don’t know what they do or where they meet. Their goal is power and gain and they will do anything to obtain these things.
    In contrast the Temple is known to the world. The members that enter the temples proclaim their membership to all who see them and we teach everyone about what happens in the Temple. We do not share that which is sacred, but everyone who has any desire to learn can learn what the ceremonies are and what they mean to us. While the work we do is private and sacred we don’t care who knows that we are doing and where we are doing it. The goal of the temple is to bring people to Christ and thus to the Father and eventually exaltation, but it is done is a prescribed way and through carefully ordered and regulated procedures.
    The two do not equate in anyway with each other.

    Second, the rending of the veil was not to symbolize the removal of the temple as a necessary part of Gospel living. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does it give any meaning for this event, but rather puts as part of the great rending of the Earth that occurred at Christ’s death. To give it any other meaning requires one to go outside the Bible for interpretation.
    Here is what it really means: The veil separated the Holy of Hollies from the rest of the temple, and that room was entered only once each year by the High Priest for the purpose of the sin offering on the Day of Atonement. It was to symbolize the separation of man from God. The veil split when Christ, the greatest of all High Priests, passed through the veil that separates mortal life from Heaven and thus opened the Holy of Hollies to all saints. It did not get rid of the Temple, but rather gave all men access to the Temple who believed and were faithful.

    As to the ceremonies themselves, I am not surprised they are not spoken of in detail in the Bible. However, you miss the fact that they are never once denied by the Bible either. The temple was an integral part of the worship of the saints from the time of Adam. In early years the Temples seem to have been mainly alters built in the mountains. The tabernacle became a mobile temple, and later was replaced by the Temple that Solomon built. Why would God suddenly stop using them? Why do none of the Apostles ever once state that the Temple was no longer part of the gospel?

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  6. Steven, probably by design, you missed out the most important message of this lesson so, not necessarily for your benefit, but for others who just rely on your words I quote it.

    “So far as the philosophy and wisdom of the world are concerned, they mean nothing unless they conform to the revealed word of God. Any doctrine, whether it comes in the name of religion, science, philosophy, or whatever it may be, if it is in conflict with the revealed word of the Lord, will fail. It may appear plausible. It may be put before you in language that appeals and which you may not be able to answer. It may appear to be established by evidence that you cannot controvert, but all you need to do is to abide your time. Time will level all things. You will find that every doctrine, every principle, no matter how universally believed, if it is not in accord with the divine word of the Lord to his servants, will perish. Nor is it necessary for us to try to stretch the word of the Lord in a vain attempt to make it conform to these theories and teachings. The word of the Lord shall not pass away unfulfilled, but these false doctrines and theories will all fail. Truth, and only truth, will remain when all else has perished.”

    Much of what is said against the Lord’s Church on Bobby’s site (Hi Bobby) and other anti-mormon sites comes under this condemnation. All of the tirade against the Church begins and comes from a few bitter excommunicated members of the Church with axes to grind, but who’s words are accepted as if they were true, such as D Michael Quinn, Grant Palmer, Todd Compton, David Whitmer etc etc.

    Could I just pass over one or two warnings from the Lord for you and others to consider. We are living in the last days before our Saviour’s second coming. There will be a cleansing of the world and the Church before this blessed return happens, this is what the Lord said:-

    “And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name, and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord”
    D&C 112:25-26. (Including those, Mr Phillips, who have divulged temple ordinances)

    “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together FIRST the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt 13:24-30).

    Steven I assume that you have read the Wentworth Letter where it says, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing”. Unfortunately the one who provides the opposition will deceive some members and cause them to leave hold of the iron rod, if you and others have or are considering walking down dark and forbidden roads, please do a U turn and come back into the welcoming arms of the Church.

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  7. PS Steven does your reference, at the beginning of this, where you say “our website” mean that you have been co-opted into Bobby’s brigade? If so I would remind you of another warning given implied by the Master:- Following His bread of life sermon this occurred

    From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
    Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
    Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal
    life.
    And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. John 6:66-69

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    1. Hi Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to post. Here are my thoughts in response.

      Firstly, in your first quotation from Brigham Young, he seems to be stating that truth has an unperishable quality to it. This would chime in very well with Jesus’ own words when he said that his word would not pass away and the gates of Hell / Hades wouldn’t prevail against it. Yet if this were truly the case, no ‘restoration’ would be necessary. Therefore it doesn’t seem right that Brigham Young describes truth in this way, when in the LDS understanding of things, the true church established by Jesus only lasted a very short time indeed, and a restoration of the true gospel was deemed necessary.

      You assert that, “All of the tirade against the Church begins and comes from a few bitter excommunicated members of the Church with axes to grind.” It wasn’t clear to me if you intended to imply that I fit that description, but for the record, I am not embittered towards the church, I left of my own free will (and have chosen to have my name removed) and I would not describe myself as having an axe to grind.

      You picked up on my use of ‘our website’. For clarity, I with a number of others, contribute to this website which is run by UK partnerships for Christ. After making a few comments on other people’s posts, Bobby got in touch to see if I wanted to help out. If that is what you describe as being ‘co-opted’ by ‘Bobby’s brigade’ then that’s fine. In fact, if you want to find out more about Bobby’s brigade go here http://upfc.org.uk/meet-the-team/

      It is interesting to me that you quote Peter’s words: “thou hast the words of eternal
      life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” Yet you are trying to encourage me to consider re-joining a church that has added to and changed the words of Jesus and his followers as recorded in the Bible.

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      1. Steven, first of all I am not the one who quoted Brigham Young, so I cannot understand your first paragraph.

        As far as your next point is concerned I have been involved in the past with Bobby’s site for a few years and it is very noticeable that most contributors are either on the fringes of the Church or have left the Church. The point I was trying to make is that there are people who frequent the site such as Steve Bloor, Tom Phillips Chris Ralph and others who seem to dominate the blog, and are people I do not have a great deal of respect for. The accusations which they make against the Church are many and malicious and they always use Mormon Think (of which up until recently Tom Phillips ran)(which I still see is featured on the blog as “Interesting”). It is this and other anti-mormon sites that readers of this blog are directed to because they are thought to be “insiders” who have access to the early history which the Church is accused of covering up, and of course it suits the purpose of these men to portray themselves as knowing the truth. I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at the sources of their propaganda and they always invariably rely on the axe-grinding excommunicants for their evidence of wrong doing by Joseph Smith and the early Church.

        The sad part about this is a fair proportion of the contributors are happy to accept the words of Quinn and Palmer, Compton and Co without checking whether their allegations are true!!!!!, and unfortunately they leave the iron rod and are the prime candidates for the adversary to lead them down the strange paths which lead to the great and spacious building.

        Of course I am not accusing you as bitter and having an axe to grind, it is the authors of the books who have ulterior motives and are following their own agendas who I was refering to.

        I do not know what brought you to the point of leaving the Church, but if you were influenced in any way by the anti-mormon web sites then you could have been deceived by these evil designing men. I should mention that most of the books and sources used are published by Signature Book publishing Company and you do not have to dig very far into the background of this publisher to find out that its owner has an almost pathalogical hatred for the Church, Incidentally D Michael Quinn is a director of the publishing company and it would seem from my research that this is his main source of income.

        As far as your last point is concerned I would like to ask you a question, Who is the Jesus who you now claim to be a follower of. Is it the same Jesus that Peter received a revelation from Heavenly Father that caused him to say:- “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God” And Jesus then said ” Blessed art thou, for flesh and bone hath not revealed this (knowledge) unto thee, but my father which is in heaven. Or are you worshipping the Jesus that the mainstream churches of the world teach which is based on the collective wisdom of the 380 prelates who was summoned by Constantine the Great to determine who Jesus and God were. Are you now being taught the three in one God of modern Christianity? Do you now accept that continuing revelation is no longer needed and the Bible with it many differing translations are the only source of revelation today? If you do then you must be led to conclude that Jesus is our Heavenly Father who has no body parts or passions?

        This is the reason that I quoted the conversation after the Bread of Life sermon. The Jesus who was revealed to Peter by direct revelation from God is the Christ that I put my trust in, and who is still revealing His mind and will to Prophets on the earth Today, Just as He did in ancient times. God’s dealings with his prophets throughout the Old and New Testaments were commanded to write down their revelations and each succeeding book was added to the canon of scripture. I submit to you that this has always been the method used by God to record his revelations to mankind and it was carried on when His new prophet in our dispensation received additional revelations and was commanded to write them down and add them to the canon of scripture. If you are content to accept the philosophies of men who claim to interpret the scriptures then I wish you well. Jeff

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  8. Stephen, you state, “This topic is difficult then, since Brigham Young taught that: ‘The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,’ (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).”

    This topic is not so difficult, if you are willing to read the context from which this sentence was plucked. Isolated from its context, this quotation misrepresents what Brigham Young was saying.

    But first, before I even get in to the context, if Brigham Young truly believed what you claim, then temple ordinances sealing husbands and wives in eternal marriage would only have been performed for those in plural marriages. I have ancestors who lived in Utah when Brigham Young was the prophet, who never married more than one wife. Yet, they were sealed to that wife, in the temple, with the same promises and blessings of eternal marriage as were given to those who entered into polygamy. The facts themselves disprove that Brigham Young meant what you claim he meant.

    Here is some of the context you omitted (I added the asterisks for emphasis):

    “I did not ask Him for the revelation upon this subject [of polygamy]. When that revelation was first read to me by Joseph Smith, I plainly saw the great trials and the abuse of it that would be made by many of the Elders, and the trouble and the persecution that it would bring upon this whole people. *But the Lord revealed it, and it was my business to accept it.*

    “I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us. It may be hard for many, and especially for the ladies, yet it is no harder for them than it is for the gentlemen. It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists *at least in your faith,* or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: ‘We will pass along in the Church without obeying or *submitting to it in our faith or believing* this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character, and office, etc.’ The man *that has that in his heart,* and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, *because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.*”

    So, Brigham was talking about having faith that the principle of polygamy was instituted by God—that the members be “polygamists at least in your faith” and that they “submit[] to it in our faith or believ[e] this order.” He gave an example of the thinking of a church member who had no faith that the doctrine of polygamy was from God, who in his heart said I will slide along, not believing in the principle of polygamy, because this whole church may be broken up, and I then want to be in a position to step in for the earthly honor in the aftermath.

    If you read these statements in conjunction with Jacob 2:30 in the Book of Mormon, you will understand that Brigham’s day was a day when the Lord instituted polygamy, and thus faith in the Lord required faith in the principle. Brigham said in the last sentence that the reason some might not “reign as kings of glory” was because they “refused to accept” blessings offered them. The Lord never required all to enter polygamous marriages, but to accept the principal in their hearts and faith. If the Lord revealed unto a couple that they should enter into a polygamous marriage, the Lord would expect that couple to obey. But the Lord never told all couples to do so. It is not polygamy that is required for eternal marriage, but faith in and obedience to God’s direction to us in the time in which we live.

    Today, the commandment has expired, and as Jacob said, in that circumstance, we shall have but one wife.

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    1. Hi Ted, so do you accept that polygamy is a principle set by God that is essential to your faith for your eternal progression? Please bear in mind that LDS scripture states that “the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines”. Do you truly believe that God sanctioned these many wives and other women in those mens’ lives? D & C 132 also states that this covenant is a ‘new and everlasting’ covenant and that, “he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned” So those who do not keep to this covenant shall be damned. Verses 19 & 20 make it clear that these marriages made in this covenant will set people on the path to godhood, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

      I don’t see how the commandment has expired here. The covenant was both new, and everlasting, so you can’t take out key ingredients and expect it to remain the same covenant.

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      1. Here’s a brief explanation of the New and Everlasting Covenant from a curreent Apostle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6u98FDzMDg
        Here’s a more detailed explanation of the New and Everlasting Covenant from a LDS Scholar: http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/New_and_Everlasting_Covenant
        To my knowledge, polygamy has never been a requirement for all within the New and Everlasting covenant, but historically, some have practiced polygamy under covenant (ie. Abraham, Jacob, etc.)

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  9. Stephen, thank you for being a catalyst to motivate me to think about these matters. You ask, “so do you accept that polygamy is a principle set by God that is essential to your faith for your eternal progression?”

    Here is my answer: Plural marriage is a principle that has been set by God, in certain times for certain people. No, it is not an essential principle of faith necessary for eternal progression. He never gave me a commandment to enter into polygamous marriage. Therefore, for me, it has nothing to do with my eternal progression. I do believe that faith and desire to follow God’s revelations and commandments are essential to my eternal progression. If God commanded me to do something, I believe I would be sinning if I did not do it.

    You then ask, “Please bear in mind that LDS scripture states that ‘the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines.’ Do you truly believe that God sanctioned these many wives and other women in those men’s lives?

    My answer: Yes, “save in those things which they received not of [God].” D&C 132:38.

    This is a short answer. I am going to put my comments on what D&C 132 says in a separate post, because you have gravely misread it.

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  10. Stephen, I am investing some time into this answer on the assumption that you truly want to understand. If all you want to do is argue your position, then my hope is that someone else reading this will be helped to understand D&C 132, and how “the new and everlasting covenant” relates to plural marriage.

    You comment, “D & C 132 also states that this covenant [you are talking about plural marriage] is a ‘new and everlasting’ covenant and that, ‘he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned.’” You then state, “I don’t see how the commandment has expired here. The covenant was both new, and everlasting, so you can’t take out key ingredients and expect it to remain the same covenant.”

    To answer, I must tell you that you are misreading Section 132, and you are mistakenly equating the new and everlasting covenant with plural marriage. Section 132 is complex and takes some study. I am going to do somewhat of an outline of part of it here, to help in that study. After this outline, I will come back to answer your question.

    Joseph’s question to God that prompted Section 132 was basic: How were all these great prophets justified in having multiple wives? (v. 1)

    God answered that question, but only after revealing to Joseph much about covenant-making and marriage in general. In fact, the Lord hardly mentions plural marriage until verse 34.

    So what is the Lord saying in verses 2-33? He is giving Joseph “a” new and everlasting covenant, and if one to whom this new and everlasting covenant is given rejects it, he or she shall be damned—that is, not allowed to enter into God’s glory (v. 4), because to receive a blessing we must obey the law attached to that blessing (v. 5).

    In verse 6 the Lord speaks of “the” new and everlasting covenant, “instituted for the fulness of my glory.” For any of us to receive the fulness of this covenant we must abide the related law, or be damned (stopped from such glory) (v. 6).

    What is this law attached to the new and everlasting covenant? Before really defining it, the Lord explains that under this law, nothing on earth, no covenant, contract, bond, vow, etc., shall be in force after our death, except those things sealed by the Holy Spirit, and entered into under the priesthood power God has given to men. (v. 7-11).

    He then tells us what this law is that is attached to the new and everlasting covenant. It is “that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.” (v.12). In other words, “the new and everlasting covenant” is the gospel covenant, and the law connected with it is that only through Christ and his word can we return to God the Father and enjoy these blessings.

    Next, the Lord repeats the theme that nothing on this earth, even things created by men’s great powers, shall remain after men are dead, except those things created by the Lord or by his word. He concludes, “For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.” (v. 13-14).

    Next, the Lord applies this law to the marriage covenant. (v. 15-33).

    If a man and woman marry in this world, and “he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him” their marriage is not of force when they are dead, because the marriage is not “by me or my word.” (v. 15-17.)

    Even if a man and woman marry in this world and covenant with each other “for time and for all eternity,” it does not change the duration of that marriage, if their covenant is not “by me or by my word,” which means it must be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” and performed by one to whom the Lord has given the power to perform such a marriage. (v. 18).

    However, if a man marry a wife (1) “by my word, which is my law,” and (2) “by the new and everlasting covenant” (note, marriage is not of itself the new and everlasting covenant but may be entered “by the new and everlasting covenant”), and (3) is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and (4) is done by a person to whom God has given this power, then this husband and wife can receive the blessings of eternal (not just earthly) marriage. (v. 19). These great blessings are detailed in the remainder of verse 19 and in verse 20.

    Notice that so far the Lord has said nothing about plural marriage. Eternal marriage requires the completion of those 4 items listed in verse 19 and summarized in the paragraph above, none of which requires plural marriage. The blessings of exaltation, of “fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever,” and even of being gods (lower-case), are blessings of this marriage covenant under “the new and everlasting covenant” of Christ’s gospel.

    The Lord then talks about some things in verses 21-33 that I will not summarize, but which also do not deal with plural marriage.

    Finally, in verse 34, the Lord brings up plural marriage. He says God commanded Abraham to take plural wives, and Abraham obeyed. He asks “Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation?” and answers his own question, “Nay.” (v. 35) He juxtaposes this with God’s commandment to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, even though it was written, “Thou shalt not kill.” Abraham, did not refuse and this was accounted to him for righteousness. (v. 36). He then mentions Isaac and Jacob, saying they did nothing except what was commanded them. (v. 37) He mentions David, and Solomon and Moses. Their only sins in this regard were “in those things which they received not of me.” (v. 38). He specifically mentions David’s sin regarding Uriah. (v. 39).

    The Lord then again speaks of things not pertaining to plural marriage in verses 40-51.

    In verses 52-55, the Lord specifically commands Joseph’s wife Emma to receive those who are given to Joseph in plural marriage. It is pretty clear, after the examples given of Abraham’s obedience to the Lord’s commands to take plural wives and to sacrifice his son, that Joseph and Emma are expected to abide by this law given to them, and that if they don’t, their progress will be stopped.

    Stephen, I now come back to your statement I quoted at the beginning where you said: “I don’t see how the commandment has expired here. The covenant was both new, and everlasting, so you can’t take out key ingredients and expect it to remain the same covenant.”

    As you can now see, “the new and everlasting covenant” is not plural marriage, and it never was plural marriage. Plural marriage is not a “key ingredient” of the new and everlasting covenant. Instead, Joseph and Emma were instructed to enter into plural marriage under the new and everlasting covenant—that is, marriages that were by the Lord and his word, and that complied with the other prerequisites outlined in verse 19. By complying with this law associated with the new and everlasting covenant, those marriages, even though the were plural marriages, would be eternal marriages, not voided by death, and would be marriages that would bring all their faithful participants the great blessings outlined in verses 19 and 20. What is everlasting is any covenant that is by the Lord and by his word, which is his law, and that complies with the requirements of verse 19. A plural marriage might fit within those criteria when commanded by the Lord, but so may many other covenants.

    The answer to your statement is simply this. Yes, the covenant is new and everlasting, but that covenant really is not about plural marriage. Plural marriage, although a commandment to Joseph and Emma (and to many others in the 1800s in the Church) is not in fact a “key ingredient” of the new and everlasting covenant.

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    1. Hi Ted, a lot to respond to there so I’ll keep it brief. All of your interpretation of D & C 132 does not change the fact the multiple wives of some Old Testament individuals were condemned in the Book of Mormon, yet were viewed entirely differently in the Doctrine and Covenants. Examples are given in D and C 132 such as David, receiving wives and concubines from God by the hand of Nathan the prophet.

      The distinction between the two position is obvious.

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  11. “Yet if this were truly the case, no ‘restoration’ would be necessary.”

    By your own argument the reformation would also not have been necessary, and thus everyone should be Catholic.
    However, Christ never once said that the church would never be lost. He said that if it remained on the foundation on which he built it than it wouldn’t, and thus if it ever left that foundation the promise would be void. That foundation is revelation, the same basis on which Peter’s testimony was founded, and when the members of the church left that foundation they lost the gospel and the true church.
    Now, the Gates of Hades (meaning death, not hell) have prevailed against nothing. Even while this earth with in the darkness of apostasy the Church of God flourished in the world of spirits and the faithful saints of all ages still assembled to worship the God of heaven. The thousands of martyrs that died firm on the foundation that Christ had set are still on that foundation and always will be.

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    1. Hi there. I disagree with this point because when Matthew 16 is read in context, it is Peter’s understanding through the Father which is in Heaven that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of Living God that Jesus is referring to when he says that ‘upon this rock will I build my church’. It is also interesting to point out that Jesus says that it was NOT flesh and blood that revealed this to Peter, but rather the Father which is in Heaven.

      Hades was the name used by the Greeks for the underworld which is why in many Bibles it is translated as Hell. I think saying the gates of Hades means death is not a very accurate way of translating that expression.

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    1. Hi Jeff,
      sorry if you feel I neglected your comments. I had limited time last time I was on the site and only responded to some other comments that had been made. For a reason I don’t know, there was no ‘reply’ link to your last comment so I focused on responding elsewhere.

      I do think that the point I made above in response to shematwater’s comments addresses some of what you were saying in terms of my take on the point in the Bible when Jesus asked Peter, “But whom say ye that I am?”. The way Jesus responds to Peter’s answer is quite revealing, and shows that Jesus did not regard the Father as having ‘flesh and bone.’

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      1. You say you disagree that revelation is the foundation, and then you say it was the revelation given to Peter. So, are you saying that it was just this one revelation that it was founded on, or the principle on which Peter received this revelation?

        As to the Father not having flesh and bones, you should read the verse again. Jesus says that “flesh and blood” hath not revealed it. There is a distinction here. When Christ appeared to his Apostles after his resurrection he told them “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” Clearly Christ has a body of flesh and bones, and so we can conclude that the Father does as well. However, they are not flesh and blood, because a resurrected body does not have blood in it. So, it was not flesh and blood (mortal understanding) that revealed that truth to Peter, but flesh and bones, or immortal understanding.

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      2. No that is not what the Saviour was saying He said flesh and bone hath not revealed this unto you, meaning “man” but “My Father which is in Heaven, you are trying to wrest the scripture to prove you false thinking.

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  12. Hi shematwater.

    Let me respond to your two points:

    1) You are the one who keeps using the word revelation as it suits your LDS perspective. I am not using it as your comment suggests. My emphasis is that this passage is about the fact that Peter correctly understands that Jesus is not just a great man or extraordinary rabbi, he is the one and only Son of God. It is this true understanding of who Jesus is that is key when Jesus speaks to Peter here. Jesus is not talking about a principle of receiving revelation.

    2) You assert that: “Clearly Christ has a body of flesh and bones, and so we can conclude that the Father does as well. ” Why? You are disagreeing with Jesus here since He said that, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” It is obvious that Jesus is not aiming to describe some notion that God has a body of flesh and bone here, but rather that it is not a physical being who told Peter who Jesus really is, but rather ‘my Father which is in heaven’. The point being made is that God the Father, who is Spirit, as John 4:24 tells us, is the one who told Peter who Jesus truly was. The focus on some kind of distinction between ‘flesh and blood’ and ‘flesh and bone’ is a distinctly LDS preoccupation.

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    1. I am using the term revelation as it is defined in any reputable dictionary. As it is given at dictionary.com
      “the act of revealing or disclosing; disclosure.
      something revealed or disclosed, especially a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.”
      It is possible to have something revealed by “flesh and blood,” but it is better to have it revealed by the Father. Peter had his understanding of Jesus Christ through direct revelation from the Father, and not from men.
      So, let us clarify: Do you believe that this understanding of Christ must be revealed to us on the same principle that it was revealed to Peter, or do you believe that we can have it revealed to us on a different principle?

      Now you claim “You are disagreeing with Jesus here since He said that, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
      This simply ignores everything I said on the subject and makes a false claim as regards to me and what I have stated. I am not disagreeing with Christ, but with you.
      The term “Flesh and Blood” refers to mortality with all its weaknesses. Peter’s revelation did not come through any mortal medium, but from a divine eternal medium. All this statement from Christ proves is that the Father is not mortal, and we agree with that completely. And, since Christ describes His resurrected body as having ‘Flesh and Bone” your use of that term becomes contradictory. You are making ‘flesh and blood’ synonymous with ‘flesh and bones’ when Christ clearly made a distinction between them.

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  13. Hi Steven, Whilst I am waiting for you to respond to my previous points fully, it would seem to me that you are now saying that after you have left the faith, you have now a completely different view of our Heavenly Father. John 4:24 does say that “God is a spirit”, so what? you and I and all of us are spirits, clothed with a physical body. Our Heavenly Father is a spirit clothed with a perfected resurrected body. If you no longer believe this and believe, as I asked you in a previous post, the sectarian trinitarian notion that God has no body, parts or passions then you must also explain to me what kind of a body does your Jesus Christ have. The Jesus that I worship has a perfected resurrected body which he demonstrated to his apostles after His resurrection by asking them to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet and said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bone as ye see me have”

    I am sorry if you think that I am being argumentative but after all you, as you explained in “get to know the team” you have now left the LDS Church and no longer believe any of the teachings of Mormonism and feel you have been deceived. Then you will have to expect that the Calvinist teachings that this web site advocates is also very open to criticism too……….

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    1. Hi Jeff, I am sorry if you feel that there are points you have made which I haven’t addressed fully. As you may notice, not every point that I write about is addressed equally by all commenters, so there will always be some element of choice-making about which areas people choose to respond to.

      My own life is extremely busy and intense right now and I am not in a position to contribute more to this discussion right now. I hope you will appreciate that.

      Thanks for taking the time to participate in the dialogue.

      Best wishes,

      Stephen

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  14. Thanks for that anyway, what I cannot get my head round is why cherry pick on the posts which have been submitted? also if you are so busy why try to question the points raised in our manuals in the first place. Or do you come under quotation from Elder Packer, along with many others, you have left the Church but cannot leave it alone. My advice to you is get on with the rest of your life, Stephen, if you are happy to accept the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture then I wish you well. as President Joseph Fielding Smith advised just give it time and all false doctrines, including the ones from Quinn and co, as well as Phillips, Ralph and Bloor will be shown in their true light. Jeff

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