Archive for May 2008
This is version two of this essay. In the first version I severely denounced and criticized those who believed the Adam-God theory. I cited several modern prophets who were very clear in their denunciation of a belief in the theory. I stated that Brigham Young was either misquoted or misunderstood. I especially relished listening to Elder McConkie‘s talk on The Seven Deadly Heresies once again as part of my research. I miss Elder McConkie.
Today, I confess before you the error of my ways. I am now a believer in the Adam-God theory, but not the one that many people claim to be true. You’ll note that I still don’t call it a doctrine as some do, because that implies that it is something that pertains to our salvation. An understanding of this information is not necessary for our salvation. However, as I have studied, pondered and prayed about this over the past few days, I feel I have been richly blessed with personal insights about the material.
In this essay I hope to set forth the differences between the two theories and will rely heavily on the Elden Watson essay found on his website. I have now read it through twice, making notes and pondering the ideas that he set forth. I am completely in agreement with his views and find his explanations of the matter to be perfectly acceptable. There were many things I found there that I had heard or learned previously but did not have a source to which I could point. I do now. For the opposing viewpoint of the misunderstood theory, I cite David Buerger‘s essay.
The false version
From David’s essay, “Young clearly believed that Adam was the father of the spirits of mankind in addition to being the first procreator of mankind’s physical bodies; that Adam came to this earth as a resurrected and exalted being; that he “fell” to a mortal state of existence in order to procreate mortal bodies; and that Adam was the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ.” I counted at least seven false statements in that summary, but this is what many people think of when they are asked about the Adam-God theory. This is NOT what Brigham tried to teach.
Because of this false understanding, our critics have criticized and lambasted us. I can understand why. If someone tried to tell me that what David wrote was what we believed, I would have to tell them that such statements are the most contrived and foolish ideas that I have ever heard. For some reason, apostate polygamous groups have clung to this false version and continue to circulate it as their idea of truth. It is so contradictory to accepted doctrines that it does not lead to faith and in fact, hinders one in an ability to exercise faith in God and Christ.
That is why President Kimball said in 1976, “We hope that you who teach in the various organizations, whether on the campuses or in our Chapels, will always teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.”
The correct version
God, our Heavenly Father, who we now ordinarily refer to as Elohim, is the father of our spirits and was literally the father of the physical, but immortal body of Adam. It was God the Father that came to this earth as a resurrected and exalted being with our Mother in Heaven. They did not “fall” to a mortal state in order to give birth to Adam and Eve. A man cannot be resurrected and then become mortal again. Adam was not the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ. God our Heavenly Father fulfilled that mission. Except for Mother in Heaven, most of these concepts are taught by our missionaries and in our Primary classes. They are very clear.
What Brigham tried to teach was really very simple and it’s not a big deal, or at least it’s not to me. I still maintain that he was misunderstood by many, and therefore what was taught by some leaders of the early church was in error. Whether or not he was misquoted is a matter you will have to decide for yourself. In some places he may have been. In others he was perhaps not as clear as he could have been. Nevertheless, what he taught was fascinating and enlightening.
You can find a detailed description of these fundamental doctrines in Eldon Watson’s essay that help establish the truths that we believe and which Brigham taught:
- Adam was not a resurrected being
- Adam died
- Adam is not God
- Adam is subordinate to Jesus Christ
- Adam and Eve were unmarried when they came into the Garden of Eden
- Adam is a son of God
Cast of characters in the Garden of Eden
God the Father
Analysis of the most misunderstood quote
“Now hear it, 0 inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days, about whom holy men have written and spoken-He is our father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” (Brigham Young, JD1:50)
There was another record of this talk made by Wilford Woodruff that is different from the version found in the Journal of Discourses. In it, you can find a very critical and missing phrase just before, “He helped to make…” It is, “…and eat of the fruit of the garden until he could beget a tabernacle.” The tabernacle being referred to is the body of Adam. “Father Adam,” was Brigham’s way of indicating God our Heavenly Father. He believed Adam was one of his names. The last line of the quote is referring to “Father Adam” again. He is saying that God is our father.
If this is the first time that this has been pointed out to you then I refer you to Elden Watson’s essay in which he discusses Brigham’s belief that one of God’s names was Adam. He discusses them in his essay as Adam Sr. and Adam Jr. I know, that seems a little strange, but it works for me. It is unfortunate that Brigham wasn’t clearer about who he was referring to when he said “Father Adam.” Reread that quote and put Elohim in the place of father Adam as you read. Be sure to add the additional phrase from Wilford Woodruff in the right spot. That makes it clear.
Summary but no conclusion
In this essay I have tried to set forth my understanding of what Brigham Young really meant when he made some of the quotes that have caused so much trouble for so many over the years. Although I have concluded the matter in my own mind, I will leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. I invite you to a careful reading of Elden Watson’s essay. He leads us carefully through the scriptures and quotes in such a way that makes it easy to understand and accept.
I reiterate here as I have in the beginning that understanding the Adam-God theory is not at all necessary to our eternal salvation. If you have gone all your life and have never heard about the interpretation that I have labeled the correct version above, it would not affect you one way or the other. However, if you have accepted and believe what I have labeled the false version, which was summarized by the quote from David Buerger, then that just might be a problem.
I’m trying to not be dogmatic about this but I do feel strongly that those who think that Brigham believed and taught the Adam-God theory as defined by Buerger, with the help of Mike Quinn, are mistaken. None of us will be able to ask Brigham what he really believed and taught until we meet him in the Spirit world. I intend to do so. But until then, I will accept the orthodox teachings on the subject that I have tried to outline in the “correct version” section above.
1. LightPlanet – Adam-God theory
3. Elden Watson – Adam-God
4. FAIR – Adam-God
5. Wikipedia entry on Adam-God theory – Did Brigham Young really teach it as doctrine?
6. The David Buerger essay in Dialogue, Spring 1982. I disagree with the conclusions.
In our last Institute class we learned about the reality of Satan and the evil spirits in the world around us. That was Moses chapters four and five. In tonight’s class we covered Moses chapter six in which we learned about the priesthood, the prophet Enoch and the Plan of Salvation. In this essay, I would like to focus on one single verse which teaches us so very much about God.
57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must arepent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no bunclean thing can dwell there, or cdwell in his dpresence; for, in the language of Adam, eMan of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the fSon of Man, even gJesus Christ, a righteous hJudge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
If we all spoke the Adamic language, when we called upon God in prayer, there would be no confusion about who it is that we are addressing. Man of Holiness is his name. That phrase tells us succinctly that God is a man, albeit a perfect and holy man. He is a glorified and exalted man. He looks like us. We look like him. He was once a man like us. He passed through a mortal life.
God is an exalted man
Joseph produced chapter six of Moses in November and December of 1830. This was after the Book of Mormon had been translated and published. This was after the organization of the church. Joseph was living in Fayette, New York. Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge had just been converted. Sections 35 and 36 of the Doctrine and Covenants were received for them.
Thus we see that the phrase “Man of Holiness” was known to Joseph early in his work. The knowledge of that phrase includes an understanding of the exalted nature of God and that he was once a mortal man. Joseph’s understanding of this doctrine was not something that needed the King Follett discourse in 1844. That was when he taught it clearly to the assembled saints:
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,–I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him in the form of a man–like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man…He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did.”
Witnesses of other prophets
Brigham Young taught (JD19:64), “Our Father in heaven is a personage of tabernacle, just as much as I am who stand before you today, and he has all the parts and passions of a perfect man, and his body is composed of flesh and bones, but not of blood.” This was also taught clearly by Joseph Smith in D&C 130:22 – “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.”
Orson Hyde said (JD1:123), “Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is.” God our Father in heaven, passed through a mortal experience just as we are doing.
President Lorenzo Snow coined the famous couplet, “As man now is, God once was; as God is, man may become. We are the offspring of God, begotten by Him in the spirit world, where we partook of His nature as children here partake of the likeness of their parents. Our trials and sufferings give us experience, and establish within us principles of godliness.” (JD 26:368)
Was God once a sinner?
Theologian W. John Walsh explained, “The critics argue that since we believe sinful men can become gods, it is a natural conclusion to say that our God was once a sinful man. However, they conveniently twist our theology to meet their reasoning. Their reasoning presupposes that when faithful Latter-day Saints become ‘gods, even the sons of God’ (D&C 76:58), they become beings equal and independent of our Heavenly Father. However, this is incorrect.
“While we believe that the faithful will enjoy a life similar to our Heavenly Father, we also believe we will still be subject to and worship the God of Heaven, which is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We will never be at the same level as them or stop worshipping them, but we will be like them and enjoy a quality of life similar to theirs.”
“In no place does the Prophet Joseph argue that our Father in Heaven ever sinned. He simply says that since Adam had a body fashioned after the image of God, then God’s body must be like Adam’s or his descendants (us). Likewise, he says that our Heavenly Father once ‘dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.’” We do not teach that God was ever a sinner.
Summary and conclusion
When Joseph Smith went into the grove to pray on that spring morning in 1820, he declared that he saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Critics and historians have argued that he did not make that distinction clear for many years. I have written previously about the multiple versions of the First Vision. I concluded that I found no discrepancy in their content.
Did Joseph teach from the beginning that God was once a man and that he passed through a mortal existence the same as we are doing? I don’t know how early he taught this truth, but it is evident from his translation of Moses chapter six in December of 1830 that he was familiar with the phrase, “Man of Holiness” and all that implied. Joseph knew then that God was once mortal.
I learned these truths as a child and have taught them all my life. This knowledge of His true character enables me to exercise greater faith in God. Joseph told the truth about what he said he saw and I believe him when he taught that God was once a man. I also believe than man can become like God and achieve exaltation, but that’s a subject for an essay at some other time.
You can find all kinds of people on the Internet blogging and commenting about the church these days. There are those who write so far above me that I have no clue what they are writing about or why they feel the topic is important. At the other end of the spectrum are the terrible lowlife who write hateful and disrespectful things in a taunting and disgusting manner.
I like the kind of bloggers and visitors who are spiritually and intellectually curious and who have developed the good taste to know how to communicate in a kind and respectful method. Like me, they are seeking understanding and meaning in their spiritual pursuits and desire to share their discoveries with others who appreciate insights that have helped them along the way.
What you will find
If you are just starting your investigation of the church and are using the Internet as your primary tool, you might find it helpful to know a few things about what you can expect to find out there. Let’s assume that you are using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or MSN and are using the most common search words of Mormon, LDS, or the full name of the church.
Gratefully, the official sites of the church appear at the top or close to the top of most search engines in these searches. However, there are several other categories of sites offering information about our church that are decidedly not favorable to our doctrines and practices. I know. You’re shocked. So was my mother the first time she learned how to use a search engine.
Recommended places to visit
01. lds.org – This is the official site of the church
02. mormon.org – Contains basic LDS Church doctrines
03. Jesus Christ – The church clearly teaches about the Savior
04. Newsroom – A great source for news media clarifications
05. History – A hidden gem among the church sites worth visiting
06. Joseph Smith – A wonderful site of history and doctrine
07. CES – Institute manuals are a great resource
08. Deseret Book – Publishes books about the church
09. FARMS – The Neal A Maxwell institute – apologetic studies
10. YouTube – New Media Public Affairs channel for videos
01. Wikipedia – A constantly updated and growing LDS collection
02. MormonWiki -Still getting started but growing quickly
03. MoreGood -Promoting positive LDS content from members
04. Jeff Lindsay – A complete and scholarly site of apologetics
05. Mormon Times – LDS news articles – beware of comments
06. FAIR – Foundation for Apologetic and Information Research
07. Shields – Scholarly and Historical Info Exchange for LDS
08. About LDS – A long-standing source of good LDS information
09. Mormon History Association – Since 1965, open to all
10. Light Planet – Scholarly work by W. John Walsh
Anti-Mormons and Ex-Mormons
I classify these two types of sites differently than others have done. Some Anti-Mormon sites seem to be genuinely interested in helping LDS people. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry is one I have written about previously. I also wrote about post-Mormons and other kinds of non-Mormon sites you will encounter out there. It’s not all happy and cheerful.
Recovery from Mormonism is one that comes up very high on the search engines. It is a very popular forum. In my experience the individuals who post there are mostly angry, immature and don’t seem to be able to express themselves very well. Yes, there are exceptions. You can read material there from Steve Benson, about whom I have also written previously.
The disaffected Mormon underground
And then there is that nebulous group of members in various states of faith that call themselves the disaffected Mormon Underground or the DAMU. These individuals sometime leave comments on the LDS group blogs like By Common Consent, Times and Seasons, Mormon Mentality, Messenger and Advocate and The Millennial Star that are less than faith promoting.
I have had many visitors, comments and private communications from those who are active in the DAMU. I emphasize with their struggles and try to be as encouraging as possible. Some have made up their minds and have become MINOs (Mormons in Name Only) or NOMs (New Order Mormons). These are those who are only social Mormons and do not believe the doctrine.
Summary and conclusion
The Internet and the World wide Web are a part of the New Media that is becoming a larger part of the overall church effort to reach out and share the gospel. The Savior commanded us to go into all the world and teach the nations. Like all the inventions the Lord inspires to allow us to fulfill his commandment, the web is a source of much good information about the church.
Investigators today have a much easier and yet a much harder time to learn the truth about the church, the doctrines, history and practices for themselves. The Internet allows us to research the church in the comfort of our own homes. The Lord must have a lot of trust in his children in these last days that they can sort out the truth from false information found on the Internet.
I address this subject as a courtesy to Barbara, a visitor to my blog who asked me to do so. Thank you Barbara, for the suggestion. I had forgotten that this is a problem for some people. Critics claim that Joseph Smith borrowed heavily from Freemasonry for the ceremony of the temple endowment. I’m not convinced that he didn’t, but it’s not a big deal.
A fraternal organization
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, not a religious movement.
A fraternity is a men’s club, whose members emphasize their brotherhood. Similar organizations are Elks, Oddfellows, Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary. It arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Masonry includes a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being. In other words, you can’t be an atheist and be a Mason.
Joseph Smith’s father was a Mason long before Joseph was and so was his brother Hyrum. It was common for men to join this organization as a means to improve their social standing in the community and to obtain business contacts. There are five million Masons today, and about two million in the United States. There have been and still are a lot of famous men who are Masons.
For example, many presidents of the United States were Masons including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe, James Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Gerald Ford. Many kings of England were Masons. So were Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Mark Twain, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks and Jesse Jackson.
Joseph Smith and John C. Bennett
In 1840, at the start of the Nauvoo period, Joseph was encouraged to start a Masonic lodge by John C. Bennett, a recent convert and prominent physician. Bennett quickly rose to a position of power and influence in the church, becoming a Counselor in the First Presidency, mayor of the city of Nauvoo, General of the Nauvoo Legion, and the chancellor of the University of Nauvoo.
Bennett was a scoundrel, who was excommunicated from the church after it was revealed that he was teaching and practicing adultery, which he called “spiritual wifery,” claiming that it was authorized by Joseph Smith. Any seminary student who paid attention in class soon realized that he was one of the blackest characters in the early Nauvoo period of LDS Church history.
But for the two year period of time of 1840 to 1842, he was influential in introducing the young prophet to Masonry and instructing him in the rituals and symbolism of the fraternity. Joseph Smith became grand chaplain at the installation of the Nauvoo Lodge of Free Masons. Many of the LDS leaders and brethren of the church were also active Masons during this time.
The temple and Freemasonry
On May 4, 1842, the prophet instructed the priesthood “in the principles of and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments, and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so onto to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood….” (History of the Church, 5:1). This was the beginning of the temple endowment.
There are some obvious similarities between Mormon temple ritual and symbolism and the stories and symbols of Freemasonry. Mormon temple worship has similar symbols, signs, and clothing with the fraternal order. Is it a coincidence that these symbolisms were introduced and incorporated into the temple ceremony so soon after Joseph was instructed in Freemasonry?
The goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same. In the view of the LDS Church, both teach important truths, but the truths they teach are different. Masonry is not a religion. The temple endowment, on the other hand, teaches of man’s relationship to God in LDS Church belief, and Latter-day Saints consider it to be essential for exaltation in the world to come.
Endowment received by revelation
After Joseph had learned the details of the rituals and teachings of the fraternal order, he went to the Lord in prayer and received revelation in regards to the correct order and purpose of the endowment. What he presented to the Lord was what he had learned from John C. Bennett. What he received from the Lord was the restored endowment, evidence of his prophetic calling.
He then put together a makeshift temple in the upper room of his store so that it represented the interior of a temple as well as circumstances would permit. Joseph introduced the Nauvoo Endowment ceremony to nine men including his brother Hyrum, William Law, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, William Marks, Newel K. Whitney and two others.
Joseph wrote that the endowment was “to be received only by the spiritual minded: and there was nothing made known to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last days, so soon as they are prepared to receive, and a proper place is prepared to communicate them, even to the weakest of Saints: therefore let the Saints be diligent in building the Temple.”
Summary and conclusion
So was the endowment borrowed from Freemasonry? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. I contend that it was received by revelation. I figured that out way back in Seminary. I felt it was right at the time I was first exposed to it and have found no reason to change my opinion over the years. This was only confirmed when I studied the subject again in Institute classes.
I am convinced that I have had a major advantage in growing up in the church in that I got to attend seminary and institute classes where church history was taught as part of our study of the Doctrine and Covenants. I love our church history. It is exciting and wonderful to review. My approach to studying our history is to look for the hand of the Lord in how it came about.
You can read the story of how we got the endowment in a sinister light if you want. You can read all kinds of things into it that simply are not there, including what some who oppose the work of the church have written about it. It is wonderful that we are given the ability to read and study these things out and then take it to the Lord in prayer for a confirming witness of the truth.
For additional information
1. Jeff Lindsay – Questions About the LDS Temple Ceremony and Masonry
2. FAIR – Similarities between Masonic and Mormon Temple Ritual
3. SHIELDS – The Relationship of “Mormonism” and Freemasonry by Pres. Anthony W. Ivins
I started my blog about eight months ago in late September 2007. That was before Elder Ballard asked us in December 2007 to participate more in the new media. For the first few months I got just a few visitors a day. That’s OK, I wasn’t promoting my blog yet. They were just finding me through raw Google keyword searches. Besides, I was just trying to build up content.
After Elder Ballard extended the invitation to actively share the gospel online, I decided to switch my blog content from political / current events to almost all gospel-oriented themes. A few months later, I began to get a lot of comments from visitors who were opposed to my views. I felt it was time to start promoting my blog to the online LDS community or bloggernacle.
So I asked the major LDS Blog aggregators if they would add me to their lists. I immediately saw an increase in LDS traffic. I could tell they were LDS by the nice encouraging comments. I also got another influx of anti or ex-Mormon traffic. Apparently I was writing about a lot of the same subjects that were being discussed in the DAMU or disaffected Mormon underground.
What works for me
I think the reason I show up so high on so many Google searches is because of one major technique I employ. Linking to other sites raises your visibility higher and faster on the search engines than anything else. After I write an essay and before I post it, I go back through and add links on every major keyword or phase that someone might want to know more about.
It doesn’t seem to matter where I link, just as long as there are lots of links in the essay. For the most part I link to LDS.org and Mormon.org, but I have just as many links to Wikipedia. A lot of people are doing a lot of good in updating Wikipedia articles about the church. Thanks guys. I confess I also link to a lot of other major LDS blogs like Jeff Lindsay, FAIR and FARMS.
My content is more expository and apologetic than journalistic, so it is not really a true weblog. What I wrote six months ago should be just as pertinent today. The only exception is my running commentary of what Carol and I are learning in our Pearl of Great Price Institute class. I can’t wait to get to the Book of Abraham to see how much the papyri translation is discussed.
How to track your traffic
I’ve had over 13,000 visitors since I added a Statcounter in Nov 07, about a month after I started. I suggest you get yourself at least one counter. I have five. Besides Statcounter, I just love FeedJIT because of the live traffic feed on my sidebar. I love to watch where the visitors come from and how they got there. I also use Bravenet, Google Analytics and GetClicky.
My most popular post as far as comments was one I made on a subject I know nothing about and care very little about – Evolution. A lot of people wanted to set me straight, which I appreciate. Until recently my most popular essay was Mothers Who Know, which I wrote in response to What Women Know. It has now been replaced by Mother in Heaven – Heavenly Mother.
I think I’ve got enough basic material so I’ve decided to get serious about promoting my blog. I note in my stats that many first time visitors are spending more time online now. That means they are reading my backlog of essays. I like to get comments on the older essays and respond to them. To keep them visible I use a reader comments widget from Blogger Templates.
Most popular posts
01. Mother in Heaven – Heavenly Mother
02. Mothers Who Know and What Women Know
03. The new Mormon history – Grant Palmer
04. Why can’t I attend a Mormon wedding?
05. Seer stone in a hat – Book of Mormon translation
06. Just where exactly are the lost ten tribes?
07. Changes to the Book of Mormon
08. No such thing as Mormon fundamentalism
09. Will President Monson change Mormon doctrine?
10. Rules, religion and society
11. The Book of Moses revisited
12. Has the prophecy in Joel 2:31 been fulfilled?
13. Pondering about the spirit world
14. Teachings of Presidents: Joseph Smith
15. The practice of plural marriage
16. Working for the LDS church as a blogger
17. Bruce R. McConkie, bold servant of the Lord
18. A different kind of religious education
19. A mother who knew
20. Multiple versions of the First Vision
A few suggestions
Jeff Lindsay had some great suggestions back in January of Tips for New LDS Bloggers. He also had a follow-up post in February that included lists of LDS blog aggregators. For those who don’t know, an aggregator is a website or blog that brings together posts from multiple blogs for centralized viewing or clicking. Here is my favorite list of LDS blog aggregators:
01. LDS Blogs – A comprehensive meta-list, slow
02. Mormon Archipelago – This is the bloggernacle
03. Planet LDS – Read LDS blogs in one spot
04. LDSelect – Customize your favorites in one place
05. Mormon Blogs – Also known as the blogregate
06. LDS Rankings – Not limited to blogs, but good
07. Mormon Blogosphere – New and a little slow
I’m sure there are others but these are the ones I found to be the best. I am listed on all of them. I get the most traffic from Mormon Blogs and Mormon Archipelago. Right now I get about 65 to 85 unique visitors each day. The majority of those come from these two sites. This is especially true on days that I post new essays. The rest of my hits come from Google.
There are a dozen or more major LDS Group blogs but this essay is about promoting your solo blog so I won’t list them. You should visit the major ones every day, or read their stuff on one of the aggregators. I prefer Planet LDS because I don’t have to click. I can just read in one place. Use good titles on your posts. Headlines sell but don’t be misleading. That can annoy readers.
Summary and conclusion
Let’s see, have I covered everything? This essay is about promoting solo LDS blogging on Blogger and maybe on WordPress if you prefer. I’ve mentioned aggregators, linking, stat counters, good content, headlines and comments. Oh, I need your help. Will you visit blogged for me and add a review? After a few reviews I’ll request a professional editor review as well.
Here’s a suggestion that’s often overlooked: go out and add comments on all the top LDS blogs. Don’t expect the author to comment back. The intent is to get your intelligent comment out there with the link back to your blog. S.Faux does this on a lot of my posts. I hope he is getting some traffic from me on his excellent Mormon Insights. I appreciate his comments.
I love blogging. It has been incredibly rewarding. I started blogging as a method to keep me motivated to study the gospel every day. It has more then accomplished that purpose. I have made some wonderful online friends and hope that I am sharing valuable content that is helpful in combating all the garbage that comes up when you Google “Mormon.” Happy blogging!
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Primary children are taught about this promise early in their youth. Investigators are presented with this challenge as part of their discussions with the missionaries. It is the subject of countless discourses in General Conference as well as lessons in Sunday School, Seminary and Institute.
The best online source to explain this promise that I have found is on lds.org. The church has done a wonderful job of expanding on how we can know for ourselves if the things that are taught by the missionaries and from official LDS sources like lds.org contain God’s truth. To quote:
How we can know for ourselves
“Your Heavenly Father is the source of all truth. He loves you and wants to answer your questions. Therefore, He will help you recognize the truth as you sincerely seek it and ask Him for guidance. You can know if the things you are learning are true if you ask your Heavenly Father in prayer. He desires for you to know the truth, and you can receive an answer from Him through the Holy Ghost.
“As taught in the Bible, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). These feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You will then need to choose whether you will live in harmony with the knowledge you have received.
“As the Savior taught in the Bible, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7). Feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
The opposing viewpoint
A simple Google search reveals dozens of sites you can visit that present persuasive arguments why this is not a good way to ascertain truth for yourself. They offer their opinion that, “It is not a good idea to rely on our feelings.” Well, if you can’t trust your feelings, what can you trust?
Their response is that we should only trust the Bible and they then go on to quote a few Old Testament scriptures in an attempt to prove that the heart of man is unreliable and should not be trusted. That’s a very sad approach to life. I act upon my own feelings above anything else.
They also suggest that it is a bad idea to pray about the Book of Mormon by asking, “should you pray about robbing a bank or murdering someone?” They answer that you should not because it is just common sense that we don’t do those things. Sorry, that’s simply a bad analogy to me.
My personal experience
In the Fall of 1961 our family was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the example of a co-worker. My mother was a schoolteacher in Glendora, California and the school principal was a member of the LDS Church. He was not obnoxious about it.
When a little girl in her class sharing time told about dressing in white and being baptized into the Mormon Church, mother asked the only LDS person she knew, her principal Bob Walker. She trusted him because he had always been fair and honest in dealing with her on other issues.
He asked if the Stake Missionaries could visit us and explain more. Mother agreed. They taught us the lessons and most of the family were soon baptized members of the church. I had to wait a few years until I turned eight years old. I started attending Primary and Sunday School.
Reading from the Book of Mormon
As part of our family tradition, mother read to me or had me read to her every night at bedtime. I have fond memories of Peter Rabbit and many other children’s books. About this time mother started reading the Book of Mormon in earnest and asked if I would like to read it with her.
Although I was only five years old in 1962, I remember reading the Book of Mormon with her every night for many months. We would alternate chapters. She would mark difficult words and the dates we read. I wish I still had that old copy of the Book of Mormon in the brown cover.
We would then have our nightly prayer together. I specifically remember the warm, sweet comfortable feelings I had as we read and prayed. Now you may say that I was just feeling the love of my mother, but I contest that it was the Spirit of the Lord that I was feeling.
Witnesses in my youth
We studied the Book of Mormon my first year in seminary during my High School years. I was the class president. The teacher challenged the students to put Moroni’s challenge to the test. I remember thinking I did not have to because I already knew the Book of Mormon was true.
Nevertheless, I recall kneeling in prayer one night after finishing my reading assignment. I thanked Heavenly Father for my seminary teacher and told him about the challenge. I then asked, “Is the Book of Mormon true?” The answer was immediate, but then I already knew.
I had the same experience in later years at college which I have written about previously. This revelatory experience was much more powerful and long-lasting. It was coupled with a burning desire to know my standing before the Lord and to know his will for me in my life.
Personal revelation is real
I wish that Google searches revealed more personal stories of other members of the LDS Church who have shared how they have felt the burning of the bosom in their lives. The experience is not unusual and, in fact is very common. The Holy Ghost can be our constant companion.
Yes, I know there are those members of the church who say they have never felt the burning of the bosom. Some of them have written about it extensively on the ex-Mormon sites. I do not doubt that some of their testimonies are real to them. Mine is real to me. I have felt it.
Sometimes we forget about the rest of the promise as found in Moroni 10:5 – “And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.” I find that to be one of the best parts of the promise. We can ask God to confirm any truth to us, not just the Book of Mormon.
Summary and conclusion
To Babs, who wrote in the comments on my post on Multiple versions of the First Vision, “…you better be finding something more than a ‘burning in the bosom’ on which to hang your trust,” I say, sorry. I trust this burning in the bosom more than I trust anything else in my life.
The Holy Ghost is a wonderful guide. I am so grateful for this marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost that is promised to those who are baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gift helps me to walk in the light, even in this sometimes cold and dark world.
I know the burning of the bosom is real. I have felt it many times. It is more than just a feeling. It is often accompanied by enlightenment and illumination. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s promises are real. This one as found in Moroni 10:4 is one of the best and sweetest.
I grew up in the days of Bruce R. McConkie. When it came time for Elder McConkie to speak in General Conference, I sat up a little taller and paid close attention. I was never disappointed. That man had a gift for speaking that was beyond this world. I don’t know how anybody could listen to him and not be convinced that what he taught was the mind and will of the Lord.
Elder McConkie seemed fearless to me. Although he had many critics both in and out of the church, what they had to say didn’t seem to bother him. His next public address was all the more powerful as he blasted their weak arguments. Those who didn’t know him criticized his profoundly authoritative manner, claiming that an apostle of the Lord should be more tolerant.
I think the brethren of the church appreciated him much more than the sisters. His leadership was undeniable. If I were in the military, Elder McConkie was the sort of man that I would have no problem in following. Every time I listened to one of his discourses, I came away with a greater determination to follow the Lord and to know what Elder McConkie knew.
The power of teaching doctrine
Our apostles today are no less powerful in their knowledge of the gospel and their ability to teach it with power and impact. I get the same feeling of wanting to stand a little taller and do a little better each time I hear from Elder Oaks or Elder Holland or President Uchtdorf or Elder Bednar. Fearlessly teaching doctrine with power has always impressed me.
One of Elder McConkie’s themes was that we need to know what Joseph knew. I was extremely motivated by his intellectual abilities demonstrated both in writing and in speaking. I don’t claim to have anywhere near the knowledge he had, but I continue to be motivated to read and study the doctrine because of his great example. With knowledge of doctrine comes personal power.
When I stand to speak or teach in church, my desire and goal is to present doctrine in such a manner that it can’t be misunderstood. I know that’s an ideal and probably impossible desire in this mortal world, but it continues to guide my thinking and my preparation. I want to be taught the gospel when I am in church and hope that those who speak or teach come prepared.
Leadership of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was just as bold and fearless in his ministry, especially towards the end of his life during the Nauvoo period. Because of his boldness in denouncing wickedness and proclaiming the truth, he made many enemies. He was comfortable with authority and led with power that comes from knowing you are doing the will of the Lord, or at least attempting to do so.
When he first visited Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni told him that his “name should be had for good and evil among all nations.” Years later the Lord encouraged Joseph: “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” Even though friends deserted him and became enemies, he continued faithful.
Few have confronted more antagonism and trials than did Joseph Smith. He was besieged with dozens of unjustified lawsuits and was often in jeopardy of his life. He was poisoned, beaten, tarred, unjustly imprisoned, and once sentenced to die by firing squad. And yet through all this he remained bold and courageous in declaring the truth to the end of his life.
The boldness of the Savior
When the Savior taught in public, there were always those who listened and watched closely in an attempt to catch him in his words. For some strange reason, they could not see that he was the Son of God, even though he declared it unto them openly and clearly. Although it went against the tradition and custom of his day, he was bold and fearless in teaching the truth.
He went about doing good, but there were those who wanted to destroy him. They were the elite and ruling class of their day. They controlled what was taught in their churches and mandated the practices of their society by their interpretation of the law. They were the intellectuals who knew, at least in their own minds, that they were right and he was wrong.
The Savior knew what the response to his doctrine would be. He knew that it would get to the point within a few short years where he would be betrayed and crucified. Yet he remained true and faithful to his purpose and mission to boldly declare the truth and teach the gospel. Because of his love, he did what he promised to do when he offered his life as a ransom for us.
Summary and conclusion
Bruce R. McConkie did not shy away from taking on the enemies of the church as he boldly taught the doctrines of salvation with power. Joseph Smith did not hesitate to declare the truths of the restoration even though trusted friends turned and became his enemies. The Savior knew in advance that what he taught and did would cost him his life after just a few years.
These men are my heroes. So are others who follow their example and do what they did. I want to be like them. I want to know what they knew and teach it in the same manner. By so doing, I should not expect that I will get treated any different than they did. It is doubtful that it will cost me my life, but I have no doubt that I will be criticized for teaching the truth.
Bruce R. McConkie, Joseph Smith and the Savior all had their critics and enemies. They still do. They gave their lives for what they believed. Should we do any less? The attacks of the critics will mean nothing when we meet these great men in the life to come. The Savior will embrace us and will plead our cause before God and we will hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
In our Institute class this evening, we continued with chapter four of the Book of Moses. We were supposed to get into chapter five but the discussion got heavy on just the first six verses of chapter four. In fact, the questions were flying even before we got into the scriptures. Our instructor introduced the subject by showing the Boyd K. Packer video on Spiritual Crocodiles.
The subject of Moses chapter four is, of course, Satan. Now that’s not a pleasant subject to discuss for most people, in or out of the church. It engenders some strong emotion because people have so much wrapped up in their understanding of the adversary. As I have noted in a previous post, amazingly, forty percent of the members of the church do NOT believe in Satan.
Inhabitants of the spirit world
What got things going was when our instructor asked the class to help him list on the board who are the inhabitants of the spirit world. The kids got all the standard answers correctly including one third of the hosts of heaven who were cast out, the spirits of the righteous and the spirits of the wicked. He then asked if they are able to influence us. Yes, most students agreed they can.
As the instructor reiterated what we had discovered and emphasized that the spirits of the wicked who die can also influence us, my wife gave me a quizzical look. Although a member of the church all her life, she had never heard this doctrine before. She leaned over and whispered to me, “I thought all the wicked people who die go to spirit prison.” I thought she was kidding.
The wicked who die can influence us
One bright young man rose his hand and in a very agitated way said, “Wait a minute. I don’t believe that old sectarian nonsense that you have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other whispering in your ear, enticing you to do good or evil. Where did you get such doctrine?” Not very respectful, was he? But it was a fair question, so the instructor read from the manual:
“Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifur [sic] fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. . . . Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong.”
Source: Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 7:239
Reality of possession by evil spirits
The instructor then told a story that demonstrated first hand knowledge of the reality that evil spirits do more than influence us; they can possess us if we let them. I won’t relate the details without his permission, but it demonstrated the truth of the doctrine. He is a former bishop and the story had to do with the exercise of the power of the priesthood in casting out evil spirits.
He had the full classroom of forty-five college age students paying rapt attention for over an hour. Like my wife and most members of the church, or at least forty percent of them, most of the students in the class had never heard these things before. It never ceases to amaze me when the subject comes up how many are ignorant on this subject. I wonder why that is.
The methods of the adversary
The class continued with a wonderful discussion of the methods the adversary employs in deceiving the people of the earth. We concluded that he lies a lot just like he did to Eve in verse ten, “And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die,” suggesting that God lied when he told Adam and Eve why they should not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
In fact, Satan is the father of all lies. If there is any lie told, you can be sure that Satan or his minions have caused it to come to pass. His desire is to capture and enslave us; to cause is to do his will. He does this by getting us to use our agency to choose darkness over light. It amazes me to think that anyone would want such a thing, but like me, I’m sure you’ve seen it firsthand.
We have power over Satan
The class concluded with a discussion of verse twenty where Satan is cursed. The curse is enmity – all mankind will hate Satan. He will have power to bruise our heel, or to bother us mercilessly as long as we are mortal, but we will have power to bruise or crush his head. In other words, we have power to overcome Satan in this life through obedience to God’s law.
The cursing of the woman was discussed in verse twenty-two. In sorrow or pain shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule or preside over thee. Adam was cursed that he would have to work all the days of his life to eke a living out of the earth. The ground was cursed for his sake, meaning that the hard work would do him good.
Summary and conclusion
I know that this is a subject that is not very enjoyable to consider. Apparently it is also one that is not very often discussed or understood, even among members of the church. According to the survey, the majority of Americans consider as hogwash the idea of Satan as a real being. In fact, only 27% believe in his existence. The majority believe he is only a symbol of evil.
Most Latter-day Saints know differently and we do not hesitate to teach it to the world. It’s a sad commentary that it is still a struggle to educate even our own members on the subject. I suspect that problem will decrease as wickedness in the world continues to increase. Satan and evil spirits are real even though we cannot see them. Or can we? Some say that they have.
Back in the day when we had missionary farewells, I prepared and delivered my farewell talk with lots of fasting and prayer. I wanted it to be special for everyone in attendance, especially my own family. As I was giving the talk, I could tell it wasn’t going well but couldn’t figure out why. I plowed through anyway because I had spent so much effort in preparing the darn thing.
I later asked my family what they thought. “Oh, it was nice,” was the response I got from almost everyone. It wasn’t until I asked one of my older sisters for her opinion that I got an idea. “Well, you certainly knew what you were talking about,” as if to imply that she had no clue. That was my first experience in speaking over someone else’s level of understanding.
I didn’t think such a thing was possible. My sister was a BYU graduate and had sat through four years of mandatory religion classes but she didn’t understand my efforts to teach the basics of the conversion process that I was so excited to have experienced. I had spent the previous six months of my life going through an intense immersion in spiritual things and wanted to share it.
Not everybody is at the same level
Now this may seem like a very rudimentary piece of advice to share, but it is a major key to a successful teaching or speaking experience in the church. Sometimes in our zealousness, we can over-prepare and find ourselves teaching things that require much more time to understand the background information before the actual point can be accepted by the listeners or students.
For example, what if I were to tell you that there is absolutely no concurrent written record of one of the most important events in the history of the church? I’m referring, of course, to the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood. We have Joseph’s record in the History of the Church 1:72, indicating that it would be conferred in time, but we do not know the exact date.
Now this may not seem to be a big deal, but to a historian, the lack of an original source document attesting to this fact is tantamount to a lie. The story is that the event was recorded in an early edition of Joseph’s history, but someone apostatized and took it with him. It was never seen again. Never mind that Joseph and every other prophet since has testified that it happened.
Implied occurrence of events
We have the word of thousands who have declared that the event did occur. For example, President Hinckley said, “We do not know exactly where it took place, but, from the description given, it was not far away. Nor do we know the exact date. However, by piecing together various accounts and bits of history, we may assume that it occurred in the following month of June.”
Do you see my point? It is a simple thing to state, “I know the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith through Peter, James and John.” That’s all that really needs to be said. There is just no need to say anything more unless asked. Nothing needs to be said about the incomplete historical record. It’s not like we’re hiding anything or trying to deceive anyone.
When the missionaries first teach about the restoration of the priesthood or when it is taught in seminary or institute classes, there is usually no mention made of this little fact that we have no actual written record of the event. I’m not a historian and I’m not a scientist trained in the importance of empirical evidence so I don’t know why this is such a big deal with some people.
To bear witness
Knowing that we possess no first-hand journal evidence attesting to the visit of Peter, James and John does not stop me from adding my witness that I know it occurred as Joseph said it did. What? How can I say that? I wasn’t there. There were no witnesses other than Joseph and Oliver and neither one recorded it in a journal on the day it happened. How can I be a witness?
Ah, there is the beauty of the gift of the Holy Ghost and the promise of personal revelation as found in Moroni’s promise: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” President Packer gave us a wonderful corollary to this promise when he said that “a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it.” It takes a leap of faith to do this.
I have taught this principle so many times that it has been ingrained into my soul by the spirit of the Holy Ghost. I could no more deny it than I could deny that I was born in Covina, California in 1957. I don’t remember the event but I’m told I was there. I have much evidence of the fact. Having or not having a birth certificate does not change the fact that I was born and I live.
Milk before meat
Back to the point of this essay. I know some people hate the analogy of milk before meat. Wait, that’s not an analogy, that’s scripture. Didn’t Paul say that? Yes, here it is in Hebrews 5:12-14. I’m sure you know what it says. The principle is that we simply don’t and can’t teach some of the more deep or obscure doctrines of the church before investigators or new converts are ready.
If you have ever taught a Primary class you know what I am talking about. That is the obvious example but unfortunately, it still applies even to whole congregations at the ward, stake and entire church level. The Brethren are so very careful when they prepare their General Conference talks to not present material that might be confusing or easily misunderstood.
I know what they are going through. I have experienced the same thing so many times as a High Council speaker. As much as I wanted to talk about some of the complex and difficult nuances of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I felt impressed by the spirit to keep my talk simple. I felt I should only bear witness to those things that are easily explained and understood.
Summary and conclusion
I have studied the restored gospel of Jesus Christ all my life. I continue to do so and hope to do so until the day I pass into the spirit world. I love the wonderful discussion that is occurring on the Internet as so many other faithful members of the church share their understanding of the gospel and experiences in living it. Unfortunately, there are also some not so faithful dialogs.
I have yet to find a conflict between what I know and what is supposed to be shocking as found on the anti-Mormon, ex-Mormon or post-Mormon websites. I’ve confessed previously that I have visited and read many of the things on those websites. I read books that are considered controversial or apostate. I enjoy the research but not the conclusions of D. Micheal Quinn.
I guess I have simply come to different conclusions about the history of the church than Grant Palmer, Mike Quinn and others who have found what they consider to be irrefutable evidence of falsehood, lies, a cover-up and re-write of our history. As I’ve said before, I haven’t seen it. What I have seen is the Kingdom of God rolling forth in glory until it will fill the whole earth.
When I was a young lad of seventeen, I attended BYU Idaho. No, I’m not from Idaho or even Utah. I was born and raised in California, where I still live. If you have been to Rexburg, Idaho in the dead of winter, you might wonder why anybody would want to leave the Golden State to obtain an education there. What is the attraction of this school in the Snake River valley?
My two oldest sisters are BYU Provo graduates while my brother, two other sisters and I each attended Ricks College, as it was called at the time. My academic experience at Ricks was not particularly stellar, but my parents said that their money was not wasted. I brought something back from Idaho after just one year that was far more valuable than a transcript.
I’m sure there was some anxiety in my mother’s heart as she sent her children off to this church sponsored school so far away. What did she hope we would obtain there? She must have been disappointed that I did not stick it out to the end of the Spring semester, but I did not hear her complain. She sensed that something had changed in me and I think it pleased her greatly.
Seminary and Institute
In my high school days I went to early-morning seminary. Getting up between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning was not my favorite thing to do. But once I was in class, I appreciated the warm and comfortable spirit I felt there. I will be forever grateful to dedicated seminary teachers who sacrificed to teach the gospel and strengthen the testimonies of their young students.
In my later college years I participated in the Institute program. Seminary was an introduction to the basic sacred texts of the church. Institute classes brought in-depth study of the doctrines found in those scriptures. I enjoyed each of the classes I took, but my favorites had to do with church history. I was fascinated by the background story of the Doctrine and Covenants.
But there were some things about church history that I did not find in the official CES texts. I knew about them because my mother was a church history enthusiast. She had owned an LDS bookstore and had filled our house with all kinds of books that added to the official curriculum. Since mother was a teacher, I got more of my church history from her than from the classes.
Religious education in the home
When the subject of polygamy came up in the early morning seminary classes, I wanted to know more. I asked mother about it when I got home. After telling me a few simple facts, she handed me a book and said, “Here, you can read about it yourself.” That’s when I learned about Joseph’s plural wives. I wondered to myself if the seminary teacher even knew about this.
My mother’s attitude toward the whole issue of plural marriage was one of quiet nonchalance, as if it were no big deal and nothing to get all worked up about, so I didn’t. Although mother was a convert, she had studied this and dozens of other controversial subjects out in her own mind. Because she was not bothered by what she discovered in church history, neither was I.
The next time the subject of plural marriage came up in class, I volunteered a few facts that I had learned and was a little surprised by the reaction of the teacher as well as my peers. The teacher was flustered and my classmates were open-mouthed in surprise. It was obvious that I had said something that they didn’t know and had never heard before. I got quiet real quick.
A mother’s loving instruction
The same thing happened when the subject of translating the Book of Mormon came up. When I asked mother about the Urim and Thummim, we discussed it and then she mentioned that Joseph also used seer stones or peep stones as they were called. She could see I was interested so once again, she handed me a book and said, “Here, tell me about what you find out.”
Do you see the pattern? Mother would not overload me with information. She just answered a few basic questions at my level and then invited me to learn more on my own. I could tell that she knew more than she was sharing. As soon as I got to her level through independent study, we were able to discuss it openly and freely. Sometimes we reached the limit of her knowledge.
When that happened, mother would say, “That’s all I know about it but I’m sure there’s more. Why don’t you take it to the Lord in prayer?” Now this didn’t happen very often and at that point in my life I didn’t really understand what mother was talking about so I didn’t pursue it. I’m sure it frustrated mother and contributed to her desire to have me go to Rick’s College.
My church school experience
Of course it is mandatory to take religion classes at church schools like BYU and Ricks. I didn’t mind. In fact, my Book of Mormon class from Keith Sellers (1966-1995; B.S., M.S., Ed.D., BYU, 1959, 1962, 1965) precipitated some of the most awesome spiritual experiences of my young life up to that time. Dr. Sellers’s enthusiasm for what he was teaching went straight to my heart.
Although attendance at the weekly devotional is not mandatory, it was because I went to these events that I can say that I obtained real and direct revelation for the first time in my life. As President Eyring sat on the stand, I listened in reverence and awe to Elder LeGrand Richards share his wonderfully enthusiastic testimony of the gospel to the students and faculty in 1974.
That night I knelt in my dorm room and prayed like I had never prayed before. I wanted to know what LeGrand Richards knew. I wanted to know what Keith Sellers knew. I wanted to know what my mother knew. The experience is too sacred to share in this format but I can say that I obtained a kind of knowledge that night that changed my life forever.
Revelation changes everything
So many things changed for me with that one experience. I knew that I loved the Lord. I knew that everything I had been taught by my mother about the church and the gospel was true. I knew that what I had been taught by my primary, Sunday School and seminary teachers was true. I knew I wanted to go on a mission. I knew I would only marry in the temple.
After that experience I understood why we don’t share everything we know when we teach the gospel. It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s just that we can’t. The phrase “constraint of the spirit” found in D&C 63:64 suddenly made more sense to me. I found that I could not really talk about what happened that night with anyone who had not experienced it for themselves.
That was not the only time I have experienced direct revelation. There were several others just as powerful that were provided at a time when I was preparing for my mission. I spent a solid six months of intense daily personal study immersed in the gospel as found in the scriptures and supplemented by all those books mother had so thoughtfully provided over the years.
Summary and conclusion
If you look at my official transcript from Rick’s college you might be tempted to say that my parent’s investment in my education was wasted. But mother knew differently. Even though I felt like an academic failure, I carried with me a new sense of purpose and commitment that I did not have before I was taught by Keith Sellers and heard LeGrand Richards speak.
I still had much growing up to do. The mission changed my study habits and taught me the importance of paying the price of hard work in order to achieve something worthwhile. Marriage in the temple blessed my life with covenants that have led to my greatest happiness so far. Years of service in the church have only served to deepen that initial revelatory experience.
When I teach the gospel or speak in church I cannot share everything I know but I don’t have to. When I prepare well and speak under the inspiration of the spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost carries the depth of what I can’t say to the hearts of my students and listeners. It is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences to speak under the influence of that sacred spirit.