All are Invited to the Feast

OlympicCompetitionThe Great Competition is the ninth of Denver Snuffer’s Ten Parables. It is short, one of the shorter parables in the book, at only seven pages. Yet it is the one I have pondered the most over the past year. I have shared it with Carol, offered my opinion, asked hers. We are not in agreement. I have not seen much discussion of the parable on the Internet. I don’t think it has been widely read or discussed.

When I wrote about this before, I was rather orthodox in my interpretation. I offer it here for comparison, but this is no longer how I view this parable. If you haven’t read the original parable, you really must purchase the book and do so. It begins, “There was a King who loved his people. He also loved the competition of games.” It’s $12.99 at Amazon - $5 Kindle edition.

An Early Interpretation of the Parable

Here’s what I wrote last year after the first reading: “This one is about the plan of salvation, told from a very long-range view, including the great battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil. Denver has drawn some profound implications of what happens at that great event because those who chose not to come to compete were invited to the great feast at the end.

“The focus is on loyalty. Who would remain true to the king in spite of the seeming unfairness of the competition designed to cause a great division among the people? I would love to share this one in a Sacrament talk or Sunday school lesson, but of course, you and I know that one cannot quote from unorthodox sources in church.” Like the parable, my analysis was short and sweet.

When Good Men Are Excommunicated

A lot has happened to me in the past year, mainly through my study of the gospel, my writings and the responses of many of you to my essays. One particularly eventful episode was my interview and subsequent report on what happened to Mel Fish, a man who searched deeply for truth, believed he found it and was excommunicated when he tried to share it with others.

Mel’s excommunication affected me deeply. I confess I was incensed. As I wrote before, I only know one side of the story and will never know the other side. What happened to Mel caused me to deeply rethink my understanding of the purpose of life, the purpose of what we do in this church and the purpose of tests – the kind of tests that, if we’re not careful, tear a family apart.

Denver Snuffer Disciplinary Action

For those who don’t know, Denver Snuffer is going through the same process in our church. He is being investigated for disciplinary action. This is no secret. He has made it clear through the writings of his own blog. Like many of you, I have plenty of contacts at Church Headquarters. I am not privy to any inside information. But I do know his investigation is soon coming to a head.

In the church we’re taught that disciplinary action for apostasy is only taken when one has been openly or deliberately disobedient to direction from priesthood leaders to cease from teaching certain things they find offensive or to be, in effect, false doctrine. Once you have published a book, or written an essay on a blog, how can you take back what you have caused to be written?

Stand Up for What you Believe

I suppose you could simply write something new, disavowing all the things you have previously written, but that seems so disingenuous, as if you are just doing that to stave off inevitable action. To each man, there comes a time when he must stand by what he has studied and thought about, prayed about and decided to be true. Else what is the purpose of intellectual pursuit?

If you can’t be true to what you feel the Lord has led you to understand, then of what use are you to the Lord? Either stand up for what you feel the Lord gave you to share, then share it and teach it, especially if you know it can benefit and bless those who believe. The Lord gives passion to men for a reason – so that others will pay attention when they proclaim something is important.

We are in the Great Competition Now

In the parable of the Great Competition, we learn that not all were blessed with the same gifts or talents. Some would never be able to compete in the area of physical strength, musical talent, intellectual or academic excellence, patience or a myriad of other virtues to improve the health and vigor of the people. We could all watch and could all compete as we felt endowed to do so.

Some refused to compete and left the playing field in anger. They claimed the competition was not fair and said they would do all they could to disrupt the games. And they did. They offered no support of those trying to excel. In fact, they discouraged them, whispering in their ears that the competition was unfair, unwise and a waste of time and effort. They were well organized.

Evil Spirits Who Followed Lucifer

So far, I’m confident nobody could miss the implications of this parable. Those who opposed the competition were those who followed Lucifer. They did not believe it possible to succeed. They believed Satan who said the competition wasn’t fair. They did not listen closely when the King explained the competition was designed to test loyalty as well as improve the lives of the people.

“After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this. … Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled.” (Page 87)

All Are Invited to the Feast

And that is what I would like to focus on for just a moment. I don’t know if the feast Denver has presented here in this parable is the same as the wedding feast found in Matthew 22. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the animosity felt by some that others were invited who they considered unworthy or unacceptable. The great feast turned into a great argument over who was worthy.

In the end, those who opposed the king’s decision were cast out. Only those who remained were able to live in peace. The fairness or unfairness of what they may have encountered in life did not bother them. They were at peace. They were loyal to the King and his plan. It did not bother them that some had not participated in the competition as they had. The King loved and accepted those who opposed him at first just as he had loved and accepted those who were loyal all along.

The Doctrine of Repentance

I want to now apply this to current events in my life. I have recently found at least three sources or individuals who teach a doctrine that I have always disagreed with because of the fairness principle involved. It has to do with forgiveness of those who rebelled against the Lord at the beginning. I suspect that teaching of this doctrine may be grounds for excommunication. I am not teaching it. I am simply explaining it as I have come to understand it. You decide its truth.

Here is the doctrine: Some evil spirits can repent. Some evil spirits can change sides. Some evil spirits can choose to do good things with their agency. Therefore, some evil spirits have not yet forfeited their agency. By definition, they are no longer evil spirits but simply spirits who have never been and never will have a mortal experience. These are not the same as unclean spirits.

How False Doctrine Comes About

Of course one must ask, “Why would evil spirits have any desire to turn from promoting Satan and his works to encouraging others to follow the Savior and his teachings? What benefit could they possibly derive from such a course of action, assuming it was even possible? And of course the second but possibly more important question: “Is it really possible for evil spirits to change?”

One theologian posted in clear and unmistakable terms that there is neither the desire nor the ability of evil spirits to repent. He proposed that the idea is a foolish thought. He rejected the notion that a fallen, rebellious spirit would have any desire to pursue salvation, especially when none is offered. The sin against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable. Rebellious spirits would have nothing to gain by turning from darkness to light. Therefore there is no reason to do so.

An Example From Real Life

And yet, read this from Mel Fish, then tell me if you think he was deceived. Mel is not the first to have shared something like this, but this example is one of the most profound I have discovered. It is found in his book, Healing the Inner Self, pages 121 through 123. My wife and I also heard him tell this story and have it recorded. It is a powerful story with a real teaching moment.

—– Beginning of Quote —–

One day a woman came to me. She had been attacked by a legion of devils. She was in intense pain and paralyzed on one side of her body. As I worked with this woman, I had several others with me, helping me. I sought help because there were so many of those spirits present. We needed all the power and faith that we as a group could exert.

As we worked with these spirits, teaching and commanding, they left one or two at a time. After two hours of struggle, there were only two spirits left. At that time these spirits took control of this woman and began speaking to us through her voice.

“Go away and leave us alone,” they said. “We are far too powerful for you to control. You could never send us away.”

“What makes you think you are so powerful?”

“In Satan’s kingdom there are many levels of authority and power. The two of us stand next to him in authority, and therefore there is no one more powerful than we are, except for Satan himself.”

At this point I said a silent prayer, asking the Lord what I should do. The answer came into my mind very clearly, “Send them to the Light.”

I argued with the Lord saying, “I can’t send them to the light. They are the wicked ones that are to be cast out into outer darkness at the time of the final judgment.”

“No, send them to the Light.” The answer came again. “I still love them.”

I spent the next hour trying to teach these two spirits and convince them that it was possible for them to go to the Light. They argued and insisted that they were too wicked and evil, and that there was no way that the Lord would accept them.

Finally, I asked, “How long have you been fighting against Christ?”

“For millions of years.”

“What has been your goal in all of that struggle?”

“To lead people away from Christ into the fold of Satan, and we have been very successful.”

“You know that there is opposition in all things. If one can leave Christ and embrace Satan, you can leave Satan and embrace Christ.” Just look up. He is there with outstretched arms waiting for you.”

Suddenly this woman fell to the floor and contorted in a way that I have never before witnessed. The expression on her face and her body language communicated the greatest degree of sadness I have ever witnessed. At this point the spirits began to weep saying, “He lied. He lied. He told us that if we would follow him he would force us to do good, and we would automatically go to the highest heavens. All he has done is force us to do evil and we hate it. He has us trapped. We have to do everything he says or he will punish us.”

“Your day of deliverance has come,” I said. “Turn to Christ. Give your burdens to him. He will forgive you. He will take all your darkness and replace it with light. He will then take you into a world of light where you can finish the healing process and resume your eternal progression.”

“If we did that, we would lose our great power.”

“What you perceive to be great power is only the power to destroy. Anyone can destroy. Real power is the power to create. Your only hope of getting that real power is to embrace the Light, accept the healing that comes from Christ, and allow him to take you to that realm of light.”

At this point, this woman relaxed. Calmness spread throughout her body and throughout the entire room. It was evident that they were gone. This wonderful woman was completely recovered from her paralysis.

—– End of Quote ——

Well, that’s enough to illustrate the point. I can provide many other examples but will refrain. My purpose is not sensationalism, but discussion of doctrine. Who is correct – the well-published theologian or the humble, but now excommunicated man, Mel Fish, who has helped hundreds, if not thousands of people, rid themselves of the influence of evil and unclean spirits? Teach me.

Difference Between Evil and Unclean Spirits

Remember, there is a difference between evil spirits and unclean spirits. Evil spirits have never been born into this mortal existence. Unclean spirits have been born and died but have not gone to the light. They still hang around, bound by the pull of the flesh – an addiction or some other mortal temptation that they continue to seek by momentarily inhabiting the body of another.

And just to wrap this up into the parable offered by Denver Snuffer, is it possible that these evil spirits represent those who will be invited to the great feast at the end of the competition? In fact, aren’t all invited and aren’t all welcome at the King’s table, both those who have been mortal and those who not only didn’t participate but discouraged others from doing so successfully?

Only a Theological Exercise

But then, it’s just a parable – food for thought. What do you think? Can evil spirits repent? Or is Mel Fish simply trying to say that God will do with them as he sees fit. Perhaps he is not really teaching that they can repent, only that they can choose to go to the light if they have a reason. If you invite an evil spirit to go to the light and you think they have gone, have you been deceived?

Disclaimer: Please don’t accuse me of teaching false doctrine. This is only a theological exercise. If this sort of writing offends you or causes you concern, please don’t read it or give it a second thought. And please don’t complain to the Strengthening Church Members Committee that Brother Malone needs to be talked to by his Stake President. This is just a blog in which I review books.

Note 1: If you want to read more of this kind of stuff online: Go to Unclean Spirits Blog. I don’t know the author. I have communicated with him by email but he wishes to remain anonymous.

Note 2: I have added a link to a three-page PDF of the full copy of the theological argument against evil spirits having any desire or motivation to repent. Let me know if think you know the author. I would like to give him credit. It is quoted in Doug Mendenhall’s book: Conquering Spiritual Evil.

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21 comments for “All are Invited to the Feast

  1. Bryan
    March 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Wow, that’s crazy. I mean, I just read that part of his book today from “Healing the Inner Self”. I really haven’t made up my mind about it yet. We don’t really know the true doctrine about this kind of stuff in full, but it makes sense that those evil spirits may still have the opportunity to choose light–it’s tough just writing that. Then again, it could just be deception.

    To be honest, though, that wasn’t the toughest doctrinal issue I’ve come across. Up until now I have been very agreeable with his book; and it’s not whether I agree or don’t agree with this new stuff, but it’s a bit to digest right now. The toughest part for me was where he said “dark spirits know the thoughts of your mind”. I have never considered this, and he does make a good point. The scriptures say that only God knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (and also the mind). If it is true that evil spirits know our thoughts, then I really don’t like that. Also, if so, to what extent can they know our thoughts? I imagine they can know our thoughts only if they are somehow attached to us…?

    Anyways, too much for my mind to digest right now. I have to study up more on these subjects.

    And speaking of Denver Snuffer, have you seen his new blog post? Wow…

    • March 4, 2013 at 7:11 am

      Hi Bryan. I also thought about commenting on the ideas that dark spirits can hear our thoughts, especially if we speak directly to them, but this essay is already chock full of crazy stuff so I didn’t want to add more to muddy the focus I wanted to keep – on the question if evil spirits can repent. This is an important one for me because it seems to be a sifting question. Am wondering how certain of my readers will respond privately.

      And yes, I saw and commented on Denver’s post yesterday, Like you, all I could say was “wow…”

    • yvonne bent
      March 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      In the spirit world all are clothed with their thoughts. Our thoughts send out a colored aura. Just because they are not written down does not mean that our feelings and our intentions are not a vivid advertisement. The more we seek for light, the more love we seek to give, the harder it is for the adversary to attack us. They hate the light. The dark side is as close as you invite them in.

  2. CCM
    March 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

    After reading your latest blog entry I remembered an experience I had a few years ago. I was driving my kids home from church and we were discussing what they had learned. My young daughter asked about the 1/3 spirits that chose not to come to earth and were cast out with Satan. She wanted to know what would happen to them. I talked with her about some of my thoughts and concerns. How could a loving Father in Heaven just write off all those spirit children He loved? Why would a perfect being create a plan that would cause so many to be lost? If the plan required an opposition in all things, weren’t they actually a useful and neccessary part of mortality? Without their sincere attempts to tempt us would it be a fair and accurate test? If they had not rebelled what would have happened to the plan of Salvation? I concluded that it was not yet revealed what would happen to those spirits, but that I believed Heavenly Father has some kind of plan in reserve for them.

    I have wondered many times since then about our discussion. Agency is an eternal principle. So is the atonement. I’ve read many times that wayward children are not permanatly lost when righteous parents uphold their sealing covenants. As spirit children are there sealing bonds that bind us to our Heavenly Parents? There is so much that has not yet been revealed.

  3. Nonrandom Set
    March 4, 2013 at 7:57 am

    I’d like the five page pdf of the theological argument against.

    I’m not really opposed to the idea that those who followed satan could repent. I believe Heavenly Father is as merciful as the law justice allows him to be, but I do wonder if having chosen satan, they are past the point wanting to change.

    My bigger concern is with engaging these evil spirits, and I wonder if that is the bigger problem. Even in the examples we have of Jesus casting out evil spirits, it does not appear to be a teaching moment, but a casting out.

    • March 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Hi Nonrandom Set. So glad to see your comment. I’ve already received enough requests for the document that I posted it on my website and updated the link in the essay. Here it is:

      http://3tcm.net/evilspiritsrepent.pdf

      I totally want to explore further the idea you raise about engaging evil spirits as opposed to simply dismissing them as the Savior taught us. That has also been a big concern from the day I first leaned about this stuff.

      My personal experience in attempting to engage what I perceived to be evil spirits around me has been less than productive. In fact, I found it to be detrimental to my health, both physical and mental.

      I think if there is a safe path, it is to simply dismiss them, send them away, cast them out, command them to leave. So I wonder why there are those like Mel Fish (and many others) who advocate we try to teach them.

      • Matthew
        March 4, 2013 at 9:09 am

        Could it be that it is a spiritual gift/mission held by a few (or sought by a few), and unless you know that you posses that gift maybe it’s best to just dismiss evil spirits rather than engage with them?

      • March 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

        To Matthew: Amen. “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.” It is my opinion that the gift of discerning of spirits can be manifested in different ways. I know when they are around. I know when they are bothering me. I believe I know when they are bothering those around me, especially those I love and for whom I have stewardship.

        But talking to them is a whole different matter in my book. In spite of the fact that I have been studying this topic for twenty years, the idea of speaking with evil or unclean spirits still kind of freaks me out. Yet I know there are those who do it all the time. I can hear them when they speak to me (yes, I hear voices), and I can tell the difference between the Holy Ghost and the whisperings of the evil spirits. I’ll leave any additional detail private. Email me if you want to know how my conversation with the evil spirits went last week.

      • yvonne bent
        March 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm

        you might also be interested in reading Remarkable Healings by Shakantala Modi. A licensed psychiatrist, she puts her patients into a hypnotic state and communicates with the beings inside of them. She invites them all to the light. Not even being a Christian, she has found that they will all find happiness in moving to a higher state and leaving the human form they have been inhabiting. She has a 100% success ratio with the ones that finish their therapy.

  4. Stephen
    March 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    ” I am not privy to any inside information. But I do know his investigation is soon coming to a head.”

    This is quite a statement Bro. Malone. Care to elaborate?

    • March 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Denver advised us on his blog that he was being investigated by the SCMC last year. “Investigation” means someone – a General Authority or two – is assigned to read his books, write a report and recommend action. How long can it take to read eight books? I read them in a few months. “Coming to a head” means that the report is in the process of being generated or has been already. If you want more details on how this process works, read what Bruce R went through with the First Edition of Mormon Doctrine on Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Doctrine_(book)

      If you want more detail, email me privately, but I won’t reveal inside sources.

      • March 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm

        Update: So many people have asked for the additional detail that I can’t keep up with the individual requests, so I’ll post it here. Please note: My sister, who is Elder Perry’s secretary, is NOT the inside source of this info:

        Without revealing the source, I think this can be shared, “Snuffer’s stake presidency was also leaned on by SLC to ex him. They told SLC to take a flying leap because they knew Snuffer well and knew he wasn’t apostate. In fact, until recently, he was on the High Council. Elders Christoffersen and Rasband have been assigned to read all of Snuffer’s stuff and get back to the SP later.” It’s been nearly a year since Denver advised us he was under investigation. I know from personal experience that the wheels of the church grind slowly, but smoothly. That report will be forthcoming soon if it has not already come forth. I find it interesting that Elder Christofferson is (or was) an attorney. As we know, Denver is also a practicing attorney. His skill with persuasion is evident.

        ——- A few quotes from Denver’s blog ——-

        From Denver’s blog, 7 May 2012: “…the Strengthening the Members Committee is a real group, although its existence was denied for a while by the church. … they are not supposed to be pressuring local leaders to harass church members. When they do, it is considered a violation of the process because all church discipline is supposed to be 1) local, and 2) independent. When they interfere it is inappropriate. … I want everyone to know if there is a problem which has offended a distant and imperial committee, it is not because I believe too little in the Lord, but too much in Him and too little in men. …they are misbehaving in a cowardly, unmanly way by this stealth attack. It would be far better, if they want to be credible, for them to address it openly. Do as I have invited them to do. Show me where I’m wrong. Let me respond. Let some sunlight on the matter.

        “It is shameful, even cowardly, to avoid and accuse from a shadow, only to later pretend they weren’t involved. Pressuring local, reluctant leaders who know better from personal experience with their local members is manipulative. I consider the words chosen by me to be measured, appropriate and inspired by the right reaction to a cowardly and shameful act by this subversive committee. They are wrong to behave this way. They have probably engaged in illegal activity by leaking onto the Internet what should be kept confidential. I have done them a service by alerting them to this misconduct. Surely, no matter how misguided their deliberations may be, they intend to preserve their legal protection to claim to have privileges under the law. That protection is forfeited when they act this way.”

        From Denver’s Blog, 15 May 2012: “Now, I find a nameless, distant committee in the Church Office Building questioning my faithfulness (based on Internet leaks from the COB). Though the local authorities have shown nothing but acceptance for me, and I have served honorably and without controversy in my ward and stake, these distant Strengthening the Members Committee, who know nothing of me and have never talked to me, think it their prerogative to meddle. …Seek for God. There is none who can save you but God. If the Strengthening the Members Committee determines to pressure the local authorities to make a decision they would never have made on their own, then you are casting away a friend, not an enemy. To my knowledge this would be the first time you decide to impose discipline from inside the Church Office Building against someone who:

        -Does not challenge your right to preside.
        -Sustains the leaders.
        -Has written about the scriptures and doctrine from a faithful view.
        -Has defended the restoration and Joseph Smith.
        -Has attempted to conform our history to the scriptures.
        -And who will be weighed against your vanity and injured pride rather than the tenants of the underlying religion.

        For my fellow Latter-day Saint (and the Central Command) who choose to condemn me, there is something about this moment you ought to pause to consider. This intersection is not one you want to be in, really. What if I am telling the truth? What if I’m right? In the final analysis, I am a Mormon. I am converted to this faith and will remain converted to it whether you decide to withdraw fellowship or not. My religion will remain whether you let me remain a member of this church or not. Were I in your shoes, I’d welcome someone as committed to the faith as I am, and never adopt the role of an accuser of any Saint. I claim to belong to God, not to you. If you decide to pressure local authorities to cast me off, there is another law decreed before the foundation of the world you will perhaps inadvertently invoke against yourself. This is not the intersection you want to be in, and I mean that in all seriousness and with all my heart; for your sake, not for mine. I know my standing before God, and nothing you can do will alter or affect that, but how you treat me may alter your standing before Him. For your own sake, I would ask you not to do something you will later very much regret.”

        From Denver’s blog, 17 May 2012: “If there is a problem with Mormonism today, it is that it doesn’t believe and practice the original faith restored through Joseph Smith. Leaders have inadvertently put themselves between the members and God. They don’t belong there. I have written eight books (at great personal cost) showing respect to the church, gratitude for all it has done and is doing to preserve the faith restored through Joseph, but also reminding all who read that it is ultimately about connecting with Jesus Christ. You will be damned if you are a successful Mormon with a good relationship with the brethren, but neglect your relationship with Christ. Those in the Strengthening the Membership Committee are in the gall of bitterness when they suggest my writings are threatening to them.”

        ——- End of quotes from Denver’s blog ——-

        I loved Denver’s comments on his blog about the Strengthening Church Members Committee. He flat out challenged them to take action against him, making it clear that he knew the Lord and knew what he was talking about. Wow! Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. I am still amazed how powerfully the Lord witnessed to my soul that what Denver wrote was true the first time I read “Passing the Heavenly Gift” at the invitation of my former bishop. We served together in a bishopric (I was his counselor) and now serve together in the Stake Presidency (me as a clerk and he as the Executive Secretary).

        As Denver says, there is no need to leave the church we love. It is in the church that we can love, serve and strengthen one another. I still feel the power of the Lord with me when I prepare and teach when asked. For me, there’s nothing like speaking in Sacrament meeting or teaching the Gospel Doctrine class. The Lord pours out his spirit and I know I feel edified. Others tell me they do too. It is to the church I gratefully pay my tithing, attend the temple, strive to magnify my calling and help my Stake President, who was just called to preside over the Taiwan Taichung mission.

        Besides, my sister wouldn’t know what to think if I were to do anything to endanger my standing in the church.

  5. DJ
    March 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I suggest reading Luke 14 prayerfully with Snuffer’s 9th parable in mind. The whole chapter.

    • March 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Thank you DJ. I just spent a pleasant half hour reading Luke 14 and the 9th parable aloud again with my wife. We began with prayer. We discussed it. You are right. There are many similarities I had not seen before. I will try to share some of them here that came out of my study time.

      In the parable of the Great Supper we learn the importance of not assuming the place of honor when invited to a wedding feast. Instead, take the lowest room until bidden by the master to go up higher. Otherwise, you may be embarrassed when asked to move aside to make room for someone else – identified as a more honorable man – who is called up by the master.

      I’m not sure I found an exact match for this scenario, but perhaps it refers to the fact that the master called all back to the feast, so we should not assume that just because we competed favorably that we have a place of honor. Perhaps some who fled are just as loved. Maybe they did not have the courage to compete, but were still loyal to the king. Is that possible?

      I like verses 11 through 14 in which the Lord makes it clear that when we give a dinner or feast for those who cannot recompense us – the poor, maimed, lame and blind – we shall we blessed in the resurrection of the just. A dinner or feast for our friends, our brethren, our kinsmen or our rich neighbors will only cause them to honor us likewise in a feast of their own and we have our reward in this life. But to care for those who cannot repay us makes us Christ-like indeed.

      This is pure discipleship – doing good to those who the world treats as undeserving, but who are loved by the Lord for their humility and dependence upon him – and us – for mercy. I’m not sure how it relates to Denver’s parable other than if we extend our mercy out to those who could not or would not compete. How do we feel about those who refused to join in the competition but who fled? Although deceived by Lucifer, perhaps they are not actively fighting against the Lord.

      And now for the great supper (verses 16-24): Those who were bidden would not come. They all had excuses. We have all been invited to feast with the Lord. Have we come to the table or have we been too busy with a new piece of ground (wealth), five yoke of oxen (power), a new wife (pleasure)? In anger, the Lord sent his servant to invite the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind. And yet there was room still so the Lord compelled all he could find to come to the feast. He wanted to make sure that none who were bidden but failed to come would taste of the supper.

      This part is easy to find a parallel in Denver’s 9th parable. Having those who fled the competition invited back to the great feast would surely be upsetting for those who should have been there by virtue of their favored position and having been bidden by the Lord as guests of honor. They would be incensed. How could the Lord do this to them – to honor those who did not compete? These are the worst of the worst – the outcasts of society. How unfair of the Master to invite them to the feast. Why, if he invited them, there would be no room for us – the deserving victors.

      In Luke 14:25–27 we are taught that love and loyalty to the Lord come first, above love of family members and above love of his own life. We must be willing to bear the pain of such fierce loyalty as a cross. In Denver’s parable, the King makes it clear that everyone in the end has lost beloved family members. Nobody is exempt from the pain and the sting of that cross. It may not seem fair, but it is the only way that loyalty could be truly tested. I can relate, as I am sure you can too. I know very few followers of Christ blessed with a whole and complete extended family all devoted to the Lord. We all must prove our faithfulness and loyalty in spite of our loss.

      In Luke 14:28–33 we learn of the importance of preparation both in building a tower and in going to battle with limited resources. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” If we start to follow the Lord, we must plan to follow through by giving our all. If we are serious about building a tower or wining our battle, we must commit all our resources. We must love and serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength.

      Those who argued against the king had a myriad of reasons why they were unsatisfied with his plan. They could not fathom how he could allow those who rejected his plan to remain among them. It was so unfair. The king was mad. The plan was supposed to be about improving health and vigor, not about proving loyalty. He had misrepresented the purpose of the competition. He was asking them to give up all they had earned, their rights and privileges as lawful victors. How could he ask them to give that up? How could he ask something of them that was so unfair?

      Finally, as you said, read to the end of the chapter. We have all heard the last two verses many times in our lives: “Salt is good: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill: but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The JST version adds a little bit more, indicating that if the people had understood Moses and the prophets, they would have believed and accepted Christ. A belief in Christ is the salt which is good. Acceptance of his servants and their words is good salt which seasons well.

      Someone else is going to have to explain to me how those last two verses apply to the parable of the Great Competition. There is no reference in the parable to a servant, only to the King, who can either be represented as the Father or as the Savior, depending on how you choose to view it. From over 35 years of working with computers, I tend to be a very left-brained, coldly logical kind of thinker. Will some kindly right-brained soul help me out? All I can figure is that if we don’t figure out the real purpose of life and way to live while yet mortal, we fail life’s real test.

      • cathodroid
        March 10, 2013 at 6:49 pm

        The salt of the earth left Sodom, and it was destroyed.

        Lot’s wife was transformed into a pillar of salt. This is Jehovah emphasizing the point.

        The competition determines if there is anyone who qualifies as “salt”. To qualify as salt, one must receive the testimony of Christ, and have your heart turned completely to your fathers (i.e., the “fathers” that DS often identifies).

        The world is becoming akin to the evil city as fast as (almost) everyone can arrange it. What will be left to save, other than a few souls, when the Lord arrives?

        Malachi 4 and D&C 2 are the larger picture translation of the last two verses of Luke 14. The servant need not specifically be mentioned because all of the Lord’s prophets bring attention to this truth.

      • March 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

        Thanks Cathodroid (love that). Your comments are very helpful and insightful. The additional scriptural references are also appreciated.

      • yvonne bent
        March 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

        May I add a little information on salt. It is a sealer. Salt provides the necessary substance for the synapses of the nerves and the message sent to cross over and make connections in our brain.
        Salt and water are the only items critical to physical survival. Today both our water and salt is tampered with, which in my opinion is extremely indicative of the interference from the outside world on the deepness of our spiritual hunger. We get so used to eating food that has been tampered with and it hasn’t got any of the delicious taste that food fresh from a garden can host. I feel that way so much of the time when I am at church these days. The food or the message is so often hand-me-down statements, without the testimony of Christ. Salt, in it’s tampered state is actually poison and I feel that there is little salt in the church today.
        Salt has 12 cell salts. Each is a critical component in the usage and ability it has to conduct light through the body. One of the cell salts is silica, which makes up the common quartz in the body. It actually provides the ability for sound to resonate throughout the bones. Without it, the critical vibrations of the heart beat, the song of the birds, the voice of the Lord, all have lost their ability to convey critical information necessary for the upward progression we so desperately wanted prior to our birth on this earthly sphere.
        The Lord was never glib when he used symbolism, though many people look at salt and think that it is only a metaphor, that salt just loses its ability to give taste so you put it on the floor of the temple to keep people from slipping. That is only the outward understanding of it. Consider that being a testifier of Jesus as the salt of the earth is certainly much greater than adding salt to food. Thinking that having salt, or a true testimony that someone has actually seen and touched the Christ will and has been so great that it propelled whole nations, even the city of Enoch onward and upward. Oh, that we could all be prophets, as Moses said. May we all strive to have that blessing. May each one of us become the salt of the earth too.

      • March 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm

        Yvonne: Thank you for that wonderful comment. I learned so much I had not before considered. I especially like and agree with your point that the best way to be the salt of the earth is to be a witness of the Savior in the way his apostles were his witnesses. They saw him, they touched him, he ministered unto them. I also want that. You have added delightfully to the dialog. I appreciate your readership and contribution.

  6. Army Green
    April 17, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    schnike….i have alot to read up on….
    on an LDSAR.org blog a person posted a link to a guy that detailed an account of how mental health doesn’t account for evil or unclean spirits in and around depression or people suffering from such things….as I have now discovered your blog, this is interesting……furthermore….its interesting to me to read the info here, and realize that I desire to become a social worker to be employed at the VA helping vets with PTSD and sexual traumas….sew…ya…I have alot to read…I have personal experiences with things….insights….gosh I wish I had your library..lol and more time to read….

    • April 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Hi Army Green. the LDS Addiction Recovery website is a good place to write about recovering from addictions. They have done a lot of good for a lot of people for a lot of years. However, just like this site, what you read there is not official doctrine of the church. For that, go to the official church websites: lds.org or Mormon.org. Better yet, stick with the scriptures and let the Holy Ghost teach you.

      I can’t tell from your comment if you are suggesting that mental health / depression and evil spirits are unrelated. I went and searched their site but if you can post a link to what you read that would be helpful. I have personal experience in my family with both mental health issues, evil sprits and addictions. If you want to chat offline, shoot me an email at tmalonemcse at gmail.com. God bless you in your recovery.

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