A Dialogue About the Devil


BothPlayedSatanInTempleFilmsI spent way too much time on this dialogue about the devil to not share it publically. I know. It’s a terrible subject to contemplate. Why are we discussing these ideas when there are so many other areas of light that would be more worthy of our time and attention? You can skip this if you want. We all have to be selective about where we spend our time and energy.

I open it up for public discussion, or more likely, for public correction. See if you can spot and correct any false doctrine here.

Hello Brother Malone,

I have no scriptural reference for my thoughts I share with you regarding Lucifer but wondered if in your studies and readings you have heard this scenario before. We are taught Lucifer was esteemed as per the Savior in the pre-existence before his apparent fall. Is it possible he did not fall and that like the Savior he chose to accept the calling of being Satan as Jesus accepted the calling of being Savior, that the great council was more about a communal and loving discussion re the finer points of the Plan of Salvation?

Is it possible the war in Heaven was a discussion about who would accept the callings especially with regard to the third who would accept their calling and leave the presence of the Father? That we all wept because the task associated with our brothers and sisters who were part of that third meant that they were to act in a manner contrary to the light and love given by Heavenly Father?

I do not glorify Lucifer/Satan or the third, his and their countenances are contrary to the light, I do not argue this point. However I am dubious of the conveniently packaged plan taught year in and out and it just begs the question in fact a few questions re the pre existence and what else was there? My thoughts are more feelings than scriptural but I want to intellectualize it this way (and then he itemized his thoughts below). I do not teach or verbalize any of these thoughts as I don’t have scriptural backing but if you have any thoughts on this matter I am interested to know. Thanks for your time.

And my response:

Hi Robert,

I’ve pondered this for the past week. I confess I had not thought about this previously. I don’t have much to add to the way you have described your own ponderings. I will simply respond to your individual items and see where that goes. First some general thoughts as I pondered your first few paragraphs.

Was Satan always Satan? For this world, he is the only one we have ever had. No, he was not always Satan. We know from scripture he “fell from heaven” and became Satan. I think we both know he was Lucifer before that, a light-bearer, also a Son of the Morning and one of the first born. Will he always be Satan? I don’t know. According to D&C Section 76, his ultimate fate is not revealed.

Did he choose to become Satan? Yes. Did the third part (note I did not say one third) of the hosts of heaven choose to come to earth without bodies? Yes. The scripture says they were “cast down to earth,” but I think they were happy to come. I know that sounds strange but they truly wanted to follow Satan and believed in him just as we chose the Lord’s plan, really the Father’s plan, and accepted the difficult task of coming to earth with mortal bodies and no recollection of our past.

And here’s the detailed Q&A we went through in our Dialog. Robert’s points are numbered 1Q, 2Q, etc. My answers are 1A, 2A, etc. I hope you enjoy the back and forth as much as I did. I really had to do some thinking. This is all off the top of my head.

A Dialogue About the Devil

1Q. Moses 1:39  paraphrased Heavenly Father’s glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I take this to mean all of His children, the third and Lucifer included. Has He therefore failed before it all began? Unlikely

1A. Interesting point. I had never considered this. It makes sense. I believe we will all one day be reunited with those who were cast out and came to earth without physical bodies. We will then sit down together and decide what we learned and if we could live together in peace, no matter if we came to this earth to experience mortality or as one of the spirits that followed Satan. I suspect there will be another “war in heaven” as some cry “Unfair, unfair. We came to earth and suffered all that mortality required and now these who did not are offered the same reward – to live together in peace eternally?”

Jesus and Satan are Brothers (duh)

2Q. Lucifer was considered to be an equal with Jesus. How does one son go AWOL and contrary to the will of the Father while the other continues to do the will of the Father?

2A. It was a matter of choice. Even leaders seek leaders or mentors, someone we want to emulate. God was not surprised. He knew one of his sons would become Satan. I’m sure there were many vying for the position. Some people like to distinguish themselves by opposing light and good out of stubbornness and spite. I’m sure it took eons for Christ to become who he was and for Lucifer to become who he was, just as it took eons for us to become who we are (still hidden).

Choosing to Become the Devil

3Q. How does one become so enraged in the presence of the Father that his desire to thwart His work and glory means he becomes Satan?

3A. Again, it was a matter of choice. He was proud and extremely knowledgeable, but not as “intelligent” as the Elohim and the Savior. Intelligence is light and truth. He had light in the beginning but apparently forsook what was truth. He had most of his power stripped from him when he was cast out, but still retained his knowledge. He wanted power. He craved power. He was selfish, self-centered, demanding and the most proud. He was enraged when his power was stripped from him and he was cast out. Did he agree to this role? He took it upon himself.

More Than One Satan

4Q. When Lucifer became Satan, who was Satan before him?

4A. I have no idea

Satan Has Not Always Been Satan

5Q. If “as man is, God once was”, then it is not possible that Lucifer has been Satan all of this time.

5A. I agree with your conclusion. Besides, it’s supported by scripture. Lucifer became Satan.

Some Choose to Follow Satan

6Q. How do a third of His children decide that they agree with Lucifer and will be on a winning team if they follow him?

6A. Ah, that’s a great question. We assume the war in heaven was strictly over agency. Perhaps it was also about who would fulfill what role or what families would get what gifts and privileges. We teach we are placed in this life, in both time and location, according to what and how we did in the pre-mortal realm. In other words, our opportunities here are a reward for performance there. The “third part” were convinced, and most of them still are, that they will prove the Father wrong. Of course, he’s already been proven right, since Christ fulfilled his mortal mission. He now continues his mission as he works with each of us to help us complete our mortal lives.

No Unclean Thing in God’s Presence

7Q. Is being in the Father’s presence indicative that not everyone is happy? Unlikely because no unclean thing can dwell in His presence.

7A. Hmmm…I had to think about your logic there. It’s true that no unclean thing can dwell in Father’s presence. If we are ALL to be brought back to be judged, are the spirits that followed Satan considered “unclean”? Or is unclean only something that applies to those who have passed through this mortal existence and remain in their sins, unrepentant when they return to God? So there’s no doubt not everyone would be happy to dwell in the presence of the Father or the Son.

One Eternal Round and MMP

8Q. Moroni 10:34 and Alma 11:43 both speak of the spirit and body being reunited AGAIN, what impact does that have on the Plan of Salvation as we know it? The spirit and body are reunited as per doctrine but “again”?

8A. Well, unless you want to start discussing multiple mortal probations, I assume AGAIN means just what it says – as we are now. Our soul is the combination of our spirits and bodies united. They are united now. They will be separated when we are dead and then united AGAIN when we are resurrected. But who says we can’t come back for a second, third or another opportunity in “one eternal round” until we have advanced and learned what we need to become resurrected and exalted?

A Few Links to MMP

For more information about Multiple Mortal Probations, you can peruse these four previous posts to see how I’ve come full circle. Please, if this idea bothers you, then just ignore it. MMP is not central to our salvation. As I’ve said many times, what we do here and now in this life is all we need to be concerned with. Oh, and to really understand some of this stuff, you must read Denver’s Tenth Parable: The Great Competition, which I wrote about in All Are Invited to the Feast.

The Unquiet Dead

You Have Been Here Before

Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation

 The Doctrine of Eternal Lives

Investigating Alternative Viewpoints


Solomon_Temple_PrayerMy bishop asked to visit with me again on Sunday afternoon. We spent an hour discussing my health – both mental and physical – my career, my financial condition and my blogging activities. Although he doesn’t read my blog, others in the ward do and have shared misgivings about me. I thanked him for the concern, reassured him all was well. He then offered a few pieces of advice.

Tone it down, Get it off Facebook

He suggested I tone it down on the headlines and not link my blog to Facebook. I agreed with his counsel. Here’s why. A large number of my Facebook friends are members of the Church. These are people from my present stake and former stake with whom I have grown up and with whom I have served side-by-side in various callings, including multiple bishoprics and one High Council.

I’m no longer a Correlated Mormon

If you read my bio, you’ll note I have characterized myself as an orthodox, conservative, toe-the-line or correlated kind of member. However, if you have read my blog over the years, you’ll see my content has changed, especially over the last two years. Yes, that coincides with reading the works of Denver Snuffer, Doug Mendenhall, Mel Fish and other writers with unorthodox views.

Don’t Fit the Mold of Orthodox Conservative

I’ve changed. It’s my observation that some people are uncomfortable with my change. For the most part, they attribute that to what I read. I no longer fit the mold of orthodox, conservative or correlated member. Some are a little shocked by what I read but more especially by what I write. I confess I have chosen some headlines with the specific purpose of grabbing people’s attention.

Headlines and the Ways of the World

The Bishop and I discussed this very idea of controversial headlines. He said I was using “the ways of the world” to get readers. He said as long as I’m writing about truth, there was no need to use headlines that evoked emotion or shock. Knowing he doesn’t read my blog, I didn’t want to argue the point my blog is not an official publication of the church. That should be obvious.

Downplaying our Unique History

I also didn’t want to argue my blog is my way of finding like-minded people with whom I can discuss the unique aspects of our theology. By that I mean ideas from our past on which we no longer focus. It seems the mission of the church today is to play down anything about our history that makes us unique or different. Church PR efforts paint us as just another Christian Church.

Concern for the Welfare of my Soul

This is the third time in as many months the Bishop has asked to see me. I am convinced these interviews are motivated by genuine love and concern. Yes, they may have been precipitated by a comment or two from other members of the ward or stake, but I genuinely appreciate the visits. I know he’s a busy man. I’m sure he would rather spend Sunday afternoon home with his family.

Uncomfortable With What I Share

The visits are directly related to what I write on my blog. Obviously someone is troubled about what I share enough to express it to the Bishop. They are troubled about my testimony, about my understanding of the gospel, about my mental and emotional health and about my salvation. I’m honored and grateful but disturbed what I write about makes some people feel uncomfortable.

Keeping Covenants Most Important Thing

I’d like to investigate that idea with you in this post. When asked to give counsel in a Bishopric, I decided long ago I was not so anxious about what someone believed, read, thought or wrote. I was much more worried if they didn’t keep their covenants. I was glad I was not in a position to judge someone’s worthiness, only to provide an opinion to a priesthood leader when I was asked.

Covenants Entered Into Early in Life

Like most of you, I made sacred covenants with the Lord when I was younger. It’s interesting to note the covenants made upon receipt of the Melchizedek priesthood and when endowed are both entered into when so young, at least when I look back from the view of many intervening years. Those are some fairly serious covenants to take upon ourselves at ages eighteen and nineteen.

Covenants Associated with Ordinances

My family members were recent converts when I was baptized. My parents had been members for only a few years when I turned eight years old. I remember my Primary teachers discussing baptismal covenants more than my parents. I’m not sure my parents understood the significance of the covenants. I know I didn’t appreciate the seriousness of my actions at the age of eight.

Instructed by the Stake President

I’m grateful the final worthiness interview for receiving the Melchizedek priesthood is with the Stake President. I will always remember the hour I spent with the Stake President as he taught me from the scriptures, especially section 121, about the differences between the authority and power in the priesthood. I had the same experience when I was later interviewed to be endowed.

Opposition, Temptation and Blessings

I received my patriarchal blessing at age fifteen. A barrage of temptation came upon me shortly after receiving that blessing, just like it did right after I was baptized. When it was time to go on a mission, the adversary stirred up trouble in my family in an effort to prevent me from receiving my own endowment. I have noted this pattern of opposition around sacred ordinances all my life.

What is the Next Ordinance?

It was the same when I was married to my sweetheart in the temple and when I was ordained a High Priest at age 38. I know there must be opposition in all things. Many of my readers know about the recent struggles with health and opposition from the adversary I have encountered in the past year. Based on my life’s pattern of opposition, I should be receiving an ordinance soon.

Receive Further Light and Knowledge

But wait. There are no more ordinances to receive, or are there? Upon being ordained a High Priest I felt impressed to speak with the Temple President about what we could and could not do with knowledge obtained in the temple. This was about the time Jim Harmston was circulating a document surreptitiously on the Internet entitled, “Receiving Further Light and Knowledge.”

Prayer Circles Outside the Temple

I was especially intrigued by the idea of prayer circles outside the temple. Please don’t think I’m revealing anything sacred here that I shouldn’t. It’s a matter of record that prayer circles were held outside the temple until the First Presidency asked us to discontinue the practice sometime within the last fifty years. In addition, I wanted to ask about the wording used to describe prayer.

Can’t Even Ask in the Temple

Even though it was nearly twenty years ago, I remember the temple president’s reaction as if it were yesterday. He wanted to know why I was asking about such things and seemed to be upset that I would “dare” to ask such a question. He did his best to play down the importance of what I had asked, stood up and escorted me out of his office. This interview was now over, thank you.

Proper Place for True Order of Prayer

I thought the question was innocent enough. If we were taught the true order of prayer in the temple, then any other kind of prayer would be less than true. That seemed a logical conclusion in my mind. I simply wanted to know if it was appropriate to use it in the privacy of our own homes either alone or with our spouses and if the robes of the priesthood could be used at home.Yom_Kippur_Prayer

Deceived by an Angel of Light

Doesn’t it seem kind of ironic we are taught sacred things about communicating with heaven and then told to never use those tools on our own? I know the Brethren are concerned we’ll be deceived by an angel of light, but Joseph has given us the keys by which we can identify our visitors from the spirit world. The scriptures and the temple are replete with detailed instruction.

Church of the Firstborn

Joseph was zealous in trying to teach the saints to “go on and make your calling and election sure.” His last few public sermons were dedicated to this subject and the idea that each of us needs to become prophets, seers and revelators for our own families. He spoke of the Patriarchal order and the importance of being prepared by the angels to enter the Church of the Firstborn.

Joseph Encouraged us to Seek Knowledge

These are all subjects I have been studying for years. Isn’t this the sort of thing we are supposed to seek after in our individualized study? I’m concerned to learn someone objects when we even mention such subjects and phrases in writing. It’s as if I’ve violated some secret unwritten code to not discuss such things on a blog. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not breaking any covenants here.

Sacred Doesn’t Always Mean Secret

If what I write about makes you uncomfortable, write me directly and tell me so. You can remain anonymous if you desire. My email address is prominently displayed up there in the right-hand corner of this blog. I am of the opinion that if writing about these things causes discomfort then we are not talking about them enough. I know they’re sacred. That doesn’t mean they’re secret.

I Seek Your Viewpoint on Prayer

I was going to entitle this post, “Proper Place for True Order of Prayer” but I’m trying to follow the bishop’s counsel to tone my headlines down. You can Google “True Order of Prayer” and get all kinds of stuff, including the actual temple ceremony with the associated instruction. I know I’m not the only person to ask the Temple President my question. What’s the correct answer?

Bringing On the Apocalypse


CoronalMassEjectionI was invited to join a panel of fellow authors who enjoy writing about the catastrophes of the last days. Randy Lindsay is the author of a recent work of LDS fiction entitled The Gathering. I must be candid and tell you up front I have not yet read it. I have a copy and have perused it. I intend to read it within the next month or two. The book was published by Cedar Fort in January and is available from Amazon or your favorite bookseller. Reviews on Goodreads are favorable.

Promoting Discussion of the Last Days

The idea behind the panel is obviously to promote discussion of the last days, the apocalypse, the end-times or whatever you want to call them. The bottom line of course is Randy and Cedar Fort want to sell copies of the book, as does any author and publishing house. Inasmuch as I also have been working on a novel on the subject, I agreed to participate on the panel. I’m honored but feel a little unqualified because my own book has not even been completed yet, let alone published.

Fiction Based on Prophecy

In any event, I took a few minutes to ponder and answer the first question presented to the panel. Randy proposes to present a new question each week. It’s a good idea. If you’re interested in this subject, you might want to pop over to Randy’s blog and add your two cents. Just remember, it’s a work of fiction, even though he’s asking us to comment on the premise or doctrine behind it.  In my response to Randy when invited to join, I wrote the following rather pessimistic stuff:

“I’ve got to tell you from years of gauging interest of the Saints in end-of-the-world type stuff, it’s woefully disheartening. To be frank, most LDS folks don’t want to think about it, don’t believe it will happen in their lifetime and are terribly uneducated on the signs of the times or especially what will happen when the Savior returns.

“To most, it is all very generic: ‘Oh, there’s going to be some destruction and the wicked will be killed, but then the Savior will come and all will be well.’ They either do not understand or believe what they read in our own scriptures, especially the books of Revelation, Joel, Daniel and other key sources.”

Recent Publications on The Last Days

I admit my assessment may have been a little harsh. There are those, like my High Priest Group Leader, who is extremely interested in the Last Days. He recently taught us on the subject using the book, 65 Signs of Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David J. Ridges. The book is more than a checklist. I highly recommend it. Another LDS author I like who writes about this subject is Hoyt W. Brewster. His book is Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond.

Earlier Publications on The Last Days

Of course we can’t forget some favorites from times past: Prophecy: Key to the Future by Duane S. Crowther and The Coming of the Lord by Gerald Lund. I would be remiss if I did not include the Prophecy Trilogy from my friend Anthony Larson: 1) And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, 2) And the Earth Shall Reel To and Fro, 3) And There Shall Be a New Heaven and a New Earth. My novel, Red Sky is based on the opening scenario presented in Anthony’s first book.

The First Question to the Panel

Randy asked, “Which situation or event that is currently happening do you think most easily could result in the apocalypse?” And the response I posted over there:

My Definition of the Apocalypse

First, let’s agree on the definition of apocalypse. I’ll offer mine by expressing what it is not. The apocalypse is NOT the end of the world. Yes, it is a period of great destruction and catastrophe with billions of people killed by the natural events prophesied, but the world survives. And so do a lot of people. It is these natural events, including the close approach of another celestial body which Anthony has already described in his comments above that brings on the apocalypse.

We Cannot Bring On the Apocalypse

Second, the apocalypse is not something we can control or avoid. The Lord has warned us and warned us over and over again in so many different scriptures it is already on its way. The arm of the Lord is a phrase that has great significance. It refers to something happening in the heavens that the world will see. The Lord has told us he is returning with the armies of heaven, and with the City of Enoch, a piece of this earth that was physically removed and taken up into heaven.

We Can Observe Signs of the Times

We read terrible things in the news that are significant to LDS theology and say to ourselves, “Ah, hah. Another sign of the times,” and indeed we are usually correct. Wars and rumors of wars, economic turmoil, man’s loss of natural affection for his brethren demonstrated by deeds of atrocity, nations coming to an end, rampant wickedness, corruption, immorality and the list goes on and on. I have one thing to say about all these: “Man, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet

Obviously, Anthony and I are in agreement as this reflects what he has already stated. Even when we talk about hundreds of thousands killed by earthquakes and tsunamis, the size of these catastrophes are nothing compared to what will happen when a “great mountain burning with fire [is] cast into the sea,” or “there [falls] a great star from heaven,” or the sun moon and stars are smitten so that the sun is darkened and the moon glows red as blood with heat. Catastrophic!

Watch For Signs in the Sun

In my mind, the event that is currently happening is the sun is not following the normal pattern scientists are used to seeing for many centuries of observation. The eleven-year cycle seems to be a little out of whack. Watch the signs in the sun. Coronal mass ejections from sunspots are the thing we really need to be watching. One massive CME can produce an EMP that could wipe out power grids and communication systems all across the globe. Stay tuned to SpaceWeather.com.

You can read more about my work of fiction based on the close approach of a large celestial body under the Red Sky tab here on my blog.

LDS Members Persecuted For Reading Books


KeepCalmReadABookIn light of the excommunication of several LDS Church members recently for apostasy, and one in particular for simply reading a book, I’d like to discuss a couple of the temple recommend questions, which the church makes available on their website. The two questions deal with sustaining our leaders and agreeing with individuals who teach or write what is not found in the official curriculum of the church. In other words, those who go beyond the basics in their writings.

Standard disclaimer: This is all my opinion

Please remember I’m not a scholar, theologian, attorney or an expert at philosophical arguments. I’m just a regular old member of the church who likes to read books and write book reviews. The temple recommend questions I linked to above are from LDS Tech, an official LDS website. Technically, they are the questions on the Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination Record, but are almost exactly the same minus two questions about keeping covenants and wearing garments.

Deviating From Temple Recommend Questions

I know this has been discussed in many forums and websites, notably on the Stay LDS site. I’m not sensing a purge going on, but wonder why more and more of my readers and online friends have written me privately about their discussions with Bishops or Stake Presidents. They are being asked probing questions that go beyond the specific ones that are supposed to be asked in the temple recommend interview. By so doing these leaders are not following the Handbooks.

This is the Kingdom of God on the Earth

It has been standard policy for over thirty years that leaders “…should never deviate from or go beyond the specific questions contained in the temple recommend book…(First Presidency letter, 5 January 1982).” Let’s take the easy question first. I consider it cut and dry because it deals with the kingdom of God on earth, NOT the kingdom of God in heaven. If you keep that distinction in mind, you should have no problem answering yes to the question without any elaboration at all.

This Earthly Kingdom is Only Temporary

“Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?” The church is an earthly institution. According to section 65, the purpose of the church is to prepare us to join with the Kingdom of Heaven. The church is the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is temporary. It will be absorbed into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The LDS Church Has Certain Keys

Therefore, I have no problem affirming that the man we sustain or uphold as the President of the earthly institution holds priesthood keys or authority to preach the gospel, publish scripture, collect tithing, build and maintain temples and meetinghouses and perform, through delegation, a myriad of other tasks and activities that will build the Kingdom of God on the earth. I also affirm that permission or those earthly keys can be and were passed on from the prophet Joseph Smith.

Difference Between Authority and Power

This includes the right to perform ordinances, including the exercise of the sealing power, albeit a limited kind of sealing power, that are invitations to go and get the real thing. Everyone knows this from the prophet and apostles on down. President Packer has taught this repeatedly – there is a world of difference between earthly authority to act in the church and heavenly sealing power. Earthly sealing power is not the same as heavenly sealing power. You and I should know this.

Seek Ratification From Holy Spirit of Promise

Don’t confuse the Kingdom of God on the Earth with the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Don’t forget what we’ve been taught about the Holy Spirit of Promise. Our ordinances are simply not complete until they are ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I’m concerned too many leaders in our church don’t understand or teach this. I know this because so many members don’t get it. We focus way too much on getting people to the temple without teaching them what to do after that.

Keeping the Church Free From Polygamy

I’m going to skip down to the other, more troubling question: “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” Everyone knows why this question was placed in the interview process. It was and is still intended to weed out those who practice plural marriage. It was not included to keep us from reading non-LDS books or going to lectures.

Criticized and Disciplined For What One Believes

I wrote previously how deeply troubled I felt upon learning of online friends being harassed by being placed on informal or formal probation or officially disciplined through disfellowshipment and even excommunicated – all for reading a book or going to a lecture. This is crazy. This is wrong. This is not righteous exercise of priesthood authority. It is unrighteousness dominion. No LDS leader has the right to tell a member of his congregation what he should or shouldn’t read (see discussion in comments).

Trying to Control Reading Material is Wrong

In the selected policies of the church, we are encouraged to read the King James version of the Bible as opposed to other editions, to read the church magazines and to read the weekly lesson material assignments in advance. Other than that, I could find nothing in the handbook that says “Though shalt not read anything from Signature Books,” or “Thou shalt only buy and read books from Deseret Book.” It especially does not refer to reading D. Michael Quinn or Denver Snuffer.

We Have the Right to Read What we Choose

So what if they have been excommunicated from the church? Big deal. We’re all adults here. If I want to read what Michael Quinn had to say about our history, then that’s my prerogative. Yes, I know it’s contrary to what we’re taught in the official curriculum, but that’s the beauty of it. I get other viewpoints and additional information to help me understand our history. The same thing goes for reading Denver Snuffer’s Passing the Heavenly Gift. It’s just a man’s different opinion.

Multiple Points of View is Healthy

I’ve received private emails from readers who say they have been persecuted for reading Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman, a faithful LDS member and temple sealer. Why are some LDS leaders afraid of opening their minds to other possibilities and interpretations of our LDS history? So what if it differs from the official material we receive in the classrooms on Sunday or in Seminary, Institute and church university religion classes? That just seems so closed-minded.

The Temple Recommend Question is Flawed

Paraphrasing the second temple recommend question we’re discussing, it could be read as “Do you agree with any individual who teaches a different version of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” In my opinion this question is wrong and should be changed to simply read, “Do you practice plural marriage?” Strangely enough, the doctrine of plural marriage is still accepted by the church and found in our scriptures. We just don’t teach it.

The Church Has Already Given Guidelines

This is my blog so I’ll express my opinion a little more forcefully as if I were speaking directly to some Bishops and Stake Presidents who have excommunicated some of my readers. I would tell them to seriously back off and stop prying into the personal reading habits of their members. It’s none of their business. That 1982 letter included this line about sex: “you…should never inquire into personal, intimate matters involving marital relations between a man and his wife.”

Let the Members Work Out Their Own Doubts

I wonder if we need another letter from the First Presidency stating, “Do not ask your members what books they are reading or if they are attending lectures that are not put on by the church.” If a member says no to the second question we’re discussing, then leave it alone and go on with the next question, even if you have heard stories that the member is struggling with the standard narrative of the church when it comes to our history. Let them work it out with their own agency.

Not All Members Fit Into the Same Mold

I know these leaders justify their inappropriate questioning in the guise of love, claiming they simply want to help their members, but they do more harm than good when they try to mold all members into their idea of what a good Latter-day Saint should be like as far as what they read. Sure, we can all preach against the evils of porn but are we going to tell our sisters they can’t read romance novels? You would have half the church up in arms over that, including my wife.

Inappropriate Reasons to Deny a Temple Recommend

Just because a person reads Denver Snuffer and happens to agree with some of his viewpoints is no reason to deny them a temple recommend. Reading Denver Snuffer does not make someone an apostate. I’ve written about apostasy previously here on my blog: It’s defined as deliberate and open opposition to the Church or its leaders, teaching as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine or to belong to an apostate sect, such as those that practice plural marriage.

Temple Recommends Not Used in Heaven

A temple recommend is simply an earthly receipt used by the LDS Church to show that you have paid tithing. You’re not going to need a temple recommend in heaven. They’re not used there. Trying to control what a man believes about our history is not righteous behavior. Threatening a man with church discipline because he tells a few friends his opinion of a book and recommends they also read it is simply not right. Leaders who do this are abusing the priesthood of God.

Face it: We Failed the Test in Nauvoo

To say that someone needs to be disciplined because they have a difference of opinion over how to interpret a document is the worst kind of priestcraft. If this really is the Kingdom of God on the earth we will be looking for ways to include more people, not exclude them for what they read or believe. We’ve got to stop being so sensitive about what happened in Nauvoo. We failed the test, didn’t build the temple in time and suffered hardships for the next four generations.

The Gathering of the Elect of God

With the passing of our last patriarch, Eldred G. Smith, those four generations have passed now. The Lord has put forth his hand again and is gathering the elect through the angels. They are ministering to men and women upon the earth, teaching and preparing them to come into the presence of the Lord. There are many members of the LDS Church quietly doing the Lord’s bidding as asked by Him or as assigned by His angels. This is contrary to the traditional hierarchal institution model.

The Angels Are Inviting and Teaching

I’ve written enough. I hope you can tell I’m a little bit passionate about this subject. I simply cannot believe the church I love and have been a member of all my life would persecute its own members for claiming to have received the Lord or assignments from angels. It’s almost as if the church is jealous of its own members who exhibit spiritual gifts that bless and edify others. The hierarchy of the church cannot control who joins the Kingdom of Heaven. The angels do that.

I’m Interested in Your Feedback

What do you think? Is it right for LDS leaders to deviate from the temple recommend questions? Is it OK for them to ask you what kinds of books or authors you read? Should they be allowed to ask you what you believe beyond the first three basic testimony questions? If you would rather share your story privately, feel free to email me at tmalonemcse @ gmail.com. God bless us all.

A few links to articles on the Temple Recommend Interview process:

Wikipedia article on LDS worthiness interviews

An Ensign article on being worthy to enter the temple

Frequently asked questions from lds.org on temple interviews

Excerpt from the 1982 First Presidency letter from Upward Thought Blog

Article from The New Era on Temple Recommend Interview

Lesson from Young Men’s manual on Recommend Interviews

Lesson from Temple Preparation class on Recommend Interviews

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