I promised my friend Bret I would provide a review of his book, 77 Truths. I usually wait until I finish a book before I write an analysis. In this case, I simply can’t wait. It’s too good. I thought I would read at least the first 21 Truths before writing anything. He recommended that would be a natural stopping point, but I decided after the first three Truths I just had to share something.
Bret’s book is filled with quotes and scriptures. Original content is actually quite sparse, but Bret didn’t need to add much to the collection he provided. If he had, his book would have been much larger than 460 pages. I don’t see how he can publish this for $17.95 and still make a profit, but maybe that’s not his intent. The book is on sale for about $15 at Amazon today, an amazing deal.
For Personal or Group Study
The format of the book is large – 8.5 x 11 – and the layout is unusual in that the scriptures and quotes are center-justified. Thus, most of the book has that appearance. What Bret has done is collect, arrange and comment on his selections in order to make a point or establish one of the truths presented in each chapter. His comments are full-justified, so they’re easy to distinguish.
So why is this book better than Especially for Mormons, which is also a collection of quotes, stories and poems? It’s simple. Bret is not focusing on emotional, feel-good, or inspirational stories. He is presenting truth and backing it up with evidence. Each truth is three to five pages, making it ideal for teaching and discussing in a small group setting lasting an hour or two.
There are seven chapters:
- Father’s Eternal Life
- The Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
- Apostasy by Omission
- Cleansing America and the Church
- The Fall of Babylon
- Gathering the Remnant
- Latter Day Zion
I hope to write more about the other chapters in a later post, but for today, I will share a few thoughts about the first chapter. In fact, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to let Bret’s words speak for his book. Omitting all the quotes and scriptures, I’ll share what Bret has written only about the third truth, and if the post isn’t too long, I’ll add a few words at the end.
——— Beginning of Material from Bret ————
Truth #3 – Those seeking salvation in this life and exaltation in the worlds to come must have an eye single to the glory of God. Centering our faith on a “Lesser God” is not spiritually sufficient.
Note to Reader: The purpose of this section is not to criticize the brethren or speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. There is a difference between being intentionally negative about the church versus providing the light needed to obtain a proper hierarchy of focus and worship.
[Quote from Neal Maxwell removed] The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to have an “eye single to the Glory of God” (D&C 4:5). Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to worship the prophet, church, or family, and yet much of today’s Mormon conversation repeatedly focuses on these secondary aspects of the gospel.
[Quote from President Kimball removed] It is an individual and collective choice whether “our god” will be the telestial toys of Babylon, the terrestrial treats of the church, or the Celestial Gods of this Universe.
Growing believers may initially place their faith in the church and its prophet. This trend is summarized as emotional stories and vain repetitions. Heartfelt proclamations such as “I know the church is true,” “We are led by a living prophet,” and “I love my family” are commendable beliefs. Unfortunately, when these supportive elements become the core of our testimony, we may have looked beyond the mark of Christ (Jacob 4:14)
[Quote from Joseph Smith removed] In Mormonism today, emphasis on prophet, church and family frequently overshadows focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Savior is mentioned, it is often implied that He is supportive of “the church” instead of the other way around!
A Jealous God
[Exodus 20:3-5 omitted] Being a “jealous God” means the Almighty wants our problems, praise, devotion, focus, worship, affection, and sins. Thus, a significant difference exists between knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, and friend and having a testimony based on “following the prophet.”
Who is your God?
[Quote from President Benson removed] The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that remaining dependent on other human beings – even if they are true prophets, correlates with telestial glory (D&C 76:99-101). Those who place their trust primarily in church leaders and fail to demonstrate a valiant testimony for Jesus Christ, do not qualify for celestial glory.
The Glory of Men
[D&C 76:98-102 omitted] Under Father’s tutoring hand disciples grow from emphasizing other men to worshipping God the Father personally without apology. This essential shift occurs through sacrifice and adversity, for it is when our hearts have been shredded and torn asunder that we finally stop making excuses and reach out to the only being who can truly save us.
In the Mirror
[Quote from Jeff Ostler omitted] To assist us in surrendering our entire souls unto Christ, endowed members are invited to consecrate themselves, time, talents, and all that they possess to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. To fulfill this covenant requires that we honor the true Bridegroom and end our “affair” with any of the “lesser gods.”
[Story omitted about visit from General Authority] Gratefully, our Father did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Because of His divine patience and endless love Father stays with His children until they are ready to grow beyond mortal distraction and worship Him as the only living and true God! (D&C 20:19). The result of this process is a proper hierarchy of worship.
Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Jeremiah 30:22)
Another type of “false-god” involves trusting in our own “arm of flesh.” With so much focus on goals, personal performance, and “hastening the work,” is it possible our obsession with doing good works actually represents a subtle form of self-worship? Does being active in the program of the church and answering a few temple recommend questions really make us worthy? [Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler]
Under the chastening hand of our Father, a mighty and disturbing day arrives wherein you realize that what “you want,” your passions, desires, and vain ambitions, and all that you have sought to do with “your life,” is a form of idolatry. During this disturbing and freeing moment, the growing disciple realizes that he or she has been worshiping self over God. This awakening can result in a needed “coup,” which involves our personal spirit again becoming dominant over the natural man. It is then that individual enters into God’s sacred errand.
In relation to this process, consider Joseph Smith’s observation … “all the religious world is boasting of righteousness; it is the doctrine of the devil to hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness.” His warning requires us to ask, have we become too prideful about being active in the Lord’s church?
[Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler] To imagine ourselves independently “worthy” is an illusion of the ego. The shadow within loves to focus on self and proclaim, “Now is the day of my power!” When this occurs, our imagined “righteousness” delays us from receiving the only one who can really save us. Author M. Catherine Thomas provides an excellent example of growing from a “self-salvation” mindset to a place where we can be transformed by Christ. [Quote omitted]
In choosing God and His gospel above all else, much of the world becomes superficial and meaningless. The previous glitter of Babylon fades and we discover, “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalms 118:8). With consistent effort, every believer can come to that glorious day when he or she makes an irrefutable stand for Christ, and with broken heart and bleeding knees, proclaims, “The Kingdom of God or Nothing” (John Taylor).
——– End of Material from Bret ———
I see my friend Kathryn has purchased the book, written a short, five-star review and posted it on Amazon. I hope more people will do the same. The book deserves a grassroots effort to bring it to the attention of thoughtful readers. I will post my review there as well as on Goodreads. Having Bret visit my home and talk about the process of writing the book helped tremendously to understand.
The source for each of the 802 quotes is listed in the Bibliography at the end of the book. You will recognize many if not most of the 100 names of individuals he quoted. I was surprised to find my own name acknowledged, along with several of my friends. It makes me want to take the time to finish the book even sooner. I wonder if something I wrote is included in the book.
Proper Hierarchy of Worship
I stopped after truth #3 in my reading and included it above because I was so impressed with what was shared. It loses a little something without the quotes, but it gives you a flavor for the boldness with which Bret states each truth. I can tell you from personal experience, as I’m sure many of you can, Bret is right on that Mormonism today puts the church ahead of the Savior.
Those steeped in LDS culture are shocked if anyone suggests they are following a man, even if he be a prophet. Isn’t that the most important thing? Well did Denver Snuffer nail it when he wrote there is but one doctrine left in the LDS Church – follow the prophet. That seems to be mantra to solve every problem, answer every question. Wrong – so wrong. We are to follow the Savior.
Visit the Website: 77Truths.com
One last thing: Visit Bret’s website. As of this moment, there are unfinished sections. I look forward to seeing his blog get started as well as work on the dictionary / glossary I see planned. Bret has put a tremendous amount of thought, effort and time into this work. He told me he finished the majority of the book a couple of years ago but the Lord asked him to wait until now to publish it.
I wonder why.