Method, Means, and Message


MissionPresidentsI had an interesting experience recently while at church. I live in a part of the world where the church has been developing very slowly and the branches are quite spread out, so a visit from the mission president is a rare and treasured event. A couple Sundays ago he came to our branch and requested that we give him the third hour for a special combined RS/PH lesson.

I want to preface this by saying that I have had several opportunities to interact with this president and his family on a personal level over the past few months, and they are wonderful people, and a breath of fresh air to this area. They engage with local members directly in a way that I have never seen before, and have done a lot of valuable training and teaching. I appreciate, support, and sustain this man as a leader.

Lack of Scripture-Based Teaching

However, as much as I respect and appreciate him and his work, I can’t bring myself to agree with his lesson in our branch. He led a discussion about missionary work, what it takes to be a member missionary, and different ways to do missionary work as a member. The entire hour, not one verse of scripture was referenced. (Not counting John 3:16, when it came up on screen while they showed us the new Christmas video.) There weren’t even any references to scriptural missionaries like Ammon or Paul, or quotes from early Church leaders. There were only references to Preach My Gospel and several modern GA quotes.

Living Oracles

josephsmith.jpgI have a few related thoughts I’m going to string together here, and I apologize in advance if it seems a bit disjointed. As I write this and think about the merit of the scriptures versus the words of modern church leaders, the quote from Brigham Young comes to mind: “I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” What is a living oracle? It is a prophet, rather like Joseph Smith. Brigham would certainly have been referring to Joseph or anyone who had the same gifts: a true prophet, seer, and revelator. Think about it: Joseph, from his own mouth, spoke into being the entire Book of Mormon and most of the Doctrine and Covenants. He also demonstrated the ability to “correct” existing scripture as he prepared the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and revealed many new and brilliant things throughout his lifetime. I believe that what Brigham was saying was that if all the “books” he referred to somehow were to go missing, he was confident that Joseph, or someone equal to Joseph in spiritual gifts, could replace them.

That leaves us with the question of whether modern Church leaders qualify as “living oracles” and Joseph’s equal, and therefore authorized to replace or override scripture. I know people have differing opinions about the prophetic gifts of our leaders today, but I doubt any of those leaders would claim to be Joseph’s equal when it comes to spiritual and revelatory gifts. In fact, I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Church who would claim that modern general conference talks, say, are more valuable to our spiritual welfare than the Book of Mormon.

Relative Merits

That said, let’s consider some of the different ways we receive Gospel teaching. I propose that all forms of Gospel teaching can be placed on a continuum according to their source. At one end of the continuum you have the word of God, as spoken from His own mouth or by angelic messengers, as recorded in the scriptures and the revelations received through Joseph Smith. (Arguably much of the scriptures don’t fit that definition, but I am comfortable putting all scripture very close to that end. I would also put personal revelation at this end of the continuum.) Somewhere along the continuum you have prophetic teachings and messages based on actual words of God as received from Him. But then we run into a bit of a problem: we start having general authorities quoting each other, which removes the message one step farther from the actual word of God. Then you have lesson manuals and other Church publications, which, even if they deal directly with scripture, more often than not are attempting to teach topically and usually take verses out of context (“proof-texting”), and those also use the GA quotes liberally, sometimes even using quotes of quotes to make the matter more complicated. Regurgitated and heavily edited talks and articles are worth a mention here, too. Also, many of these latter articles and lessons don’t even define authorship clearly; they could have been written by any committee or employee in the Church Office Building, so their divine/prophetic source is even more dubious. And then, lastly, you have the local teacher or speaker using the lesson manual or the talk to deliver their own form of Gospel teaching to the “end user.”

Regardless of what you think the relative merit of these various kinds of teaching is, can we agree that there is a continuum, and that we generally are spending too much time at the wrong end of it?

My point is that with each iteration, we get farther and farther away from the actual voice of God. I hope it is clear to all of us that the “philosophies of men, mingled with scripture” are inferior to the words of God, whether from His mouth or by the voice of his angels. Each iteration I described above adds a little more philosophy and uses a little less scripture. Frankly, even this article of mine is my philosophy, mingled with nothing, actually, because I haven’t even quoted any scripture yet. You should treat it accordingly: with interest (I hope), but also with discernment.

When I hear a presentation that ignores the scriptures, uses only contemporary quotes and sources, and borrows liberally from modern marketing techniques, I have to wonder about where it fits on my continuum, and to what degree it is “true.”

Means, Method, or Message?

gospel-messageHowever, the lack of scripture-based teaching paled in comparison to the real problem: the entire hour, all we talked about was the various means and methods of delivery of “the message”—we never even specified what “the message” was! This, in a nutshell, represents on a small scale what I believe is lacking from the church in general: presentation has become far more important that content. Many may argue with me that this isn’t true, and I will concede that probably no one has an actual intent to make the method more important than the message. But look at the evidence: in the Church, a vastly disproportionate amount of time is being spent planning, discussing, training, evaluating, praising, and extolling the way “the message” is disseminated, administrated, correlated, and controlled, compared to the amount of time repeating, understanding, and expounding the actual message, or anything even remotely close to it. Maybe we all assume that we already know the message, so the only thing left to learn is how to share it?

I don’t want to find fault with our leaders, who have heavy burdens to carry and are doing the best they can. But things seem to be going in the wrong direction. There is no one to point fingers at. I personally think it’s the natural consequence of having a complex administrative structure where the organization itself has gained its own momentum, carrying others along with it, despite their best efforts to do what’s right.  Like any other large organization subject to the laws and methods of operation common in the world in which it exists, it has to ensure its own survival, and the tendency is always to do it the way the world does it: sophisticated marketing. And so the message entrusted by Christ to His disciples to personally deliver to the world gets lost in the noise, because the organization as a whole is trying to act as a united force, and somehow in the effort to have us all speak with a united voice, we forget what we were supposed to be talking about.

Let’s try to remember, shall we?

The Message

What is this mysterious “message” that everyone mentions as if we all understand it, but that nobody ever defines? It’s not all that hard. Jesus himself only needed a few verses to explain the whole thing. The best explanations I know of are both in the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 31, and 3 Nephi 11. You know the formula: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.

That is the most common definition, but I believe we usually oversimplify the final step, obscuring what it means to endure to the “end.” I would like to pose a question here: what is the “end” we must endure to? Is it the end of a period of time, such as this mortal life, a dispensation, or final judgment? Or could “end” refer to a specific purpose or goal, the way we use the word in the proverb “the ends justify the means”? If “end” can refer to a goal, then is it tied to a specific time and/or place, or does it refer to the completion of that goal, regardless of where or when it happens?

According to Nephi, the “only and true doctrine” (v. 21) is repentance, baptism, receiving a remission of sins by the Holy Ghost, and speaking with the tongue of angels, doing everything Christ did with faith in him, and eventually receiving a personal promise of salvation from the Father. In this definition, “end” refers to the fulfillment of a very specific promise, an event that is not tied to any time or place or condition other than us completing the initial steps ourselves.

Christ-TeachingChrist also explained what His doctrine was, and prefaced it with a warning that he was giving a clear definition to prevent disputations. (Yet, somehow, we have a whole book of Mormon Doctrine—in conflicting, disputation-inducing editions, too!—that contains all sorts of things Christ didn’t see fit to include.) Christ’s definition also contained an explanation on the importance of witnesses, perhaps because the end goal of the gospel in his definition includes all three of the Godhead bearing witness to us.  His formula is to repent and become as a little child, believe in Christ, and be baptized in the name of Christ. The “end” result is that the individual will be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and receive a witness by the Holy Ghost of the Son and the Father, and eventually the Father Himself will bear witness.

That is pretty serious stuff.

Milk before Meat

Another thought that keeps coming to mind as I write this is the injunction to give milk before meat. In my mind, the “milk” of the gospel is this, extrapolated from the scriptures discussed above: if I (and you, and every one of us) truly repent of my sins, having faith in Christ, and am baptized, I will be filled with the Holy Ghost, and if I continue to press forward in faith, I will eventually come unto Christ in the flesh and gain for myself a sure knowledge of Him and the fact that he has saved me. In other words, the “milk” of the gospel is a general understanding of the end goal, which includes spiritual gifts, the ministering of angels, and a personal manifestation of Christ to each individual who has prepared himself/herself. The “meat” of the gospel, I believe, lies in the HOW, because how we get there is too difficult for us to comprehend at first.

Lest anyone try to tell me that personal visitations and witnesses are meat, not milk, let’s look at the uses of that phrase in the scriptures.

The Three Instances of Milk vs. Meat in the Scriptures

1 Cor 3:2—Paul tells the Corinthians they are not able to bear meat, because they are “yet carnal,” because they idolize their Gospel teachers, instead of laying their foundation on Christ. This, incidentally, is the chapter where we learn that we are God’s temple, where God’s Spirit is intended to dwell; does it get any more up close and personal than that? “Therefore, let no man glory in men.” Get back to the milk—faith in Christ, not in leaders—so that God can come dwell in you.

Heb 5:12—In a chapter about the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, which implies personal audiences with God (see D&C 84:19-22), Paul also mentions how Christ learned “obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:8-9). I believe this is an oblique reference to “meat,” because if Christ learned obedience by suffering, and we must learn to obey Christ…therefore we must suffer as well. But that would be meat, and is left for another day, and therefore Paul returns to “milk,” and the following chapter is about the basic principles of the Gospel and enduring patiently to “obtain the promise” (Heb 6:15), which is when God swears “by himself, saying, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee” (Heb 6:13-14). So we read again: having your calling and election made sure, if I may call it that, is MILK, not meat.

D&C 19:22—A revelation about repentance and what to preach: “And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:31). The first half of this chapter, verses 1-20, talks about the opposite end of the spectrum: what happens if you don’t take that first step of faith and repentance. Despite the harshness of those verses, I believe they are also counted as milk. It is a warning about the importance of progressing in the gospel, and the importance of finding peace in Christ in the midst of your struggle to repent (v. 23), and “that you may enter into my rest” (v. 9).

A final thought: I absolutely agree that we don’t need to be teaching “meat” in church. However, considering the points above, and what God and his prophets considered appropriate “milk” teachings in those contexts, are we even teaching “milk” at all?

Authority vs Means

Back to missionary work and the means of spreading the gospel. Christ didn’t give his missionaries the same kind of training that we give ours. There was no discussion of technique, approach, or how to “bring the Spirit.” Christ gave them His word, His message, and told them who to go take it to. The power lies in the message itself, and God takes responsibility for its success. See D&C 50:21-22: “Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”

The preacher’s only responsibility is to preach under the direction of the Spirit and to teach the right message. The listener is either going to respond and receive, or not—that is no longer the preacher’s problem. There is no correct “method,” because God, by the Spirit of truth, is moving the word from the preacher to the receiver. That’s it. How can the preacher truly work under the direction of the Spirit if he has some acronym he is trying to fulfill, or a video he wants to share? You don’t need a M.E.T.H.O.D., the newest inspirational video, or a technique to set the right mood—you just need to deliver the message you have been given, and make sure you are delivering it at the behest of the Spirit.

It seems to me, therefore, that there are two things we each need to do to prepare, if we want to be “successful” missionaries: first, we need to get the message and make sure we understand it. Second, we need to be able to follow the Spirit. Any other study or preparation will distract us and end up making our task harder.

My Testimony

I better put my money where my mouth is. I wrote this article because I felt it was something that needed to be said, and shared. Yes, I believe the Spirit prompted me to write it and I have felt that guiding influence as I decided how to phrase my thoughts.

I prefer to say “believe,” because I personally don’t “know” much yet; I’m only at the beginning of the Gospel path. But this is the message and the doctrine that has awakened my soul, that makes me feel the most joy, that makes me see most clearly. Everything else I have ever heard that claims to be doctrine pales in comparison to this Gospel. I believe it is true, I do my best to follow it, and I am trying to share it with those around me and redirect conversation from less important philosophies of men to these fundamental truths.

I believe that no message is more important than the true Gospel, the one and only doctrine of Christ. And that Gospel is nothing more or less than the teaching that we must repent and come unto Christ, witnessing our faith through baptism, then continue towards Christ until we receive the promise of eternal life and God witnesses to us that He will receive us home to Him.

32 Responses

  1. Thank you for this message! I’ve personally heard mission presidents and former mission presidents say strange things these days… One said we shouldn’t try to “become friends with people before trying to convert them” because “it gets awkward when there’s no point in being friends anymore,” and “we should skip friendship before trying to convert.” One went so far as to say the members of his congregation should marry nonmembers in order to convert them and apparently even started a program to that effect.

    What I’ve done is worked quite independently of the church in bringing people closer to Christ, and certainly they received the milk… I agree, the meat really is the “how.” That’s been exactly my experience while teaching. And apparently it was Paul’s too. Thank you for the insight.

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  2. Guest Commentator –

    Ghost Writer –
    Thank you for your posting.
    We are taught in scriptures and in actual experience that if we do not have the Spirit with us, then we shall not….actually and will not teach.

    The whole idea of The Preach my Gospel “program” is to teach missionaries the importance of having received a personal witness and testimony before they go out and serve a mission. It teaches that we are not supposed to memorize and recite canned sales pitches or lessons that are devoid of the spirit.

    Now that being said, all through the scriptures and Conference talks , we read of the importance of personal repentance and living a virtuous life so others can see, hear and feel Christ in us as his disciples.
    Now I can tell you with the spirit that the beginning of apostasy starts within the heart of the individual. One of the outward manifestations is the complaining and criticizing of others especially leaders of any and all rank.This a Gospel Doctrine by the way, not my words.Joseph Smith plainly taught it.
    Preach my Gospel is not to replace Personal revelation but to enhance the young infants journey.
    Tell me one wrong thing written in the Preach My Gospel Book.
    We are to enter in at the gate and press forward feasting on the words of Christ and as it says in Jacob on His love.
    Not every individual can handle experiences or doctrines they have not experienced or understand.
    Not everyone has to have super divine spiritual experiences to bring people to Christ. But unto each is given a gift, and the head can not say to the foot, I have no need of thee….
    Spirits born in to this time and dispensation have all levels of intelligence. We cant assume everyone has a testimony born of the Holy Ghost.
    Some travelers are lagging behind, but that does not diminish them in the sight of their Merciful patient loving Father.
    I don’t not understand your claim that the church leaders are teaching the members to be dependent on them. It is just the opposite that they are teaching. To Mr. Guest speaker, Ghost Writer, Minority Of One and Nate, your words will condemn you. Your subterfuge will be laid out plainly. The Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth now, and the Gospel is spreading to and will reach every corner of the earth. Christ is the head of the church, not Joseph Smith or Thomas Monson.They would be the first to witness to that.The scriptures and all good books are for our benefit. Zion is being built. Remember- ” In the event that the plane loses cabin pressure, put the mask over your own face before trying to put someones mask on theirs”

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    • There’s a great new post by anonymous bishop that puts the Joseph Smith quote about men rising up and finding fault with the church into context: http://anonymousbishop.com/?p=143

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      • That is not the same quote or reference. The doctrine still stands and is taught by the Savior, His prophets and can be found in the scriptures.

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        • Care to provide citations?

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    • You must not have read the article. Guest Contributor was not criticizing any leader, only the church’s preoccupation with all the organizational minutiae of trying to spread the Doctrine of Christ.
      You ask what is wrong with Preach My Gospel? Only one thing-it is not the scriptures. It is a plan with suggested lessons at the end of every section. The very existence of these planning tools creates a crutch for missionaries in their teaching and gives them the idea that they are in charge of the message.
      All they really need is deep and consistent study of the scriptures coupled with prayer and a desire to open their mouths. When they meet someone, they do not need a script or a plan. They need only to be worthy of the Spirit and to open their mouths letting the words come to them at the moment they need them.
      Remember, mc2dd, not only will the words and actions of others condemn them, but our own judging of the unseen thoughts and intents of others in any degree of unrighteousness will condemn us as well.

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      • Seekinggreaterlight:

        You have not have read my initial posting…we ware saying about the same thing..well about the same…The Preach my Gospel book is not meant to replace the scriptures. There are many great books that can edify that are not canonized. Have you read the “Preach My Gospel Book”?

        These are a few lines from Preach My Gospel:

        Preach My Gospel is intended to help you be a better-prepared, more spiritually mature missionary and a more persuasive teacher. We urge you to use it daily in your personal and companion preparation, and in your district meetings and zone conferences. Study the referenced scriptures and learn the doctrines and principles.

        We challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment to assist our Father in Heaven in His glorious work. Every missionary has an important role in helping “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

        The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him. More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children.
        The First Presidency
        Learning by the Holy Ghost
        Enos praying

        Your gospel study is most effective when you are taught by the Holy Ghost. Always begin your gospel study by praying for the Holy Ghost to help you learn. He will bring knowledge and conviction that will bless your life and allow you to bless the lives of others. Your faith in Jesus Christ will increase. Your desire to repent and improve will grow.

        This kind of study prepares you for service, offers solace, resolves problems, and gives you the strength to endure to the end. Successful gospel study requires desire and action. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old” (1 Nephi 10:19). Like Enos, as you hunger to know the words of eternal life and as you allow these words to “[sink] deep into [your] heart” (Enos 1:3), the Holy Ghost will open your mind and heart to greater light and understanding.

        First Presidency

        “Every morning … , missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the Spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same Spirit.”

        —President Gordon B. Hinckley

        There are thousands of scripture references in the book, and no where does it say that this is your bible…or this is The Gospel…
        Are the scriptures and prayer a “Crutch” …come on …we are to use whatever tools that the Spirit directs us to use to bring others to Christ. Why take a gift and make it into a curse?

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      • Seeking:
        You wrote: Guest Contributor was not criticizing any leader, only the church’s preoccupation with all the organizational minutiae of trying to spread the Doctrine of Christ. (WHAT DO YOU CALL IT THEN-THE WHOLE ARTICLE IS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE LEADERS AND THE CHURCH ORGANIZATION) WHAT IS THE SOLUTION – IS IT TO WRITE ON THIS BLOG AND COMPLAIN ?)

        Guest writer or Contributor wrote:

        That leaves us with the question of whether modern Church leaders qualify as “living oracles” and Joseph’s equal, and therefore authorized to replace or override scripture. I know people have differing opinions about the prophetic gifts of our leaders today, but I doubt any of those leaders would claim to be Joseph’s equal when it comes to spiritual and revelatory gifts. In fact, I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Church who would claim that modern general conference talks, say, are more valuable to our spiritual welfare than the Book of Mormon. (WHO EVER CLAIMED THAT…? THEY TEACH US TO READ AND STUDY THE BOOK OF MORMON- REMEMBER E.T.BENSON – OR G.B. HINCKLEY – HIS CHALLENGE TO THE WHOLE CHURCH TO READ THE WHOLE BOOK OF MORMON IN LESS THAN A YEAR)

        The writer also said:

        Like any other large organization subject to the laws and methods of operation common in the world in which it exists, it has to ensure its own survival, and the tendency is always to do it the way the world does it: sophisticated marketing. (THIS IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER LARGE ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD)And so the message entrusted by Christ to His disciples to personally deliver to the world gets lost in the noise, because the organization as a whole is trying to act as a united force, and somehow in the effort to have us all speak with a united voice, we forget what we were supposed to be talking about. (THIS HAS NOT BEEN EVEN CLOSE TO MY EXPERIENCES IN THE CHURCH)

        AND

        The “end” result is that the individual will be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and receive a witness by the Holy Ghost of the Son and the Father, and eventually the Father Himself will bear witness. (THIS IS NOT THE END RESULT)

        And

        The preacher’s only responsibility is to preach under the direction of the Spirit and to teach the right message. (How about the responsibility of preparing and arming and learning?)

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        • Mc2dd,

          One question, since when do WE bless people? Is not God the one that blesses?

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        • Revenger,

          Good Question…
          Ask your self this question:
          Since when do we love people? Is not God the one that loves others?

          Um, Are we not His children made in His image. Did not Christ think it was not robbery to be equal to God?

          You sound like the familiar people in Nazareth or Galilee, who complained when Jesus said “Go your way. thy sins are forgiven thee”. They said that only God had power to forgive.

          Are we not commanded to be perfect even as He is perfect?

          What is it to forgive someone who sins against us? Is not that power within us?
          Have you not ever done a deed unto another where you lifted a burden from them therefore blessing their life?

          Have we not been called by the Master to be His disciples and follow him and cast out devils in his name through much purifying and prayer and fasting?
          Are we not commanded to serve others and bless them and their lives.
          Are we not all Gods in our Divine DNA? Are we not just one generation away from our Father Elohim?

          Do you think God the Father does not want us to enjoy ALL His blessings and receive a fullness? When Peter walked on Water, what caused him to fall? Do you not yet know your divine potential and future?

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        • Who is the one that blessed you with life? Who is the one that has blessed you with all that you now have in this life? We are all in Gods hand! God is not limited to anything! You and I are greatly limited! Without God nothing exists! God be given the glory! All shall glorify his name!

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        • Ok, I give up trying to convince you that you can be a blessing to others or can bless others. You are right, you really are just dust and scum, no potential, no way of becoming like your father , why try…

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    • “I don’t understand your claim that the church leaders are teaching the members to be dependent on them. It is just the opposite that they are teaching”.

      Well, not overtly teaching this, but covertly that seems to be the message. The church leadership has shifted significantly towards the Catholic view of priestly authority in the past 80 years, and even within my short lifetime. Lay members are not without fault here, because many members, lacking inspiration themselves want everything that they should do “spelled out,” and over the past generation the church has been more than willing to do so through extensive curriculum manuals for family home evening, missionary work, sunday school, PH/RS manuals. And an endless sea of recyled talks upon talks and quotes within quotes within quotes from GA’s. The scriptures are crystal clear that the heart of the Gospel is the individual actually coming to Christ by pressing forward on the pathway until one actually returns to God. The church and leadership are essential to set up the pathway, point the way, and administer the real ordinances, but that’s as far as leadership can take you. To the degree that lay members are trying to delegate or lay off their responsibility to come to Christ, they are making a gross error. To the degree, if any, that leaders are encouraging members to come unto them, so that members can then come unto Christ (encouraging the development of this priestly hierarchy), then they are in error. To what degree this is a problem in the church, each must decide for oneself. Each individual can and must receive the discernment from the Holy Ghost in this regard.

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      • Guest Contributor never made the claim that leaders are teaching members to be dependent, did he? I can’t tell where mc2dd got that from.

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      • I Corinthians 13:12
        For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

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        • Mc2dd,

          Thank you for admitting we are scum. We are actually less than the dust though. Now that we know we are less than the dust and can’t bless people we better pray to GOD that he will send us a savior. We better pray that the Lord will save us from the things we thought we could do like teach people. The ultimate goal is to return to the presence of the Father and dwell in heaven, right? That is the blessing that I truly would like to have and would like to see others have. If you make it to this dwelling place please come bless me and show me the way home. i will accept you as my savior if you carry me back but if you haven’t been back to dwell with God the Father and don’t know the way then I will continue to trust in God the Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost to bless me for they are one God
          thanks. God bless

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  3. Guest Contributor,

    Thanks for the great post. I love the thoughts on what milk really means. Plus in 3rd Nephi it says something to the effect that they only wrote about a hundredth part of what He taught. Pretty much seems like anything mentioned in the current scriptures we have is just milk, because we haven’t been given the “greater things” promised.

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  4. Mino Wrote:

    “Pretty much seems like anything mentioned in the current scriptures we have is just milk, because we haven’t been given the “greater things” promised.”

    That is a very generalized blanket statement. How many times on our journey of delving into the scriptures and pondering them, praying over them and meditating on them and yes in teaching with them, are we not instructed deeper and further enlightened albeit there are the same words we read 10 -20 -30 years ago?

    If we are faithful in little things, we we be given greater things….according to our faithfulness.
    Is is wisdom to receive greater light and knowledge when our faithfulness has not brought us to that point. Should a tall 5 year old be given a CDL license to drive big rigs? Are we so ambitious that we are like the girl on Willy Wonka who said “I WANT IT NOW!” I WANT IT NOW !’ She turned into a blueberry. Why cant we take the instructions, directions, commandments and admonitions found in “The current scriptures” and be faithful in those teachings…? Is it because we are in no need of them and take all our counsel straight from the mouth of The Father or The Savior Himself? Have we kept all the commandments and fed the poor, visited the sick and the fatherless? Have we helped out today someone in need? Have we listened to the promptings God has given us so that He can trust us with more? To think of the scriptures as just milk either shows a lack of respect for them or else one has already arrived, what ever that means. In 3 Nephi , after the resurrected Savior came to visit the People in America, He said that he needed to go because He needed to fulfill even more commandments of The Father. Its a journey not a destination….

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    • I can’t let false doctrine stand. It was Veruca who wanted everything now. It was Violet who turned into a blueberry.

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      • Lemuel, you are my hero and you are hilarious: I forgot about Veruca….So shines a good deed in a dark and dreary world…Thank you …You are a vigilant watcher of the integrity of one of the great classics of all time. I stand corrected..

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  5. Brigham’s quote on the living oracles is interesting in light of his admission that he didn’t share the same gifts as his predecessor.

    ”I am not going to interpret dreams; for I don’t profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel; but I am a Yankee guesser.” (Brigham Young, Sermon, July 26, 1857, JD 5:77)

    Brigham also reveals a longing to be a prophet when he said, “I have never particularly desired any man to testify publicly that I am a Prophet; nevertheless, if any man feels joy, in doing this, he shall be blest in it. I have never said that I am not a Prophet; but, if I am not, one thing is certain, I have been very profitable to this people.” (Brigham Young, Sermon, October, 7, 1864, JD 10:339)

    At the very least Brigham was profitable for himself. He built his mansion on the profits of brewing beer and making wine then selling it to anyone he could find. One of our most cherished chapters of the Mormon mythos, rescuing the stranded members of the Martin and Willie handcart companies turns out to be intertwined with Brigham’s shipment of liquor and tobacco. Will Bagley’s paper on the subject is excellent. http://user.xmission.com/~research/central/handcart.pdf

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    • Perhaps it comes as a surprise to you that Brigham was imperfect?

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      • Karl,

        The paper reveals something a little more interesting than simple “imperfection.”

        This statement by Bagley within the paper is amply borne out by the evidence he brings to bear.

        Essentially, to save money, Brigham Young resorted to turning men, women, and children into beasts of burden and created a system that exploited poor converts to Mormonism. Ultimately, it replaced draft animals with human beings and placed more value dollars on dollars than life itself.

        There are other disturbing things therein concerning those who owed money to the PEF. It turns out Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet captures the flavor and spirit of Brigham’s rule more accurately than I had heretofore appreciated.

        I am aggrieved. Zion fled.

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  6. The milk is beautiful and prepares for meet. I love the scriptures. I ponder on them continually.
    I understand that we will be judged by our words. I understand that he who breaks the least of these commandments, and shall teach men to do so, shall he called the least in the kingdom of heaven. I am happy to accept the judgements God has professed to my soul.
    It is better that a man should be judged of God rather than men. The judgements of God are always just. The judgements of men are not always just. I feel a great longing for the day of judgement to arrive. God bless.

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    • “Meat”

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  7. Certainly the best and most brilliant guest post you’ve put up so far Tim. Let’s have more like this. Thank you.

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  8. Here’s the conundrum: the scriptures are crystal clear the individual is entitled to make his connection directly with heaven through the direction of the Holy Ghost and that the very purpose of our existence here is to press forward until we make this connection from Christ and overcome our lost and fallen state. The church officials are there to point the way along this path, and to administer the essential and authoritative ordinances that mark the way. Nowhere in scriptures can you find the teaching that officials are there to point our way to them, who will then in turn point us to Christ. To the degree that church officers are interposing themselves in this process, they are make a Catholic error or setting up a priestly hierarchy. My perception is that the administrative aspect of the church has taken power to itself and can, if not restrained, choke out the Spirit. The church is more efficient administratively, then it has ever been. However, what has become of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit? Are they more or less evident in the church? Are these gifts talked about, sought for, coveted after? Whenever I have attended Catholic Mass I have enjoyed it very much. But the big problem there is that the forms and structures are there, but the Spirit is largely absent. Pomp & circumstance is wonderful theatrically, but it is in large measure a dead church. On the other hand, Protestants are full of the spirit, which makes their sermons and worship full of the Spirit; but they lack the real authority to administer real ordinances, that empower us to make progress on the path home. Recall Jesus stated to JS: “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” I accept and follow the leaders of the church, and acknowledge that they have real legitimate authority to point the way to salvation and administer the ordinances. This power to act, however, is circumscribed by the bounds set by the Standard Works, and by revelation from the Holy Ghost to the individual. In other words, when the prophets speak as prophets it will be in accord with already revealed scripture and currently revealed revelation to us through the power of the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, in our church, the hard-line position has been and continues to be that whenever any GA speaks, the words of God himself are flowing. Thus, any criticism of the Brethren whatsoever is automatically assumed to be apostasy per se, and is in fact criticism of God. The Brethren have done little to bring down this false idea. All men are subject to error, leaders and lay members alike. Administrative errors, procedural errors, doctrinal errors. Brigham made them all; yet, I still believe that Brigham had real authority from God to act in this office he did. And I believe that our current leaders have real and sufficient authority to move God’s work along. But I do believe that many procedural errors have been codified over time and turned by custom and tradition, into doctrines. There has been and still is great hostility from current leadership when any of these errors are pointed out (who are YOU to question any leader of the church?). So, the problem is: if errors are deeply encrusted in Mormonism how, under the current administrative way, can these ever be corrected? And there I am at a loss to provide answers. God bless.

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  9. Guest,

    Thank you for your questions. AS today seems to point questioning as complaints, it’s no wonder the varied responses

    To all those who think that supposed present day oracles are the more important than scriptures, may we remind you what sacrifice Nephi went through to bring the brass plates? They had Lehi. Why would they need the brass plates? Scriptures are vital. They testify of Christ by those that have seen Him. The new methods of training, speaking, selling, using similes, etc., is man’s method of getting the point across. Whatever happened to testifying with confirmation of the Holy Ghost concerning the Book of Mormon coinciding with the other scriptures? Where does conversion come from? Does it come from proving something? Using the Word of God causes the confirmation of the Holy Ghost which is key to all missionary work. Modern methods of marketing, selling, convincing, presenting and fanciful persuasion, just means you will get a 2% hit ratio.

    Reading scriptures without personal interpretation and receiving confirmation by the Holy Ghost, not upon confirming your belief system, but receiving imprint on your soul that which is light and truth. This is the basic movement of beings rising up the the rung of the ladder line upon line and precept upon precept. Thank you for your post. It is always treading dauntingly one posts. Bless you for your addition.

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  10. “undergirding an overarching all” is the glorious message of Jesus:) however, you don’t have to look very hard to see modes and methods implemented by the great missionaries in the Book of Mormon aiding in their delivery of the DIVINE message…..

    Without even thinking Two examples of methods suggested by Jesus poped into my mind… recources are methods, yes? Resources are given powethrough the atonement,yes ?

    The theme of the main post in my opinion has So much unfair blanket characterization…

    what messages will we be preoccupied with and prioritize as significant?

    I value many people in the “Community” but the drumbeat of their message (much of it) does not have edifying effects for me. I do not want to agitate, I will move on for now.

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  11. Thank you for your article. I can tell you from personal experience, the fastest way to get released as an adult teaching adults is to make a serious attempt to teach from the scriptures by the spirit, laying aside the church correlation committee approved lesson manual. Your life becomes vastly easier from there on because the black mark on your membership record follows you to your future wards and precludes any serious church assignment thereafter.
    The Doctrine of Christ, as taught by Nephi and the Savior, is the strait and narrow path, and there is no other. Those who would belong the Christ’s church (there are save two churchs only) must repent and come unto Him, nothing more and nothing less, anyone who teaches more or less than this is not of Him, but is against Him.
    James Russell Uhl

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    • Brother jr
      I hope that isnt true….

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  12. Excellent article. Thank you. Printing it out to take more time to read and think. Love to you.

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