Enhancing the Truth


ProphetJosephSmith

It is in the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood, but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust. – Joseph Smith

Enhancing the foundations of others is done without authority from God.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood…. Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church. – cite

Lots of people enhanced another man’s foundations and it all crumbled to dust.

One of the great lessons of the Moses account is that adding to the commandments of God, no matter how well intentioned, is going to lead to error if not tragedy. We do as He asks. Without adding to, nor subtracting from what He has bid us to do, we should follow what we are asked by Him. – Denver Snuffer

Don’t enhance the commandments of God.

JST Deuteronomy 4:1-2

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.

2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Don’t enhance the commandments of God.

JST Revleation 22:18-19

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book;

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Don’t enhance the word of God.

Moses 5:6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

Adam seems to have learned the lesson.

Elder B. H. Roberts of the Seventy presented the following resolution, which was unanimously supported by all in attendance: “Resolved: That we accept the doctrine of tithing, as now presented by President Snow, as the present word and will of the Lord unto us, and we do accept it with all our hearts; we will ourselves observe it, and we will do all in our power to get the Latter-day Saints to do likewise.” – cite

Now, ask yourself – if you heard what you knew to be the word of God, would you simply obey, or would you enhance the word of the Lord? On the other hand, what would make you announce you accept something to be the word of the Lord, proclaim your intent to obey, and also proclaim your intent to make sure everyone else obeyed it too?

17 Responses

  1. Good thoughts here that touch on why certain beliefs have developed in Mormon culture. Good to be reminded that we need to stick to the actual teachings of the Lord, His prophets, and His Church. Teachings like having seven women confirm what a man does in the Kingdom of God that have never before been taught in the history of the world need to be reconsidered carefully.

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    • In case anyone is interested, I heard an excellent fireside where a member of the then church curriculum committee explained that the 7 wives thing in Isaiah 4:1 is easily understood when the known symbolism of the scriptures is applied: the seven women being the seven churches, the one man is the Lord, the bread refers to the sacrament, the apparel to the covenant of the priesthood, taking the name of the Lord and the reproach being removed is the atonement making those left in Zion holy. Nothing really to do with anyone having seven wives. Sorry guys.

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  2. I can think of many examples of individuals who quietly accepted the word of God, obeyed it, shared with their friends what they had done, and then, in an attempt to answer the questions of their friends and family members, offered their reasoning for their acceptance and obedience to the word of God. Is offering an explanation to answer a query considered enhancing the word of God? Or is offering their own reasoning more of a witness, testimony and invitation for others to do the same?

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    • Did you read the entry I linked to from Denver Snuffer?

      Well, imagine Adam had said to the angel, “I offer sacrifices because the Lord really hates the firstlings of the flock so he’s ordered me to kill and burn them,” or something similar. I wonder if the angel would have explained its true significance.

      Or, suppose when someone heard Brigham Young, the Lion of the Lord, say “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the Priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it,” they thought “Ah-ha! The spirits of the Negros were fence-sitters in the war in heaven and that’s why they cannot hold the priesthood!” Someone, in fact, did that. Did they help or harm by teaching their reasoning? From the vantage of hindsight, they harmed. I am deliberately leaving aside whether the black priesthood ban was from God, which is something I do not know.

      Again, if the Lord says X, and you know it to be from the Lord, then if you teach X + Y, with Y being the enhancement, such as your own idea of why the Lord says X, and teach X + Y to others, if Y is found to be questionable or controversial or declared false, even though X is from the Lord, it has been devalued or discredited by association with Y, the supposed reason for X.

      This goes along with the fact that I, of myself, want the pure word of the Lord unmingled with the philosophies of men, and if I knew something to be from the Lord I would therefore teach the pure word of the Lord without mingling it with my suppositions or ideas.

      Now, someone might say I am guilty of mingling my philosophies with the word of the Lord in saying, for example, the Golden Rule entails all requests should be granted. But that’s actually a straightforward implication.

      1. If I want something to be done to me, then I should do it to others.
      2. When I ask someone for something, or to do something, I want them to do it.
      3. Therefore, when someone asks me for something, or to do something, I should do it for them.

      All requests should be granted. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

      The philosopher-lawyer will gag on it, and object: “But, what if you’re asked to do something that violates the golden rule? You just contradicted yourself!”

      But this is not so, thankfully. The commandments of God are, at the least, requests from God. If any request conflicts with a commandment of God, I am justified to God in honoring his request and rejecting the conflicting request, even though to the other requester, I am not justified. I am free to honor either request, but I receive my reward of him whom I obey. Thus it can be seen that the commandments of God are truly there for my general protection from having to abuse others at the request of men. The Golden Rule is always in effect.

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      • “Now, someone might say I am guilty of mingling my philosophies with the word of the Lord in saying, for example, the Golden Rule entails all requests should be granted. But that’s actually a straightforward implication.”

        Hi Log,

        I’ve actually thought a lot about some of the things you’ve said regarding the golden rule, and I think you’ve said many things of value, but I don’t think this idea that it entails that all requests should be granted really is “a straightforward implication.”

        It’s true that when someone makes a request of you, they want it to be granted, but the golden rule (properly stated) isn’t “do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

        That would imply that all requests that didn’t conflict with the commands of God (or, as you like to put it, with the higher riority requests of God) should be granted, but that’s not how the golden rule is stated.

        The golden rule (as Jesus stated it) is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

        And there is a very important difference here.

        If king Midas comes to you, and asks that everything he touches be turned to gold, and you have the power to grant this request, and the foreknowledge to see that he will eventually embrace his daughter and she will be turned into a lifeless statue of gold (or just the wisdom to know he will eventually touch a relative, friend, or pet who will be so effected, and that this will bring him great sadness), is it in keeping with the golden rule for you to grant his request?

        With his limitted knowledge, and his lack of wisdom or foresight, he certainly wants you to grant his request, but would you want that request granted if you were him?

        As a parent, let’s take some other examples.

        Your twelve year old son wants to play grand theft auto (like all his friends), and he not only wants you to let him have it, he wants you to let him play it when he should be doing his homework.

        In fact, he doesn’t like homework, or school, and wants to just stop going all together.

        Does the golden rule obligate you to grant his requests?

        Or say your sixteen year old daughter asks you to let her choose her own wardrobe.

        Say she’s not sexually active, and has no intention of doing anything wrong, but she wants to dress like some pop star.

        She chooses a mini skirt, high heels, and a peekaboo blouse.

        She asks you to let her have and wear these things (and lip stick, and make up) and to let her date a very nice older boy she’s sure would never do anything wrong.

        Do you let her?

        Again, the golden rule is not “do unto others as they would have you do unto them” but “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and I think there’s a real difference there.

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        • Forgive the typos (“limitted” should be “limited,” and “riority” should be “priority”), and let me point out that the 16 year old daughter isn’t asking you to break the golden rule.

          Not only does she want the high heels, the mini skirt, the peekaboo blouse, the lipstick and make up, and the older boyfriend, but the older boy would probably enjoy seeing her wearing lipstick, make up, high heels, mini skirt, and peekaboo blouse.

          If he had a vote, he would probably add his request to her’s.

          Her friends (who dress the same way), the parents (who let them), and the boyfriends (who probably have wandering eyes, and would enjoy seeing yet another healthy young girl dress that way) might add their requests to her’s too.

          All the world might.

          Does that mean that a good parent (trying to keep the golden rule, and to teach his daughter to keep the golden rule) whould have to let the girl have what she’s asking?

          Aren’t there times when good parenting involves denying a request, not because it conflicts with some higher priority request, but because you (as an adult) know that giving the the child the thing he or she is asking for just isn’t in the best interest of the child (no matter how much they want, or think they want, you to grant their request at the time)?

          Isn’t saying “no” part of good parenting?

          And isn’t it possible for a good parent to keep the golden rule?

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  3. I don’t understand why the resolution from B.H. Roberts is included. Are you suggesting that Lorenzo Snow was adding to the law of tithing?

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    • If you answer the questions I asked after the resolution from B. H. Roberts, I hope it becomes clear why I included his resolution in light of what came before it in the post.

      … or, at least, that my inclusion of the resolution becomes useful to you. The point I take from it may not be the point you take from it.

      The way to approach it might be for me to say, “You, Russell, are B. H. Roberts, and you proposed that resolution, thus adding to President Snow’s teachings. Why did you propose that resolution? What was in your heart?”

      I asked that question of myself, and I don’t think my answer will be your answer, but that’s how to use it.

      And I’m keeping my answer to myself. 😉

      And consider that “do[ing] all in our power to get the Latter-day Saints to do likewise” includes, today, barring people from the temple and all that is therein for noncompliance.

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      • On a tangentially related subject, I asked my daughter which course she would choose if the Lord asked her to do something.

        Would she:
        1. Obey in secret, or
        2. Announce her compliance and try to get others to comply as well?

        She responded with one word: “Trumpets.

        That’s my girl.

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  4. Yes this post is very interesting and deep introspection should be done by all. When we are baptized this symbolizes a covenant that we have, or are witnessing that we would like to make, that we will follow the word of The Lord, and none other.
    This means we keep our mind and eye single to God, and only trust what He says personally to us. The commandments of The Lord that are not to be added to or taken away from are the commandments that The Lord gives to us as individuals. The iron rod is personal revelation, not revelation given to others.
    If we accept one thing as truth that God has not spoken to us after we have made such a covenant with God we are sinning and in need of repentance. Here is some truth,
    28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, SUPPOSING THEY KNOW OF THEMSELVES, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. AND THEY SHALL PERISH. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 9)
    No matter how much revelation a person receives, once that person believes that there is one subject, no matter how big or small, that he does not need personal revelation on to know the truth of it, then he is trusting in the flesh and committing idolatry, and he is supposing he knows of himself.
    Even worse then this would be to ever teach a subject, no matter how logical it seems, or how many others claim the matter as truth or scripture, as truth, when the person has had no revelation on the matter. This is what is truly meant by going beyond the word of The Lord on any matter.
    “Wo unto those who shall say, we have received of the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough.”
    Many people have received a handful of spiritual experiences where true revelation is given, and then they believe they understand the whole, when only a few small things have been manifest. They are in danger of hellfire for thinking they know and can teach on subjects that The Lord has not spoken to them individually.
    Now churches call it faith to believe “scripture” and teachings that have never been confirmed by the Holy Ghost. This is the blind leading the blind, and this teaching is leading to damnation, and the opposite of faith.
    If we believe that the writing of other men, or the purported revelations and teachings of God to others equals the word of The Lord to us, then we are committing idolatry. It is so simple, and every individual somewhere in his heart knows the truth of it, and yet many are afraid of the simplicity, because it exposes how little they know, and how shaky their footing truly is.

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    • MoO,

      Thank you so much for your clear explanation of things I have previously tried to grasp.
      It should not be the case, but clarity is more rare than it could be.
      Thanks!

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    • When we are baptized this symbolizes a covenant that we have, or are witnessing that we would like to make, that we will follow the word of The Lord, and none other.

      This can be tested easily enough by my simply asking you what my “baptismal” covenant with God is. For you to get it right would be an interesting thing.

      The things you say may well be true for you, and thus your comments and posts may profitably be read as perhaps unintended self-revelation. I am not sure that what you say is true for others. After all, each one of us is a special unique snowflake, and our tests and covenants are unique to each of us, adapted to our capacities and our goals.

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  5. Yeah I think addimg to the Lords word is an area that you shouldnt go, but what about this?
    15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    That seems likehe’s proclaiming something to me.

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    • You’ll note that he’s not announcing his intention to make everyone else obey, but rather explicitly honoring their agency. Even his declaration that he and his house would serve the Lord was intended, it seems to me, as a tactic to persuade his hearers to obey the Lord, as opposed to manipulate them or set the stage to compel or coerce them.

      The distinctions are sometimes very fine.

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    • Yes I think this is a beautiful verse. To serve The Lord it definitely is a choice. To serve Him we must know how to serve and what He wants us to do, and that can only come by way of personal revelation. To trust others on how to serve The Lord, is exactly what it is, it is trusting something other than The Lord.

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  6. Good post. I think your topic underscores even more difficult conundrums in modern Mormonism, to wit: on the spectrum of good advice to commandment from God, how does communication from leaders go from one end to the other? Eg., the Word of Wisdom was specifically NOT given by way of commandment, yet by the 1930’s it was codified and now you can’t get into the temple without strict compliance therein. Even absent a “thus saith the Lord,” you would think Mormonism would at least require a “I’ve received inspiration through the Holy Spirit that the Lord wants us to do this.” Yet, for WOW enforcement, I’ve never seen any such expression. Heber Grant just picks up the assumption that this should now be a commandment (in line with the prohibition movement of his time) and voila, a new commandment. Is the present interpretation of the WOW an addition, a subtraction, or exactly what the Lord wants from his people in this regard? There must be a hundred similar difficulties in our doctrinal development. I think your post is good one, but it just barely scrapes the surface of tremendous troubles, in my opinion. I am unable to come to any good conclusions on these matters. Best.

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  7. When the further light and knowledge from the Father comes, that Joseph Smith tried to give the early saints but who rejected it and lost him from their midst because of it, then all flimsy excuses and rationalizations added on top of flimsy excuses and rationalizations will be shown for what they are. Truth will cut its own path, so long as people actually want it more than anything else.

    When people want peace with the world and are willing to sacrifice truth and higher laws to obtain it, God turns people over to the darkness of their own minds and binds them in the strong bands of their own delusions. We do not have clarity on even some of the simplest aspects of the Kingdom of God anymore, which is a testament that we are saturated with the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

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