Wisdom Through the Ages


I wish I could attend this upcoming conference. I’m grateful to those making the effort to broadcast portions of the conference live. Years ago, it was easier for me to get to the various lectures, symposia, conferences and fellowship gatherings. Life has become much more complicated. Click on the image on the left if you are interested in learning more about the conference to be held in Mesa 24-25 March 2018.

Another upcoming event that may be of interest to some, especially those in the Southern Utah area is a regional fellowship gathering to be convened 20-21 of January 2018 in Parowan. The invitation is posted publicly on Facebook and I’m sure you will be welcomed. Living in Southern California all my life, I’ve treasured the times I have been able to get to events like these. I’ve come to appreciate the value of fellowship among those who hold the same beliefs.

Fellowship in the Last Days

Two friends have asked me to answer a few questions publicly and share some thoughts on a difficult subject. This last day of the year seems like an opportune moment to do so. They have to do with why I continue to identify with or associate with the remnant movement and how this has affected my marriage. The question on marriage was, “How can I make my marriage work when my wife and I no longer believe the same things about the LDS Church?”

I made a very public statement a few years ago that got a lot of attention, at least among the LDS blogging community. I decided to get rebaptized after reading Denver’s books and attending a series of lectures on the gospel. In the early days of the LDS Church, it was a common thing to get rebaptized. Today, if you do so, you open yourself up to discipline from those who preside over your local congregation.

In my case, having served in numerous local leadership councils and not wanting to go through that process, I simply resigned my membership in the LDS Church. I don’t mean to imply I did so without much soul-searching and prayer. I spent many a night on my knees envisioning the ramifications of what I was about to do. My greatest concern was how this would affect my marriage. At times I was certain my wife would divorce me because of my decision.

The Rest of the Story

I was baptized over three years ago. Before I tell you how I think it’s going, let me add some background in response to my other friend’s questions. He asked me to record my thoughts in video format to post on the blog, Zion’s Return. I’m pondering that request. I did a video interview with KUTV a few years back about the LDS Church cracking down on bloggers. It’s funny how news organizations can ask enough questions to record a half hour of footage but only use two or three five-second snippets. I invite you to visit Zion’s Return.

Question One: “How did you come to find out about what the Lord is doing today and about this movement?” That’s an easy one to answer. I was standing in the Celestial room of the Los Angeles temple about six years ago when a friend asked me what I thought about Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. I said, “Denver who?” He repeated the name. “Never heard of him,” I said. End of conversation.

But the name stuck with me. Over the next few weeks, often while praying, that name would pop into my mind. I love to read about LDS Church History. Carol and I have a large library. I inherited many books from my parents who at one time had an LDS book store. I was in the habit of adding new books about the LDS Church to my library on a regular basis. Finally, after about three weeks, I bought the book on Amazon.

A Book that Changed my Life

Question Two: “What brought you to the point of feeling like something was missing in your spiritual life/journey?” I suppose I always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right with what I was being taught in the official curriculum and what I was reading in the books in our family library. My mother loved biography. She was a public school teacher and read voraciously. I’m fairly certain we had every biography published about the prophet.

Even after forty-five years I can still remember raising my hand in response to a question in seminary, responding with what I had read in one those biographies and receiving a blank stare from the teacher. She seemed a little uncomfortable. Finally, she said, “no, that’s not right,” and proceeded to read the official response from the approved curriculum. I asked my mother about it when I got home. Wisely, she asked me, “Well, what do you think?” I said I thought the teacher was wrong. “I’m just glad you’re reading, son.”

Living With Cognitive Dissonance

I learned to keep my thoughts to myself, or more accurately, I learned what the expected responses were to the typical questions and what the sources were for those questions that always come up when studying church history. I kept thinking if I just study harder I’ll understand things the way they were explained in the Sunday School manuals I taught from and the Institute manuals from which I later studied. I went on a mission, got married in the temple and began thirty-five years of service in Elder’s Quorum Presidencies, Bishoprics, High Councils, High Priest Group Leaderships and finally as the Stake Financial Clerk.

I saw the book had arrived when I came home from work a day or two after ordering PtHG, started my usual quick perusal of the book and ending up reading it until two o’clock in the morning. I simply could not put it down. Here was someone who had done the research, presented the evidence and let the reader draw their own conclusions. My prayer that night was one of the most memorable of my life. I knew my life was going to change forever. I finally had my answers. The cognitive dissonance lifted from my mind. I literally felt encompassed in light. This was not the first time I had experienced such a thing, but never this powerful.

Standing on Top of the Wall

Question Three: “What is the greatest blessing you have received since going [into] this movement and / or hearing the message the Lord is delivering in our day?” Again, another easy question. I have received a baptism that will be recognized when the angels begin to sweep the earth with the foretold destruction and, just as important, I have received a covenant that allows me to join with the Saints when they gather to Zion for protection from the events of the great and terrible day we read about in Matthew 24.

Because these answers may seem so out there, I sometimes feel like Samuel the Lamanite standing on the wall of Zarahemla. Let me be clear: The baptism to which I refer and the covenant I mentioned are not administered in the LDS Church today. Another blessing I hope to receive in time, if I live long enough, is to enter a temple to receive instruction directly from the Lord about walking in the paths of heaven. “But Tim,” I can hear you say, “You’ve already had those blessings since you were endowed in the LA Temple over forty years ago.”

The Process of Readmission

Question Four: “What insight/understanding do you now enjoy that you didn’t have before and how has that impacted your life?” I’ve been labeled crazy, deluded, deceived and possessed of a devil. My bishop at the time of my resignation wrote in his formal letter of response that went to my file in Salt Lake: “I fear your blindness has come from looking beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14).” He also noted that because I was under discipline for apostasy, approval from the First Presidency would be required for readmission.

I think the greatest insight or understanding I have received and now enjoy is the confidence of knowing my path is pleasing to the Lord. That is one of the things Joseph taught we must know to exercise faith in God. Carol and I have talked several times about starting that process of readmission to the LDS Church. While I enjoy attending sacrament meeting with Carol each Sunday and especially enjoy singing in the choir, I have felt there is no way I could write that letter to the First Presidency. There are still too many things taught in the LDS Church that I consider doctrinally damning, such as the concept of keys and authority.

The Reality of Baptism of Fire

Question Five: “Have you had any significant personal experience or witness that you can share that may benefit someone else who is seeking truth? * A witness that God answers prayer? *Baptism by fire? * Pivotal experience that shaped your spiritual journey?” This is a tough one, mainly because relating events from your life you consider sacred can be and are easily misunderstood. I still like President Packer’s analogy of explaining spiritual experiences to someone who has never had one: “My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt and you have not. I am [not] able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come…” If you want some fascinating responses to this anecdote, Google “Packer Salt Story.” Especially read the Reddit post.

However, unless two people share the same spiritual experience such as Joseph and Sydney, there can never be a complete unity or common understanding of what just happened. I know. I have tried on many occasions and in many posts on my blog. One is the baptism of fire I experienced when I was just seventeen. You can read it but may come away with only a cursory understanding that I had a nice long prayer and felt good when I was done. Yet, to me, it was a baptism of fire, pure and simple. I knew I had been in the presence of the Lord. I heard the voice of the Lord declaring I was His son, begotten of Him that day. I make no claim to having received the Second Comforter at that time nor any other promises or blessings besides forgiveness.

The Power of The Covenant of Christ

Question Six: How has your worship and relationship with God, your family and/or others changed because of the added truth you’ve received? Hmmm…while Carol and I have always read, studied and taught from the scriptures (we both taught seminary), we have implemented a practice of reading aloud and teaching each other from the scriptures every single night. Up until a few years ago it was hit and miss. We’d go for a few months then peter off. I treasure these nightly sessions of reading and teaching each other as the highlight of my day. Of course, I slip in insights gained from reading Denver’s commentaries. We’ve had some especially interesting discussions lately about what it really meant for the Savior to lay aside his glory, his exalted status.

There are some subjects we don’t discuss because they are too painful. For example, imagine how Carol feels as a fifth generation Mormon believing all her life that the highest LDS goal is to marry in the temple. She felt terribly betrayed when I resigned from the LDS Church. There are still bitter tears when the subject comes up in Sacrament meeting or especially when we read something about marriage in the scriptures. My relationships with others have changed. I am much more interested in people I work with every day, and how I can serve them. I attribute this directly to rebaptism and acceptance of the covenant of Christ at the September conference. Once again, let me express how grateful I am to those who arranged for me to participate from home.

Time to Fish or Cut Bait

Question Seven: “Is there a particular book or talk that impacted you profoundly (of Denver’s) that you can tell us about?” Well, I’ve already related my experience in reading Passing the Heavenly Gift. I suppose lecture ten in Phoenix / Mesa was profound for two reasons. It was the conference where Carol and I parted ways in our response to Denver’s message. Denver had gone out of his way to invite us to have dinner with him and his family before one of the lectures. Carol attended several of the lectures with me, but could not handle what she heard in lecture ten. So, it was a bittersweet experience for me. Here’s why:

On the drive home from the lecture, as Carol napped through the California desert, I had a long talk with the Lord about what had just happened. Lecture ten was not like the others. It was time to take action. I heard it clearly. I think Carol also felt it but was not prepared, and still isn’t, to make the kind of changes that were brought up at that last lecture. I knew I needed to show the Lord I believed his servant by an outward sign, the ordinance of baptism. This was a deep, profound, and thoroughly life-changing talk. By responding as I did, I knew I’d be laying everything on the line, all because I heard the voice of the Lord tell me the words of his servant Denver were pleasing to him, and required action if I wanted to continue to grow and progress spiritually.

The Lord of the Vineyard

Question Eight: “How [have] your family, friends and other relations been impacted by this, and how do you deal with that?  Why are you willing to risk everything for what you are learning?” Interestingly, my siblings have said nothing of my leaving the LDS Church. We still communicate regularly, get together occasionally and express our love for one another. My sister closest in age to me will be leaving to serve a mission in England in a few months. I recently had an interesting conversation with my niece about how millennials perceive the church. She sees so many of her friends who have left and attributes it to the stuff they find on the Internet. On the other hand, some members of Carol’s family are not happy with me and have told me so very clearly.

I knew this would happen. The Lord showed it clearly to me all those nights I was praying about it before I resigned. I am grateful to our local ward and stake leaders who continue to reach out to me with love, kindness and respect. I am still invited to and attend ward socials. I still sing in the ward and stake choirs and generally enjoy Sacrament meeting. The biggest impact this change has had on me is obviously on my marriage. Carol does not like it when I write in my blog, which is a major reason I stopped for so long and rarely write here anymore. You asked about risk. The greatest risk I face is in not doing as the Lord asks. He has asked me very plainly to do all I can to reassure Carol of my love for her and yes, be willing to apply for readmission if it is the only thing that will save my marriage. The Lord takes marriage seriously and so do I. Marriage is the fruit He labors to lay up in store.

The Gospel Brings Hope

Question Nine: “Why does all this matter so much to you?” I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else when it comes to the gospel of Christ. It should be important to everyone. What’s surprising to me is how many people can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church. Even the thought is abhorrent to so many who have opposed what I have shared on my blog. I can truly understand why Denver turned off comments on his blog years ago. I can only imagine the awful individual emails he receives from those who feel and express he has ruined their families. What a burden he must carry. I know a little about doing what the Lord asks, meaning, I have felt the displeasure of the Lord when I have been slow to hearken after I’ve asked for His direction.

This matters because it gives me hope. I have a goal in my old age to see Zion established, and that’s not going to come about through a large institution. The signs are becoming more and more evident that we are living in the generation that will see the return of the Lord. I rejoiced when I heard that a temple is to be a part of this effort to establish Zion. I want to contribute to the building of that temple. I want my name to be in the book that will be presented to the Lord when the temple is completed. I am grateful to know there literally is a book being kept and that my name is in it today. That baptism is so essential. Oh, how I wish more people understood this. I am saddened by but understand why so many can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church.

Receiving the Higher Priesthood

Question Ten: “Anything of your background, briefly, that may have been worth noting at the beginning that would enhance what is shared.” There’s no way I can condense ten years of blogging into ten questions. I started my blog with the intention of providing sensible answers to all the misinformation about the LDS Church that was popping up on the Internet. Along the way I kept finding more and more legitimate questions being asked by young people who had real concerns about what they were reading in newly-available historical records and what they were being taught in the official curriculum of the LDS Church.

There’s a lot to love about what this great institution has accomplished, but it became obvious, at least to me, that something very basic was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it so, like so many others, I put my concerns on the shelf. If I had not read PtHG I would probably still be serving somewhere in the Stake as a clerk, which for some reason I seem to do well, probably because I manage computer networks for a living. Two fundamental things changed. I realized open revelation had ceased with Joseph Smith. I also came to understand the priesthood very, very differently. The Higher Priesthood is not received the way it is taught in the LDS Church. It must come by hearing the voice of God declare it unto you.

Concluding Thoughts on Marriage

To my friend who asked for advice on how to make his marriage work when he no longer believed as his wife, I can only offer the following: Put yourself in her shoes for a minute. Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Being right is not as important as being kind. I’ve referred to it earlier and I’ll reiterate it here. If the Lord were to ask me to apply for readmission to the LDS Church. I would do it in a heartbeat, especially if it would bring happiness to another, in this case, to Carol. I have received baptism in the way I believe the Lord has asked and have accepted the covenant of Christ as it was offered.

I can’t imagine the LDS Church asking me to deny or retract the covenant I have made with Christ, can you? It seems to me one should be able to worship and fellowship in the LDS Church or the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church or any fellowship that acknowledges Christ. A man can believe what he wants in the LDS Church. I’ve heard some pretty crazy things over the years from someone everyone would consider an orthodox member. Knowing what I know now about keys, I can sustain the Brethren. In fact, I do so every time we have a stake conference. I can pay tithing to the LDS Church but I would pay it differently than I have all my life because I understand it differently now. But who am I to give advice on marriage? Go talk to the Lord.

Update: The Video is up on YouTube. It’s about thirty minutes: https://youtu.be/_MD6wlP4LAA

As an alternative, I’ve also posted it on my domain site here: http://3tcm.net/TimMaloneStory01012018.mp4

 

Therefore Shall a Man Cleave Unto His Wife


sealing-room-altarOn September 13 2014, I submitted a letter of resignation from the LDS Church to my local leader. I had thought long and hard about my decision and confirmed it in prayer several times. What I did not do was to tell my wife in advance of my action, but I think she saw it coming. If you understand what the LDS Church teaches about temple marriages, you will agree with me Carol is indeed a wonderful woman.

For those who don’t know, the LDS Church teaches the most important thing a man and woman can do in this life is to marry in an LDS Temple and remain married throughout their mortal lives. Carol has the advantage in this situation. She did not resign from the LDS Church, therefore, it is believed and taught she will be given to or allowed to choose any worthy man who remains faithful in the kingdom of Heaven.

I, on the other hand, am damned forever, according to LDS doctrine, unless I repent, renounce what I have done, subscribe again to the baptismal requirements, am baptized again as a member of the LDS Church, and eventually, after a long period of probation, have my temple blessings restored, a process which requires authorization from the First Presidency or the highest leadership of the LDS Church.

Traditions of Their Fathers

SaltLakeTempleNightI have detailed this previously, but to summarize, Carol is a fifth-generation member of the LDS Church. On the other hand, my family are converts from the 1960’s, with only two out of the eight considered active today, my parents having passed on in the last decade. They had informally left the church earlier. Tradition is a powerful influence in Carol’s spiritual life, which I believe I understand and deeply respect.

Sometimes I am simply amazed at the depth of Carol’s love of the Lord and tolerance for me. If you can put yourself in her shoes for a moment, I’m sure you can understand the loss she has suffered. On ward temple night, she goes alone. She knows I partake of the sacrament using wine. The very idea of wine in her home has deep personal repugnance, her grandfather having lost his legs and died as an alcoholic.

She often comments, wondering aloud really, why those who leave the church are so vocal in their comments about how anyone could belong to such a deluded organization. It hurts her to hear or read such material. She has seen it firsthand from some of the people I have chosen to associate with in various fellowship groups. I feel similarly about some things said by LDS members and Church leaders.

Study, Ponder, Pray

libraryfrontroom.jpg

I still attend our main church meeting with Carol each Sunday. She asked this of me and I still dearly love so many of our friends we have associated with over the years. It is difficult at times to hear what I now consider subtle innuendos and even outright lies from the pulpit (I don’t attend classroom activities), from good people who have NOT studied things out and are simply repeating what others have said.

I considered myself an orthodox Mormon for all my life. I served an LDS mission at age nineteen. I met my wife through the LDS Church Young Single Adult program and married in the temple shortly after. As is fairly normal, I served for over twenty-five years in various teaching and leadership positions and did my best to make my private worship practice something that would give me spiritual strength each day.

I am a computer professional and spend almost all day every day on the Internet. It is a part of my job. When I take breaks I would go read what others were writing about the LDS Church and participate in the ongoing dialog on many of the blogs and chat groups. I like to consider myself well-read, or at least I can say I have contributed a lot of money to Deseret Book over the years in building my well-stocked library.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

ezekial-chariotThe subjects of my blog were almost always on my mind for eight years. I thought about, studied about and wrote about the basic history and doctrines in a manner I hoped would be helpful to those who were serious about learning more about the LDS faith. Of course, as anyone can tell you who has done a serious study of Mormon history, the LDS Church white-washed, covered up and lied about much of it.

I have been pondering the idea of seeking re-admittance to the LDS Church. Why would I do such a thing? Mainly to strengthen my marriage. “Don’t do it for me,” Carol says. She is right. So I continue to ponder, pray and study. My greatest desire is to do the will of the Lord. We each have spiritual gifts. I like to think I have at least some sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. In other words, I hear His voice.

This is not a unique claim, one that has certain requirements of course, but is highly sought after by most members of the LDS Church I know. If a Mormon says to you, “I don’t want to hear the voice of the Lord,” I would translate that to mean, “I don’t want to do what I’m afraid I might hear,” Likewise, it is, or was, a long-time aspiration of faithful Mormons to come into the presence of the resurrected Lord.

Receive the Second Comforter

carl_bloch_the_christThis idea – embracing the Lord as a mortal – is a hot topic of debate today, at least among those who think it has significance. Some have told me, “It doesn’t matter. Just endure to the end and all will be well.” Did we not at one time teach it is worth any sacrifice to embrace the Lord while yet in this life? That’s the debate: Should we seek to come into the presence of the Lord? Or simply endure to the end?

Those who quote Joseph (and I’m certain I’ve shared this quote a dozen times on this blog), are looked upon by most as being quacks. The correlated material found in the LDS manuals today does not include this doctrine of seeking an audience with the Lord. This is the main doctrine I studied for two years before I decided I didn’t want to be part of an organization that almost NEVER brought this up.

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him,

“Potshots at the Brethren”

quorum-twelve-april-2016“and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”  TPJS, 149-151

Well, actually, there was much more to my decision that this. I met with my Bishop for a year to discuss my concerns. I was serving in the Stake Presidency at the time. He didn’t seem to have any problems with my questions. I figure he just accepted such things as part of my private gospel study. One time I quoted a General Authority saying we needn’t be concerned with this specific doctrine. My bishop reacted.

I won’t say he was upset. He’s a good man in control of his emotions. His statement, as I recall and recorded it, is that I was “taking potshots at the Brethren.” That got me thinking. Why is this doctrine so divisive? Is it not desirable? Does it not motivate? I will say, without a doubt, the idea of coming into the presence of the Lord is a thousand times more motivating to me than the idea of regular temple service.

Teaching the Word of the Lord

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI want to have the Lord abide with me. That is the promise of the Second Comforter. I will do anything asked of the Lord to obtain this goal. It befuddles and amazes me when good brethren in my High Priest group told me I was wrong to bring this subject up, that enduring to the end is ALL that is required. That was the last time I attended a High Priest Group meeting. It seems their minds are made up forever.

I am saddened by the reports I read of husbands writing they will no longer be participating in some of the online groups that are out there – the ones Elder Ballard said in which we should be involved. I have also made that decision. I do not comment on the blogs anymore and I rarely write one. The reason given? The wife holds the upper hand. Divorce is threatened. “You teach correlated stuff or you’re out of here.” * See my comment below. This is NOT quoting Carol but was shared by an online friend in sorrow.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife. He has a responsibility to lead his family in righteousness. It is a sad thing we have relegated that responsibility as to what we believe to those who write the correlated doctrinal manuals that are used in the LDS Church today. The word of the Lord should come from God and the head of the family, not from some committee writings.

 

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?

The Power of Wise Communication


Small Christ teachingThe opportunity to communicate has increased a thousand fold in recent years. The power of the internet has made it possible to reach one individual at a time or thousands at one time. We live in a magnificent age.

Whether we communicate face to face or online, apparently the ability to communicate effectively has diminished. In a recent poll by Dan Jones & Associates, it was found that Utah based companies complained that people coming into the present workforce are lacking some serious skills, one being communication.

A common complaint was that companies are having to spend a lot of time and money training people in “sensitivities and cultures and how to do business.” My son, an attorney, has difficulty hiring front desk personnel that know how to communicate effectively. “Sometimes they are abrupt, blunt and discourteous without even recognizing it,” he said. It does not speak well of our education or culture.

Online communication has made it much easier to get away with “blunt and discourteous” communication. Perhaps online “bullying” has contributed to the face to face intimidation we are witnessing in our schools today.

No matter the mode used, ineffective communication stunts the opportunity to be heard or be considered a credible terminal for information.

Point of View

Beliefs are determined by our education and our experience. Beliefs form our point of view. Our views change as we learn and experience new things. Our view of life is “Our Truth” and may or may not be in line with anyone else, let alone eternal truths. We hold them dear.

We, spend a lot of time defending our point of view and trying to get others to change theirs. Various tactics of persuasion are used to give authority to our “Truths” such as polls, research, higher degree of education, the priesthood, the scriptures, the Ensign and “The Lord told me”. There is nothing wrong with this, however, some methods of communicating our message is more effective than others. The question is, does my method of communication “Work” to persuade or do I set myself up to be rejected and even persecuted?

Sound Relationships

Years ago I found this helpful model which helped me to understand how relationships work. It’s called the ARC triangle. The bottom corners of the pyramid are “Affinity” and “Reality.” The top of the pyramid is “Communication”. A break in any side of the triangle is a break in the relationship. If not handled, the relationship will suffer and may not last.arc

Affinity: closeness, harmony, bond, in accord. Do you like the person? Do you want to be near them, have a bond with them?  Do they have affinity toward you?

Reality: actuality, truth, realism, real life. Do you see eye to eye?  Are your beliefs and values the same? Is your view point on how to execute those values alike, compatible or at least workable?

Most relationship breaks comes within the “Reality” arena. Points of view have changed and are no longer compatible. The further apart your “Reality” is, the less “Affinity” you will feel for each other. You no longer want to be in the other persons presence because you don’t have anything in common.

Communication: When effective communication occurs, you have the opportunity come to understand the other person’s reality, or “point of view” and it make it a lot easier to be around each other. This does not mean you have to agree on everything. When the relationship allows for some differences and has mutual respect for variation of reality, the relationship has a better chance of lasting.

However, when we stand firmly in our ”Point of View”, with intent of making the other party “Wrong”, walls go up and we become the offensive party which forces defensive tactics by the other party and “War” begins. It seems that nothing brings out strong positions like politics and religion do. Look at the death and destruction that both of these topics have caused within the human family. Under certain circumstances, it may be wise to use caution and constraint when addressing these two issues.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is “Wise” communication. It is knowing who your audience is and staying within a framework that does not “Shoot” others down by our actions, words, or tone before we have a change to persuade them to consider a new way of thinking about any subject.

Sometimes “Wise” communication is “No” communication. There are some people and organizations that will never see another view point. Often, it is because they have so much time and energy invested in it to concede.To even entertain different ideas would be too embarrassing, hurtful or literally cause their death.

Christ was the ultimate “Wise” person when it came to communication. He understood his audience and acted accordingly.

  1. In some groups, he spoke in parables. Those who had ears and hearts to hear would get the message. Those who were not ready or in tune would leave, perhaps a little confused, but no worse for wear.

  2. With his enemies, he was discreet and answered questions with questions rather than cause open contention. His followers were always watching to see how He would handle sensitive subjects.

  3. He gave credit where credit was due… giving recognition to Ceasar that which was Ceasar’s and that which was God’s to God. In other words, he acknowledged authority.

  4. There were times when Christ did not speak or respond to his accusers. He knew their intent was to “Make Wrong” or entrap.This was especially true after his arrest. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.” When confronted by Pilate, he did not speak. “And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.” He knew when it was futile to try and change hearts and minds.

  5. However, in other groups, those who were like minded, such as his apostles and His people on the American continent, he was more direct and open, yet sensitive.

He was “The Master” in the way he taught and communicated. He was effective in each situation he was in, careful not to openly cause contention. He was a wise teacher. He understood the power of “Wise” communication.

We Have a Little Problem

This blog, as well as many others online, have a “Point of View” on the restoration of the gospel, how the gospel is taught, how scriptures are interpreted, and how the LDS church is managed, which often runs contrary to traditional thinking. These blogs have attracted many like minded people who desire to discuss gospel issues in light of new information and a new understanding of gospel matters.

Even though we seem to have much in common, there is often much contention when issues are discussed. The “I Am Right” attitude often disrupts meaningful dialogue. That is not to say that opposing points of view should not be discussed. It is more often the manner in which issues are discussed, not the subject matter.

So often, the “I Am Right” heels are firmly dug in and the war begins. In the end, everyone goes back to their corner, with no change of thought. This happens when persuasive methods, as taught in D&C 121 (persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness, without hypocrisy), have not been applied. There often is a tendency to jump to verse 43: “Reproving betimes with sharpness…” assuming the Holy Ghost will uphold this strategy before all else has been tried.

There are times when the wise response is “No” response. It is best to let them have their way, especially when you know they want to contend or entrap.

Above all, we are guests of the blog owner and that should be respected. A sour tone may repel readers, and that is not fair.

Caution To Be Considered

Another caution should be considered. It is not appropriate to be combative in private territory, whether it is in a home, an LDS meeting house, temple, or privately owned grounds. They are not a place to openly oppose their beliefs, interpretation and standards, whether we believe their understanding is correct or not. By the nature of the LDS organization, we are not their advisers and they can run things any way they please. Like it or not, those who serve as officers in that organization have the duty to abide and defend the traditional standards whether we concur with the model or not. If they disagree, they should not be holding such positions because they represent the organization.

There may be unintended consequences in digging in our heals to defend our point of view. If we choose that course, one must be willing to risk rejection. The Corporate Church has a right to cut loose anyone they feel have views which are contrary or threaten their system. That is the nature of a corporation. Unfortunately, we have recently seen much fallout for those who have openly not seen eye to eye with the traditional thinking.

An Example

For example, whether one agrees with the “Ordain Women” cause or not, marching on Church property and appearing at the door of a traditionally held “Men Only” meeting was not the way to persuade, influence, or convince the Brethren of the validity of their mission.Their forceful approach did not work and their tactics turned against them. Now they spend much time “kicking against the pricks” still loudly defending their point of view. Are many still listening or care?

On the other hand, my personal opinion is, the Brethren did not handle the situation very well either. It may have been much more productive to have given Kate Kelly an audience with one of the Apostles rather than having their position related to her through a PR department. After all, the impetus for asking them to “Ask God” if women could received the priesthood came from a review of the Joseph Smith papers. Their public response to her appeared rude and disrespectful in light of her request.

Simply put, both sides dug in their “Point of View” heels and neither side faired very well in the end.

When comments or instructions are given in a class, one must examine intent. Is it to “Make Wrong” or to teach and inform? “Make Wrong” never works and care must be given when teaching others concepts which are contrary to traditional beliefs. Like Christ’s example, understanding your audience is paramount in knowing what technique of persuasion should be used and when to be quiet. Communication can be powerful if conducted wisely.

A Communication Blunder

About six months ago, I got caught using unsuccessful communication methods when I was “Defending my Point of View” on the subject of “Follow The Prophet.” My attempt to persuade a sister that we should “Follow Christ First” was anything but successful. It caused contention. Even though we are still friends, there is an element of discomfort when we see each other. My tactic simply did not “Work”.

whats-wrong-with-this-pictureSome time later, I found this photo on Facebook and sent it to a group of friends via e-mail.The title of the e-mail was, “What Is Wrong With This Picture.” There was no more dialog concerning the photo. Several did not respond at all, while four others did. “Sorry, I can’t see anything wrong”.

This was my reply: “Where is Christ? I have a concern that through this bulletin board, children may not understand that we “Follow Christ.” We listen to the wise counsel of our leaders as they point us to Christ, but we follow Christ first. Having Christ acknowledge first on the bulletin would have be more correct.

The response was positive and met with no resistance. “Oh my, you are right. I see it now.” Seeds were planted to think differently about the subject. When the issue comes up again, perhaps they will remember our dialog. My approach was much more successful the second time around.

This is certainly a subject I would not bring up in a class. By the very nature of the subject, it would cause contention and the chances of effectively changing any point of view would be practically nil. For this subject, a one on one conversation is probably more appropriate, but not in the Church building.

May We Do Likewise

Whether we are dealing with friends, co-workers, family or members of the LDS church, how we communicate is as important or more important than the message we are trying to deliver. Broken relationships are much harder to repair than to prevent a break by using good communication skills that “Work”.

When communicating, ask yourself… “What is the fruit of my “Point of View?”  “Do I cause repeated contention?”  Also, “Do I want it to “Work” or would I rather be “Right”.

Christ is our example for using all of the qualities of influence as described in D&C 121: 40-46 and in other scriptures.

May we do likewise.

Apologies to Tim’s Readers


This is a guest post by Log.

rsz_geeky-apologies

I wish to apologize to Tim’s readers for my post entitled “What Manner of Men?”. While I believe wholeheartedly in the principles advanced, my capacity to observe those principles is limited, and I failed to observe them in the comment section to the post. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize to those whom I offended. I have asked Tim to take down that post.

Note from Tim: I loved the post. It is doctrinally sound. I have pondered it for several days. I have Log’s permission to repost. This is a great opportunity for us to show love to one another – online – using the principles Log outlined in the post. As I noted in one of the earlier comments, I consider Log a dear friend. I have prayed about this and feel the post should be made available.

What Manner of Men?


Note from Tim: This is a guest post from Log. I’m hopeful he will be willing to share more with us in the future. The post is inspired by this verse in 3 Ne 27:27.

NephiAndBrothersContention

We had ought to treat our fellow man as though they were Jesus Christ himself.

When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats; the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. And he shall sit upon his throne, and the twelve apostles with him.

Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. (JST Matthew 25:32-47)

This includes in our online interactions.

And Jesus said, O ye generation of vipers! how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.

And again I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (JST Matt 12:29-32)

The Church of Christ is defined thusly.

Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. (D&C 10:67)

Teachers have the following duty.

The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty. They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ. (D&C 20:53-55, 59)

Evil speaking means “slander; defamation; calumny; censoriousness.”

Slander, as a noun, means “a false tale or report maliciously uttered. and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing him to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of living; defamation; disgrace; reproach; disreputation; ill name.”

As a verb, slander means “to defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.”

Defamation means “the uttering of slanderous words with a view to injure another’s reputation; the malicious uttering of falsehood respecting another which tends to destroy or impair his good name, character or occupation; slander; calumny.”

Calumny means “slander; false accusation of a crime or offense, knowingly or maliciously made or reported, to the injury of another; false representation of facts reproachful to another, made by design, and with knowledge of its falsehood.”

Censuriousness means “disposition to blame and condemn; the habit of censuring or reproaching; the quality of being censorious.”

Censorious means “addicted to censure; apt to blame or condemn; severe in making remarks on others, or on their writings or manners – often implying ill-nature, illiberality, or uncharitableness; as, a censorious critic; implying or expressing censure; as, censorious remarks.”

Thus it is part of a teacher’s role to instruct the Church against these things.

It is also the role of high priests to teach the commandments of God unto his children.

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (Alma 13:1-2)

In part to facilitate the teaching of the people, scripture has been given.

And all scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (JST 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture is written words which come from God.

And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth— and this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. (D&C 68:2-5)

One is only the servant of God inasmuch as he speaks the word of God and does his will.

And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity. (JST Matt 7:24-33)

Malice, backbiting, evil-speaking, contention, and all other evils expressed in speech do not come from God.

And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:32-33)

Such things come from the devil.

There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:28-30)

Contention has, as its essential meaning, “contest” or “dispute.”

Malice essentially means “enmity,” which itself is a descriptor of the “me vs. you” feeling / mentality.

False prophets are those who falsely profess to have or speak by the Spirit of God. They have malice towards others, and the fruit thereof may be discerned because they dispute and contend, seeking to establish their positions against others, in particular about matters of doctrine, and quite often seek to make their opponents seem worthy of censure.

The word “prophet” means “spokesman.” Prophets speak the word of God by the power of the Spirit (D&C 68:2-5, referred to above). Where the Spirit of God is silent, so also is the prophet, if he is acting as such.

We have been counseled thusly: “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14)

The Spirit of God will establish the word of God in the honest hearer’s heart.

Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand.

Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.

Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.

And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. 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. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:11-24)

If you hear a man speak by the power of the Spirit and receive not his words, it is because you are not of God.

He that is of God receiveth God’s words; ye therefore receive them not, because ye are not of God. (JST John 8:47)

Judgement

The same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord. Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:19-20)

Christ commanded us thusly.

Judge not according to your traditions, but judge righteous judgment. (JST John 7:24)

Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment. For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (JST Matt 7:1-3)

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. (JST Luke 6:37)

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (3 Nephi 14:1-5)

Just judges do not pretend to read the hearts or minds of others. A just judge judges according to the light of Christ and the revelations of God, which is a major theme of Moroni 7. A just judge will withhold judgement until God makes the truth known unto him.

And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93:24-25)

Unjust judges make the unwarranted leap from outward appearances to inward intent. Thus may they be discerned – they accuse. Any standard of judgement which would condemn God, Christ, or their servants when acting as such is an unjust judgement, or, in other words, an accusation.

The judgements of God is that the truth about you is made known. This is either through voluntarily confessing, or through involuntary revelation at a most inopportune time. Those who voluntarily confess, forsake, and forgive shall find mercy.

Justice

The justice of God is that you go with that society with whom you are most comfortable – whose behavior you mirror. If you are an accuser, you shall go with the accusers. If you obey the Celestial Law, you go with that society.

The Celestial Law is this: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” All other precepts are but specific examples of how to keep this law.

Zion is built upon this law.

Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people—behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.

But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; and Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. (D&C 105:1-6)

There are many who style themselves disciples of Christ but keep not the law. These, who suppose they shall inherit Zion, shall find themselves disappointed by and by.

Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together. For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed. And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them.

Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth. Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled. And verily I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious; yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure—unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man.

Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (D&C 1:1-16)

For in that day, before the Son of man shall come, he shall send forth his angels and messengers of heaven. And they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them out among the wicked; and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. For the world shall be burned with fire. (JST Matt 13:42-44)

“The kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” (D&C 105:32)

The entry requirement for Zion is simple: “And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.” (Moses 7:27)

This is the meaning of the wedding garment.

And Jesus answered the people again, and spake unto them in parables, and said, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son. And when the marriage was ready, he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come.

Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my oxen, and my fatlings have been killed, and my dinner is ready, and all things are prepared; therefore come unto the marriage. But they made light of the servants, and went their ways; one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

But when the king heard that his servants were dead, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready; but they who were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not a wedding garment. And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Then said the king unto his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take and cast him away into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few chosen; wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment. (JST Matt 22:1-14)

What makes you think you will be welcome in Zion? Even if you got in, what makes you think you will survive the culling, wherein the angels shall sever the wicked from the just, casting out those who do not have the Spirit?

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels; but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world. And the world is the children of the wicked. The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them out into the world to be burned. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (JST Matt 13:48-51)

“The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.” (Helaman 4:24)

Therefore, Repent.

“[Christ] hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.” (2 Nephi 26:27)

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. (2 Nephi 25:29)

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Mosiah 4:9-10)

And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king—how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen. And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name. And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying: O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead….

[Aaron] put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth, and said unto him: Stand. And he stood upon his feet, receiving his strength…. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord. (Alma 22:12-23)

Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth. (3 Nephi 11:31-41)

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32-33)

Looking Beyond the Mark


HebrewTav1It the LDS Church today, we often hear the phrase, “Looking Beyond the Mark.” Those who read the scriptures know this comes from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. This is a uniquely LDS phrase, not found in the Bible. Jacob was teaching the people about Christ, who, of course, is the mark in question. Keep that in mind. Christ is the mark, not the LDS Church.

Anything that causes you to look past Christ for salvation is looking beyond the mark. Anything that takes you away from coming unto Christ is looking beyond the mark. Anyone who stands in between you and your Savior can cause you to look beyond the mark. Anything, any system, any person or any church that purports to be able to save you is deflecting your view from the mark.

From this verse, sermons have been preached, lessons have been written, actions have been justified and individuals have been condemned. Ironically, when someone focuses on coming unto Christ, and doing all within their power to respond to the promptings of the spirit, others may perceive them as engaging in a gospel hobby, accusing them of looking beyond the mark.

Here is the verse in question:

“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

Elder Cook spoke about this subject. He said, “Today there is a tendency among some of us to ‘look beyond the mark’ rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described.”

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

Elder Cook got it … sort of. I like the phrase “maintain a testimony of gospel basics,” but I’m fairly certain he would not discount these words from Joseph when he said, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (TPJS, p 299)

Roy Doxy, when he was dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University taught this important doctrine in the July 1976 Ensign. This one article alone answered so many questions for me back when I preparing for my mission. I have treasured it and wondered why we have not had more articles, talks or lessons like this in our correlated instructional material.

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/07/accepted-of-the-lord-the-doctrine-of-making-your-calling-and-election-sure?lang=eng

The reason I think Elder Cook understands this doctrine is because he clearly points out the mark is Christ. It is only the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ that saves. Elder Cook concluded, “One of the great challenges of this life is to accept Christ for who He is: the resurrected Savior of the world, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, our Advocate with the Father.

“When He is the foundation for all that we do and are, we avoid the theological blindness that results from looking beyond the mark, and we reap the glorious blessings He has promised us. ‘Come unto me, ye blessed,’ He tells those who follow Him; ‘there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father’ (Enos 1:27).”

Source: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/03/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

Elder Dean Larson spoke on the same subject back in 1987. He used a sports analogy to describe the importance of staying within the circle, which he called the mark. Although He noted the importance of faith in the redeeming role of the Messiah, he said the mark was wisdom and prudence, equating it to a circle of fundamental gospel truths, providing a basis for that faith. I wish he had been as plain as Elder Cook in stating Christ is the mark to whom we should look.

Source: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

For a good, although lengthy analysis of the phrase, Paul Y. Hoskisson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, published an essay in 2007 that includes the classic symbolic themes and metaphors of gospel hobbies, sin, pride, wealth, and strengths that become weakness (see Elder Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU, June 1992). In other words, anything that distracts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.

Source: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selected-articles/looking-beyond-mark

From Matthew Faulconer’s blog, “Feast Upon the Word,” we read:

“…looking beyond Christ could mean a number of things. It could imply that one is looking to be saved by actions, ordinances, or even associations with other people, rather than looking to the atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. One reason it may be easy to look beyond the mark in this sense is that it is easier to gain an assurance of our salvation through a tangible feeling or action rather than a quiet voice or a small feeling that takes time to understand.”

Source: http://feastupontheword.org/Jacob_4:1-18

Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

Elder Oaks offered the following in a BYU Idaho devotional 7 Nov 2006:

“My second subject of wisdom concerns looking beyond the mark. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Jacob described a people who ‘despised the words of plainness, . . . and sought for things . . . they could not understand’ (Jacob 4:14).  He said this caused them to fall because when persons are ‘looking beyond the mark,’ God takes away plainness and gives them what they sought–things they cannot understand.

“We see this today. For example, some persons write General Authorities asking when we will be returning to Missouri or how we should plan to build up the New Jerusalem.  Others want to know details about the Celestial Kingdom, such as the position of a person who lives a good life but never ever marries.

“I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know is that persons worrying about such things are probably neglecting to seek a firmer understanding and a better practice of the basic principles of the gospel that have been given to them with words of plainness by the scriptures and by the servants of the Lord

“If we neglect the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, we are starting down a path that often leads to a loss of commitment and sometimes to a loss of faith. There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand.”

Source: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2006_11_07_Oaks.htm

Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

I think that’s enough detail from words of prophets, apostles, general authorities and scriptural commentary to make a point. I won’t get into the other common definition of the mark, as found in Ezekiel 9:4-6. It is the mark or anointing placed in the forehead of suffering saints who sigh and cry for the sins of those in their cities. The mark is placed there by their attending angels.

The point is this: Seeking to enter into the presence of the Lord in this mortal life is NOT looking beyond the mark. It is NOT a gospel hobby. It is NOT gospel extremism. Seeking to receive the Second Comforter is NOT something of which we need to repent. It is something we need to do. It is not spiritual blindness. It is having one’s eyes opened. The Lord is not saddened by our efforts in this area, even when they are misunderstood and result in being disciplined by others.

I suspect when scriptures or doctrines are understood differently by individuals, the tendency is to say the other person is suffering from “blindness [that] came from looking beyond the mark.” It’s a polite way of throwing one’s hands up in the air, saying, “You don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you see it the same way I do? Oh, I get it. You’re blinded. You refuse to see the truth.” With such thinking, they go on their way, feeling secure and justified in their own conclusions.

Discussion versus Contention

That’s a sad way of relating to others. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to understand the other’s point of view? I confess I have been guilty of impatience in relating to others, both in person and here on my blog. For that I apologize. I love discussion, but abhor contention. I am a witness that contention causes the spirit to withdraw. So does taking offense. I’m preaching to myself here.

Most of my readers know I have withdrawn my membership from the LDS Church. I’ve tried to share my reasons why. I’ve had my share of public and private dialogs and conversations about my decision. Most have tried to be understanding and kind. I appreciate that. I don’t endorse my path for anyone unless God tells you. I received that confirmation as the best for my situation.

If I come to regret my decision, feel I’ve made a mistake and desire to be readmitted by baptism to the LDS Church, I must receive approval of a representative of the First Presidency, this even though I was not placed under formal probation before I resigned. This is understandable. In my blog, I have been clear I felt the Lord sent a servant with a message from outside the hierarchy.

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

I seek to come unto Christ. I made a decision to be baptized in a manner that is slightly different from the way it is done in the LDS Church today. I also decided to participate in the sacrament in a slightly different manner from the way it is administered in the LDS Church today. Finally, I practice an order of prayer learned in a sacred place that I feel brings more power into my life.

I like to think I have kept all the good things I had in the LDS Church. I have disagreements with the manner in which the church is trying to control those who blog as a way of learning things. I am certain of the path I have chosen. Much like Brigham Young, I studied it for years before I acted. I take that back. I acted the first night I read the message. I prayed and asked God about it.

I recognize what I have done is unusual, different, unorthodox and certainly not the path that is accepted by the LDS Church. Thus, I resigned, knowing I would eventually be excommunicated. Why? Because I will not, I cannot deny what I have learned through study and prayer. Many claim I have been deceived. Perhaps. We shall see. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf.

 

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