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Friday, October 18, 2013

208: A FINE CONGREGATION... YES, THEY ARE A GOOD PEOPLE.


Twice a year, our Church leaders speak to a worldwide congregation and share messages they have felt inspired to give to the members of the Church. I listened intently to each of their talks. It helps me get a pulse on the state of the Church as I hear the current messages that are given.  In the opening remarks in his General Conference address, President Thomas S Monson stated the following,

"It has been just over 183 years since the Church was organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith, under the direction of the Lord.  At that meeting on April 6, 1830, there were six members of the Church present. I am happy to announce that two weeks ago,  the membership of the Church reached 15 million. The Church continues to grow steadily and  to change the lives of more and more people every year."
 
Much has transpired over the course of 183 years, and not just with the membership numbers increasing from six members to 15 million.

While most members of the church are not aware of this, I heard this from a recent talk.  "We [meaning the members of the Church] got off on rather a ragged foot at the beginning of the restoration of the Gospel. How fully we got off on that ragged foot is not well enough appreciated by Latter-day Saints, who choose to see a sort of uniform continuity of progression, from that moment until today, in a rather uninterrupted course of forward momentum. When in fact, Joseph Smith had to fight against terrible opposition inside of the church to get the doctrine he was trying to establish established". Ezekiel chapter 14 was a topic that he raised early. And he raised it again at the time of the Relief Society organization in Nauvoo. Go read Ezekiel chapter 14. Go look at what Joseph Smith was concerned about. He's talking to people who accepted him as a Prophet. And yet they were more interested in getting from him what they wanted, instead of receiving from him what the Lord wanted to give."

What they wanted was a New Testament Church.  Over the past hundred years, the Church has become the focus, after all, it is the only true Church on the face of the earth.

For reference, I created a "word cloud" from the opening session of this past General Conference. I took all of those talks given and compiled them into one document. I then created a word cloud from the text. A 'word cloud' is computer generated and gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. For example, the largest word, 'church' was said almost 100 times as compared to one of the smaller words like 'tithing' that was only spoken 18 times. Word clouds are helpful to see in a quick glance what the focus is by the number of times the word was repeated.
 

Word cloud from all of the talks given in the opening session of the October 2013 LDS General Conference 
 

I can't imagine trying to run such a global church. It is quite a responsibility to reach out to all of these 15 million members, many of whom are in need of rescuing. It is particularly difficult when many of the members are struggling with so many problems. Some of these problems were addressed in the Conference talks, problems like depression, addiction, questioning faith, economic and financial difficulties.  Answers to these problems were also given. We are to repent if we are not paying our tithing, keep the commandments, doubt your doubts, and follow the counsel of our living prophet.  Some of you might have noticed that there was a new verse added to the hymn, "Keep the Commandments". Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle choir,  the new words are  "We are his children, and we must be tested to show that we are true, hold to his promises, heeding the prophets, keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace."  link

In corresponding with a friend of mine, we talked briefly about our thoughts on General Conference. I agreed with what he said and I quote, "As I listened I thought, "a lot of what's being said here is good and wholesome.  So what is the problem?" After some thought I think I was able to pin it down. It's as though there's a train wreck coming and nobody is talking about it. That's the problem. Everything is good, lovely, and happy. Problems are occasionally acknowledged, but overall we are lulled into security. .... they are good men with good advice."



So what is the problem?, what is this train wreck?

In the Priesthood Session, Elder L. Tom Perry made an interesting statement in his talk on the importance of doctrine. Here is the quote:

 "This doctrine is to the Church like a battery is to a cell phone. When you remove the battery from your cell phone, it becomes useless. A church in which true doctrine is no longer taught is similarly useless. It cannot guide us back to our Heavenly Father and our eternal home."

So if  I understand correctly what our apostle is saying is, True Doctrine is power. If true doctrine is no longer taught in a Church.. the Church is useless. Furthermore, the Church which does not teach true doctrine cannot guide us back to our Heavenly Father.

Elder Perry further explained in his talk:

"False teachings come from Satan, the father of all lies. His desire is to pervert, change, and alter revealed truths. He wants to deceive us so some of us will lose our way along the journey back to our heavenly home."

So  again, if  I understand correctly, Satan desires that revealed truth gets changed and altered. He wants us to be deceived. In order for Satan's plan to work, he starts out with revealed truth.. not falsehood. He then changes and alters the revealed truth.

Some of the most important doctrine, if not the most important doctrine, revealed in this dispensation by the prophet Joseph Smith is contained in the Lectures of Faith. It is doctrine that describes the character, nature and attributes of God. I quote,

"correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation, and that without correct ideas of his character, the minds of men could not have sufficient power with God to the exercise of faith necessary to the enjoyment of eternal life, and that correct ideas of his character lay a foundation as far as his character is concerned, for the exercise of faith, so as to enjoy the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even that of eternal glory."

Further doctrine contained in the lectures describe how we can hope to inherit the same reward as the Ancients by following the same path as they did. It  teaches that we can't expect to achieve the same glory if we do not make a similar sacrifice as they did. It defines faith as a principle of power through action, in which you put your beliefs into action and thereby acquire power; because  faith is related  to having power. All of this doctrine is contained in the Lectures of Faith.

These lectures were prepared for the School of the Prophets and approved and edited by Joseph Smith. Their presence in the scriptures was the reason for the change in the title from Book of Commandments to Doctrine and Covenants. The "Doctrine" portion of the book was comprised of these lectures.

In the preface of this scripture it states: "The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work."

 
 
However, all of this Doctrine has been removed from our scriptures. The Lecture on Faith were subsequently removed from the Doctrine and Covenants in 1921, essentially leaving the just the "covenants" since the "doctrine" was removed.


Can we equate the removing of this doctrine from our scriptures like removing a battery from a cell phone? Has misapprehending the character and nature and attributes of God from that date until today, prevented us from acquiring faith? If so, then it's time for us to shake that off  and rise up and lay hold upon faith again.

29 comments:

  1. "For behold, have I testified against your law? Ye do not understand; ye say that I have spoken against your law; but I have not, but I have spoken in favor of your law, to your condemnation." Alma 10:26

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  2. Our cellphone is the only true and living cellphone on the face of the earth, so none of this matters. After all, we were told that all cellphone design would come through Steve Jobs, and since he died, that must surely apply to any CEO of apple. It doesn't matter that the rising generation was not alive when Steve Jobs was, nor has bothered to look up what his cellphone was like. The only thing that matters is having the mainstream cellphone. If you do that, your user experience is guaranteed. It doesn't matter if the battery slowly died out years ago, in fact, before you were even born. It doesn't matter that you haven't read any of the stories where people describe wildly different experiences with their powered cellphone than you've ever experienced with your dead one. Anyone who suggests such is obviously an employee of Google and should be ignored, belittled, and even prevented from entering the iStore! Let's build a rameumptum and testify from it once a month about how awesome our cellphone is! We thank thee, oh God, for our true and living CEO, to guide us in these latter days!

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  3. Until the doctrine of baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost and Calling and Election are openly taught we will never produce the fruit that God intended from our religion. Either a religion helps you to get know Christ for yourself or it is great and spacious building with no foundation.

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  4. I appreciated the comments of anonymous above in the cellphone analogy.
    Also greatly appreciated Adam's thoughts about the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost.
    As Nephi so clearly and plainly pointed out in the 10 verse passage from 2 Nephi 31:17 - 2 Nephi 32:6, until we experience the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost for ourselves as a never-to-be-forgotten, life changing, singular event under the direction of the Father and given by Jesus Christ Himself, WE HAVE NOT EVEN ENTERED INTO THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW PATH which ultimately leads back to Christ Himself in a face to face meeting; the real meaning of the oft repeated command "Come Unto Christ".
    When will such vital, critically important doctrine once again be taught within the church and lift the condemnation pronounced upon the church by the Lord and re-iterated by Pres. Benson?
    Must we forever be bogged down in cutesy homilies and emotional stories over the pulpit?
    When will the doctrines of Eternal Life once again become the fare with which we, the starving sheep, are fed and nourished?
    JR

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    1. The changes you seek will only happen when the church is cleansed. Joseph himself will return to do it according to prophecy.

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    2. Anonymous 10:26,

      I agree that Joseph will return with Christ and help re-establish the true church, but he won't focus on cleansing the LDS Church anymore than the FLDS or RLDS or Catholic or Baptist Church, for they are all the same to him & Christ, all false. Joseph clearly taught that those who were deceived to support LDS false prophets will be damned and lose their Exaltation, so It's very important to wake up and realize what kind of church we are in and what kind of men lead it.

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  5. I saw someone post another word cloud which did not seem so damning: I was, however, surprised.
    http://connorboyack.com/ldsconf/oct13.html

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    1. The word cloud on this post is from the opening session of Conference (Saturday morning). Connor Boyack's word cloud from the link you provided, I presume is from all 5 sessions of conference.
      David

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    2. If you look at the source text from which the clouds on Boyack's site were compiled, it is also apparent that those clouds include the "inthenameofJesusChristamen" phrase at the end of each talk. A more realistic cloud could be obtained by omitting instances of that phrase, which is usually little more than a vain repetition.

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  6. Speaking of the Book of Commandments, has anyone ever read the 2nd Book of Commandments?

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    1. Please elaborate. What is and where can I read the 2nd Book of Commandments?

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    2. Go to www.2BC.info

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  7. with the publication of the Joseph Smith papers (by the church) there is a flood of knowledge--

    recently on another LDS blog I found the original D&C 101--

    THAT is mind blowing--

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    1. Can you post a link to this blog? I would like to read "the original D&C 101".

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    2. Yes, we learn in D&C 101 that there is no such thing as 'sealings or temple marriages' all marriages were always supposed to be 'public'. But Brigham needed justification for & an excuse to hide his illegal & immoral marriages, so he came up with secret sealings & endowments, etc.

      Joseph always taught that you can tell falsehood or an imposter by comparing what they say to the scriptures he gave us. So easy, yet so few do it.

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    3. I found it on another blog; I don't know where they got the 1835 edition, but I assumed it was in the Joseph Smith papers--
      Those are not easy to wade through; my husband and I have been trying, but life interferes--
      :)

      this is the blog essay on which I found it:

      http://peace-in-paradise.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-be-married-in-temple-when.html

      And this is the exact part; this doesn't look like the Joseph Smith papers; it is the Spaulding Studies--I don't know the source beyond that; I had heard of this elsewhere as well, and I had been looking for it in the Joseph Smith Papers, but I was bogged down--
      Then I happened to check out this blog essay--

      http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1835DnC2.htm#pg247

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  8. http://gospelfullness.wordpress.com/

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  9. In regards to the word clouds, I found it interesting to go to the following site and type in the phrase "priesthood authority". Evidently that it a rather recent phrase
    http://corpus.byu.edu/gc

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  10. You need to realize that word clouds don't reveal too much, because if we don't have the proper understanding of the nature of God and His covenants (and especially the true points of doctrine), then we still remain in captivity.

    "They draw near unto me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

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    1. I apologize. My statements were not clear. The above website does not create word clouds. It is a site that documents all words spoken in General Conferences from 1850 to the present day. For example, if I typed in the word "pornography", I could see that the first mention of that word (granted they may have spoken about this subject using different vocabulary previously) is in the 1950's and then only 4 times in that decade. It noticeably increases in the 70's with 74 mentions and in the 2000's it is referred to 165 times.
      My point was that the phrase "priesthood authority" is not used until 1930 (2 times) and dramatically increased starting in the 70's ( coinciding with the growth in correlation) The phrase was used 70 times in the 2000's and already 40 times in the 2010's. My observation is that the church is relying more on the teachings of priesthood AUTHORITY (ie leadership) to spread its messages. We are in a "follow the prophet" mode. I have heard that the words spoken in this last General Conference were the words of God himself because he would not lead the church astray and these men are his mouthpieces taught repeatedly in my Sunday School, Sacrament, and Priesthood lessons over the last couple of weeks as a way to coerce any opposing view to priesthood authority.
      I agree totally that an individual pursuit to understand pure doctrine, know God, and reconnect to his covenants is essential especially because the church is ensnaring us in captivity to man.

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    2. Coerce should read "quell"

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    3. Point taken... but remember that all they have to do is redefine the words and we're still bound. For example, they could have said "Jesus Christ" dozens of times in every talk, but if they then teach us a false nature of the Savior, then we're still stuck.

      Likewise, we can see a word like "commandment" in the Book of Mormon, and it can mean two different things. The question is, which is the truth? It's only by experimenting, pondering and asking that we can know... at which point experience supersedes some changing definition thrown at us by the Corporation.

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  11. It appears that Elder Perry was warning us of himself and his fellow apostles, and their falsehoods that are contrary to revealed truth in the scriptures that Joseph & Christ gave us. He said not to trust those who 'change' doctrine, yet that's exactly what Church leaders have done over & over since Brigham took part of the Saints out west.

    I doubt Elder Perry realizes he told on himself and it would be amusing if it wasn't so disgusting and sad how so many good & honorable people are being deceived by the craftiness of these false prophets to support error & evil.

    They do teach many truths to be sure, but as Joseph Smith warned, false prophets always teach mostly wonderful truths and do many good things, to look good and make you feel that they are good & right, but then they sneak in just enough falsehoods to lead people carefully astray, yet most don't notice it, because they have already been (falsely) taught that prophets or church leaders can't lead them astray, and thus members blindly accept anything & everything that church leaders say, never proving all things and testing what they do & say to see if they even are true prophets.

    Joseph was right, if we are going to sit down with prophets in the Celestial Kingdom we must attain to their level here on earth. That is the test of this life. Christ said we will know his true prophets because they will have 'perfect love' (Charity) and thus they won't be deceived by falsehoods. It takes one (a prophet) to know one.

    And as Joseph taught, those who have perfect love cannot be deceived, thus we must also understand & possess perfect love is we don't want to be deceived and lose our place in the Celestial Kingdom.

    Even Joseph Smith was still striving to possess perfect love for much of his life, for he was often deceived by falsehoods & the most evil of men, even putting them into the highest positions.

    As far as the Church's counsel to 'follow the prophets', I say, "Which one's?" For Joseph taught completely different doctrines than Brigham or today's so called prophets. And it's impossible to follow todays church leaders and Christ, one must choose one or the other, for they teach completely different religions and doctrines. But who bothers to compare them, that takes too much work. Blind obedience to fallible men who assure you that 'all is well' is so much easier.

    As for me, I choose to follow Christ, and Joseph Smith, as far as he teaches Christ's laws. I do not follow, support, listen to, trust, believe in or give my sacred tithing to Church leaders who profess to be prophets yet do not even seem to know or believe in Christ or his Gospel.

    And I agree that Joseph tried to teach the Saints the Gospel of perfect love, but most members back then, like today, wanted false prophets instead, who taught whoredoms like polygamy, dominance over women, power & gain (salaries), instead of relieving the suffering of the single mothers (the fatherless & widows) which is the essence & purpose of true religion, and teaching men to respect & honor women's true equality & authority in all things, especially in the Church as well as they home & society & to protect, provide for & serve women/wives above themselves.

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    1. You must be a woman possessed with a Jezebel spirit.

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  12. It is ironic that you use "A Fine Congregation, yes, they are a good people" as the title to your blog post. A subtle reference to the dialog between the preacher and his "boss" before the changes were made in 1990.

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  13. So we currently find ourselves in the midst of Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezek. 34, complete with shepherds who feed themselves while the sheep are starving and wandering lost. Then it is the Savior Himself who finds and feeds His sheep. The question is, what is His criteria? Pure hearts, honest intentions, humility, charity, and love of the Savior come to mind. That's a lot to chew on, and don't forget repentance. No where have I ever been impressed or taught from the scriptures that we are to follow any man, only to Come Unto Christ and follow Him.
    After the description of the false prophets of the latter days in Ezek. 34, and it is easy to see them today, the next step Ezek. mentions is the Lord seeking and feeding His sheep and taking them to the Hills of Zion. It must be coming very soon.
    JR

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    1. It is coming soon JR. Thank God for his great condescensions unto the children of men.

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  14. Is repent or repentance missing from the word cloud? I couldn't find it.

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    1. No, I couldn't find those words in either word cloud. Fascinating . . .

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