Saturday, January 14, 2017


Below is the cover for the new priesthood lesson manual for 2017. This year's LDS curriculum will involve studying the life and teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley. When I saw the cover of the manual I immediately noticed the large portrait on the wall looming behind President Hinckley. No, it is not portrait of Jesus Christ, nor even of Joseph Smith.. but it is a painting of Brigham Young. Anyway.. thought that was interesting, but I digress.

The first lesson in the manual is on "The Restoration of the Gospel—The Dawning of a Brighter Day". Ironically one of the main points in the lesson is about the Reformation. Here is an excerpt from the manual found on page 3 sections 2.

Section 2: 
The Renaissance and Reformation helped prepare the way for the restoration of the gospel.

Somehow, in that long season of darkness, a candle was lighted. The age of Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came a movement of bold and courageous men and women who looked heavenward in acknowledgment of God and His divine Son. We speak of it as the Reformation.

Reformers worked to change the Christ church, notably such men as Luther, Hus, Zwingli, and Tyndale. These were men of great courage, some of whom suffered cruel deaths because of their beliefs. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, the reformers organized churches of their own. They did so without priesthood authority. Their one desire was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshiped.

While this great ferment was stirring across the Christian world, political forces were also at work. Then came the American Revolutionary War, resulting in the birth of a nation whose Constitution declared that government should not reach its grasping hand into matters of religion. A new day had dawned, a glorious day. Here there was no longer a state church. No one faith was favored above another.

After centuries of darkness and pain and struggle, the time was ripe for the restoration of the gospel. Ancient prophets had spoken of this long-awaited day.

All of the history of the past had pointed to this season. The centuries with all of their suffering and all their hope had come and gone. The Almighty Judge of the nations, the Living God, determined that the times of which the prophets had spoken had arrived. Daniel had foreseen a stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands and which became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Most are not aware that this year is the 500th year commemoration of the Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther began the reformation after publishing his 95 Thesis. A new website was posted today with a wealth of information  about Martin Luther as well as all of the other key players in the Reformation. Here is the link to the website:

In addition to numerous essays, the website contains short videos vignettes. Below are links to the first installment of 3 videos commemorating the Protestant Reformation. Each video is about 4-5 minutes in length. More videos are underway to be posted on the youtube channel. Subscribers will be notified when new videos are uploaded.

Here are the three videos.


James said...

A phrase that stood out to me from the instruction manual was: "They did so without priesthood authority," referring to the Reformers who left or were excommunicated from the Catholic church and established their own churches/faiths. I thought the LDS church believed that priesthood authority was lost many centuries prior to the Reformation, as described on the website: "After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth." Is this phrase in the manual criticizing the Reformers for striking out on their own and challenging the religious status quo? Is this manual suggesting that even though the Catholic church was in complete apostasy by this point in the Dark Ages, that it still retained "priesthood authority" that Martin Luther & Co. should have respected? And that they were wrong to break off and do what they did? This represents a fundamental lack of understanding of so many things. Many of these reformers began to administer the sacrament among themselves and to those who agreed with their views. Did they do so "without priesthood authority"? Interestingly enough, I and others I know have also been accused of acting "without priesthood authority" when we have performed priesthood ordinances without the approval, knowledge, or permission of an LDS church leader. These people say I have no right to perform such ordinances because I am not doing it with the approval of the Bishop or some other leader looking over my shoulder, even if it's in my own home with my own family members. What is it with these orthodox religions that lord over their members and believe that if you do not do things in the way that they have decided to do them that you are acting "without priesthood authority"? Ironically, it's the other way around (D&C 121:36-7):

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Karen said...

I loved the video that talked about Martin Luther and how he knew others before him had been killed for their opposition of the Catholic church and how this required him to seriously reflect and be scripturally certain that his salvation really wasn't dependent upon the church before he took courage to criticize them.

The Catholic church claimed there was no salvation outside being connected to them. I marvel at the courage this required, but the reality is, Luther's courage was inspired and motivated by the TRUTH...even though this truth was seen by only a small, mostly silent segment of the population. The truth, as found in the scriptures, is what informed his ideas and gave him fortitude and faith to stand alone and face the potential hazardous consequences that would result from going against the power that claimed to hold his salvation in their control.

Today, the LDS church makes the same claim. And I, for one, find myself in the same type of fearsome reality. Though no power over my life is threatened, there are serious ramifications for pointing out the departure that has been taken by the LDS church from many of the teachings of the Lord. Like Martin Luther, I have had to decide (like others) whether my salvation is actually dependent upon my connection to them, like I had been taught and believed all my life. Like Luther, it has been because of a thorough search in the word of God that the truth has been confirmed to me pertaining to the departure the LDS church has taken from the Lord's word. Just as Luther, it has come down to a choice between relying upon God's word to educate my beliefs, or relying upon the ever-changing direction and voice of those in control assuring me they are infallible.

The old adage that history repeats itself has really hit home over the last few years. This site and these videos confirmed to me even more that this is true. Thanks for sharing.

Jeffrey Richardson said...

My parents are divorced. When I was growing up, I would attend LDS services one week with my mother, and Lutheran services the next week with my father. As a teen, I spent time studying the Small and Large Catechisms of the Lutheran faith (Missouri Synod.) It is interesting to me how I am once again learning about the Reformation on this Fibonacci Circle called 'Life.'

The videos are great, thanks for sharing.

SMSmith said...

How many of us know that not everyone is celebrating the 10th Jubilee of the Reformation in this historic year? Could the warning voices linked in these posts have something to tell us?