Wednesday, January 1, 2014


 Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2014!

There is much to be grateful for, there is much to ponder about, and much to learn, and much light to gather and much darkness to discern and discard.

This past Sunday the Melchizedek Priesthood/Relief Society manual was handed out at church which will used this upcoming year for study. It is the one more installment in the series of Teachings of Presidents of the Church. This manual features the teachings of President Joseph Fielding Smith who served as President of the Church from January 23, 1970 to July 2, 1972. The first paragraph of the book states, " As the Church adds volumes to this series, you will build a collection of gospel reference books for your home. They can help you prepare other lessons or talks and answer question about Church doctrine.

Glancing through the book, you might find a few paragraphs that will jump out to you. It should make for an interesting year to see if we will be brave in making comments in our individual wards. Here are a few quotes from the manual.

Pg 121-122

The Church and its agencies constitute in effect a service or­ganization to help the family and the individual... We cannot stress too strongly the great need to utilize all of these programs for the benefit and blessing of all our Father’s children.

If all of us do all of the things we should in carrying forward the programs of the Church, the Lord will bless and prosper us so fully that success shall attend our labors, and out of it all peace and joy will be our lot here and eternal glory hereafter.

The Lord is with the Church. He is guiding us. His spirit is resting upon this people.

Pg 124-125

 But there is one great added thing we have received in this age that has never been had before. In this dispensation the Lord has decreed that the Church shall never again be led astray; this time the gospel is here to stay. This time the revealed truth is destined to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man, and the Church will be established in all parts of the earth when the Lord comes to usher in the millennial era of peace and righteousness.

We are members of a world church, a church that has the plan of life and salvation, a church set up by the Lord himself in these last days to carry his message of salvation to all his children in all the earth.

We have attained the stature and strength that are enabling us to fulfill the commission given us by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith that we should carry the glad tidings of the restoration to every nation and to all people.

I know and testify that the Lord’s purposes on earth shall pre­vail. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is here to stay. The Lord’s work shall triumph. No power on earth can prevent the spread of truth and the preaching of the gospel in every nation.

 Pg 145

The Latter-day Saints should put their trust in their leaders, and follow the teachings of the authorities of the Church, for they speak unto them with the voice of prophecy and inspiration. The Lord has declared in the very first section in the Doctrine and Covenants, that whether he speak by his own voice or through the voice of his ser­vants, it is the same [see D&C 1:38]. Therefore, we are under just as great responsibility and obligation to hearken unto the voice of the one who stands at the head to teach the people, or to listen unto the voice of the elders of Israel, as they carry among the people the message of truth, as we are [if] the Lord should send from his presence an angel or should come himself to declare these things unto us..

Pg 157

The sealing power puts the stamp of approval upon every ordi­nance that is done in this Church and more particularly those that are performed in the temples of the Lord.

 Brethren and sisters, this is a glorious dispensation. All other dispensations flow into it. All authorities, all powers, are centered in this dispensation in which we live. We are privileged to partake of these blessings through our faithfulness.

May I now say—very plainly and very emphatically—that we have the holy priesthood and that the keys of the kingdom of God are here. They are found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Pg 159

 I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come [see D&C 59:23].


Frederick said...

At a glance, I see "trust in the programs of the church;" "trust in the leaders of the church;" "the church will never be led astray;" "the church is here to stay;" "church leaders are the same as angels or the Lord himself."

Honestly, I can't say that I'm surprised at all. It is simply my prayer that I will have multiple opportunities to speak out in an appropriate way, always guided by the Spirit.

I have no desire to be confrontational. However, I do feel I need to testify of the Savior and the importance of having faith in Christ. Looking to men and trusting in the arm of flesh will surely bring damnation, even if those men are guided by the Lord.

Thank you for pointing these passages out. I'll be pondering these and other passages in the latest lesson material and pray for guidance on how best to boldly testify of the Savior and the importance of keeping our eyes single to Him.

Rob said...

Please show me where the Lord said this church would never be led astray. Please show me where the Lord said that we ought to trust in the arm of the flesh. Please show me where the Lord blanket endorsed absolutely everything that the church does. Because in 11 years of dedicated gospel study, I have not found any mention of it.

What I have found is that President Joseph Fielding Smith is also the source of these sweeping, dogmatic statements:
-Man would never go to the moon.
-The blacks would not receive the priesthood until some future creation, after Able was resurrected and his seed were able to receive the priesthood.
-Those who use birth control to limit their posterity in this life will not have the ability to have an eternal posterity in the next.

And many other fun statements the church has officially disavowed.

One man speaks without revelation, and another comes and changes what he said without revelation. The word of God existed before that man, and will exist after that man---unchanged.

Build your foundation on the rock (Christ) and not the sand (the arm of the flesh) and when the winds of social favor change, your doctrine and your connection with Christ will not.

Rob said...

By the way---someone told me that members in the US would no longer get printed manuals...was that a lie?

Anonymous said...

Well, snot.

I'm not sure if I should be relieved my husband and I have are the nursery leaders for 2014 or not. (Being in nursery is handy for our leadership, though, since our rare comments in GD have been somewhat problematic, and have been known to inspire emails to the bishop.)

The sentiments expressed in the manual excerpts above are the very crux of the division on our ward. We have leadership that teaches this unapologetically, and a small cadre of members who insist on countering with scriptures about following Jesus, and taking the Holy Spirit for our guide. And it looks like things might get a whole lot more interesting in the near future.

Brent Edward said...

Rob - the comment about printed manuals is a local stake/ward decision. Most likely based on budgets. The other factor may be limited to observed use or lack of it of printed manuals. My own observation is that no one reads the manuals let alone brings them to church. Most everyone uses an electronic device to follow along in class if they follow along at all using the manual. This is obviously a phenomenon that will vary from ward to ward, stake to stake, area to area in the US.

Inspire said...

Perhaps this will be the year where we start to get "real." Here are my observations about Elder's Quorum. They may not be global, but are just one man's perspective:

- If I make a comment that goes against the dogma in said manuals, I will be deemed as contrarian, bitter, angry or wacko, and anything I say will be discarded.

- If I dance around the topic, being PC, diplomatic, or "sensitive" and do touch people, then it will only enforce the paradigm they are in, thus defeating any purpose of moving them away from false doctrine.

I think the only hope there is to help others to think for themselves would be to point out promises and then ask what fruit there is now... Much like Rob did above. (No man on the moon? Hmmmm) Ultimately, though, it is The Lord who will show us (Gentiles) our weakness, based on the fruit that all can see. He is the one who will shake us either to repentance or to anger. Then will the unbelieving Gentiles be cast into the pit they dug for others.

As for me, I have a hard time stomaching the junk that comes out of the manual and usually opt to skip EQ. I tried hard to "boldly testify" there for a long time, to no avail. I hope others have more luck than I did, but won't feel bad if I'm out on a hike with my family instead of suffering through the manual.

Rob said...

Inspire, I totally empathize. I have noticed that my comments result in a polarization of the Elder's Quorum: half nod their heads, the other half are offended. The ratio is not as good in GD class. The sisters are by far more close minded in my ward. I've thought about it a lot. It is depressing to deal with. It can be frustrating. However, my prayers on the subject are firm in the fact that it is not yet time to separate the wheat from the tares. Instead, the fact that God has opened my eyes somewhat is a stewardship to see what I will do with that knowledge with respect to my fellowman. The building is on fire, but most of the children in the building are still asleep. Do you try to wake them up until the flames lick you? Or do you run out of the building because of the danger of the building collapsing or real damage caused by smoke inhalation?

What did Nephi do? He patiently taught his brothers truth. In response, his brothers tried to kill him and made his life a living hell. However, he did not leave until God told him to. Same with Abraham. Same with Lot.

Anonymous said...

God will never remove our ability to have a choice. In order to make a choice, you have to have at least two options. When you remove all other options, there is only one option left so how can there be a choice? By making a statement "The Prophet will not or cannot lead you astray" automatically removes the perception of any options and by definition puts him in a position of control, which is what the war in heaven was about! If you buy into that logic, you have moved over to the dark side.
This places a greater responsibility on us to have Him as our standard to measure ideas and revelations against. While it is usually a simple process, it's not always easy, and yes we often don't get totally correct on the first pass. It becomes a learning and sharing process.
Thank Heaven for the atonement, patience and forgiveness!

Anonymous said...

Point of Clarification: The Him I am referring to in the above comment is Christ.

Anonymous said...

oh, wow--

Inspire said...
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Inspire said...
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Inspire said...

@ Rob: Remember that it was the Lord who has poured out upon us the spirit of deep sleep, probably out of mercy (see 2 Ne 27:5). He has also poured out on us the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 20:27) which I believe is what will be what wakes us up. The Holy Ghost manifested itself to the Nephites in that their words become powerful and convincing (Ether 12:23), but this is not how it works for the Gentiles. We are "convinced" out of our witnesses and our reasoning of what is good and what is evil. We can see the writing on the wall and then make a choice.

What I believe is going on now is that these witnesses are coming to light. Blacks and the Priesthood, gay marriage, polygamy, tithing, etc. The chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, and it won't be long until " the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed."

The Church is beginning to slip into the pit it dug for others. They have had joy in their works for a season, but by and by the end soon comes. My guess is that they will continue to lodge their foot deeper and deeper into their mouth and it will become more and more apparent. What this looks like is unknown... maybe one of the 12 will come out and shake things up, maybe the finances will become transparent, maybe it will be something completely unimaginable. Just look at this article ( regarding the gay issue and how it has backfired in the face of the Church.

I can point these things out in Elder's Quorum, but it seems to me like it's redundant, and it isn't really my job. Based on the results, I can see that it isn't working for me to make a stink about it. My hope is that as time goes on, those in the Church apply this approach of seeing evidence and making a choice. The results are that we don't have the blessings that have been promised. The Lord is doing a pretty good job of making things plain to an objective person. I'll leave it in His good hands. Patience comes in my part mostly in waiting for the Church to get enough rope to... well, you know.

Taylor said...

Brent, along the lines of no reading, let alone using the printed "President of The Church" manuals. The real funny thing is to notice what happens to all the older volumes of these books we all have floating around our houses. I've seen them used as every variety of drink coaster, used to soak up oil spills in the garage, smashed under aging sofas, left to bleach in the sun on car dashboards. There are hundreds at local Deseret Industries and who knows how many more left in Church dumpsters. The list goes on and on. I've seen them used for just about everything EXCEPT doctrinal reference. Because frankly, they have so little.

The Materials Management Division of the Corporation that is the Church spends well over 10$ Million dollars to produce each volume. (The Book of Mammon Pg 99)

(Chorus: ♪♫ All is well.... All is well...♪♫) hehe.

Taylor said...

Good post. The following scripture seems to fit well after reading this post:

2 Nephi 28:14

...they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

Toni said...

If I remember correctly, we got printed manuals in RS a couple of weeks ago. Since I live in the U.S. I would say that that person was misinformed.

Anonymous said...

"I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church"

Unless that power happens to be the adversary working through the gay lobby or media outlets.

Eliza said...

I'm a Releif Society teacher in my ward who is supposed to teach from the Joesph Fielding Smith manual. This has been the most difficult calling I've ever had. Every week I anticipate a call from the bishop and my release. I typically take the title of the lesson and go from there. I'm waiting for someone to say, "what about the manual?" My last lesson was supposed to be about Lorenzo Snow's experience in the Holy Land and turned into a lesson about receiving the second comforter. I was quite terrified because my lessons have not always been recieved very well. But the Spirit directed me to teach this. My biggest opponent in my previous lesson, bore testimony of the Savior coming to her in a dream. She told us she had never told anyone because she didn't think that she, as a woman, was entitled to an experience like that. I still believe there is a place for me in this church. The Lord has shown me that we don't always know who He is preparing. Sometimes it's those who we least expect. There are at least, some great titles to these lessons this year. :)

Joseph said...

Eliza, I relate all too well with your predicament. I survived for nearly a year as Gospel Doctrine teacher covering the Book of Mormon and then D&C. Nearly every week I'd tell my wife, "This week they're going to can me for sure." I always carefully read the drivel in the lesson manual and then carefully ignored it. Like you, I would find some tenuous connection with the lesson title or subject matter, and then teach from the scriptures whatever the Holy Spirit urged me to teach. Every week was a bizarre mixture of exhilaration as I studied the scriptures and tried to courageously teach, on the one hand, and feeling forced to walk a careful line around subjects too incendiary or offensive, on the other.

I became more and more bold as time went on. I honestly wanted to get "fired" as we finished the scriptural portion in the D&C last year and approached the pseudo-historical nonsense in the latter half of the year. I especially dreaded the thought of teaching about the succession from Brother Joseph to Brigham and the "Continuing Revelation" lesson that trots out church correlation as the new revelation. Under no circumstances could I stand up there and teach lies. Someone else can burn in hell for teaching false doctrine. I'll pass, thank you.

Ironically, after all my efforts to teach truth without offending too many people, what finally got me canned was not one of my more daring topics. I rarely raised people's ire with my main points--the problems consistently arose from some minor remark I'd make, and someone would get all bent out of shape about it. One Sunday I mentioned in passing that there's a difference between the word of the Lord and the word of men in positions of authority, and one brother in the class went totally ballistic. He is a dear friend (still) and I bear him no ill will. But he became very animated, and kept blurting out statements that when "The Prophet" (tm) speaks it's exactly the same as the Lord speaking, based mostly on D&C 1:38, the most misunderstood scripture in the church.

This man is a highly respected member of the ward who's served in the most prominent callings, and to contradict him in any way was unthinkable. I refused to back down. He kept trying to argue with me, bringing up quotes from general authorities and wresting a few more scriptures from early in the D&C that are often used to make his point but don't actually say what he thinks they say. The tension in the room was palpable, even causing several people to just walk out.

When I was fired a few weeks later, the only reason the bishop cared to share was that I "caused contention" in the class. Sure. Whatever.

I've had a lot of time to reflect on my experience. To you who are teaching now, I urge you to teach the truth boldly and courageously. Those were my best teaching experiences, and the Spirit testified with power every time. I doubt my experience was unusual--when the powers that be decide to put the kibosh on your teaching calling, it'll most likely be due to someone making you an offender for a word rather than rejecting your efforts to teach true doctrine.

Toni said...

We had the lesson on Jesus a week ago. This quote seems to me to have an agenda ("Seeing Christ is not important. The Holy Ghost can give you a knowledge that is just as good").

I did not live in the days of our Savior; he has not come to me in person. I have not beheld him. His Father and he have not felt it necessary to grant me such a great blessing as this. But it is not necessary. I have felt his presence. I know that the Holy Spirit has enlightened my mind and revealed him unto me, so that I do love my Redeemer,

Note that he says it is not necessary to behold the Savior in person, contrary to what Joseph plainly taught many times. Joseph saw both the Father and the Son. I think he would know better than JFS whether or not it was/is necessary to behold Christ in the flesh.

Michael said...

I found Chapter 2 insulting. It's a clear reflection of how the Brethren currently bear their testimonies: as if they have met the Savior, yet (most often sheepishly/privately) admit that they haven't, and that enjoying such a blessing isn't necessary. Oh, so let me get this straight -- just because you haven't had this experience, it's unnecessary for the rest of us? Well, so much for a central message of the BofM and JSH -- that we ask for and seek such experiences. It's no wonder Isaiah aims his most critical judgments at the self-declared "watchmen" who regurgitate tables of vomit for us to teach on Sundays. A lot of people are going to be in for quite a shock very, very soon.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was Primary Pres. After six months I was released, and my husband was financial clerk and he was released with out any notification at all, it was a surprise for us both.
I later found out that the 1st Councillor in the Bishopric's wife (who did not like me) and my two counsellors went to the Bishop and complained about what I was teaching. They made false claims against me, went behind my back. They never once came to me about their so called concerns. I did not always use the manual, but I did make sure IT WAS doctrine that I taught. I improvised because I did not like all the lessons. I also made other changes that rubbed some the wrong way. I went against the status quo. (there were a few members that liked what I did but they were the minority). Since that time we have always been treated badly by the ward, even my kids.
I also found out the Primary Presidency that replaced me, which was the Bishopric's 1st Councillor's wife as Primary Pres., always put me down in their meetings and used me as an "example" of what not to do.
When I went to Ward Council meetings it was a gossip fest, certain members were made fun of, and nothing was ever accomplished. Except the friends and family members of the leaders were always the ones to get "help". That ward was a nightmare, and the ward was split last year, but there are many of the same jerks in the new ward.
So I do not accept any calling any more. I tell the truth as to why I do not.
Sometimes I wonder if God and Christ weep when they see what is going on in Their church, at all levels.

imatharris said...

I actually had to teach this lesson. I read that first chapter and felt sick to my stomach. I worried for weeks and I prayed daily for help to be able to teach true doctrine. I realize now what a heavy responsibility it is to be a teacher of the gospel. I'm so grateful for the guidance of the Savior. Ends up the only thing I actually stated about Joseph Fielding is that he had a "great love" of the Savior. I just hope the upcoming lessons go as smoothly...

Anonymous said...

I am so relieved to not be the only one feeling this way. I am the 'substitute' RS teacher, and had to teach this as well. I was sick and full of anxiety! I was initially looking forward to teaching about the Savior; as I read the manual, I was so disheartened to read so little about Him. I had such a hard time at first wondering where this was even going. I felt impressed to expand (from other sources) on the section about being willing to take upon us His name, and what that really means, and actually turned the lesson towards the end on the importance of having a testimony of Christ (as opposed to the church). It was the hardest lesson I've prepared, and I couldn't have done it without being led by the Spirit what to say and discuss. I felt strongly I had to bear witness that if we put in the work we can see the Savior in this life and that it was not just an experience reserved for the prophets, but anyone who had the sincere desire and was willing to put in the work.

aredesuyo said...

2015 is about to start, and the rumor that members in the US would no longer get printed manuals may be closer to coming true. Recently when it was time for us to order our materials (I'm the ward clerk), we were told that we should get only minimal supplies of printed materials, and people are being "encouraged" to use the online resources more. Now people will be staring at their phones at church just as much as they do the rest of the week.

aredesuyo said...

As for ward-to-ward variation, the rich ones will use their smartphones and tablets, and the poor ones will use paper books. The blandness of the content will remain uniform.