Changes

Steve Evans over at By Common Consent has published a “Laundry List” of changes he would like to see the LDS Church make.

While a bunch of these are a bit tongue-in-cheek (ahem), I whole-heartedly agree with the list. The Church has gone astray. Implementing the things on this list would be a massive step towards getting back on the proper path.

It is not the same

How often have we heard the admonition that we must follow the prophet because whenever he speaks, it is as if God’s speaking, because “it is the same“? I hear this very frequently, and every time I do, I am saddened at how we repeat the words of others without bothering to read the scriptures for ourselves.

D&C 1:38 in no way says that the words of the prophets are equivalent to the words of God. Here’s what it actually does say:

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

Let’s take this apart and see what the Lord is saying to us.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself;

The Lord takes ownership of His words. He means what He says, and He does not try to make excuses for past words (or future words). He does not “excuse himself” over His words. They are His and He is responsible for them.

and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away,

His words are eternal. His words will outlast the heat death of the universe. Even after everything has ended, His words will still be in force. His prophecies will still apply. His commandments and love will still matter.

but shall all be fulfilled,

Everything that He has prophesied will happen, will happen. Everything that He has cautioned about will still apply. Everything that He has promised will be given.

whether by mine own voice

God is allowed to fulfill His own prophecies. He will provide the blessings He promised.

or by the voice of my servants,

God’s servants (not necessarily just prophets!) are also allowed to fulfill His prophecies. They are also allowed to be the source of the blessing He has promised.

it is the same.

If His servants do happen to fulfill His words, it’s still valid. It counts as having fulfilled His word. God is not required to do everything Himself. His servants help bring to pass His purposes as well, and it all counts towards the same end goal.


As we can see, there is absolutely nothing in here about the servants speaking for God, and God validating their words. Instead, we have almost the exact opposite. Instead of words, we have actions. Instead of servants, we have God.

God has made promises to His children, and He keeps all of His promises. If it so happens that one of His servants fulfills the terms of His promise for Him, then great. If not, He’ll fulfill it Himself.

But this verse does not represent God’s endorsement of the actions and words of His servants. It says nothing of the sort. All you need to do is read and see.

Suffering

The LDS Church has changed its doctrine on apostasy to now include those who “are in a same-gender marriage.” By extension, the children of such couples are also being punished: they can not be blessed in the Church, and in order to receive ordinances must disavow the marriage of their parents.

My heart aches over this. “Jesus said love everyone, treat them kindly too.” How can we be so blind to the teachings of Christ? “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” How can we punish children for the actions of their parents? “Men shall be punished for their own sins.” Why do we hedge up the way to those who wish to receive ordinances? “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Witnessing this, I feel like Amulek, when he was compelled to watch the executions of others with Alma:

And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

Like Amulek, I weep for those who will suffer because of this monstrous change. I weep for the men, women, and children who will be persecuted by the ignorant and idolators. I weep for my children, who are growing up and heard this hatred and bile spewed forth from those who should be their guides. And, I weep for those who perpetuate hatred and intolerance, whether knowingly or not.

And like Amulek, I want to stretch forth my hands, and exercise the power of God which is in me, and save them from the flames. I desire strength like Nephi, when he cried “O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.”

But, like Alma, “I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.”

I must stretch forth my hands, and exercise the power of God which is in me, and save them from the flames. No “miracle” from God is needed: just the miracle of one who is willing to act.

The Well

  1. Now Joseph’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
  2. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
  3. Jesus … said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
  4. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
  5. Art thou greater than our father Joseph Smith, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
  6. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
  7. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

No construction of man will satisfy your thirst; only He can, who provides the living water.

The Philosophies of Men

A couple of days ago I was driving in my car, and a thought very forcefully came to my mind:

There are many willing to teach you the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

Together with this thought came the realization that anything on this page (or in the corresponding printed books) is filled with man’s philosophies: teachings, ideas, and claims that are not backed up by scripture (and often in direct conflict with it), but that are supposedly supported by tossing in the odd scriptural reference. It is the fulfillment of the prophecy: the LDS Church manuals are the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

When you go to Sunday School and you sit and listen to the lesson, how much of what is being taught comes from the scriptures? Or is it just the teacher talking and repeating the same thing he (or she) has been taught, all with no basis in the words of God?

There are many who are willing to teach you the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture. Just walk in to your local chapel.

But I am looking for messengers from my Father and Mother.

Breakthrough

I had a breakthrough recently.

As is hopefully apparent from some previous entries on this blog, I have serious issues with many of the claims made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that, on the whole, the church has lost its way. I do not believe it is led by someone who enjoys the prophetic gifts. I believe that the administrators of the church have become distracted by the trappings of Babylon and now plunder the widow’s mite to serve their own interests.

However, I still attend my local ward. I have struggled with the question of Why? for a while, and recently I had a breakthrough that helped me understand a bit better.

One of the things I believe in is the hope of Zion. I believe that we can, through the grace of God, transcend our petty differences and establish a city of peace, hope, learning, and majesty; a city where God would be willing to come dwell with us.

In Zion, we are not all the same. We may be of “one heart and one mind”, but this does not mean we may all get along. We still have differences. We still have our unique peculiarities, likes, and dislikes.

We also do not always get along, especially at first. As we struggle to leave behind the notions of what a “city” actually is, we find our differences thrown in to sharp relief. And we have to figure out how to deal with these differences, even though we may believe that others are totally “not getting it”.

This is why I stay. I stay because the others in my ward are not like me. I stay because as I associate with them, I learn to see them as human beings with their own frailties, struggles, compassions, and hopes, and not mindless automatons who simply follow the orders of their superiors. As I learn who they are, I have compassion for them and I humble myself. I see how they handle their own struggles, and this helps me believe that I can handle mine as well.

Zion means loving those who are explicitly not like me.

Not the real house

A beautiful summation of the false illusion of the eternality of the LDS Church from the Exploring Sainthood blog:

But just like the fort made of couch cushions and blankets that has provided safety and comfort for my children from time to time in our playroom, your house was designed to come down. It was always temporary. Because it’s not the real house.