Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Becoming Like God

D&C 132:20 “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) accepts four sacred texts as scripture which contains the words of Christ. LDS accept the Bible including both the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pear of Great Price. Revelation 22:18 warns not to add nor subtract from the “prophecy of this book”. LDS understand that the “prophecy of this book” is only referring to the prophecy contained in the Book of Revelation. The New Testament wasn't even put together in its current form at the time. Also, John wrote several letters (John 1, John 2, John 3) found near the end of the New Testament which were written after the Book of Revelation chronologically. Rev 22:18 is not meant to be some kind of seal or final end of the Bible in the same way Muslims consider Muhammad to be the “seal of the prophets”. For LDS, God can and will continue to reveal truth and scripture from heaven. LDS believe “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith, Pearl of Great Price)

The Doctrine and Covenants is a book of scripture that contains the words of Jesus Christ received through Joseph Smith concerning the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. These revelations were received from about 1830-1844. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is a collection of ancient writings of “lost ten tribe” prophets who lived in the Americas from 600 BC to 400 AD. Joseph Smith received these ancient writings on gold-appearing plates and translated the writings into English. The Book of Mormon records the events of the appearance of Jesus Christ in America after His resurrection and ascension in Israel.

Many Christians raise concern over a few misunderstood scriptures found in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. One of these scripture is D&C 132:20 which speaks of the promise that God's children would one day, through Christ, become gods like Heavenly Father who is the Most High God.

D&C 132:20 is NOT saying that men take God's place, or become gods unto themselves. This scripture is NOT saying that LDS people are superior and will rule over everyone else. This is just saying that we are all children of God who is our Heavenly Father. God describes Himself in the Bible as the God of gods, who seeks to exalt His children to become gods (little 'g') like Himself who is and will continue to always be the Most High God (big 'G').

The way God's children become like our Father in Heaven, through Christ and with Christ, is to participate with God in His work of eternal parenting. LDS believe that our spirits existed and lived with God before coming to Earth (Jer 1:5). The angels that are “subject” to us, are not other Christians, but other spirits who have not yet come to their Earth. Faithful followers of Christ will be blessed to help prepare others of God's children to gain a body, come to their Earth, and be tested as we have done. There are likely many jobs and calling in heaven, but the job of preparing spirits to come to Earth is the highest reward reserved only to the most faithful in Christ. This is Eternal Life and Celestial glory.

The Wiki article [Divinization (Christian)] contains quotes from 12 very respected Early Christian writers including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, etc. who say the same thing. But more importantly is what the Bible says on the matter.

Deut 10:17 “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:”

Psalm 82:1 “ God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.”

Psalm 82:6 “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

John 10:33-35 “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;”

Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Rev 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Sacred Purpose of Music, Poetry, and Art

I was listening to a Christian Bible  lecture yesterday and they were talking about Gen 4:23

"And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold" (Gen 4:23-24).

This was the first time art, music, poetry was used to celebrate evil in commemorating Lamech's own murder of Cain. Sadly, we see how much of modern popular music and art continues to rejoice and celebrate evil , ghetto culture, poverty. ignorance,  and immorality. However, scriptures remind us that charity (agape, the love of God, the pure love of Christ); "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Cor 13:6). 

This youtube video is talking about how Mr. Roger's didn't "dumb down" his music or show topics for his kids audience. (jazz music on the show was unbelievible). Watching this video  made me think and appreciate how the the LDS church doesn't dumb down it's children's music either.  The Church of Jesus Christ uses music in its Primary Song Book to teach children the most sacred and important doctrines of Christ.  

This is one of my favorite LDS Children Songs:

Easter Hosanna

1-. The prophecies of long ago were now at last fulfilled,
When Jesus, risen from the dead, to man Himself revealed.
As he came down from heav’n above, white-robed and glorified,
The people of the promised land received their Lord and cried:

“Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!
Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!”

2. When Jesus Christ appeared to Nephites in the promised land,
The righteous people saw his wounds and came to understand
That he, once dead, was risen up as Savior, Lord, and King.
As they rejoiced, now we rejoice, and joyfully we sing:

“Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!
Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!”

Friday, July 24, 2020

Sacred Gestures

Brass Plate, Sumhuram, Khor Rori, Oman

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Some Thoughts on Difficult LDS History

I toured the Brigham Young Farm House at This Is The Place Heritage Park in SLC, UT last week with a close friend.  My youngest sister had her wedding and reception at the venue.  While cleaning up, I intentionly showed Brigham Young's home to my friend.  She was understandably horrified viewing several nice family portraits of Brigham Young surrounded by numerous wives and daughters. Thankfully, this friend and I are amazingly still talking and she is still investigating the Church.

God revealed polygamy to JS. JS didn't want to do it. JS had the idea to be spiritually sealed without actually being married or consummating a legal marriage. Emma is initially supportive. Fanny Alger shows up pregnant. Accusations fly. Emma no longer supportive. Friends close to JS jealously pressure him to accept their daughters in spiritual sealing (Victorian age thinking) to form familial connections with JS and NOT the other way around. JS is martyred.

Brigham Young and Church feel responsible to care for JS's sealed women. LDS men refuse to marry women already eternally promised to JS. BY, married and provided for these women already sealed to JS. BY was cleaning up for situation unintentially created by JS.

The ideal purpose of polygamy is to use institution of marriage and family to care for the fatherless and widow. In most cases and ideally, a husband and wife are voluntarily called to receive a woman as a second wife and build her her own home and give her children who would ultimately care for their mother in her later years. This is how LDS polygamy was typically and ideally practiced.

JS, BY, Heber C Kimball nor Warren Jeffs do not accurately reflect how LDS polygamy was practiced or meant to be practiced.

Just as Moses struck the rock twice and was not permitted to enter the Promised Land, I think the posterity of JS was not permitted to remain in the LDS Church.

JS may have sometimes had difficulty following a commandment because he understandably worried how the world would view it. This led JS to use the seer stone in a hat instead of using a bagerskin bag over the head with the Urim and Thummin. (Lapham), JS worried how other would view it, but the face in hat likely turned out worse.

Similarly, JS worried how he would be viewed for practicing polygamy and just marrying Fanny Alger outright and stopping there instead of the complicated spiritual sealing business which caused much more problems.

Joseph Smith is God's prophet and the prophet of this dispensation. Was JS perfect? No. Did JS make a few mistakes? Maybe. Was JS chastised and punished from time to time? Likely. Is JS fallen? Absolutely NOT. And I'd be careful to question JS's standing because that as each one of us might just find ourselves looking JS eye to eye on judgement day. I know I could never cast a stone.

Again, a review of what happened:
1. One man married to one woman is ideal but polygamy is practiced in both the OT and NT.
2. Sexual sin is about breaking trust, responsibility and relations outside of commitment.  
3. The family is the institution pure religion uses to care for the fathless and the widow via marriage and adoption.  
4. Restoration of all things.
5. Angel with flaming sword commands JS to practice polygamy.
6. JS and Emma decide to enter into spiritual sealings which were never consumated. Sealing is destinct from marriage.
7. Emma was initially supportive.
8. Close friends desire to seal daughters to JS (Victorian Age thinking).  Everyone was wanting to be sealed to JS at the time including Jane Manning James who was sealed as a daughter
9. Fanny Alger turns up pregnant.
10. Accusations and gossip spread.
11. Emma no longer supportive of spiritual sealings.
12. Family of Fanny Alger knew the situation and remained faithful.
13. JS Assassinated 
14. LDS Men would not marry women sealed to JS.
15. Brigham Young married women sealed to JS in a form of Levirite marriage to raise up righteous seed unto a brother. 
16. Emma Smith denied that JS practiced polygamy
16. Modern genetic studies confirm that JS had no offspring by sealed women. 
17. Polygamy served a necessary and beneficial welfare role in frontier Utah until it was repealed.

God seems to place a barrier to faith in every generation.  Adam fell.  Noah had a crazy idea about a flood. Abraham almost sacrificed his own son. Moses killed the Egyptian. Jesus was viewed as illegitimate. And the Joseph Smith sealings are seen as him acting as a self-interested opportunist. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Bicentennial Proclaimation

President Russell M. Nelson presented a proclamation in honor of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. Titled “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World,” this document outlines core Latter-day Saint beliefs. These include the supremacy of Jesus Christ in salvation, the divinity of Joseph Smith’s revelations and the Book of Mormon, the unique mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the ongoing nature of the Restoration that began with Joseph Smith’s First Vision of Deity in 1820.