Sunday, December 29, 2013

Agency: ability to choose the right

Since the Fall of Adam, Man has always had the ability to choose the wrong. The easiest way to damnation is to do nothing.  Choosing the wrong is our default setting. Following the natural man, following after our appetites and passions, and doing whatever we want, leads to slavery and death.

However, because of the commandments of God, and the atonement of Christ, man now has a choice.  Man can now do something other than being an animal and following his stomach.  Sons and daughters of God can choose to fast even while we are hungry.  We can choose to forgive even when offended. Man can act instead of just reacting in a predictable way and being acted upon.

Some misunderstand the definition of agency as the right to choose right and wrong.  This definition leads to thinking that our laws should protect our right to choose wrong.  We should be free to use drugs or be immorally promiscuous.  In reality, while our laws should never force people to do what the government thinks is right, they should punish those who harm harm others and protect the free expression of conscious.  

(Recreational drug abuse should not be illegal because there is no victim.  However, recreational drug distrubution should be illegal because it harms the buyers.  Similarly, same-gender civil union should be legal with all associated benefits.  However same-gender couples should not be married which means bep ermitted to bare and raise children because children ideally have the right to be raised by both a father and mother.)

Or in other words, laws that protect agency should: 1. never be against a person's belief. 2. they should punish for caused harm but not try and prevent (prevention laws punish everyone but the perpetrator) 3. laws should never force people to do what the government thinks is right. 4. laws should protect people's right to act according to the dictates of their own conscience. 

Acting according to conscience is not "doing whatever we want" but acting according to what each person believes is good, right, moral, just, merciful, ethical and the will of God.

Because of the commandments of God and the atonement of Christ, all mankind are now free to choose liberty and death. Or in other words, if we do nothing or just follow the flesh and "whatever we want", we will be involuntarily bound to the consequences of slavery and death.  On the other hand, if we instead choose liberty and eternal life in Christ, be are free and must remain free to voluntarily bind ourselves in covenant to the commandments of God.  We must bind ourselves because fasting when we are hungry, forgiving when offended, helping and serving others are not the natural things we do. 

Charity is the pure love of Christ- for our Father in Heaven.  Because of Christ's unwavering commitment to do His Father's will in all things and not His own will, Christ was empowered to be good and to do good more than any other man.  Charity is the opposite of pride and not what we give to the poor but our williness to do and obey the will of God.  If we love and obey God we will be empowered to help others more and better then we could ever do on our own because: 1. God knows and loves otgers more than anyone could 2. God has the perfect concept of what is right and good.  God's thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why LDS Mormons are True Christians and Not Pagan

Blood Atonement

1. Pagans practice blood atonement. Pagan's believe that shedding blood of virgins, babies, infidels or animals will appease the Gods and bring prosperity and safety . In reality America currently is behaving pagan-like, by engaging in pre-emptive war for safety. Catholics killing muslims or muslims killing Christians is all pagan blood atonement. 

Christ's atonement is the last great and infinite sacrifice which ends the sacrifice by the shedding of blood. LDS accept the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. LDS receive the Lord's Supper as a sign of our acceptance of Christ's blood and acceptance that only through obeying Christ can we receive the safety and prosperity we desire and NOT blood shedding.  Again, safety and security can only be secured by repentance and a return to virtue and no other way; especially not by war and blood shedding (No, WW2 did not save us from the Great Depression).

Brigham Young was NOT teaching blood atonement in the Journal of Discourses, but teaching how individuals deal with seeming unpardonable sins. Some people believe they are stuck in sin and cannot ever be forgiven. BY using the example of Sherem in the Book of Mormon and the Malefactor crucified beside Christ taught that forgiveness is possible by accepting Christ, making a full confession, and voluntary submission to the penalty (death in Sherem's and the Malefactor's case under the strict Law of Moses).

Divinity of Christ
2. LDS teach the divinity of Jesus Christ. If Christ was not divine, His atoning blood sacrifice would not be infinite. Only God sacrificing His own blood could be an infinite sacrifice.

Not As I Will
3. LDS teach that God the Father and God the Son are 2 distinct individuals unified in purpose because the whole purpose of Christ was that He came to Earth and subordinated His will to the Father in all things: "Not as I will but as thou wilt". It is because of the charity or pure love of Christ-- for the Father that Christ was empowered to be good and do good, more than any other man. If Jesus Christ is the same being and will as the Father than we are saying Christ was empowered by doing His own will. That is the opposite of what the Bible is teaching. Pagan teaches "Do as you will". Christ teaches "Not as I will but as [God] wills." LDS teaches to follow Christ and give our lives in service to God and our fellow men.

Welfare and Virtue
James teaches that "pure religion" is to help the widow and fatherless in their affliction (welfare) and keep himself unspotted from the world. LDS care for and provide for our people as well as humanitarian service. LDS also teach virtue according to 1 Cor 5:11 (fornication, coveting, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, extortion). The LDS Church provides mechanisms to give confession according to the virtue requirements in 1 Cor 5:11. 

Pagan teaches hedonism that you can follow after the flesh and still be saved. False religion teaches that virtue is slavery and that we can still follow the flesh and if we say we accept Christ we are still saved without repentance. True Christianity says we accept Christ and Christ empowers us to repent. Pagans teach they are saved in their sins, Christ teaches that we are saved from our sins.

If we choose to follow the flesh we are bound to the unavoidable consequences of slavery and death. If we choose liberty and eternal life then we must bind ourselves by covenant to the commandments of God. This is the purpose of the LDS Temple. We must voluntarily bind ourselves to God's commandments or be involuntary slaves to the flesh (natural man).

Christian Ordinances
LDS offer the Christian ordinances of baptism by immersion and the weekly Lord's Supper.  True believers have always been baptized by water upon becoming Christian and partaken of the Lords Supper weekly as a sign of their belief and devotion. 

Christmas Caroling
These points are the essence of religious belief.  But with the Christmas season in mind, I just returned from Christmas caroling with my family to several neighbors.  I have gone Christmas caroling most years of my life since I was a child.  What pagan do you know who 
go out singing the sacred carols heralding the birth of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Magic vs. Priesthood

Magic is the ability to exert one's own will (for good or bad) on the universe. It doesn't have to involve supernatural means.  Our society praises individuals that demonstrate great skill and ability to achieve or obtain the objects of their desires. Unfortunately, only practicing white or good magic is still wrong because, unfortunately, we don't always know what is good and right.

Priesthood, on the other hand, is the authority and power to spread God's will in the universe. Spreading God 's will is never done by coercive or deceptive means or force.  Priesthood finds its power by strict human self-restraint of our natural appetites and passions.  Also, prieshood is empowered by subordinating our individual will to the will of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

When we say that men should be free to follow the dictates of their own conscience.  This doesn't mean that society should encorage its citizens to "do whatever they want".  Rather, the hope is that our society will encourage its citizens to seek the will of God and their good conscience (not appetites) and be free to follow that. 

Jesus Christ as our examplar was empowered to be good and do good because of His love and devotion to His Father.  Christ again and again told us that He had come to to do his own will but to to the will of the Father in all things.  Christ's example of charity was His perfect love--- for the Father .  It is because of His love and devotion that Christ was empowered to make such a profound impact on the world, which we remember and commemmorate this Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oneness of God

It is critical to understand how the Godhead are 1 and how they are 3.

Separate and distinct wills perfectly unified in purpose:
1. God the Father and Jesus Christ are 1 in purpose but 2 individual wills. The 2-ness of wills is critical to the gospel. If Jesus Christ were the same person, being, and individual as the Father, what kind of feat would it be that Christ voluntarily submitted his independent will to the Father? Independent will is the essence of independent existence. Christ expression before the Atonement: "Not as I will, but as thou wilt" is the essense of the purpose of life.

Also, the fact that Christ subdued his independent will to the will of the Father is the essence of the definition of CHARITY = The Pure Love of Christ -- for the FATHER. It is because of the Love of Christ for the Father that Christ was empowered to do good and be good more than any other person. If Jesus Christ and the Father are the same person, being, individual then we are just saying that God loved Himself and was empowered for loving Himself and doing His own will. 

God the Son descends to elevate man to the perfection of God the Father:
2. God the Father and God the Son are 2 individuals in person and being in that Christ can condescend to our sinful state. God sent the Son to redeem man. Many believe that because they accept Christ, and Christ is in them and with them that they "have arrived" at their final destination. They forget that it is Christ mission not to just leave us as we are, but change us, justify, sanctify and perfect us until be can return in the presence of our Perfect Father in Heaven.

God the Father is a perfect and complete being:
3. God is complete and perfect alone. Christ said that we must be perfect as our Father in Heaven in perfect. The gift of Jesus Christ is an expression of God the Father's mercy however Christ was sent to Earth to perfect man, and not to perfect and complete God the Father.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Temple Veil and White Clothing

When God re-established/renewed his covenant with Moses, God desired that all the Elders of Israel first purify themselves and then commune with Him in the mountain and not just Moses. God wanted a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But the people feared and said: 

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Old Testament, Exodus, Exodus 20)

When Moses returned the people were defiling themselves. And so God gave them a preparatory law.

When Jesus Christ completed the Atonement, the veil of the temple was rent making a partition in the veil. But the veil did NOT fall down but was parted.

Before in the OT temple only the high priest (representing Christ) dressed in white and entered the Holy of Holies. The other priests never wore white in the temple but robes of many colors. Now that Christ had parted the veil, all those who accept Christ and purify themselves though his blood and repentance can pass through the veil and into the presence of Heavenly Father. When John saw the Temple in the Last Days he was shocked to see all the saints in the Temple wearing white like the High Priest. John asked and spoke about it:

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 3)

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 7)

8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 19)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Infinite vs. Blood Atonement

Cultural Sensitivity Training
There exist a few people in positions of great global power, influence and governance, who are of the opinion that it is neither politically correct nor culturally sensitive for Christians to claim that Christ is the "only way" to heaven. Some of these globalist elite believe there are many ways to heaven and every religion is as valid as another and all religions should be appreciated. In their opinion, believing your religion is superior disrespects other religions.

However, I would like to explain why Christians are unapologetically correct when we joyfully proclaim that Christ is the only "way, the truth, and the life" and "no man cometh to the Father" except by  Him".  Christianity when practiced correctly is the best and most perfect way to live.  If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't bother calling myself Christian.  Being Christian is not necessarily tied to my ethnic identity. Jesus was a Jew.  I am a Gentile. I am not Christian just because its an ethnic and cultural tradition.  I am Christian because my religion is right and true.

Unfortunately, many of us today have forgotten the lessons of history and the consequences of false religious belief.  The result of not learning the most  basic lessons of history is that we are currently making many of the same mistakes.

Existential Crisis
When individuals are left to themselves to ponder, contemplate, and meditate, we almost immediately experience an existential crisis.  Considering the majesty, power and perfection of the Universe and God who is its creator, compared to our fallen, frail and sinful state; most experience very intense negative emotions.  Mankind also fall into existential crisis when we experience our powerlessness against the forces of nature especially after a catastrophic natural disaster.  Existential crisis can be so unpleasant that many people avoid prayer and meditation and keep their minds preoccupied with endless busy-work, clouded by mind-altering substances, or distracted by recreation and music.

Blood Atonement
Throughout the millenia of human existence, false religion has imposed the false doctrine of blood atonement on the people. For some reason, to appease false gods or ward off natural disaster ancient man has falsely believed that protection, prosperity, safety, and fertility could be achieved be the shedding of blood.  Sometimes blood atonement involved animal sacrifice and many times it involved human sacrifice.  Ancient literature and scripture records these barbaric practices. Throughout ancient history false religions convinced their adherance to sacrifice virgins to their gods or cast infant children into the fire.  

Are we any better today? No. We are not.   I don't think we understand the context of how ancient people thought about their  religion. Ancient Egyptian religion believed in many gods named Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis.  What many of us don't realize us that these gods were simply anthropomorphic respresentations of the ideas af safety, prosperity and fertility.  Do you want safety and security? Then we must sacrifice blood to appease the gods of safety and security. For the ancient, the safety and security was the true motivation and not the wooden and stone idols representing these ideals.

Understanding the relationship of ancient polytheism for desires for peace, safety, prosperify and fertility we may realize that mankind continues to believe in the false doctrine of blood atonement even in more modern times. During the Crusades, Catholics in Europe were promised remission of their sins if they went to war, fought, and shed blood to redeem Jerusalem. On the opposite side, Muslims in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East shed the blood of Christian infidels for the blessings of Allah.

American Blood Atonement
Even today, Christians in the United States are practicing the false doctrine of blood atonement.  Isn't our society telling us that if we must go over and fight and shed blood in tbe Middle East in order to be blessed with security, safety, and prosperity?  Haven 't we been told its better to  "fight them over there than fight them over here?"  So instead of fighting a justified defensive war, America, wearing our backwards flag, is fighting multiple unjustified offensive wars.   Although most American's don't claim to worship Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis like the Ancient Egyptians, can Christian America claim we are morally superior to  Pagan Egypt fighting our "preemptive" wars for the same promise of safety and prosperity?  Are we any spiritually or ethically better in America defiling our young men and women with a sexualized media that encourages promiscuity before marriage and then conducts millions of abortions to eliminate the resultant unwanted pregnancies?

The Great Satan/The Ugly American
My firend who has been to Afghanistan and Iraq says that pop culture icons like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Brittany Spears and now Miley Cyrus do great damage to America's moral image around the world. Very devoted people of faith look at our pop culture and fear American culture abd secularization will transform their young girls to become like these promiscuous and materialistic pop icons.

Infinite Atonement
True Christianity and the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ is the answer  to the problem of blood atonement.  Christians believe that the Son of God Himself came down to Earth as a man and shed His own blood to make one last and infinite blood atonement for all mankind. Only the blood of God the Son Himself could be infinite.

But the beauty of Christianity is this.  All we have to do is accept the blood of Christ by faith and obedience to His teachings (a return to virtue) and we are promised the peace and prosperity we all seek.  No more animals have to be slaughtered.  No more virgins and infants have to be sacrificed.  No more preemptive wars need to be fought.   The great and last sacrifice of Christ ended  all other sacrifice by the shedding of blood.  But, you can't take the divinity of Christ out of the equation.  If Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, His blood sacrifice cannot be infinite. 

Return to Virtue
But just accepting Christ with your lips alone is not enough. Christ taught "why call me Lord, when ye do not what I say?"  So, a major, integral, indespensible part of accepting Christ's blood also necessitates following His teachings.

Jesus Christ taught and exemplified a life of love and service for all. Christ taught the "golden rule" that says we should not treat others in revenge giving back eye for an eye.  We shouldn't treat others based on "well that's how I was treated"  or even "I judge you the way I judge myself".  How we are supposed to treat one another is how we would want them to treat us if we were in their circumstance.

Christianity is a religion of self-restraint. Christ taught his followers to be human and exercise self mastery and agency  over their natural passions and appetites. Animals don't act but react.  However humans have the power to feel hunger and choose to fast and be offended but choose to fogive.  The power of Humanity is not in the unrestrained expression of our alimalistic natures but in the expression of our human and divine self-restraint, compassion, and self-sacrifice. 

When it comes to preserving safety and prosperity it comes to virtue.  A demoralized population leads to poverty. A population that encourages sex before marriage will have more illegitamacy.  Illegitamacy leads to greater poverty. A population that encourages the abuse of any mind-altering chemical for recreation leads to decreased productive behavior which leads to greater poverty.  Homosexuality also creates poverty later in life because partners may not have children to care for them in their old age.

So, with the problem of poverty, the State steps in to provide welfare which is the business of religion.  State-provided welfare does not address the underlying problems of virtue that gave rise to the poverty.  State welfare checks continue to arrive without any moral rehabilitation. Thus State welfare enables the poor and doesn't really help the poor escape poverty. Enabling the poor in this way by giving  welfare without accountability creates more poverty and not less.  The Democratic State then becomes self-interested in continuing inefficient and ineffective welfare programs that expand a dependent voting block. The State learns to depend on the many dependent voters they know will consistently vote to continue their entitlements.

James teaches that pure Christian religion involves both the administration of welfare and expectation of virtue.  Christian religion in America has fallen down in both areas and must do better to both help our poor as well as ecourage and promote virtuous behavior.  

Religion encourages and reinforces virtuous behavior by accurately defining virtue, teaching its benifits and warning of consequences.  Religion has its members enter into covenants with God and the faith community to keep specific laws of moral behavior and has a mechanism for those who have broken their covenants to voluntarily confess and receive appropriate discipline, counsel and rehabilitation. [Self-harm is the jurisdiction of the church. Harm to others falls under the jurisdiction of the State.] Religion reinforces virtue through weekly ritual that reminds the faith community of their commitment to live a moral, Christ-centered life. The congregation also reinforce moral behavior among themselves through non-judgmental positive peer-pressure and creating a community of mutual safety and trust.

The Lord's Supper
Each week Christian religions participate in a ritual ordinance established by Jesus Christ just before performing the atonement.  Jesus Christ broke bread and passed around a cup to his disciples and told them to eat and drink in remembrance of His body and blood which he was about to lay down and sacrifice for the whole human family. 

LDS sacrament meetings are very reverant occassions. There is never any loud music or jumping and shouting.  The Lord's Supper is a memorial, a perpetual weekly funeral service and a solemn assembly.  Bread and water trays are set at the front of the chapel and covered with a white cloth.  It is made to appear that the actual body of Christ is laying on the sacrament table.  The priests bless and dedicate the bread and water saying that it represents the body and blood of Christ and then the deacons administer the emblems to the congregation.  As the congegation partakea of the emblems we are to be introspective and remember the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, and to recommit ourselves to serve one another and behave virtuously. 

When America awakes from its sleep and returns to its virtuous Christian beginnings; only them will America return to her previous greatness, prosperity and safety.  The US will only then stop being perceived as a global bully rather than the global policeman.  Devout adherants of other faiths will no longer be caused to doubt America's virtue, morality and sincerity to God.  Ultimately, there is no other way to peace and prosperity for America and the world except in and through the sacrifice, example and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christian Virtue
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:11)

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians gives us the basis for Christian virtue.  In addition to Christ's admonishment to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and in effect "do no harm", Paul lists the sins we should avoid so as to not partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily. 

fornicator- total abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity within marriage.
covetous- pay honest tithes and generous offering showing we put God and the welfare of others before ourselves.
idolater- accept the atoning blood and teachings of Jesus Christ
railer- never physically or emotionally abuse others especially spouse and children.
drunkard- prohibition of the recreational use of all mind-altering chemicals. 
extortioner- honest in all our dealings with our fellow man.

What President Brigham Young was teaching in Journal of Discourses was NOT Blood Atonement:

Justified, Sanctified and Perfected in Christ

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 5:19-20)

Accepting Christ alone will save you from Hell. But obedience, good works, and righteousness will determine your reward/kingdom/crown/glory/mansion/calling. 

On this Earth we learn three lessons: 1. Choose God over Satan, 2. Master the body (keep the commandments), 3. Submit to God's Church and priesthood authority. Those who choose Satan over God (satanists) will receive no reward and inherit "the blackness of darkness forever". Those who choose God but never learn to master the body (hedonists), will inherit the " least" kingdom of God known as the Telestial reward/glory/mansion etc (glory of the stars). Those who keep the commandments are the honorable people of the Earth will receive a higher Terrestrial glory/kingdom/mansion (glory of the moon). However, to receive the highest Celestial reward (glory of the sun), a person must submit to Christ's priesthood authority. Only the valiant in Christ (labor in the vineyard 1hr or all day) who eventually learn to devote themselves to God's will, will receive the highest reward

The most popular religion in the world is the "god is in my heart" religion. Truly God can and does dwell in the heart. But the Living God has organized His kingdom and Church on the Earth with a living prophet and a local bishop. And those authorities will ask you to do many things and make many sacrifices in the name of Christ. Many people prefer the 'god in their heart" religion that likely doesn't make as many requests of them.

I think Creedal Christians and Latter-day Saints talk past one another. Yes, accept Christ and you're saved. But works are involved and follow in the process of "perfecting the Saints" or "perfecting those who are justified and sanctified in Christ". The LDS works (repentance, ordinances, Christian service) are  necessary to receive the highest reward/mansion/glory in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 19:21)

I think we confuse the idea of justification with the process of being "perfected in Christ." Christ gave us Apostles and Prophets for the "perfecting the body of Christ", Christ also gave us scripture also for perfection. 

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (New Testament, 2*Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:17)

We must receive all these gifts of Christ's grace.  This is how we are saved by Christ's grace "after all we can do."  What is "all we can do?"  All we can do is "make use of the means the Lord has [already] provided for us".

Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us? (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 60:21)

Monday, December 02, 2013

None dare call it conspiracy

"And now, verily I say unto you, and this is wisdom, make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you." (D&C 82:22 )

“Our lives have already become jeopardized by revealing the wicked and bloodthirsty purposes of our enemies; and for the future we must cease to do so.

All we have said about them is truth, but it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom.

When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death.

“So it is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; we have the revelation of Jesus, and the knowledge within us is sufficient to organize a righteous government upon the earth, and to give universal peace to all mankind, if they would receive it, but we lack the physical strength, as did our Savior when a child, to defend our principles, and we have a necessity to be afflicted, persecuted and smitten, and to bear it patiently until Jacob is of age, then he will take care of himself.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843-44 pp 392 - the morning of July 27, 1844)