Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Dam is Breaking on Book of Mormon Evidence

This article talks about Ron Meldrum's explaination of how John Wesley Powell, Ephraim George Squier, and Lewis Henry Morgan are responsible for the most sinister archeological coverup in world history.  Powell, Squires, and Morgan are responsible for labeling the Native Americans "ignorant savages" and promoting the federal government policies of manifest destiny which denied Native American rights of life, liberty, and property. 

Also, these 3 suppressed, concealed, mischaracterized, and destroyed Hopewell Culture archaeology sites and artifacts to hide the fact that the Native American's decended from a culturally advanced civilization in the American heartland. 2 of the 3 men are sons of Methodist ministers who lived and preached in Palmyra, NY in 1830 at the time of the discovery of the Book of Mormon.  No doubt, part of their motivation was to discredit the Book of Mormon.

The dam is breaking with regard to Book of Mormon historical and archaeological evidence. DNA evidence proves a major pre-Columbian east-to-west migration of a middle-eastern population.  This population became the Hopewell and Woodland Cultures and are the principle ancestors of the Great Lakes Algonquin Tribes.

However, at this point, the Heartland model is a model and this is still a theory like the meso-American theory. We should beware to become too invested in the physical evidence of the Book of Mormon that we mistakenly believe that the physical evidence is more important to our testimonies than the spiritual evidence.  If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true, there is no substitution for reading it yourself and prayimg to our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ if it us true.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Divine Potential of Man

LDS do not accept the Catholic Nicene Creed which characterizes the Godhead of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in a mysterious relationship as 3 distinct persons who are somehow also 1 being. The Nicene Creed says the Trinity are "homoousious" or "the same substance".  The Nicene Creed does this to prevent any possible belief in multiple Gods. The mystery and purposeful incomprehensibility of the Trinity doctrine is to satisfy the seeming discordant scriptures which sometimes speak of the oneness of God and at other times the distinctness and three-ness of God.
Yes, LDS understand the problem of polytheism which destroys absolute thruth.  LDS believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  These three are 3 distinct persons and 3 distinct divine beings, unified in power and purpose.  Because the LDS Godhead are perfectly and completely unified in purpose, truth is not only preserved but magnified. 
I would not characterize LDS as polytheistic. Maybe the best term is "monolaterism". LDS recognize that there are other gods (eg. God the Father, God the Son), but we only worship The Most High God. LDS only worship and pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Worshipping God the Father in the name of God the Son is precisely how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have both directed us to worship.  
Justin Martyr in his conversation with Trypho attempted to convert Trypho (a Jew) to a belief in Christ.  Trypho's hypermonitheism prevented him from accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ. Justin referred to Genesis and the creation of man when God said "let us make man in our image" as proof of the distinct and seperate divinity of God the Father and God the Son.
The Most High God is the God of gods, King of kings and Lord of lords. When you complement a doctor, you say he or she is a the doctor's doctor, or we say a man is a man's man. God is not a God of jellyfish but the God of gods. The divinity of God's children adds to His glory.

The belief in the divine potential of man is not a belief that man could even replace or supplant the Most High God as Satan sought to do. Even as man realizes our divine potential, Our Father in Heaven will eternally remain the Most High.  The divinity of man involves being empowered by God to participate with Him in His divine work of creation and eternal parenting.
Will is the essense of our existance, distinctness, individual nature. It is imperative that we understand that Jesus Christ had a distinct will from the Father and is a distinct personage from the Father.  Christ came to Earth to do the will of the Father in all things and  subordinated His will to the Father's in all things.  Through that subordination of Christ's will to the will and purpose of the Father, Christ was empowered with all the powers of Heaven.  
If we say the Christ is the Father, then we say that Christ acheived all that He achieved by the strength of His own will which is the doctrine of Satan: "do as thou wilt". Christ's doctrine is "not as I will, but as Thou wilt". In this way, Christ set the perfect example for all mankind.
But some say, wasn't it Satan's plan to be like God?  Let's read Isaiah 14:13-14 "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
I don't necessarily see a problem with Satan aspiring to "ascend into heaven".  Don't we all desire to return to heaven?  The evil was Satan's desire to "exalt [his] throne above the stars of God".  Jesus Christ, on the other hand, sought the glory of the Father by desiring the exaltation of man instead of our eternal relegation. Scripture teaches that God's work and glory is to "bring about the immortality and eternal life of man".  Satan only desired the eternal slavery of man by denying us our agency.
God is honored by the exaltation of His children. God is glorified not by being a God of jellyfish, but instead is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and even the God of gods.  All of God's children are to be set apart, annointed, ordained, exalted and enthroned; our Heavenly Father being the Most High God and the Most High Priest.
"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." (New Testament, Revelation 3:21)
"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." (New Testament, Romans 8:16-17)
The Constitution of the United States enthrones its people to govern their own lives.  Free men via self-determination and free exercise of conscience can govern themselves and do not require a king or ruling authority to control their lives. Likewise, the LDS Temple endows and enthrones its members through the atonement of Christ and via covenants of virtue to be kings and priests to rule and reign over ourselves temporally and spiritually. True Christians disciples become agents to act for ourselves in righteousness and not need to be "commanded in all things."  This is not a "too many chiefs and not enough indians" problem.

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." (Doctrine and Covenants, 58:27-28)

The empowerment and enthronement of God's children is seen in the Church of Jesus Christ. The LDS Church does not have a professional clergy. Every member  has the right and potential to pray, teach, expound, exhort, testify, and prophesy.  We are not a church of a few priests governing a large body of parishioners.  LDS member teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom, bare solemn testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and enjoy the rich blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Effigy Pipe: Ancient Warning

The Hopewell people lived in North America about the time of the Nephites and built an advanced civilization of millions in the heartland of the United States. The Hopewell culture flurished in North America for over a millennium and then suddenly vanished about 400 AD. All that is left of this great civilization are massive earthworks and mounds filled with bones and artifacts. The burial mounds are why this culture is often referred to as the "mound builders".

One way archaeologists identify and verify a Hopewell burial site is because effigy pipes are characteristly found with Hopewell remains. Effigy pipes were used by Hopewell to smoke a mixture of medicinal herbs and bark called kinnikinnick. But it the end, kinnikinnick was replaced by Nicotiana rustica, a tobacco with more powerful and hallucinatory effects than our Nicotiana tabacum. This fact says something to me.

The mounds and artifacts of thr Hopewell give us a snapshot of their culture right before their complete annihilation. If drug abuse and smoking was a major part of their culture leading it to destruction, do we want to be following in their footsteps?

The Book of Mormon and the Bible illustrate the pride-cycle of mankind.  Civilizations rise based on faith, temperance and industry.  Eventually, because of technology and specialization, food is produced for a large population by a small minority of the  population.  The general population stop being self-reliant, and tend to seek neuro-chemical rewards via drugs instead of productive behavior and spiritual fulfillment.

The weak, dependant, addicted population is then vulnerable to be destroyed by their enemies. When their enemies simply disrupt the food production, the society collapses and the dependant population just plain starve because they do not have the skills to feed themselves except by reverting to being a hunter-gatherer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Repentance Matters

I was having a conversation with a colleague about why we teach repentance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and why our doctrine is more repentance focused as opposed to the customary evangelical grace-only focus. God commands in LDS scripture, "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9).

Disciples of Christ receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  When we go to church we continually hear accounts of members listening to the still small voice of the Comforter prompting them to visit someone who is sick, or to avoid tragedy or accident.  We hear stories of persons who were prompted not to do this, or not to go there and they have through their obedience, witnessed the miraculous preservation of their lives.

You cannot be living in willful sin and be as receptive to the Lord's voice.  Sin drowns out our spiritual sensitivity.  We have to be clean to be empowered to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in His work.  The more purified we can become, the more in-tune we can be to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

In Hollywood, the hero is often depicted as being immoral and that the immorality usually doesn't matter and may even contribute to His or her success.  The truth is that the greatest heroes and people that have made the biggest difference in this world have been men and women of faith in Christ and also virtue and integrity.

"Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord."(Old Testament, Isaiah 52:11)

My friend likes to quote CS Lewis that all Christian groups are living in different rooms in the same house and our similarities are more important than our differences.  This point of repentance proves that the differences do matter. When it comes to being receptive to the the "still small voice" of God's Holy Spirit, repentance and being clean matters.  Because of the Great Apostasy, traditional Christianity are unfortunately living in the wrong house.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Abraham Lincoln

When Abraham Lincoln was first elected president in Nov. 1860, the South, beginning with South Carolina, immediately succeded from the Union. During Lincoln's first inaugural address, he pled with the South to return and promised he wouldn't touch the slavery issue.  Lincoln pledged that slavery could continue in those states where it already existed. 

The Civil War would start not long after, beginning in April, 1861.  The Civil War was a dark time for Abraham Lincoln who had served for 12 years in the Illinois legistature but only one term as a US Congressman.  Abraham Lincoln's son Willie (11) died of Typhoid fever in Feburary, 1862. Willie's death begun a time of deep reflection and transformation for Lincoln that biographers refer to as Lincoln's "Period of Crystallization".

During this critical period, Abraham Lincoln borrowed a copy of the Book of Mormon from the Library of Congress. He returned the book eight months later, only 7 days after issuing his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.  Did the Book of Mormon positively influence Lincoln during his Crystallization Period?

Many believe that during the Period of Crystallization, Lincoln had a paradigm shift concerning this nation, its people, and the Civil War.  Lincoln began to see the United States as a promised land and its people as a covenant people and the Civil War as the judgements of God upon the people because of their sins.  In his and America's darkest hour, Lincoln turned to God, called the people of this nation to Repentance for the sin of slavery, and turned this nation to God.

Lincoln's turn to God and call for repentance is evident in the stark contrast of tone, language, and substance between his first and second inaugural addresses and in the Emmancipation Proclaimation issued Jan 1, 1863 and continued to Gettysburg which proved to be the turning point in the Civil War in July, 1863. President Lincoln is quoted as saying about Gettysburg:

 "In the pinch of the campaign up there, when everybody seemed panic-stricken, and nobody could tell what was going to happen, oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day, and I locked the door, and got down on my knees before Almighty God, and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His war, and our cause His cause, but we couldn't stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. And I then and there made a solemn vow to Almighty God, that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him. And He did stand by your boys, and I will stand by Him. And after that (I don't know how it was, and I can't explain it), soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into his own hands and that things would go all right at Gettysburg. And that is why I had no fears about you."

Monday, January 04, 2016

Ammon Bundy Militia

Seventy-year-old Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven D. Hammond, 43 are cattle ranchers in South East Oregon. The Hammonds face five-year mandatory minimum prison sentences plus maximum fines of $250,000 each and restitution for setting several relatively small fires on BLM land. 

The government alleged the Hammonds set a range fire in 2001 to reduce the growth of juniper trees and sagebrush and to accelerate the production of rangeland grasses for cattle feed.  In several other cases the Hammonds admitted to setting several supression or back fires in response to natural wildfires. However, the government concluded that "fires intentionally set on public lands endanger firefighters and the public."

The Hammonds were originally given light sentences in 2012, but the federal government recently appealed the original sentence and is sending them back to jail to serve their full 5-year minimum sentence under a domestic terrorism law. Many think this appeal and re-sentencing constitutes double jeopardy where a person is tried twice for the same or similar offenses. 

Cattle rancher Cliven Bundy had a standoff with BLM and ATF agents in 2014.  The Bundy's had been grazing cattle on BLM land without paying grazing fees since 1993.  Tea Party activists, and militia groups from around the country congregated at the Bundy Ranch to prevent the forceable removal of Bundy cattle from BLM land.  BLM eventually suspended the operation  because of bad media publicity and to prevent an armed escalation.

In the latest development, Ammon Bundy and several other sons of Cliven Bundy sought to make a similar stand with the Hammond's and resist the Federal Goverment action.  The Hammonds didn't want to fight and turned themselves in to return to jail. However, instead of giving up, Ammon Bundy and a small group decided to take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Ammon Bundy, minus their father Cliven, are again calling for patriots, Tea Party activists, and militia groups to gather with them at the refuge.

Taking over a federal government refuge and calling out for reinforcements could easily escalate into another Ruby Ridge, Waco situation, or worse.  Yet, if the Federal government had any serious intention of diffusing this situation they would prevent any more sympathizers from traveling into the area. The FEDs could easily cut them off now.  If their numbers swell, then its only because it is being allowed. 

What has the LDS Church said about militias and armed government protests? LDS Church Apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on these issues in a 2012 Regional Conference at BYU:

"Another example that I understand to be current among some members in this part of this church is the influence of right-wing groups who mistakenly apply prophecies about the last days to promote efforts to form paramilitary or other organizations. Such groups might undermine the authority of public officials in the event of extraordinary emergencies or even in cases of simple disagreement with government policy. The leaders of the church have always taught that we should observe the law and we should not try to substitute our own organizations for the political and military authorities put in place by Constitutional government and processes. We counsel against joining or supporting paramilitary organizations. I have sometimes taught this principle by reminding that the church has counseled the storage of food and water, not the storage of arms and ammunition."

--Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Regional Conference,  BYU Marriot Center, Sept 17, 2012.

Official LDS Statement on Oregon Stand-Off:

"While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can – and should – be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land.”

You can't fight to preserve the US Constitution by disgarding the Constitution.  The Book of Mormon calls for us to conduct governmemt by the voice of the people.

That being said, I do sympathize with the Hammonds and other ranchers. I do feel like their are serious issues here and Constitutional violations.  The Hammonds were a victim of double jeopardy,  they were unfairly tried and convicted as terrorists. I also agree that the Federal government should not have control of 1/3 of US Land. I don't necessarily mind an occupy movement either but I would prefer using the Constitutional mechanisms to restore the constitution and I don't like the "militia/militant" side of the movement.

Build Using Blueprints

A local minister was preaching on the radio this morning about disciples of Christ being too busy to read their scriptures is like workers being too busy to consult the blueprints.  Not only will we be building the wrong structure, but additional time will be required to dismantle what we have built before we can begin to build the way God has directed.

CS Lewis talks about what happens when an individual invites Christ into their life. Scripture tells us that Christ stands at the door and knocks.  But Christ will not enter our lives until we open our door to Him. Once inside the door of our house, Christ will immediately start knocking down the walls.  When we ask the Lord why He is destroying our lovely cottage on the hill, He responds, "I am the King of kings, and kings live in palaces".