Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Element and Intelligence

"You ask the learned doctors why they say the world ws made out of nothing and they will answer "Doesn't the Bible say he created the world?" They infer from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau (sic), which does not mean ot create out of nothing, it means to organize the world out of chaos - chaotic matter, which is element and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he (God) had. The pure principles of element which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end." - History of the Church 6:308-9

"Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it." -The King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith Jr.

2 Ne 2:14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted

D&C 93:27-36 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.

After reading some more about what Joseph Smith was taught and taught about creation and matter. There is some interesting stuff here. It seems that Joseph Smith identifies two primordial and eternal substances that on one hand are called light/spirit/intelligence and on the other is element. Both are eternal. Element can be recycled. I don't think intelligence is recycled as there is no reincarnation. The relationship of these things I don't know. Whether one can be converted into the other I don't know. Joseph says element is the substance "in which dwells all the glory". Well the glory of God is intelligence. So again, maybe it is the intelligence/spirit/light that is the eternal part. I thought it interesting that both light and element are required to come together to achieve a fullness of joy.

LDS Doctrine teaches of the eternal nature of the spirit and that all mankind are spirit children of God who is our Heavenly Father. Joseph Smith taught that intelligence or the spirit of man was not created but is self-existent and co-eternal with God. However, beyond this, it is unclear by what mechanism (adoption or gestation) man is considered spirit children of God. This question is like the ultimate nature vs. nurture debate. Recent LDS General Authorites have said that our “intelligence was clothed in spirit bodies.” Brigham Young is quoted as saying, “He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process ” (JoD 11:122-123). Joseph Smith “But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house tops that God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all” (Follett).

Whether man is inherently composed of a similar eternal substance as God, man was spiritually gestated and generated by God or both, the philosophical importance of either scenario is the equality and eternal potential of man. Once you start believing that man is a created being not unlike the dungbettle or the ape, it doesn’t take long for some to begin believing that God made them better then others.

There are some out there which may criticize a belief in eternal element or eternal intelligence by appealing to science. Current science claims they have discovered the background radiation thought to be left behind from the Big Bang which scientist believe was a creation of everything out of nothing. Personally, I don't think that LDS need to argue over over the Big Bang because these same scientist are also looking for "dark energy" and "dark matter" which they theorize to make up over 96% of the mass-energy of the Universe. Therefore, if scientists can't even see, measure, or explain 96% of the Universe, then I am sure we have much to learn still about the 4% we can see.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eternal Spirit, Reincarnation and Ex-Nihilo Creation

LDS doctrine is distinct from other Christian doctrines in that we do not believe that God created the Universe out of nothing (ex nihilo). That said, I think LDS need to be careful about what the implications of this belief are. When the eternal nature of matter was taught to Joseph Smith, the Big Bang Theory did not exist. And despite the failings of the Big Bang to explain why man has never observed the edge of the universe which forces us to conclude that the universe is not only expanding but accelerating due to some unmeasurable "dark energy"; most Christians like the Big Bang because the Bible clearly declares there was a beginning.

That said, LDS need not fall into the trap of arguing for the eternal nature of boron, strontium and rubidium. LDS belief is not necessarily contrary to the Big Bang or some other theory. What the Big Bang theory says is: In the Beginning there was nothing, which speaks of nothing as a something. And due to quantum mechanics, sometimes there can be small magnetic fluctuations in a nothing. Well, if you have a magnetic fluctuation, then you have somthing => Bang. While there remain many unanswered questions, It is important to understand what Joseph Smith actually taught on the subject.

First, Joseph Smith never was trying to argue for the eternal nature of dirt, rocks, or even sub-atomic particles like quarks, pions, and anti-neutrinos. What Joseph Smith taught was that spirit is eternal and that all things were created spiritually before they were made physically. Therefore, because we know that God is eternal, and God is spirit, therefore we know that spirit is eternal. We should also remember that the Creation story never discusses the creation of angels. This is precisely because, like Christ, the angels as well as the spirits of all mankind were with God in the beginning. Also, because, Joseph Smith was taught that there is no such thing as immaterial matter, He understood in the Doctrine and Covenants that spirit is a kind of pure and refined matter.

D&C 131: 7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

Therefore, if something like the Big Bang did occur as the measurement of the Background Radiation of the Universe suggests, it could be that creation simply involved the conversion of unorganized spirit material into organized physical material. Such a conversion of spirit matter into physical matter would resolve the problem of trying to explain how nothing can be a something. This process of conversion would also resolve the issue of violating the laws of thermodynamics and the conservation of energy. Some may argue that laws didn't exist until after the moment of creation and there was something to both govern and mediate the laws. But according to the Big Bang if quantum mechanics didn't exist first, then there would have never been that magnetic fluctuation in the nothing which resulted in the Bang.

But according to LDS theology, law as well as spirit is self-existent and co-eternal with God. The example that law is co-eternal with God is that the Bible teaches that the Son was with the Father in the beginning, So, therefore, the love of the Father for the Son also existed and is eternal. According to Ravi Zacharias, in all other world views, love follows life because God can't love until there is something to love. But only in Christianity does love precede life. Remember that God is love. And therefore, because all other laws are derived from love, love and law are eternal.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the words used in Hebrew and Greek for creation no not connote that God brought creation into existence from nothing. The several words in Greek and Hebrew suggest that the creative act involved "forming", "cutting out", "putting together" and "organizing" the elements. The Greek verbs for create connote that the elements were brought "into being" as opposed to being brought "into existence." In fact, everywhere modern NT translations use the word "exist" in creation verses, the translators ignored both the verb and the tense in the original Greek. Furthermore, the Bible likens God to the builder of a house or a potter of the clay. Even the title of YHWH which He gave to Moses of I AM THAT I AM can be interpreted to mean that God is the "Self-Existent of self-existent". So, if the Bible runs contrary to ex-nihilo creation, where did this idea originate?

One source of this doctrine could be from 2 Maccabees 7:28. The New American Bible version reads, "I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence."

The Jerusalem Bible says:
"My son, have pity on me; I carried you nine months in the womb and suckled you three years.... I implore you, my child, observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of what did not exist, and that mankind comes into being in the same way. Do not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your brothers, and make death welcome, so that in the day of mercy I may receive you back in your brothers' company."

2 Maccabees is one of several books which are part of the Apocrypha. While they are considered scripture by the Catholic Church, these books are not considered inspired by most other Christians. However, this didn't stop several Evangelical friends from using it during a conversion on this subject. As far as Joseph Smith's view an the Apocrypha is concerned, God told him the interpretation of it was correct and while there are many inspired things within these books, there are also some uninspiring things also.
(as a side note, I really like that this verse teaches about the eternal nature of family relationships).

The interesting and pertinent part of the verse is the phrase "God made them out of what did not exist" or "God did not make them out of existing things." Other than the problem of these 2 translation's speaking of a "nothing" as a "something" this verse really does teach something quite extraordinary that I only now realized. This verse is not talking about God creating something out of nothing. Again, according to the Greek, the verb suggests that God made the heaven and the Earth from material that wasn't already something else. [οὐκ ἐξ ὄντων - not from things that are] In other words, this is teaching that there was no reincarnation of matter involved in the creation. While we observe physical matter recycled in the Universe as stars eat other stars, when it comes to the creation of heaven, Earth, and of man, God did not take material that was from a prior creation and reuse it in this creation. 2 Maccabees makes much more sense that Mom would be saying,
"Son, don't fear death, God won't recycle your spirit/consciousness/essence, and we will again be together as a family"

Another source of the ex-nihilo doctrine could be from Shepherd of Hermas First Vision Chapter 1 which reads: "but hear the words which I am going to speak to you. God, who dwells in the heavens, and made out of nothing the things that exist". This verse at the very beginning of the Shepherd of Hermas has been translated to support ex-nihilo creation all the way. It would be interesting to see what the original Geek text says, the big issue with the Shepherd of Hermas is that it was written in the 2nd Century probably by the brother of Pope Pius 1. According to the LDS, because Hermas was not a martyr, he necessarily becomes part of the Apostasy.

My point in this post is to not let LDS critics lure LDS in trying to defend what we do not believe. LDS do not need to defend the eternal nature of dirt. Nor should we be lured into arguing against scientific theories such as the Big Bang. LDS can stand behind the belief of the eternal nature of spirit. God is eternal, God is spirit, therefore spirit is eternal.

As far as what this mysterious matter is that has not been something else; could it be dark matter and dark energy? Wiki describes dark matter as:
"The vast majority of the dark matter in the universe is believed to be nonbaryonic, which means that it contains no atoms and that it does not interact with ordinary matter via electromagnetic forces. The nonbaryonic dark matter includes neutrinos, and possibly hypothetical entities such as axions, or supersymmetric particles. " So, according to Wiki, Dark matter composes most of the mass and energy of the galaxy that has no atoms therefore it has never been regular physical measurable matter. Dark Matter may not be the correct candidate to constitute eternal matter, but its existence is an example and analogy of what 2 Maccabees was talking about.

Also, remember that the Bible says that "without God nothing was made, that was made." If this were Hebrew, the redundancy would be considered emphasis. But this verse was written in Greek and not Hebrew. So, the redundancy is not emphasis but an adverbial clause that serves to modify (adjunct or disjunct) the subject and the verb of the sentence. Again, Bible says that "without God nothing was made, that was made" Therefore the redundancy here suggests that not everything required making.

The Bible says that God created all things both visible and invisible. While some interpret invisible as referring to spirit, LDS interpret invisible as referring to forces like gravity, and electromagnetism, and wind and invisible gases etc. We should not forget that spirit is visible in many cases so it would not fall under the category of invisible necessarily

The rejection of ex-nihlo creation has one major benefit. It is the only rational way to deal with the problem of evil and suffering that atheists bring up again and again. If God made Satan out of nothing, than He is responsible for a defective creation. Doesn't the Bible ask, "will the pot say against the potter, he made me not or he hath no understanding." But God said that after the creation, everything was good. If you say, that God didn't mess up but gave Satan his agency and let him go wild, then you have to confess that God was an accomplice to murder and gave the gun to a known murderer and God knew exactly what Lucifer would do with it.

Isa 29:16
Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

Instead knowing that the spirit of Lucifer/Satan aways existed and was evil from the beginning by nature, God gave Lucifer every opportunity to choose good as Lucifer was like an archangel like Gabriel or Michael, but Satan fell, and Satan is only allowed to rebel for a short time for Gods purposes so that his other children can be exposed to good and evil and discover for ourselves what what we are made of. And we are promised through Christ all our loses will be made up to us and God will wipe away every tear.

You ask the learned doctors why they say the world ws made out of nothing and they will answer "Doesn't the Bible say he created the world?" They infer from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau (sic), which does not mean ot create out of nothing, it means to organize the world out of chaos - chaotic matter, which is element and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he (God) had. The pure principles of element which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end. - History of the Church 6:308-9

Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. -The King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith Jr.

I don't believe Element refers to the same state of matter as the word connotes today. I believe that Joseph Smith is using the terms "element" "spirit" and "intelligence" interchangeably. What Joseph Smith calls "element" is not what we call "element" because he says his element is that substance "in which dwells all the glory." Or it may be that Joseph Smith differentiate between two primordial substances; element and intelligence. From these come two types of creation, one which is created to act, and that which was created to be acted upon. Therefore, I would say that that which was created to act is never recycled or reincarnated while that which was created to be acted upon can be reused, reformed, recycled, etc.

2 Ne 2:14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

looking back at 2 Maccabees 7:28 where it says "God made them out of what did not exist" or "God did not make them out of existing things." This could be assuring the son that God does not take living material that is sentient and is intelligence, destroy the sentience, and use that material in another creation. Christ did change water to wine but this kind of "element", I suppose, is created to be acted upon and is not living.

I was asked, If God is Spirit and God is eternal and only spirit is eternal, the only way you can claim matter is eternal is to say matter is spirit. What is the nature of spirit? Is it alive? Does it have consciousness? Can it think? I don't know about thinking, but some scientists now believe that all matter has a degree of free will. A mathematical proof for this was recently derived called the "free will theorem." Some scientist believe that it is free will of matter that gives rise to quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is the explanation for why when 99.99999 etc% of all the particles do one thing, just a few particles decide that they are going to do something else.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Free Will, Agency and Calvanism

The following is part of a conversation with regard to Agency and Calvinism: Calvinist say no one is free or has agency but Christ, and you are not free until you accept Christ and therefore you are free in Christ. This then leads to the idea that all men are fallen and sinful and deserve nothing but death and misery and it is only by the goodness of God that He selects and few of His chosen to be elected to Eternal Life. Then these same people do things like change the name of the "free will offering" to the "election collection" etc.

God says in the Bible, Look, man has become as one of us to know Good and Evil. So, yes Adam and Eve were not free in the Garden to choose because they had the minds of little children. It is the Bible itself that says they only learned good and evil after partaking of the fruit. But it wasn't the fall alone that produced agency. Agency is a product of several factors including:1. knowledge of good and evil, 2. enticement by good and bad, 3. the atonement of Jesus Christ, 4. and then an ability to choose Christ (free will). All 4 elements are necessary.

Calvinist use several scriptures as proof text for their belief. Two scriptures in the Bible say that no one cometh unto the Son save the Father draweth him, and another says that none which the Father giveth to Christ will be lost. Calvinist interpret the first to support the idea that if the Father didn't elect us, none of us would escape death and hell. And Calvinist interpret the second to mean that after you have been selected or elected, that is impossible to fall from grace.

However, what is left out in this interpretation is that these two scriptures fail to account for the truth that God is no respecter of persons and he draweth all men to Christ and excludeth no none.

2 Ne. 26: 33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

This interpretation also excludes the possibility that some could reject the Father's drawing. The Bible says none which the Father giveth the Son would be lost, it does not say everyone that the Father draweth would be drawn. The Book of Mormon says that man is not free to choose unless enticed by one side of the other. The drawing of the Father to Christ is the required enticement. And the Book of Mormon says that because of the Fall, if it had not been for the atonement of Christ all mankind would have been doomed to be miserable forever. So, taking the Bible and Book of Mormon together gives a clear understanding that through Christ, all men are free to choose. Whether we choose freedom and to remain free or whether we choose captivity and death. We must be enticed by the Father, but in the end, the decision is ours to make.

Calvinists claim that after you accept Christ that it is impossible to fall from grace. This may be so, if a person is really elected for salvation and is not just a tare among the wheat. Paul would say such was never under grace and that person is really elected to damnation because he is put in a situation where he is making promises and not keeping thus bringing more judgment upon himself had he remained ignorant. Again, agency still applies because a person could refuse to be drawn by the Father. And Satan and the 1/3 part of heaven are an example of individuals turning against the Father. Of course, it is correct that without Christ no one is free. But, as long as you are alive and accepting Christ is an option and the Father is reaching out to rescue and draw you, then you are still free to choose to accept or decline.

Josh. 24: 15 Choose you this day whom ye will serve;. . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Rev. 3: 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Failure of Zion

Section 101 explains why Zion failed. The reason is because the people failed to obey the commands of God to build a temple. The temple provides spiritual protection against sin through sanctification. Had the people been more sanctified through the temple, the LDS people probably would have gotten along with their neighbors better and not resulted in the Mormon War and the Extermination order. It takes two to tango, and in war both sides are wicked. One side may be less wicked than the other.

BUt, If we were righteous, then God would help us avert war, and would fight our battle for us like what God did for the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the time of Isaiah. When someone is rude or mean to you and you are rude and mean back, that gives them justification in their mind for the initial rudeness and worse behavior in the future. Pretty soon noone can remember who was mean first.

Anyways, it is actually prophesied that Zion would not be realized on the first try. This goes back to Able being killed by Cain, and then with the birth of Seth. Another allegory goes to the flood and God starting over with Noah and his family. Another allegory is Solomon building the temple instead of David because David was a man of war. Another allegory is the 2 attempts to build the Temple of Zerrubabbel. Isaiah said in the Last Days the temple would be built in the top of the mountains. Utah means "top of the mountains, or high place" in the Ute language. Mormons wanted to name the State "Deseret,' but the governor of the territory at the time decided otherwise. And Abraham blessed Joseph who was sold into Egypt that his future seed in the Last Days: " The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”(Gen.49:22-26).

The best prophecy is the account by John in Revelations about the woman (Zion) getting ready to give birth to child (Theocracy) and the dragon devouring the child just as it is born and sending a flood against the woman. Then John says the woman was carried away into the dessert and nurished there and the Earth helps the woman until she is ready to return but this time wearing her beautiful white robes. Zion is the LDS church, the dragon and the flood represent the persecution. The child being devoured represents how Joseph Smith was martyred right after declaring his candidacy for president of the United States. The woman going into the wilderness represents the LDS church going to Utah. The Earth helping the woman represents the Book of Mormon which came from the Earth and out of the Earth.

But the prophecy will still be fulfilled. LDS still plan to build the city of Zion. But it will wait for a future day during the tribulation and before the rapture and the wrath when all governments collapse and a center gathering place is needed to protect the LDS people from the ensuing anarchy. However, right at the moment, Independence MO is a suburb of Kansas City, so there are no immediate plans to do anything. There is one troublesome prophecy concerning Independence which Joseph gave to General Doniphan while meeting with him and a 3rd person entered the room and offered to pay a dept to Doniphans business firm with land from Independence. Joseph warned Doniphan to not accept the land. This prophecy was fulfilled during the Civil War when Colossians W. R. Penick burned Jackson County to the ground in 1863 in response to General Order No. 11 by Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr. and again in 1864 when the area of Independence was ravaged by war again by Confederate Sterling Price who launched Price's Raid through the area culminating with the Battle of Westport.

"'Doniphan, I advise you not to take that Jackson county land in payment of the debt. God's wrath hangs over Jackson county. God's people have been ruthlessly driven from it, and you will live to see the day when it will be visited by fire and sword. The Lord of Hosts will sweep it with the besom of destruction. The fields and farms and houses will be destroyed, and only the chimneys will be left to mark the desolation.'

In reality, Joseph Smith prophesied and knew all along that the LDS people would end up in Utah. It is documented that Joseph Smith prophesied that the Saints would become a great people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. There is some debate about this prophecy mainly because Brigham Young preferred Vancouver Island to the Salt Lake Valley, but a record by Oliver H Olney verifies the prophecy.

"I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains."
Documentary History of the Church (DHC) 5:85 August 1842

"As a company is now a forming / In to the wilderness to go / As far west as the Rocky mountains. . . . If this was not the secret whispering / Amongst certain ones of the Church of L.D.S. / And could be easily proven If man could speak." [Oliver H. Olney Papers, Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.] July 2, 1842

Eternal Marriage vs Eternal Unions

Today we are faced with the issue of civil unions vs. traditional marriage. For the most part, while most Christians do not approve of homosexual behavior or same-sex unions, we do love them as our brothers and sisters and agree that these couples who desire to live together should be afforded most all the same benefits as a married couple.

But you can't give all the benefits of traditional marriage to a civil union, or then it would be traditional marriage just called by a different name. So, then what is the one thing that differentiates traditional marriage from a civil union. I believe that one thing that differentiates civil unions from traditional marriage is the primary right to bare, adopt, and raise children. Again, I would define traditional marriage as being between a man and a women for the purposes of creating a family unit prepared to receive children if they do come along either biologically, by adoption, through familial and neighborly influence, or in expectation and hope of eternal parenting and nurturing future souls in the next life.

While the issue of same-sex marriage is considered the civil rights issue of our generation, I think the rights that are not being considered here are the rights of child to be raised by both a mother and a father. I believe it to be the right of all children to be raised in a home with both a father and a mother. Since, Civil unions do not provide this right, therefore, I think that they are different and should be regulated different from traditional marriage.

Now, it is true that there are many children in need of adoption. Especially in Haiti. Therefore, just because a child cannot have the ideal situation, we don't need to throw out the next best thing or even the 5th best just because it is not the ideal. So, it may be better that a child be adopted by a same-sex couple then not have any parents. That said, I do not support same sex couples using sperm donors and surrogates. Purposefully creating a child in this way to be raised by a same-sex couple is a clear violation of that child's right. However, if a child has already been born and has no caregivers, a same-sex home may be a satisfactory alternative.

Understanding the difference between Civil Unions and Traditional Marriage really helped me understand the purpose of Eternal Marriage in the LDS Church. The LDS church has always believed that all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will be saved. The only caveat to this is that while many will be saved, not everyone will receive the same rewards or gifts. And while all rewards or gifts are freely offered, they must be accepted. And it is the LDS view that those Christians who reject the LDS gospel and LDS temple marriage, are not rejecting heaven, but just rejecting a specific crown/reward/seat/kingdom/glory/gift/reward in heaven. We call this gift exaltation.

But Christians and LDS know that if both they and their spouse are believers and truly born again, then they will both be in heaven. And being in heaven will not dilute that relationship. We will still know as we are known,, and know as we know now. Joseph Smith taught that the same sociality that exists here will exist there except it will be coupled with eternal glory. Therefore, our love for Christ and others will not dilute our love for our family and our spouse, but it will magnify that love forever. So, naturally we can expect that families will voluntarily choose to remain together even without LDS eternal marriage. So what is difference with LDS eternal marriage?

The blessing of LDS eternal marriage is found in its purpose. Remember the primary purpose of marriage is to raise children up unto the Lord biologically or by adoption or by influence. Therefore, I believe the blessing of Eternal marriage involves being blessed to participate with God in His work of eternal parenting . The most sacred work of God and His most sacred title is that of Father. Eternal Life is the promise of coming to know God. I'm not sure how one could come to know God unless they were blessed to serve God in the kind of work that God does. Therefore, I believe that while all Christians may enjoy a form of eternal union with their spouse, and family, only those who are willing to receive the gift of LDS eternal marriage will be blessed with the opportunity to adopt self-existent spirits and nurture them and prepare them prior to being born into an Earth-like experience.

While many critics of the LDS church make LDS eternal life and exaltation sound strange, I think when it is understood that the spirits of all man are eternal and self-existent and have no beginning and no end, it is more understandable that each of us as a self-existent and co-eternal intelligence were adopted spirit children of God and nurtured by eternal parents before coming to Earth and being born to and nurtured by earthly parents. In the next life, those who receive it, will be blessed to continue to work of creation, and eternal parenting with our Heavenly Father through the blessing of LDS Eternal Marriage.

Christ was asked on one occasion by a Jewish Man if a Jewish Woman married 7 brothers according to the law of Levarite Marriage, in the resurrection, whose would she be. Jesus responded that the man denied the power, and that those worthy to obtain that world would be as the angels and not married nor given in marriage. Many see this as saying there is no marriage in heaven. But this is forgetting who Christ is talking to and about. The Jews were were offered but rejected the higher covenant. The Jews turned down eternal marriage. Consequently, those worthy to receive this lesser world/crown/seat/glory/reward/kingdom/seat/mansion would be like the angels and not married but maybe just enjoy a eternal union.

However, Heb 1 says that Christians through the sealing keys given to Peter that whatsoever is bound on Earth is bound in heaven are promised to be glorified together with Christ who was made higher than the angels and given a more excellent name than they. Therefore, Christs answer to the Jew about the Jew doesn't apply to Christians who do not deny the power of Christ, and who are willing to receive the blessing of LDS Eternal Marriage. According to Gal 4, Some who are saved will be considered children of the bondwoman Hagar, while others are called children of the promise. Again, Jews didn't have eternal marriage so as Christ said, the Jewish woman in question would not be married to any of the 7 brothers in the next life. But the important point here is that this restriction in Luke 20:35 doesn't apply to Christians because Christians are promised to be made higher than the angels and will receive a far better world/reward/gift/kingdom/crown than the Jewish woman because of Christ.

Heb 1: 5 , 13-14 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?. . . But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. . . Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. . . Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Evidence of My Faith

Some people confuse faith with hope and hope with speculation. But the scriptures tell us the true meaning of faith. According to the Bible, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Therefore, hope is the assurance, but faith is the substance of that assurance. A song I learned growing up equated faith with "knowing the sun would rise, brightening each new day." Equating religious faith with the reality of the sun rising each morning is a fascinating comparison. In the same way there is proof of the earth in its regular orbit around the sun, there is evidence that God's word is faithful and true. The difference between each type of evidence, is that the sun can be measured with scientific instruments and described with equations. God's word can be experimented upon, but it is measured by living it and personal and collective experience. But, just as I set my alarm clock the night before counting on the sun rising the next morning, I can arrange my life around the commandments and promised blessings of God.

John 7: 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

[Lec 1:24a] Faith then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God.

Alma 34:4 Yea, even that ye would have so much faith as even to plant the word in your hearts, that ye may try the experiment of its goodness.

Some Evangelical Christians have charged that because there is no archaeological and scientific evidence that the Nephites described in the Book of Mormon existed, that I exercise faith in a vain hope. However, I don't believe in God because I scientifically measured Him. I do not believe that Jesus Christ came back from the dead and ascended to heaven because some archaeologist found ancient video tape of the events. Therefore, I don't base my belief in the Book of Mormon based on what archeologist's have yet to find.

First off, it is impossible to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of God. To do either would require that the person be God. Accordingly, I believe in God not because I can scientifically measure Him, but because He has revealed Himself to me. In the same way, I believe in Christ, and in Joseph Smith, and in the Bible and Book of Mormon because God has revealed in the same way that these things are true and of Him.

While emotions are subjective by definition, I also have objective evidence of my faith? I believe in the LDS faith because the Bible says that the New and Everlasting Covenant carries the promise of a more perfect sanctification as well as future salvation. Therefore, this more perfect sanctification which is a more complete mastery over the appetites of the flesh, becomes a testable proof of God and His word. I have experimented upon God's word and the LDS faith and I have found that it has proved to produce the promised increase in sanctification and self control. behavior is measurable and objective. Therefore, by objective as well as subjective evidence, I have hope in a future salvation as well.

Subjectively, my evidence of God and the LDS religion is based on the fruit that the LDS gospel produces in my life. This is something that Satan cannot duplicate or falsify. "The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, joy, happiness, temperance, patience, father; against such there is no law" Objectively, the LDS doctrine focused on sanctification in Christ inspires and encourages and empowers men to bridle their appetites and master their flesh. Remember, the higher covenant is all about sanctification. If you do not understand what the word of Christ means when Christ said "If thou wilt be perfect" and what Heb says about the NT vs the OT having power to make us perfect then you have missed the whole meaning and purpose of the NT and the atonement of Christ who came to save us from our sins.

The LDS gospel helps me and others around me be better. I see that the people I associate with who keep their covenants, can be depend on, can be trusted, and they exemplify better mastery of their flesh and appetites and this is what Zion is all about. Zion is the "pure in heart"

I respect many Christians who have confessed and forsaken serious sins through Christ. LDS don't deny this but carry the promise to the next level. LDS teach a message of eternal progression and encourage our members to never stand still, because when it comes to spirituality, if you are not progressing your are backsliding. The Scriptures promise that after coming to Christ, Christ will bring us to the Father through a more perfect Sanctification. Therefore, the message of the New Covenant and the LDS gospel is sanctification and striving through Christ to be better as Pres Hinkley said "try a little harder to be a little better"

I am careful not to confuse peace with prosperity. God said he would cause it to rain on the just and the unjust. Therefore, temporal prosperity is not necessarily a sign of God's favor. But the Bible and the Book of Mormon do clearly state that what does differentiate the righteous in Christ with the wicked is peace and happiness. Isaiah said, "There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked." Alma in the Book of Mormon taught his son, "Wickedness never was happiness." Therefore, the fruit of my faith is not only prosperity but primarily peace, temperance, patience and a more perfect sanctification "against such there is no law."

Some Evangelicals vilify LDS doctrine because it is focused on trying to inspire people to be better? Why call good evil and evil good? Why say, "LDS are trying to be better and focus on sanctification because they think they are better than everyone else? Or, LDS focus on being better is because they think they can save themselves?" The simple truth is that the higher covenant of the NT is about being empowered by Christ to enjoy a greater more perfect sanctification. Therefore, the evidence of my faith in the LDS religion is the fruit of better self-mastery over the appetites of the flesh that I have experienced as a member of this church. The evidence of my faith in Christ is that His atonement is not just mercy to save me in my sins, but also power to help me overcome, escape, and forsake them. I have witnessed this power, and have witnessed this power in the lives of others.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Doubling Convert Baptisms, Retention, and Reactivation

The Late Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gordon B. Hinkley challenged the LDS people to double the number of convert baptisms and improve upon our retention of those who have been newly baptized into the church. This past year, our ward and mission as well as neighboring missions have worked to apply the principles President Hinkley gave several years ago and have successfully doubled our convert baptisms as well as increased retention. Here is what we are doing.

First, our bishop has doubled and tripled the number of ward missionaries. Since every member needs a calling, there should be plenty of members who could assist the missionaries. Next, our ward mission leader conducts a missionary meeting twice-a-week. The first meeting, usually held after church on Sunday, the full-time Elders together with the ward missionaries discuss splits/exchanges/teamups, and assign home teachers or ward missionaries to teach new member discussions. After an individual has been baptized into the LDS church, there is still alot to be learned. However, the responsibility of new member discussions has been given to ward missionaries and home teachers which helps the new member form permanent and lasting relationships with members in the congregation and weans them from their temporary relationship with the Elders.

The second missionary meeting is held 30 minutes before youth night activities. In this meeting, the missionaries and a representative from each axillary meet to discuss all the families and individuals that the missionaries are working with. Since, leadership are generally at the church on youth night anyways, this meeting is not difficult for them to attend. With the auxiliaries present as well as a member of the bishopric, home and visiting teaching is assigned, fellowshipping is arranged, rides to church are organized, and new member discussions are planned. This second meeting with leadership from the Relief Society, Elders Quorum, Young Men, Young Women, High Priests, and Primary is amazingly productive. These meetings really help coordinate the ward in taking care of the needs of the families and individuals that the missionaries are working with. At the same time, the leadership can request that the missionaries help them in visiting and assessing the needs of members who may not be actively attending and participating in church.

Just as Pres. Hinkley encouraged, the result of these missionary meetings together with the coordination of priesthood auxiliaries has been a doubling of convert baptisms and an increase in retention and reactivation. These result have been seen throughout our mission and also in neighboring missions in the South East Area

Missionary Letter

Dear Sis. Brosnahan,

I was out with the missionaries this morning driving them around
before work. It was tough to find people awake before noon. I know I
wouldn't be up. There is one lady we visited who was baptized baptist
last year and is interested in the missionaries message about the gift
of the Holy Ghost. She feels obligated to her church because they
helped her out financially and she really feels she has found an oasis
of solace after having gone through the dessert. Many Born-again
Christians really feel this way.

I likened her experience to Nephi in the Book of Mormon. After having
traveled through the dessert and suffered starvation and fatigue they
finally arrived at the land Bountiful. This land on the sea shore was
flowing with milk and honey. I can understand why when God commanded
Nephi to build a ship and cross the ocean, many did not want to leave
Bountiful after what they had just been through. But Bountiful was a
stepping stone on the way to the Promised Land, and after traveling
trough an arid Arabian Dessert, God was still asking them to cross the
expansive ocean before arriving at an even better place.

After talking with this sister, we spoke to a great young couple. The
brother is training in the millitary for a few months. We showed them
the Restoration DVD. The wife really asked some great insightful
questions. She asked if the Joseph in the Bible was related to Joseph
Smith. i said they are different Joseph's but they are connected in
an interesting way.

Joseph in the Bible is one of 12 brothers and sons of Jacob (Israel).
Joseph's older brothers Ruben, Simeon, and Judah lost out on the
birthright because of some mistakes they made. So, the birthright
went to Joseph a younger brother instead of some of the older
brothers. Because of jealously, the older brothers sold Joseph into
slavery into Egypt and told their father Jacob Joseph had been eaten
alive by wild animals. Later, a great drought and famine came and the
family of Jacob and the 11 sons were starving and went to Egypt to
find food. Well it turned out that Joseph recognized his family and
served to save his family from the famine.

In a way, this story in the OT is an allegory that teaches us
something that will happen in the Last Days. Just as the Joseph in
the OT saved his family from the drought and famine then. The OT
foretells in Amos about a future famine, not of bread or of water, but
a spiritual famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Today, we like
the 11 brothers can turn to a modern Joseph Smith to help us escape
this modern spiritual famine.

I hope everything is going well for you. Our ward has a missionary
meeting twice a week on youth night and after church on Sunday which
the ward missionaries attend and arrange splits and new member
discussions. Furthermore, on youth night before scouts and YM/YW,
a representative from all the auxiliaries attends. During this meeting the
missionaries review all their investigators and we plan splits, fellowshipping,
phone calls, and rides to church for each investigator. These meeting have
resulted in a doubling of our baptisms.

David B.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Spirit of Elijah

"The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George [temple]. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them. I will here say before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 229, Wilford Woodruff)."

Someone questioned the following quote from Wilford Woodruff who was the 4th Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This person was concerned that this quote advocated the forbidden practice of spiritism or divination. First off, this question is a reflection of an unfortunate misunderstanding of the quote. Pres. Woodruff is not speaking of the living seeking to communicate with the dead, but the dead trying to inspire the living.

Let me be clear from the start that the LDS Church strictly forbids its members from praying to anyone other than Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ or from practicing any type of spiritism or seeking communication from anyone who has died. Any practices of this sort invites evil spirits who will deceive you.

Instead, the spirit that Pres. Woodruff is speaking of is the spirit of Genealogy and Family History work that so many feel to do. This spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Elijah. After completing the temple in St. George Utah, Pres. Woodruff recounts that he was unexpectedly visited by a host of spirits including the Founding Fathers and many great men of the Protestant Reformation. They wanted to know why the LDS church had forgotten them and had not provided them a baptism by vicarious proxy in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They had faithfully completed the work God has given them to do which made the restoration of the church possible. In response, Pres. Woodruff immediately provided these ordinances for these great pioneers of freedom.

I and many other LDS and non-LDS have been prompted to do genealogy and family history work. Not in the same way as Pres. Woodruff. But the unseen motivation to seek out our dead ancestors is real. This desire to do Genealogy work which is the spirit of Elijah is why so many people are interested in family history research. This spirit is in fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi which says in the Last Days Elijah will appear and hearts of the fathers will turn to the children and the hearts of the children turn to their fathers.

Mal 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Luke 1:7 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:17 is speaking of the mission of John the Baptist to baptize the living before the first coming of Christ while Mal 4:6 is speaking of Elijah himself coming before the great and dreadful day of the Lord to restore the keys of baptism for the dead before the Second Coming of Christ. Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and restored the keys of this work in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. So, John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to baptize the living before the First Coming of Jesus Christ and Elijah himself came to baptize the dead before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Since names may be required to resurrect people and call them out of the Earth, it would be useful to do all the genealogy work so that the righteous can be resurrected during the Millennium. Christ could do it all himself. But that is not how he operates. He allows man to participate in this work just like He allows man to participate in the building up of His kingdom on Earth and in doing missionary work.

The 7 Seals of Revelation

Joseph Smith was told by God that the 7 seals are 7 1000-year periods of the earth history. The 7 Seals make mention of the emergence of disease and earthquakes. It is likely disease and earthquakes had always existed, but the the devastation is a result of how these natural occurrences are magnified due to man's changing living conditions.

D&C 77: 6-7, 12
6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?

A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

7 Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?

A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the csecond also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.

12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, a. . . . and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.

Seal 1 4000-3000bc: men divide up the land
Seal 2 3000-2000bc: men fight over boarders, before seal 1 you didnt have much war because if you wanted some land it was easier to just move and find some then to kill over it.
Seal 3 2000-1000bc: Phoenecians invent money
Seal 4 1000-0: money allows people to live in cities. Living in cramped cities then diseases and plagues became a big issue.
Seal 5 0-1000ad: Christ is crucified and Christians are martyred.
Seal 6 1000-2000ad: sun,moon, stars darkened describes the Apostasy. Apostasy describes the time when all spiritual light from heaven is rejected for the ideas and interpretations of man. Not one stone is left upon another of the temple (church) of Christ. This led the world in the DARK AGES.

Earthquakes terrorize the people because this is the century when the Romans invented concrete and cement. Consequently many cities were built with unreinforced concrete and the same type of thing we saw happen in Haiti happened in many other cities.

Regional Earthquakes and Tsunamis are signs of the time. They only affect small regions but give us a glimpse of what a world-wide catastrophe during the tribulation could do. If what happened to Haiti happened everywhere, Haiti would not receive any help because everyone would be needing help at the same time. That is why Rev says after the first trumpet will burn 1/3 trees (richer people) but burn all the green grass (poorer people). Dying in the tribulation doesn't mean you are righteous or wicked.

Another angel appears with the seal of God describing the restoration of the everlasting gospel and the elect receive the sealing in the forehead. This restoration describes the Restoration by Joseph Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Restoration of the New Testament Temple and Everlasting Temple Covenant.

Seal 7 2000-3000ad:
This seal opens with a 1/2 hour of silence. this 1/2 hour could be 21 years and is not likely going to end in 2012.
The 7 Trumpets sound signaling the Tribulation
The Beast (false gov) turns against and devours the Harlot (false religion)
The righteous come out of the tribulation sanctified and with their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb. The wicked still do not repent.
The righteous are raptured during the 7th Trumpet at the end of the Tribulation
The 7 Cups of Wrath are then poured out and the wicked are destroyed
Christ and the righteous enjoy a period of Paradisaical Peace
The Wicked are resurrected at the end of the Millennium and Satan is again empowered and there is a final Battle of God and Magog.

We are currently in the 1/2 hour silence of the 7th Seal. Soon the 7 Trumpets will sound. Signs of the times are regional disasters like Haiti and the Indonesian Tsunami which only give us a glimpse of what world-wide catastrophe could do. It would not take very much to disrupt the food supply and transportation system. Food is not locally grown any more in amounts to support large cities. Therefore, every family needs a 1-2 year supply of food and medicines. Summer is nigh at hand

Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, Humans and Giants

I was watching PBS the other day and a NOVA-like show was visiting an institute of human evolution which had numerous remains of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon (not called that any more). It is currently believed as far as I can tell that scientists believe that Neanderthals and Early Man (Cro-Magnon), lived in Europe at the same time but didn't mix. And then by some unexplained mystery Neanderthals who are believed to have lived on the Earth as early as 600,000 bc died out after Cro-Magnon moved in about 30,000 bc.

First, I am of the opinion that all radioactive isotopic dating is wrong as the rate of cosmic rays hitting the Earth which produces isoptopes is never constant and therefore the ratio of radioactive isotopes is not constant. Therefore, these dating techniques together with DNA mutation rates in mtDNA and yDNA studies are unfortunately incorrect.

However, I think the Bible may give us some clues to who are and what happened to what scientists call Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, and Humans. John in Revelation was shown 4 beasts who stood around the throne of God. Joseph Smith asked God if these 4 beasts represented 4 individuals or classes. Joseph Smith was told that they represented both individuals and classes. The interesting thing about these 4 magnificent beasts full of eyes and wings (knowledge and power) is that one of the 4 had the face of a man. The significance of this is that this beast with the face of a man, was not a man. Could this beast have represented the Neanderthal?

Thinking along these lines, if Neanderthal and Human's lived together, did Humans and Neanderthal ever mix? The NOVA program said no but scientists are mixed on this issue because they now consider Cro-Magnon to be human and not hybrid. However, the Genesis story may suggest Humans and Neanderthal did mix. Genesis tells a bazaar tale of the sons of god intermixing with the daughters of man. The result of this forbidden mixing were offspring referred to as the Giants. Could the 6-7 ft Cro-Magnon remains represent the Giants spoken of in the Bible? If Cro-Magnon are the Giants, the Bible tells us that most if not all did not survive the global flood (see Gen 6:4, Deut 2:20-21).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Children of God

We are Children of Our Heavenly Father

God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 335).

[What do scriptures and latter-day prophets teach us about our relationship to God?How does the belief that we are children of God empower us against sin? Example of the endowment of Moses.]

Every person who was ever born on earth is our spirit brother or sister. Because we are the spirit children of God, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become like our Heavenly Father and receive a fulness of joy.

[How does your knowledge that you are a child of God influence your thoughts, words, and actions? How does this knowledge influence how you treat others?]

We Developed Personalities and Talents While We Lived in Heaven

The scriptures teach us that the prophets prepared themselves to become leaders on earth while they were still spirits in heaven (see Alma 13:1–3). Before they were born into mortal bodies, God foreordained (chose) them to be leaders on earth. Jesus, Adam, and Abraham were some of these leaders. (See Abraham 3:22–23.) Joseph Smith taught that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was [fore]ordained to that very purpose” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 511). However, everyone on earth is free to accept or reject any opportunity to serve.

[Explain: intelligence, spirit body, physical body. How does the self-existence of man address the problem of suffering? How does foreordination empower against sin vs. predestination? Give the example of how deterministic philosophy results in students cheating]

We were not all alike in heaven. We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). We possessed different talents and abilities, and we were called to do different things on earth. We can learn more about our “eternal possibilities” when we receive our patriarchal blessings (see Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 66).

A veil covers our memories of our premortal life, but our Father in Heaven knows who we are and what we did before we came here. He has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities.

[How have other people’s talents blessed you? How can your talents and gifts bless others?

Our Father in Heaven Presented a Plan for us to Become Like Him

Our Heavenly Father knew we could not progress beyond a certain point unless we left Him for a time. He wanted us to develop the godlike qualities that He has. To do this, we needed to leave our premortal home to be tested and to gain experience. Our spirits needed to be clothed with physical bodies. We would need to leave our physical bodies at death and reunite with them in the Resurrection. Then we would receive immortal bodies like that of our Heavenly Father. If we passed our tests, we would receive the fulness of joy that our Heavenly Father has received. (See D&C 93:30–34.)

[How does life on Earth prepare us to become more like our Heavenly Father? Differentiate godhood vs. eternal parenthood. Differentiate Satan's plan vs God's plan. Explain why the idea of a pre-existence cannot be accepted. Just returning to live with God is not the goal]

Our Heavenly Father called a Grand Council to present His plan for our progression (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 209, 511). We learned that if we followed His plan, we would become like Him. We would be resurrected; we would have all power in heaven and on earth; we would become heavenly parents and have spirit children just as He does (see D&C 132:19–20).

We learned that He would provide an earth for us where we would prove ourselves (see Abraham 3:24–26). A veil would cover our memories, and we would forget our heavenly home. This would be necessary so we could exercise our agency to choose good or evil without being influenced by the memory of living with our Heavenly Father. Thus we could obey Him because of our faith in Him, not because of our knowledge or memory of Him. He would help us recognize the truth when we heard it again on earth (see John 18:37).

[Prove to ourselves what we are made of. Will vs. Agency]

At the Grand Council we also learned the purpose for our progression: to have a fulness of joy. However, we also learned that some would be deceived, choose other paths, and lose their way. We learned that all of us would have trials in our lives: sickness, disappointment, pain, sorrow, and death. But we understood that these would be given to us for our experience and our good (see D&C 122:7). If we allowed them to, these trials would purify us rather than defeat us. They would teach us to have endurance, patience, and charity (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 15–16).

[God does know the intimate details of our life. Bad stuff doesn't just happen. G0d doesn't just play dice with the Universe despite what Rabbi Kushner says]

At this council we also learned that because of our weakness, all of us except little children would sin (see D&C 29:46–47). We learned that a Savior would be provided for us so we could overcome our sins and overcome death with resurrection. We learned that if we placed our faith in Him, obeying His word and following His example, we would be exalted and become like our Heavenly Father. We would receive a fulness of joy.

[A Muslim told me he could not accept Christ as God because that would mean all men are gods. A Christian told me he could not accept Islam because they deny the divinity of Christ. What think ye of Christ, whose son is He?]

Hebrews 12:9
(God is the Father of our spirits) Job 38:4–7 (premortal life implied) Abraham 3:22–28 (vision of premortal life) Jeremiah 1:5 (vision of premortal life) D&C 29:31–38 (vision of premortal life) Moses 3:4–7 (spiritual and temporal creations) 1 Corinthians 15:44 (spiritual and temporal creations) D&C 76:23–24 (begotten sons and daughters) D&C 132:11–26 (plan for progression)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adam and Evolution

The LDS Church has as a core doctrine that all mankind are spirit children of our Heavenly Father. It is absolutely essential to our religion that men understand our relationship to God. Men, regardless of race, bond or free, are never to be compared to animals. Men are not just the highest animal creation. Like Christ, men are the literal spiritual offspring of God. Like Christ we were with God in the beginning and like Christ, who is the Firstborn, men are considered gods and children of god.

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
Ps 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Now, I have made a declaration that men are not to be compared to animals. However, science via evolution has been making these comparisons not long after this theory was first conceived. However, when Darwin first detailed evolution in his "Origin of the Species", the theory did not involve man. However, I am trained in the biological and physical sciences, and I am not ignorant of a few facts. First, animals have an almost miraculous capacity to adapt to their environment. Darwin correctly observed adaptation with regard to finch beak size in the Galapagos. The law of survival of the fittest is a true concept. The individual with the highest reproductive fitness will pass on their genes. Interesting concept here is that reproductive fitness benifits the individual, it doesn't necessarily benefit a population. Genetic variation is what benefits a population and may allow a select minority to resist or adapt to a disease or new environmental stress. These survivors may not be the considered the most reproductively fit during times of plenty, but when it comes to reproduction, nothing beats survival.

What science has not definitively shown is that while animals can adapt to a variety of environmental factors, one kind of animal has never been observed changing into another type of animal. Science has seen a squirrel adapt to living in trees and another adapt to living on the ground even until they reach the point of reproductive isolation. While reproductive isolation determines the creation of a new species, the new species in these cases is not another type of animal. In a, nother example, geneticists have determined that in some cases a single gene can result in the formation of wings in an insect or no wings. Obviously, the presence of wings vs. no wings makes a huge difference. However, also remember that while one gene can turn wings on or off, it takes many more genes for any species to form wings even if one or another genes disrupt the whole process.

Some may be surprised to discover that the LDS church does not have an official doctrine with regard to evolution itself. While the LDS Church does not have an official policy for or against animal evolution and there has been some debate over whether death in other animals existed prior to Adam, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does maintain that man is not part of the evolutionary process. LDS would absolutely reject the notion that man are "evolved from pond scum" or that mankind are just a "pack of neurons." How God formed the body of Adam from the dust of the Earth, has not been revealed specifically.

"Diversity of opinion does not necessitate intolerance of spirit, nor should it embitter or set rational beings against each other. ... Our religion is not hostile to real science. That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy; but vain philosophy, human theory and mere speculations of men, we do not accept nor do we adopt anything contrary to divine revelation or to good common sense."

This is an interesting example of why sometimes God does not reveal everything to us. BH Roberts was one of the most outspoken proponents in favor of death before Adam. While most LDS prophets and apostles have commented that they were of the opinion that the Fall of Adam brought death into the world, the LDS Church came to the conclusion the answer to this issue was not of eternal significance to the salvation of man, and by not taking sides, this avoided contention and made sufficient room in the LDS tent for religious scientists that have faith in God and believe that science and religion can harmonize.

I was watching PBS the other day and a NOVA-like show was visiting an institute of human evolution which had numerous remains of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon (not called that any more). It is currently believed as far as I can tell that scientists believe that Neanderthals and Early Man (Cro-Magnon), lived in Europe at the same time but didn't mix. And then by some unexplained mystery Neanderthals who are believed to have lived on the Earth as early as 600,000 bc died out after Cro-Magnon moved in about 30,000 bc.

However, I think the Bible tells us exactly what really happened. John in Revelation was shown 4 beasts who stood around the throne of God. Joseph Smith asked God if these 4 beasts represented 4 individuals or classes. Joseph Smith was told that they represented both individuals and classes. The interesting thing about these 4 magnificent beasts full of eyes and wings (knowledge and power) is that one of the 4 had the face of a man. The significance of this is that this beast with the face of a man, was not a man. Could this beast have represented the Neanderthal?

Thinking along these lines, if Neanderthal and Human's lived together, did Humans and Neanderthal ever mix? Science says no, but the Genesis story may suggest they did. Genesis tells a bazaar tale of the sons of god intermixing with the daughters of man. The result of this forbidden mixing were offspring referred to as the Giants. Could the 6-7 ft Cro-Magnon remains represent the Giants spoken of in the Bible? If Cro-Magnon are the Giants, the Bible tells us that most if not all did not survive the global flood (see Gen 6:4, Deut 2:20-21).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book of Mormon: Latter-Day Perplexities

The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible that is another witness that Jesus is the Christ. While the Bible details that dealings of God with His people in Israel, the Book of Mormon tells of a branch of the tribes of Israel that is led to America. God establishes a sacred covenant with these people known as the Nephites, and appears to these "other sheep" in America after His resurrection.

The amazing thing to realize about the Book of Mormon other than it is a second witness of another civilization that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World is that this book of scripture was written for us in this day. The Nephites never had the book, the contents of the book were compiled by Mormon and his son Moroni just before the destruction and genocide of the Nephite civilization.

Morm. 8: 34-35 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

Here was have two prophets of God Mormon and Moroni compiling the wisdom and learning of a 1000 years of history of their civilization to help those of us living today in the Last Days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And by virtue of being prophets of God, Moroni tells us that God showed him the problems and perplexities of our day. And here in the Book of Mormon we have hand picked wisdom and stories which warn us of specific problems that we will face in our day just as they dealt with them in their day. But as Moroni writes, he hopes we will be more wise than they had been and not make the same mistakes that lead to their eventual destruction.

Morm. 9: 31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

The Book of Mormon presents several influential and destructive social, religious, and government philosophies and gives us instruction with how to deal with them. It thought it would be interesting to make a list of several of these issues and perplexities and draw parallels to issues of our day.

Learned Racism: Nephites vs. Lamanites: Lamanites were taught to hate the Nephites and perpetuated the lie that Nephi had wronged Laman and stolen the rights to government over the people. Nephites were warned not to despise the Lamanites because of the darkness of their skin and their beliefs was because the fault of the sins of their first parents, and that God was no respecter of persons. Nephites prayed for the Lamanites and coverted many to the gospel until in the end many Lamanites became and are praised for being more righteous than the Nephites.

Priestcraft: Doctrine of Nehor: It used to be that if you believed in God then there was only one flavor of religion among the Nephites. But then there began to be men who set up churches to get gain. Men learned that if they went soft of the commandments and repentance, asuage their guilt, and falsely asure people that God would overlook their sins, people would give them money. The Bible calls this kind of thing "Gainsaying for Filthy Lucre" after the sin of Core or Korah (Jude 1:11). The Book of Mormon warns us that many in the Last Days would preach the false doctrine that God thinks its okay to eat, drink, and be marry a little and God will justify us in committing a few sins, and we will be beaten with a few stripes but in the end we will be saved in the kingdom of God.

Atheism and Secularism: Korihor argued that it was crazy and the effect of a deranged and frenzied mind to believe in God, and there was no proof of God or that Christ would come. He argued that religion was just a way to oppress the masses and keep them from enjoying their liberties. Also that man faired according to the management of the creature. Or in other words, if a man was smarter or stronger than another, then he was justified in taking advantage of his neighbor and enjoying a higher class and quality of life than his neighbor.

Socialism: The King-Men. The Jaredites and the Nephites learn that having a King leads to corruption, endless war, destruction, and suffering. King Mosiah gave up his kingship and instituted a legal system governed by an institution of elected judges. A vocal minority came along wanting to revert to the old system and promising each other positions in the new government. This group attempted to overthrow the representative government first by propagandizing the general masses and having the general masses vote on the issue. Then they attempted political assassinations and tried to infiltrate and appoint corrupt judges into the government, and change the laws.

Secret Combinations: Gaddiaton Robbers are an example of a group of King-men who conspired to overthrow the government. The King-Men were initially unsuccessful using various nefarious means such as propaganda, assassination, and infiltrating an appointing corrupt judges. However, they could never gain control of the majority of the electorate so they then joining forces with the Lamanites, and then by recruiting and training terrorists in remote, mountainous lawless areas they incited wars against the free government.

Ether 8:22-25 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed;. . . Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—. . . For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people,

Class Inequality: After the appearance of Jesus Christ in America, there was a great unity in the land such that all inequality ceased. There was no more rich or poor, bond and free, and there even ceased to be "any manner of -ites". However, the Book of Mormon reminds us how quickly we forget, and by the 3rd generation, there began to be great pride in the land, class inequality and class distinctions again which led to envy and then to strife, war, and then genocide. Hilter manipulated the poor classes in Germany by stimulating class envy against the more wealthy Jews, inciting them to anger, and then to justify genocide. The same thing happened in Rwanda between the Tutsis and Hutu.

In the Book of Mormon, we see again and again how fascist dissenters from the Nephites could easily insight the poorer Lamanites to anger and to wage war against the richer Nephites. This tactic of manipulating class envy to justify genocide has been used again and again in our day as well. Class inequality also empowers socialists who promise the poor benefits from a socialist government. But in reality, it is the rich who hoard their wealth that empower the socialists and the fascists. If the rich would care for the poor themselves, this would avoid the problem of class envy.

Eph. 6: 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Curse of the Water

Q. Someone asked me recently why LDS missionaries were not allowed to swim and did this policy relate to LDS believing that the waters had been cursed.

D&C 61:3;14 But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief. . . . Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters.

A. The origin of this goes back to the Doctrine and Covenants and the practice of returning missionaries to return home to Nauvoo via paddle boat up the Mississippi and Missouri from New Orleans. Christ told Joseph Smith that He preferred the missionaries to travel by land and not by water so that they could continue missionary work while they traveled. Also, there was mention made of avoiding sin because while the laws of the land applied to the land, it has always been the practice that the laws don't necessarily apply to the water. So, even to this day, paddleboats were used for gambling and brothels up and down the Mississippi.

As far as missionaries not being allowed to swim. This is a policy decision based on a desire to prevent injury. Missionaries are much less likely then their counterparts to be injured or die while on their mission. Missionaries are permitted to travel by boat, or ferry and missionaries get in the water to baptize converts often. Missionaries are also instruccted to bathe daily as well.

The curse of water spoken of in Revelation as part of the 7 trumpets, and 7 vials of the tribulation in the last days over the Seas, rivers, fountains etc and really is symbolic of peoples, nations, and tongues. So, in reality God is concerned with people not the water, and it is the people who are cursed and not really the water itself. This understanding fits perfectly with the reasoning that missionaries were instructed to travel home by land and continue to preach the gospel message instead of traveling by boat while the cursed peoples on the shores perish.

Rev. 17: 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Notes on Genetics and the Book of Mormon

Some people out there still falsely claim that modern Native American mtDNA studies absolutely refute and entirely disprove the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, these claims arise from the incorrect interpretation of scientific data and then inappropriate application to the Book of Mormon.

mtDNA stands for mitochondrial DNA. Turns out that mitochondria contain a small bit of DNA and the cool thing about this DNA is that it is entirely maternally derived. There is no recombination with paternal DNA at all because sperm doesn't have mitochondria, only the egg does. The consequence of this is that you can more easily trace genetic ancestry back through time to its origins.

Normal Chromosomal DNA in the nucleus of each cell is a mixture of mom and dad's DNA which occurs during miosis through a process called recombination. Recombination is the mechanism that makes us all genetically unique. Conversely, maternally derived mtDNA and paternally derived Y-Chromosomal DNA are passed on from parent to child virtually unchanged except for the occasional random mutation. This makes things much easier to track. Even the random mutation is useful as it serves as a sort of biological clock which allows geneticists the ability to determine who came before who. Assigning a specific date is quite another challenge.

Some early geneticists were interested in using mtDNA techniques to determine the origins of the Native Americans. So, a group of scientists gathered data from different groups of Native Americans as well as from a collection of pre-Columbian mummies. These scientists also collected mtDNA from other groups in Siberia, Mongolia, and around the world and determined that the Asian groups and the Native American groups shared common mtDNA sequences which they named haplogroups A,B,C, and D. Geneticists consider these 4 Haplogroups to be founding Native American mtDNA haplogroups from Asian origin and not from the Middle East. A handful of people looked at this data and said "ah ha, this proves once and for all the Book of Mormon is a fraud!"

But then other researchers who together with the first researchers really could care less about the Book of Mormon, and continued to do mtDNA studies. And, it soon came out that the original work missed an important mtDNA founding haplogroup. This founding haplogroup is more rare but definitely there and definately important. Geneticists gave this rouge founding mtDNA haplogroup the name Haplogroup X (X2e to be specific). This mtDNA is found around the Great Lakes Region in Canada to a high percentage and it just so happens that there is another population in that exhibits Haplogroup X2 to a very high percentage. This group is known as the Druze, and it just so happens that this group lives in none other than Northern Israel. Now the Druze are not the source of the X2, but are considered a refugium or repository of X2 which is believed to have been derived from the people of Northern Israel at the time the Druze settled the area about 1000ad. X2 is found in a very high percentage among the Druze because of a more modern tradition and practice of intermarriage (not inbreeding).

There is a problem with making a link between Great Lake Native American mtDNA and Druze mtDNA, and that is that some scientists think that the genetic information left the Middle East and arrived in America almost 10-15,000 years ago. However, if your a Christian, I hope you would never use this argument because you would have to explain why you suddenly believe that man lived on the Earth before Adam and Eve who lived only 4000bc.

But then again, scientists at MIT who could care less about Adam looked at the assumptions built into how other geneticists determine time via random mtDNA mutation and created a new model correcting for non-random mutation and determined that the Earliest Common Ancestor or Mitochondrial Eve could have lived just 2000bc.

Another problem with assuming random and constant mtDNA mutation is the same problem that C14-Dating has. Thanks to recent Global Warming and Evironmental Science, we now know what some of us always knew that C14-Dating is wrong and that the rate of C14 isotope generation is not constant. The C14 isotope is a product of the amount of Cosmic Rays striking the Earth from Interstellar Space. And the rate of Cosmic Rays striking the Earth is inversely proportional to the strength of the Solar Wind and Solar Cycle. Since we know this is a cycle, we now realize, I hope, that C14/C13 ratios are not static nor are they at a steady state. Therefore, the way C14 and other radio-isotopic dating techniques determine dates is wrong. The important thing here with regard to mtDNA mutation is the same Cosmic Rays that make C14 and other isotopes are the same particles that are responsible for a majority of mtDNA mutation.

Now, I don't want to make the same mistake as Book of Mormon critics do by using mtDNA data to support the Book of Mormon. The Data doesn't. My point in bringing this up is to explain the complexities involved in the data, and many of the assumptions behind the conclusions. As I see it, at this current time, mtDNA data shouldn't be used at all for or against the Book of Mormon. If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is Holy Scripture by God about Jesus Christ, then you must read it and pray and ask God seeking spiritual enlightenment via the Holy Ghost. This is the only way God has given to know at this time.

1. When the Nephites arrived there were Jaredites already here.
2. Jaredites came from the Middle East but likely passed through Asia on the way.
3. The barges could have followed the land up the coast of Japan and Siberia along the Bearing Straight to Alaska and then down the California Coast.
4. We know that Coriantumr lived to see the Mulekites.
5. Mulek from Judah likely hitched a ride on a Phoenician boat and who knows what DNA came along with him.
6. We really don't know what ancient 10 Tribes of Israel DNA from 600 bc looks like. modern Jewish mtDNA and Y is mixed from Europe and Khazar Russia (Altai Republic), and even the Cohen Haplotype is suspect.
7. We dont know what ancient Nephite DNA looks like
8. All we know is what current Jewish DNA looks like compared to several pre-Columbian Mummies and modern native americans which tells us nothing about a comparison of ancient American to ancient Israel.
9. The Book of Mormon itself says only a "remnant of [the Nephite] seed" would persist into the Last Days. Therefore, we should not expect a majority of Native American DNA to come from the Middle East. Additionally, the Nephites as a people were destroyed by genocide and the Book of Mormon refers to Native Americans as Lamanites not Nephites. The significance of this title as Lamanites is that the Book of Mormon infers that the Lamanites intermarried with the natives from the beginning and were never genetically pure.
10. Haplogroup X comes from Northern Israel and not via Asia. Altai Republic X got there a different way, maybe the by the Khazars?
11. Iceland study shows us that modern mtDNA can be the product of just a few mtDNA sources just a few hundred years ago.
12. Jewish geneticist state that if 1 intermarriage happens every 10 years among 100 persons, then the admixture of DNA would represent >30% DNA in just 800 years.
13. Native American populations went through a severe bottleneck event upon the arrival of Europeans and smallpox and other infectious diseases.
14. When the Book of Mormon says the Jaredites were destroyed, it means their civilization was destroyed, it does not mean very last person was annihilated such that they became extinct.
(read Hugh Nibley's "There Were Jaredites")