by Valerie Hudson Cassler
[Author’s Note: This presentation was given with an accompanying PowerPoint that utilized visuals to illustrate the points being made…Also, as a transcript of an oral address, the speech is more colloquial than an academic would normally use; my apologies.]
I’m delighted to be here today with you at FAIR. I think I came last year with Ralph Hancock and Richard Sherlock and we talked a little bit about SquareTwo. [Slide Two, on SquareTwo, is shown.] So to repeat the refrain may I simply remind you that SquareTwo is aiming to be the best online journal of LDS thought concerning the important issues of the world today. Our articles and comments are always reviewed. When we’ve had extremely controversial issues discussed, we’ve had up to 50,000 viewers of our various articles. In fact, just in our last spring issue, the very last issue, we had one of the only articles written about polygamy by a faithful Mormon woman. So there is a female perspective on polygamy, perspective such as D&C 132 makes it absolutely plain that polygamy is an Abrahamic sacrifice. And from what we know of Abrahamic sacrifices, they are always temporally bounded and there is always a ram in the thicket, whether that be in this life or the next life. And that is why we do not baptize those who are living polygamously even in countries where that practice is legal, because outside of a commandment to perform an Abrahamic sacrifice, an Abrahamic sacrifice is always an abomination. However, monogamy is never an abomination; it is rather one of the chief blessings of God. So that’s one of the things you can lay on some of those 16 year old girls who ask you.1
All right, let’s get to the real talk here. I didn’t join the Church because I was a feminist, butRead Full Post0 Comments
I had a kind of epiphany a few years ago as I studied Alma chapter 32 and 33 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter covers Alma’s famous discourse on faith, one of the best, if not THE best that you’ll find anywhere in scripture. The sermon presents an beautiful analogy of how fundamental principles for discovering truth work together using the concept of nourishing a seed into a tree of life that bears fruits of knowledge.
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
Now there’s nothing wrong with this verse, but sometimes during a Sunday School class I will hear this verse cited as the ‘definition of faith’. However, upon a closer read, we can see that this verse only says what faith is not and what you do if you have it. Now these provide clues to understand faith, but they clearly do not tell us what faith is. Faith is not to hope for unseen but true things, that is but one of the many things that one who has faith does. It is similar to saying that the definition of a sandwich is something like this:
And now as I said concerning sandwiches—A sandwich is not a hot dog; but if you eat a sandwich you will not be hungry any more.
Yes, probably a horrible analogy but is my point clear?
See, what happens is that this verse is only scratching the surface, the next few verses go off on an asideRead Full Post2 Comments
Compiled by Kirk B. Henrichsen
“the appearance of gold”1 —Joseph Smith Jr., Eight Witnesses, Orson Pratt
“golden plates”2 —David Whitmer
“a mixture of gold and copper”3 —William Smith
“weighing altogether from forty to sixty lbs.”4 —Martin Harris
“I was permitted to lift them. . . . They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my judgement.”5 —William Smith0 Comments
First and most obvious is the fact that both Jesus and the Book of Mormon initially had a very controversial message. Some recognized truth immediately, while it took some time for others and yet more, even the vast majority, rejected the message altogether.
That said, there are many interesting similarities between the life of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon itself particularly surrounding the death and resurrection:
Christ: buried and sealed in a stone sepulcher
BofM: buried and sealed in a stone box
Christ: round stone covered tomb
BofM: round stone covered box
Christ: Angels present when stone was rolled back
BofM: Angel present when stone was rolled back
Christ: Taught the word of God
BofM: Teaches the word of God
Christ: Witness saw him, 12 apostles and hundred of others
BofM: Witnesses saw it 12 official witnesses along with several more
Christ: Ascended to heaven with angels present
BofM: Taken back to heaven by an angel
Christ: Must rely on faith to believe
BofM: Must rely on faith to believe
Christ: Only physical evidence remaining are his words
BofM: Only physical evidence remaining are it’s words
Both Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon were buried in the earth and brought forth with angel(s) present, there were witnesses and they were removed from our presence with only their words for us to examine through the Spirit. So here is theRead Full Post1 Comment
I used to think of the pride cycle as this long, ongoing, inevitable course that civilizations and people follow in their lives.
We certainly see from the scriptures and history that these things repeat themselves and sometimes we focus so much on the disasters and consequences of sin that we don’t really consider when those moments of disaster were averted altogether.
Where do those moments fit into this current “Pride Cycle” model?
The Pride Cycle
Above is our good old fiend the ‘pride cycle’. Now, this cycle isn’t incorrect, as was said before we have seen this happen over and over again, but righteousness and prosperity do not always lead to pride and wickedness.
I remember in a college course on Human Relations the professor asked the question: “What is the number one cause of divorce?” I knew what he thought the answer was but I decided to give what I felt was a more correct answer. Spencer W. Kimball once said:
“Every divorce is the result of selfishness…” (“Marriage and Divorce” a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 7 September 1976)
So I raised my hand and gave the answer, “selfishness”. He looked at me for a moment somewhat perplexed and then said, “No, it’s money actually.” So according to his thinking, you can cause a divorce by dropping by someone’s home and dumping some money on their front doorstep ;)
No, money is not the cause, the cause is found deep within our internal dispositions. We are counseled to ‘avoid’ this pride cycle, but how do we avoid something that seems so inevitable?Read Full Post 11 Comments
You can tell a lot about someone by their titles. We all carry many titles that say volumes about who we are. Some of the titles I carry are: Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Cousin, Friend, Home Teacher, Elder, Designer, Developer, Artist, the list can go on and on. Think of how many titles you have; you might be surprised.
Below is a fairly comprehensive list. Some might be missing and others might not belong, but here they are nonetheless for you to observe and ponder upon. Some of the titles really make you think.Read Full Post0 Comments
We learn more about Nephi’s records, or plates, in the front of the Book of Mormon with a section called “A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon”:
The Plates of Nephi, which were of two kinds: the Small Plates and the Large Plates. The former were more particularly devoted to the spiritual matters and the ministry and teachings of the prophets, while the latter were occupied mostly by a secular history of the peoples concerned (1 Nephi 9:2–4)
Nephi kept two records, one containing a secular history upon ‘other plates’ which came to be known as the ‘large plates of Nephi’ and another record upon smaller plates that contained primarily prophecies and sacred teachings.
How many of us do a good job with keeping a journal or secular history (large plates) of our lives of any kind at all? It’s no secret that we collectively seem to struggle with this, so how likely is it then that we keep a record of our own personal revelations, answers to prayer, promptings, etc? I would bet that many of us have not even considered doing so in the first place.
First off, let’s see what various church leaders have said on the matter:Read Full Post11 Comments
The purpose of this article is to explore the physical description of the Nephite “interpreters” (or Urim and Thummim as they were called by Joseph Smith) and their purpose. This article will demonstrate that these artifacts have been passed down for thousands of years and their primary use is for revealing the history of secret Satanic conspiracies upon the American continent as a warning to future inhabitants of this land.
What were they and what did they look like?
Joseph Smith claimed that he translated ancient records with the assistance of a “Urim and Thummim”. The Urim and Thummim were part of the sacred vestments that the high priest wore during the period of Mosaic Law. Here is what the LDS Bible Dictionary says about the Urim and Thummim:
Heb. term that means Lights and Perfections. An instrument prepared of God to assist man in obtaining revelation from the Lord and in translating languages. See Ex. 28: 30; Lev. 8: 8; Num. 27: 21; Deut. 33: 8; 1 Sam. 28: 6; Ezra 2: 63; Neh. 7: 65; JS-H 1: 35.
Using a Urim and Thummim is the special prerogative of a seer, and it would seem reasonable that such instruments were used from the time of Adam. However, the earliest mention is in connection with the brother of Jared (Ether 3: 21-28). Abraham used a Urim and Thummim (Abr. 3: 1-4), as did Aaron and the priests of Israel, and also the prophets among the Nephites (Omni 1: 20-21; Mosiah 8: 13-19; Mosiah 21: 26-28; Mosiah 28: 11-20; Ether 4: 1-7). There is more than one Urim and Thummim, but we are informed that Joseph Smith had the one used by the brother of Jared (Ether 3: 22-28; D&C 10: 1; D&C 17: 1). (See Seer.) A partial description is given in JS-H 1: 35. Joseph Smith used it in translating the Book of Mormon and in obtaining other revelations.
This earth in its celestial condition will be a Urim and Thummim, and many within that kingdom will have an additional Urim and Thummim (D&C 130: 6-11).
It is very difficult to tell what the purpose of these particular implements were used for from the text of the Old Testament. There are a few passages that indicate that they had something to do with revelation; that they were oracles of some kind, but there is nothing indicating that they were used for translating languagesRead Full Post13 Comments
Whenever I am preparing a talk, lesson or just studying a topic, I have a small arsenal of tools that I have found extremely effective in digging deeper into doctrinal understanding. Often during this process I experience an amazing clarity on a particular topic; the words “AH HA!” come to mind quite often (which is something we all love don’t we?).
I have a few philosophies behind these tools which I’ll share as well. First off, let’s set the stage with a real-world sample. Let’s say that you are a preparing a talk/lesson on the topic of fasting. Now there are hundreds of talks, quotes and resources on the subject but what if we keep things simple at first and simply look at the word itself; what does it mean? What did it mean? Where did it come from? Has the meaning changed over time and which meaning is more accurate?
Let’s begin:Read Full Post2 Comments
The reason that I think it is important to look at the faulty predictions of the past is because it tells us a lot about our present. What seems impossible today becomes fact tomorrow. Many people discount the Bible and Book of Mormon on lacking historical evidence in some points, and while there IS evidence, I believe people place way too much trust on scientists and so-called ‘experts’ in matters of their salvation.
I am not against science and scientific discovery. I believe that science, formulas, math and engineering are at the heart of all that God does, but I also believe that we are in our infancy in understanding the laws of the universe and what is and what is not possible.0 Comments
The New and Old Jerusalem and their inhabitants
Ether 13 teaches us that in the future there will be a new heaven and a new earth and that many miraculous things will occur with these events:
9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
There will be a new heaven and a new earth in the millennium, the New Jerusalem will come as well as the old Jerusalem AND the inhabitants, or those who have previously died. They will have been ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’, the Lamb is Jesus Christ which means they are part of the covenant through baptism in the name of Christ. Now how can people who have passed away before Jesus Christ was on the earth be washed in his blood through baptism?Read Full Post0 Comments
Isaiah’s words are key
In 3 Nephi 16 Jesus Christ teaches about the other sheep and who they are and then begins to teach about the Gentiles and then in verse 17 he says:
17 And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:
Christ begins to quote the prophecies of Isaiah, but then, in the next chapter, looks out among the people and says:
2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
The people cannot understand the words of Isaiah that he is quoting, they have been through a lot of trauma and Jesus perceives that they are not spiritually prepare for what he has to say. So he gives an important clue that revelation is needed to understand the things that is was about to teach them.
Then for the next four chapters he performs a series of acts to lift the people to a level to where they CAN understand his words, he heals them, introduces the sacrament, gives his disciples the power to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the twelve disciples are chosen by Christ, and then administers the sacrament a second time.0 Comments
The Title Page
Title page of the Book of Mormon was said by Joseph Smith to be taken from the last leaf of the plates of Mormon, and was written by Moroni himself. A portion of this section states that the Book of Mormon is:
…to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever…
The first purpose of the Book of Mormon that is mentioned is to show the remnant of Israel great things God did for their fathers so they may KNOW the covenants of the Lord and that they are still in effect. In other words, here is a message from God saying that he is still there for us and that his covenants are still extended toward us.
In 1 Nephi 13 we learn about the significance of the Bible and that it contains the covenants of the Lord.Read Full Post0 Comments
I owe a great deal to my good friend, Bro. King, for the initial core pieces of the puzzle that got my mind going on the ideas presented.
The Abrahamic Covenant
First we need to identify just what this covenant is and why it is so important. The Abrahamic covenant is outlined in Genesis 12:1-3:
1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Throughout the Bible this covenant is maintained and reaffirmed and looked to as a beacon of hope to the Israelites. The different promises associated with this covenant are outlined as followed:
- His posterity would be numerous (see Genesis 17:5–6; Abraham 2:9; 3:14).
- His seed, or descendants, would receive the gospel and bear the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9).
- Through the ministry of his seed, “all the families of the earth [would] be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).
LDS.org notes that, “A person can receive all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham—by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel (see Galatians 3:26–29; 4:1–7; D&C 84:33–40).”
These great blessings to Abraham are unconditional, they were promises made byRead Full Post0 Comments
- 1 Nephi 13:23
And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it [The Bible] is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
I heard a recent story about two Latter-day Saints arguing about whether the records of the Old Testament we have today were more numerous than the Brass Plates that the Nephites had. Now, the brass plates did only go up to Jeremiah, but Genesis to Jeremiah is 1020 pages (in the LDS edition of the Old Testament), and from Lamentations to Malachi is 164 pages. Let’s say, just for fun, that the Old Testament we currently have is 100% complete, well then the Nephites were only missing about 7% of the Old Testament.
Consider the other prophets quoted from the Brass Plates mentioned in the Book of Mormon that we do not have record of in the Old Testament: Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias (1 Nephi 19:10; Helaman 8:20) as well asRead Full Post1 Comment
For the most part, mainstream Christianity views the Godhead from the perspective of the Nicene Creed (323 A.D.) which only looked at the ‘oneness’ of the Father and the Son, and the Athanasian Creed (which originated around 500 A.D.) which was the first creed to vocalize equality of the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into a ‘Trinity”. It is still a hotly contested issue to this day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it’s view of the Godhead from the eyewitness accounts of modern apostles and prophets.
Both views of God were brought to us by men. The Trinitarian view has evolved through time out of councils, debates and defined in creeds; the LDS view is claimed to have come from revelation. That said, let’s take a look and see what the scriptures have to say on the matter.
“The Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity better than the Bible.”
Believe it or not, while serving as a full-time missionary, this was a statement made by a woman that was not a Latter-day Saint. She shared a few verses from the Book of Mormon that she thought were beautiful Trinitarian scriptures. She asked us why we didn’t believe the doctrine of the Trinity if that is what our book taught. Good question.
I took a minute to think about that since I had never been asked or even thought of that question before. After a moment, I mentioned how before publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith had already claimed to see the Father AND the Son and that they were two distinct beings. I suggested that it was possible that those whoRead Full Post0 Comments
The Hebrew word covenant as we read in the Old Testament is: briyth (ber-eeth)
- to cut
- ‘from ‘barah’ (1262) (in the sense of cutting (like ‘bara” (1254);
- a compact (made by passing between pieces of flesh)
Let’s explore some instances from scripture where we have something being cut or divided and then a passing between the parts.
Dividing in creation
In the Creation the following things are divided:
- Light from the darkness.
- Waters from the waters.
- Water from the earth.
- Plants from the earth.
- Day from night.
- Animals from the sea and land.
- Woman from man.
- Man and woman from Eden/God.
- Sacrifice instituted.
The Red Sea
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.Read Full Post
My brethren and sisters, when those in charge of this work were planning the program, I urged upon them that they do not call this meeting for the Assembly Hall. I felt sure the congregation would be so small that we would all be unhappy. I am happily disappointed; and I am quite sure that neither the drawing power of Joseph Fielding Smith nor myself is the cause of this large attendance, but that the conviction in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints that all that pertains to temples and to temple work, to the salvation for the dead, is of tremendous worth.
I regret, of course, that Elder Joseph Fielding Smith is not here tonight. I am sorry for those of you who came to hear him speak, for you will have to come again, because he speaks tomorrow. He is filling an important engagement, and we simply exchanged evenings. I regret, however, for my own sake, that he is not here, because what I have to say needs as a background the splendid talk that he has for us. He will deal with the spirit and the mission of Elijah. I was asked to speak about temple worship. He was to take up the great generalization, the great body of principles upon which this work rests; and I was to take one small part of the application of the work, for my theme.
I feel just a little embarrassed to speak on temple worship without the background of Elder Smith’s discourse. I am embarrassed also because I realize how utterly impossible it is to deal with so vast and comprehensive a subject in theRead Full Post0 Comments