Author Archive

Apr 2, 2012
13 min read

“They Are Among the Ancestors”: Origins of the Native American People

A recent change in Book of Mormon introduction gives support to the idea that when Lehi arrived at the promised land here in the Americas, that he was not alone. The introduction used to read:

…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.

With a change of one word, it now reads:

…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

This significance of this change and why it was made is something fascinating to explore. The previous rendering seemed to lend credence to the supposition that all of the Native Americans were descendants of the Lamanites while the new rendering clearly implies that Lamanite remnants are instead mingled among the ancestors of the Native Americans. Like Jerry Seinfeld, we ourselves are left to ponder “Who aaaare these people?”

Everyone has their own theory about where the Native American people came from. There are all kinds of methods from DNA toRead Full Post

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Mar 30, 2012
28 min read

From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press

Keith J. Wilson, “From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press,” inPrelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Provo, UT and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2004), 269–286.

Keith J. Wilson is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

Late in March 1830, a notice in the Palmyra, New York, newspaper appeared announcing the recent publication of the Book of Mormon. It was the culmination of a three-year translating and printing process that would ultimately stamp Palmyra as the birthplace of Mormonism. Producing this book in the small town along the Erie Canal was an event of unusual proportion as well as portent. In many waysRead Full Post

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Mar 18, 2012
4 min read

The Meaning of the LDS Temple and its Ordinances

In Denver Snuffer’s book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, he provides a great summary on the meaning of the temple and its ordinances.

The temple ordinances portray a walk back to God’s presence. Although the ceremonies are presented in symbols, they testify of, and invite the actual return to Him. The washings, intended to cleans us, are more than a physical ordinance. They testify to us about necessary individual purity and spiritual cleanliness. Anointing with olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Thorough the Holy Spirit we are sanctified. It is holy, and when we receive it we become holy through our association with it.

When we are clothed with a garment, it symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ, laying down His body to cover our sins with His atonement. These are powerful symbols of how intimately our individual redemption is connected to Him.

The endowment instructs us about creation, and our own journey through mortal life. We must consider ourselves as if we are respectively, Adam and Eve. When we do, we find an explanation of our mortal condition. It tells us we came from God’s presence, and now live in a fallen world. To regain God’s presence we need to obey, make sacrifices, follow Christ’s Gospel, observe the law of chastity and consecrate our lives to Him. As we do, we will receive sacred knowledge from His messengers. Such messengers are sent by Him.

Men will try and mislead us with false teachings that mingle the philosophies of men with scripture. But if we remain true and faithful to whatever light we receive from Him, He will always send more. Messengers will come from the presence of God, bringing His message. They will not offer themselves for worship, adoration or respect…

True messengers labor to have you come to know Christ. They want all to be redeemed from the fall.

The purpose of the temple is to guide you back to Him. It is not the real thing, but only a symbol pointing to the real thing. It is not enough to read what has been written in scripture or taught by true messengers. You must get an experience for yourself so you also know God.

The real thing is found when the veil parts and you gaze into heaven. (p. 466-467)

The idea that the temple “…is not the real thing, but only a symbolRead Full Post

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Mar 12, 2012
9 min read

The Founding Fathers were Overwhelmingly Religious Men

I had a discussion the other day with an individual who claimed that the founding fathers were a mix of “atheists, agnostics, deists, and Christian”. He was trying to give the impression that there were a great majority of atheists, agnostics and especially deists. One of the sources he provided was the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christians” (doesn’t exist anymore as of 9/13/2018) which on its face is complete nonsense. However, the site does correctly observe the fact that that “None of the Founding Fathers were atheists”; interesting.

So now we have dismissed with the atheist argument and most likely the agnostic argument and are left with a ‘deist to Christian ratio’. The Constitution does not mention God and the Declaration of Independence is written, at the very least, from a deist standpoint.

I do not have the time to analyze all of the quotations from the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christian” but I will provide one example to show how they twist the facts. John Adams was a devout Christian throughout his life and though he seemed, like Jefferson, frustrated with many of the creedsRead Full Post

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Mar 6, 2012
4 min read

Parting the Veil

The veil was one of the core elements of the Hebrew temple. It was the dividing line between this world and the symbolic, or from time to time, literal presence of God. There are many meanings, doctrines, principles, types and shadows associated with the temple and what the veil may symbolize. For the purposes of this article, I will only be covering a few facets of this topic from a Latter-day Saint theological viewpoint.

Internalizing the Veil

The ancient temple and the modern temples alike share the common characteristic of being a model of both the macrocosmos and the microcosmos. The macrocosmos deals with heavenly bodies, systems and galaxies while the microcosmos deals with earthly bodies such as our own. Just as the heavenly bodies all orient themselves according to law, we as beings endowed with free will may orientRead Full Post

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Feb 27, 2012
11 min read

A Powerful Message From Baptist Pastor Paul Washer

Pastor Paul Washer in the excerpt below is speaking to a group of youth and trying to emphasize the importance of being a Christian, but not just in name, in deed as well. In the wild debate over faith and works where people tend to lurk along the extremes of one or the other, Pastor Washer does a good job of getting to the heart of the matter.

I think his words are equally applicable to Latter-day Saints or anyone professing to be a disciple of Christ. His words remind me of Moroni’s scathing judgement of Latter-day Saints in our day; and yes, my brothers and sisters, he’s talking about US.Read Full Post

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Feb 26, 2012
10 min read

The Book of Mormon Really Teaches This?

Please consider the power of these teachings pulled straight from the text of the Book of Mormon:Read Full Post

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Feb 19, 2012
31 min read

George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffragesRead Full Post

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Feb 12, 2012
7 min read

Of Parables, Symbols and QR Codes

I submit that where symbolism is in use, there is an invitation to receive more knowledge via a revelatory experience.

The veil exists to ensure that we are not held accountable for that which we are not willing to receive.

When the disciples of Christ came to him and asked “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (Matt. 13:10)” Jesus responded saying “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matt. 13:11,13)Read Full Post

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Feb 6, 2012
29 min read

Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall by Dallin H. Oaks

by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

From an address given at a Brigham Young University eighteen-stake fireside on 7 June 1992 in Provo, Utah.

The Lord warned the first generation of Latter-day Saints to “beware concerning yourselves” (D&C 84:43). I seek to remind each of us of the mortal susceptibilities and devilish diversions that can unite to produce our spiritual downfall.

Lehi taught that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass” (2 Ne. 2:11). In the realm of spiritual progress, that opposition is often provided by the temptations of Satan. We learn in modern revelation that “it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves” (D&C 29:39).Read Full Post

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Feb 5, 2012
10 min read

Let Us Have Peace by J. Reuben Clark Jr.

by J. Reuben Clark, Church News, November 22, 1947.

The international gospel of the Founding Fathers was forecast by Jefferson in 1793. It was voiced by Washington in his Farewell Address in 1796, when he declared we should have “as little political connection as possible with Europe,” because Europe has a “set of primary interests” with which we had “none or a very remote relation,” wherefore “must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concern;…why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice? It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” The Monroe Doctrine declaring against the future colonization of the American continent by Europeans, against the extension therein of their political system, against interposition by European powers to control the destinies of the Latin Americas, implemented the principles of the Address. And Jefferson, commenting in 1823 on the Monroe DoctrineRead Full Post

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Feb 3, 2012
6 min read

Challenging some peculiar ideas about peculiar people

“LOL, ROFL” ok, got it out of your system? As tired as this old cliché is, I think it is high time we bury it. I understand that it can be fun sometimes to play on misunderstandings of words, but when I hear people in a Gospel Doctrine setting or church talk perpetuate the peculiar = weird idea as doctrine I think we need to get our heads out of the cartoons for a while.

By continuing to perpetrate the idea that ‘peculiar’ means ‘odd’ or ‘weird’ we not only teach false doctrine, we corrupt our own understandingRead Full Post

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Jan 23, 2012
5 min read

Moderation in all things: a useless phrase

“Moderation in all things” – I hear this phrase come up often in conversations and the first thing that comes to mind is Inigo Montoya’s response to Vincini after another exclamation of the word “Inconceivable”!

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” (The Princess Bride – do I really need to reference this?)

Likewise, I’ve often felt the same way as Inigo but did not know much about the origin of this phrase myself so I decided to do some research. First of all, this phrase doesn’t come from the Bible, or the Book of Mormon or any scripture for that matter, here is a little historyRead Full Post

10 Comments
Jan 8, 2012
11 min read

The Justified Slaying of Laban

Today was the first day of Sunday School for the new year and each year we begin the study of a new collection of scripture. The cycle repeats itself over four years, so we spend two years on the Bible, one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. Then we spend two years on restoration scripture, one on the Book of Mormon and one on the Doctrine and Covenants and a collection of various scriptures referred to as “The Pearl of Great Price”.

We just finished up the Book of Revelation in the New Testament in December so this next year invites us to a full study of the Book of Mormon. Part of what we covered today was the beheading of Laban by Nephi, a dramatic event that any new reader to the Book of Mormon encounters almost immediately.

In the beginning of the narrative, Nephi, a young man of unknown age is living peaceably in the city of Jerusalem and just a short time later, he stands before the drunken body of Laban as the Lord commands him to slay the man; what a contrast of situations for anyone to be placed in!Read Full Post

5 Comments
Jan 3, 2012
8 min read

Sustaining the servants of the Lord

We do a lot of sustaining in the church and by sustaining I am speaking in terms of raising our arms to the square to indicate our willingness to support those called by the Lord via priesthood authority to positions in the church. There is much more to sustaining than meets the eye and when we understand more about this principle it can help us truly fulfill what we are actually promising by lifting an arm.

Sustaining in church

“All of those in favor, please indicate by the uplifted hand.” says a member of the priesthood leadership on some Sabbath day morning, to which a congregation will usually raise their arms to the square indicating their approval.

This same ritual is repeated time and time again, usually each Sabbath day as new callings are announced and presented before the congregation out of respect for the doctrine of common consent. Joseph Smith once said: “No man can presideRead Full Post

2 Comments
Dec 26, 2011
59 min read

The Seal of Melchizedek?

by Alonzo L. Gaskill
(alonzo_gaskill@byu.edu) is an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate.

Symbolism is the language of scripture and ritual. To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate. As one text notes, “Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and all ordinances of salvation have been revealed. From the time we are immersed in the waters of baptism to the time we kneel at the altar of the temple . . . in the ordinance of eternal marriage, every covenant we make will be written in the language of symbolism.”[1] While Latter-day Saints accept and utilize a number of symbols common to other religious traditions, we also have our own unique set of symbols foreign to most other faiths.[2]

In recent years Mormonism appears to have adopted a new symbol, one quickly growing in popularity. It is commonly referred to as the seal of Melchizedek and consists of two interlocked (or overlapping) squares, making what appears to beRead Full Post

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Dec 19, 2011
5 min read

Review: The Book of Mormon, A Reader’s Edition

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So I’m in love with my new “Reader’s Edition” of the Book of Mormon and I’ll explain why here in this review. First of all, I understand the value of the “official” scriptures the church puts out; they are brilliant for cross-referencing and studying.

However, I find them quite terrible for reading. If you don’t agree with me it might be because you grew up reading the four thin columns of highly compressed text and are used to it. But to many novices to scripture, especially the LDS editions, it might be a bit of a struggle if you are used to reading novels and other modern books presented in elegant typographic style.

I’m note really a novice to the LDS version of the scriptures, I’m quite used toRead Full Post

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Dec 12, 2011
2 min read

A diamond sun and celestial worlds

Several years ago, scientists discovered what they believe is the largest diamond known to man: “a compressed heart of an old star that was once bright like our Sun but has since faded and shrunk.” LINK

A BBC article reported:

The huge cosmic diamond – technically known as BPM 37093 – is actually a crystallised white dwarf. A white dwarf is the hot core of a star, left over after the star uses up its nuclear fuel and dies. It is made mostly of carbon.

For more than four decades, astronomers have thought that the interiors of white dwarfs crystallised, but obtaining direct evidence became possible only recently.

The white dwarf is not only radiant but also rings like a gigantic gong, undergoing constant pulsations.

“By measuring those pulsations, we were able to study the hidden interior of the white dwarf, just like seismograph measurements of earthquakes allow geologists to study the interior of the Earth.

“We figured out that the carbon interior of this white dwarf has solidified to form the galaxy’s largest diamond,” says Metcalfe.

Astronomers expect our Sun will become a white dwarf when it dies 5 billion years from now. Some two billion years after that, the Sun’s ember core will crystallise as well, leaving a giant diamond in the centre of the solar system.

“Our Sun will become a diamond that truly is forever,” says Metcalfe. LINK

This made me think of Doctrine and Covenants 130:6-9 which speaks of our world, when redeemed, becoming like crystal or a sea of glass:

The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.

Interesting that there is at least one crystal celestial body floating around out there that is not only “radiant” but “rings like a giant gong undergoing constant pulsations”. I wonder what these pulsations are and how they occur.

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Dec 4, 2011
16 min read

Persuasion vs. Force

by Mark and Jo Ann Skousen

Copyright 1992 by Mark and Jo Ann Skousen. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

A version of this essay originally appeared in the September, 1991, issue of Liberty magazine.

Sometimes a single book or even a short cogent essay can change an individual’s entire outlook on life. For Christians, it is the New Testament. For radical socialists, Karl Marx’ and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto is revolutionary. For libertarians, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is pivotal. For economists, Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action can be mind-changing.

Recently I came across a little essay in a book called Adventures of Ideas, by Alfred North Whitehead, the British philosopher and Harvard professor. The essay, “From Force to Persuasion,” had a profound effect upon me. Actually what caught my attention was a singleRead Full Post

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Nov 28, 2011
0 min read

The Lord’s Prayer by Andrea Bocelli + MoTab

Turn up your speakers, it’s quite the experience to listen to this beautiful music.

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