Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Glorious Standard”, Ensign, Sept. 1987, 6
From an address delivered at a BYU devotional held Tuesday, 16 September 1986, in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Constitution of the United States.
On the 17th day of September, 1987, we commemorate the two-hundredth birthday of the Constitutional Convention, which gave birth to the document that Gladstone said is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”1
I heartily endorse this assessment, and I would like to pay honor—honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth.
To understand the significance of the Constitution, we must first understand some basic, eternal principles. These principles have their beginning in the premortal councils of heaven.
Some Basic Principles
The first basic principle is agency. The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force.Read Full Post
We have a parable and two visions to look at here. The parable of the sower is a familiar New Testament parable related by Jesus Christ to a multitude from a ship on the sea shore about the various types of ground certain seeds were cast on to. The first vision is an account in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named Lehi who sees a vision revolving around a tree of life and a description of the various types of people he observes. The second vision is an account from Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the degrees of glory that exist in the hereafter and a description of the characteristics of those inhabitants.
In the parable of the sower, we are taught by the Master about seeds cast into various situations and what the consequences were. The parable is found in Matthew 13 in the New Testament.
- Good ground: (Brought forth fruit; some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.)
Interpretation: To those that hear the word and understand it, they will all bear fruit but at varying degrees.
- The way side: (Fowls came and devoured them up)
Interpretation: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, but doesn’t understand it the adversary can come and steal away whatever was sown in his heart.
- Thorns: (The thorns sprung up, and choked them.)
Interpretation: This is one that hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
- Stony places: (There was not much earth so when they sprung up they were scorched by the sun because they had no root and they withered away.)
Interpretation: This is one that hears the word and receives it gladly but because ‘he hath not root in himself’, he endures for a while but is immediately offended when tribulation and persecution arise.
Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life
In Lehi’s vision there are multitudes of people pressing towardRead Full Post
I’ve always wondered how deep this complexity goes; we’re not even looking at things at the sub-atomic level! I think we all can agree that life is amazing and precious. Even the smallest creature is a world within itself.
Talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
My message focuses on the importance of striving in our daily lives to actually receive the Holy Ghost. I pray for and invite the Spirit of the Lord to instruct and edify each of us.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
In December of 1839, while in Washington, D.C., to seek redress for the wrongs done to the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee wrote to Hyrum Smith: “In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 97).Read Full Post
The following is an excerpt from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. Whatever you may think of the man, when a person speaks something truthful, it deserves to be heard by all who love and cherish the truth (if you disagree, you might want to read what old Brother Brigham said about the subject.)
This is my favorite part:
But let me move now to the basic point of the message. Know this morning, if we forget everything I’ve said, I hope you won’t forget this. It came to the point after saying “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but! if he doesn’t deliver us, we still are not gonna bow.” “But if not” — do you get that? That these men were saying that “Our faith is so deep and that we’ve found something so dear and so precious that nothing can turn us away from it. Our God is able to deliver us, but if not…” This simply means, my friends, that the ultimate test of one’s faith is his ability to say “But if not.” You see there is what you may call an ‘if’ faith, and there is a ‘though’ faith. And the permanent faith, the lasting, the powerful faith is the ‘though’ faith. Now the ‘if’ faith says, “If all goes well; if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy; if I don’t have to go to jail; if I don’t have to face the agonies and burdens of life; if I’m not ever called bad names because of taking a stand that I feel that I must take; if none of these things happen, then I’ll have faith in God, then I’ll be alright.” That’s the ‘if’ faith. You know, a lot of people have the ‘if’ faith. Jacob found himself in that dilemma once, and his faith was contingent on an if. And he said “Now if God will be with me and if he will keep me in this way that I go; and if God will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God.” That’s the ‘if’ faith; Jacob hadn’t quite gotten to the essence of religion.
There is a ‘though’ faith, though. And the ‘though’ faith says “Though things go wrong; though evil is temporarily triumphant; though sickness comes and the cross looms, neverthless! I’m gonna believe anyway and I’m gonna have faith anyway; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” And old Job got to that point, he had a ‘though’ faith. He looked out and everything that he had had been taken away from him, and even his wife said to him “Now, what you ought to do, Brother Job, is to curse God and die. God has been unkind to you, and you should have let God know a long time ago that you would only follow him if he allowed you to stay rich, if he allowed your cattle to stay in place. You ought to curse him and die, Job, because he hasn’t treated you right.” But Job said “Honey, I’m sorry but my faith is deeper than that. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. My faith is a ‘though’ faith.” And this is the essence of life and religion. The question is whether you have an ‘if’ faith, or whether you have a ‘though’ faith.
You know what this says in substance, that ultimately religion is not a bargaining matter. A lot of people bargain with God. “If you just let me avoid pain, God; if you allow me to be happy in all of its dimensions; if you don’t allow any suffering any suffering to come; if you don’t allow frustrating moments to come, then I’ll be alright, I’ll give you a tenth of my income, and I’ll go to church and I’ll have faith in you.” But religion is not a bargaining experience, it’s not a commercial relationship. And you know, no great experience in the bargaining atmosphere. Think of friendship, think of love, and think of marriage. These things are not based on ‘if,’ they’re based on ‘though.’ These great experiences are not based on a bargaining relationship, not an ‘if’ faith, but a ‘though’ faith.
And I’m coming to my conclusion now. And I want to say to you this morning, my friends, that somewhere along the way you should discover something that’s so dear, so precious to you, that is so eternally worthful, that you will never give it up. You ought to discover some principle, you ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up. Somehow you go on and say “I know that the God that I worship is able to deliver me, but if not, I’m going on anyhow, I’m going to stand up for it anyway. What does this mean? It means, in the final analysis, you do right not to avoid hell. If you’re doing right merely to keep from going to something that traditional theology has called hell then you aren’t* doing right. If you do right merely to go to a condition that theologians have called heaven, you aren’t doing right. If you are doing right to avoid pain and to achieve happiness and pleasure then you aren’t doing right. Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say “But if not.” You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love. You must be just because it’s right to be just. You must be honest because it’s right to be honest. This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary.
And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something. The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.
Pretty awesome stuff. The whole speech is great, I get pumped up whenever I read it. Like I said, I love truth, wherever it may be found.
Updated: November 14, 2010
They don’t write definitions the way they used to anymore. This is just one more great reason why I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. The standard definition for ‘selfish’ is pretty straightforward, but then you come to ‘selfishly’ and then POW, you’ve got some brilliantly delivered doctrine!
SELF’ISHLY, adv. The exclusive of a person to his own interest or happiness; or that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.
So if we want to dig a little deeper here, we will find a profound truth. We are used to two ends of a spectrum in our faith, we usually speak of pride and humility. But, in my opinion there is something more specifically worse than pride and infinitely greater than humility; it is selfishness on one end and at the other end, charity, which is the benevolence of Christ.
So what isRead Full Post
by Blake T. Ostler
It is significant, for reasons that I will explain shortly, that Joseph Smith did not arrive at his understanding based on a theological analysis. Given his penchant for the prophetic, it is understandable that his views are not expressed as a systematic logic of carefully crafted axioms and assumptions. His ideas are not the result of logical calculation but of sacred revelation, not of evidential proof but of intimate experience. His views are expressed as rhetorical exhortations and devotional observations rather than analysis and argument. His religious vision was more like sparks flying from a flint wheel than a seamless fabric of postulates and premises. However, these sparks did not careen off the wheel at random; rather, they flashed in a common direction and in interesting patterns. His insights are like embers of thought deep in the heart seeking to catch fire; like fuel for creative contemplation.Read Full Post
What does “holocaust” mean? Most people might instantly without thinking throw out a reference to the mass slaughter of humans (esp. Jews) by the Nazis during World War 2.
To illustrate, a person on Yahoo Answers asked the question: “Why is the holocaust called the ‘holocaust?” To which the ‘best answer chosen’ was:
“Because the word “holocaust” means “an act of mass destruction,” in the case of “The” Holocaust it was the mass destruction of 11 million lives.”
Technically the word “holocaust” doesn’t mean “an act of mass destruction.” That may be what the general understanding of the word today is, but words are complex things and most often have intriguing histories behind them.
Let’s turn to a modern dictionary to find out. Dictionary.com defines “holocaust” as:
- a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
- a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
- (usually initial capital letter) the systematic massslaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration campsduring World War II (usually prec. by the ).
- any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.
Sounds pretty much like what we would have expected to find inRead Full Post
The idea of ‘renewing’ a covenant seems initially kind of strange when I think about it. A covenant is a contract so if you break the terms of the contract isn’t the contract null and void? Why do we have to keep renewing a promise that we have already made? Or how about this: Why would God make a covenant with man, if he knows that every single one of us will break it?
I was thinking back to the era of the Law of Moses. God made covenants with Israel, yet they still had these sin and peace offerings that they could make from time to time as needed. So what exactly is going on here with the covenants we make today? When doctrinal issues seem a bit muddled, it’s always best to go to back to the source and break everything down into digestible parts.
Let’s examine the sacrament prayers themselves for more insight on the covenants we make.
The blessing on the bread:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”
First, we learn that we are eating the bread in remembranceRead Full Post
Many of the following quotes were obtained by a presentation given at BYU by Philip A. Allred called “Made Holy in the Body“.
The body is a recording device.
Our body is literally a recording device, it is equipped with at least five known senses with which we take in the world around us. With our brain, we process the information and with our will we determine what to do with it. Here are some quotes from Presidents of the Church on this topic.
From President John Taylor:
“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)
From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)
Again from Pres. Taylor:
God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).
And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.
Much time is spent by some seeking to find a secular explanation for the existence of the Book of Mormon while others who work to counter the critics and dig deeper for clues that point to a work of divine origin.
Even though this self-proclaimed imperfect record came into existence through the fumbling hands of imperfect but inspired men, Joseph Smith still felt confident enough in the message to label the Book of Mormon as “the most correct of any book on earth”. Joseph also stated that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” which is certainly a bold claim by anyone’s standards.
Here is a book with a simple message, it acknowledges its faults but includes a promise that God himself will reveal the truth of it to those who read and ponder its words and then ask with faith in Christ (Moroni 10:3-5).
But can we look past the faults? Do we see them as evidence of fraud orRead Full Post
If you can find a truth…we claim it
“I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.” (DBY, 2)
There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel
“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods.” (DBY, 3)
It is our duty to gather every item of truth and reject every error
It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or withRead Full Post
These questions are prompted by the occasional run-ins I have had with those of other religious traditions. Most of the time, certain verses are put forth as ‘the’ definition of how one obtains salvation. I have heard and seen some of these verses being quoted by people of other religious traditions almost like they stand independent of what the rest of the scriptures have to say. So I decided to lay out and categorize some of the New Testament verses that seem the most specific in saying ‘do this’ and ‘the same shall be saved’.
Belief or Faith
- “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
- “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” (Luke 18:42)
After an Institute of Religion class, my teacher and I were having a discussion in his office. He asked if he could show me something; he grabbed a book and took his seat across the table from me. He asked me to close my eyes and focus on envisioning what he was going to be reading to me. What he read was a very descriptive narrative of a climb to the top of a mountain that was meant to be imagined from the perspective of the reader.
This simple narrative was amazingly effective at teaching a few important principles that I will cover later. With a few words, my paradigm had been shifted concerning how I approach my Father in Heaven in prayer.
Below is the text that was read to me and since you can’t read this with your eyes closed, I suggest possibly having someone read this to you or for the time being, read it slow and try and project what you are reading into your mind’s eye. Do your best to clear your mind, find a quiet place and simply focus; if you simply skim it, you will getRead Full Post
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 Post
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 Post
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 Smith
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 Post
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