There is an ideology today that I hear quite often and it is poor in principle and flawed in doctrine. You may recognize this ideology as it appears in the following forms:
- “Live your truth”
- “Be who you really are”
- “Be your most authentic self”
What if “your truth” is that only the strong survive and that whatever you can take from the weak you should? What if you are an angry person, short-tempered, or enjoy lusting after the flesh? What if you look at yourself as you are now and realize that you are incredibly narcissistic and do not truly care about the people around you? These ideologies initially feel warm and fuzzy, but they require you to cut yourself off from the greater realities of life and truth.Read Full Post
My friend, Richard N. shared this image with me, and I thought it was fantastic. What is lacking in artistic skill is made up for in composition and message which I will attempt to break down as intricately as I can. The artist is Sr Grace Remington OCSO, a Cistercian Sister of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been coming across fascinating tidbits of information that appear to show connections between the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Mother. During a recent morning family scripture study in 1 Nephi 11, I noticed a couple of interesting things and I’ll share some of the details.
In verse 16, the angel asks Nephi “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” When Nephi appears not to know the answer, (vs.17) the angel shows him this beautiful, fair virgin again and reveals that she is “the mother of the Son of God” (vs.18) and she is shown with a child in her arms. (vs.20) The angel tells Nephi that this child is “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (vs.21)
The angel then asks Nephi another question: “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (vs.21) Nephi answers knowingly that the tree “is the love of God.” (vs.22) Nephi then sees many people worship Jesus and explains his understanding of the iron rod and the fountain of water. (vs.24-25)
Now that Nephi understands the meaning of the tree the angel says “Look and behold the condescension of God!” (vs.23) It is at this point that the angel shows Nephi key events in the life of Jesus from his baptism to his crucifixion. What I want to focus on what I believe are parallel elements that follow the two verses that mention the phrase “the condescension of God.”
There is a distinct mother and son presence in these verses, and it isn’t quite apparent at first. We see the Spirit mentioned in direct conjunction with a birth and a rebirth account as well; these things are significant so take note!Read Full Post
The following is a post created from a talk I gave in church this morning.
There is an idea in thermodynamics that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder. The Book of Mormon is a window into how this happens in the lives of individuals and civilizations. Around 385 A.D., the bodies of tens of thousands of men, women, and children, lay strewn across the land as an entire nation went extinct save for a few.
Mormon, on of the last surviving leaders beheld this scene and cried out in anguish: “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss. O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return. (Mormon 6:17-20)
They had fallen, and they did so together, as one.Read Full Post
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Cor. 15:22,45,47)
If Jesus can be considered a “second Adam,” then would there also be a “second Eve?” I propose that Jesus’ mother Mary might be the best candidate and I’ll explain why.
Valarie Hudson Cassler proposes that the two trees in the garden of Eden could respectively represent Adam and Eve, and I think that’s a legitimate interpretation to draw from the symbolism. I’d like to present another scenario where there two trees are actually representing four people instead of just two. This can be done by considering Read Full Post
Consider that the tree of life and temple ascension are at their deepest levels tied to birth concepts and actually symbolize the placenta (tree or link between mother and child) and the umbilical cord (iron rod and covenants made by dividing and reconnecting things).
At birth we are cut off from the tree of life and the rod, so Lehi’s vision shows us how we can return. Note that after Nephi was shown the tree, he was shown a woman, Mary.
Nicodemus’ question may have been more insightful than we realize: “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” The temple patterns illustrate a symbolic return to the womb, innocence, Eden, etc. In fact, the original Nauvoo temple architect Wandle Mace said: “The order of architecture [on the Nauvoo Temple] was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original; being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
Read Full Post
Boundaries define everything that exists. Boundaries are where chaos ends and existence begins. Boundaries tell us what something is and what it isn’t.
“[Christ’s] salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else;” Lecture 7:9
If we read the various creation accounts in Genesis, Moses and Abraham we see God dividing things. By dividing light from darkness he created a boundary, whereas before there would have been nothing. He divided the waters of the firmament, the seas from the land, animal life from the seas and land, man from the earth, and the woman from the man. Finally, mankind was divided from God during the fall.
Each of these steps was an act of division. Division is creation because dividing creates boundaries, and in the process something new is defined. Living organisms all start with a single cell that divides billions of times to form what could be any variety of complex life.
Computers work on a binary system that begins with a 1 and a 0, electricity and no electricity, something and nothing. From that 1 and 0, you can create infinite strings of digits that can be crafted to produce entire worldsRead Full Post
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of [an] army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Came across the quote from a guest post by Kurt Francom of LeadingLDS on This Week in Mormons: http://thisweekinmormons.com/2014/02/sin-make-stronger/
Of the seven Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth is perhaps my personal favorite. It is the only lecture that has this footnote:
This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it: the student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory. (Emphasis Added)
So what are these facts that are so plain and self-evident and why are they important? In verse 7 we findRead Full Post
This week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a new gospel topic titled Becoming Like God. Personally, I thought they did a great job with this piece, hit all the right scripture verses, and explained the doctrine very well. Then, down in footnote 22, I found this fantastic observation:
In “The Place of Theosis in Orthodox Theology,” Andrew Louth describes Eastern Orthodoxy as focused on a “greater arch, leading from creation to deification” and feels that Catholic and Protestant theologies have focused on a partial “lesser arch, from Fall to redemption” to the exclusion of that whole (in Christensen and Wittung, Partakers of the Divine Nature, 35).
This observation fits so well with my recent studies concerning salvation vs. exaltation and how these to doctrines Read Full Post
I was preparing an Elders Quorum lesson and felt particularly drawn to Alma 5. I fell in love with this chapter during my full-time mission days and when I really, really read it, I was highlighting so much that I actually outlined the entire contents of each page! I remember thinking: “This is just all so fantastic, I love it all!”
Fast forward 14 years later Read Full Post
The scriptures often talk about having a broken heart, but what does that mean? Does God want us to be sad? I believe that many of the problems we experience in understanding the ancient concepts contained in the scriptures is because we understand things in a modern way.
Words and their meanings change over time. Today, having a broken heart might mean something like the following:
A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, whether through death, divorce, breakup, physical separation, betrayal, or romantic rejection. (via Wikipedia, emphasis added)
In the profane world, a broken heart is an emotional response to unpleasant events surrounding other people. In the sacred world, a broken heart is a catalyst to wonderful things. Read Full Post
I came across this post the other day that had some interesting perspectives on repentance. How many Saints are focused way too much on the “subtraction” aspect of the repentance process? How many are locked in guilt-laden cycles focused on ceasing behavior instead of receiving the power of grace?
“[Repentance] is a process of addition – not subtraction. It is a process of acquisition, not elimination…You repent by ceasing to try to lessen who you are and allowing [Christ] to increase who you are. In short, you repent by “losing yourself” and “finding yourself”.
From a blog titled: Things of my Soul by post author “Papa D” (some parenthesis removed)
I can testify that the principle of allowing Christ to increase you is true because I have experienced it. You are not saved merely by ceasing your iniquity; sin is sin and once committed, it condemns you without the mercy of Christ. Seeing as how we continue to sin all the days of our lives, we are continually at the mercy of the grace of Christ.
It is only by adding the atonement of Jesus Christ that salvation is found.
Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state. (Mosiah 16:4)
What do you think?
- What is your perspective on the atonement of Christ?
By Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, May 1998
What do we say when someone asks us, “Have you been saved?” This question, so common in the conversation of some Christians, can be puzzling to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is not our usual way of speaking. We tend to speak of “saved” or “salvation” as a future event rather than something that has already been realized.
Good Christian people sometimes attach different meanings to some key gospel terms like saved or salvation. If we answer according to what our questioner probably means in asking if we have been “saved,” our answer must be “yes.” If we answer according to the various meanings we attach to the terms saved or salvation, our answer will be either “yes” or “yes, but with conditions.”
As I understand what is meant by the good Christians who speak in these terms, we are “saved” when we sincerely declare or confess that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This meaning relies on words the Apostle Paul taught the Christians of his day:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10).
To Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation in this teaching signify a present covenant relationship with Jesus Christ in which we are assured salvation from the consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every sincere Latter-day Saint is “saved” according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we have experienced Read Full Post
I’d like to thank my good friend Mike King for being the catalyst that inspired this article. The Bible verses are all from the New American Standard Version just for kicks, thanks, Andrew T.
There’s a verse in the Book of Mormon that I have seen get plenty of criticism from some who think that the verse teaches some kind of “works-based salvation” that diminishes the role of Christ’s grace.
On the other hand, however, I’ve seen Latter-day Saints misunderstand this verse as well. Read the following verse and ponder what you think it is getting at:
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
At first glance, it might seem like this verse is saying that our efforts actually make up a portion of our salvation. That us “doing things” makes up the first part of our salvation and that Jesus Christ’s atonement kicks in to cover whatever is left over. That is just one way that it can be interpreted, but there’s a glaring problem with that interpretation Read Full Post
There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.
- Used for sacrifices and offerings and for sacred ordinances of the gospel (LDS BD). A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
- Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
- The life of the animal is represented by its blood. (Leviticus 17:11)
- Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
- We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way.Read Full Post
Last Sunday, as I was sliding into a pew in time for sacrament meeting, one of the ward leaders motioned me over. Did I have any bread at home? Well, do they say ya’ll in Texas? Of course I did, I always do. There was no bread for the sacrament, and could I run home and get some? I did. I rushed home, grabbed the loaf in the cupboard and got back to the church with my bread. That loaf was one of my prized recipes, a 100% whole wheat loaf made with wheat that I ground and buttermilk I cultured myself. And because I don’t have a grinder, I am currently using my blender and sieve; it takes a little extra time, but how else am I to use the small silo of wheat in my house? It is good bread. And good bread is worth it to me. And oh, I do so love good bread. The crackly crust and chewy crumb of a perfect loaf is heaven to me.
I can’t extend that same love to all bread. It may seem sacrilege that even think of it, but the often cheap, plastic-sleeved bread typically brought in each week for the sacrament at church is hard for me to swallow. The token to remember Christ is most often chemically preserved, bleached and bromated bread, and a bit of a distraction for me. I have to choose to stop thinking about it—is that bad? I know what D&C 27:2 says, but I still feel that when it is something that has substance in my life, shouldn’t the bread that symbolized it have some as well? Should the bread we use for the sacrament matter; or am I overthinking this one?
Back to that Sabbath morning. I got back to church Read Full Post
Today in church we had a lesson on the doctrine of the “three degrees of glory”. A comment seemed to indicate a feeling that inheriting a particular lower degree of glory as your eternal home with no chance of progression was unjust.
The comments began around a particular verse that describes the inhabitants of the telestial kingdom as “…they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:82). I think a misunderstanding of the word “received” is where the difficulty arises. A few assumed that received meant that the individuals never got a chance to accept Christ because they never had access to the gospel.
However, the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary shows the first definition of receive as: Read Full Post
“And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?”
This sentence is from 2 Nephi 4:27, part of what is known as “Nephi’s Psalm”. I’ve been studying it for a few weeks now off and on and it seems that every time I look at it, I find a new little gem. This particular sentence is an interesting one to ponder and it brings many thoughts to mind.
Nephi is asking this question to himself in this particular instance. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed that I had been glossing over the comma in this sentence. Now the original Book of Mormon did not have punctuation, so this comma was added at some point along the process (that would be interesting to study). When you read it, try pausing for a moment after the comma and then read the rest.
“And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?”
Today, I hear many justify sin because of weaknesses or defects in the flesh, but Nephi isn’t having any of it. In asking the question “why should I yield to sin,” he immediately disqualifies Read Full Post