Church History

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The Motto of the Church of Latter-day Saints

The Constitution of our country formed by the Fathers of liberty. Peace and good order in society. Love to God, and good will to man. All good and wholesome laws, virtue and truth above all things, and aristarchy, live forever! But woe to tyrants, mobs, aristocracy, anarchy, and toryism, and all those who invent or seek out unrighteous and vexatious law suits, under the pretext and color of law, or office, either religious or political. Exalt the standard of Democracy! Down with that of priestcraft, and let all the people say Amen! that the blood of our fathers may not cry from the ground against us. Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.

JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
THOMAS B. MARSH,
DAVID W. PATTEN,
BRIGHAM YOUNG,
SAMUEL H. SMITH,
GEORGE M. HINKLE,
JOHN CORRILL,
GEORGE W. ROBINSON
(March, 1838).

Notes:

I thought it might be of use to point out the difference between the following terms:

Aristarchy (live forever): A body of good men in power, or government by excellent men.

Aristocracy (woe to): A form of government, in which the whole supreme power is vested in the principal persons of a state; or in a few men distinguished by their rank and opulence. When the supreme power is exercised by a small number, the government is called an oligarchy. The latter word however is usually applied to a corrupted form of aristocracy.

While it seems that this wasn’t actually ever adopted by the church (it’s kind of a long motto and very politically oriented), it’s significant that it was liked enough for Joseph Smith and several other important men to put their names to it.

Screenshot 2016-05-15 20.11.13

Original document here at the Joseph Smith Papers.

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Truths that Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone Continues to Reveal

When I first saw the pictures of Joseph Smith’s primary seer stone my first thought was, “Oh, cool, I’m glad they released some pictures. I knew it was a small, chocolate-colored stone but I didn’t realize it had stripes.” and that was that.

I see conversations around the web indicating that some members of the Church are upset about the seer stone and the part it played in our history. Some were unaware of its existence, but I remember learning about it as a teenager. I didn’t know that much about the process of the translation and how the seer stone and Interpreters fit into the picture, but I did when I cared enough to research it on my own.

Skeptics find humor in the seer stone looking like just a plain old rock and are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to further paint Joseph Smith as an occultic scheister.

Instead of trying to address all of the legitimate concerns and questions, I want to write about my own perspective and the much larger themes at play.
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“Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.”

Listen-to-everyone-and-learn-from-everyone-because-nobody-knows-everything-but-everyone-knows-something

Many are concerned with truth and how to obtain it. There are many ideas about what truth is, where it can be found, and how it can be discerned. There are deep concerns about being misled by false ideas and false prophets.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a member about gathering truth in from other religions and cultures in the spirit of what Joseph Smith and others have taught. I was looked at a little skeptically and asked, “Are we… supposed to be doing that?” More and more I find such as perspective to be out of sync with Latter-day Saint theology, though it seems par for the course with Latter-day Saint culture insofar as I have experienced it. I mean, don’t we heard non-LDS individuals quoted in General Conference quite often? (Yes, I’m talking about you C.S. Lewis)

Tribal pride caution

Like many other groups, we are proud of our own and we expect great things to come from among us because Read Full Post

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How to Obtain a Knowledge of God – Lectures on Faith

What testimony have men, in the first instance, that there is a God?
Human testimony, and human testimony only. (2:56)

What excited the ancient saints to seek diligently after a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
The credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers. (2:56)

How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly, strengthening their faith in him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (2:55)

Is the knowledge of the existence of God a matter of mere tradition, founded upon human testimony alone, until a person receives a manifestation of God to themselves?
It is.

How do you prove it?
From the whole of the first lecture of the second section.

The questions and answers above are from the very end of the catechism in Lecture 2 of the Lectures on Faith. These particular questions and answers condense the message of scripture into a few words that take only seconds to read. There is no doubt in my mind as to the source of their inspiration. Based on personal experience, I can soberly state that I know of myself that these words are factual.

For 86 years, the Lectures were the “Doctrine” part of the Read Full Post

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Videos of 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference

Source: TempleStudy.com

The Interpreter Foundation has announced the availability of the videos of the presentations given at the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference which took place on 25 October 2014 in Provo, Utah. Videos of each of the presentations are now available for free viewing on The Interpreter Foundation’s YouTube channel, or on MormonInterpreter.com.  They are also embedded below for your convenience. There is also a YouTube playlist available of the conference presentations. The conference proceedings will also be published in book form in the future.

Donald W. Parry’s Introduction to the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference

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…And Say Unto You, ‘Receive the Mind of God’

mind-of-god

The Lectures on Faith is a fantastic addition to the doctrinal knowledge base of the Latter-day Saints. They were part of the Doctrine and Covenants for almost 100 years and were separated from the canon on the grounds that they were not specific revelations to the Church. It’s a complicated story that I’m going to have to address at another time.

What I’m going to be presenting is from the Fifth Lecture that contains teachings about the Godhead that may at first seem foreign to our traditional views as we have come to understand them. When we are seeking to learn eternal truths through the insufficient languages of man, we can often encounter things that puzzle us.

As inconvenient as this is, I believe that it plays an important role in our quest for truth. It causes us to question, to stretch our understanding and ponder deeply upon things. So let’s look into one of these teachings and see what profound truths that we can draw from it.

LINDSAY CYNGOT | Scroll Photography

LINDSAY CYNGOT | Scroll Photography

The mind of the Father and the Son

In Lecture Five we read:

“And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father – possessing the same mind with the Father; which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;”

If you read this literally or within a different paradigm it will sound confusing to you. It almost sounds as if the Holy Spirit is nothing more than some kind of shared consciousness. It might seem that way, but I don’t believe that this is the right interpretation. First of all, in translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith would be well aware of what Nephi said when he conversed with the Holy Spirit in a vision: Read Full Post

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Happy September 22nd, the Day of the Sign

fulfilling-covenant

Today was the day, 186 years ago that the Nephite record known as The Book of Mormon passed from immortal to mortal hands. Interestingly enough, that night as these events unfolded to the knowledge of a few, the Jews blew their shofar trumpets celebrating Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of the Trumpets) on the other side of the world.

What significance did this high holy day have to coming forth of the Book of Mormon? Read, Joseph Smith’s Receipt of the Plates and the Israelite Feast of Trumpets, and you’ll never see this event the same way again.

In 34 A.D. Jesus Christ taught a remnant of Jacob living upon the American continent “Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses” (3 Ne. 15:4) but adds that Read Full Post

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“Let Them Govern Themselves” by Boyd K. Packer

I’m a fan of Boyd K. Packer. Behind that gravely-sounding voice is a fascinating mind that has provided some powerful insights and refreshing commentary on the latter-day work and Church. Currently, I’m serving as an elders quorum president in my ward and one of the biggest challenges I have been facing is how to bless the lives of families without burdening them with well-intentioned programs and what not.

I’m not a fan of programs and meetings. Although I believe that they can be necessary at times, I also believe that we create monsters that do the opposite of help. I see a similarity between how a country drifts into tyranny because of a bunch of well-intentioned politicians who try to solve every problem with new programs and tons of money and well-intentioned church leaders who dream up bloated programs that burden families and almost never work.

So I really appreciated this rather frank and sensible talk from Elder Packer that was given at a Regional Representatives Seminar Friday, March 30, 1990 (original source). What I did was pull out some of the highlights that I found most interesting and included them below. If you serve in any leadership capacity in the church, this address is an important read, so here it is… Read Full Post

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On Mysticism, Transcendence, Meditation, Seers & Stones

meditation

Originally posted at TempleStudy.com

What is mysticism? That is the million dollar question.

It is incredibly difficult to define. Wikipedia defines it as the “pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.” What? By combining all possible definitions into one, they have created an incomprehensible one.

Let’s turn to some closer associates. Hugh Nibley once defined it, quoting Eduard Lehmann, as “an intuitive and ecstatic union with the deity obtained by means of contemplation and other mental exercises.” Professor William Hamblin turns to oft-repeated definitions such as “a domain of religion that deals with the search for and the attainment of a profound experiential knowledge of God or of ultimate reality,” or, “mysticism is … a type of religious experience which involves a sense of union or merging with either God or an all-pervading spiritual force in the universe,” but finds even these lacking. In Kevin Christensen’s recent Interpreter review of Margarget Barker’s book Temple Mysticism: An Introduction he indicated that his “favorite LDS approach” to the topic has become Mark E. Koltko’s essay “Mysticism and Mormonism: An LDS Perspective on Transcendence and Higher Consciousness,” found in the April 1989 issue of Sunstone. We’ll come back to this shortly. Christensen notes that while Nibley’s view tends to be the more conventional definition, Margaret Barker’s own use of the term in her book is very different still, focusing on the experience of “seeing the Lord,” i.e. a temple theophany. While different, there is clearly overlap between the ideas of “a union with deity,” and “seeing God,” as Matthew Bowen also elucidates in his recent article in Interpreter. Koltko’s essay also perhaps helps bridge the gap.

But let me rewind for a moment. Why am I interested in mysticism? It sounds eerily like one of those occult things that Read Full Post

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When church leaders speak, is the thinking done?

There are so many levels that this subject can be explored on but I will only be addressing the few that I think are the most interesting at the moment. The drama begins when a particular article was published in the old “Improvement Era” magazine back in June of 1945. The repercussions of this article seem to have survive to this day with those who are against the LDS Church and with those who are IN the LDS Church who still believe the false aspects that were presented in the article.

The article is very heavy-handed in its approach to the subject of sustaining, so much so that it advocates blind, unthinking obedience, a way of behavior directly opposed to the doctrine of agency. A concerned Unitarian minister wrote then President George Albert Smith who Read Full Post

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The Three Tests We Must Pass?

I have been having a great time digging through Avraham Gileadi’s book “The End From the Beginning” which analyzes Isaiah’s apocalyptic vision of the last days. My favorite kind of books are the ones that help me connect the dots, personally. Now, in order to connect dots you have to have them first, so here’s dot one: the Heber C. Kimball prophecy concerning a great latter-day test.

I realize that I refer to this prophecy quite frequently on this blog, but I just keep finding so many various connections to it that I just have to put some thoughts down. Here is just a small excerpt:

…the Saints will be put to a test that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes.

Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills, where we can close the doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, that the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God.

Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great shifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming. (Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency, May 1868, in Deseret News, 23 May 1931; see also Conference Report, Oct. 1930, p. 58-59)

The last part where he says “…a test, a test, a test…” is the first dot. Late President Gordon B. Hinckley referenced these very words in a talk first given in 1974 (which was then repeated again in 1990) where he concluded: “…I do not know precisely the nature of that test. But I am inclined to think the time is here…” He suggested “that the test lies in our capacity to live the gospel rather than adopt the ways of the world” (Gordon B. Hinckley, A City Set Upon a Hill, October 1974 General Conference). Read Full Post

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Receiving Knowledge From God

These insightful words from Brigham Young are interesting to ponder in light of the responsibility that comes with receiving revelation:

There is one principle that I wish the people would understand and lay to heart. Just as fast as you will prove before your God that you are worthy to receive the mysteries, if you please to call them so, of the kingdom of heaven–that you are full of confidence in God–that you will never betray a thing that God tells you–that you will never reveal to your neighbour that which ought not to be revealed, as quick as you prepare to be entrusted with the things of God, there is an eternity of them to bestow upon you. Instead of pleading with the Lord to bestow more upon you, plead with yourselves to have confidence in yourselves, to have integrity in yourselves, and know when to speak and what to speak, what to reveal, and how to carry yourselves and walk before the Lord. And just as fast as you prove to Him that you will preserve everything secret that ought to be–that you will deal out to your neighbours all which you ought, and no more, and learn how to dispense your knowledge to your families, friends, neighbours, and brethren, the Lord will bestow upon you, and give to you, and bestow upon you, until finally he will say to you, “You shall never fall; your salvation is sealed unto you; you are sealed up unto eternal life and salvation, through your integrity.”

Let every person be the friend of God, that whatever He reveals to you, you can wisely handle without asking Him whether you shall tell your wife of it or not…I say this that you may learn to reveal that which you ought, and to keep the rest to yourselves. By so doing you prove to God that you are His friends, and will keep His secrets.

The world may howl around you and plead for the secrets of the Lord which he has given you, but they will not get them. When the Lord has proved His children true to what He has given into their charge, and that they will do His bidding, He will tell such persons anything that they should know. A great many desire just enough of knowledge to damn them and it does damn a great many. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, Pg.371, underline added)

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The Test Has Begun

I can’t remember quite when I first read of the Heber C. Kimball’s “Test” prophecy but it has always intrigued me. The intrigue has grown to deep concern as I have pondered the deep implications of a future he saw, especially when I discovered that I am apparently living in the time of its fulfillment. Provided below are some quotes containing the words of this prophecy as well as evidence that the test has already commenced.

In  August 16, 1857, Heber C. Kimball stated:

There will also be a day when you will be brought to the test — when your very hearts and your inmost souls will melt within you because of the scenes that many of you will witness. Yes, you will be brought to that test, when you will feel as if every thing within you would dissolve. Then will be the time you will be tried whether you will stand the test or fall away. (Remarks by President Heber C. Kimball, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, August 16, 1857. source)

In May of 1868 Heber C. Kimball said: Read Full Post

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Woman’s position in the eternal economy of the Creator

Here is an excerpt from a chapter written by LDS apostle James E. Talmage in October of 1914. Writing to a female audience, he focuses on the dynamics of gender and the relationships between men and women in this world and the next. There are many wonderful doctrinal tidbits in the following words. Enjoy!

The status of woman in the world is a subject of present-day discussion and an element of current social unrest; it is, however, by no means a new topic. The female sex is not infrequently referred to as the weaker of the two. As gauged by physical standards this classification may be essentially correct. And be it said to the discredit and shame of the stronger sex, man through the centuries gone has been prone to use his superior strength to the oppression of woman. She has suffered the greatest humiliation during periods of spiritual darkness, when the Gospel of Christ was forgotten.

Woman occupies a position all her own in the eternal economy of the Creator; and in that position she is as truly superior to man as is he to her in his appointed place. Woman shall yet come to her own, exercising her rights and her privileges as a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane.

It is part of woman’s mission in this life to occupy a secondary position of authority in the activities of the world, both in the home and in the affairs of public concern. Of this condition, explanation and justification may be found in the fact that in every organization, however simple or complex, there must needs be a centralization of authority, in short, a head. The secular law recognizes the husband as the head of the household, and theoretically at least holds hi[m] accountable for his administration. That many men fail in their station, that some are weak and unfit, that in particular instances the wife may be the more capable and in divers ways the better of the pair, should not be considered as evidencing impropriety or unrighteousness in the established order as a general condition.

Woman should be regarded, not in the sense of privilege but of right, as the associate of man in the community of the home, and they two should form the governing head of the family institution, while to each separately pertain duties and functions which the other is less qualified to discharge. Weakness or inefficiency on the part of either in specified instances must not be taken to impugn the wisdom by which the organization of the home and of society has been planned.

In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with Divine requirement. It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the House of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood.

When the frailities [sic] and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom.

Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God.

Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God. (from the Young Woman’s Journal 25 [October 1914]: 600-604, link)

I do realize what a touchy topic this is. Each gender has unique and sacred characteristics and when combined you get a marriage of those characteristics which form the foundation of an Eternal unit.

We speak so much of ‘equality’ which is defined as “uniformity” and while man and woman do govern equally in the family unit, I feel that ‘unity’ is a much better word because it is defined as “the state of being one”. I think it is important that each gender (particularly the men) in their respective stations remember the counsel of D&C 121 concerning unrighteous dominion. Either side through selfishness can throw out of balance the divine harmony that should exist between man and woman.

There is no compulsion in the economy of God, only persuasion, love and self-sacrifice. Think of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles; a perfect image of how a husband should preside in a family. Think of the dedication of the apostles to Jesus Christ and the love that was shared between them. The model of the church itself has much to teach us on how we should structure out own families.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

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Wilford Woodruff on Preaching the Gospel

A good and wise friend of mine, Mitchell Colver, sent me this wonderful quote from Wilford Woodruff about preaching the gospel:

When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that. (Contributor, August 1895, 636–37.) [source]

I think people of all faiths would do well to heed this advice, but especially Latter-day Saints. I think the Church as an institution does a phenomenal job with abiding by the precept of letting others worship in peace without condemnation, etc.

I hope that as members of the Church in general that we can always abide by these precepts. Although I seek to proclaim the truths that I am a witness of, I feel perfectly fine in letting others believe as they will. No matter what religious organization we belong to, whether it is led by God or not, we are all at varying positions in our relationship to God and this should be respected.

We should each proclaim the good we possess and allow the Spirit to testify of truth instead of seeking to compel others by crafty reasoning or other tactics that involve the arm of the flesh or man’s wisdom.

I love all of 1 Corinthians 2, but verses 1-5,13 & 14 seem to apply:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God…Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

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“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 to Read Full Post

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Video: Joseph Smith’s Last Dream

From the YouTube description:

“Few people know this story….Two days before his martyrdom, Joseph Smith told W. W. Phelps about a prophetic dream he had a few night prior. W. W. Phelps did not publish the account until 1862, but when he did, he titled it: “Joseph Smith’s Last Dream.””

It’s hard to tell the accuracy of some things that come from individuals many years after they were purported to happen. In my opinion, W.W. Phelps is probably a pretty accurate source for something like this, but I suppose we’ll never really know for sure.

There are incidents from my past that I don’t remember very well and others that I remember flawlessly. I remember extremely detailed experiences from when I was six years old, but events like those were things that happened to me. I find that I have a much more difficult time remembering specific things that people told me from years back.

I can think of a handful of experiences that were life changing for me where I remember about 80% of what was said and what I remember definitely captures the spirit of what was being said.

I think that it’s likely that W.W. Phelps recorded something very similar to what Joseph said although it might not be word-for-word. So for what it’s worth, the video below portrays very well the account that Bro. Phelps left us with.

Full text of the dream

Link to Seth Adam Smith’s Blog

“While I was at Jordan’s in Iowa the other night, I dreamed that myself and my brother Hyrum went on board of a large steamboat, lying in a small bay, near the great ocean. Shortly after we went on board there was an “alarm of fire,” and I discovered that the boat had been anchored some distance from the shore, out in the bay, and that an escape from the fire, in the confusion, appeared hazardous; but, as delay was folly, I and Hyrum jumped overboard, and tried our faith at walking upon the water.

At first we sank in the water nearly to our knees, but as we proceeded we increased in faith, and were soon able to walk upon the water. On looking towards the burning boat in the east, we saw that it was drifting towards the wharf and the town, with a great flame and clouds of smoke; and, as if by whirlwind, the town was taking fire, too, so that the scene of destruction and horror of the frightened inhabitants was terrible.

We proceeded on the bosom of the mighty deep and were soon out of sight of land. The ocean was still; the rays of the sun were bright, and we forgot all the troubles of our Mother Earth. Just at that moment I heard the sound of a human voice, and, turning round, saw my brother Samuel H. approaching towards us from the east. We stopped and he came up. After a moment’s conversation he informed me that he had been lonesome back, and had made up his mind to go with me across the mighty deep.

We all started again, and in a short time were blest with the first sight of a city, whose gold and silver steeples and towers were more beautiful than any I had ever seen or heard of on earth. It stood, as it were, upon the western shore of the mighty deep we were walking on, and its order and glory seemed far beyond the wisdom of man. While we were gazing upon the perfection of the city, a small boat launched off from the port, and, almost as quick as thought, came to us. In an instant they took us on board and saluted us with a welcome, and with music such as is not on earth. The next scene, on landing, was more than I can describe: the greeting of old friends, the music from a thousand towers, and the light of God himself at the return of three of his sons, soothed my soul into a quiet and a joy that I felt as if I was truly in heaven. I gazed upon the splendor; I greeted my friends, I awoke, and lo, it was a dream!

While I meditated upon such a marvelous scene, I fell asleep again, and behold I stood near the shore of the burning boat, and there was a great consternation among the officers, crew and passengers of the flaming craft, as there seemed to be much ammunition or powder on board. The alarm was given that the fire was near the magazine, and in a moment, suddenly, it blew up with a great noise, and sank in deep water with all on board. I then turned to the country east, among the bushy openings, and saw William and Wilson Law endeavoring to escape from the wild beasts of the forest, but two lions rushed out of a thicket and devoured them. I awoke again.”

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Joseph Smith on Three Truths

“We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true.” (TPJS 147-48)

I love the simplicity in that statement. Joseph Smith it seems was trying to make a powerful statement about the importance and divine origins for the Constitution of the United States by placing it between God and the Bible and thereby elevating it to the level of scripture.

The Constitution of the United States has brought more than just liberty and good government to the world, the results of liberty have spawned technological revolutions that have launched mankind by leaps and bounds into prosperity and knowledge.

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Parley P. Pratt’s call to the Apostleship

In accordance with one of the early revelations to the Church concerning the calling and ordination of Twelve Apostles, this quorum was now being filled. Among those chosen for this high and holy calling was my brother Orson and myself. He being still absent, and the other members having been already ordained, a meeting was convened at Kirtland, and very numerously attended, in which, on the 21st day of February, 1835, I took the oath and covenant of apostleship, and was solemnly set apart and ordained to that office; and as a member of that quorum under the hands of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer; the minutes of which in the Church History are as follows:

“Kirtland, February 21st, 1835. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting of the Church was held, and, after prayer by President David Whitmer, and a short address by President Oliver Cowdery to the congregation, Elder Parley P. Pratt was called to the stand, and ordained one of the Twelve by President Joseph Smith, Jr., David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. ‘O, Lord, smile from heaven upon this thy servant; forgive his sins, sanctify his heart, and prepare him to receive the blessing. Increase his love for thee and for thy cause; increase his intelligence, communicate to him all that wisdom, that prudence and that understanding which he needs as a minister of righteousness, and to magnify the apostleship whereunto he is called.

“May a double portion of that Spirit which was communicated to the disciples of our Lord and Saviour, to lead them to all truth, rest down upon him, and go with him where he goes, that nothing shall prevail against him; that he may be delivered from prisons, from the power of his enemies, and from the adversary of all righteousness. Read Full Post

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Atonement and the sacred thou at the center of Joseph Smith’s Revelations by Blake T. Ostler

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by Blake T. Ostler

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

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