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A Proposed Reinterpretation of Jacob 2:30

In Jacob chapters 2 – 3 we find one of the most passionate and heart-wrenching sermons in the Book of Mormon. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, and the Lord himself speaks in condemnation of two major themes; the Nephite’s lust for riches and for taking many wives and concubines.

While the Book of Mormon as a whole condemns the practice of taking many wives and concubines, verse 30 of chapter two is said to indicate an exception to that rule. While the practice is condemned as a gross crime, a whoredom, and even an abomination, verse 30 appears to indicate that God will not only allow, but command the men of his people to take on many wives and concubines to “raise up seed,” a reference to posterity. The phrase “raise up” is a bit enigmatic if you only look at this verse alone. Does “raise up” mean simply the act of bringing up children, does it mean increasing the population at a higher velocity, or could it be referencing something else entirely?

I believe that there is enough evidence within the text and supporting scriptures that provides an alternate interpretation. As with any post on this site, I am open to corrections if I am in error at any point. I don’t speak for the Church, I am not a scholar, and nobody should feel any obligation to believe anything I say. This blog is mainly an extension of my personal study where I share some of the things I’m exploring. Read Full Post

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The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intention Read Full Post

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Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom by A. Jane Birch

The following article was published at Mormon Interpreter. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the research and put together some good information on this subject and I think Jane did a great job. She’s the author of the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom which she wrote following her own personal journey toward health and wellness by seeking to follow the principles in D&C 89.

Of all the things going on in the world, the Word of Wisdom might not seem to be very significant, but when the revelation itself states that it is “showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days” and that “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation”, it sounds pretty relevant to us today.

I don’t personally feel like it is my duty or obligation to tell people how they should live the principles of the gospel, but I do believe that giving people as much information as possible so that they can make their own decisions as guided by the spirit is my duty and obligation.


Abstract: The 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included an additional comma, which was inserted after the word “used” in D&C 89:13: “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Later authors have speculated that the addition of the comma was a mistake that fundamentally changed the meaning of the verse. This article examines this “errant comma theory” and demonstrates why this particular interpretation of D&C 89:13 is without merit.

In 1921, a committee of five apostles who had recently completed a new edition of the Book of Mormon began preparing a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the committee, noted that previous editions of the D&C contained “many errors by way of omission.”1 The most significant change in this new edition was the removal of the “Lectures on Faith,” but the committee also expanded the headnotes, revised the footnotes, and divided the pages into double columns.2 Numerous smaller changes were also made. As one of the many changes published in the revised 1921 edition, a new comma appeared in verse 13 of section 89, [Page 134]also known as the Word of Wisdom. This comma was inserted between the words used and only:

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (D&C 89:12–13)

In his detailed analysis of the textual changes throughout the history of the D&C, Robert J. Woodford relates the following interesting story:

It [the comma] was never found in any text prior to the 1921 edition of the D&C. According to T. Edgar Lyon [prominent LDS historian and educator], [Apostle] Joseph Fielding Smith, when shown this addition to the text, said: “Who put that in there?” This is a significant statement since Elder Smith served on the committee to publish that edition of the D&C. Thus, the comma may have been inserted by the printer and has been retained ever since.3

This story supports what has become a very popular interpretation of verse 13, namely, that the inserted comma is a mistake that reverses the meaning of the text and that the true meaning is understood only Read Full Post

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“In this Church, you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true.”

“I dunno why you always have to be judging me because I only believe in science.” – Esqueleto, Nacho Libre

I love this video, I came across it the other day and it is awesome on so many levels. It was put up on YouTube by Interpreter and if you give it a chance, you’ll hear some really great perspective from some prominent LDS scientists of the day offering some counsel that just as fresh today as it was then.

Accompanying the serious dialogue are a few dramatizations that look like they were right out of an episode of “Leave it to Beaver” which makes the whole thing that much better. I appreciate the fact that this film from around 60 years ago makes more sense than most of what I hear out there today.

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What Does “Saved by Grace After All We Can Do” Mean?

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. 

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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

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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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“And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?”

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“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

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First oneClimbs Documentary: “Reading Temples” Now on YouTube!

Did you know that you can “read” temples? What if all of the temples around the world today constituted a vast library of new scripture just waiting to be read if we had eyes to see? This presentation covers some basic concepts relating to LDS Symbology and a guide to approaching the subject of learning symbolism.

This video presentation incorporates my first attempt at presenting principles related to “reading” temples. The content of the video is suitable for all ages and anyone interested in learning how understanding symbols can play an incredible part of their spiritual lives.

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A New Artistic Rendering of Izapa Stela 5: A Step toward Improved Interpretation

Link to Original Article

by John E. Clark

For the past 46 years, the carved stone monument known as Izapa Stela 5 from southernmost Mexico has been discussed as a possible depiction of Lehi’s dream reported in 1 Nephi 8. From this the stela has come to be known in some Latter-day Saint circles as the “Lehi stone.” My purpose here is to present the latest drawing of this monument, to discuss how this drawing was made, and to suggest its implications for the Lehi hypothesis. This brief article is not meant to be the final word on the matter. In fact, I will avoid talking about most of the technical details and only highlight the most significant features of the scene on the stone in order to assess the implications of recent study.

The intriguing idea that a carved stone monument from the tropical forest of southern Mexico shows Lehi’s dream was first proposed by M. Wells Jakeman of the BYU Department of Archaeology in the early 1950s (see the article in this issue by Stewart Brewer for a history of this proposal). Since then the stone has been the subject of intense study by numerous scholars, the most thorough and persuasive being that by V. Garth Norman. The bottom line of all the discussion over the years is that every scholar who has taken a serious look at this Read Full Post

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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, diests and Christian”. He was trying to give the impression that there were a great majority of atheists, agnostics and especially diests. One of the sources he provided was the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christians” 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 left with the deist to Christian ratio. The Constitution does not  mention God and the Declaration of Independence is written, at the very least, from a diest 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 very strong Christian throughout his life and though he seemed, like Jefferson, frustrated with many of the creeds Read Full Post

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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 understanding Read Full Post

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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 history Read Full Post

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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

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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 be Read Full Post

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Restoring the pentagram to its proper place

The pentagram. At the sound of its name the average person might think of “Satanism”, you may walk down the aisle of a video rental store and see it on the covers of horror movies, but has it always been this way? Has the pentagram always been associated with evil? How did it come to mean this?

Below are two stars that appear several times on the outside of the LDS Nauvoo temple. These two inverted stars are actually tied deeply to Jesus Christ and have been for a very long time; I’ll explain.

The pentagram, or day star/morning star is an ancient representation of the planet Venus. Jesus Christ, in the New Testament is referred to as both the “Day Star” and the “Morning Star” in connection to the planet Venus.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

In eight earth years, venus will have orbited the sun 13 times Read Full Post

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Jacob’s usage of the word “adieu” in the Book of Mormon

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And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. – Jacob 7:27

I have often heard critics of the Book of Mormon make a big stink over the word “adieu” in the Book of Mormon. People argue that the Nephites could not possibly have known French or this word since it originated around the 14th century.

I’ve heard both LDS and non-LDS people talking about how the word adieu means Read Full Post

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*UPDATE: More Evidence That the “Lead Plates” Are Probably Fakes

Jim Davila posts some information from a man named Peter Thonemann who was in contact with a Mr. David Elkington who is allegedly in possession of the main cache of ‘plates’. The more I read about this David Elkington character the more I become suspicious of his motives and the validity of these so-called ‘plates’.

Here is part of Mr. Thonemann’s reply to Mr. Elkington:

The text on your bronze tablet, therefore, makes no sense in its own right, but has been extracted unintelligently from another longer text (as if it were inscribed with the words: ‘t to be that is the question wheth’).  The longer text from which it derives is a perfectly ordinary tombstone from Madaba in Jordan which happens to have been on display in the Amman museum for the past fifty years or so.  The text on your bronze tablet is repeated, in part, in three different places, meaningless in each case.

The only possible explanation is that the text on the bronze tablet was copied directly from the inscription in the museum at Amman by someone who did not understand the meaning of the text of the inscription, but was simply looking for a plausible-looking sequence of Greek letters to copy.  He copied that sequence three times, in each case mixing up the letters alpha and lambda.

This particular bronze tablet is, therefore, a modern forgery, produced in Jordan within the last fifty years.  I would stake my career on it.

Ok, so click here and then read down to the post titled: “HEBREW-INSCRIBED-METAL-CODICES WATCH: A FAKE”. I tend to agree with some of the commentary that I have been reading that is critical of these plates. I’m probably about 95% convinced that they are indeed very well-crafted fakes. Well, physically crafted at least; the forgers apparently went through all this trouble and didn’t even read what it was that they were writing.

Too bad though. I believe there are so many more amazing and astounding things left to be discovered, but it’s too bad that there are people out there that are dishonest and do so much harm to the acceptance of truly genuine artifacts out there that may prove to be just as controversial.

As for now, I’m probably not going to post any more news about these ‘plates’ until we can ascertain 100% one way or the other just what these things really are. It’s made for a fun few days though ;)

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Updated: April 4, 2011

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Sugar: The Bitter Truth

This is a great video, Dr. Lustig does a phenomenal job of explaining exactly how fructose impacts our bodies. It’s pretty fascinating and I highly recommend it.

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