Doctrine

Apr 4, 2011
10 min read

What is the “eye of faith”?

There is a three word phrase that is found only in the Book of Mormon and it has always intrigued me. We read of looking forward or beholding with an ‘eye of faith’ things that are either to come or things that currently exist but are invisible to temporal vision.

The three verses

We find the phrase “eye of faith” in the following scriptures listed below.

Alma 5:15
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

Alma 32:40
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

Ether 12:19
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

In both of the verses in Alma, we are admonished to ‘look forward’ with this eyeRead Full Post

11 Comments
Dec 13, 2010
10 min read

Receive the Holy Ghost by David A. Bednar

I absolutely loved this talk by Elder Bednar. Some of the things he said confirmed some impressions that I had and shed some new light on a very interesting topic.

Talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

October 2010 General Conference

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 [2007], 97).Read Full Post

0 Comments
Nov 29, 2010
4 min read

Defining and understanding “Charity”

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

5 Comments
Nov 8, 2010
21 min read

Sacrament: The Witness of the Willing

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

2 Comments
Nov 1, 2010
6 min read

Understanding the atonement by understanding the body

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).

Read Full Post

2 Comments
Oct 3, 2010
26 min read

How are we “Saved”?

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)

Read Full Post

0 Comments
Sep 27, 2010
18 min read

The Wise Man on the Mountain

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

2 Comments
Sep 20, 2010
33 min read

The Two Trees

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

0 Comments
Sep 17, 2010
17 min read

Belief, Faith, Hope, Perfect Knowledge and the Scientific Method

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.

The mistake

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

2 Comments
Sep 5, 2010
10 min read

The Pride and Prosperity Cycles

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 11 Comments
Aug 23, 2010
12 min read

A Simple Etymological Study Method That Anyone Can Do

Whenever I am preparing a talk, lesson or just studying a topic, I have a small arsenal of tools that I have found extremely effective in digging deeper into doctrinal understanding. Often during this process I experience an amazing clarity on a particular topic; the words “AH HA!” come to mind quite often (which is something we all love don’t we?).

I have a few philosophies behind these tools which I’ll share as well. First off, let’s set the stage with a real-world sample. Let’s say that you are a preparing a talk/lesson on the topic of fasting. Now there are hundreds of talks, quotes and resources on the subject but what if we keep things simple at first and simply look at the word itself; what does it mean? What did it mean? Where did it come from? Has the meaning changed over time and which meaning is more accurate?

Let’s begin:Read Full Post

2 Comments
Aug 13, 2010
2 min read

The Sacred Number 8

According to research done by Val Brinkerhoff, the number 8 seems to be tied to the concepts of rebirth and purification, both in scripture and sacred architecture. Below are a few examples:

To the Israelites, the 8th was the day after the Read Full Post

6 Comments
Aug 12, 2010
31 min read

A Look At The Doctrine of The Trinity

For the most part, mainstream Christianity views the Godhead from the perspective of the Nicene Creed (323 A.D.) which only looked at the ‘oneness’ of the Father and the Son, and the Athanasian Creed (which originated around 500 A.D.) which was the first creed to vocalize equality of the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into a ‘Trinity”. It is still a hotly contested issue to this day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it’s view of the Godhead from the eyewitness accounts of modern apostles and prophets.

Both views of God were brought to us by men. The Trinitarian view has evolved through time out of councils, debates and defined in creeds; the LDS view is claimed to have come from revelation. That said, let’s take a look and see what the scriptures have to say on the matter.

“The Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity better than the Bible.”

Believe it or not, while serving as a full-time missionary, this was a statement made by a woman that was not a Latter-day Saint. She shared a few verses from the Book of Mormon that she thought were beautiful Trinitarian scriptures. She asked us why we didn’t believe the doctrine of the Trinity if that is what our book taught. Good question.

I took a minute to think about that since I had never been asked or even thought of that question before. After a moment, I mentioned how before publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith had already claimed to see the Father AND the Son and that they were two distinct beings. I suggested that it was possible that those whoRead Full Post

0 Comments