Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You Must Study It Out in Your Mind

It is a straw man argument to claim that we LDS base our belief on “feelings” alone without any thought based on some magical prayer given on some solitary occasion. As a matter of fact, according to our own doctrine it can’t happen that way. A section in the Doctrine and Covenants says:

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:7-8)

My testimony of the divine calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet and of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being the restoration of primitive Christianity has come in this way. To suggest that LDS testimony is built on some post-movie like emotions without any thought or study is blatantly false. As for me, my testimony is the product largely of much thought, study, pondering, and prayer. Such truth-confirming revelation doesn’t come in a vacuum, but comes as a natural reward for our efforts to commune with and understand God.

“If any man wants to do God’s will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak on my own authority.” (John 7:17). That’s what Jesus taught. I can tell you that there has never been a person who has wanted to know and do God’s will more than I, and I can confirm that God has confirmed in me that the fullness of the everlasting gospel is exclusively found in the teachings and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mathematicks Proves thuh Bible Truew!

I've gotten into an interesting conversation with some circular reasoning professionals HERE.

Check out the comment section.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Insight on the "Rapture"

About a year ago I was involved in a rather intense discussion with a few anti-Mormons in Missouri. My dad was present. A discussion of the "rapture" (a non-Biblical term) came up. Matthew 24 was cited:

40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

This scripture is commonly used to say that the righteous will be taken up into heaven while the wicked will stay on earth during the "tribulation" (another non-Biblical term). This is even seen on some bumper stickers.

But what does the context of the verse say? Thanks to my dad for pointing this out:

Who is to be taken? The context makes that clear.

37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39And knew not until the flood came, and took them [the wicked] all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

It is the wicked who will be "taken" away in death, just as in the days of Noah.

Spiritual Gifts

It's been a while since I have posted here. A lot has been going on lately!

Today we got a new bishop. Yesterday, on two occasions, the thought came to me "tomorrow we're getting a new bishop." I didn't know what to make of the thought. Was it all in my head, or was it from above? I've had similar experiences before with other events that happened such as the passing away of a man I hadn't seen in years.

The Lord told Oliver Cowdery that revelation comes to our minds and our hearts (see D&C 8:2). For me it generally comes to my mind as thoughts or impressions that seem indistinguishable from my own thoughts. I realize this has little to do with apologetics, but I'd love your input. How do you come to distinguish between the two? What is the purpose of such insights (like, "we're getting a new bishop tomorrow" or "Brother Lowery will be joining his wife soon")? Spiritual gifts, we are told, are for the benefit of the members of the church (see D&C 46:9). Are some gifts just for our own personal benefit as well?

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Does the Word "Telestial" Mean?

The word "telestial" is not found in the dictionary now nor was it in 1831 when it was first recorded in D&C 76. So, it is not possible to know what it means with absolute certainty.

However, I think "telestial" may be derived from the Greek word telos which means "the end, complete/finish, full, perfect" etc. It is used in connection with the Telestial Kingdom because it is the last resurrection of the saved that happens at the end of the world when Jesus has completed and perfected his work. I think this is evident in the following verse from the New Testament:

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power(1 Cor. 15:22-24).

My commentary on these verses:

All be made alive]
All will be resurrected just like Jesus was.
In his own order] The word for order refers to temporal order or rank. Each person will be resurrected in the order or according to their rank in salvation.
Christ the firstfruits] Christ is the first to be resurrected in time, he is also the highest in rank.
afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming] The next to be resurrected are those who are resurrected at Christ's second coming. This is the first resurrection which consists of those who are resurrected in the morning (the heirs of the celestial kingdom) and those who are resurrected afterwards (the Terrestial Kingdom).
Then cometh the end] "The end" is "telos" in the Greek. Then (after the other resurrections) comes the "telos" resurrection. This is where the word telestial comes from. It occurs after the millennium when Christ "shall have delivered up the kingdom to God..." It denotes completion, ending, perfection.

With this understanding, D&C 76 takes on a new meaning.

"[Telestial inhabitants] are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work" (D&C 76:85)

"[Telestial inhabitants] are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work; when he shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father [cf. 1 Cor. 15:24] " (D&C 76:106-107)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Few Plugs

Most of you don't need me to tell you how great these blogs are, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. Under "links" at the left you'll see these blogs.

American Testament is run by a young acquaintance of mine and deals mostly with the Book of Mormon. It is a great blog with some great insights. I highly recommend it.

Lehi's Library is a great blog that deals with all different kinds of apologetic and scholarly research. It is very good!

Life on Gold Plates is an insightful commentary on the Journal of Discourses by a friend who is working his way through the 26 volume set.

Temple Study is a fascinating blog about the temple and its connections to ancient traditions and practices throughout the world. It is very insightful.

There all of the links I've put up I think are valuable blogs that I frequent. Please check them out! I'm sure each of the authors will appreciate your visit.