Friday, March 28, 2008

Tragic Death, Prayer, and Doctors

A real tragedy recently happened. A 11 year-old daughter was sick. The parents choose to pray for her and not to take her to a doctor. As a consequence, the child died. Some are questioning whether the parents should be prosecuted. Here's the story.

Thanks to my friend over at Life on Gold Plates for this interesting quote from Brigham Young:

You may go to some people here, and ask what ails them, and they answer, “I don't know, but we feel a dreadful distress in the stomach and in the back; we feel all out of order, and we wish you to lay hands upon us.”

“Have you used any remedies?”

“No. We wish the Elders to lay hands upon us, and we have faith that we shall be healed.”

That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and to ask my Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ, to sanctify that application to the healing of my body; to another this may appear inconsistent.

If a person afflicted with a cancer should come to me and ask me to heal him, I would rather go the graveyard and try to raise a dead person, comparatively speaking.

But supposing we were traveling in the mountains and all we had or could get, in the shape of nourishment, was a little venison, and one or two were taken sick, without anything in the world in the shape of healing medicine within our reach, what should we do? According to my faith, ask the Lord Almighty to send an angel to heal the sick. This is our privilege, when so situated that we cannot get anything to help ourselves. Then the Lord and his servants can do all.

But it is my duty to do, when I have it in my power. Many people are unwilling to do one thing for themselves, in case of sickness, but ask God to do it all (Brigham Young, JD 4:24-25).

Sunday, March 23, 2008


As I've noted before, I've been reading the Journal of Discourses lately. It's occurred to me that the leaders of the church were more apologist oriented in those
days. With the exception of Elder Holland's recent General Conference talk, modern day LDS seldom here talks that have an apologetic flavor to them.

One interesting sermon was delivered by Elder Orson Pratt entitled "Distinguishing Characteristics Between the Latter-Day Saints and the Various Religious Denominations of Christendom."

I include here an interesting part of his sermon about the need for divine authority to administer baptism.

But suppose we speak still further on one principle, and that is the authority to baptize. I might be baptized by a person whom the Lord had neither called nor sent, and that baptism would never be acknowledged in the eternal worlds. I might be ever so sincere, and I might receive the ordinance from the hands of a man who, I really supposed, had the authority and who was a good, moral, upright man, and yet that baptism would not be acceptable in the sight of God, unless he did truly have divine authority.

How am I to know whether a man has divine authority or not? It is one of the easiest things in the world to know. I will tell you how you may know a man who has divine authority from one who has not. If you find a man who, though he may profess to be a Christian minister, says he does not believe in any later revelations than those given to St. John the Divine, and that he was the last to whom the Lord revealed himself, you may know that that man has no authority from God. Why not? Because the Bible says—"No man taketh this honor unto himself"—speaking of the Priesthood—"Save he be called of God as was Aaron." Now, turn to the Bible and see how Aaron was called, see if he was not called by name, by new revelation: that is, it was a new revelation to him. See if he was not called through Moses, the servant of God, who received a revelation commanding him to set apart his brother Aaron to the Priest's office, directing him what ordinance to use, how to set him apart, and giving all the particulars of his calling and ordination to the ministry, and what his duties were to be after ordination. All this was given by new revelation. No man can receive the Priesthood, neither officiate in its ordinances acceptably, unless he is called of God as was Aaron. If Aaron was called by new revelation, then all others who have this authority must be called in the same way, or their authority is not valid, and all ordinances under it are good for nothing.

This is the reason why the Lord commanded this people—the Latter-day Saints—to re-baptize all persons who come to them professing to have been baptized before (Journal of Discourses, 16:293).

So, a couple of questions for my readers.

1. What do you think of Orson Pratt's argument?
2. Do you wish the brethren were more apologetics-oriented today?

Happy Easter!

First of all, Happy Easter!

CNN, the Discovery Channel, PBS, and many others have shown documentary-type programs about Jesus the last few days. Something most had in common is that they discussed the star that signaled Jesus' birth. They then proceed to speculate about what may have happened to make such an impression on the "wise men." This gave me an idea for this post. Turns out, however, that I've already posted on the topic. So, I repeat it here for your viewing pleasure:

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible reads "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him...When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was" (Matthew 2:1-2,9). This star seems to appear in the east.

The Book of Mormon prophet Samuel predicted this sign would happen in the New World, but with different terminology. Later, Nephi reports that the sign came to pass.

"And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you" (Helaman 14:5).

"And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word" (3 Nephi 1:21).

These passages indicated that the star is to "arise" or "appear" but does not mention anything about it being in the east.

Perhaps you're wondering what my point is. Perhaps this will make it clear. According to the translators of the ESV, Matt 2:1-2,9 should be translated:

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'...After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was."

In other words, a new star appearing "in the east" is an idiom that means "a new star arises" or comes to be. This is reflected quite well in the Book of Mormon where it is not predicted that the start will be "in the east," but that it will "arise" or "appear." This is, at worst, another example of a lucky guess on Joseph Smith's part. At best, it is another evidence for the ancient origins of the Book of Mormon.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been pretty under the weather. I can't seem to shake this cold. To top it off, I'm behind in school and am having some car problems. If everything goes well, I'll be back on schedule by Monday. I have a few post ideas and will be back with them soon.

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Plurality of Gods and 1 Corinthians 8:5-6

It is well known that Joseph Smith quoted 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 as evidence of a plurality of gods.

Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many. I want to set it forth in a plain and simple manner; but to us there is but one God—that is pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all. But if Joseph Smith says there are Gods many and Lords many, they cry, "Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!" Mankind verily say that the Scriptures are with them. Search the Scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy. Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are.
I say there are Gods many and Lords many, but to us only one, and we are to be in subjection to that one, and no man can limit the bounds or the eternal existence of eternal time. Hath he beheld the eternal world, and is he authorized to say that there is only one God? He makes himself a fool if he thinks or says so, and there is an end of his career or progress in knowledge. He cannot obtain all knowledge, for he has sealed up the gate to it. Some say I do not interpret the Scripture the same as they do. They say it means the heathen's gods. Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many; and that makes a plurality of Gods, in spite of the whims of all men. Without a revelation, I am not going to give them the knowledge of the God of heaven. You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text" (Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. p. 370-371).

As you can see, he believed the passage referred to real gods that exist. This, however, does not negate the fact that we only have one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ. He also made clear that he knew his critics believed that the passage had reference to heathen or false gods. He denies that saying he received by revelation the fact that it didn't have reference to them.

The criticism he mentioned is still the same today. I quote from CARM:

The key to understanding this scripture is the term "so-called." Paul is teaching us that there are not many gods. Rather, he is teaching us that there are many that are "called" gods but are not really gods. We can see this elsewhere when Paul says in Gal. 4:8, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods." We can see that the Bible teaches that there is only one God, yet people believe in other gods. In reality these other gods do not exist.

What is so interesting about this debate for me is the fact that the renowned scholar, disciple, and Christian Origen (185-251 AD) also believed the passage had reference to real gods.

There are some gods of whom God is god, as we hear in prophecy, "Thank ye the God of gods," and "The God of gods hath spoken, and called the earth." Now God, according to the Gospel, "is not the God of the dead but of the living." Those gods, then, are living of whom God is god. The Apostle, too, writing to the Corinthians, says, "As there are gods many and lords many," and so we have spoken of these gods as really existing. Now there are, besides the gods of whom God is god, certain others, who are called thrones, and other called dominions, lordships, also, and powers in addition to these.(In Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF] 9:315)

This divinity of mankind is made possible through Jesus Christ (the "first-born of all creation"). He was the first to become divine.

And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is "The God," and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype. (ANF 9:323)

Apparently some landed the criticism that this doctrine would somehow demote God and make him less than what He is (much the same way the LDS have been ridiculed for "demoting" God). Origin responded:

Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God. They may fear that the glory of Him who surpasses all creation may be lowered to the level of those other beings called gods. (ANF 9:323)

I find it interesting that this concept of "thrones," "dominions," "powers," etc also appear in LDS scriptures, but not in the Bible, especially in the context of the plurality of gods and/or exaltation.

For example

A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. (D&C 121:28-29)

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them. (D&C 132:19-20)

A search of the Bible does not turn up such terminology: except in Col. 1:16 which does not mention gods or exaltation.

Irenaeus also had something to say about the issue of exaltation and uses terminology also found in D&C 132.

For there is the one Son, who accomplished His Father's will; and one human race also in which the mysteries of God are wrought, "which the angels desire to look into;" and they are not able to search out the wisdom of God, by means of which His handiwork, confirmed and incorporated with His Son, is brought to perfection; that His offspring, the First-begotten Word, should descend to the creature (facturam), that is, to what had been moulded (plasma), and that it should be contained by Him; and, on the other hand, the creature should contain the Word, and ascend to Him, passing beyond the angels,and be made after the image and likeness of God. (ANF 1:567)

It would seem that this is a repeat of the doctrine that the Word became man so that men may become gods (or "Words"). Interestingly, we must "pass beyond the angels" in the process. This is similar to the terminology in D&C 132:19-20.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

All the World Could not Contain the Books

I've been reading quite a bit of the Journal of Discourses lately as the last few posts indicate. I have found all sorts of interesting things from very speculative stuff to some really great insights. Yesterday I read this one.

Commenting on John 21:25 ("And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."), Brigham Young said:

Allow me to explain this text. The Apostle could not possibly mean what the language of the quotation implies—that the whole earth would have been covered with books to a certain depth; no, but he meant, by that saying, there would have been more written than the world of mankind would receive, or credit. The people then were as they are in this day—they are continually reaching after something that is not revealed, when there is more written already than they can comprehend. Instead of saying the world could not contain the books, we will say there would have been more written than the people would carry out in their lives (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:3)

The principle he seemed to be getting at is that what we have in the scriptures is limited to what we are willing to receive at this time. If we were more like those people of the City of Enoch, God would reveal to us many more things that we do not now know. As a LDS Christian, I have no problem with this concept.

Those who are non-LDS Christians, can you accept the possibility that God would reveal more if we were to understand and live more perfectly what he has already revealed?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Persecution? Part II.

From another sermon by Brigham Young:

Christ is the light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into it. Were it not for the light that is in the people, they would not hate us... The light that is in them-The Spirit of the Almighty that rests on the nations; which proves the old Scriptures to be true, where they state that the report of the work that the Lord would bring forth in the last days should make the people tremble and quake. The light that is in them convicts them and teaches them that the doctrine the Elders of Israel preach among them is the Gospel of salvation; and say they, "We will not have it." Have you not heard many of them say that they would rather go to hell than believe it? "I will not believe what you preach, though I go to hell for disobeying it."

That Spirit that is in them-the inspiration of the Almighty which giveth understanding-convinces them that the doctrine is true. Were it false doctrine, it would be thought no more of than any other of the numerous isms in the world. They would pass by it as kindly and as easily as they do Socialism, or any other doctrine. But it convicts the people. Am I sorry for them? I am. My soul aches for them, because they cannot resolve and act in accordance with the dictates of that Spirit which ever prompts the human heart aright. But rise up and declare, "We will not believe this doctrine." What then? You must suffer. Thousands are suffering now; ministers are groaning in pulpits, and deacons and lay members are groaning in congregations: there are groans in secret places, in public places, in highways and by-ways: everywhere people are in pain, in sorrow, in misery; and, in short, are in hell. What is the matter? "'Mormonism' is yet in existence-it is not destroyed." Why can they not muster courage enough to say, "Our independent organizations we will use, and will not suffer the Devil, nor fathers, mothers, priests, neighbours, worldly reputation, riches, or anything else, to deter us from embracing and practising the principles of eternal life?" That course would at once start them on the road to happiness. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:5-6).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why Persecution?

It is no secret that the Latter-day Saints have suffered a great deal of persecution throughout our history. We are the only group of US citizens that actually had an extermination order placed on our heads by our own government (Missouri, 1838). I was fascinated tonight as I read an interesting sermon by Brigham Young that answers the question of why the Latter-day Saints have been persecuted. I here quote what he said in part for your enjoyment.

We have been persecuted because there is a conviction, so far as [people] have heard the Gospel preached, that we have the truth. This is the cause of the opposition against us.

Would a priest of any denomination oppose 'Mormonism,' if he was not convinced that it is true? No. Were a man to come into this congregation and relate something that every man, woman, and child present knew to be false, who would take the trouble to disprove it? We all know the statement to be false; consequently, will [we] not take pains to oppose it? On the other hand, were there no conviction in the sound of the Gospel to the minds of the people—that it is true—that it is of and from God, who would take pains to oppose it? Let a person go into a [Christian congregation] and try to prove that Jesus was an impostor, that every system of religion is false, and that the Bible is a matter of speculation got up by selfish divines expressly for their own benefit; and who in that congregation would deem it worth while to oppose views so erroneous to the minds of those who have heard from Sabbath to Sabbath, the doctrines of the Gospel preached, so far as they understand them? No one, because to them the speaker's views would be so obviously false (Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 8:131).

Good Cross References that Aren't there

On a message board that I frequent someone started a post asking for people to give good cross references that are not in the LDS edition of the scriptures. I added a few of my own and found some of the others really interesting. I add them here for your enjoyment.

1 Nephi 4:13
(Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief).


Matthew 5:29
(And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.)

Jacob 1:19 (And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.)


Ezekiel 3:18 (When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.)

Hebrews 10:26-27 (26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.)


Mosiah 2:36-37 (36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—
37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.)


2 Nephi 25:23 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.


Alma 24:11
And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—


Below are the cross references I contributed to the list:

Matthew 5:48
--Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


Luke 6:40
--The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

John 5:29--And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.


D&C 76:15-18--For while we were doing the work of translation, which the Lord had appointed unto us, we came to the twenty-ninth verse of the fifth chapter of John, which was given unto us as follows—
16 Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, concerning those who shall hear the voice of the Son of Man:
17 And shall come forth; they who have done good, in the resurrection of the just; and they who have done evil, in the resurrection of the unjust.
18 Now this caused us to marvel, for it was given unto us of the Spirit.


John 6:44, 65
---No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day...And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.


2 Nephi 26:24-28, 33
---He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
....For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.


John 12:32
--And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.


3 Nephi 27:13-15
--13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

2 Corinthians 3:18--But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.


2 Corinthians 4:4
--...the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God,...


Col. 1:14
--[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature


Philippians 2:6-- [Christ], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:


John 5:18--Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Revelation 22:18-19-- For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Revelation 1:1-3,11
--The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand...
11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia;


John 3:16--For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


D&C 34: 1-3
--My son Orson, hearken and hear and behold what I, the Lord God, shall say unto you, even Jesus Christ your Redeemer;
2 The light and the life of the world, a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not;
3 Who [Jesus Christ] so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God.