Common Scriptures in Review: The Only True and Living Church

Ray Anti-Mormon, apologetics, apostasy, book of mormon, christianity, church, inter-faith, Jesus, LDS, Mormon, mormon, restoration, scripture 60 Comments

D&C 1:30

As the resident parser, here goes:

First, here is verse 29:

And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.

Now verse 30:

“And also those to whom these commandments were given”

(Joseph was mentioned in v.29 in relation to the translation of the Book of Mormon, but this verse references others – also those to whom “collectively” the commandments within the subsequent D&C were addressed.)

“might have power to lay the foundation of this church,”

(lay the foundation does NOT mean or even imply the entire construction, only the setting of the foundation; thus, there is a solid implication that others “to whom these commandments were [NOT] given [yet]” would continue the construction upon the foundation built by these first people.)

“and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness

(I think “obscurity” is self-explanatory – and the Church certainly was obscured back then. In many ways, that only recently has been completed; in many ways, it still is being accomplished. I read “darkness” as describing the spiritual darkness of an apostate world – a light shining from the darkness to be set on a hill outside of that darkness, if you will. The fascinating aspect is that those who would “bring it forth out of obscurity and darkness” aren’t limited necessarily to the first group but appears to include those who later would build on the original foundation. I wonder how much of that removal process was figurative and how much was fulfilled by the literal exodus to Utah.)

“–” (I always have read this verse as if it had a dash instead of a comma. It simply makes more linguistic sense that way.)

“the only true AND living church upon the face of the whole earth,”

(of all the possible meanings for “true”, I like the following – as it relates to an organization: “of the right kind; such as it should be; proper: to arrange things in their true order.” That changes the concept in very real and, I believe, important ways from what generally is assumed. In that light, I like the following definition for “living”: “pertaining to, suitable for, or sufficient for existence or subsistence” – which implies feeding in such a way that life can continue – meaning life-giving or regenerating – as in “living” water. Therefore, an altered translation might be something like, “the only proper, correctly arranged/ordered and eternal-life-giving church . . .”)

(also, the use of true “and” living can imply that there are other churches that are either true “or” living, but none that are both. I don’t know for sure, but I do think there is a powerful possibility of an implicit suggestion that some other churches might be partly true (not fully false) and lack, more than anything else, the grander vision that would make them “come alive”. I’m not sure that is what was meant, but it is a conclusion with which I agree – and which can be supported by the text.)

“with which I, the Lord, am well pleased,” (From a scriptural basis, this simply means “very pleased” – as opposed to merely pleased. It draws an implicit distinction between being “well” pleased and simply being pleased. More on that later.)

“speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” (The Church as an organization is well-pleasing unto the Lord, even though any number of individuals, with no respect to position [even the Prophet himself], may not be “well-pleasing” at any given moment.)

(I favor a period at the end of this verse. The dash, in context, makes vs.20-30 a parenthetical comment and ties v.31 to v.19 – and I simply don’t see that as the proper connection. It just doesn’t make sense.)

When we look at this verse, there are three separate and distinct classifications used to describe the “church” – which, taken together, appear to constitute the full meaning of the word “church” in God’s eyes. “The foundation of this church” and “the true church” appear to refer to the basic organizational structure and essential offices (which are properly ordered and arranged), while “the living church” appears to refer to the Restored Gospel it teaches (especially the concept of eternal life that follows faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost). On the other hand, “the church collectively and not individually” appears to refer to the membership. It’s fascinating for me to think of this as one more example of the use of a “trinity” construct to describe perfection.

Shifting gears a little, when I look at what I think the verse actually says, I am left to discount what I believe it does not say – even what has been assumed by many but simply isn’t there. The following are a few of the things I believe are incorrect assumptions – things the verse simply does NOT say:

False Assumption #1) The Church’s structure was restored exactly as existed in the time of the ancient apostles. Any deviation from the ancient structure invalidates its “true” structure, and every part of the current organization was in place in the ancient Church.

(Hogwash. It just doesn’t say that. We do believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, but it clearly was only the foundation that was laid at the time of the Restoration. Furthermore, the relevant Article of Faith (#6) follows the “same organization” statement with a listing of essential responsibilities/offices, not the entire structure. Also, architecturally, since we are dealing with a “foundation” upon which a structure will be built, similar or equivalent structures can contain radically different internal components and still be the same shape or structure. This idea is bolstered by the increasing complexity of the organizational Church as it grows numerically and geographically – changing the outward appearance and internal structure, but not affecting the foundation in the slightest – as well as the differences that appear to have existed among the various congregations within the ancient Church.)

False Assumption #2) All other Churches are bad or abominable.

(Simply not said – here or in JSH 1:19 [which will be parsed in a future post in a couple of weeks]. They might not be “of the right kind; such as [they] should be; proper: [arranged] in their true order,” but it does not say they are evil or bad. They might not make the Lord “well pleased”, but there is nothing that says the Lord isn’t “pleased” with them in some or many ways. In fact, the usage of a qualifier [“well”] generally implies that the same term without the qualifier [“pleased”] applies to the entities being compared. I know it is a radically different interpretation than the standard one, but I believe the words of the verse itself state that the Lord is not displeased with all religions other than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that at least some others do please Him to some degree.)

False Assumption #3) Other churches (and members of those other churches) are spiritually dead.

(Stupid, imo. Their churches might not be living in the sense that they provide eternal growth [“eternal life giving”] – since they don’t even teach life eternal, as we understand it – but there is no statement saying the other churches cause their members to be separated from godliness, which is the orthodox definition of spiritual death within Mormonism. At worst, if other Christians accept their churches’ teachings fully and reject Mormonism completely, the vast majority of them still will live immortally in the presence of The God they worship – Jesus, the Christ. Nothing in verse 30 says otherwise.)

False Assumption #4) Our leaders are “true” (infallible) and will never teach things that are not 100% true.

(The verse itself says the Lord is NOT well-pleased with individuals in the Church, and it is followed by the numerous rebukes of Joseph, Oliver and others in the “commandments” it prefaces. The Church as a whole is well-pleasing and will continue to provide life to its members, but individual members, no matter their standing, still can incur the Lord’s displeasure.)

Thoughts?

Comments

comments

Comments 60

  1. Very nice, Ray. I agree that all your false assumptions *are* false assumption. In addition to the more or less passive problem of someone holding false beliefs in general, these particular false assumptions create very practical problems whenever somebody finally realizes that they are false — people tend to go overboard in correcting themselves by rejecting *everything* a leader says because he can’t be trusted to be infallible, or embracing a whole lot of error from other churches and philosophies on the false assumption that if Philosophy X isn’t completely wrong, then it must be almost all right, or at least as good as anything the church teaches. I can’t count how many times a certain woman in my ward has stood to bear her “anti-testimony” that “the church isn’t completely true” and “we should be studying what other churches teach.”

  2. It’s always nice to see someone offering a close reading of this key text, trying to account for all the words, rather than just removing everything that doesn’t say “only true church”, end of story. I like it.

    I once did a Sunstone presentation on the topic. One thing I noticed is that the Biblical passages that use “true” and/or “living” express ideas that match the themes of D&C 1 point for point. For example,Jer. 10:10 describes the “the true God, the living God” in a voice of warning passage. And D&C 1 starts with the voice of warning. “True bread” implies sacraments, and therefore covenants, priesthood. “Living waters” implies revelation, sacrament, baptism, life-giving. Tree of life is a temple image. True vine is a priesthood image. The “living way” in Hebrews occurs in a passage of obvious temple imagery. “truth and life” is Jesus. Collectively these themes run through D&C 1 and in practice also serve to identify what in actual practice sets the LDS gathering of people apart from other gatherings. Priesthood, revelation including the Book of Mormon, D&C, and ongoing, ordinances, covenants, temple, and the voice of warning. I think “true and living” is a merism, a succinct way of expressing the overal themes of D&C 1.

    And the way I parse D&C 1:30, the word “only” is modified by the phrase, “with which I the Lord am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively, and not individually.

    So the effect is that the distinctions of only well pleasingness is relative to what “true and living” expresses. And D&C 1 also expressly declares the LDS gathering to be imperfect in knowlwedge and behavior, incomplete but connected to the source, and non-exclusive with respect to revelation, truth, and virtue. Which measn that the imperfections of leaders and LDS, nor virtues outside, have anythingn to do with our truth claims. We can take it for granted. The picture is much more tolerant and robust than most people realize.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  3. I’ve always felt that every good church has a degree of truth in it that God endorses. I attended a meeting in 7-th day adventist church and I could feel the power of the holy spirit everytime they taught things that were true, but the spirit would leave as soon and they stopped.

    God has to be pleased with the good things that they do teach.

  4. GREAT post Resident Parser Ray! (RPR?) In fact, it may be my favorite of yours… The “true and living” phrase has been been a conundrum for me for years, but I like the “correctly ordered” and “eternal-life giving” definitions. I have always cringed when people use it in their testimony, as if they had received a witness to the “un-truth” of every other teaching in the world. I don’t know about anyone else, but that is something I have not sought after.

    I have to wonder, if there are “true and living” churches with which the Lord “is not well pleased” or if there have been in the past, at least. Some in the Book of Mormon come to mind.

  5. This page is a scriptural index to the Journal of Discourses and General Conference addresses from 1942 to the present. Apparently, Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 has been cited by general authorities about 81 times in that time span, from what I can tell, including President Eyring’s talk from April. I haven’t looked through the references yet, but with that many citations we should be able to garner a few insights.

    In my opinion your analysis of this verse would be strengthened if you took the time to discuss some of these citations, especially if the interpretation of prophets and apostles is in harmony with yours.

  6. LDS Anarchist: Thanks for that link. I like how you approached the meaning of “church” – which matches my view perfectly.

    Banned Commenter: I also am concerned about the reaction some members have when they realize what they have assumed is not accurate. Often, they fail to see that it is the **assumptions** that are wrong, not the actual claims of the scriptures or the Church. I see it so much, and it’s painful to see.

    Kevin: That’s the reason I parse. I hate being asked to defend things I don’t say and don’t believe, so I try to extend that same courtesy to others – including the scriptural record. Also, I wanted to keep the post relatively short and focused, but I appreciate the connection to the OT. The use of “living”, especially, really does have a deep grounding in Biblical usage – and it almost always denotes “life-giving”.

    Eugene: I am going to develop that further in the upcoming post on JSH 1:19. I believe that verse is even more mis-understood both within and without the Church than D&C 1:30 – and I believe what you wrote does not contradict either verse.

    GB Smith: I will addressing authority as it relates to other churches in the JSH 1:19 post. It really is important – and I believe that statement by the Lord allows for a type of authority that we often miss.

    Adam: I hinted at your last question, but I am convinced that a church can be “true” (correctly ordered) and not be “living” (eternal-life-giving). I personally think that description fits the Catholic Church very well, and I think it can fit individual congregations within our Church, as well. The instant we collectively begin to wander from the core purpose of gaining eternal life (and extending that vision to all), I believe we sicken, move onto life-support and, eventually, stop living. That’s not the same as being spiritually dead; it might be more accurate to call it falling into a spiritual coma. I’ll have to think about the imagery a bit more.

    John B: I agree completely. Due to length constraints, I didn’t go that route, but I appreciate the suggestion.

  7. I thought of adding within the post my belief that there actually are three separate aspects of the word “church” used in this verse – which, taken together, constitute the full meaning of the word “church” in God’s eyes. (It’s quite fascinating to think of this as one more example of the use of a “trinity” description.) I probably will go back and edit it to add that. However, for those who have read it and commented already, the general concept is as follows:

    “The foundation of this church” and “the true and living church” appear to refer to the organization (including the essential offices) and the Restored Gospel it teaches (especially the concept of eternal progression), as outlined in the post. Otoh, “the church collectively and not individually” appears to refer to the membership, also as outlined in the post.

  8. I always considered the “and living” on the “true and living” to be a sort of qualifier. IOW, it’s true (meaning valid or authentic) but it’s also living (or incomplete, continuing to evolve). I also like the added emphasis on the rest of the context of the statement.

    We should also remember that the D&C was originally only to be shown to “them that believe,” and was not intended for a non-LDS audience. Perhaps it’s because statements like this are not conducive to good inter-faith relations.

  9. Post
    Author

    Hawk, I agree that claims like the ones that this verse make are hard (or even impossible) for others outside Mormonism to accept, but I think much of that difficulty is unavoidable. At the most basic level, we are invalidating others’ claim to be God’s chosen people teaching God’s pure Gospel. However, at the very least, I believe that parsing the text can eliminate some of the more egregious examples of interpretations that belittle and demean the most – and that are not supported by the full wording of the text.

    I apologize for another reference to a future post, but the mis-interpretations of JSH 1:19 are an even better example of this. I hope that will be clear when that post publishes in a couple of weeks.

    PS. I edited the post to include the concept in my comment #10.

  10. If you go to scriptures.byu.edu you can see how Conference speakers have interpreted the passage. As far as I understand Mormonism, apostles and prophets have far more authority to interpret scripture than mere laymen do.

  11. Aaron, thanks for the tip, but were we discussing who has more authority?

    Fwiw, apostles and prophets, imo, do have more authority to interpret scripture for the church as a whole, but individual members have just as much, if not more for themselves, although I realize that is debatable. I don’t know what your intent was, so I apologize if I’m being abrasive. 🙂 I tend to get excited when people insinuate that the Mormonism belongs to the leadership.

  12. Post
    Author

    Aaron, please read #7 and my response in #9. At the risk of being too blunt, your concern has been expressed and answered already.

    As to your statement that “apostles and prophets have far more authority to **interpret** scripture than mere laymen do” – it is 100% incorrect. Apostles and prophets have authority to speak for the Church, but nobody has more or less authority to “interpret”. That is a right and a responsibility that is inherent in our status of children of God, not our individual callings or positions in the organizational church.

    There is nothing within “official” Mormonism that discourages lay members from trying to understand our scriptures, and I believe there is nothing in my post that would be considered heretical, blasphemous or out of tune with our scriptures. In the end, there is FAR more autonomy to read and interpret and strive to reach individual understanding within Mormonism than within most other denominations – believe it or not.

    Actually, that’s a central part of the “living church” designation – that the Church empowers individuals to learn and grow and progress by allowing and actually encouraging individual testimonies gained by individual study and prayer.

  13. This is a good post, and being “less of a believer” I like to hear people clarify the “only true church” language. It’s offensive to many.

    But if individuals have the same authority to interpret, and then they interpret scripture as primarily false (or way out of traditional line), doesn’t that put them at odds with the authorities and church as a whole?

    Example: One if someone interprets “strong drinks” as wine or beer, and “hot drinks” as whiskey or hard liquor,
    thus suggesting that “hot” has nothing to do with the temperature of coffee or tea. Doesn’t this cause some problems for this individual and their mormonism with most members?

  14. Great post Ray

    You can see why some members do think All other Churches are bad or abominable! I thought the same for many years just from members referring to Mormon Doctrine. I understand McKonkie later changed his original statement. Mckonkie may written his statement from what he heard from Orson Pratt.

    False Assumption #2) All other Churches are bad or abominable.

    (Simply not said – here or in JSH 1:19 )

    “The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church is the great corrupt ecclesiastic power, represented by great Babylon which has made all nations drunk with her wickedness, and she must fall, after she has been warned with the sound of the everlasting gospel. Her overthrow will be by a series of the most terrible judgments which will quickly succeed each other, and sweep over the nations where she has her dominion, and at last she will be utterly burned by fire, for thus hath the Lord spoken. Great, and fearful, and most terrible judgments are decreed upon these corrupt powers, the nations of modern Christendom; for strong is the Lord God who shall execute His fierce wrath upon them, and He will not cease until He has made a full end, and until their names be blotted out from under heaven.”
    – Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p.84 – p.85

    McConkie said in his First Edition of Mormon Doctrine:

    “It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization. (1 Nephi 13:1-10)” – Mormon Doctrine, p. 130 (1958)

    “Harlots. See Church of the Devil, Sex Immorality. Literally a harlot is a prostitute; figuratively it is any apostate church. Nephi, speaking of harlots in the literal sense and while giving a prophetic description of the Catholic Church, recorded that he ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it.’ … Then speaking of harlots in the figurative sense, he designated the Catholic Church as ‘the mother of harlots’ (1 Nephi 13:34; 14:15-17), a title which means that the protestant churches, the harlot daughters which broke off from the great and abominable church, would themselves be apostate churches.” – Mormon Doctrine, pp. 314-315 (1958)

  15. #16 – “But if individuals have the same authority to interpret, and then they interpret scripture as primarily false (or way out of traditional line), doesn’t that put them at odds with the authorities and church as a whole?”

    Yes, it does, but it doesn’t remove the responsibility to understand for ourselves. With great power comes great responsbility. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    #17 – Young, Pratt and McConkie are wonderful sources for hyperbolic quotes. Frankly, that is one of the issues I think is addressed in the idea of the earliest leaders laying just the foundation and, along with “others”, bringing the Church out of darkness. I said, “I read ‘darkness’ as describing the spiritual darkness of an apostate world.” I don’t think it is wrong to say that much of the first 100-150 years of the Church’s existence was about weeding out the influence of the Apostasy from the members who joined the Church and laid the foundation – of pruning the tree, in Jacob’s words. In the earliest years, eveyone was a convert – and it’s impossible for everyone to leave all of their previous, incorrect notions behind when they join – especially when there wasn’t a systematized, established, correlated theology in place. The first few generations were a time of speculation and almost free-flowing give and take that is completely foreign to us now and very hard for many to understand.

    I love much of what Young, Pratt and McConkie left us, but, as McConkie said in his statement repudiating the justifications for the Priesthood ban, they spoke with limited light and understanding – I believe not just about race and the Priesthood, but about other things, as well. (I don’t want to turn this into a discussion about the ban, but comments about “laying the foundation” and building the structure as time went on are welcomed.)

  16. Btw, I do not mean to reject totally statements like those quoted in #17. I understand the tone and the message they promulgate, but I also understand many of the doctrines and practices that grew out of the Apostasy. As I said in the post, there really are some terrible abominations among them. The designations “harlot” and “whore” are grating to our ears and modern sensibilities, but, when you remove the sexual connotations, there are lessons that can be learned from their use. If the central message of D&C 1:30 is to repudiate the creeds of Joseph’s day, we can’t escape the general theme of the quotes above – even if we wouldn’t use them as a launching pad to characterize the entire churches as abominations.

  17. David H. asked whether I had a link to my Sunstone presentation on “True and Living.” No. I checked the Sunstone site and found that they do not have that presentation in their mp3 collection, perhaps because it was at an Sunstone West around 88 or 89. And I when I wrote it originally, I was using an Atari ST. I don’t have an electronic version. Someday. I’d like to update it with a few things I’ve found since: Like this on “living”
    Hebrews. 10
    18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
    19 Having therefore, brethren, aboldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
    20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
    21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

    In this instance, “living” clearly points to the Temple and priesthood.

    And regarding the interpretation of the passage by authority, when I came up wiht my reading, I was rather startled, since it is so different than what I expected to find that I went and looked through every D&C commentary I could find. What I saw was that not one of them provided a close reading of the verse, nor of the context provided in D&C 1. All simply substituted the cultural cliche. Knowing beforehand what the text should say, they all presumed what it would say, and did not bother to analyze what it does say. In one place in 3 Nephi the Lord comments about how his Old World disciples on the topic of other sheep, supposed that they understood, and did not ask. And D&C 1 itself says of the leaders, “inasmuch as they erred, it shall be made manifest.. inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed…”

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  18. “And D&C 1 itself says of the leaders, ‘inasmuch as they erred, it shall be made manifest.. inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed…'”

    That is one of my favorite passages in all of our canon. Thanks for mentioning it in this context, Kevin.

    I know I focused on “(eternal) life-giving” (which fits exactly what Kevin higlighted from Hebrews 10), but I also think it is legitimate to go back to Hawkgrrrl’s reading of it as “evolving” – especially in the context of building upon the original foundation. I think there is a synergy available with these two views – one that highlights the need for continnual growth and change at every level (for inidivudals, organizations and communities) if they are to “live” and “give life”. Once growth and change cease, living ceases in a very real way. After all, we often say of those who give up and let themselves die that they “stopped living” – even when they still are breathing and biologically alive. Again, in a very real way, if they are not active and productive, they are “alive” but not “living”.

    For religions, “productive” might mean “providing new insight and enlightenment and direction” – and that is anathema to any religion that, at its very core, believes in never-ending creeds that were formulated hundreds or thousands of years ago. These creeds cause them to be theologically stagnant, and (when viewed through the lens of eternal progression) stagnation is an abomination in the sight of God. They are “alive” but not “living”.

  19. Ray admit it you wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t stirring things up;)

    False Assumption #4) Our leaders are “true” (infallible) and will never teach things that are not 100% true.

    James Faust, when he was a member of the Council of the Twelve, said,
    “We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators” (Ensign, November 1989, p. 11).

    In the same conference address, he also affirmed that we can be sure that the leaders will never lead the people astray.

    Ezra Benson, when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve but before he became church president, taught the doctrine of infallibility with these words:
    “Some lesser men . . . ignorantly or otherwise, [may] use their office to promote false counsel . . . [or] to persuade us that all is well in Zion . . . [but] the Lord will never permit his Prophet to lead this Church astray” (Conference Report, October 1966, p. 123).

    General Authority Daniel Wells taught it in 1860. He said,
    “We cannot possibly believe that the Almighty will suffer those whom he has appointed to lead his people to go astray. We have all confidence in this, and shall have, if we do our duty” (Journal of Discourses 9:97).

    President Brigham Young made similar but somewhat stronger statements in addresses delivered during the years that followed. In an 1861 address, he said:
    If I do not speak here by the power of God, if it is not revelation to you every time I speak to you here, I do not magnify my calling. What do you think about it? I neither know nor care. If I do not magnify my calling, I shall be removed from the place I occupy. God does not suffer you to be deceived. Here are my brethren and sisters, pouring out their souls to God, and their prayers and faith are like one solid cloud ascending to the heavens. They want to be led right; they want the truth; they want to know how to serve God and prepare for a celestial kingdom. Do you think the Lord will allow you to be fooled and led astray? No (Journal of Discourses 9:141).

    In an 1862 address, he said
    The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth (Journal of Discourses 9: 289).

    These statements are assurances that God would remove church leaders from their offices rather than let them lead the people astray, and like the statement by Brother Wells, these statements are either implicitly or explicitly conditional (if the people do their duty, pray earnestly in their search for truth, etc.

  20. This is a super post Ray! I really like your presentation. Thanks for going through that in such detail.

    Agree that all your false assumptions are indeed false. The problem we face is these assumptions have been taught as the Truth by people for a long, long time. My hope is that we are at another wonderful evolutionary point, as a true and LIVING church, where we can start to officially shed some of those assumptions.

    The broad and easy availability of information on the internet is cracking this nut. We’re also going through a generational shift of people asking hard questions of the Church. It’s traumatic in ways, but I have faith that it is healthy and productive.

  21. Sorry should have added more

    When you read the above statements you can certainly see how that has permeated through the church for generations. You do have to be good at double think- which I’m afraid I’m not!

    I think its a fairly new concept that prophets and our leaders can be fallible! The first time I heard it was in Darius Grays presentation to BYU.

    I don’t believe most members are going to think well they get right 95% of the time and I can live with 5% inaccurate prophecies. I think they still believe as Brigham Young stated below.

    If I do not speak here by the power of God, if it is not revelation to you every time I speak to you here, I do not magnify my calling. What do you think about it? I neither know nor care. If I do not magnify my calling, I shall be removed from the place I occupy. God does not suffer you to be deceived. Here are my brethren and sisters, pouring out their souls to God, and their prayers and faith are like one solid cloud ascending to the heavens. They want to be led right; they want the truth; they want to know how to serve God and prepare for a celestial kingdom. Do you think the Lord will allow you to be fooled and led astray?

    If our prophecies aren’t 100% accurate – how is our church any different from the others?

  22. Kevin (20) said, “In this instance, “living” clearly points to the Temple and priesthood.”

    The Hebrews passage clearly uses Temple Judaism symbolism/allusion, but I think it is stretching the context greatly to use it as a defense that the LDS church is uniquely “living’ apart from Christianity because it has its own form of temple ordinances and worship.

    I see it much more strongly, in passage context, and framed by similar arguments in 1 Peter 2, that Christian believers are made the new temple and priesthood. Jesus has made the final offering for sin. God is no longer housed away in the Holy of Holies, separated by a veil, mediated by Levitical high priest. Jesus is the new High Priest, who has invited us believers to enter “into the holiest” by His blood and through the new veil, his flesh. We are, as Peter says, become living temple stones and a holy priesthood. We are declared worthy to offer our own spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God. Hebrews promises similarly in 10:14-17 that one perfect offering has been made by Jesus sufficient for those who are sanctified. The Law is now written on living hearts, not tablets of stone. Our sins are remembered no more. We are justified as righteous by our defender (paraclete) The Holy Spirit and sanctified by our Lord Jesus before the Father.

  23. James, again as the resident parser:

    “The Lord will never let the prophets lead His people astray” does not mean “the prophets are infallible and will always be 100% correct”.

    The latter says everything they say will be correct, and those same people who said the Lord would not allow the prophets to lead the people astray have said they aren’t always correct – as you pointed out with James E. Faust’s talk in 1989.

    The former says that the prophets won’t lead the people “astray” – which means “away from the correct path or direction.” Iow, the prophets won’t draw the people away from their ultimate objective – the Celestial Kingdom, which, in Mormonism has relatively little to do with the exact nature of belief and much more to do with following the commandments of God (producing fruit by which we can be known as disciples of Christ). Fallible (and even deeply flawed) prophets can do that, just as they did throughout the OT and the NT.

    Again, when you parse the words, there is no conflict between being fallible and not leading the people astray.

  24. JfQ, but do you have the authority to interpret scripture? *grin*

    I understand clearly that interpretations, even many parsing ones, are built on our own perspectives. That is an interpretation consistent with much of Protestant theology, and it really isn’t at odds with the central theme of “living” as an aspect of growth or change. The only difference is the use of temples and the concept of eventual exaltation. Those are not small differences, but the general theme is similar.

  25. James (22, 24),

    No time for a long answer on this, but I see a lot of operating room between “leading the church astray” (becoming an apostate or false prophet and taking members down with you) and doing what the brethren and every living human being does: operate according to the light one has, which unless you are perfect means you will often discover you have been wrong.

    I have absolutely no problem with the quotes you offered by the brethren, and I accept them at face value. I also happen to believe that “line upon line, precept upon precept” means that we not only anticipate but welcome the updates and revisions that may come when the brethren are exposed to increased light. When we say that the Lord is “yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” we’re saying we don’t have those revelations or that light yet. (And by implication, we don’t look down on the brethren who did their best according to the light they had.) No one in any church position can compel revelation. Until it comes, we all have to operate the best we can. If they get something wrong in due course, that doesn’t mean they “led the church astray.”

    I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my callings, even while clearly being guided by revelation. I give the brethren latitude to be just as human as I am, all while sustaining them individually and collectively in their higher callings.

    In sum, I see no contradiction between Ray’s views and the quotes you provided.

  26. 26 Ray

    The prophets won’t draw the people away from their ultimate objective – the Celestial Kingdom, which, in Mormonism has relatively little to do with the exact nature of belief and much more to do with following the commandments of God.

    Those afro American’s who saw the church as bigoted they and their posterity who weren’t allowed to receive the temple saving ordinance may feel different. They may feel that they were drawn away from the ultimate objective – the Celestial Kingdom.

    So are you kind of saying using this as an example that if you were an Afro American that even though in your heart you knew it was wrong for you and your family to be denied the temple ordinances and sealing ordinances , you should just follow the commandments of god. Kind of do a cognitive dissonance thing in your mind because even if its wrong keeping the commandments trumps the nature of the belief?

    Lorin 28
    I also happen to believe that “line upon line, precept upon precept” means that we not only anticipate but welcome the updates and revisions that may come when the brethren are exposed to increased light. When we say that the Lord is “yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” we’re saying we don’t have those revelations or that light yet. (And by implication, we don’t look down on the brethren who did their best according to the light they had.)

    Sorry to word it this way but I am just trying to make sense of what your saying. So same example. Brigham Young lets assume got it wrong (Darius Gray BYU devotional) Shouldn’t we assume that this would be a great and important thing that God should reveal pretty quickly to President Young.

    And by implication, we don’t look down on the brethren who did their best according to the light they had.) Brigham Young was a prophet are you saying either God could only give him a little bit of light/knowledge? Or President Young’s best was only receiving a little bit of light/knowledge? Or God didn’t feel it important for 150 years to give more light and knowledge?

  27. #26 “Brigham Young was a prophet are you saying either God could only give him a little bit of light/knowledge? Or President Young’s best was only receiving a little bit of light/knowledge? Or God didn’t feel it important for 150 years to give more light and knowledge?”

    Yup. One of those is correct, or maybe none of those. Maybe God was ready. Maybe *we* were the ones not ready for further light and knowledge, and that caused our brothers and sister a great deal of heart ache. God allows bad things to happen all the time — great crimes and injustices.

    I think it’s dangerous to end with an implication that God does things based on His arbitrary whim.

  28. James, I have expressed my opinion on the Priesthood ban many times on threads where it is relevant. I could give a short, flip answer here, but I won’t. The short, non-flip answer is that prophets aren’t infallible, and, even though I think the Priesthood ban was not inspired by God and revelatory in nature, according to Mormon theology it had no relevance on any individual’s chance for exaltation – the words of a few apostles and prophets notwithstanding. I don’t want to trivialize the pain and suffering and obstacles caused by the ban, but I see it MUCH more as a painful pruning process (like described in Jacob 5) than as “leading the Church astray”. It took much longer than I would have hoped to prune that attitude out of the Church, and we aren’t done yet (unfortunately), but at least the upper branches have been fully pruned – and it’s extending to the lowest branches each day.

    On this topic, we are so far ahead of many Christian religions in this aspect now that it’s not even close. I’ve lived in the South, and I’ve seen vibrant, pernicious, religious segregation in action. It ain’t modern Mormonism.

    We don’t claim infallibility for our prophets. Every single one has said as much since Joseph. My final comment on this particular issue is that we should grant them the benefit of the doubt on this point – that they were (and are) serious when they did (and do) teach this. They aren’t infallible, and that has been taught since the day the Church was organized.

  29. I guess I don’t understand the point of a fallible prophet. You are either the conduit for God, in which case I think I have the right to expect ‘correct’ communication, or you are a wise old man. There is nothing wrong with being a wise old man, but lets be clear and what we are dealing with here. A wise old man does not wield the authority that a prophet claims to have. You wave that authority at me and I think I have the right to expect you to be correct. All of the time.

  30. James, I will add one more:

    In Elder McConkie’s repudiation of the ban, he mentioned Pres. Young and Elder Pratt and himself by name. Why can’t we accept that and move on, especially when infallibility never has been taught?

    Good heavens, Joseph Smith was the most chastised/reprimanded person in the D&C – and it wasn’t even close.

  31. #33 – Then you can’t accept the prophets of the Bible. Period. That definition excludes every person who has ever lived on earth, except Jesus. With that definition, there are and were no prophets. Period.

  32. Imperfection: Have you ever heard a beautiful piece of music played on an untuned piano? The performer may play it perfectly, but some of the keys just sound off. You can still tell what the tune is; it’s not quite right, but it’s close.

  33. I’m with Ray (35). The Bible is full of fallible prophets. Even Moses, God’s beloved prophet, died outside the promised land in an unknown grave as a punishment for not heeding God’s instruction in how to bring forth water from the rock. (Seems like a pretty big penalty for a seemingly small sin.) Yet at the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses is there with Elijah, representing the Law and Prophets brought to oneness in Jesus Christ. If Moses is a valid example then earthly death, punishments, trials and faults are not valuations of our eternal worth with God save we recognize Him as our God. Prophethood speaks to something beyond being a model of flawlessness; they are truth tellers for God. Yet they do not always speak for God. Therefore our discernment to recognize truth from error must always be sought through communion with God, not from external human models of judgement.

    Many LDS belivers struggle with posturing their church and its highest leaders — prophets — as infallible, even while qualifying that the “church is perfect even if the people are not.” Many Protestants posture the Bible as infallible yet many are driven to recognize the reality of some fallibility by qualifying, like my church does in its Statements of Faith, that “the Bible is infallible in its original manuscripts.” (I don’t study by way of original manuscripts exclusively — do any of us Christians?)

    As we find practical value from God’s breath into our lives we necessarily desire and posture certainty in the mechanisms by which we find that value, be it prophets, churches or even scripture. I’m not saying these fallible sources have no value — they obviously do — but their fallibility should invite us to use them as means to commune with the ultimate authority: God. Even as He steers us, molds us, seeks us, redeems us and sanctifies us by way of sources that may be fallible, these sources are not certain ends unto themselves nor should they be incredulously discarded merely because of fallibility. We are asked to judge righteously who (or what) we make our Lord. Do we recognize Him as our ultimate source of living water?

  34. #18 Yes, it does, but it doesn’t remove the responsibility to understand for ourselves. With great power comes great responsbility. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Responsibility to understand and authority to interpret as you may are different. But hey, I’m sounding too much like a believer so I’ll end with that.

    thx for the response. 🙂

  35. “our discernment to recognize truth from error must always be sought through communion with God, not from external human models of judgement.”

    I love this, JfQ.

  36. Perhaps we can call them mentor, guide, sage, teacher. Lets respect the experiance and wisdom they have. Once we deem a man as Prophet *we* make him infallible by treating what works as if it came from god and rejecting what does not by saying he is just a man and is not infallible. Do what I say as if God has spoken, unless of course it proves to be wrong. In that case just forget it and understand that I am fallible.

    We want our Prophet, but we want to squint our eyes and turn our head in case he is wrong.

  37. #38 – You’re welcome, TJM. You made my day with:

    “But hey, I’m sounding too much like a believer” – I cracked up when I read it.

    #37 – Wonderfully said, BFAM.

    #36 – I hope my joyful noise is acceptable.

  38. I have to disagree with your statement on False Assumption #3) Other churches (and members of those other churches) are spiritually dead.

    Chirstians and LDS believe two contradicting ideas. Christians teach that there is one God in three parts. Jesus is God, the Father is God and the Spirit is God. All three still only make one God (not God head). LDS has three seperate individuals. To worship God is to worship him in truth. So one religion has to be right and the other wrong. For this reason I take great offense to trying to make the LDS faith “more main stream Christian”!!! It is not, nor could it ever be.

  39. Post
    Author

    #42 – How did you get to the idea that this post makes “the LDS faith ‘more main stream Christian'”? I thought I made it perfectly clear that I agree 100% with the “ONLY true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” characterization. I also thought I made it clear that “False Assumption #3 is incorrect simply because, if their members follows their general teachings, those members **at worst** will inherit the Terrestrial Kingdom – which is a kingdom of God’s (The Son’s) glory – which is NOT the Mormon definition of “spiritual death”.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand your disagreement. Would you mind clarifying it for me? I really do want to understand.

  40. 40 Imperfection – boy are you going to love my Sunday RS/PH post on personal revelation!

    42 Lumber Jack – do you mean to say “non-LDS Christians” and “LDS Christians” as opposed to “Christians” vs. “LDS” implying that LDS are not Christians?

  41. Post
    Author

    #40 – That only works if you believe the prophets do not receive revelation/inspiration/ direction/whatever from God. I don’t believe they are infallible, but I do believe they receive revelation from God. I understand the balancing act that requires, but I’m fine with that. I simply don’t expect infallibility from anyone, since I believe it is not taught anywhere in our canon or by our modern prophets.

    It’s pretty clear we disagree on this. I’m fine with that, so let’s let it drop. OK? 🙂

  42. Post
    Author

    #42 – Let me clarify my question:

    Lumber Jack, I’m positive you don’t think Mormons are Christians, but I think you misunderstood the point of the post. It was NOT to make Mormonism more “mainstream”; it was about trying to point out what one verse actually says, as opposed to what too many people assume it says.

    The last thing I want to do is make Mormonism more “mainstream”. I don’t mean that as an insult; I simply value the differences too much to want to lose them. However, I don’t want to perpetuate interpretations that I believe incorrectly stereotype and devalue non-Mormon Christians and much of what they teach. This is even more apparent in the JSH 1:19 post that will hit in two weeks, but it applies to this verse, as well.

    So, given that clarification, would you mind clarifying yours? Is it simply that you don’t like anything that presents Mormons as Christians, or is there something else?

  43. Post
    Author

    Imperfection: I know I asked to let this drop, but I just thought of the following verse. I will use it as my wrap-up:

    1 Nephi 11:16-17 – “And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

    That’s the prophetic standard I like.

    Since I took one more opportunity to comment, go ahead and take one yourself, if you want to do so. 🙂

  44. 31 Valoel
    Yup. One of those is correct, or maybe none of those. Maybe God was ready. Maybe *we* were the ones not ready for further light and knowledge, and that caused our brothers and sister a great deal of heart ache. God allows bad things to happen all the time — great crimes and injustices.

    1 So God could have been ready have been ready to give further light and knowledge – but his chosen prophet *we* wasn’t receiving the inspiration? He kind of picked the stuff he wanted to receive inspiration on but ignored the stuff that wasn’t so important like the blacks and the priesthood? Im not being flippant here but this baffles me that God would be giving further light and knowledge to President Young when he is ignoring him on a pretty big issue. Don’t you think he would be getting constant promptings from God. Saying something like this decision you made is wrong -overturn it quickly please!

    2 Or *we* meaning the congregation our ancestors weren’t ready to receive the inspiration because they were not quite worthy or humble enough?

    3 God allows bad things to happen all the time — great crimes and injustices. Totally agree here but isn’t God in control of his chosen prophets and the church so we can avoid the great injustices of the world?

  45. 32 Ray

    I don’t want to trivialize the pain and suffering and obstacles caused by the ban, but I see it MUCH more as a painful pruning process (like described in Jacob 5) than as “leading the Church astray”. It took much longer than I would have hoped to prune that attitude out of the Church, and we aren’t done yet (unfortunately), but at least the upper branches have been fully pruned – and it’s extending to the lowest branches each day.

    Ray I think we have been improving a ton since 78. And I do see your pruning analogy. But we shouldn’t be 20 years behind other religions and the rest of the world on race issues we should be cutting edge. Like we have been on the Word of Wisdom.

  46. #48 I don’t accept the binary argument that a prophet must be 100% correct all the time, or they must not be inspired be inspired at all (just a wise old man, 100% uninspired). Sorry, this will be a fundamental difference of opinion. I don’t believe in that exclusive dichotomy.

    There’s a lady who said this in another forum recently when we were talking about this same topic: “A prophet will never lead us astray. Only we can lead ourselves astray.” I thought that was a good way of explaining what I think in a short, compact sentence. We can not be absolved of our responsibility to find out what is right. We can not lay that at the feet of a prophet or leader and say to ourselves “The prophet said it, so the thinking is done.” That path is void of spirit and of free agency.

  47. James (49)

    Yes, we SHOULD be ahead of the game on all the important stuff — and I think the brethren have an incredible batting average on this — but we should not be surprised or appalled on the occasions in which we are not on the cutting edge. There’s putting faith in revelation from ordained prophets and then there’s expecting them to have light and understanding that is superior to all the other 6.5 billion inhabitants of the earth on any given topic at any given time. That’s putting the brethren on an impossibly high and narrow pedestal, which is not fair to them or to anyone else.

    I like the following quote from Brigham Young, which I think sheds a lot of light on the nature of inspiration in the church and, paradoxically, why the church would be late to the party on something like the priesthood ban:

    “[God] would be glad to send angels to communicate further to this people, but there is no room to receive it, consequently, He cannot come and dwell with you. There is a further reason: we are not capacitated to throw off in one day all our traditions, and our prepossessed feelings and notions, but have to do it little by little. It is a gradual process, advancing from one step to another; and as we layoff our false traditions and foolish notions, we receive more and more light, and thus we grow in grace; and if we continue so to grow we shall be prepared eventually to receive the Son of Man, and that is what we are after.” (Journal of Discourses 2:309-318).

    I personally think the priesthood ban had everything to do with folks inside and outside of the church not being ready to accept blacks as equals. Period. Had there been room to receive such a revelation (in the councils and/or in the general membership), maybe we could have been ahead of the game. But we were no better than anyone else on this issue, and I have a hard time imagining very many pre-civil rights members or their neighbors having been able to countenance the notion of a black man in authority over them, given the prevalent assumptions of the day. Yes, the Lord might have been able to deliver a board to the back of the brethrens’ head and delivered it sooner (and it would have taken that). But I wonder what would have happened had He delivered such a revelation to a people so unready to accept it. Who knows whether the injustices that have kept blacks out of the church would have instead been overshadowed by injustices inflicted on blacks within the church? Just thinking out loud …

    Anyway, that’s the last I have to say on this thread.

  48. I humbly suggest that one may consider the meaning of “living” church to refer to one that is led by a “living” prophet of God. When combining “true” plus “living” and reading the statement like a lawyer, I understand there may be many “true” churches (churches that embrace and teach some truth)but only one that is “living” today using the definition I apply. The Church of Jesus Christ of Former-day Saints was a true and “living” church but it is now dead. The old scriptures are “dead” but we have “living” oracles making ours both a “true” and “living” organization. Isn’t God saying He is only “well” pleased with His “living” Kingdom of God on the earth? He certainly does not say that He is not otherwise pleased to some degree with all churches that further the cause of truth on this earth at this time in the Plan of Salvation by helping those who may be(knowingly) seeking the Terrestial Kingdom or preparing others to discover His authorized “living” church. This scripture is in no way exclusionary but just a way to point out the existence of only one “(Celestial) Kingdom of God on earth” that is both true and living. In fact, I believe there is ONLY ONE Kingdom of God, whether it be on earth, in the presence of God or in the Spirit World. It is consistently established, organized and administered the same wherever it exists. There is only one order in the eyes of God.

  49. I submit a few observations:

    1. Why the need to parse, nuance or even debate over what “living” means? It is interesting that LDS persons, in the defense of defining why their church is uniquely living, usually comes down to the matter of a hierarchical title of Prophet or it becomes wholly organizational. Why even reduce the argument to the differences in Christendom over the belief how the role and gifting of prophecy or organizational structure is manifest? All Christians believe in living prophecy even if the form manifested differs.

    Why is it that the LDS defense of “living” seldom comes down to saying “Because we follow Jesus Christ, who is living among us today?” Is it just a choice of persepective or a difference in material and emphasis? Christian congregations, even the Catholic church, see themselves as “living” because Christ is A) our living God and b) lives among His believers who are His Body. Sure sacramental liturgy defines the scope of fellowship to them, but it is not material to “living.” To say God and His church is living is stating the obvious. Living is not a marketing proposition. Either Christ is living among His believers or he isn’t. Isn’t it obvious that Christendom is living today?

    2. Therefore, isn’t the greater proposition of the two about Truth? Once “only True” becomes a certain marker by which to valuate Mormonism over the rest of Christendom, then saying others are “somewhat true” is just saying shallow niceties. Either God is our Truth or He isn’t. Either we are seeking and moving toward Him our capital-t Truth or we aren’t. Truth isn’t a marketing proposition. It is a material quality of our relationship. If we are proceeding toward Truth, who is God and His work, then it allows that His work is His, and can manifest differently among different communities of believers unless we summarily want to throw out the value of His church from the earliest days. If the differences in our faith practices are not this, then it begs a more challenging issue of whether we are even proceeding toward the same Truth. This uncertainty is what derails fellowship.

    3. So the more provocative question becomes one of unity. Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17) establishes that Truth is God’s, His word, which sanctifies us. Organizational churchness can be a process of this Truth to work among us but is not the Truth. Church does not sanctify us, it is the work of the Spirit. It was Jesus’ prayer for unity among His divided believers on the eve of His death. Was it so that we could be denominationally housed in the same pews together? He doesn’t say that unless we choose to read into what “oneness” means. He prayed that His believers could be one in helping the world believe that the Father sent Him, that God loves us, that we may become perfected in Him, and that we may ultimately become One. So there, in my view, is the provocative, humbling, conscience-convicting invitation by which to measure us who would call Jesus our Lord.

  50. I am going to build on JfQ’s comment in a way that he might not like. 🙂

    The main point about “living” I made was that it appears to me to mean “life-giving” – and that the unique aspect of “life giving” within Mormonism is the addition of “eternal” life-giving that is tied to becoming like the Father. I wrote about this distinction in the post “Praise, Honor and Glory Be to God” – and I see that as one of the only things that is so peculiar about Mormonism that it can’t be reconciled with anything else taught within the rest of Christianity. Nobody else teaches eternal life as meaning the same thing that we do, and that is the central “truth” around which everything is organized properly and makes the Restored Gospel “come alive” and “give life”.

    Without our understanding of the Father, we really would be just another Protestant religion. With that understanding, we are uniquely “true” and “living”.

  51. Ray, I appreciate that you call it as you see it. I don’t think Truth pursuit is an easy thing to find commonality upon. So, is there ever hope for the unity for which Christ prayed — authentic unity and not just niceties?

  52. JfQ, I think we have much more in common than we have things that divide us, so I think there is much that can be done to unify us. Frankly, as directly as I can say this about the particular Mormon / non-Mormon divide, it will require non-Mormon Christians to stop consigning Mormons to Hell – and it will require Mormons to stop thinking the truth claims of organizational Mormonism make them better than others. However, I don’t think there can be perfect (complete, whole, fully developed) unity prior to the Second Coming, since I don’t see either “side” acquiescing on the fundamental nature of Godhood and our relationship to it.

    In the end, the best way to become as unified as possible is for all of us to live the Gospel better and gain the understanding of each other such an understanding provides. That is an objective worth pursuing, no matter how unrealistic it appears. Perfect unity might not be possible for all within varying faith communities, but I know it is possible for individuals within those communities – who can build their own “inter-faith communities” of respectful believers. Again, that is an objective worth pursuing.

  53. Thanks for plugging individual interfaith efforts, Ray. I agree completely. It’s the subject I contributed to speaking about at Sunstone. 🙂

  54. It took Enoch a LONG time to establish his city of Zion – and they had the benefit of having seen absolutely amazing things that showed Enoch’s status as a miraculous man of God. “All nations feared greatly” (Moses 7:13) is a great motivator for unity.

    JfQ, I don’t think it is our lot to have that type of power manifested, so I wouldn’t despair at the difficulty inherent in bringing about a degree of inter-faith unity in our day and age. It is a different task now, but it is worth pursuing.

  55. I would like to belatedly add a couple comments.

    Regarding the use of the term ‘living,’ I am reminded of this from D&C 22:

    “For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.”

    The church was established because dead works will not get you to your goal but the living water will accomplish this. The contrast to ‘dead works’ can be found in Moroni 8:23:

    “But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.”

    I would suggest that the choice is between accepting the atonement of Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit (defining living) and dead works. This is supportive of earlier comments.

    Also, whenever I read D&C 1:30, I am reminded how easy it is to get ‘lost.’ Let me explain… The Book of Mormon is filled with the cycle of apostasy as we read of group after group that have the blessings of God only to become prideful and lose it.

    Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants was recorded in November of 1831. It was not even a year later when the Lord told us that:

    “54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
    55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
    56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
    57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—“
    (D&C 84)

    All the church was brought under condemnation because they treated lightly the things that God had given them. How did the restored church so easily lose focus as to come under condemnation? What tipped the balance between being the ‘only true and living church’ to one under condemnation.?

    D&C 93:32 tells us that ‘every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.’ This suggests that the saints at the time of Joseph Smith had, for some reason, not taken seriously the light they had received – in this case the Book of Mormon and the covenant (the gospel according to D&C 66:3).

    President Ezra Taft Benson, several times during his tenure, told us that we, the church, were still under this condemnation. I have not heard anyone declare from the pulpit that this condemnation has been lifted.

    I find it hard to equate the idea that the church will never be led astray with the fact that for the last 100 years, that same church has been under the condemnation of God. I am reminded of the warning found in D&C 112:

    “24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
    25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
    26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.”

    The Lord clearly states here that there will be a cleansing and that it will begin with His house. I take that to mean the organization defined as His church. It is always easy to deflect this accusation and assume the Lord must be talking about those slackers that don’t do their home/visiting teaching but I think it does much deeper than that.

    I believe that adopting the attitude that the church will never go astray is the same as “all is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth.” This statement, in itself, is a marker of having lost the true path.

    The Jews felt they were obligated to be the ‘chosen people’ and were summarily cut off. Let us not make the same mistake, individually or collectively

    Am I one of those who professed His name but didn’t really know Christ? Have I truly taken upon me the image of Christ? Have I been baptized both by water and the Holy Ghost? Each must seek his/her own answer.

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