The stiffnecked and unbelieving Jews
Jesus, speaking to the twelve Nephite disciples about their “brethren at Jerusalem” (the Jewish disciples), said:
This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:
That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them. (3 Ne. 15: 16-18)
Later, Jesus explained to the 12 disciples the meaning of his saying:
And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said:
Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (3 Ne. 15: 21)
And then He told His disciples how the Jews had interpreted his saying and showed why their interpretation was incorrect:
And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching. And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost. But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me. (3 Ne. 15: 22-24)
The Jews did two no-nos
1. They did not get revelation as to the real meaning of Jesus’ saying. This was due to their “stiffneckedness and unbelief.”
2. They assigned their own interpretation to the passage.
Not knowing the correct interpretation is bad enough. The passage then becomes a mystery and the information that it contains cannot be used to progress farther in the gospel. But when an incorrect interpretation is added, instead of simply not progressing faster or easier along the true path, you may end up on an altogether different path, because errors are introduced.
Stiffneckedness and unbelief preclude revelation
And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith. (Jarom 1: 4)
And Stephen said:
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7: 51)
So, the Jews either were not asking for revelation and/or they were asking without faith, not believing that they would receive, without diligence in keeping the commandments. This was why the Holy Ghost didn’t tell them the meaning of Jesus’ saying. Said Jesus to His chosen 12:
And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. (3 Ne. 16: 4)
A problem compounded: suppositions and then presuppositions
The interesting thing about these passages, though, is that the Jews (the “brethren at Jerusalem” mentioned in 3 Ne. 15: 14, meaning the church leadership there) didn’t just leave the saying as a mystery, but made an attempt at interpreting it anyway. They supposed it meant one thing (when it really meant something altogether different.)
The effect that the suppositions of the “brethren at Jerusalem” (the church leadership) had on the Lord’s “people at Jerusalem” (the church membership, see 3 Ne. 16: 4) appears to have been that the people did not ask the Father to receive a knowledge of these other sheep, because they supposed the interpretation of the apostles (that the other sheep were Gentiles) was correct.
Over time, new church members (who did not have the privilege of “[having] seen [Jesus] and been with [him] in [His] ministry”) would be taught the suppositions (of the leaders and people who did have that privilege) as authoritative interpretations, meaning as fact, and would always approach this saying of Jesus about His other sheep with the presupposition that it meant the Gentiles.
The stiffnecked and unbelieving LDS?
What I wonder is, if we, the modern church of God, do the same thing as the Jews at Jerusalem? It is true that we have a body of revelation, but we also have a body of suppositions, which many take at face value. There hasn’t been a new revelation canonized in decades, yet we often hang on every word of the GA’s as if they were dictated by God Himself. In other words, we suppose that the interpretations of the GA’s are correct and inspired by the Holy Ghost. And those who suppose otherwise are seen by the body as faithless and disloyal. Yet, Jesus’ words above indicate that the truly faithful ones are those who rely on knowledge obtained directly from the Holy Ghost as the final word, and not on what their leaders say.
These (and other) passages of scripture seem to indicate a tendency among the Lord’s people and leaders (the brethren) of stiffneckedness and unbelief, which create a revelation vacuum, and also a tendency to fill that vacuum with “authoritative” interpretations (suppositions). There also appears to be a tendency among the people of believing these authoritative interpretations (blindly “following the brethren”) without inquiring of the Lord themselves to determine “the truth of all things.” In other words, when faced with interpretations coming from an official church publication, or from a church officer, we act under the presupposition that the information is trustworthy and believable and so we do not feel the need to apply Moroni’s promise nor ask the Father for revelation concerning what is being interpreted.
Some examples of presuppositions in the church
Here is a list of five presuppositions found among LDS:
1. No prophet will ever lead us astray, therefore, there will be no more angelic ordinations.
2. Anarchy is bad and contrary to the laws of heaven.
4. The prophecies concerning the Gentiles of the latter-days do not apply to LDS church members, who, now that they are baptized, are numbered with the house of Israel, and are not identified with the Gentiles.
Obviously, there are many more that can be listed. Once a person steps back and takes a good, long look at what is presented to the LDS and non-members as truth by missionaries, members and leaders, it becomes plain that some of it is based upon revealed scripture, while some are mere suppositions. In other words, they are precepts of men, against which Nephi warned the Gentiles.
As we start this new year, it may be wise to take inventory (as the missionaries of my day did every Saturday night) and make an assessment of everything we suppose to be true. All incoming information, regardless of the source (in or out of the church), may need to be filtered by the power of the Holy Ghost so that what is truth and what is error, what is revelation and what is supposition, is determined. The deceptions of the adversary will become more subtle and more widespread, so that even the very elect will have trouble discerning, so it may be wise to throw away any church rubber stamps we may have, which automatically approve and trust anything coming from a church source, and do what Jesus suggested that the people at Jerusalem do, namely, ask the Father in His name, that we may receive a knowledge of it by the Holy Ghost.