The Book of Mormon Is a Litmus Test


Stage three is on the horizon

There are three prophesied stages of the church: first, the works of the Father; second, the works of men; and third, the works of the devil. Stage one is attended by miracles, which show the approbation of the Father. At some point in the past, the general membership of the church entered into stage two, which is a state of condemnation, and the work of miracles ceased, except for the occasional individual here and there who was full of faith.

There is only one reason, only one, why the saints of God become condemned before Him. It is because they no longer listen to His voice. Anyone who has a friend and who knows his or her voice and how he or she speaks, is acquainted with the voice and words of that friend. But if you stop listening for a long enough time, the day will come when it is no longer a familiar voice and can no longer be recognized. This occurs with all of us in our dealings with our fellowmen. It also occurs with God.

The word of God, found in the scriptures, allows us to become familiar with His voice. The more of His word we receive, the more familiar it becomes. This is the good Shepherd principle. He calls His sheep and they, being familiar (or acquainted) with His voice, listen and obey. If they do not listen and obey, they are not His sheep and are accounted as the devil’s sheep and upon death are delivered up to him, for the Lord only gathers His own and will not rob the devil of that which pertains to him (see Mosiah 5:14.)

And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me…And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 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—that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:52,54-58.)

The second stage, then, occurred when the general membership of the church gave lip service to the Book of Mormon without actually doing what was written there, or ignored it altogether and used the Bible or even the words of their living leaders, to guide them. We are living right now in the second stage and there is both good and bad news associated with it, namely, that compared to the first stage, the second stage is not a good place to be, but compared to the third and final stage, it is infinitely better. As long as we do not descend into the third stage, we have reason to rejoice.

The problem is that we are currently nearing the very end of stage two and stage three is about to begin. The defining feature of the end of the second stage is the hardening of the hearts of the church so that they no longer believe the words of the Book of Mormon and eventually end up rejecting the entire thing.

The Lord said of the Book of Mormon, “Those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; but those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation” (D&C 20:14-15.)

So, the first stage church believes the Book of Mormon to be true and lives it, and the second stage church believes the Book of Mormon to be true but does not live it, while the third stage church does not believe the Book of Mormon to be true.

Up until recently, we have weathered attacks on the Book of Mormon from outside the church only. Why the attacks on this book? Because the devil knows that the Book of Mormon is key to the salvation of those living in these days. If they believe it and work righteousness, per the Lord’s words, they will receive eternal life, so it has ever been his plan to destroy belief in it. However, as we near the beginning of the third stage, we are now weathering attacks on the Book of Mormon from within the church.

More and more members are beginning to doubt its truth and accuracy. For example, we have already seen the appearance of the New Order Mormons, who generally do not believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. But they are not the only ones in the church who have begun to doubt its divine origins. There are many now who secretly doubt in their hearts. All of this means that we are at the end of the second stage and the third stage is about to begin.

Now, I will talk about the third stage and you can take what I write as prophecy, if you want.

The third stage church will be divided, with one faction holding control over the printing of the scriptures. This church will seek to alter the word of God, as found in the scriptures. In particular they will seek to alter the words of the Book of Mormon so that they read contrary to how they read now. This will fulfill the scripture found in Mormon 8:33, in which Moroni asked, “Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?”

By the way, the last half of Mormon chapter 8 is a prophecy of the future, meaning that it has not yet been fulfilled. It speaks of the third stage church, when wicked members will secretly slay righteous members in order to shut their mouths, because these saints will stand up and speak against the incredible wickedness they will be witnessing. It is after these acts of wickedness that the Lord will send again new prophets and the full Nephite record, with all the Nephite laws, which these wicked churches will reject.

The unchanged Book of Mormon, meaning the version of the Book of Mormon that will exist prior to the transfiguration that the third stage church will perform upon it, will be used by the righteous members to preach to the wicked members, and to show that their wickedness at that time will be in fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy.

Now, the seeds to those future, wicked days have already been sown today, among the hearts of the church, by their unbelief regarding the divine origins of the Book of Mormon and its truth. The Book of Mormon, then, is a litmus test, to show us where we are in relation to the Lord and salvation, or in other words, to show us what stage we, personally, are in: stage one, stage two or stage three, depending upon our views and actions regarding it.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)

To understand why this is so, it is necessary to understand how the Book of Mormon came to be.

How the Book of Mormon was translated

When Joseph used the Urim and Thummim, he thought of a word and then asked God in his mind if the word he was thinking of was right. After asking God, he got a feeling about the word. Sometimes the word felt right and sometimes the word felt wrong. If the word felt right, he would speak the word out loud and Oliver would then write it down. If the word felt wrong, he would discard it and then think of another word, always trying to guess what the next word was.

If Joseph went through a bunch of words in his head and they all felt wrong, he would think that perhaps the next word was one that he didn’t know, such as a proper noun (a name of some ancient person or location), so he would think of a letter, such as the letter “a” and ask the Lord in his mind if the word began with that letter. If it felt right, he would think of another letter and ask if that was the next letter of the word. If any of the letters he asked about felt wrong, he would just go to the next letter of the alphabet and ask about it. He would continue in this manner letter by letter until he had the full name. When he did have the name and all of the letters felt right, he would then spell out the name to Oliver, who would then right it down, or he would just pronounce the name or word if he thought Oliver could spell it.

This tedious process is how Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, from beginning to end, because this is how the angel told him how to do it. With practice, Joseph became more adept at guessing the next word or letter and also faster. Eventually he reached the point where he needed no Urim and Thummim to obtain revelation from the Lord, but could easily and quickly feel out the words from the Spirit. But when he first started translating, he had to first figure it out in his head and then ask if his guess was right. No part of the Book of Mormon was given to him as a text that appeared before his eyes, or in his mind, or spoken to him as audible words. Any words or pictures he saw in his mind was just his own imagination as his mind perused the vocabulary he possessed in his attempt to find the right word so that he could ask the Lord about it.

At one point, Oliver desired to translate and got the okay from the Lord. He asked Joseph how to translate and Joseph told him how he did it, as given above. So, Oliver took the Urim and Thummim and followed Joseph’s instructions. He thought of a word and asked the Lord if it was right, and then felt something. He continued in this fashion, until he had a word that he felt right about. Now, we don’t know how many words he got that felt right, because he never spoke them out loud to Joseph, but we know he got at least one word right and perhaps several, but they all remained in his head.

Oliver began to wonder, in his mind, if his feelings were correct. He began to fear that these words that felt right might be his own words and not those given to him by God. So, he pushed Joseph’s tedious process aside and just asked God, in his mind, to tell him what the next words were. After repeatedly asking and not receiving any answer, he gave up and handed the Urim and Thummim back to Joseph. Joseph resumed to translate and Oliver resumed to be his scribe. Later, Joseph asked the Lord why Oliver wasn’t able to translate and received the revelation found in D&C section 9.

You now have the context of D&C 9. When the Lord said,

“And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.”

it refers to the fact that Oliver actually began translating correctly, for he followed Joseph’s instructions precisely and got at least one divinely inspired word from heaven, if not more. But then he stopped doing what Joseph told him to do.

And when the Lord said,

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

it refers to the fact that Oliver discarded Joseph’s tedious method and took the easy way out, merely asking that God reveal the words directly without first searching for them, asking about them and feeling them out.

And when the Lord said,

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.”

it means that Joseph merely couched his instructions in terms of “feels right” and “feels wrong” and nothing more specific than that, which is why Oliver wasn’t sure whether the word(s) he got was/were right, but here, in this revelation, the Lord gives the exact feelings, even a “stupor of thought” and a “burning in the bosom,” and had Oliver known what exact feelings to “watch for,” he would have had confidence in the words he got and could have translated.

And when the Lord said,

“Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now;”

it means that Oliver feared that the words he had correctly gotten from God were his own imagination and not from God. In other words, he feared to destroy the work of God by adding man-made words of his own invention, for he wasn’t certain that the words he got were right.

The reason why Joseph’s tedious approach worked and Oliver’s altered approach did not is that Joseph worked by faith but Oliver sought to work by knowledge. In other words, Joseph thought of a word and asked God if it was right and then if it felt right he simply had the faith that it was right and spoke it out loud. There were no doubts or fears on his part. The words were spoken by him in full confidence, not because God showed them to him in a vision or spoke them to him, but because he operated on faith, or had faith that the feeling he got was right and given to him of God. Oliver, on the other hand, required a witness, or required knowledge, in order to proceed. He required that God tell him in some fashion, by vision or hearing or mental apparition, what the words were. He operated under the principle of knowledge and could get nowhere with God, whereas Joseph operated under the principle of faith and pulled the divine words down from heaven, easily and speedily.

All gifts of the spirit, including the gift to interpret tongues and translate ancient languages are gifts of faith. You are given faith to do something. Not one of the gifts relies upon knowledge. But I’ve written about this before, so I will return to the subject of this post.

The Book of Mormon was created by the power of God

When the Nephite prophets wrote the text that would come to be known to us as the Book of Mormon, they wrote “by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation” (Book of Mormon Title Page.) The spirit of prophecy and revelation is the same spirit by which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Just as he received the Book of Mormon word by word, letter by letter, in a tedious process, so it was written character by character, by the ancient Nephite prophets, in the same tedious manner. They wrote their record in reformed Egyptian, using the characters that they knew, but they did not operate under their own power, but under the power of the Spirit. They searched for the characters, just as Joseph searched for the words, and found the ones that God wanted them to write and put them down in their own language, according to their knowledge of the characters. So, it was written under and by the miraculous power of God and not of man.

Later, Moroni hid the record. Then it came out of the earth in a miraculous way, via an angel. Finally, after delivering the plates and Urim and Thummim to Joseph, it was translated into English under or by the miraculous power and gift of God. In every step of its creation, the operation of God was upon the work.

The plates upon which the Book of Mormon was engraved do not contain the words of Nephite, Lamanite and Jaredite men. Although the record was engraved onto plates by Nephite men, it does not contain their words. It contains their characters and language and speech or writing patterns, but not their words. All the words written under the spirit of prophecy and revelation are God’s words, not man’s. He claims them as His own, for they were inspired by Him and given under His power. The men writing or speaking by His power become His proxies and have no claim on the words as their own. This is why we call it the word of God.

So, God gave words to the Nephites that engraved the Book of Mormon, in their own language, then later when the record came forth via the angel, He gave the interpretation of those words to Joseph in his own language, English. Who gave the words? God did. Who wrote the words down? Man did. Whose words did they write? God’s words.

No faults in the text

Moroni wrote, “We know of no fault” in the record. There is no fault in the record because it does not contain the words of men. The only way faults could be introduced into the record is if one of the writers wrote anything by his own power, or not by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. As far as Moroni and the other prophets knew, there was no fault in the record, for all the Nephite writers wrote under the same spirit. The spirit of prophecy and revelation eliminates human error.

For example, the prophecy I wrote above about the corruption of the scriptures, if written by my own power, may be erroneous. If written by the spirit of prophecy, it must come to pass, even as I wrote it, because they no longer are my words, but the words of God, for there is no fault or error in the word of God.

Again, Mormon illustrated this principle when he wrote:

And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity— (3 Ne. 8:1.)

In other words, since this man operated under the power of God (as demonstrated by the many miracles he did) and he kept the record by the power of God, it means that the record is true, for as long as a record is kept (written) by the power of God, human mistakes are eliminated.

The Book of Mormon, then, is without fault, error or imperfections, because all of those who worked to bring it forth (the Nephite prophets and the Gentile prophet Joseph) did so under the power of God.

And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof. (Mormon 9:32-34.)

Now, I will reveal a mystery to you. The imperfection spoken of in the above quote does not apply to the English Book of Mormon. It speaks of the limitation of the reformed Egyptian in conveying the full meaning of what was put into the hearts of these prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Hebrew is a language that has the capacity to convey the full meaning of all things, so, when you translate from one language into Hebrew, nothing is lost. But all other languages are limited in their capacity to convey meaning, so that when you translate from one language into another, inevitably some meaning is lost. So, Moroni only referred to the plates of Mormon themselves, which were written in reformed Egyptian, and not to the English Book of Mormon.

The English Book of Mormon was interpreted by God, through Joseph Smith. God knew the meaning of the words that were in the hearts of these prophets and conveyed that meaning into English, in the best way possible. Therefore, had Moroni and Mormon written in Hebrew, God would have interpreted it into English just the same way, for the English Book of Mormon are the words that God wanted us to have. In other words, had the Nephite prophets written the same text in Egyptian and also in Hebrew, and then God interpreted each version into English, so that there were two English versions, one taken from the reformed Egyptians and one taken from the altered Hebrew, the two English versions would have been identical.

The imperfection in their record, then, only applies to the plates themselves and the limitations of the reformed Egyptian in conveying full meaning. It does not signify that the English Book of Mormon contains errors. When the plates come forth and are read by people in reformed Egyptian, we will see that the same information put into Hebrew conveys much more meaning.

Faults in the text

And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. (Mormon 8:17.)

Everything in the Book of Mormon is prophetic (dealing with things pertaining to the future) and/or revelatory (dealing with things pertaining to the present or past.) The record is perfect insofar as the men working on it were operating under the power of God. At any moment that the text comes under human power, errors can be introduced. We know, for example, that Oliver Cowdery sometimes made errors when writing down the text that Joseph dictated. We also know that the printer made errors. So, from the moment that the text began to be handled by men who operated under their own power, it was susceptible to “the faults of a man.”

About this edition: Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith. (A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon.)

Opinions given by prophecy

Whenever a man expresses an opinion by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, that opinion ceases to be an opinion and becomes instead a prophecy (if it pertains to the future) or a revelation (if it pertains to the present or past.) For example, Alma said: “I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven” (Alma 40:20.) Although he expressed it as an opinion, he did so under the power of the Spirit (which is why Mormon included it) and so this opinion concerning the future became a prophecy. In the same fashion, all opinions and assessments expressed by the prophets who engraved the Book of Mormon are prophetic or revelatory, because they operated under the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

Even questions asked by the spirit of prophecy and revelation are no longer just questions, but become accurate assessments of reality. So, for example, in captain Moroni’s epistle “to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war,” every question he asked of these wicked men concerning what they were or were not doing, or the reasons why they were or were not doing something, was prophetic and revelatory. So, for example, when he wrote, “Do ye suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness?” the fact of the matter was that this is exactly what they supposed. In other words, we can remove the question mark and switch the first two words so that it reads as a statement and it would present an accurate picture of what these men were doing and thinking in Zarahemla at that time: “Ye do suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness.” The same can be done with all the other questions he asked them. This is why Mormon included captain Moroni’s epistle in the book, because it was written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

A prophetic and revelatory history

history, n. 1. A narrative of events connected with a real or imaginary object, person, or career, esp. such a narrative devoted to the exposition of the natural unfolding and interdependence of the events treated; a tale; story. 2. Specif., a systematic written account of events, particularly of those affecting a nation, institution, science, or art, and usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes;—distinguished from annals and chronicles, which simply relate facts and events in strict chronological order.

Both of the above definitions apply to the Book of Mormon, which claims to be “an account written” as “an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites” and “an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared” (Book of Mormon Title Page.) Specifically, the Book of Mormon is a systematic written account of events, affecting the spiritual affairs of the Nephite, Lamanite and Jaredite nations and connected with a theological explanation for their causes.

The Book of Mormon is a theological history that is more concerned with prophecy, revelation and other miracles that occurred among these people, than with secular matters, and can be termed a prophecy that also reveals things about the past, meaning that it is a prophetic revelation. Although the source material is a compilation of books written by various prophets over a long period of time, all of whom were operating by commandment and under the power of God, the interpretation of those ancient words into English were given as a single, but very long, prophetic revelation that took many days to dictate and write down. The Book of Mormon, then, must be treated as a single whole, from beginning to end, even as a divine revelation from God.

Just as God gave the Torah to Moses in a miraculous manner, as divine writ from heaven, so God gave the Book of Mormon to Joseph as divine writ from heaven. If you subtract any part of it or alter it in any way so that its message and intended meaning is corrupted or compromised, the purposes of God in regard to the book will be frustrated. This means that all parts of the Book of Mormon are equally important. It was given as a whole and it is designed to be read as a whole. This is why the Lord states:

This work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people…And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. (D&C 10:46,52.)

The Lord did not include superfluous material in the work. It contains everything He wanted it to contain and gives the very teachings He wanted taught.

The Book of Mormon contains many different narratives, taken from diverse sources, but there is no objectivity in any of it. The prophets who wrote the book revealed and judged not only the actions and words, but also the unspoken thoughts and hidden intentions and desires of the hearts of the characters they wrote about. It is entirely subjective material, as if they were God and all people in the account were an open book, so that they could read their minds and hearts and could know what everyone thought and felt. In this sense, it is not a normal history or narrative, for no man can know what is in anyone’s heart. If the word narrative must be used, then it must be called a prophetic and revelatory narrative, not because men with the title “prophet of God” wrote it, but because by using the spirit of prophecy and revelation the men who engraved the record were able to draw out things that cannot be drawn out, except by the power God.

So, for example, when the record states, “And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban,” it reads as a revelatory narrative. An objective history would state that Nephi killed Laban and claimed to have done it under command by the Spirit. This prophetic or revelatory narrative, though, states not only that there was a voice that Nephi heard, but identifies it as the Spirit and goes so far as to reveal what the voice said, Nephi’s feelings about it, and his subsequent spiritual struggle and resolution. Not only that, the whole occurrence of Laban’s death at Nephi’s hands is treated as a miracle, for Laban was apparently impossible to kill:

“How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?…The Lord…is mightier…than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands” (1 Ne. 3:31; 1 Ne. 4:1.)

And then after the act was accomplished, it was used as a sign that God was with Nephi and his group:

Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record? (1 Ne. 7:11.)

So, the Book of Mormon sees all things through a prophetic and revelatory filter and makes no claim to be any kind of secular history. It is a strictly theological history, or a history of God’s dealings with those people, and takes the form of a revelatory prophecy that can see all things as they really are, even if they are inside a person’s head and heart. It can do this because it emphatically declares that it has been written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

From its beginning to its end the Book of Mormon makes outrageous claims of knowing what is in the hearts of men, of what men are thinking, of knowing what is of God and what is not of God, of knowing of secret things that no one in the civilization had any knowledge of (such as what the secret combinations were doing), of knowing the plans of the devil, and a host of other things that are impossible to know except by God’s power. Why does it do this? Because it is not a secular history. It is a prophetic revelation (or a revelatory prophecy), meant to give us a peek into how God sees things, by holding up the Nephite civilization under the light of God. It claims to be God’s word, God’s prophecy, God’s revelation, God’s opinion, God’s facts, God’s thoughts, God’s perspective, etc., because “whatsoever [a man] shall [write] when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4.)

If the Book of Mormon were mere fiction, it would be easier to treat as a strictly literary work, but because it presents itself as real events, yet gives a long list of miracles, it does not fit among other books or literary formulas, instead becoming the perfect tool to generate faith in Christ, for which it was designed. There is nothing rational about faith and there is nothing rational about the Book of Mormon. Yet, it expects the reader to believe its miracles without any doubts, whatsoever, and it presents everything as the absolute truth, regardless of its impossibility. So, when it tells us that Nephi killed Laban under the Spirit’s command or when it says that Zeezrom never intended to give the six onties of silver to Amulek, etc., it always means what it says. It does not matter that no man can know what is in another man’s heart, because the work itself proclaims itself miraculous from the get-go. It does not need to submit to the normal rules that man must operate under, for it is not the work of a man or a group of men, but of God. Since God can see into the hearts of men and can communicate what is there to His prophets, as well as performing all the other miracles in the book, there is no problem. The Book of Mormon, then, can only be said to stay true to one thing: its spirit of prophecy and revelation. It is the only formula it follows precisely.

To deny the Book of Mormon is to deny the revelations of God

And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues; behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them. (Mormon 9:7-8)

I would go further and say that if he denies the revelations but has read the scriptures and does not understand them it is because he does not believe them. There is a wo pronounced upon all those who reject the Book of Mormon, in whole or in part, and assign a man-made source to it. Paraphrasing Moroni, whoever condemns it as man-made, “let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire” and he that judges it rashly, “shall be judged rashly again.”

The Lord is very sensitive about the Book of Mormon and about how we treat it. It pleased Him to see the immense amount of faith that went into its creation. The prophets who engraved the words or were quoted in the work also pleased Him. He loved them, their faith and their works, which were works of faith in Jesus Christ. He loved their prayers and their desires. And it pleases Him when we receive and believe the book and live its teachings. On the other hand, it incites Him to anger when we disbelieve and reject it.

We LDS typically think of the brother of Jared as one of the mighty ones, of unbelievable faith, and all other prophets among the Nephites as on a lower faith level than him. But this is only because we do not understand the scriptures and have no spirit of prophecy ourselves. Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mosiah, Amulek, Mormon, Moroni, etc., even all these men and many others like them had faith like unto the brother of Jared. They all could move mountains with their faith. And this is why the Lord chose them to write the record and speak to us.

Why the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth

It is the most correct in the sense that it was entirely written and interpreted by the spirit of prophecy and revelation (the power of God) and has been the least touched by man-made operations as have other books that have been sent forth by God, such as the Bible. It was written to us, in our day, so its prophecy has direct application to us. The theme of the book has always been the same: if you keep God’s commandments (whatever they happen to be, see Mosiah 12:33) according to the law of expediency, He will prosper you and if you do not keep them, you will be cut off from His presence.

Again, its correctness has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of the history of the Nephite civilization or the accuracy of its narrative, but on the simple fact that the Book of Mormon is a work of prophecy and revelation that has had minimal input from men operating under their own power. It presents to the world a prophecy and revelation-based reality that contradicts the assumptions under which the works of men and the works of the devil operate.

It is impossible to understand the Book of Mormon from the perspective of the works of men, or through a filter of the philosophies of men, because it contradicts in every fashion those works and philosophies. The only way to make it compatible with modern philosophies of men, which are based upon the works of men, is by altering the text itself so that it reads contrary to how it reads now.

The Book of Mormon as a tool of discernment

Because of these facts, one who is guided by the Spirit can use the Book of Mormon to discern another’s spiritual state, simply by finding out the person’s beliefs about it. If they are members of the church and they believe the Book of Mormon to be true, live its teachings and manifest the spirit of prophecy and revelation, then they are part of the stage one church. If they are church members who say they believe the Book of Mormon to be true, but treat it lightly, preferring other scriptures or the philosophies of men to guide them, and do not live its teachings but merely give lip service, then they are part of the stage two church. And if they are church members who say that they don’t believe the Book of Mormon to be true and reject it in its prophetic and revelatory claims, and seek to alter the text or its meaning, they are part of the stage three church.

Thus, we see that the Lord has made the Book of Mormon a litmus test and He will use it to filter the masses and gather out His elect from the four quarters of the earth, for only the elect will gather around it. All others will end up rejecting it.

Now, in closing, I will prophesy again, for there are “other books” that will be coming forth during the third stage of the church, even the rest of the “last records” that Nephi saw in his vision, and many are thinking, or putting their hopes, on those last records. And this is my prophecy, that no one, at that day when those other records appear, will accept those last records as the word of God while rejecting the Book of Mormon as His word. They will either believe the Book of Mormon is true and also that the other records are true, or they will believe that the Book of Mormon is not true and also that the other books are not true.

So, only those who accept the claims of the Book of Mormon will end up accepting the fulness of the gospel which will be in those last records. And this will be true for all church factions and splinter groups that currently exist, or that will exist in that day, for the elect will accept the new volumes because they also accept the Book of Mormon, while the rest will reject them because they will have already rejected or denied the spirit of prophecy and revelation, as well as the Book of Mormon, which is a product of that spirit.

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The Garment, with additions


The following represents a follow-up on my “The Garment” post, which was originally written as essentially an open-ended question on the subject.  In that post, I wrote the kinds of things was I told about priesthood garments prior to attending the temple, things like:

  • Garments should be kept completely white in color.  No stains, etc.
  • Garments should not be left on the floor before or after doing laundry.
  • Garments should be laundered separate from other clothing.
  • Garments should not show under the other clothing you wear.
  • Garments should only be removed for absolutely necessary reasons, e.g. showering and having sexual relations with spouse, and should be put back on as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Garments must be touching your skin, i.e. no panties or bras under the Garments for women [my wife was told by a temple matron that during menstruation, the pad should be applied directly to the Garments instead of using panties].
  • Garments offer physical protection from injuries such as burns.

And then, I wrote out what I was told in the post-2005 ceremony, which was:

  • The officiator was under proper authority
  • The garment was now authorized
  • The garment is to be worn throughout life.
  • The garment represents what was given to Adam/Eve when found naked in the garden.
  • The garment is called the garment of the holy priesthood.
  • Inasmuch as the garment is not defiled — meaning the wearer is true and faithful to the covenants — it will be a shield and a protection against the power of the destroyer until the earthly probation is finished.

I then wrote about some of the things I saw as divergent between what members are told about their priesthood garment and what we are actually instructed as the standard with respect to our priesthood garments — leaving the matter at that.

Well, between the comments I got on that post, as well as the subject of garments coming up at the-exponent and Wheat & Tares blogs and my comments at those sites — I’ve formulated this post [which is currently still included in the Gospel-based, Egalitarian, Multihusband-Multiwife Tribal Anarchy Model book project].

Typical View:  Garments ≠ clothing:

LDS will typically divide their closets and drawers into two categories:  garments and clothing.

A “modest” human being is expected to wear clothing at all conceivable times — whether they have been to the temple or not.  And then, once, as an LDS, you go to the temple, you will then begin wearing garments in addition to your clothing.

Garments are considered [in the typical view] to be nothing but a newer and more sacred form of underwear.  Your outside appearance as an LDS who has just started wearing your garments will not change — unless you were in the habit of wearing non-modest clothing before-hand — then, that would need to change so that the garments you are going to start wearing under your clothing won’t be seen.

Actual View:  Garments = clothing and clothing = garments:

There is a dividing line [of sorts] between clothing in your closet, but it is not a division between clothing and garments.  All garments are in fact clothing and all clothing are in fact nothing but garments.  What there is in actuality is two types of clothing [or two types of garments].  There are:

  • Normal, everyday clothing — as worn by all non-LDS
  • Priesthood clothing — as all temple-attending LDS have been authorized to wear

The words “clothing” and “garment” are synonymous.  They both signify that which is used to cover your nakedness.

clothing |ˈklōði ng |
noun
1. items worn to cover the body

and

garment |ˈgärmənt|
noun
1. an item of clothing.

So, that which are called “garments” [in the typical view] are actually [in the actual view] a special type of garments [or clothing] that endowed LDS have the authorization to wear and that are marked to show that they are in fact priesthood clothing [rather than normal, everyday clothing].  Your outside appearance as an LDS who has just started wearing your priesthood clothing would, of necessity, be different than before-hand — unless you get in the habit of wearing non-priesthood clothing on top of them — so as to appear just like everybody else on the outside.

Covering the coverings:

Insofar as the priesthood garment is given to represent the coats of skins given to Adam and Eve when they were found naked in the garden of Eden — it should be a practical piece of clothing.  However, I’ve found that most find it to be quite the opposite:  an irritation and a generally unpractical thing to have to wear under your everyday clothing.

This is all such a problem because LDS are taught through oral tradition to worry about covering their coverings?  And since the subject of the priesthood garment is linked closely to the subject of body modesty, women are uniquely impacted in this regard.  Among my family members, in my congregation, and online, I have found that most women must fret constantly about whether or not their clothing covers their garments or whether they ought to wear panties/bras under or over the garment, etc.  Shopping is difficult for them.  They experience poor fit, have difficulty finding working sizes, and complain about how garments get in the way of everything — especially when its hot.  If it is the intention of the priesthood garment to be our covering — then why care so much about covering the covering?

The intention of the priesthood garment is to cover the nakedness of men and women while they work out their mortal probation.  Given that purpose, it is obviously the intention that the priesthood garment [being the covering] be seen rather than what is below the covering [the nakedness].

Let all thy garments be plain […] of the work of thine own hands:

And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; And let all things be done in cleanliness before me.

The issue with this verse is that most who read it have been raised according to the typical view of garments vs. clothing [rather than priesthood clothing vs. normal, everyday clothing] — as such, they will come to the text with the assumption that since this usage of “garment” came before the endowment proper was formulated and the garment of the holy priesthood administered to members — that the word obviously just means our normal, everyday clothing [which, funny enough, we don’t comply with anyway.  We all shop at stores don’t we?]

Prior to initiation, our garments [or clothing] are identical to those worn by other non-LDS.  In the temple endowment, LDS are authorized, put under covenant, and instructed in wearing priesthood garments [or clothing].  At the veil, we are taught what converts a normal garment into a priesthood garment — i.e. the marks.

What they misunderstand is that what the Lord is saying here is that any-and-all garments [or clothing] ought to be made by our own hand.  Meaning — the verse applies equally to normal, everyday garments and to priesthood garments.  Whether you wear one or the other — they are to be plain and their work and beauty should be done by your own hand.

Now people will typically comply with the temple’s instruction to wear the priesthood garment both night and day by wearing two sets of clothing — normal, everyday garments on top of priesthood garments.

However, one is equally free to wear only the priesthood garment that is the work of their own hands, in accordance with D&C 42:40-41, by either making clothing from scratch or by converting their normal, everyday clothing into priesthood clothing by cutting and sewing in the marks — as they have been authorized and instructed in doing.

After reading that scripture and doing some more research — I also found that this practice is more in line with what was done by early LDS.  The minutes from an October 1870 meeting in Salt Lake reveal that:

Some enquiry was made as to how many have their shirts marked — A few rose with them marked — President Young said he took scissors & soon made the marks.  Even if the shirt is colored, mark it — If there is flannel or buckskin between the shirt & garment, that also should be marked.  An overshirt worn as a vest should not be marked.

Thus, in accordance with the scriptural instruction and a historical precedent, any normal, everyday clothing that one would typically wear as a single layer may be made into priesthood clothing [garments] by cutting the marks of the holy priesthood into them and then stitching them up so they don’t fray.  Jackets and other second layer-type clothing need not receive any marks.

Keep your covenants:

The 2011 General Church Handbook of Instruction [CHI] states that:

Church members who have been clothed with the garment in a temple have taken upon themselves a covenant obligation to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment.

This point of general instruction is based on the temple recommend interview question, which asks:

Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?

Though ecclesiastical leaders will read extra material to you after the temple recommend interview and though the CHI goes on to expound on a paragraph’s worth of extra instructions — neither of these are contained in the temple endowment  — and therefore can be ignored when any LDS is addressing their personal compliance with temple covenants.

What is important to remember is that an initiated LDS has covenanted to wear priesthood clothing for the remainder of their mortal life.  And, in the gospel, we must honor and keep all agency-based vows we have freely entered.  However, no one has covenanted to wear the priesthood clothing that is sold by Distribution Services — nor has any one covenanted to hide the priesthood garment from the eyes of others by wearing normal, everyday clothing on top of them.

This is not to say that if making two sets of clothing [normal on top of priesthood] works for you and the ones sold by the Distribution Centers fit you comfortably — that you are not free to continue to wear your priesthood garments in that manner or free utilize that resource to buy them because that still technically fulfills the vow to wear priesthood clothing throughout your life [albeit a strange way to do it].

However, for many, the sizes and fabrics do not fit well and do not conform to the local environment or culture.  If the latter is the case, then please do not go on subjecting yourself to poor fitting clothing and the uncomfortableness of trying to wear two sets of clothing at once.  And certainly do not cease from wearing priesthood clothing altogether.

Rather, you should strip away all the cultural conditioning and social pressures away from the covenant you have made with the Lord — and perhaps see if wearing priesthood clothing in accordance with D&C 42:40-41.

Next Article by Justin: It maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no [one]‘s person

Previous Article by Justin: To serve Him is to follow Him; that where He is, the servant may be found

You can check this out too — it’s unrelated but I really enjoy the author’s work [she’s a collaborator on the GEMTAM book as well]:  I Am You