Sustaining Judas


To be frank, I’ve always known that my position with how I exist as a member of the church is idiosyncratic.  My opinion about the present order of things is far too critical for most of the mainstream members I attend church with [e.g., I admit there are problems with how Mormonism is governed by a bunch of old men in Salt Lake and I admit there are alternate ways for people to legitimately be “LDS”] — but I’m far too generous for any among the critical crowd I might talk to [e.g., I believe that the LDS church is still literally the true church of Jesus Christ, and I don’t support an “All is lost, corrupt-apostasy, JUMP ship” view of things].

My mind was recently drawn to an interview with Hugh Nibley about this very topic:

Hugh Nibley was once asked, “Are you concerned with the leadership of the Church?”  His answer:

Nope, not a bit. I certainly am not. The leadership of the church is Jesus Christ, and he knows what he is doing. Don’t worry.

The interviewer pressed-on, “I am tempted to ask you if you would sustain Judas?”

Of course I would sustain Judas. He was on of the apostles.

“But he was a devil,” as any person would have replied.

Remember what the Lord said. “I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil” (John 6:70).

But he chose him.  The Lord has his purposes in these things.  If we sustained only perfect people, we wouldn’t sustain anybody.  The Lord has his purposes in these things.

I’ve worked with church leaders who really believed and taught some silly [at best] crap.  Some of “the brethren” have said some out-right foolish and incorrect things as a part of their callings as prophets, seers, and revelators.  Now, I don’t think we’re at the point where any of them are “Judas” (we are not in the final stage of the church were the leaders are doing the works of Satan), but — let’s say they were — should I sustain them?  Isn’t it the church of Jesus Christ?  Even if Christ calls someone who is out-right wicked, who am I to oppose it?

The prophecies given to Joseph Smith concerning the Lord’s work in the last days cannot be fulfilled unless the church of Jesus Christ gets out of order.  Any people who believe that pointing out problems with church leadership or general practice somehow indicates that it’s worth abandoning are deceived and do not understand the revelations that founded the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ.

It’s simply too hard for either side [mainstream or anti-] to understand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains the church of Jesus Christ, despite being out of order and condemned.  They either reject the claim that it’s out of order [“all is well in Zion”, you see] or they reject it as the true church of Christ altogether.

It may very well be that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the way to playing the role of the Judas in this latter-day restoration of all things — wherein it is the apostle that the Lord has chosen to work His miraculous work before the very eyes of humanity.

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Nothing From Without Can Defile You


there is nothing
from outside of a person
that upon entering into them
could possibly defile them
but
the things which come out of them
those are they that can defile
if any have ears to hear
let them hear

Mark 7:15-16

Well, how does this sway with our understanding that the body is a “temple of God” and that by consuming tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs we’ll “defile” that temple of God [which we are]?  Jesus said:

do you not perceive
that whatsoever thing from the outside
that enters into a person
cannot possibly defile them
because it does not enter into their heart
but enters into their belly
where it goes out into the toilet
making all foods the same

and he said

that which comes out of a person
that will be what defiles them
because from within
coming out of the heart
proceed all of one’s evil thoughts
adulteries and fornications
murders
thefts
covetousness
wickedness
deceit
lasciviousness
an evil eye
evil speaking
pride
foolishness
etc.
all these evil things come out of the body
from within
and these are what defile a person

Mark 7:18-23

What goes into the body goes right back out again.  The more important thing that Jesus was worried about is what comes out of the mouth — because our words betray the condition of our heart, and that’s the thing that makes our “temple of God” clean or unclean [not the food/drinks we consume].

Peter was told in a dream:

that which God has cleansed
thou shalt not call unclean

Acts 11:8-9

And what has God “cleansed”?

and God
having made peace through the blood of his cross
by him
to reconcile all things unto himself
by him
whether they be things in earth
or things in heaven

Colossians 1:20

Worrying about outward observances, such as “appropriate” foods and drinks, is worrying about making clean the outside of the cup and the plate — when what we’ve been called to do with the liberty given to us by Christ is to invest our efforts in making sure the inward part isn’t full of ravening and wickedness [Luke 11:37-40].

The liberty we have in Christ is the confidence that “all things are clean unto you” [Luke 11:41].  No food or drink that enters into your “temple of God” [meaning your body] can defile it.  What “defiles” that place is what occupies the attention of your heart:  the thoughts you entertain, the fantasies you imagine, the motivations/drives you act from, etc.  And that is shown by what comes out of your mouth:

a good person
out of the good treasure of their heart
brings forth that which is good
and an evil person
out of the evil treasure of their heart
brings forth that which is evil
for the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart

Luke 6:45

So we must beware of any “false brethren” who’ve gotten into the midst of the church of Christ unawares, who detest this liberty which we have in Christ Jesus — seeking instead to “bring us into bondage” with doctrines and commandments that aren’t from our Lord [Galatians 2:4].  We must be free to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” [Galatians 5:1].

I know
and am persuaded by the lord Jesus
that there is nothing unclean of itself
but to one that believes a thing to be unclean
to them alone is it unclean

for the kingdom of God is not about food and drink
but righteousness and peace
and joy in the Holy Ghost
for he that
with these things
serves Christ
is acceptable to God
and approved by others
let us
therefore
follow after the things which make peace
and things wherewith we can edify each other
instead of worrying about food
which does not affect the work of God
all things indeed are pure
it is only evil for one who eats with offense

Romans 14:14-20

And what is this liberty for?  To consume all the booze we want simply because “it’s okay to drink wine“?

brothers and sisters
we have been called unto liberty
only do not use this liberty to serve your fleshly desires
but rather
by love
use it to serve one another
for all of the law is fulfilled in one word
even this
LOVE

Galatians 5:13-14

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We are all the Rich Young Ruler


I wanted to express my heart as it pertains to something I’ve heard from LDS leaders previously — specifically because I heard it just heard it again from a member of the quorum of the 70 during this most recent General Conference.

It concerns a false interpretation of the story given in Matthew 19:

and behold
one came and said unto Jesus

good master
what good thing shall I do
that I may have eternal life?

and Jesus said unto him

why do you call me “good“?
there is none good
but one
and that is god
but
if you want to experience eternal life
then you must keep the commandments

he said unto him

which ones?

Jesus said

do not take life
do not cheat on your spouse
do not steal
do not speak falsely
honor your parents
love your neighbor as though they were yourself

the young man said

all these things have I done since my youth
what else am I lacking?

Jesus said

if you want to be perfect
go and sell all that you have
and give to the poor
then you will have treasure in heaven instead
and then come and follow me

but he went away sorrowful after hearing that
because he had amassed great wealth

This is a scripture with an obvious interpretation:  namely that if we want to follow Christ, we must first sell all of our material possessions and follow after Jesus.  And because of that, it’s something that has always been interpreted by modern men to have “some other” application that “doesn’t apply” to us today [just so we can get away from addressing what it really means for us as a society today].

Most recently, I heard Larry Lawrence [of the Quorum of the Seventy] teach false doctrine to the saints of Christ as it relates to this topic.  He said:

Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?

Jesus answered immediately, giving counsel that was intended specifically for the rich young man.  Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”

What Lack I Yet?

Note the part I bolded from Elder Lawrence’s talk he gave to latter-day saints.  The human inclination is to read this story and ass-u-me that the counsel that Jesus gave applies only to that man in question.  The proper position that a man of God would take is to let that scripture prick conscience of the people and convict us of sin, insofar as we withhold our surplus from the needy, impoverished, and destitute.

I want to state, unequivocally, by the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me — that the counsel of Jesus given to the rich, young man in Matthew 19 was not “intended specifically for the rich young man” — this is false doctrine, and what Jesus said is true for all people who want to truly follow Him.

It is true for each-and-every one of us — that if we want to experience eternal life, then we must cease to covet the abundance we have and be free-and-willing to share all that we have with the needy, impoverished, and destitute.  And, if we are not willing, then we will find ourselves with the rest of the “rich men” — in hell lifting up our eyes, being in torment.

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New Thoughts on Faith


“Take no thought”:

In the New Testament, Jesus uses the phrase “take no thought” to describe a condition of faith.

no person can serve two masters
for either they will hate the one
and love the other
or else they will hold to the one
and despise the other
you cannot serve god and money
therefore
I say unto you
take no thought for your life
what you shall eat
what you shall drink
nor thought for your body
what you shall wear
is not your life more than food
and your body more than clothing?

o ye of little faith
therefore
take no thought
saying

what shall we eat?

or

what shall we drink?

or

what shall we wear?

for the gentiles seek after all these things
but your heavenly father knows that you have need of all these things
so seek ye first the kingdom of god
and his justice
and all these things shall be given to you
therefore
take no thought for your next day
for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself
the business of today is sufficient

and

take heed and be on guard
for they shall deliver you up to councils
and you shall be beaten in the places of worship
and you shall be brought before political rulers because of me
as a testimony against them in the day of judgement
at the time when the gospel has been made known among all the nations
but
when they shall lead you
and deliver you up
take no thought beforehand
about what you will say
neither premeditate
but whatsoever she gives you in that moment
that shall you speak
for it is not you that will speak
but the holy spirit who is with you

In this view, we are to mimic nature — where the sparrows and the lilies go about their activities without spending effort worrying about obtaining what is needed.  It is an act of faith, in Jesus’ sermons, for a disciple to make no prior arrangements for something, but to trust wholly in God to meet the need when it arises.  In fact, taking thought would show that the person must not have trusted God to provide.

In contrast, Alma uses the phrase “take no thought” to describe a condition of NO-faith.

behold
as the tree begins to grow
you will say

let us nourish it with great care
that it may get root
that it may grow up
and bring forth fruit unto us

and now
behold
if you nourish it with great care
it will get root
and grow up
and bring forth fruit
but if ye neglect the tree
and take no thought for its nourishment
behold
it will not get any root
and when the heat of the sun comes and scorches it
because it has no root
it withers away
and you pluck it up
and cast it out
now
this is not because the seed was not good
neither is it because the fruit thereof would not have been desirable
but it is because your ground is barren
and refuse to nourish the tree
therefore
you cannot have the fruit thereof
and thus
if you will not nourish the word
looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof
you can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life

In this view, we are to mimic agriculture — where the farmers who cultivate nature expend their effort in the hope that they will be rewarded with an abundant harvest.  It is an act of faith for a disciple to make the effort towards something even when its results are not immediately evident, and not to passively wait for someone to just drop what you need in your lap.  In fact, in Alma’s sermon, taking no thought would show that the person must not have trusted very much in the thing they were hoping to attain.

This is the same view on “taking thought” and its relationship with faith that God communicated to Joseph Smith.

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

God then gives him a description of the kind of premeditated effort that a disciple should invest in the matter, as an act of faith, before a revelation as to the truth of something can be obtained.

 The Language of a Science:

I have long thought of “faith” as a state of mental acceptance of a claim for which the physical evidence is either not there or is forthcoming.  As in,

now
faith is the substance of things hoped for
the evidence of things not seen

It’s been, to me, a possession that one can either have or not have.  I’ve since changed the way I view faith — to more of a description of an active process of discovery and progression.  Akin to the scientific method, which uncovers truth and is always conditional, faith is the activity of:

  • taking a proposition
  • holding it to be true in your mind
  • experimenting in your life as if that were true
  • making conclusions about its truth based on the results

Alma’s sermon differs from Jesus’ sermons because he is using the language of the sciences, rather than the language of a theology.

  • awake and arouse your faculties
  • experiment upon my words
  • try the experiment
  • your faith is dormant
  • a particle of faith
  • because it is discernible
  • your mind doth begin to expand
  • O then, is not this real?

Alma is talking about a physical process by which a particle is implanted into your mind and produces the observable effect of enlarging it.  He goes so far as to call it an experiment — one in which you have to arouse your physical senses to make real conclusions about things that are observable.  Furthermore, this process is, in principle, never-ending — subject to continual expansion at each new horizon.  Once you have achieved results in one thing, you’ve got to reapply your faith to a new thing — or else it all falls dormant (or becomes at rest).

So,

yea
a person may say

you have faith
but I have thought

then show me your faith without taking thought
and I will show you my faith by taking thought

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Master, Master, We Perish


I will go down with this ship:

now it came to pass
on a certain day
that he went into a ship with his disciples
and he said unto them

let us go over
unto the other side of the lake

and they launched forth
but
as they sailed
he fell asleep
and there came down a storm of wind on the lake
and they were filled with water
and were in jeopardy
and they came to him
and awoke him
saying

master
master
we perish

then he arose
and rebuked the wind
and the raging of the water
and they ceased
and there was a calm
and he said unto them

where is your faith?

and they
being afraid
wondered
saying one to another

what manner of man is this!
for he commands even the winds and water
and they obey him

Taking this story as a metaphor for one’s life, it goes like this:

  • Jesus has a mission for you
    [let us go over unto the other side of the lake].
  • You are obedient to him
    [and they launched forth].
  • His mission leads you into harm and peril
    [but as they sailed … there came down a storm of wind on the lake and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy].
  • He is not all that concerned about that
    [but as they sailed he fell asleep].
  • You will have to either rouse him — or fix it yourself
    [and they came to him and awoke him — where is your faith?].

Wait, what?  God will lead you into peril and jeopardy and then leave you there so He can take a nap?  Yes.  And if you don’t have the faith to either fix it yourself or to cry out to Him, then He will keep on napping — while the situation drowns you.  Having let the Lord of the Universe into the “ship” of your life and being obedient to His directions will grant you zero security that your travels will be safe.

And it wasn’t just the 12 disciples:

Lehi’s vision of the tree of life did not begin with “a large and spacious field” in which he “beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”  No, it starts ominously with:  a dark and dreary wilderness,

and it came to pass
that I saw a man
and he was dressed in a white robe
and he came and stood before me
and it came to pass
that he spake unto me
and commanded me to follow him
and it came to pass
that as I followed him
I beheld myself
that I was in a dark and dreary waste
a
nd after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness
I began to pray unto the lord
that he would have mercy on me
according to the multitude of his tender mercies
and it came to pass
after I had prayed unto the lord
I beheld a large and spacious field
and it came to pass
that I beheld a tree
whose fruit was desirable
to make one happy

You see, we begin our story in a miserable place, a dark and dreary wilderness.  Then, all is well, a man in white appears and commands us to follow him, presumably to deliver out of this situation.  And instead, we are led into an even worse situation, a dark and dreary waste.  Thanks a lot Man-in-White.  Then he just leaves us there — to wander in the depths of despair and depression.

And there’s where the story would’ve ended had it not been for Lehi’s impulse to begin to pray unto God for mercy and deliverance from the darkness.  It’s only then that we can find ourselves in the large and spacious field with the fruit of happiness and family togetherness.

God isn’t troubled by your bothers, unless you can be bothered enough to trouble Him:

and he spake a parable unto them
to this end
that people ought always to pray
and not faint
saying

there was in a city
a ruler
who didn’t fear god
nor care about people
and there was in that city
a widow
who came unto him
saying

give me justice
and stop my oppressor

and he would not
for a while
but afterwards
he said within himself

though I do not care about god
nor respect any person
because this widow troubles me
I will exact justice for her
lest by her continual coming
she tire me out

and the lord said

ponder what the unjust ruler said
and shall not god avenge his own elect
who cry day and night unto him
when he has patience with them?
I tell you that he will grant justice for them speedily

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Tithing the Widow’s Mites


It may be because tithing settlement is upcoming in my local ward, but I recently had my attention drawn to a particular story in the scriptures.  To be frank, I know that my position with how I relate to the church is idiosyncratic.  My opinion about the present order of things is far too critical for most of my mainstream peers [I admit they’re problems with how Mormonism is governed by the men in Salt Lake and I admit there are alternate ways for people to legitimately be “LDS”] — but I’m far too generous for any among the critical crowd [I believe that the LDS church is literally the true church of Jesus Christ and don’t support an “All is lost, corrupt-apostasy, JUMP ship” view of things].

In any event, this last week I was reminded of the story of the widow and her two pennies.  At a point when Jesus had already condemned the religious establishment of his day as corrupt,

woe unto you
scribes and
pharisees
hypocrites!

and when he had already tossed his hands up in derision at the apostasy he saw present in the management of God’s temple,

behold
your house is left unto you desolate
and truly I say unto you
you shall not see me
until the time come when you shall say

blessed is he
that comes in the name of YHVH

the scriptures say that:

he looked up
and saw rich men casting their gifts into the treasury
and he saw also a certain poor widow
casting in two pennies
and he said

truly I say unto you
that this poor widow has cast in more than they all
for all these have given
of their abundance unto the offerings of God
but she
out of her poverty
has cast in all of the living that she had

Here we see Jesus referring to what was obviously an abused receptacle of money as “the offerings of God”.  Here we see Jesus approving of an impoverished widow submitting what little money she had into the coffers of a corrupt and wealthy religious establishment.

To me, the same applies to the criticisms that people make about things like the encouraging of leader-worship, relying on the corrupt works of our own efforts, the lack prophecy and revelation coming from the men sustained as prophets and revelators, using the tithing funds to have sufficient for our needs and then investing the difference for usury, etc., etc.

Do I think such concerns are valid?  Absolutely.  But it is my belief that it is still the church of God that is doing those things.  We have not ceased to be the Lord’s people because of these condemnable works.  The church of Christ can remain “true” while being “dead” and “damned” [see D&C 84:54-57].

For the last couple years, there’s been a lot of attention on blogs about the “corporate Church”, [the “Church™” as opposed to “the church”, etc.] — and more especially since the whole City Creek Center things was announced, built, and opened.  Although it is true that none of us [except Thomas Monson] is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ corporation — it is my understanding that every latter-day saint was confirmed a member of “the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints.”

While we know how to spell the name of the corporate Church, including where the capitalization and the dash goes [it’s a trademarked letterhead and defined in the corporate charter] — on the other, the name of the Lord’s true church is never spelled, it is only spoken as hands are laid on a person’s head and they are confirmed a member of it and commanded to receive the Holy Ghost.  This latter church may, or may not, contain a dash and capitalization — we don’t know.

When the Lord refers to his “church”, it is always in reference to a living body of people — not to some non-existent, non-living, non-corporeal, legal corporate entity.  That’s why you see Jesus not giving a hoot whether the temple treasury where the widow was submitting her pennies was “corrupt” or not.

Of real concern to me, is not the corruption and break-up of the corporate LDS Church — but the corruption and break-up of the latter day church [meaning seeing the members dividing into a plurality of separate, wicked churches].  That is where my focus is, on the LDS church — on the people.  We cannot call the LDS church [people] out of the LDS Church [the corporation], because they were never a part of it to begin with [the Church President is always ever the only member].

We, like the widow that Jesus observed, must assert our rights as confirmed members of “the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints” and turn the tide in the Lord’s favor — allowing for the wicked and corrupt influences to be exposed in the open light, right smack in the middle of the church, where observant people can be influenced, so that they can make an informed decision as to who they will follow [whether that be Jesus Christ or other men].

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Previous Article by Justin:  Judging

Judging


“Judge not…” ≠ Make no judgements:

By far, the most quoted scripture among those who don’t believe the scriptures to be the word of God is:

judge not
that you not be judged

That is because they assume that it means something along the lines of “just live and let live” — or that it means God doesn’t want anybody making any judgements about anything … ever.

Then shalt thou see clearly:

This interpretation ignores the fact that many times in the scriptures, the saints are admonished to make lots of judgements:

wherefore
by their fruits will you know [“judge” or “discern”] them
not every one that says to me

Lord
Lord

shall enter into the kingdom of heaven
but only the one that does the will of my father
which is in heaven

or

do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?

It takes a sense of discernment and judgement to tell whether the fruits of a plant are grapes/figs or are thorns/thistles.  If we were not the judge at all, then how could we know the “tree” by its “fruits”?

Judge not that you not be judged” means — “Do not judge others by a measure you are not willing to be judged by yourself,” and this is because:

for with what judgment you judge
you shall be judged
and with what measure you mete
it shall be measured to you again

We should not give into the natural inclination to be harsher towards the motives of others than we are to our own motives.  We should be just a willing to think of the best of another as we are likely to think the best of ourselves.

The imagery in the above scriptures suggests that we should not be stingy with our weights-and-measures at the marketplace.  As Luke renders the same quote:

give
and it shall be given to you
good measure
pressed down
and shaken together
and running over
this is what others will give into your bosom
for with the same measure that you mete
with it shall it be that which is measured to you again

The marketplace is the metaphor used to describe how we should approach our dealings with others (in terms of judging them).  If you are critical or stingy, then God will be equally harsh against you and your conscience.  If you are liberal, are willing to give a generous “measure”, pressed-down in the measuring cup and flowing over — then God will be equally likely to assume the best intentions in you.

The saints are, in fact, taught exactly how to make sure they are fit to judge in the mote/beam parable.  It says:

why do you behold the mote in another’s eye
but fail to discern the beam in your own eye?
how can you say to another

let me pull out the mote that is in your eye

when you have failed to discern the beam that is in your own eye?
you hypocrite
first cast out the beam from your own eye
and then you will see clearly enough to pull out the mote in the other’s eye.

The saints are supposed to judge the “mote”, if it is truly there.  The only point that Jesus was making was that we should take care of our own “beams” first — before we attempt the removal of another’s “motes”.

Hell is filled with judgers/condemners and Heaven with those willing to let it go:

Luke renders the teaching of Matthew 5:48 as:

be ye therefore merciful
as your father also is merciful

… exchanging the word “perfect” for the word “merciful”.

The idea of our Father in heaven being “merciful” or “liberal” or “quick to forgive” fits in with the teaching that saints are to:

judge not
and you shall not be judged
condemn not
and you shall not be condemned
forgive
and you shall be forgiven

We are to be quick to think the best in others [rather than the worst] and quick to forgive others when they offend against us.  Hell will be filled with those who refused to “let it go” whenever they felt wronged — who got swept away in their feelings for justice.  We all have moments where we hope others will “let us slide” and assume the best intentions in us — and the only way to ensure God will be that merciful with us is to be just as liberal in our judgements of others.

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