Re-assignment of Parentage


In 2009 I received a revelation which dealt with the doctrine of re-assignment of parentage.  I told a few people privately and, as expected, no one believed it.  Unfortunately, I also got kind of a backlash from its private release, in which some denounced it as “of the devil,” while others said I was just a lunatic.

After I received the revelation, I believed it at once—(for all my revelations are true)—but then, upon pondering it afterward, I decided to see if there was scriptural precedence for it.  So I pulled out the scriptures and started searching.  Sure enough, this doctrine was written all over the freaking place.  In particular, this scripture stood out:

¶Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother,

Woman, behold thy son!

Then saith he to the disciple,

Behold thy mother!

And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.  (John 19:25-27)

In this case, the disciple received a new mother, and the woman received a new son.  Neither was biologically related, yet there occurred a re-assignment of parentage. I thought, “Okay, good.  When I tell people this revelation, and when they inevitably refuse to believe it, surely they will ask me for scriptural ‘proof’ that the doctrine is sound, so I’ll just turn to this passage and expound the doctrine to them.”

Unfortunately, instead of hearing the revelation and then asking questions concerning it, about its doctrinal basis and so forth, people just got offended by it, passed judgment upon me, and not a single one of them ever asked me to expound it.  Instead, they merely pondered it and then came to their own (unscriptural) conclusions based on their own false assumptions, without consulting with either the scriptures or myself.  I suppose this was to be expected, as I have a tendency of convincing people of my way of viewing things if they reach for the scriptures to try to prove me wrong, so the unspoken rule is that the scriptures are never to be consulted whenever I’m involved in any controversy.

Anyway, so 6 years have gone by and I’ve never explained the doctrine to anyone.  However, earlier this year I was contacted by email by one of the readers of this blog, who, after reading some of my writings about the Josephite restorer, was beginning to wonder whether this man might be himself.  He detailed many interesting facts about his life in his emails to me, one of which in particular caught my attention.  Now, I received his emails through my cupholder account, which I no longer have access to, so I’m just going on memory here, which might be off.  If he still visits this blog and reads what I write, according to my memory, and if it turns out my memory is wrong, he can correct me.  But, if my memory serves me right, I recall that he wrote in his emails that he was given a patriarchal blessing in which he was told he was of the tribe of Ephraim, but then he got an emendation of the blessing, and his tribe was switched from Ephraim to Manasseh.

I did not tell him of this revelation I received in 2009; but, as I have “two sets” of scriptures—the canon the standard LDS uses and my own personal “canon” of revelations—I could not help but compare what he told me to what the Holy Ghost told me in 2009.  The switch from Ephraim to Manasseh is the re-assignment of parentage, from one father (Ephraim) to a different father (Manasseh).

Now, re-assignment of parentage is what the gospel is all about.  Sin and death cuts us off (disinherits us) from God the Father, but, through the atonement and resurrection of Christ, and on condition of faith and repentance, we are allowed to become restored to the Father, through the re-assignment of parentage, Jesus Christ becoming our new Father.  In this way, we still inherit the blessings we lost through death and disobedience.

If we continue to rebel against God, again we get re-assigned parentage, the devil becoming our new father.  If we repent and exercise faith, we Gentiles get re-assigned parentage, Abraham becoming our mortal father, through whom we inherit the promises.  And so on, with each of the 12 tribes of Israel.  All of this is the doctrine of re-assignment of parentage.

Even in a contemporary setting, this doctrine plays out.  For example, if we adopt children, who are not literally our seed, they may be sealed to us for time and all eternity, as if they were our literal seed.  Thus they get re-assigned new parents, for this life and the next.

Okay, so recently I was thinking about what this man wrote to me about his switch from Ephraim to Manasseh, and I wondered about the Josephite, whether some kind of re-assignment of parentage would indeed take place for him, like what happened to this man.  The lineage of the Josephite is of three kinds: Gentile, Lamanitish and Josephite.  (My understanding is that he was raised as a Gentile, so I will count that as a “lineage.”)  Then, I suppose, when he gets into the church of God (the Mormon church), the Lamanitish lineage would manifest.  After all, the Nephites, when they self-destructed, were assimilated into the Lamanites (those Nephites who remained alive, that is), so they became Lamanites, and this Lamanitish lineage has stayed strong for more than a thousand years.

But then at some point this guy is going to have the Nephite part of him manifest, right?  And when that part of him starts to manifest, might there not be a corresponding lineage switch?  In other words, while he is still in “Lamanite-mode,” his parentage consists of these parents, but when he goes into “Nephite-mode,” his parentage changes to those parents.  It all corresponds to the level of faith exercised.  It takes a certain level of faith to go from unbelieving Gentile to believing LDS (re-assigned into the house of Israel as a “Lamanite.”)  And it takes an even greater level of faith to go from a believing LDS “Lamanite” to a bona fide Nephite.  When any of these levels of faith are manifested or exercised, God changes the lineage accordingly, to match that faith.  Thus, the Josephite will journey from Gentile, to Abrahamic covenant (through baptism into the church of God), to Lamanite (starting to suspect his lineage), to Nephite covenant, as a full blown Josephite.

Thus, it seems to me entirely possible that we are going to hear of some kind of re-assignment of parentage from this guy, such as what this blog visitor wrote to me about, or perhaps like what happened to that disciple of Jesus.

P.S.

Do not ask me about the revelation.  I am not going to release it in any form publicly.

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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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A curious reading of Alma 12:8-18


Note: This post is based on some emails I wrote to a few people last year and contains a fuller expression of ideas that have already been expounded upon and published on this blog in the past.  In other words, you will need to have read some of my earlier writings to understand some of the concepts I talk about here.  I apologize to all the new readers who may be confused by it.

Here is how I read and interpreted the text of Alma 12:8-18 back in March of 2013:

The reading

and zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently

that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God

and he said unto alma (Alma 12:8)

[Zeezrom’s question]

what does this mean

which amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead

that all shall rise from the dead

both the just and the unjust

and are brought to stand before god

to be judged according to their works (Alma 12:8)

[Alma answers in terms of knowledge of God’s mysteries or portions of God’s word given, according to heed and diligence we give to God]

and now alma began to expound these things unto him

saying

it is given unto many to know the mysteries of god

nevertheless

they are laid under a strict command

that they shall not impart

only according to the portion of his word

which he doth grant unto the children of men

according to the heed and diligence

which they give unto him (Alma 12:9)

[Lesser portion of God’s word given to those who give less heed and diligence to God]

and therefore

he that will harden his heart

the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word (Alma 12:10)

[Greater portion of God’s word given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

and he that will not harden his heart

to him is given the greater portion of the word (Alma 12:10)

[Later, knowledge of God’s mysteries is eventually given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of god (Alma 12:10)

[Later, full knowledge of God’s mysteries is eventually given to those who give greater heed and diligence to God]

until he know them in full (Alma 12:10)

[Lesser portion of God’s word given to those who give less heed and diligence to God]

and they that will harden their hearts

to them is given the lesser portion of the word (Alma 12:11)

[Later, those who give lesser heed and diligence to God eventually know nothing concerning God’s mysteries]

until they know nothing concerning his mysteries (Alma 12:11)

[Later, those who know nothing concerning God’s mysteries are captivated, led and destroyed by the devil through the chains of hell]

and then they are taken captive by the devil

and led by his will down to destruction

now this is what is meant by the chains of hell (Alma 12:11)

[Amulek’s temporal death doctrine]

and amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death (Alma 12:12)

[Amulek’s resurrection doctrine]

and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality (Alma 12:12)

[Amulek’s judgment doctrine]

and being brought before the bar of God

to be judged according to our works (Alma 12:12)

[Those who have no portion of God’s word in them (who are the sons of perdition)…]

then if our hearts have been hardened

yea

if we have hardened our hearts against the word

insomuch that it has not been found in us (Alma 12:13)

[…(sons of perdition) will be in an awful state…]

then will our state be awful (Alma 12:13)

[…(sons of perdition) will be condemned by words, works…]

for then we shall be condemned

for our words will condemn us

yea

all our works will condemn us (Alma 12:13-14)

[…(sons of perdition) will be found filthy still…]

we shall not be found spotless (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will be condemned by thoughts…]

and our thoughts will also condemn us (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will not dare to look up to God…]

and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our god (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) will desire to be hidden from God’s presence…]

and we would fain be glad

if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us

to hide us from his presence (Alma 12:14)

[…(sons of perdition) must stand before God and his power, might, majesty and dominion…]

but this cannot be

we must come forth

and stand before him in his glory

and in his power

and in his might

majesty

and dominion (Alma 12:15)

[…(sons of perdition) must acknowledge His just judgments and works and His mercy and His omnipotent power to save all believers that bring forth fruit…]

and acknowledge to our everlasting shame

that all his judgments are just

that he is just in all his works

and that he is merciful unto the children of men

and that he has all power to save every man

that believeth on his name

and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance (Alma 12:15)

[After all that happens then there will be a second death (a spiritual death)]

and now behold

i say unto you

then cometh a death

even a second death

which is a spiritual death (Alma 12:16)

[At that time, all those (sons of perdition) who die (present tense—dieth, not past tense) in their sins; in other words, all those (sons of perdition) who experience a temporal death after the resurrection of the dead, meaning a second temporal death…]

then is a time

that whosoever dieth in his sins

as to a temporal death (Alma 12:16)

[…(sons of perdition) will also die a spiritual death…]

 shall also die a spiritual death (Alma 12:16)

[…(sons of perdition) will die as to things pertaining to righteousness…]

yea

he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness (Alma 12:16)

[…(sons of perdition) will have fire and brimstone torments…]

then is the time

when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone

whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever (Alma 12:17)

[…(sons of perdition) will then be chained down by the devil to everlasting destruction…]

and then is the time

that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction

according to the power and captivity of satan

he having subjected them according to his will (Alma 12:17)

[…(sons of perdition) will then be as if there were no redemption made, (in other words, as if the atonement and resurrection of Christ never occurred, they being dead temporally and also spiritually)…]

then

i say unto you

they shall be as though there had been no redemption made (Alma 12:18)

[…(sons of perdition) will not be able to be redeemed, (in other words, the atonement and resurrection of Christ has no claim on them and thus cannot reclaim them a second time…]

for they cannot be redeemed

according to god’s justice (Alma 12:18)

[…and (the sons of perdition) will not be able to die.]

and they cannot die

seeing there is no more corruption  (Alma 12:18)

My interpretation and some exposition

The sons of perdition commit spiritual suicide while still in mortality,  suffering a spiritual death.  They then die a physical death (mortal or  temporal death).  They are then “unclean spirits” under Satan’s total  control.  At their resurrection, their spirits and physical bodies are  reunited, becoming alive again (a physical or temporal resurrection).   Coming into the glorious presence of the Lord, although still attached to the chains of hell and the veil of unbelief, Satan (temporarily) loses his “mind control” over them and they “wake up” from their sleep of hell, coming back into existence, meaning that they are spiritually resurrected.  However,  they find themselves in quite the predicament, for all spirits and bodies are organized by covenantal relationships.  This spiritual and temporal resurrection, brought about by the resurrection and judgment of Christ, causes all the elements of their physical bodies to be “inseparably connected” to the corresponding spirits that make up their spirit bodies, according to the scripture which says:

For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.  (D&C 93:33-34)

Nevertheless, the inseparable connection that the resurrection of Christ brings to pass only refers to the bonding of the spirit to the element.  It does not refer to the everlasting covenant that exists between the Steward spirit and the other (Concern) spirits that make up the rest of the spirit body.

Now I suppose that at the beginning, we, as the Nothing, were spirit inside element, spirit being a balloon-like, highly deformable substance and element being an incredibly dense, non-deformable, hard ball of stuff. The element is dark, whereas the spirit has potential to glow bright, but as the spirit was at first on the inside, it could not shine, thus everything that is in outer darkness, from whence we came, is continually dark. So, at the creation, God split our beings by extracting the spirit part of us from the physical part of us. This is the “opposition in all things” that God does at the beginning.

Now our spirit was organized with other spirits, through everlasting covenantal relationships, forming spirit bodies.   (“I, Abraham, saw the intelligences which were organized…” etc.)  Spirit bodies are organized with a Steward spirit (the “rulers” that were great and good which Abraham saw) and with Concern spirits.  Thus everyone on earth is a Steward spirit in charge of the entire spiritual organization. These spirits “push around” the elements, can be enlarged, etc.

Mortality is when a spirit body—composed of a Steward spirit and a
bunch of Concern spirits, organized by an everlasting covenant, all Concern spirits taking orders from the Steward spirit—has a corresponding organization of element (the physical body) to push around.  Upon death, the element returns to the earth but the organized spirit body retains its everlasting covenantal bonds.

During the resurrection of the dead, spirit and element are “inseparably connected,” which, as I understand it, means that God puts the element INSIDE the spirit (the exact opposite as how it was in outer darkness). The spirit can still move and shine and now feels satisfied “or full.”  Each bit of spirit now has a corresponding bit of element inside of it and there still exists the everlasting covenantal relationship between all the Concern spirits and the Steward spirit.

Unfortunately, the sons of perdition—when brought before the Lord in resurrected bodies, even though they, as Steward spirits, are now inseparably connected to a bit of dark element, the element being inside their spirit bit—have broken the “everlasting covenant” which allows them to stay connected to the Concern spirits.  The sons of perdition Steward spirits are also “filthy still” or dark.  In other words, they don’t shine, therefore, although their spirits encase their elements, they still appear as dark as the Nothing.

Therefore, they die a second death, not in the sense that their spirit and element becomes separated again—for it cannot be separated again, for it is “inseparably connected” and thus, it cannot die, there being “no more corruption”—but in the sense that all these “unwise Steward” spirits lose their everlasting covenantal power to remain with the organized, resurrected body of Concern spirits and elements. In other words, they become separated from the rest of their body and from the Lord and from all of creation, having no everlasting coventantal power to remain (for they broke the everlasting covenant).  Thus, they become separated from the rest of the resurrected elemental body (contained within the Concern spirits), suffering a temporal death, and from the Concern spirits, suffering a spiritual death, yet they, the unjust Steward spirits, cannot die in the sense that their spirits cannot be separated from their element again. They lose all power because, having chosen not to be enlarged, the element completely fills them up so that they become a rigid, solid-like substance, even an ever “hard heart.”  Instead of obtaining a fulness of joy, they obtain a fulness of misery.  All others who are resurrected have been enlarged to some degree, allowing their spirits to be able to be deformed and move about, giving them agency according to how much enlargement they chose.

So all those (Steward spirits) who die a temporal death after the resurrection, being cut off from the rest of their body, because of their breaking the everlasting covenant, will also die a spiritual death, yet they “cannot die” because their element is on the inside.

Once cut off from (the rest of) their body and from the presence of the Lord, they are “re-chained” by the chains of hell and are dragged down by the devil, and are cast out with Satan and his angels, into the lake of fire and brimstone, entering outer darkness, where they have no agency, yet experience indescribable suffering. They are different from the Nothing around them (which has the spirit on the inside, not the element on the inside like they do) but are just as powerless, for they have no light to shine forth in the darkness.

Using Samuel the Lamanite’s language to describe the same thing

Samuel the Lamanite prophet taught:

Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.  (Hel. 14:16)

So, according to Samuel, spiritual deaths encompass both things temporal and things spiritual.

Therefore, there’s a “first death,” which is both a spiritual and a temporal death (which Samuel terms as a first spiritual death), then there’s a spiritual and a temporal resurrection (which might be lumped together as a spiritual resurrection, using Samuel’s pattern) and then the sons of perdition receive another temporal and spiritual death (which would be a second spiritual death, in both Samuel’s view and also the view of the Lord),

…wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual…  (D&C 29:34)

yet after all this, the sons of perdition can’t die:

[…and (the sons of perdition) will not be able to die.]

and they cannot die

seeing there is no more corruption  (Alma 12:18)

Recap and further exposition

This reading gives two possible temporal deaths and two possible spiritual deaths, but does not allow a third death because of the fixed state of the souls after the resurrection, there being no more corruption.

The first temporal death is the mortal death, mentioned by Amulek.

The first spiritual death are the chains of hell.

Then there is the resurrection of the dead which causes the spirit intelligences that make up the spirit body to become inseparably connected to the element intelligences that make up the physical body, so that they can no longer be separated from each other again.  The resurrected soul, then, is a conglomerate or confederation of individual, resurrected souls (resurrected intelligences), which are held together in the form or shape of man by an everlasting covenant, all of which follow the lead of a Steward intelligence.  Because of the oneness of all the intelligences involved in the makeup of the resurrected soul, all acting under the leadership of the Steward, the Steward intelligence is spoken of as the owner of the rest.

The second temporal death is the death that comes after the resurrection, which is a breaking of the everlasting covenant, which covenant holds all the intelligences that make up the soul together as an organized spirit and body, so that the Steward intelligence is decoupled from the other intelligences, resulting in a separation of the resurrected Steward intelligence from the rest of the resurrected souls that make up the whole soul.  This happens because of a loss of faith, both on the part of the Steward and on that of the Concern intelligences.  Thus, in this death we see a literal fulfillment of these scriptures:

(JST Mark 9:40-48)

Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.

For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off.

It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched.

Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.

Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive.

And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.

It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.

(Matthew 18:8-9)

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

(Matthew 5:29-30)

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

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Thus, every Steward intelligence that becomes an unwise, unjust steward, shall, at the last day, be cut off from its own body and spirit, suffering a second temporal death, because the Concern spirits and elements, that make up the resurrected body, will not desire to go into the lake of fire and brimstone with the steward intelligence, and so the everlasting covenant will be broken, so that only the resurrected Steward goes in, and not the rest of his body.  Thus, the resurrected body of these wicked Stewards will enter the kingdom of God “maimed,” with one eye or with one hand or with one foot, meaning that they no longer have a Steward intelligence attached to them by covenant, but the Lord will then “heal” these Stewardless, resurrected souls, giving them a fulness of joy, for they have been ever obedient to the Lord in obeying the Steward, and will not inherit the damnation that the Steward will receive.

The second spiritual death is the death that comes after the resurrection, in which the resurrected Steward intelligence has no more power to remain in the kingdom of God but must return to outer darkness, entering the lake of fire and brimstone again.

The typical reading of the text

I have typically read the text by rewinding the time backwards in verse 16, so that I forcefully made it refer to the mortal temporal death, as if Alma was speaking of that past event as if it were a present event, and then I applied the “whosoever” to only the people he was speaking of in the previous verses (who were the sons of perdition.)  Using these mental gymnastics, in which I changed the chronological order of the text, rewinding it back to before the resurrection, I got this interpretation out of this part of verse 16:

[Those who have no portion of God’s word in them (the sons of perdition)…who died (past tense) in their sins (during mortality, which is a temporal death)…]

then is a time

that whosoever dieth in his sins

as to a temporal death

and then I fast-forwarded the chronology back to after the resurrection for the rest of the verse and all the following verses.

Final tidbits

Alma says the following about the desires of the sons of perdition when they are brought forth in the resurrection to stand before God in the day of judgment, having just become alive again, both spiritually and temporally:

[…(sons of perdition) will desire to be hidden from God’s presence…]

and we would fain be glad

if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us

to hide us from his presence (Alma 12:14)

Although they cannot stop the judgment and their arraignment before God from happening, God will nonetheless be merciful to them, and grant to them according to the desires of their hardened hearts, and so as they will have desired to be hidden from Him, they will be cast out into outer darkness.  Their expulsion from the kingdom will be both according to God’s justice and His mercy, and also according to the desires of their hearts.

Also, in this verse, Alma says:

[…(sons of perdition) will be condemned by thoughts…]

and our thoughts will also condemn us (Alma 12:14)

My understanding is that the condemning thoughts of the sons of perdition will not just be the thoughts of the past, which they had during the time of their mortality, but also the thoughts that they will have while in His presence in the day of judgment, for they will still be entirely sinful and filthy, including their thoughts, which will cause them to shrink in shame.

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The Pattern for the Sacrament: As Given by 3 Nephi 18


Bread and Wine:

The first thing Jesus did when instituting the ordinance of remembrance of his body and blood was to command his newly called twelve Nephite disciples to gather together bread and wine:

and it came to pass
that Jesus commanded his disciples
that they should bring forth some bread and wine
unto him

The bread is broken and blessed, and it is given in remembrance of the body of Jesus, which he had shown [one-by-one] to every Nephite gathered to the temple.  The wine is shared from a common cup, and it is given in remembrance of the blood of Jesus, which he shed for each-and-every-one of his Father’s children.

Both the bread and wine [in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus], act as a witness/testimony, unto the Father, that those who believe and have been baptized in the name of Christ do always remember him and are willing to do that which he has commanded us to do.

and this shall ye do
in remembrance of my body
which I have shown unto you
and it shall be a testimony
unto the father
that ye do always remember me

and when the disciples had done this
Jesus said unto them

blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done
for this is fulfilling my commandments
and this doth witness
unto the father
that ye are willing to do
that which I have commanded you
and this shall ye always do
to those who repent and are baptized in my name
and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood
which I have shed for you
that ye may witness
unto the father
the ye do always remember me

The use of symbols in gospels ordinances are not meant to be esoteric, multi-layered, or take a life-time of study to fully appreciate.  One symbol [a man-made or naturally-occuring object] is given to suggest to the mind one truth/reality.  True gospel symbols are assigned by revelation in such a way as to be easily associated with the gospel truth they point to.  The Lord reveals them through prophets so that believers will use them to obtain, develop, and maintain faith.

The bread as a symbol is just, physically-speaking, ground grain-flour, salt, water, and yeast — but it re-presents to our minds, spiritually-speaking, the body of Christ that was broken through the suffering he endured for our sins.  The wine as a symbol is just, physically-speaking, fermented grape juice — but it re-presents to our minds, spiritually-speaking, the blood of Christ that he shed for the sins of the world.

We can use other symbols if it is expedient to fit other conditions found among a group of believers, but the associated gospel truth must still be the same.  So, while D&C 27 [verse 2-5] explains that we’re free to use other symbols for the body and blood of Jesus, it can be dangerous to do so without good, revealed reasons [e.g., your enemies are poisoning your wine supply].  This is because the God-given, gospel-based symbol easily points the mind to the associated truth — e.g., red wine looks like blood and tastes bitter [the “bitter cup”].  Therefore, while there’s nothing wrong with using a liquid like water [for example] as the symbol for the blood of Christ — the danger is that, over time, the addition of new meanings beyond the one gospel meaning will occur [assigning “water-based” meanings to the symbol, e.g. the waters of baptism, living waters springing-up to everlasting life].  And then, more dangerously, substitution will then take place and the original meaning [the blood of Christ] will be lost, so if left unchecked, a body of believers would end-up not thinking about Christ’s atoning blood at all during their ordinance.

Seated upon the Earth: 

To prepare the multitude of those who were gathered together to receive Jesus, he commanded that they should seat themselves upon the ground:

and while [the disciples] were gone for bread and wine
[Jesus] commanded the multitude
that they should sit themselves down
upon the earth

Contact with the earth is also the position in which Jesus taught the Nephites to pray.

and it came to pass
that when they had knelt upon the ground
Jesus groaned within himself
and said

father
I am troubled
because of the wickedness
of the people of the house of Israel

and when he had said these words
he himself also knelt upon the earth
and behold
he prayed unto the father
and the things which he prayed cannot be written
and the multitude did bear record who heard him
and after this manner do they bear record

the eye hath never seen
neither hath the ear heard
before so great and marvelous things
as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the father
and no tongue can speak
neither can there be written by any man
neither can the hearts of men conceive
so great and marvelous things
as we both saw and heard Jesus speak
and no one can conceive of the joy
which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray
for us
unto the father

and it came to pass
that when Jesus had made an end of praying
unto the father
he arose
but so great was the joy of the multitude
that they were overcome

and the twelve did teach the multitude
and behold
they did cause that the multitude should kneel down
upon the face of the earth
and should pray unto the father
in the name of Jesus

and behold
they were encircled about
as if it were by fire
and it came down from the sky
and the multitude did witness it
and did bear record
and angels did come down
out of the sky
and did minister unto them
and it came to pass
that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples
behold
Jesus came
and stood in the middle
and ministered unto them
and it came to pass
that he spake unto the multitude
and commanded them
that they should kneel down
again upon the earth
and also that his disciples should kneel down
upon the earth
and it came to pass
that when they had all knelt down
upon the earth
he commanded his disciples
that they should pray

The people mentioned in the scriptures who assume a standing position while praying are hypocrites and the Zoramites:

and when thou prayest
thou shalt not do as the hypocrites
for they love to pray standing 
in the synagogues
and in the corners of the streets
that they may be seen by others
amen
I say unto you
they have their reward

and

for they had a place built
up in the center of their synagogue
a place for standing
which was high above the head
and the top thereof would only admit one person
therefore
whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand
upon the top thereof
and stretch forth his hands towards the sky
and cry with a loud voice

Kneeling down upon the earth, then, is the pattern for both the congregation gathered to partake of the bread and wine, as well as for the one ordained from among them to bless and administer the bread and wine to the multitude.

Until they were filled:

The narrative of the administration of the bread and wine in 3 Nephi 18 never moves forward until the group that’s eating or drinking “is filled”.  Jesus keeps all else on hold and doesn’t move-on until those being ministered to are filled:

and when the disciples had come with bread and wine
[Jesus] took of the bread
and brake
and blessed it
and he gave unto the disciples
and commanded that they should eat
and when they had eaten
and were filled
he commanded that they should give unto the multitude
and when the multitude had eaten
and were filled
he said unto the disciples

and it came to pass
that they did so
and did drink of it
and were filled
and they gave unto the multitude
and they did drink
and they were filled
and when the disciples had done this
Jesus said unto them

blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done

Being “filled” is the hinge on which the pattern given for this ordinance moves.  The whole focus and goal is centered on gathering a group of people who have repented and been baptized in the name of Christ together and having them share a meal of bread and wine together, in which all of them eat and drink until they are filled.  A lesson in “commensality”, which means literally, “to share a table“.

The one ministering to the group:

and when the disciples had come with bread and wine
he took of the bread and brake and blessed it
and he gave unto the disciples
and commanded that they should eat

and it came to pass
that when he said these words
he commanded his disciples
that they should take of the wine of the cup
and drink of it

and it came to pass
that they did so
and did drink of it and were filled

The pattern, then, that Jesus showed unto the Nephite disciples was of one man [Jesus] ministering to a group [His disciples].  This is different than the pattern of Jesus instructing the twelve [a group] to give unto the multitude [a group] to eat and drink.  It was the former pattern [that of one man ministering to a group] that Jesus commanded the disciples to continually do among the church of Christ.

when the multitude had eaten
and were filled
he said unto the disciples

behold
there shall be one ordained among you
and to him will I give power
that he shall break bread
and bless it
and give it unto the people of my church
unto all those who shall believe
and be baptized in my name
and this shall ye always observe to do
even as I have done
even as I have broken bread
and blessed it
and given it unto you

So, though Jesus commanded his group of twelve disciples to minister the bread and wine to a multitude — that appears to have been a special case reserved for the particular circumstances of this meeting at Bountiful.  The pattern that Jesus commanded to be instituted among those who believe and are baptized in his name is that of one man being ordained to stand in similitude of the one Christ, and minister bread and wine to a multitude in similitude of the Christ’s broken body and shed blood.

The pattern given in 3 Nephi 18 is of an ordinance in which a body of believers in Christ gather together, sit themselves down upon the earth, ordain/set-apart one person from among the group to bless and distribute bread and wine, in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus, to every member of the group until each one is filled with bread and with wine.

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The doctrine against dissent


I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. (D&C 38:27)

Unity is required of the saints

We are commanded to “be one” (D&C 51:9) in Christ, even “as [Jesus is] one in the Father” (D&C 35:2), for the gospel principle of unity is patterned after the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, “which is one Eternal God” (Alma 11:44). The required oneness is to “be perfect” (2 Cor. 13:11), the saints being commanded to be “of one mind” (1 Pet. 3:8), “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32), “of one accord” (Philip. 2:2), of “one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity” (Mosiah 18:21), as “one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5), being “united in all things” (2 Ne. 1:21) and “united in mighty prayer and fasting” (3 Ne. 27:1).

The “one body in Christ” refers to the church of God, meaning that the saints have a “duty to unite with the true church” (D&C 23:7), to worship as a group and “agree upon [God’s] word” (D&C 41:2). This is a physical gathering of saints in which they are to “meet together often” (D&C 20:55,75).

Just as the resurrection of the dead will dress the naked spirits again, restoring the body “unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy” (D&C 138:17), so the physically gathered church, or corporate body of the church, is designed to never be divided into schisms, so that it becomes “a whole and complete and perfect union” (D&C 128:18).

Such unity is only to be of like things, thus the saints have been taught by Paul “that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever” (D&C 74:5) and every man of the church has been commanded by the Lord to “be alike among this people, and receive alike” (D&C 51:9).

The commandment to be one makes dissenting behavior a sin

There are nine instances of the word dissent in the scriptures, all of which occur in the Book of Mormon. The word never appears as a noun, only as a verb. It is also always portrayed as a sin.

For the modern reader, using modern dictionaries, the idea of dissenting behavior being a sin makes no sense, whatsoever. A review of the modern definitions and the definitions at the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon (taken from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) will quickly show why there is so much confusion on this issue.

According to the modern definition of the intransitive verb to dissent, it means “to withhold assent” or “to differ in opinion.” (Assent means “an act of agreeing to something especially after thoughtful consideration : an act of assenting : acquiescence, agreement”.) The verb has no religious connotation, however if we look at the noun dissent, we find that although it can be used generally to mean a “difference of opinion”, it also can be used more specifically to mean either “religious nonconformity,” “a justice’s nonconcurrence with a decision of the majority,” or “political opposition to a government or its policies.”

The current religious meaning (“religious nonconformity”) is a nonspecific version of what the word used to mean during the times of Joseph Smith. In Joseph’s time, to religiously dissent specifically meant “to differ from an established church, in regard to doctrines, rites or government.”

So, for example, if all the men who attend my ward dress in white shirts and ties (not because of church doctrines, rites or government, but just because that is the customary attire) and I attend wearing a blue shirt with no tie, I am guilty of nonconformity (and some might call it religious nonconformity since it is nonconformity to a custom that occurs in a religious setting), but not guilty of differing from the established doctrines, rites or government of my ward, for none of that gives a dress code for attending the ward. Dissent in the modern sense could be any religious nonconformity, regardless of how insignificant it is, whereas dissenting behavior in Joseph’s time specifically meant nonconformity to the doctrines, rites or government of an established church.

No one can righteously dissent from the true church of God

The scriptures brought forth by Joseph Smith teach that dissenting behavior is a sin, but this must be understood by the definition used in Joseph’s time. Here are all nine instances in which the word dissent is used in the scriptures, all of which are found only in the Book of Mormon:

And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah. (Alma 43:13)

And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord. (Alma 46:7)

And now who knoweth but what the remnant of the seed of Joseph, which shall perish as his garment, are those who have dissented from us? Yea, and even it shall be ourselves if we do not stand fast in the faith of Christ.

And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites. (Alma 46:27-28)

Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites. (Alma 48:24)

Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites, when it is the tradition of their fathers that has caused their hatred, yea, and it has been redoubled by those who have dissented from us, while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world? (Alma 60:32)

And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.

And now it came to pass when Lachoneus received this epistle he was exceedingly astonished, because of the boldness of Giddianhi demanding the possession of the land of the Nephites, and also of threatening the people and avenging the wrongs of those that had received no wrong, save it were they had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers. (3 Ne. 3:10-11)

Now there was one among them who was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them. (Hel. 5:35)

All dissenters from the true church of God are sinners

According to our modern dictionaries, a dissenter is “one that dissents”, and since we know what it means to religiously dissent, that means that a religious dissenter is one that does not religiously conform. But in the time of Joseph Smith, a dissenter was “one who separates from the service and worship of any established church.”

The words dissent and dissenters, as found in the standard works, carry the meanings the words had during the time of Joseph Smith. So, when we read in the Book of Mormon that there were people in the church who dissented, it doesn’t mean that there was a difference of opinion or general religious nonconformity, but that those who dissented were advocating a change in the church’s doctrines, rites or government. And when we read of dissenters from the church in the same record, it does not mean that they were just people who had a difference of opinion, but that they were people who had separated from the church and had begun performing worship services that were different from those of the church.

Unbelief is the cause of dissenting behavior

Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers. They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.

And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God. (Mosiah 26:1-4)

Although the above scripture speaks of non-members who never ended up joining the church, the dissenting process is the same for members of God’s church. Any believing member who chooses to begin to doubt the word of God will begin to dissent in his heart, meaning that he will begin to desire that the doctrines, rites and/or government of the church of God be changed (in conformity with his new belief system). This state of heart, in which the man spiritually separates himself from those who choose to not doubt the word of God, can lead to contention and disputations, and if not resolved by a restoration of belief (through repentance), ultimately will end in the member becoming a dissenter, so that he now physically separates from the body of the church and engages in worship services of another church or belief system. The Zoramites present a prime example of this process:

And it came to pass that as he [Korihor] went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram—and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead. (Alma 30:59)

Now it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols, his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people. (Alma 31:1)

Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them. But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation. Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them. (Alma 31:8-11)

We see from this that Zoramite dissenters had separated themselves from both the church of God and also the Nephite nation itself, creating a new religion which rejected the established doctrines, rites and government of God. This separation occurred because they stopped believing in the things of God, as taught and practiced by God’s church:

Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. (Alma 31:16)

All dissenters from the church of God make the same claim: that the church of God is apostate and thus its doctrines, rites or government must be modified in order to bring it back into God’s good graces. This claim may be made because the church does not sufficiently change with the times or it may be made because the church has made a change that the dissenters feel was not authorized by God. When the saints of God inevitably refuse to permit the dissenters from altering God’s current callings, laws and ordinances to conform to a more modern philosophy or to a more ancient or earlier practice, the dissenters separate and do their own thing, becoming a law unto themselves.

Now, from the perspective of the church body, to dissent is to advocate heresy and thus a dissenter is an apostate heretic (someone who advocates heresy and has separated from the church), whereas from the perspective of the dissenter, the church is too corrupt (apostate) to improve and thus must be abandoned and perhaps even actively criticized and fought.

We see from this that both sides make, essentially, the same claim: that the other party is in error and refuses to be corrected.

Unrepentant dissenters must be silenced and cut off

Unbelief is an infectious plague, that if left unchecked will affect the entire church body, causing both spiritual and temporal destruction to come upon the church. Spiritual destruction happens because unbelief and dissenting behavior are sins, thus subjecting the man to the devil’s power and captivation. And temporal destruction happens because the church body no longer qualifies for temporal deliverance from the Lord, which requires unity.

Because of these real dangers to the church, when a dissenting voice is heard among the church, it must be silenced as soon as possible. Thus we read,

And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes; and after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes (WoM 1:15-16)

False Christs, false prophets, false preachers and false teachers cause people to doubt the word of God, creating dissenting behavior, which could grow into church schisms, in which people become dissenters, separating from the church of God. There are three valid (authorized) ways that men of God use to silence dissenting voices.

And there were no contentions, save it were a few that began to preach, endeavoring to prove by the scriptures that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses. Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures. But it came to pass that they soon became converted, and were convinced of the error which they were in, for it was made known unto them that the law was not yet fulfilled, and that it must be fulfilled in every whit; yea, the word came unto them that it must be fulfilled; yea, that one jot or tittle should not pass away till it should all be fulfilled; therefore in this same year were they brought to a knowledge of their error and did confess their faults. (3 Nephi 1:24-25)

So, the first way to silence false ideas and teachings is to have the high priests correct the errors, showing them their faults, so that such people repent of their sins and turn from their errors and become, again, converted to the true faith and doctrines and rites and government of God, confessing their faults. This first step allows people who made honest, doctrinal mistakes to self-correct and remain in safety with the body of the saints.

If, however, the false teachers do not repent, but persist in their dissenting behavior, endeavoring to preach and teach the same errors (heresies) to other members of the church, the high priests are required to shut their mouths by cutting them off from the church. Although the now non-member is free to preach as he sees fit to the members, excommunication removes his legitimacy in the eyes of the body, so that they may more readily see that the false teacher is in error, and thus should not be listened to.

Repentance, disfellowship or excommunication

In the modern church of God, the saints have been give three ways to deal with dissenting behavior: the leadership can correct the errors and those who dissent can repent and be restored to full fellowship, or, if the dissenter needs more time to repent and come to a proper understanding of the word of God, he may be disfellowshipped, so that he is not permitted to teach false doctrine to the church, until such time as he fully repents and becomes, again, a believer in God’s word, understanding it by the Spirit. Disfellowship really is for those who are still confused over the word of God, but who desire to come to an understanding that allows them to remain with the church. The last way is excommunication, which is for dissenters who refuse to repent or even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong.

The door is left open to return to the flock

Jesus told His twelve disciples, concerning the member of the church that was unworthy of partaking of the sacrament, because of transgression,

But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth. (3 Nephi 18:31-33)

Excommunication, then, is a true principle of the gospel, one which must be performed on all those church members who do not repent of their sins after they have been admonished of them. Following this commandment keeps those who are in charge of regulating the church justified before the Lord, and also keeps the flock safer from the effects of false teachings and bad examples, which effects or fruit is spiritual and temporal destruction. The commandment to excommunicate unrepentant sinners was also given to the modern church, with the same promise of justification for the leadership if they obey the same.

And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation. And this ye shall do that God may be glorified—not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver—verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things. (D&C 64:12-14)

So, even if the judges (who are charged to judge whether the sinner will remain in the church) forgive the man who refuses to repent of his sins, and would rather release him without any discipline applied, doing so would break the commandment given to the leadership, of excommunicating (cutting off) unrepentant sinners. The only way to remain justified before the Lord is to obey the commandment and cut off all those who refuse to repent, regardless of what the sin is.

Nevertheless, after being cut off, they (the leadership) must keep an open door policy, allowing the dissenters who repent of their sins to come back into the fold.

A difference of opinion does not constitute dissenting behavior

Scriptural dissenting behavior deals only with church doctrines, rites and government. Some people, though, cannot differentiate between scriptural dissenting behavior and the modern, generic definition of dissent, which merely means “a difference of opinion.” So any censuring they see, of any kind, is viewed as morally wrong, a violation of one’s right to free speech, as put down in the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The problem with that view, is that a church is not a public institution, but a private one, and like all private institutions, it has certain rules which its membership is expected to obey.

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. (D&C 134:10)

A case in point: Korihor

In December of 2011, I wrote on the Times and Seasons blog the following:

Korihor was not a religious freedom advocate battling an oppressive central government.

Korihor was a liar couching his lies under the guise of belief. He did this because liars were punished, it being against the law to lie (see Alma 1:16-17.) So, he pretended to preach according to his belief. Everyone who heard him preach, knew he was lying, for he told blatant lies (see Alma 30:35) but pretended it was merely his belief. He was repeatedly bound and taken before the authorities because it was obvious to everyone that he was breaking the law by lying, but no one knew what to do with him because of his stubbornness in always couching it in belief, for the law had no hold upon anyone for their belief. In other words, atheists had freedom in their society, but not pretended atheists, only people who truly believed that there was no God. Korihor, though, from his speech, revealed himself to be a liar and showed that his intention was to merely deceive the people.

Now the text clearly shows that this was Korihor’s crime: lies. Repeatedly when questioned by Alma, the topic of lies is brought up. He is on trial for lying, or intentionally deceiving people, which was a punishable crime among them. The people of Ammon, who first bound him, “were more wise” (Alma 30:20) than those at Zarahemla because they were more righteous. The Nephites at Zarahemla could see that he was a liar and deceiver, but they just let him go about breaking the law and deceiving the people. Not so with the Lamanite people of Ammon.

Again, Korihor was bound and sent up to the authorities with testimony of his lies, for there must be witnesses. Nevertheless, they couldn’t do anything to him because he pretended he was entitled to his own beliefs, therefore, he was, each time, set free, outside of the lands that he preached among, until he finally came to Alma, who, through the power of God, put a stop to his destructive work of lies.

I could have worded that a bit better than I did, but it’s good enough for the point I am trying to make, which is that once you break the laws of a society, whether it is a public society like the Nephites or a private society like the church of God, you become subject to whatever penalty is attached to that broken law. In the case of religious dissenting behavior and dissenters, freedom of speech or of the press is allowed only insofar as you do not transgress the laws of God by your speech or writings. Once you are found promoting wickedness or falsehoods by your spoken or written words, the church has jurisdiction over you and also a responsibility to censure you (to shut your mouth) in the prescribed, scriptural manner (correction and repentance, disfellowship or excommunication). In public society, freedom of speech or of the press does not grant you the right to commit slander or libel.

What saints do when unrepentant sinners are around

We are free, then, to use our agency to do good, but when we use it to commit evil by our speech and the words we write, we come under condemnation of God and it is every saint’s duty to denounce and resist all the evils that are observed by them. This is why the witnesses came forth during the first trial of the original Mormon church:

And now in the reign of Mosiah they [the unbelievers] were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.

For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church.

And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest.

Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church.

And it came to pass that Alma did not know concerning them; but there were many witnesses against them; yea, the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance. (Mosiah 26:5-9)

Now, I will unfold this saintly duty and peculiarity a little farther down in this post, as it cannot be overemphasized.

Pahoran wrote:

Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God. (Alma 61:14)

But Jesus commanded:

But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also (3 Ne. 12:39)

Which instructions are the saints of God supposed to obey? Both. (I only mention this in case some commenter says, “But Jesus said to not resist evil! So Pahoran was wrong!”) I will not explain this seeming contradiction as that is not the topic of this post. Just suffice it to say that a saint typically does not shut his mouth at iniquity, unless the Holy Ghost constrains him not to speak.

The following instructions were given to saints:

And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.

And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.

And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many.

And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God.

If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.

And thus shall ye conduct in all things. (D&C 42:88-93)

Who does the chastening? Who does the rebuking? Who determines who has offended publicly or in secret? Who delivers the unrepentant sinners to the law of God? The saints do. More on this later.

Re: those who learn and obey the whats only if the whys suit them

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abr. 3:25)

Doing all things that the Lord commands includes bridling the tongue (see James 3), which means that the spoken and written word must likewise be put under gospel constraints. Intentionally false (heretical) teachings, then, break the commandments.

Some people in the church say that mortality is a school to learn the things of God, as if it were knowledge that saved us. They emphasize that we ought not to be blindly obedient, but ought to obey rationally, with understanding of why we are commanded to do whatever it is we are commanded to do. They are more concerned with the why than with the what.

Such people, if they cannot understand the reason behind a commandment or doctrine, may end up openly questioning its divinity. In other words, they may start to propose a theory that the doctrine or commandment has a non-divine source and begin to teach it among the people. If confronted by a saint and told that the alternate teaching is heretical, the proponent may do as Korihor and say it is merely a belief or a hypothesis which may or may not be true, and that there is no harm in questioning things which may be false. In other words, he or she will claim, like Korihor, that this is not a teaching, but just an interesting idea: to consider that a doctrine or commandment or teaching of the church is man-made and not divinely given.

Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true….And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ…I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe. (Alma 30:24,26,48)

Such heresies come from putting knowledge before faith and requiring that one know and understand something before one will believe it to be true.

Although it is true that man is here to learn, he is only here to learn obedience to God.

And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. (D&C 105:6)

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Heb. 5:8)

Separating goats from sheep is a gospel principle based on obedience

Obedience to the whats, not knowledge of the whys, is the deciding factor in determining where we go.

and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate (Abr. 3:26)

So God separates those who keep His commandments from those who don’t, and puts them into separate kingdoms. This is why the church is charged with excommunicating all those who do not repent of their sins. This separation, or division, is based upon the heavenly pattern. Just as there was a separation in heaven between the 1/3 and the 2/3, and the 1/3 were cast out, so here on earth more separation is commanded to occur, for those who transgress the law of God and do not repent.

But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted (Alma 42:22)

Once you break the law, the punishment is not immediately inflicted, but you are granted a space to repent, resulting in two sets of commandments. The first commandment is to keep the law, which, if you disobey, you then get a second commandment, which is to repent. Only when you refuse to take advantage of repentance and the atonement, does the law require that you be cut off from the church by excommunication.

Cutting off the people by excommunication furthers the work of division that the Savior spoke of.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)

Jesus gathers his elect into one body and then uses his sword to divide the sheep from the goats, and the wheat from the tares, pruning the body from time to time as fruit withers upon the branch, showing its true nature. In other words, the gospel net draws all sorts of fish into the church, and then it gets sorted, according to what type of fish it shows itself to be. If a man appears to be a sheep, or wheat, or good fish or fruit, he is to remain with the saints, but if he shows himself as a goat, a tare, rotten fruit or spoiled fish, he is to be cast out. The test of goathood, or tarehood, or rottenness is two-fold: does the man obey the commandments? If yes, he stays. If no, does he repent of his sins? If yes, he stays. If no, he must be cast off.

Pruning (excommunication) is to take place on an as needed basis, in order that the gospel tree does not perish.

Church trials

Before anyone can be excommunicated in this church, they must first be tried for their membership. As everyone is considered innocent before being proven guilty, the Lord has given in His scriptures the divine pattern of church trials and courts.

There are three types of church courts or trials that the scriptures speak of, and six types of judges.  The pattern is designed around checks and balances, in order that power is not concentrated in the hands of any one person or group and so that everyone who is accused has a fair, balanced trial, in which everyone’s rights are upheld.

The six types of judges

The witnesses

Two or three (or more) church members in good standing become judges when they act as witnesses. This is the law of witnesses and it is based upon the righteousness and holiness of a saint. It is the saints who will judge the nations and all things pertaining to Zion, for they are sanctified (holy) and are duly qualified to determine whether someone has transgressed.

The bishop

The bishop judges the good standing of the membership, and thus the saints, because a bishop is to receive an accounting of everyone’s stewardship.

The two elders

The two elders judge the case laid before them by the two or three (or more) saintly witnesses, the bishop attesting to their good standing. If there are sufficient witnesses, the two elders judge whether the accused has confessed and repented. If the accused refuses, then the elders pass judgment upon the accused, as required by the scriptures.

The church congregation

After the two elders come to a guilty verdict, they must lay the case before the congregation, which then must take a vote to sustain the action or oppose it. If the majority agrees, the decision is ratified and valid and the accused is excommunicated. If the majority disagrees, no action is taken. The congregation, then, judges the decision of the two elders, and decides whether it was correct or not.

The stake president

The stake president, like the two elders, judges the case laid before him by the witnesses and makes a decision concerning which party is right or whether both are wrong.

The high council

The twelve high council members vote to ratify (make valid) the decision of the president. If a majority does not agree with his decision, it does not go through.

The three types of church courts or councils

Bishop’s court or council

The bishop is to receive an accounting of everyone’s stewardship and is to know who is consecrating properties and moneys, or donating funds as tithing or fast offerings, etc., to the Lord. This gives him a unique perspective into who is and is not a wise and just steward. Nevertheless, his judgment and jurisdiction are not independent but only activate with just testimony.

And whoso standeth in this mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children; and to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of his counselors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God. (D&C 58:17-18)

And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies concerning the consecration of the properties of my church (D&C 42:32)

And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church. (D&C 107:72)

Because of this, a sinner who confesses to a bishop cannot be tried by the bishop, nor his testimony used against him, because the testimony is of a sinner, not a saint. In other words, only the testimony of the just (someone who hasn’t broken the laws) can be used in trials. Nevertheless, with just testimony, the bishop and bishopric are authorized to judge only whether someone is in good standing or not, and is contributing to the upkeep of the poor and the kingdom. In other words, the bishop’s jurisdiction deals primarily in temporal matters.

Elder’s court or council

The elders’ jurisdiction to judge is activated by witnesses coming forth and testifying of the wickedness of some member. The bishop, if available, is required to be present that he may attest to the good standing of the witnesses. If two witnesses in good standing testify against a member, that is sufficient to condemn. If there is no confession and repentance afterward, the elders must lay it before the members, to ratify the excommunication. The elder’s council is designed to be used for matters of transgression only, to try a person for his or her membership.

High priests’ court or council

This court, known as a high council, is to settle difficult and important matters, and like the other courts, only receives jurisdiction when two or more saints testify as witnesses. For example, if there is a property dispute, one saying that his property line extends 15 feet down the hill and his neighbor saying that it only extends 10 feet, the high council can be used to address these matters, if there are sufficient witnesses.

Scriptural patterns are no longer followed

The above are the scriptural patterns, which are no longer precisely followed. For example, the elder’s council has been completely done away with. Instead, the high council now tries the men of the church who have had Melchizedek priesthood conferred on them, and the bishopric tries everyone else, for membership. Nothing outside of transgression is brought to trial anymore. You can’t take a property dispute to the church courts and receive a judgment. Instead, everyone is told to settle the matter amongst themselves, or to use the man-made court system.

The checks and balances that were present in the three-court pattern have been removed and power has been concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. Many of the rights guaranteed to all the members have been weakened or altogether removed. If we compare the scripturally revealed pattern of church courts with today’s current practice, it can plainly be seen that today’s practice and procedure makes the word of God, as written in the scriptures, of none effect, effectively removing the justice that was inherent in the original pattern. In other words, the current church court system is no longer based upon just principles, but is corrupt.

Church courts and the rights of a member

Disfellowship and excommunication is to occur in the church according to prescribed laws given of God in the scriptures. The procedure itself is divine and designed to preserve the rights of every accused member in the church, that justice prevail at all times. As I explained in another post, the Bill of Rights may be used in a church setting to protect one’s rights:

Because the Lord has approved of, or justified, the Bill of Rights, latter-day saints are fully authorized to include it as part of their scriptural canon. This is not to say that it is scripture, for it was not written by the power of the Holy Ghost, nor does it contain the revealed words of God, nevertheless, as an inspired and approved writing, it may be used to defend or safeguard one’s rights in a church setting.

The Fifth Amendment says,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The twelve high councilors are, essentially, a type of grand jury, charged with investigating the merits of any accusations, witnesses and evidence. Their duty is to judge whatever is presented to them according to the canonized word of God. Church courts, then, were intended by God to incorporate this principle.

An accused latter-day saint cannot be a witness against himself because according to the law of God, only church members in good standing can act as witnesses. A confession, then, is insufficient to convict. Church courts, as detailed in the scriptures, cannot use someone’s confessed testimony as evidence against them, yet that is exactly what is done today by the church bishops, and also for high councils (disciplinary councils), if the accused allows the testimony into evidence. Such practices are completely at odds with the word of God.

The Wikipedia says this about due process:

Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person. Typically, “Due process” means 1) NOTICE, generally written, but some courts have determined, in rare circumstances, other types of notice suffice. Notice should provide sufficient detail to fully inform the individual of the decision or activity that will have an effect on his/her rights or property or person. 2) right to GRIEVE (that being the right to complain or to disagree with the governmental actor/entity which has decision making authority) and 3) the right to APPEAL if not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance procedure. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.

The church court system is supposed to incorporate the principals of due process, requiring notice, granting a right to grieve and also to appeal. Current practice has kept these safeguards more or less intact. Now let’s turn to the Sixth Amendment.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

All of these principles are supposed to be incorporated into church courts. The trials are supposed to be speedy and are supposed to be public (when they are presented to the church congregation for a sustaining or opposing vote, which no longer happens). The jury, which is the 12 high councilors, are supposed to be impartial, which is often no longer the case. The accused is to be tried locally, in his branch, ward or stake, where the sins were allegedly committed. (Trials are still local, but accusations may come from outside of the branch, ward or stake, such as from Salt Lake.) The accused is to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. (This still happens.) The witnesses are to testify in front of the accused during the trial. (The law of witnesses, to my knowledge, has been almost completely phased out.) The accused has the right to call witnesses in his favor. (This is still allowed.) And lastly, one half of the high councilors that speak are to be the advocates of the accused. (This no longer happens.)

There is also the Seventh Amendment:

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

All high councils were designed to be, in fact, trials by jury, requiring a ratification vote by the high councilors to validate the president’s decision. This is no longer the case. In current practice, the stake president can convict regardless of what the other men say about the case. Therefore, the right to trial by jury has been denied to the saints. But this right is found in the scriptural pattern, like the others listed above.

So, we see from this that the church court system, as detailed in the revelations, incorporates many of the same principles found in the Bill of Rights.

D&C 42 and D&C 102

The patterns of the two main court (trial) systems, the elders’ council and the high council, are given in D&C 42 and 102.

D&C 42:78-93

Section 42 gives the pattern for the elders’ council, which dealt specifically with transgression, beginning with verse 78 through verse 93.

Verse 78 states that every church member must obey the church commandments and keep their church covenants.

And again, every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church.  (D&C 42:78)

Now, that is the standard (obeying commandments and keeping covenants). But what does the church do if it transgresses? The previous section (41) said the following, but did not give the procedure for how one should be cast out or judged unworthy:

He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you; for it is not meet that the things which belong to the children of the kingdom should be given to them that are not worthy, or to dogs, or the pearls to be cast before swine. (D&C 41:5-6)

So, the rest of section 42 gives instructions on what the church should do when someone transgresses, or how to go about casting him or her off. We learn in verses 80-82 that when there is transgression in the church, the transgressors are to be tried in a church court trial before two elders of the church, and that if there are two church witnesses, that the accused shall be (not may be) condemned, and that after condemnation the congregation is to be informed of the case and of the decision and they are to vote on the matter by the raising of their hands, the Lord expecting them to uphold the decision and testimony of the witnesses:

And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. And if it can be, it is necessary that the bishop be present also.  (D&C 42:80-82)

We also learn that the bishop needs to be present, if possible.

The next verse (83) basically says that verses 80-82 is the pattern for all church trials for membership.

And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you.  (D&C 42:83)

Verses 79-87 give the pattern for dealing with transgression in the church as follows: if a man breaks a law of the land, he is to be delivered up unto the law of the land, and if he breaks the law of God, he is to be tried in a church court.

Verses 88-89 explain that no member is to be tried in a church court unless he has offended someone and been confronted and rebuked and has refused to confess, repent and be reconciled. Also, that the first part of the trial is to take place in a private meeting with the elders, so that the accused has an opportunity to confess, repent and seek reconciliation, avoiding any judgment and embarrassment in front of the congregation. The second part of the trial (in front of the congregation) only takes place if the accused refuses to repent.

Verses 90-92 explain that public or open offenses require public or open rebuking, while secret offenses require secret rebuking.

Lastly, verse 93 says that this is the pattern in all things for behavior concerning rebuking, chastisement, offenses, confession, repenting, reconciliation, and church trials.

And thus shall ye conduct in all things.  (D&C 42:93)

D&C 102

Trials for membership due to transgression were designed by the Lord to be the jurisdiction of the local elders and congregation, since they would have much more knowledge about the individuals involved (accused and accusers) than would the high councilors and stake president, who potentially could live elsewhere, in another part of the stake. On the other hand, trials about other matters, such as property disputes and other similar matters, were designed by the Lord to be the jurisdiction of the high council because they would not have intimate knowledge of the details of the local disputes, and therefore would be more likely to be impartial judges, the outcomes not affecting them one way or another.

That said, let’s examine section 102. The heading to Doctrine and Covenants section 102 reads:

Minutes of the organization of the first high council of the Church, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 17, 1834. The original minutes were recorded by Elders Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde. The Prophet revised the minutes the following day, and the next day the corrected minutes were unanimously accepted by the high council as “a form and constitution of the high council” of the Church. Verses 30 through 32, having to do with the Council of the Twelve Apostles, were added in 1835 under Joseph Smith’s direction when this section was prepared for publication in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Although D&C 102 is not a revelation, it contains the information on how the first high council was organized and operated, which organization came of revelation, and which operation was given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. So, although we don’t have the pattern dictated directly by the Spirit, we do have a recording of the pattern (the minutes) as witnessed by two men who were present when the pattern was shown. The minutes were later corrected by Joseph, so we can be sure they are reliable.

As I said before, the modern procedures for how church disciplinary councils are operated render the word of God of none effect, making modern courts fundamentally unjust. The error comes from a misreading of section 102, which gives the “form and constitution of the high council”, to be followed by all high councils.

Okay, so let me unfold the errors.

Modern church disciplinary councils operate under color of law

The following document,

Church Disciplinary Councils

gives the current procedures used in these courts. Here are a couple of quotes which manifest the errors:

“In a stake disciplinary council, the stake president is assisted by twelve high councilors. Their role is easily misunderstood. Uninformed persons are tempted to liken the high council to a jury. In view of the not well understood instructions in section 102 of the Doctrine and Covenants, there is also a tendency to view individual high councilors as prosecutors or defenders. Neither of these comparisons is appropriate. Members of the high council are present to “stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice’ (Doc. & Cov 102:17). In other words, they are to give added assurance that the evidence is examined in its true light and that the procedures and treatment of the accused are consistent with equity and justice. Their roles are illumination and persuasion, not advocacy or decision.” (Dallin H. Oaks)

“After hearing any additional comments from the high council, the stake presidency withdraws from the council room to confer in private. After consultation and prayer, the stake president makes the decision and invites his counselors to sustain it. The stake presidency then returns and announces the decision to the high council. The stake president asks the high councilors as a group to sustain his decision. The high council cannot veto the decision; it is binding even if it is not sustained unanimously.” (Church Handbook of Instructions)

Neither of these quotes is correct. Or, in other words, they are correct in that the modern church procedure operates as they state it does, but they are not correct in that the procedure they use is entirely at odds with the written word of God.

Here is what the section actually says,

Whenever a high council of the church of Christ is regularly organized, according to the foregoing pattern, it shall be the duty of the twelve councilors to cast lots by numbers, and thereby ascertain who of the twelve shall speak first, commencing with number one and so in succession to number twelve.

Whenever this council convenes to act upon any case, the twelve councilors shall consider whether it is a difficult one or not; if it is not, two only of the councilors shall speak upon it, according to the form above written.

But if it is thought to be difficult, four shall be appointed; and if more difficult, six; but in no case shall more than six be appointed to speak. (D&C 102:12-14)

So everybody picks a number out of a hat, from one to twelve. If the case is easy, just two men speak; if difficult, four men speak; and if really difficult, six speak. The rest do not speak, but just listen.

The accused, in all cases, has a right to one-half of the council, to prevent insult or injustice.

And the councilors appointed to speak before the council are to present the case, after the evidence is examined, in its true light before the council; and every man is to speak according to equity and justice.

Those councilors who draw even numbers, that is, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12, are the individuals who are to stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice. (D&C 102:15-17)

In behalf of

Now, here is where brother Dallin gets it wrong (and shame on him!, since he’s supposed to be a lawyer). The expression “to stand up in behalf of the accused” means “to stand up as an advocate of the accused.”

BEHALF, n. behaf. [See Behoof.]

1. Favor; advantage; convenience, profit; support, defense, vindication. The advocate pleads in behalf of the prisoner. The patriot suffers in behalf of his country.
2. Part; side; noting substitution, or the act of taking the part of another; as, the agent appeared in behalf of his constituents, and entered a claim.

AD’VOCATE, n. [L. advocatus, from advoco, to call for, to plead for; of ad and voco, to call. See Vocal.]

1. Advocate, in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law. Hence,
2. One who pleads the cause of another before any tribunal or judicial court, as a barrister in the English courts. We say, a man is a learned lawyer and an able advocate.
3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.

AD’VOCATE, v.t. To plead in favor of; to defend by argument, before a tribunal; to support or vindicate.

All of that is from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, showing that this is the very meaning of the phrase, contrary to what brother Dallin would have us believe.

The reason why brother Dallin and the other church leaders feel the need to wrest this scripture into saying something it isn’t saying is because they have transfigured the high council into something it was never intended to be: a church court dealing with transgression and trials for church membership. So, they cannot conceive of a righteous man advocating the cause of someone who could be an unrepentant sinner, like the lawyers do. (Jesus is our advocate with the Father only if we are penitent, for the impenitent do not have Him as their advocate.)  The thought of advocating impenitence, then, is understandably repulsive to them, so they simply interpret the scripture another way, to make it work according to their procedure. But the very words themselves do not fit.

High councilors could advocate the cause of the accused because these were not meant to be matters dealing with transgression, but merely “important difficulties.” In other words, disputes over this and that private matter. In such cases, the accused may be right, or may be wrong. The high councilors who were chosen by lot to speak, could put themselves in the place of the accused, for they weren’t attempting to excuse sin, but to show a private matter from the perspective of the accused.

Veto power

The CHI says that the high council cannot veto the stake president’s decision, but that is flat out wrong.

After the evidences are heard, the councilors, accuser and accused have spoken, the president shall give a decision according to the understanding which he shall have of the case, and call upon the twelve councilors to sanction the same by their vote.

But should the remaining councilors, who have not spoken, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an error in the decision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing.

And if, after a careful re-hearing, any additional light is shown upon the case, the decision shall be altered accordingly.

But in case no additional light is given, the first decision shall stand, the majority of the council having power to determine the same. (D&C 102:19-22)

Here is the meaning of the word sanction, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

SANC’TION, v.t. To ratify; to confirm; to give validity or authority to.

Thus, the twelve high councilors vote to ratify, confirm, give validity or authority to the stake president’s decision. Without such validation, the president’s decision is non-binding. That is what ratification is all about.

Unanimity is not required for ratification, only a majority vote. In other words, the majority of the council has power to determine whether the first decision shall stand, as well as whether there is no additional light given. The reason for the re-hearing is not because some councilors disagree, or even that one councilor disagrees, with the president’s decision, but because one or more of them think there may have been an error, meaning that the stake president overlooked something. This is why the section talks about additional light.

Impartiality

But should the remaining councilors, who have not spoken, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an error in the decision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing. (D&C 102:20)

IMP`ARTIAL, a. [in and partial, from part, L. pars.]

1. Not partial; not biased in favor of one party more than another; indifferent; unprejudiced; disinterested; as an impartial judge or arbitrator.
2. Not favoring one party more than another; equitable; just; as an impartial judgment or decision; an impartial opinion.

Current church practice in church courts creates a conflict of interest. The witnesses who present evidence or who make accusations and bear testimony, are biased, but the high council and stake presidency is supposed to be unbiased and impartial. That requires that none of them can act as witnesses, nor make accusations. Any church court that has any of the councilors or any of the stake presidency acting as a witness or making accusations, in any degree of bias, cannot be called impartial and thus is nothing but a farce.

Guilty until proven penitent is a bastardization of the law

Another practice in the church court system is the assumption of guilt upon the accused. In the Lord’s law, every saint is innocent until proven guilty, but the modern church court procedure assumes the accused is guilty and thus that the accused, in order to be in God’s good graces, must confess his sin and show penitence before the council, otherwise the council will see him as an impenitent sinner, instead of as a penitent sinner, and will have to apply the penalty the Lord’s law requires. This practice makes all those who say they are innocent of any charges appear impenitent, even if they really are innocent.

Evidence alone is not enough

It is called the law of witnesses for a reason. Evidence of wrongdoing, without an eyewitness testifying, is insufficient. The witnesses are the saints and it takes a saint to condemn anyone. Also, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. So if someone in the church, for example, publishes some literature or book, but none of the saints are offended by it or bring up accusations against the author, the high council has no jurisdiction to lay charges against the author, nor does the stake presidency, nor the bishopric. Charges or accusations can only come from a saint’s testimony and it requires two saints’ testimonies for any of these men to obtain jurisdiction to bring a judgment against a member. The Lord made it this way because it is the jurisdiction of His saints to have the first and final word, judging both the nations of the earth and also Zion.

Behold, I, the Lord, have made my church in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations.

For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.

And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.

And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead. (D&C 64:37-40)

The saints are given free reign to judge all things, both inside and outside the church, including all the leaders from top (apostles and prophets) to the bottom (bishops). The word of two or more saints against any man, woman or child of age in this church condemns that person, regardless of his or her office.

Excommunication is supposed to be a congregational affair

Excommunication (cutting off a person from the church) is in similitude to the cutting off from the presence of the Lord which will happen to all the sons of perdition at the last day. Since that last act of cutting off is, in actuality, a spiritual death, even a second death, cutting off is representative of death. In other words, excommunication represents the death penalty, or capital punishment. Only those who do not repent receive this penalty.

The authority to inflict (the similitude of) death upon a sinner was never meant or designed by God to be in the hands of one man (a stake president) nor three men (the stake presidency), nor twelve men (the high council). The final decision was meant to be in the hands of the saints who make up the congregation.

But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42:81)

Without such congregational ratification, we end up with secret trials like those of the Gadianton robbers.

Now there were many of those who testified of the things pertaining to Christ who testified boldly, who were taken and put to death secretly by the judges, that the knowledge of their death came not unto the governor of the land until after their death. (3 Ne. 6:23)

Let the saints do their duty

It is the duty of a saint to lay charges, make accusations and bear witness against all wickedness they see. If they see (scripturally-defined) dissenting behavior, they will resist it and seek to silence it. They are the Lord’s anointed and the only ones authorized to condemn; not the bishop, or high council or stake presidency. (See Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.)

And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ. (Moroni 6:7)

And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42:80-81)

It is right and proper for them to prune the church and bear witness against unrepentant sinners. They would be remiss in their duty if they shut their mouths at the sight of wickedness. So do not harp on them or put obstacles in the way of their duty, otherwise they will end up condemning you.

The purpose of this post

I wrote this post to show that, according to the scriptural definition, there is no such thing as a sinless dissenter; that the church is commanded to be one; that dissenters should be silenced; and that excommunication is a divine principle. I never expected to get into the unrighteousness of current church court procedure. I never expected or intended to judge the courts and find them “wanting in the balance” (see Dan. 5:27). But I did and that’s that. Nevertheless, despite the courts being corrupt because they do not conform to the divine pattern, to dissent is still a sin, all dissenters still should be silenced, unrepentant sinners still must be cut off from the church and excommunication of unrepentant sinners is still a righteous thing to do.

The question that remains, then, is what do we do about the courts? How can they be reclaimed and made right and just again, according to God’s revealed pattern? What steps must be taken by saints, working in unison (as one in Christ) within the stakes and acting on the promptings of the Holy Ghost, to administer “judicial reform” and bring the courts back into conformity with God’s laws? I don’t, as yet, have an answer to these questions. But there is one thing that I am certain of: although the institutionalization of the current church court procedures, in defiance of the written word, poses an obstacle to change, God’s saints have power through faith to rebuke anything they deem offensive, and correct anything they deem incorrect, whether within or without the church, for it is their duty and prerogative to judge all things. So I guess it just comes down to this: will they also judge the church courts and find them wanting?

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A Perfect Understanding


Continuing the transfer of comments

As I mentioned previously, I still have more words to transfer to this site which I left on another blog two years ago. This time around I have opted to put the words in the last two sections with slight modifications. The rest of the post is new material created on the spot.

Mormon’s assessment of Moroni

Mormon said that captain Moroni “was a man of a perfect understanding.”

We typically think that Jesus Christ alone was the only perfect man, meaning the only adult specimen of the species to have never sinned. That is and will continue to be a true thought, at least until the great Millennial day dawns. After that, all the children born will grow up to adulthood “without sin unto salvation” (D&C 45:58). This shows that the idea that nobody is or can be perfect in anything, save Jesus only, is merely cultural conditioning, based upon our familiarity with our fellow man and his apparent endless imperfections. But the gospel teaches no such thing (see Matt. 5:48 and 3 Ne. 12:48 and also 1 Ne. 3:7); instead we read in the scriptures that certain individuals have achieved perfection in certain areas during their mortal sojourn. For example, we read in the Old Testament that Noah was perfect:

Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)

and also that Job was perfect:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (Job 1:1)

These scriptures don’t mean that Noah and Job never, ever sinned, but that they started out as sinless children, sinned and subsequently fell, and then repented and were made whole again by the atonement of Christ and their faith, becoming new (and perpetually holy) creatures. So, the difference between Jesus and these men was that Jesus was perfect from the beginning and remained perfect, whereas these men were fallen men who were later made perfect.

The doctrine of perfection, or of making perfect

I am able to make you holy (D&C 60:7)

The reason why people can be made perfect is that the atonement itself is perfect. Only perfection can work perfection upon imperfection.

These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. (D&C 76:69)

The atonement is perfect in that it its influence is perfecting, meaning that its application has power to make men perfect, or right again with the law. Abinadi taught the priests of Noah,

And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses. And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses. (Mosiah 13:27-28)

Some take that to mean that the law of Moses was not perfect. But Abinadi had previously taught these same men,

And it shall come to pass that ye shall be smitten for your iniquities, for ye have said that ye teach the law of Moses. And what know ye concerning the law of Moses? Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye?

And they answered and said that salvation did come by the law of Moses. But now Abinadi said unto them:

I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved; yea, if ye keep the commandments which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai (Mosiah 12:31-33)

So, if the law of Moses is kept, which were the commandments of God given to these ancient people, it would save them. So, salvation does come by the law of Moses. And salvation comes by the law given to Abraham, too, and to Enoch and to Adam and to Joseph and to every other seer God has ever revealed laws to. Salvation comes by keeping these commandments because they are all perfectly expedient, according to the conditions they are revealed in. Only perfect laws have power to keep men perfect, if they obey the same.

And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

All kingdoms have a law given; and there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. (D&C 88:34-39)

This means that anyone who keeps the laws of God, which are all always based upon expediency, is preserved, justified, sanctified and perfected by the same laws. That means that all of God’s laws, including the law of Moses, are perfect, because those who abide in them and never break them, will be saved in perfection, as perfect spirits.

Nevertheless, the salvation that comes by the law of Moses (or any of the revealed laws of God) only deals with sin, or remaining untouched by sin, keeping ourselves in a justified state. These laws do not deal with temporal death. So, even if all of fallen man were, from the fall of Adam to the very end of the earth, perfectly obedient to all the laws that God gave them, so that sin was non-existent on this planet, the temporal death would unravel the perfection achieved by all these perfect spirits, and they would all end up as angels to the devil anyway.

For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself (2 Ne. 9:8-9)

Thus, salvation does not come by the law of Moses alone, nor by any of the laws of God alone, nor by the atonement alone. No, salvation comes by the law of Moses + the atonement, or the laws of God + the atonement. You must have both, otherwise, perfection unravels. The law—and it doesn’t matter which law of God it is, only that it is the one that is expedient for your time period and circumstances, as deemed and revealed by God—is necessary to perfect the man, but only works if he doesn’t ever break it; and if he breaks it, instead of saving the man, it ends up damning him to hell. The atonement, then, is necessary to bring the man back into conformity with the broken laws, so that the laws can perform their function of perfecting the man. It (the atonement) takes care of the temporal death, too.

The atonement alone has no power to save, for it is obedience to the laws of God that keeps mankind in a state of perfection. For this reason, laws of God are always given in conjunction with the teaching of the atonement. We are not taught about the atonement and resurrection from the dead, told to repent and exercise faith, receive a remission of our sins, and then sent on our merry way with nothing more to do. No, we are taught and given commandments to live in conjunction with the doctrine of the atonement of Christ, for there is not one without the other.

Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength. And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me. (D&C 59:3-4)

This is why Nephi said,

And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. (2 Ne. 25:24-25)

The Nephites were commanded to keep a dead law. It was that same dead law that preserved, justified, sanctified and perfected them! Now, I won’t explain this mystery, I only show it to demonstrate that there is no salvation without the atonement + God’s laws and commandments. And I show it because there are some among the latter-day saints that think once you come to Christ, there is no more need for commandments and laws, that the Spirit will just guide you in everything you need to do without revealed commandments needing to be written down and obeyed. Such ideas are needlessly erroneous, for the word of God speaks directly on this very issue:

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)

Getting back to captain Moroni

In light of the above doctrine, it is entirely possible that Moroni “was a man of a perfect understanding.”

Now, there is a saying that goes, “It takes one to know one.” If that saying applies in this case, then Mormon was also “a man of a perfect understanding” and thus he was able to recognize in Moroni another man who also had this “perfect understanding.” Therefore, Mormon’s assessment of Moroni may have also been a revelation about himself and his own understanding and powers of discernment.

In order to have a perfect understanding of something, it would necessarily require that you have all the facts. In the movie, “My Cousin Vinny,” Vinny’s girlfriend was a mechanic that knew absolutely everything about cars and was eventually called to testify in court as an expert witness. She had all the facts about cars and had a perfect understanding about them. At one point in the movie, she came across another mechanic who started saying something about Vinny’s car and Vinny asked her opinion on the matter. Vinny wasn’t qualified to make an assessment of the validity of the other mechanic’s statement and relied upon his car expert girlfriend who had all the facts. In like manner, if Mormon and captain Moroni both had perfect understandings, then they must have known everything there was to know about whatever it was in which they had their perfect understanding. In Vinny’s girlfriend’s case, it was the topic of cars. In Mormon and Moroni’s case, their perfect understanding was in the laws of God.

Following through with this logic, then, they must have had access to all the laws of God. Not just the Nephite laws, but all the laws of God, from Adam to the end of the world. Did they have such access? Yes, they did.

What we know about Mormon and others who “had all the facts”

He lived after Christ had visited the Nephites. Christ, when He came, “expounded all things…from the beginning…even unto the great and last day” (3 Ne. 26:3-4.) Mormon had access to all the records, including those that contained this exposition.

Mormon had read the plates of Ether, which contained the revelation given to the brother of Jared, which was “a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof” (2 Ne. 27:7), which reveals “all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof” (2 Ne. 27:10). Jesus “ministered unto [the brother of Jared] even as he ministered unto the Nephites” (Ether 3:17). So, the brother of Jared received the same exposition of all things that the Nephites received when Jesus came among them.

We see from this that Mormon had all the facts, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. He was uniquely qualified, having a perfect understanding himself, to make an assessment as to who else had such a perfect understanding. No one can compare our modern, Gentile prophets and apostles, who have limited knowledge of things, to Mormon, whose eyes were completely open. There is a good reason why the Lord chose him to write this book and chose his name to be put onto it. And what can be said about Mormon can also be said about his son Moroni, for Moroni also read the plates of Ether.

Now, let’s talk about king Mosiah. Mosiah translated the plates of Ether and thus Mosiah had all the facts. Mosiah, then, was a man of perfect understanding, like Mormon and Moroni and the brother of Jared. But there are more than these three who have been given by the Lord this perfect understanding, for there are “others who have been, to them hath he shown all things” (1 Ne. 14:26).

Now, let’s talk about Alma the younger. Mosiah conferred everything he had upon Alma the younger, including all the records, interpreters, etc.  (See Mosiah 28:20.)  Alma the younger, then, having the interpreters, was called a seer.  (See Mosiah 28:16.)  Alma, then, having the plates of Ether and the interpreters, could read them. Now Alma gained a perfect understanding, but like Mosiah and all the others, was “laid under a strict command that” he “not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him” (Alma 12:9).  “For this cause did Mosiah keep” (Ether 4:1) these records and the revelation given to the brother of Jared from the people, and Alma did the same. However, not everyone was kept from reading the revelation that revealed all things from the beginning. Helaman, son of Alma, was also given the records and things and he, too, became a man of “perfect understanding.”

So, the plates of Ether were available to those who showed forth great faith, so that they also would become men of perfect understanding.

How it was that captain Moroni had a “perfect understanding”
Finally, we come to captain Moroni. Mormon said captain Moroni was “like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God” (Alma 48:18). Now what did all these men have in common that gave them this perfect understanding? They all read the plates of Ether using the interpreters and learned of the revelation of all things given to the brother of Jared.

Can I make this any clearer? In the modern church, certain people get the second anointing, certain people get the more sure word of prophecy, certain people have their calling and election made sure. The rest do not. In the ancient Nephite world, the Jaredite revelation was kind of like that. Some were commanded to look into the interpreters and read it, becoming by definition seers, while most were not. (See Mosiah 8:13-18.) Captain Moroni was one of those people who got to read it.

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Why the Gospel Requires Embodied Proxies


Surfing the Internet back in February, I came across the following three questions on another blog:

“Why do people have to have ordinances performed on physical, mortal bodies, thus necessitating proxies?”

“If the ordinances can transfer to spirits via proxies, why can’t the spirits be baptized?”

“And if there is some reason why they have to be performed on physical, mortal bodies, why can’t this wait until the resurrection?”

The questions intrigued me and I endeavored to answer them. The exercise ended up drawing out new information (new to me, at least), which is why I’m copying it onto this blog. This post contains those comments I left there, but with clarifications, corrections and a little expansion. First, though, here’s a review of two scriptures concerning baptism for the living and dead.

Baptism for the living; vicarious baptism for the dead

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. (AoF 1:4)

And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them; but behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.

And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.

Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.

These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross. (D&C 138:29-35)

My comments with [clarifications], [corrections] and [expansions] in [brackets]

Why do people have to have ordinances performed on physical, mortal bodies, thus necessitating proxies?

It’s patterned after the way God saves us: through Jesus Christ, a[n embodied] Proxy[, even the Only Begotten Son of God, according to the flesh.]  This points our minds to Christ.

If the ordinances can transfer to spirits via proxies, why can’t the spirits be baptized?

Because they are imprisoned [referring to the bands of death, which prohibit naked spirits from getting their bodies back and being baptized]. We do the work for them because they cannot do the work for themselves.

And if there is some reason why they have to be performed on physical, mortal bodies, why can’t this wait until the resurrection?

Because they [the resurrected, damned souls] are still, technically imprisoned [referring to the chains of hell, not the bands of death]. No one can break the chains of hell without faith in Christ and no spirit in hell can exercise faith in Christ without the ordinances being done in their behalf. A resurrected, unclean spirit cannot be baptized, for they remain unclean, having never exercised faith in Christ [after dying in their sins]. Although they have left the geographical location of hell, they still have the chains of hell upon them and are still subject to the devil. In their resurrected state, having the Lord before them, they cannot exercise faith, for now they have a perfect knowledge. It is faith alone that saves. Therefore, their only hope is through vicarious ordinances performed in their behalf, and missionary proxies preaching [to] them while they are still spirits in prison. If they can exercise faith in Christ while they are there, prior to their resurrection, they can free themselves from their chains and obtain salvation.

So, LDS Anarchist, what you’re saying is: Spirits can’t be baptized because there are no fonts in spirit prison.

No, what I’m saying is that 1) they are still impenitent [referring to the chains of hell] and 2) they are bound [referring to the bands of death]. Whether there is water or not in hell makes no difference, whatsoever. They can’t be baptized because they have no faith nor repentance because they are bound by the chains of hell [as well as by the bands of death]. That’s what chains do, they stop you from doing things you otherwise might do. It’s called prison for a reason.

[In other words, the chains of hell keep them impenitent, or incapable of exercising faith and repentance, which must precede baptism to qualify for baptism, and the bands of death keep them from being baptized because they don’t have a body. The double captivity whammy of sin and death makes it, essentially, impossible to escape hell.]

[You, LDS Anarchist, wrote,]

We do the work for them because they cannot do the work for themselves.

Ironically, doesn’t that sound like Satan’s plan?

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Satan’s plan was to save man by destroying agency. The Lord’s plan was to save man while retaining agency. Both wanted to be the Father’s proxy (His only begotten Son.) Under the Lord’s plan, there are a multitude of proxies, we [the people of the Lord] acting in the name of the Lord, in behalf of ourselves and others, as “saviors on mount Zion,” while the devil’s plan had only one proxy and savior acting under his own power and authority: him [the devil].

Are you saying they have no agency?

The spirits in hell have no agency. They are subject to the spirit of the devil and are bound in the chains of hell. He is the warden there. It operates according to his destruction-of-agency rules. Spirit missionaries traveling from paradise to hell to bring the gospel light to their darkness would be unable to get anyone to exercise faith in Christ and free themselves, because they cannot be baptized. Proxy baptism opens the way for them to exercise faith and shake off their chains.

And where does it say that there are no fonts in spirit prison?

Fonts in hell would serve no purpose, except to torment people further. Since the devil is a sadist, perhaps he does have fonts there.

One more thing. The ordinance of baptism requires complete immersion (of the soul.) Your physical body is as much a part of you as is your spirit body. So that’s the requirement. All of the fallen man must be immersed. The unbaptized spirits in prison are screwed because they have no power to get their bodies back, thus [they] cannot exercise faith unto salvation. So the Lord provides a way for their escape from prison, by making temple workers proxy souls. The ordinance of baptism, then, is of necessity an earthly ordinance. It must be performed by embodied spirits (souls.)

But what about the souls in spirit prison that have accepted the gospel and are ready to accept the proxy ordinance, but it hasn’t been performed yet…?

The principle of a future savior (on mount Zion) still applies, allowing them to exercise faith and escape. This is how the ancients who lived prior to Christ obtained faith. But if there were never any work done for the dead, none of the dead could exercise faith.

Are you saying that up until the point where the proxy ordinance is preformed they have no faith nor repentance, then as soon as someone performs the proxy ordinance, then they stop being impenitent…?

No. I’m saying that there must be a way for the ordinance to be performed, in order for the commandment to be fulfilled, otherwise no amount of preaching to the dead could allow them to generate faith. They are hopelessly bound by the devil’s chains and also by the bands of death. They have lost all agency, all hope and thus, all faith. The missionaries preaching in prison bring them agency, through the light of the gospel, and hope for escape from hell through the vicarious works and also hope of a resurrection. All of this allows them to begin to exercise faith and repent, which, if they do, shakes the chains off.

Which is it? Spirits in Spirit Prison are physically incapable of being baptized or they lack the faith and repentance to be baptized? Or some combination of the two…?

It is both. Their are two bands or bonds they are powerless to overcome. The first are the chains of hell, which subject them to the devil. To put it in more modern terms, subjection to the devil means that he takes total control over you, so that you become a mind-controlled slave, or a robot, a puppet. The “you” of you ceases to exist. Your will becomes (forcefully) swallowed up in the impenitent will of the devil. You lose all agency and become a thing that is merely acted upon. This is slavery on an absolute level. The second bond are the bands of death, which also provide many limitations.

In mortality, a person (who has not sinned unto death) can exercise faith, repent of all their sins and then fulfill the commandments of baptism, etc., because first, there are no bands of death on them and second, any chains of hell upon them are powerless to drag them down to hell (because of the body) and are also powerless to subject them to the devil. These conditions of mortality allow us to have agency and make choices according to our wills. Once we die, though, the limitations of the chains are removed and if we still have chains attached, all is lost.

Thus, people who die in their sins also die a spiritual death, as Jacob taught. This is also why if there were no resurrection, we would all become angels to the devil, again as Jacob taught. Death and hell present an insurmountable obstacle to mankind’s very existence, for according to the very laws of the universe, the devil must always win. But then the Lord provides the miracle of the atonement, providing a way for our escape.

And it is miraculous, for the spirits in hell have the will of the devil, and so are incapable of repenting or exercising faith. They can no longer choose their own path. They are powerless to get their bodies back. This makes it impossible for them to escape from their spiritual and physical death. But irregardless, the Lord provides a resurrection of the physically dead and a resurrection of the spiritually dead, doing the impossible.

If the missionaries preaching in prison bring them agency — and the hope for possible ordinances allows them to begin to exercise faith and repent, hence shake off their chains — then why can’t the missionaries in prison dedicate a spirit baptismal font and baptize them once they’ve repented?

The ordinance of baptism is a washing ordinance. We are washing “our garments.” You know how in the scriptures it says that many high priests washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb and were made clean? All things from the Spirit have both literal and symbolic meaning. There are no pure symbols in the gospel, but all symbols are based on real, concrete things. A real thing is symbolically called this or that because it reminds one of something else. So, we partake of new wine in the sacrament because wine reminds us of the blood of Christ, because it looks like blood, etc. The wine is a real thing that is used symbolically to represent another real thing: blood. To the prophetic mind, the physical body is a garment, for we put it on at birth and take it off at death, just as we do a cloth garment. Baptism is the ordinance in which we wash our “garment.” A[n] unembodied or disembodied spirit cannot wash his or her garment in baptism, for they are naked spirits, and that ordinance is specifically for the washing of the “garment.” Baptizing a disembodied spirit does not meet the requirements of the ordinance, nor its purposes. Because of this, baptizing spirits is powerless to generate faith. It must be done by embodied spirits.

Alternately, if the spirits of the dead don’t have the agency to repent and stop being mind-controlled robots, then how do they have the faith, repentance, and agency to accept the proxy baptism once it is performed?

The spirits in prison are kept in darkness by the devil. They are spiritually dead. I’ll put it another way: they are dead spirits. The devil is a murderer from the beginning and as soon as they are dragged down to hell, they die. In other words, he kills them. How do you kill an immortal spirit? By taking away their ability to perceive. If you can’t see, hear, or have any other sense, if you can’t even perceive your own thoughts, you will cease to exist as you. You lose your identity, your sense of time and everything else. This is accomplished by the darkness and the chains. Thus, they have no agency or power.

When the missionaries arrive, though, they bring with them light (if not so, the darkness would overpower even them) and this light allows the spirits to perceive once again, granting them agency. They still have to contend with the chains (which are real things that symbolically represent and look like, intertwining chains, and which also look like the tares plant, hence the prophets giving them that name, too) but they are no longer fully subject to the devil and can choose to exercise faith and repent.

Are you saying that the fact of performing the proxy ordinance breaks that spirit’s chains and allows the spirit to develop faith?

The chains of hell (also called the bonds of iniquity, since they proceed from the spirit of the devil) cannot be broken by ordinances. They have to be shaken off or shaken loose in the process of “working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord.” That process requires faith, repentance, and coming to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That process starts with faith, but no faith can be generated if the process is doomed to fail even before it begins. The spirits must be given hope. They must be given good news. If they are told, “You must have faith and repent, but you can’t be baptized nor will you ever be able to,” this would extinguish all chance of them ever attaining faith, for there is no salvation without baptism. This is why we perform baptisms for the dead.

In other words, you seem to be saying that because they died in their sins (and are bound by their chains of unfaithfulness), they can’t be baptized. OK, well then why can they be proxy-baptized? Does the proxy baptism itself somehow grant them agency so that they are no longer mind-controlled slave/robots?

The light the missionaries brings with them grants them agency. Proxy baptism allows them to be able to exercise faith unto salvation. Proxy baptism is permissible in the gospel because it develops faith, as does every other part of the gospel. Unless faith is developed, no salvation is possible. The chains of hell, once attached, are impossible to detach except through faith. In other words, it is faith that saves. Faith is the first principle of the gospel. All the other aspects of the gospel are for faith maintenance or faith development, which also makes them salvific. But nothing in the gospel saves apart from faith. You can go through all the motions you want in the gospel, if you never develop faith the chains are still attached and upon your death you will find yourself in hell, despite all your “gospel living.” So a man cannot go to paradise with chains attached, for they drag him back. A man can’t get a physical, resurrected body with chains attached and expect to be free of them by virtue of his new body. It doesn’t work that way. No, that body is Satan’s. His possession alone. Just as king Benjamin taught, the Lord does not take what belongs to another.

Summarized principles

Those were the comments, which I wrote in February earlier this year.  Now to summarize the principles:

Baptism is ineffectual in the resurrection

To qualify for baptism, faith and repentance must precede it. A resurrected, unclean spirit cannot be baptized, for they remain unclean, having never exercised faith in Christ unto repentance. After leaving the geographical location of hell, through their resurrection, they are brought before the Lord to be judged. They cannot exercise faith in this state, for they will have a perfect knowledge. Because it is faith alone that saves, baptizing them can have no power to save them, for baptism only has power to maintain and further develop the faith that a person already has. It has no power to engender faith in individuals devoid of faith, being a dead work to such people.

Soul baptism (spirit + flesh “garments”) is the ordinance

The ordinance of baptism requires complete immersion of the soul. Your physical body is as much a part of you as is your spirit body, it being the physical “garments” of the spirit. So that’s the requirement. All of the man (spirit + flesh) must be immersed. We are entirely dipped into water, while clothed in flesh, washing our garments in the watery liquid. This garment of flesh is like a physical kabod that covers the anthropomorphic part of us, corresponding to the spiritual kabod that we also have.

Baptizing a naked spirit does not fulfill the ordinance requirements

Owing that naked spirits have lost their physical bodies and have no power to get them back, spirits in hell cannot be validly baptized, nor can the spirits in paradise be baptized in behalf of those in hell, because, they, also, do not meet the requirements of the ordinance, having no physical garment to wash.

There can be no faith without baptism

We teach faith, repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost as an ordered progression for those who have reached the age of accountability. The commandment is to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of all one’s sins, be baptized in water and receive the Holy Ghost. If you are taught these principles but are unable to be baptized and confirmed by the laying on of hands because you do not have a physical body, you cannot comply with the commandment. It will be impossible, then, for you to exercise faith unto repentance, because you cannot see the commandment to completion and receive the remission of your sins. You cannot fulfill the required baptismal witness. Preaching the gospel requirements (the first four principles and ordinances) to spirits, then, while simultaneously telling them they cannot comply with them, has no power to engender faith in anyone.

Vicarious baptism must, of necessity, be performed by the embodied people of the Lord

Embodied, proxy baptism fulfills the gospel requirements in behalf of disembodied (disrobed) spirits, so that now, when a missionary preaches the gospel to them, they can exercise faith and escape hell, confident that the vicarious baptism has been or will be done in their behalf. Therefore only the embodied people of the Lord, prior to the resurrection, can provide the necessary proxies to save the people in hell by allowing them to exercise faith, which is why temple work must be done on this side of the veil.

One proxy vs. a multitude of proxies

God’s plan calls for a multitude of proxies, all of them becoming saviors on mount Zion, patterned after the embodied Christ who performed the ordinance of atonement in our behalf, whereas Satan’s plan called for just one proxy: himself. (The missionary work done in hell is likewise patterned after the disembodied Christ who traveled to paradise to declare to them the day of their deliverance.)

Spirits in hell can leave on the faith and hope alone of future ordinance work being done

A spirit does not need to wait for his ordinance work to be done, in order to have sufficient faith to leave hell. All he needs to know is that the work will be done at some point in the future. This allows him to have hope and to exercise faith that it will be done. The urgency of ordinance work is not that undone ordinance work prohibits spirits from shaking off the chains of hell and leaving that region of darkness, but that it prohibits a spirit that has already left hell and gone to paradise from entering paradise. They can go to paradise, but cannot enter into it until the work is done, for like all hollow spheres, there is an outer and an inner part. The outer surface is where people wait until the work is done. The inner part is for those who have the ordinances. Those “appointed there” at the gates make sure that no one can pass into the interior of paradise (see D&C 132:18), but once the salvation ordinance work is done, then the people can pass by those “set there” (see D&C 132:19.)

It’s all about engendering, maintaining and developing faith

The first principle of the gospel, faith, is engendered through the atonement of Jesus Christ. All the other principles of the gospel are to maintain that faith and to further develop it. If you exercise faith unto repentance, but afterward return again to your sins, the faith you have engendered is not maintained and you lose it. The commandment to be baptized in water after you have exercised faith and repented of all your sins maintains your faith when you comply with it. The same is true with all the other commandments of God; when you obey them, the faith in you is maintained, and when you disobey them, faith is lost. Everything, then, in the gospel, is an act of faith, either one of engendering, maintaining or developing.

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