Re-Post of “The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1” and “Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2”


I came across these first two parts of a three part series by Corbin Volluz back in 2013 and was very impressed. So impressed, in fact, that I think I ought to re-blog them here on LDS Anarchy. I don’t have the author’s permission to re-blog and I didn’t see a re-blog button, but I’m doing it anyway. The original articles were found on the Rational Faiths blog, here and here. Okay, here is the re-post:


The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1

Oct 08, 13The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1

When I was a missionary, it was customary to introduce the new investigator to the Book of Mormon by inviting them to read the appearance of the Savior to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11.  I remember being concerned whenever this invitation was given that the investigator would continue reading into 3 Nephi 12-14 and realize that the Savior teaches the Nephites essentially the Sermon on the Mount from the King James Version of Matthew 3-5.  I knew that if the investigator started asking questions about this, I would not have a satisfactory answer.  King James Version

In the many years since my mission, I have read most of the apologetic literature dealing with this issue, and while I have learned a number of helpful things along the way, none of the arguments have satisfied me as to why the KJV Sermon on the Mount is in the Book of Mormon.  As readers of the BOM are aware, the SOM comes at the beginning of Jesus’ teachings to the surviving Nephites, though his teachings continue for thirteen more chapters through 3 Nephi 27.

I was unable for a long time to come to grips with the fact that the presence of the KJV SOM in the BOM is an indisputable indicator of its modern production.  I was so busy whistling past the graveyard and looking at other things (things that were more faith promoting), that I didn’t have to.  But always in the back of my mind the issue lurked.  And the natural result was a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

Eventually I was able to admit the obvious—that there is simply no good reason consonant with total and complete BOM ancientness for entire chapters of New Testament KJV to appear in its pages.   This admission on my part had a two-fold effect: (1) It allowed me to finally let go the hopeless effort to explain it away in a manner consistent with the BOM being completely ancient, and resolved the cognitive dissonance I had long been experiencing; and, (2) It liberated me to actually look at the KJV passages in the BOM.

This was huge for me.  Before this, I had been so busy being afraid of the KJV passages that I had not allowed myself to read them closely and see what they had to say in the BOM.  It allowed me the freedom to ask questions about the KJV passages, most important of which for me was, “Are the KJV passages just filler?”  And, if not, “What does the BOM actually do with the KJV passages?”

Once I got to the place where I could allow myself to ask these questions, I began to see that not only were the KJV passages not filler, and that the BOM was in fact “doing something” with them, but that what the BOM was doing with the KJV passages was complex and remarkable.

Here I will begin the first of an expected three-part article examining what the Book of Mormon actually does with the Sermon on the Mount.

It is easy to see this three-chapter sermon as an undigested lump sitting there like a doctrinal island with no connection to the teachings that follow.  A closer reading, however, shows that the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi is far from filler.  Instead, it serves as a foundation text for the rest of the Savior’s teachings, and we find threads of it woven into the warp and woof of what Jesus declares thereafter.

1. The SOM’s teaching that salt that has lost its savor is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men (12:13) is applied to the fate of the Gentiles who reject the gospel: “I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.” (16:15)

2. The SOM’s teaching that “I give unto you to be a light of this people” (12:14) is applied by Jesus later to his Nephite disciples: “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.” (15:12)

3. The SOM’s admonition to “let your light so shine before this people” (12:16) becomes Jesus’ Nephite teaching to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.  Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (18:24)

4. The SOM’s teaching that Jesus “is not come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil” (12:17) is echoed to the Nephites: “Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.” (15:6)

5. Similarly, the SOM’s teaching that “in me (the law) hath all been fulfilled” (12:18) is expanded upon when Jesus tells the Nephites he is the one who gave the law of Moses and that “the law in me is fulfilled.” (15:4-5)

6. The SOM’s statement that “I have given you the law and the commandments” with the injunction that “ye shall believe in me” and “keep my commandments” to “enter into the kingdom of heaven” (12:19-20) is reiterated later as Christ identifies himself as “the law” with an injunction to “look unto me, and endure to the end” and “keep my commandments” in order to have “eternal life.” (15:9-10)Sermon on the Mount

7. The SOM’s declaration that “old things are done away, and all things have become new” (12:47) is picked up later when the Nephites do not understand this saying, and Jesus says, “Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.” (15:2-3)

8. The SOM’s admonition that “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your
Father who is in heaven is perfect” (12:48) is echoed at the end of Jesus’ ministry to the Nephite disciples, “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (27:27b)

9. The SOM’s warning against using “vain repetitions” in prayer “as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (13:7) finds application in the Nephite disciples’ prayer to God, “And they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.” (19:24b)

10. The SOM’s pattern of prayer set by Jesus—“After this manner therefore pray ye” (13:9a) finds application when Jesus tells his Nephite disciples, “And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church.” (18:16a)

11. The SOM’s instruction that “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him” (13:8b) is recalled later when Jesus says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” (18:20)

12. The SOM’s axiom that “every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (14:8) is replicated in Jesus’ words to his Nephite disciples, “Therefore, ask, and ye shall received, knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (27:29)

13. The SOM’s injunction to “enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (14:13-14) finds renewed application to the Nephite disciples—“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work.” (27:33).

14. The SOM’s teaching that “whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock” that when the rains fall, etc., “it fell not,” but the one who hears and does not do these sayings is likened to a man who built “upon the sand” and his house “fell, and great was the fall of it” (14:24-27) will be repeated and amplified to the Nephites—And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.  But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rains descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.” (18:12b-13)

15. This same teaching in the SOM (14:24-27) is found in the mouth of Jesus shortly before he gives the SOM (12-14) where he says, “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.” (11:40).

16. The SOM’s string of beatitudes (“blessed are ye”) statements (12:1-11) is bookended with a beatitude promised by Jesus to his disciples if they will follow his gospel—“Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (27:22)

Though not intended to be exhaustive, this list of 16-entries indicates that the SOM given in 3 Nephi 12-14 is not just filler, but literally (and literarily) permeates the balance of the Savior’s teachings to the Nephites.

Further, the SOM teachings are not simply reiterated, but are often amplified and clarified in subsequent Nephite exposition.  For example, the SOM injunction to “let your light so shine” (12:16) is expanded upon to the effect that the “light” is Jesus himself. gold plates in stone box(18:24)  The SOM’s teaching that in Jesus is the law “fulfilled” (12:18) is not just quoted later, but additional information given that Jesus is the one who gave the law to Moses in the first place.  (15:4-5)  The warning against “vain repetitions” in prayer (13:7) is amplified by showing that the Nephites avoided this because “it was given unto them what they should pray.” (19:24b)

Keeping track of the SOM threads during the balance of the Savior’s Nephite ministry, and using them in context and with additional elaboration, is no mean feat.  It introduces an unexpected complexity and beauty into this section of the Book of Mormon.

But this isn’t all.

The next two articles will be devoted to showing additional layers of complexity in this narrative; a complexity that, like layer after layer of varnish, makes the resulting composition shine.


Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2

Oct 14, 13Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2

My last article showed how three chapters from Matthew (the Sermon on the Mount from Matt. 5-7) are quoted at the beginning of Jesus’ Nephite ministry, and thereafter incorporated into his teachings approximately 15 times.

Bookending these three New Testament chapters at the outset of Jesus’ ministry are three Old Testament chapters at the conclusion, being Isaiah 54 (3 Nephi 22) and Malachi 3 and 4 (3 Nephi 24 and 25).  Why these three chapters? Upon examination, it turns out that these three Old Testament chapters are no more “filler material” than the three New Testament chapters, but are contextualized primarily within the framework of Jesus’ preceding acts and teachings.

We know Jesus was concerned the Nephites have a record demonstrating that prophecies relating to his post-resurrection appearance were fulfilled.  This is why he is eager to have included the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecy that the dead would rise from their graves (3 Nephi 23:9-13).  Similarly, several passages from Malachi serve the same purpose—to show that prophecies previously given were fulfilled at his coming.St. Malachi

1. The Lord Comes to His Temple—Right out of the box, Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) is quoted regarding the prophecy that “the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.”  As keen as the Nephites were on likening the scriptures unto themselves for their “profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23), it is almost certain they saw the fulfillment of this prophecy when the resurrected Lord came to his temple in Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1).

2. The Messenger of the Covenant–In the same passage from Malachi, the Lord is described as “the messenger of the covenant.”  Jesus’ Nephite teachings are replete with references to the covenant of which he is the messenger:  “I am he who covenanted with my people Israel,” and, “The covenant which I have made with my people.” (3 Nephi 15:5, 8).  Many other references to the “covenant” are found in 16:5, 11, 12; 20:12, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29 (x2), 46 (x2); 21: 4 (x2), 7, 11, and 22.  These twenty references to the “covenant” demonstrate the thematic quality of the concept; a theme that is capped off and tied into scripture by Malachi 3:1 quoted at the end of Jesus’ ministry.

3. Destructions Accompanying Appearance of the Lord at his Temple—The next verse in Malachi (3:2; cited at 3 Nephi 24:2) asks, “Who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth?” and adds that “he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” This indicates an appearance accompanied by destruction that all do not survive. 3 Nephi 8-9 describes the destructions immediately preceding Jesus coming to his temple in Bountiful, which many were not able to “abide.”

4. Treading Down the Wicked–Malachi 3:2-6 (3 Nephi 24:2-6) details the calamities to the wicked associated with the Lord’s coming, which is picked up in Malachi 4:1-3 (3 Nephi 25:1-3). Malachi 4:3 is particularly grisly: “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”

Stain Glass IsaiahThis saying links backward to 3 Nephi 16:15 where Jesus says, “I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them and shall tread them down, . . . and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.”  It also links backward to 2 Nephi 21:12 where Jesus says that the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles like a young lion “who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces and none can deliver.”

We also read of several cities burning to the ground, together with their wicked inhabitants, prior to the Savior’s coming.  These are the cities of Zarahemla (8:8) and its inhabitants (9:3), Jacobugath and its inhabitants (9:9), and the cities of Laman, Josh, Gad and Kishkumen (9:10).  The wicked citizens of these cities burned to the ground were literally reduced to “ashes under the soles of your feet,” as prophesied in Malachi 4:3 (3 Nephi 25:3).

5. Turning the Hearts—Malachi 4:6 (3 Nephi 25:6) contains the familiar prophecy regarding Elijah coming to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.  Once again, although this prophecy is generally seen by modern Mormons as having fulfillment in the end-times, the text indicates the fulfillment occurred during Jesus’ visit, and would likely have been seen this way by the Nephites.

Immediately after this verse is quoted, Jesus turns the hearts of the fathers to the children: “These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.” (3 Nephi 26:2)  Mormon seems to understand this as he comments that he has written the “lesser part” of what Jesus taught the Nephites “to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles.”  (3 Nephi 26:8).  In other words, the additional scriptures provided by Jesus and also his teachings were recorded with the specific “intent that they may be brought again” unto their descendants, or children—the “future generations.”

Jesus addresses the same theme prior to the quotation from Malachi, telling the Nephites that “when these works . . . shall come forth . . . unto your seed, . . . it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 21:5, 7).  (Note that in this passage, the theme of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children from Malachi 4:6 is interwoven with the covenant from Malachi 3:1.)

Having turned the hearts of the fathers to the children, Mormon next records how Jesus turned the hearts of the children to the fathers, describing how Jesus “did teach, and minister unto the children of the multitude, . . . and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things. . . “ (3 Nephi 26:4).  A similar scene is described two verses later, Christ among the Nephiteswhich contains the entirety of information given regarding what happened on the third day of Jesus’ visit (3 Nephi 26:16).

In his teachings, Jesus earlier reminds the Nephites that “ye are the children of the prophets” (20:25) and turns their hearts to their prophet fathers by not only reminding them they are part of the Abrahamic covenant, but also by quoting the three Old Testament chapters at the end of his recorded Nephite ministry.

6. Tithes and Offerings—Malachi 3:8-12 recites the well-known admonition to bring all the tithes and offerings into the Lord’s house that there may be meat (i.e., “food”) there, coupled with the blessing of the windows of heaven opening, and plenteous crops so that none need go hungry.  Malachi verseThis is of interest because some sort of communal law such as that of “tithes and offerings” was instituted by Jesus among the Nephites, for we read in 4 Nephi that “there were no poor among them.”  It would seem this was important for the Nephites in order to lay the basis for their communal society which was stable enough to endure for 200-years, and accounts for why the Savior thought it important to have this scripture added to the Nephite records immediately prior to their embarking on this happy two centuries of their history.

Those who follow Malachi’s economic plan are promised that “all nations shall call you blessed” (3 Nephi 24:12), a promise which is fulfilled upon the Nephites for 200-years after Christ’s visit; in fact, they are called “blessed” three times, a symbolically significant number associated with the heavens or the divine: “And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered . . . (4 Nephi 18).

In a similar fashion, Jesus admonished the Nephites that there should be no disputations or contentions among them (3 Nephi 11:28), a status used three times to describe the Nephite society after he departs: 4 Nephi 2 states “there were no contentions and disputations among them,” 13 states “there was no contention among all the people,” and 15 says “there was no contention in all the land.”

7. The Gathering and Restoration of Israel—The third Old Testament chapter quoted by Jesus at the end of his ministry is Isaiah 54, found in 3 Nephi 22.  It is repetitive and poetic (as only Isaiah can be), but the primary message is that Israel, though scattered and downtrodden in the past, will ultimately be restored and victorious over their oppressors.  “Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles,” we read in 3 Nephi 22:3.  The crux of the entire chapter is synopsized in 3 Nephi 22:7—“For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.”

The gathering and restoration of Israel (with an emphasis on the Nephites and Lamanites) is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching prior to the citation of Isaiah 54 in 3 Nephi 22, and is the main thrust of chapters 16, 20 and 21.  Perhaps it will be sufficient to make the point to cite here to salient portions of the chapter headings:Prophet predicting the future

Chapter 16—In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and to the house of Israel—The Lord’s people will see eye to eye when He brings Zion.  (Verse 16 has Jesus promising the Nephites to “give unto this people this land for their inheritance.”)

Chapter 20The remnant of Jacob will come to the knowledge of the Lord their God and will inherit the Americas—Others of the Lord’s people will be gathered to Jerusalem.

Chapter 21Israel will be gathered when the Book of Mormon comes forth—Israel will build the New Jerusalem, and the lost tribes will return.

In this way we can see the quotation of Isaiah 54 in 3 Nephi 22 as the capstone of Jesus’ lengthy and detailed teachings to the Nephites regarding their gathering and restoration in the last days.

Conclusion

We have seen that the three Old Testament chapters included by Jesus at the end of his ministry are, like the Sermon on the Mount given at the beginning of his ministry, not mere filler, but are fully contextualized in both the deeds and teachings of Jesus among the Nephites.

But whereas the New Testament chapters are primarily “brushed forward” into Jesus’ subsequent teachings to the Nephites, the Old Testament chapters are primarily “brushed backward” onto the prior teachings and deeds of Jesus among the Nephites.

Think about this for a minute.  It is one thing to incorporate the Sermon on the Mount into subsequent teachings.  It is another thing to have deeds and teachings come first only to be capped and referenced by Old Testament chapters at the end.

But it is another thing entirely to do both at the same time, brushing forward from the New Testament chapters at the same time as brushing backward from the Old Testament chapters.  And yet this is precisely what the author of Third Nephi does, raising the degree of complexity in the text to a much greater order than either standing alone.

This pattern calls to mind a phrase from Kipling’s poem, The Law of the Jungle:

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back –
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Akela

In the third and final installment, I plan to show that the text of Jesus’ Nephite ministry, already remarkably complicated, is made even more complex by the superimposition of a literary structure over the whole, within which the simultaneous “brushing forward” and “brushing backward” takes place.


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Re-Post of “Go and Sin No More – Misinterpreting Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery”


I came across this post by J. Max Wilson last year and liked it very much since it actually contained my understanding of the passages in question. Today, as I was thinking about it, I thought that I ought to link to it somewhere on my blog so that I could access it more easily. But then I thought, “It contains my understanding of the passage. It should really be put entirely on the blog, and not just as a link.” I looked for a re-blog button, and found none, so I am re-blogging it without permission from the author. To read it at its original location (the Sixteen Small Stones blog), click here.  So, here is the article:


Go and Sin No More – Misinterpreting Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery

Go-and-Sin-No-More

Alternate Title: You keep citing that story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery– I do not think it means what you think it means.

Before I jump into this topic, let me say that there is merit in the idea that we shouldn’t judge people for sinning differently than we do. But like all pithy slogans, this statement loses nuance in favor of brevity. We should love and value people regardless of their sins. But that does not mean we should pretend that they are not sinning any more than it means that we should feign that we are not sinners.

In ongoing conversations about religion, law, sexuality and culture it has become increasingly common for people to argue that the only sin that it is acceptable to reprove is the sin of “reproving the sins of others”.

Of course, that is not how they say it. What they say is that because we are all sinners it is inappropriate for anyone to judge another for what they consider a sin. And when they say it, they are apparently completely oblivious to the fact that by reproving others for being judgmental, they are themselves judging another for what they consider a sin.

That is why the “you have no right to judge another’s sins” line of reasoning is nonsense. It is self-contradictory. It cannot be expressed without violating its own meaning. You cannot advocate for non-judgmentalism without judging those who are (in your estimation) judgmental.

Some advocates for tolerance run into a similar problem because apparently they believe that everything should be tolerated except for those views or actions they consider intolerant.

Ultimately saying that people can’t ever judge someone else means that nobody can ever stand up for what they believe because standing up for any principle or standard will always imply that those who live or think contrary to that principle are in the wrong.

Employing this line of reasoning is really just an emotional rhetorical bludgeon meant to delegitimize a point of view with which you disagree by defining it as “out of bounds” while allowing you to continue to judge others for what you feel is immoral, and impose your own standards of morality on others.

Thus, in our present culture it has become okay to call someone a bigot and shame them because they say that homosexual actions or abortion are sinful, but it is not okay to say someone is sinning because they have an abortion or engage in homosexual behavior–even though calling someone a bigot and calling someone a sinner are both clearly forms of judging and reproving another.

It is common for those who promote this lop-sided and self-refuting viewpoint among Christians to cite the biblical example of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11) as a religiously authoritative proof-text of the kind of non-judgmentalism they advocate.

As they retell it, when an adulterous woman was brought before him, Jesus said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And since all of them were also sinners (as we all are), nobody was willing to do it and they left. And then Jesus, even knowing that she was guilty, also refrained from condemning her, and let her go with, as they tell it, a friendly, general admonition to “go and sin no more.”

Retelling the story in that way, they then explain that if Jesus refused to condemn this woman for her sins, then we also should never, ever reprove another for sin. EVER. Sometimes also followed by “HOW DARE YOU CLAIM TO BE A CHRISTIAN WHILE  REJECTING THIS CLEAR TEACHING OF JESUS BY SAYING THAT PEOPLE WHO [________] ARE SINNING!”

Again, proclaimed without a hint of self-awareness or irony.

But this is an oversimplification and misinterpretation of the scriptural account. While the story certainly has moral implications, the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman is NOT a parable crafted to teach a specific principle with general application; this is a report of an event from the life of Jesus brought about by specific circumstances.

So it is important to understand the complex dynamics of what was happening before we try to apply it to our modern lives and interactions.

Dore-THE-WOMAN-TAKEN-IN-ADULTERY

The first thing to recognize is that the pharisees who brought the woman before Jesus were not sincere. This is a crucial element of story. These weren’t good, religious men who were concerned about right and wrong and upholding morality and the law. Their entire purpose in bringing her before Jesus was to trap him. They didn’t really care that the woman had sinned. She was merely a pawn in their ongoing efforts to undermine and hopefully kill Jesus.

At this time, the Jews in Israel were under the control of the Roman Empire. That is why in the story of the Nativity, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be taxed by decree of the Roman Emperor, Cæsar Augustus.

Under Roman rule, the power to impose capital punishment, including by stoning, had been taken away from all Jewish authorities. Only a Roman tribunal could impose the death penalty. That is why even after Jesus was eventually arrested and condemned to death by the Jewish Sanhedrin, they didn’t stone him immediately themselves; he had to be taken before the Roman governor, Pilate, to actually impose the death penalty. And when it was imposed he was killed using the Roman method — crucifixion– not stoning. The Jewish leaders had no legal authority to put him to death.

The same was true of the adulterous woman. Even though adultery was punishable by death under the Law of Moses, under Roman law, adultery was not a capital crime. Neither Jesus nor the pharisees could legally have stoned the woman to death for having committed adultery.

So when the pharisees brought the woman before Jesus, and asked “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” They weren’t actually planning to stone her at all. They couldn’t. If they had, they would have violated Roman Law and endangered their own positions of power. Bringing the woman to Jesus was simply a form of emotional theater meant to manipulate the crowd and pressure Jesus into answering carelessly by making the question real and immediate instead of just hypothetical. (And to this day readers are still falling for their theatrics, caught up in the drama while largely oblivious to the real trap.)

The pharisees were trying to construct a verbal snare for Jesus. If he answered that the woman should be stoned as the law of Moses dictates, then they would paint him as a revolutionary and try to have him arrested by the Romans for advocating the violation of Roman rule. If he responded that the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse him of rejecting the law of Moses and use it to undermine his influence among the believing Jews who considered him a great Rabbi or potentially the Messiah.

For the pharisees, whether the woman was guilty or not was completely irrelevant to their purpose. Had they actually been concerned about following the law of Moses, they would have brought both the woman and the man with whom she had been caught. If she was caught “in the very act” as they had claimed then they would have caught the man simultaneously, and the punishment in the law of Moses for adultery was death for both participants.

Jesus wisely ignored them initially. He wasn’t about to be pressured into giving an off-the-cuff response by their contrived theatrics and the spectators it attracted. They kept demanding an answer while he wrote in the dirt with his finger.

When he finally does respond, his brilliant answer turns the snare back onto the trappers. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

He recognized the demands of the law of Moses, but he also knew that the pharisees could not carry it out any more than he could without violating the Roman law.

The law of Moses dictated that to be convicted to death because of adultery, there had to be at least two witnesses. It also dictated that the witnesses whose testimonies established the guilt of accused were to be the first to begin the stoning. So Jesus was asking those who claimed to have witnessed the adultery to step forward themselves to impose the punishment as the law demands. And so the accusers were entrapped in their own catch-22. If they stepped forward as witnesses, they would have opened themselves to questions about how they witnessed the act and why the man involved is not also accused as demanded by Moses. If they try to carry out the stoning, they will be in violation of Roman law.

We don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt. But I like to speculate that, being the Son of God and knowing the thoughts and intents of the hearts of the pharisees, he may have been writing quotes from the law of Moses related to the the specific secret sins of each of these men.

The other thing to keep in mind is that these men were secretly plotting to have Jesus murdered. This is clear from the previous chapter and throughout the rest of the Gospels. They put on a public show of concern about piety and the Law of Moses, but they cared little for the law in private. They were perfectly willing to violate the law in secret in order to remove Jesus as a threat to their power. In the terms of The Book of Mormon, they were essentially a secret combination. So another possibility I like to speculate about is that Jesus was writing their secret oaths and plans in the dirt; telling them essentially “I know your plans and your secret.”

But that is just speculative. As I said, we don’t know what he wrote in the dirt.

But we do know that when Jesus tells them that he who is without sin should cast the first stone, he isn’t just talking about typical human sins of weakness. He was not talking to honest men who have fallen short of an ideal in which they truly believe. He is talking to evil men whose secret plot to murder and get power is far more wicked than anything the woman may have done.

Unable to legally stone the woman, unwilling to step forward and act as the witnesses who would throw the first stone in violation of the Roman law and face cross examination, and confronted with the fact that their trap had failed, the pharisees left in silence.

Jesus then asked the woman, “where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

The law required two witnesses. But nobody was willing to step forward and claim to be a witness.

No man, Lord,” she responds.

And Jesus declares, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Whether or not she is guilty, to be judged guilty the law requires witnesses, and since Jesus himself did not witness her alleged adultery himself (even though being the Son of God he knows), and there are no witnesses, he cannot condemn her either.

The chances that she was going to be stoned contrary to Roman rule were low in the first place. If it had happened it would have been a lawless act of mob violence. Even among the Jews stoning for adultery hadn’t been actively practiced in a long time. The whole thing had been contrived. She had been an unfortunate prop in the pharisee’s theater.

—————————————

Now, having explored this complex story in depth, let’s return to the original discussion of how this story applies as as support for a modern concept of non-judgmentalism.

First off, it has to be pointed out that there is a vast difference between saying someone is a sinner in need of repentance, and threatening the death penalty. The woman in the story isn’t just being verbally reproached for being a sinner, the condemnation they are discussing is condemnation to death and damnation not verbal condemnation . The stones are not metaphors for judgement. They are literal stones.

So it is a huge stretch to say that when Jesus says that he who is without sin should cast the first stone he is saying that nobody should reprove someone else for sin. He was talking about severe, final punishment for sin, not merely calling someone a sinner.

Additionally, the story is clearly not primarily about the woman’s guilt. It is about the snare set by the pharisees against Jesus involving specific contradictions between the Law of Moses and Roman Law and presented theatrically instead of hypothetically in order to try to force an error by Jesus. Trying to extrapolate a general principle about whether or not it is appropriate to reprove someone else for sin from this very complex, specific event is difficult if not impossible.

There is simply no comparison between the wicked, murderous pharisees who were trying to trap Jesus and good, honest religious folks today who are truly concerned about serious sins and their effect on our society and their families. The pharisees didn’t really care about the woman’s sin. Their concern about righteousness was false. That is why Jesus called them “whited sepulchres” on another occasion. (For more on this topic, see my previous post: Having A Form of Godliness – Modern Mormon Pharisees)

When the pharisees leave in silence it is not because they realize that as sinners they have no right to judge another’s sins; they leave chagrined because they have been outwitted and caught in their own trap– and it is clear that Jesus knows their wicked plot against him.

Furthermore, when he did not condemn the woman, Jesus wasn’t being merciful at the expense of the law. He was following the letter and intent of the law: Jesus didn’t condemn the woman because there were no legal witnesses and because Roman law did not allow capital punishment. So his words toward her do not imply that love is more important than law. To the contrary, his strict adherence to the law, including not condemning another to punishment without witnesses, shows how important the law is.

And seeing that his lack of condemnation was primarily an act of strict adherence to the law, the only thing he says regarding the woman’s adultery is that she should “go and sin no more.” So he clearly calls her actions sinful and exhorts her to repent and abstain from sin.

It seems clear that there is nothing in this story that can be legitimately used to support a blanket doctrine of non-judgmentalism.

As Christians, we are in fact required to preach the Gospel consisting of Faith in Jesus as our Savior, Repentance, Baptism, and the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. People cannot repent unless they know that they are sinning. But if it is out of bounds to say that someone is sinning, then we can never say that someone needs to repent because doing so implies that they are doing something wrong, and judging others is wrong (except when you are judging others for judging…).

It is our duty as followers of Jesus Christ to preach repentance and as I have written previously, A Real Friend Will Say What You’d Rather Not Hear.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church has spoken extensively about the relationship between Love and Law, as well as Appropriate and Inappropriate Judging.

Rather than get caught up in modern notions of non-judgmentalism, we should take counsel of the words of a modern apostle:

“Judge Not” and Judging by Elder Dallin H. Oaks 1998

There are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles.

Love and Law by Elder Dallin H. Oaks 2009

The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God’s laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love.

As I have written previously, I’m not saying we should be mean or constantly beat those who disagree with us over the head with our beliefs. There are times when love means treading softly so as not to offend. But there are other times when love means calling a sin a sin even if it offends.

We have a responsibility to try to uphold right and wrong and extend mercy simultaneously.

Even though I have quoted it previously in an unrelated post years ago, to close I’m going to reprint an excerpt of Orson Scott Card’s novel Speaker for the Dead that is particularly appropriate to this post and the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. It is a short story told at the beginning of one chapter of Speaker for the Dead (Emphasis added):

A great rabbi stands teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death. (There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine, a Speaker for the Dead, has told me of two other rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.)

The rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears, and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. “Is there anyone here,” he says to them, “who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?”

They murmur and say, “We all know the desire. But, Rabbi, none of us has acted on it.”

The rabbi says, “Then kneel down and give thanks that God made you strong.” He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, “Tell the lord magistrate who saved his mistress. Then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.”

So the woman lives, because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

Another rabbi, another city. He goes to her and stops the mob, as in the other story, and says, “Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.”

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. Someday, they think, I may be like this woman, and I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her the way I wish to be treated.

As they open their hands and let the stones fall to the ground, the rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head, and throws it straight down with all his might. It crushes her skull and dashes her brains onto the cobblestones.

“Nor am I without sin,” he says to the people. “But if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead, and our city with it.”

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis, and when they veer too far, they die. Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.


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Prophecy for Dummies


In my quest to popularize the advancing science of comparative mythology and plasma physics as they relate to the Restored Gospel, it occurred to me that an analogy derived from the popular “… for Dummies,” series, relating to everything from auto repair to brain surgery, begged for such a nuts-and-bolts approach to prophetic interpretation. The following is the result. – A.E.L.

While we’re definitely not dummies, we all previously thought that one needed a prophetic calling or a PhD in order to interpret prophecy.

But I have found that not to be the case. Anyone who has learned to read—dummies like me and you—can also learn to understand prophecy.

This is done by simply following the clues throughout history, like Hansel and Gretel followed the breadcrumb trail through the forest, tracing the images or metaphors of prophecy to their source in Earth’s ancient heavens. Then, moving forward in time from antiquity to the present, one can map out their use as the prophets consistently employed them in various epochs and in a variety of cultures.

So, reading prophecy is not all that difficult. It’s learning how to understand it that’s a bit hard. That’s because we’ve never been properly schooled in prophetic imagery, a skill once known to all the prophets that has been lost to us over the eons.

And even though Joseph Smith clearly learned that skill, properly employed it and sought to reinstate its imagery in the minds of Latter-day Saints as part of the Restoration, the membership failed to grasp his meaning. (See “The Keys To Prophecy” parts 1 through 12 and “What Joseph Knew.”)

Yes, reading the imagery of prophecy is an acquired skill, just like riding a bike or reading. In fact, the best analogy for learning to read prophecy comes from your own experience as you first began to read.

Think back to when you couldn’t read, before you learned your ABCs. Do you recall what the printed letters on a page looked like? I can. It looked like so much meaningless gobbledygook. There was no way you or I could make sense of it no matter how long we stared at it. Flipping the pages was futile. Trying to find meaning in it was pointless.

Well, that pretty much describes the situation where prophecy is concerned. You can understand the words, but the message is strange gibberish. Try as you might to find meaning in it or make sense of it, you cannot. Instead, your head begins to hurt. Reading various prophecies only further complicates the matter. It all seems to deal in that same bizarre imagery. Even reading books on the subject by supposed ‘authorities’ on prophecy leaves you no closer to reading the stuff. And there are whole chunks of prophecy that they all seem to avoid. Soon you despair, thinking that making sense of prophecy is going to be nearly impossible.

To teach you how to read, the teacher first started with the alphabet and letter recognition. Each letter had a name—A was “aee,” B was “bee,” and so on. And you learned to recognize them and identify them by name. Once you mastered the alphabet, you took your first step toward reading. But you still could not read.

The same is true of prophecy. To understand it, your teacher must take you back to the basics—stars, planets and plasmas. Why stars, planets and plasmas? Well, that’s where the language of prophecy came from. Earth’s ancient heavens were once alive with planets (the ancients called them stars, not planets) and electrified, glowing, lifelike plasma phenomenon. These impressive elements riveted the attention of ancient peoples the world over and sparked an explosion of imagination and imagery in all cultures.

Just like the letters of the alphabet, what the ancients saw in those long ago skies became the building blocks of all religious tradition and culture.

As analyzed elsewhere (See “The Revised Saturn Myth,” “The Saturn Epic: In The Beginning,” “The Saturn Epic: Mythmaking,” “Prophets and Plasmas” and “The Electric Universe”), with a little effort you’ll discover the reasons for believing that Earth’s ancient skies were vastly different than our own today. You’ll learn the objects and images our ancestors saw in the astronomical theater, and we’ll give names to those planets and plasmas. This will be the prophetic equivalent of learning your ABCs.

The next thing our reading teacher did was to show us that each letter had one or more sounds. That further complicated things, but we were told that it would all become clear if we just persevered. So, we went down the now familiar alphabet assigning sounds to each of them. We learned, for example, that the letter C could have an “sss” sound as in “see,” or a “kay” sound as in “cat.” This was further complication and confusion for our struggling young minds.

Those planets and plasmas were overwhelmingly imposing because they were close to the Earth. Unlike today, where planets are little more than bright, distant stars in the sky, these planets and plasmas were very close. They actually appeared larger than the moon does today. Brilliantly lit, dynamic and magnificent in ancient skies, these planets and plasmas were reverenced as gods or primeval powers.

And ancient onlookers assigned distinctive characteristics or personalities to these nearby planets and plasmas, based on their appearance, movements and changes. They were considered gods, supernatural powers that ruled the heavens, their sole habitat. The “theater of the gods,” then, was the ancient firmament overhead. In the cultures of antiquity, these planets and plasmas became human-like or animal-like gods who acted out their epoch stories on that grandiose stage.

Their identities included names, though those names varied from culture to culture. Even within a single culture, the same astral object acquired numerous names as it moved and changed over time. To modern eyes, this riotous nomenclature of ancient gods offers only confusion. To the ancients it made perfect sense since each name identified a unique aspect of their planet or plasma gods.

But the identities and attributes of those gods were strikingly similar in every cultural tradition because the look and behavior of those planets and plasmas was consistently interpreted the same way from culture to culture. This was due to the fact that the appearance and actions of these gods or powers suggested the same characteristics, natures or personalities in the minds of the ancients the world over.

For this reason, the ancients wrote and spoke of them as if they were living beings or creatures, and they so illustrated them in their sacred art. For example, Saturn (the largest of the planets seen in earthly skies) was the “father god” or “creator,” Venus came to be seen as the original “queen of heaven” or “mother goddess” and Mars became her “son,” the “hero” and the “warrior,” among many other designations. And the plasmas that were seen stretching between the planets took on a large number of identities: a connecting sky pillar, celestial tree, world mountain, astral river and ladder, stairway or path to heaven. Such commonalities allow us to identify each of the primary actors by their role in Earth’s ancient heavens and the traditions of mankind, no matter what name they went by in the various ancient cultures.

Returning once again to our reading analogy, we recall that our teacher introduced the notion that stringing several letters together produced a readable word. To read it, we used the sounds we had learned for each letter, and we were encouraged to “sound out” the more difficult words phonetically. And so we began to haltingly read our first words. “Look, Jane. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run.”

This was a bit of a tricky process. Sounding out each letter and then stringing those sounds together didn’t always produce a recognizable word. We soon learned that there were more complex rules that governed the way some groups of letters sounded. The u-g-h in “laugh” or “tough” made an “fff” sound, even though when those three stood alone they said “Ugh!” Still more complexity to master.

The corollary in learning to read prophecy is the realization that prophetic interpretation assigned a number of roles or characteristics to each of the congregate powers in the sky. For example, Venus was not only the mother goddess, she later became Mars’ crown of light, the “hand” of god, the wife of Saturn and ultimately a raging, angry goddess. One plasma conduit, stretching between Mars and Venus, was described as a dragon, beast or monster because it writhed, undulated and twisted like a snake.

And the complexity of these cosmic forms only grows and multiplies as we survey the literature and traditions of ancient cultures. These original forms, prototypes or archetypes became the basis for nearly innumerable traditional and religious narratives, and their perceived behaviors became the stuff of sacred rituals in all ancient cultures.

Mastering the use of these archetypes by understanding their astral origins allows any reader to interpret them wherever they are found: in religious ritual, in narratives such as scripture, in hieroglyphics, monumental architecture, petroglyphs or sacred symbols.

In our reading analogy, we eventually discovered that words could be grouped into sentences to complete a thought. And several sentences comprised a paragraph, a tidy group of thoughts that, when grouped together, made a summary or conveyed a concept.

In prophecy, we learn that a few simple symbols can convey whole narratives. In some cases, only one ideogram or hieroglyph invokes whole paragraphs of text.

Conversely, we learn that scriptural or religious metaphors have symbolic equivalents. This was a two-headed coin. On one side we have the symbol, and on the other we have its metaphoric equivalent. This allowed the ancients, most of whom could neither read nor write, to depict, read or relate a whole story with just a few symbols or a single ritual.

In reading, with practice came proficiency. After years of work, we mastered reading sufficient to extract meaning from any text. We were finally readers.

So, too, with deciphering prophecy. With some dedicated time and effort, we can train ourselves to read prophecy as easily as we read the morning paper.

But that was not all there was to reading. We soon learned that there were other languages. Some even used ideograms instead of an alphabet. That is, just when we think we’ve mastered it all, we discover that there are new horizons to explore.

So it is with prophetic language. Once we master the basics—the archetypes—once we learn the imagery those basics gave rise to, we can “read” any prophetic metaphor or arcane symbol as easily as we read the letters on a written page.

Of course when we reach that level, we discover to our amazement that what we have learned is only the tip of the iceberg. We quickly find that the imagery or language of prophecy is also the key to the vision of all the prophets, not just prophecy per se. And that includes the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith. We realize, too, that it is the key to temple symbolism and ritual, both in ancient cultures and in the modern church.

We should have guessed that learning to interpret prophecy, like learning to read, would ultimately reveal sweeping vistas of knowledge and understanding beyond anything we could have imagined at the outset of our quest.

I guess we’re not dummies after all.

A note from Stan Tenen


Note: The following is a private message that Stan Tenen sent to me on March 17th, 2010, via my Facebook account, concerning the post Bringing Stan Tenen and The Meru Foundation to the Attention of all LDS [alternate title: Doing what4anarchy’s Job] and its comment section.

While searching for something else, I ran into your LDS Anarchist website, and found the materials related to me and my work.

This is all very sad. It’s a sad commentary on the state of education, and on the emptiness of our society.

Instead of engaging a new idea, it just gets picked to death by children.

This is why I’ve pulled away from LDS (which previously was a strong supporter of my work from several quarters) and other religions. People involved in religion — with rare exception — are, as Marx and Freud taught, merely hiding from their own mortality. Intellectual honesty is not possible from people who are “scared to death of death”, and don’t even know it.

For people who don’t understand why I’m elucidating the fluid rabbinic form of the alphabet, all I can say is, you really haven’t a clue about how science is done. I follow the data.

I didn’t know that the letters at the beginning of Genesis would form a particular geometry. I didn’t know it would be a model hand. And I didn’t know it would be related to the alphabet, or any particular alphabet. I followed the data.

The letter-text led to a particular geometry.

I first took this geometry to represent a model light or flame.

Later, I realized that this was not functional, even though it generated shapes that matched all the Hebrew letters of a particular alphabet.

Later, during an exploration of the Jewish ritual of tefillin, I realized that what I had taken to be a flame was actually a model hand, and given the known properties of our hands, everything else then fell in place.

I didn’t choose the alphabet. I found the shapes that matched, and then identified them. I’m sorry if religious believers and scholars have become fascinated by many other alphabets. I didn’t have a choice. When you’re doing science, you don’t force-fit. You take what you find and try to make sense of it.

Anyone going to the trouble of actually checking out more than the headlines of what I’m proposing would know the audit trail from the Canaanite to the modern letters. (I’m proposing two separate lines of development.)

I’m no Newton, but I like his methods. Newton taught how gravity worked, but said he didn’t have a clue as to why it worked that way.

It’s for critics to explain how come one alphabet comes from hand gestures and the others don’t.

I found the alphabet in the letters of the first verse of Genesis. I found the letters matched a particular alphabet, and not other alphabets; and I provided a theory that makes sense of this — i.e., hand gestures are universal among all self-aware creatures. (All intelligent creatures know that when you point to something, you’re drawing attention to it — etc.)

Please feel free to post any or all of this if you’d like.

If there are any serious responses, please pass them on to me via email. I don’t do websites, and I don’t do blogs. (Life’s short.)

Have a happy LDS Passover/Easter. Whichever, whatever.

Be well,
Stan

Previous Stan Tenen article: Bringing Stan Tenen and The Meru Foundation to the Attention of all LDS [alternate title: Doing what4anarchy’s Job]

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Agency: The Single Principle of a Continuous War


Note: I found this essay while surfing the Internet this past week.  I took it from the mormon_anarchy Yahoo group.  Wake_Up posted it there on Sun Oct 6, 2000, as the seventh message and now I’m re-posting it here in a slightly edited fashion (I tried to correct some typos). I have also re-posted three more of his essays.  (See Why Father is an Anarchist, What the Priesthood Is, and Congruence vs. Obedience.)

Please keep in mind that I did not write this article. I tried to contact the author, (whose real name, according to Stirling D. Allen, is Jahnihah Wrede), but my email was returned as “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender.”  If you want more information about him or his views, I suggest you visit his (now defunct) web site, which you can view by using the Way Back Machine.

Agency: The Single Principle of a Continuous War

Freedom of choice. Free agency. The absolute ability to choose.  Isaiah taught us about a great war in Heaven between Christ and Lucifer over which of two plans were to be implemented here on earth; one of freedom to choose to sin and repent to become congruent, and the other of compulsion to live only in obedience.  Both were presented to ‘save’ mankind. Both were based upon adherence to righteousness. Both recognized the availability of free choice prior to coming to earth, but only one attempted to violate that eternal principle. Lucifer’s plan of compelled righteousness was rejected by God, and he was cast down to earth according to Isaiah.

Today we have BOTH plans available to choose from. We are either exerting compulsion or refraining from exerting compulsion during our progression here. The principle of free agency can not be violated without violating Heaven itself for they are co-eternal (see: D&C 121 & King Follett Discourse). Lucifer’s attempt to end free agency violated eternal congruence and harmony as it always existed. His own end of congruence to those principles were available, ironically, only because he had the freedom of choice and exercised it.

According to all of Holy Writ, we have no other indication as to any other principle being of any issue or cause for this War in Heaven, except for that of free agency.

Today we have the opportunity to gravitate towards either compulsion, or freedom, as a matter of fulfilling our potential to become like Lucifer or to become like God, respectively. All of it has its foundation in the principle of freedom of choice. Without it, all of us could not experience either good or evil, and choose which one we would be congruent to, and consequently which Master we choose.

There is a grand Key in understanding free agency as a principle. It allows one to discern by what means a person or system is operating, and hence who it is they follow. If free agency is the single principle that Lucifer fell over, and caused a War to be waged in Heaven, then certainly it is a serious issue worthy of a great deal of attention and understanding.

Because agency is available to everyone, it is necessary to determine the parameters and boundaries someone’s agency extends before it violates another’s agency, else we may violate this eternal principle even as Lucifer did, and fall ourselves.

D&C 121: 34-46 (emphasis & colors, mine)

121:34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

(Please remember the context Father is speaking in, is to the Elders & High Priests, not gentiles who don’t even read the BoM.)

121:35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this ONE lesson–

121:36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon principles of righteousness.

(This means that righteousness alone – which [is] a correct attribute – is NOT the ‘controlling’ or ‘handling’ power of Heaven & Priesthood, but there IS SOMETHING ELSE.)

121:37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

121:38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

(He is an enemy to God at this point.)

121:39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

(Remember, this is spoken by Father to the High Priesthood, not to the world although the principles still apply there, too, in secular positions of ‘authority’.)

121:40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

Now we have the parameters within which the congruent operations of the ‘Priesthood’ can function on earth, and in Heaven. But now we need to find out what this ‘Priesthood’ is, so that we can operate it in the parameters congruent to Father’s will, and in Harmony with Heaven itself.  Continuing:

121:41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

(Again, “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but…”, in any degree of unrighteous dominion, the Priesthood is immediately withdrawn – no ‘vote’ or court hearing’ is needed – and the conference is rendered invalid for the Priesthood is WITHDRAWN, and no man may by mere name of the ‘office’ – BY ‘VIRTUE’ – they now hold ultra vires officiate or exercise any authority without blaspheming Father, and condemning themselves.)

121:42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile–

121:43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou has reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

(This is an excellent verse, but it distracts from the focus of the attributes themselves, and their POWER, so try reading past this verse a few times before letting it enlighten you with it’s rich intent)

121:44 That he may know that thy faithfulness (Charity) is stronger than the cords of death.

(Faith is an attribute of Charity, and Charity never faileth, so ‘faithfulness’ does not convey the intent as accurately as ‘Charity’ does.)

121:45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

(These verses are the beginning of the ‘doctrine of the priesthood’.)

121:46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

In this is contained the fallacy of ‘obedience’ and ‘righteousness’ as the sole means whereby typical ‘Priesthood leaders’ rely to exert their will. It is time to uncover that darkness with Light and Truth.  Congruence and Free agency in operating Priesthood is the only way Father allows, withstanding all the traditions of men – be they called ‘prophets, seers, or revelators,’ or ‘president, father, or patriarch’.

To ignore this is to deny that Eternal foundation upon which men may become even as He is. This single principle of free agency is what the War in Heaven is fought over, and continues even now, because upon it hinges the Priesthood, it’s Rights, and Power both in Heaven and on Earth. They are all as Eternal as the rest, but to destroy free agency is to destroy everything; including saving every living soul without compulsory means.

Holding fast to free agency FIRST, and applying Priesthood only in the manner described above shall ensure being congruent to Father, for this is how He is Himself. Just as stated above, any degree – which includes INTENT – of violation of free agency, will IMMEDIATELY result as if they never had Priesthood in the first place, but because they HAD IT, and violated the covenant and Trust inherent in using it, they are accountable and left unto themselves as an ENEMY to God, until they fully repent.

There are only two verses of scripture that are identical, excepting ONE WORD, when discussing being an ‘enemy’ to God.

“Satan is an enemy to God….”
“Carnal man is an enemy to God…”

[Note by LDS Anarchist: the scripture being referred to appears to be Mosiah 16: 5.  There are other scriptures, though, that also speak of being an enemy to God.]

In this light, on a personal level of understanding, the ‘man of sin (enemy to God) revealed in the Temple (body) of God’ IS the man/woman who violates the free agency of another, and repents not; being that the principle of free agency is the discerning Key to true or false Priesthood. Hence the War in Heaven continues with every choice; yea, even every intent of a man/woman’s heart. We wage war inside of ourselves to obtain congruence, and we manifest that outwardly in all of our choices. Are we violating free agency and thereby becoming an enemy to God as Satan? OR, are we taking seriously the weightiness of all our intents and choices, being careful to truly allow all men/women their agency, and thereby keep from falling and able to hold fast to the Holy Priesthood, and have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion?

I suspect a very serious and honest introspection is long overdue upon this one issue. I hope that we are filled with Charity to overcome the temptation to deny the strong delusion we’ve deeply slept under, in condemnation, and to fully repent of the awful situation that has come upon us to ourselves personally, and also to the world affected by the choices we each have made, that we are reconciled to the Father, that we are seen to BE even as He is: congruent.

Wake_Up

Previous Guest Contributor article: Congruence vs. Obedience

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Congruence vs. Obedience


Note: I found this essay while surfing the Internet this past week.  I took it from the mormon_anarchy Yahoo group.  Wake_Up posted it there on Sun Oct 8, 2000, as the fourth message and now I’m re-posting it here in a slightly edited fashion (I tried to correct some typos). I have also re-posted three more of his essays.  (See Why Father is an Anarchist, What the Priesthood Is, and Agency: The Single Principle for a Continuous War.)

Please keep in mind that I did not write this article. I tried to contact the author, (whose real name, according to Stirling D. Allen, is Jahnihah Wrede), but my email was returned as “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender.”  If you want more information about him or his views, I suggest you visit his (now defunct) web site, which you can view by using the Way Back Machine.

Congruence vs. Obedience

It is self-evident to any lover of free agency that obedience to law is wholly Luciferian.

You are wanting to discontinue reading, aren’t you?

It’s totally backwards, right?

It’s so backwards that this is what the definition of something being self-evident means, correct?

That something is so obviously erroneous that to continue to give it space is a waste of time, yes?

It is obvious that if someone came along and proposed a system of governance that required a fabricated punishment beyond the natural consequences for any type of infraction or breach, you would recognize it as being a fraud filled with agony under compulsion and even tending to abusiveness, right ?

It also would be glaringly apparent that if this same fellow proposed such a system no one would volunteer into it, for to force them into such a system would be giving away the true intention and nature of this fellow, OK?

So, to make a statement like the one at the top of this article, it is self-evident WHO the author is, right ?

The author is Jesus Christ Himself and He said it in D&C 121 :34-40 and to Ancient Israel about the 10 Commandments, and most specifically in 1 Timothy 1:9:

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers…”

Breathe Neo, just breathe… Heck of a way to start out, huh ? It’s OK. A very wise man I know and love said,

“Put your preconceived notions on the shelf for a while, and after you have considered this info without bias, if you like you can pick up the old perceptions right back off the shelf where you left them.”

I don’t mean to preach anything new to you. I only wish to clarify something eternal that we somehow allowed to escape our view.

We define different words with their own meanings even though they may be very similar to one another. We might describe someone as ‘eccentric’ and another as ‘insane’; or ‘zealous’ from ‘fanatical’. Indeed it is what the whole of being ‘politically correct’ is founded upon. Most people have a good understanding of what the terms ‘law’ and ‘obedience’ mean, and also of ‘order’ and ‘congruence’.

There is literally a world of difference between ‘law’ and ‘order’, and between ‘obedience’ and ‘congruence’.

Let us take the typical understanding of ‘obedience’ found in the scriptures. Of course, most Christians believe that if you are not obedient, you are going to wind up in Hell, but obedient to what?  The law of God, of course. So, to be obedient, you have to know what God’s law is. Where is the law of God found?

Some Christians believe that the 10 Commandments are the law of God, and others believe that The Beatitudes of Jesus on the Mount of Olives is God’s law, and others say both. I don’t have to convince you one way or the other to make my point. The mere fact is that as long as there is a ‘law’, then it is of NO EFFECT without a consequent punishment. Do the ‘laws’ of God assert a punishment? If you believe God has laws, then you must concede that punishments follow for breaches of the law, and rewards or blessings occur for obedience to the law, right?

Let us review Isaiah for a moment. Isaiah tells us of a War in Heaven that occurred as a result of the Son of the Morning’s plan of salvation through compulsion to save every soul was rejected for Father’s chosen plan of salvation from His other Son to save every soul via free choice. It is self-evident that the single premise for the War wasn’t over going to Heaven or Hell, but over the freedom to choose which plan to be saved under – that of compulsion to do righteousness, or that of freedom to sin and to repent.

In speaking about the ‘authority to act in the name of God’, a.k.a. the Priesthood (PH), Father has said in no uncertain terms that ‘…ANY degree of compulsion is cause for immediate withdrawal of PH.’ and that such a man was ‘…left unto himself… to be an enemy and fight against God.’ It is D&C 121: 34-40.

It seems that as long as you want to infringe on another’s agency in any degree, you are totally out of sorts with the plan of salvation of Jesus Christ, and His PH. How then can we justify ‘obedience’ to ‘law’ when it requires us to exact a punishment upon our fellowman for his ‘disobedience’? Where did we get the idea that ‘obedience’ means what we typically believe it means? Where did we get the idea that ‘law’ was an excuse to exert dominion over another without becoming an enemy to God?

Have we not heard so much of ‘obedience unto God’s law’ that we are all afraid of going to Hell? Lots of people are going to Hell then, huh? In fact we are so afraid of going to Hell, that we blindly obey the law without giving thought for the truth – that God ceases to BE GOD if any degree of compulsion is used to get us sinners to repent, right?

What kind of God would fabricate a law, assert some punishment in addition to natural consequence, and enforce it by compulsion (else the law would be of no effect), and claim to be Just when it contradicts His own explanation of how the Powers of Heaven and the Rights of the PH operate??? A Luciferian ‘god’ would. A light should have just gone on. What was self-evident at the top, is now taking a serious beating in your mind if you are paying attention.

Is it too far fetched to say that God is lawless right now? It would at least keep Him from violating the PH and the Powers of Heaven they are inseparably connected to, huh? But, is God an Anarchist?

Evidently the PH has no beginning of days, or end of days; no mother or no father. In short it is eternal. It also is inseparably connected to the Powers of Heaven, which God obviously has at His disposal provided He doesn’t exercise any degree of unrighteous dominion and fall from Godhood. This means that indeed there is an ‘order’ to everything that is eternal, but it isn’t what we have corrupted into ‘law’, and ‘obedience’ isn’t required, but ‘congruence’ is. Apparently, suffering the natural consequence of being incongruent is enough ‘punishment’ in God’s reality. No fabrication of abusive punishments are required to drive fear into the hearts of men so via this compulsion they ALL are saved.

So, what’s with all the fear about Hell? Let me define ‘Hell’ here as merely ‘separation from Father’ regardless of its degree or the imaginations of men. If one truly loved God, separation from Him is ‘Hell’ just as being separated from a spouse who has died is Hell regardless of the length of time of separation.

In the same manner are we to remain separated from God until we become congruent to His nature and attributes, which doesn’t include exerting laws and punishments via compulsion upon our fellow men, a.k.a.’obedience’. We either are seen as He is seen, and are known as He is known, or we remain separated from Him to some degree regardless of our level of ‘obedience’. As long as we play the part rather than Being true to the core, then we are deceiving ourselves and can only achieve something less than exaltation. It naturally would behoove us to come to a complete understanding of who God is, and what His nature and attributes are so we might KNOW if we could actually be happy living as He lives.  Good thing Joseph gave the King Follett Discourse.

Wake_Up

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What The Priesthood Is


Note: I found this essay while surfing the Internet this past week.  I took it from the mormon_anarchy Yahoo group.  Wake_Up posted it there on Sun Oct 8, 2000, as the third message and now I’m re-posting it here in a slightly edited fashion (I tried to correct some typos). I have also re-posted three more of his essays.  (See Why Father is an Anarchist, Congruence vs. Obedience, and Agency: The Single Principle for a Continuous War.)

Please keep in mind that I did not write this article. I tried to contact the author, (whose real name, according to Stirling D. Allen, is Jahnihah Wrede), but my email was returned as “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender.”  If you want more information about him or his views, I suggest you visit his (now defunct) web site, which you can view by using the Way Back Machine.

What The Priesthood Is

Whenever I ask this question, people invaribly answer with,

“The Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God.”

Unfortunately, this rhetorical regurgitation does not even address the question.

To explain ‘what’ the Priesthood (PH) is requires first to know what its substance is. Only then can one understand its purposeful use. One must come to realize that the PH has parts and attributes to it that define ‘what’ it really is before one can be capable of attempting to ‘use’ PH power.

It would be very much like trying to use an automobile to convey one’s self down the street when lacking an understanding of what it is, or the manner in which each component functions to utilize it as it was created for – to safely travel down the street. Can you remember any time in your life when you were completely perplexed by something totally foreign to your knowledge? All of us have experienced this. Learning about the pro-creative powers of our bodies and the truth behind the ‘birds and bees’ astonished us all when we found out what ‘it’ was for. Coming to an understanding of ‘what’ the PH is, is no different.

Allow me to ask you a simpler question to help define where our focus should be in answering ‘what’ the PH is.

“What is a credit card?”

If your answer begins to explain what you can ‘do’ with it, or the responsibilities attached to it, or who can use one, then you have not told me the first thing to answer my question which should be an explanation about it being a piece of plastic. How perplexed would a person be 70 years ago in their attempt to describe a piece of plastic? Could anyone have conceived of such a substance that was neither wood, metal, leather or glass, yet was a substitute for them all? It didn’t exist then, but we take plastic for granted as it is everywhere a part of our daily lives now. It’s the same with the PH. Now you see that any answer that does not begin to define the nature and substance of the PH is a stumbling block to truly being able to function within it, or operate congruent to it.

So then, ‘What is the PH ?’

In reading the Holy Writ of God, we typically find certain nouns being used, but we rarely associate attributes to these nouns.  Further more, we don’t compare the sets of attributes of each noun with one another to obtain a much larger perspective on what God is telling us. Take ‘Truth’ for example. Like defining ‘PH’, we are stuck with rhetoric instead of enlightenment. ‘Truth’ has certain attributes as does ‘Spirit’, ‘Light’, ‘intelligence’, ‘charity’, ‘faith’ and of course, ‘PH’.  When we discern the attributes and nature of each these nouns, we begin to discover something odd – that they all share the same attributes and nature, though some are merely sub-sets of the others. In other words, God has apparently been holding our hand in a very detailed manner to explain to us everything about who He is, and how He operates ALL though scripture.  We just haven’t taken advantage gathering up all these details, and then standing back to look at them for what they are, and their relationship to each other.

All through this article, which is admittedly my own personal paradigm, you’ll find that each subject doesn’t really have a clear beginning and end because each item of discussion are all inter-related to the others and consequently I am talking about only ONE thing by taking several different perspectives in order that I might be understood. Consequently, my weakness in writing only compounds the already difficult task. My apologies, please bear with me through all of this.

Several times in scripture we are told about the attributes of PH, but we mistake them for ‘how’ we ought to be behaving BEFORE exercising the ‘PH’. The reality is that those attributes ARE the detailed description of the ‘PH’, and until we are indeed living congruently within those Godly attributes ourselves, we can forget about ‘using’ the powers “inseparably connected” to the PH.

Instead of listing those attributes here, I listed them above as ultimately ‘charity’ contains the exact same set of attributes as PH, because it is indeed “inseparably connected” – even the same thing with a little different descriptive perspective. Charity is ‘what’ Priesthood is – provided that you know ‘what’ charity truly is, you also know ‘what’ PH is.

While this turns authoritarian mindsets upside down, I want to remind you that men have consistently reversed the meaning of the truth of the Gospel. Sometimes unintentionally out of ignorance; most other times intentionally in attempts to obtain or maintain control upon men rather than to ‘let them go’ after the presentation of the truth. While it is true that a ‘church’ is an assembled body of believers, the intention was to refrain from stifling growth toward mankind’s pinnacle of potential – being Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ; Godhood.

As long as men maintain control of ‘PH’, and only hand salvation out piecemeal to those who are required to believe a specific dogma before obtaining it, all mankind will remain in bondage. While it is true that PH authority is conferred, even that person can not hold onto it if they become incongruent to PH itself. NO ONE, by mere virtue of having been ‘ordained’, can justify acting in any Godly authority if they are incongruent to the attributes and methods of operation of PH. A person’s ‘calling’ or ‘office’ does not give them PH, and it can not sustain them in acting incongruent to the very powers they wish to violate or disassociate themselves from in ANY DEGREE.

Many people fear this paradigm because of the idea that God is somehow ‘inferior’ to PH. God is congruent to PH as He Himself has developed the nature and attributes of Godliness, which attributes and nature are those He has described as ‘charity’ or PH.

God ‘surfs’ the wave of PH. He doesn’t attempt to change it, or fight against it. The very principles that allow the entire universe to exist is the method of harmony God has found to be Eternally True, and thus He has made every effort to explain them to us, also.  Invariably, everything that Christianity teaches about Jesus being a person full of love is exactly the harmony existing in the universe.  Becoming congruent to that existence is what God has done, and what we must also discover for ourselves. We could fight against it, but we would then be like Lucifer. It’s our choice.  We have complete freedom to choose it just as God or Lucifer does.

The ‘spirit’ or ‘PH’ is not withdrawn from us the very moment we exercise any degree of unrighteous dominion, but we ‘fall’ from it.  When we choose to be incongruent to those attributes, we disconnect ourselves from the very powers of Heaven. God can also suffer the same consequence because He is just as free to choose as we are, but it would require Him to do something totally outside of His nature and character. It would require Him behaving in a manner that is totally unlike Himself. Just as it is inconceivable to the vast majority of us to commit murder, it is for God to become incongruent to PH. God can fall from being God, just like Lucifer did, and just like we can freely choose to become congruent to PH or to fight against it, and consequently God, too.

Wake_Up

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