Falling to the Earth as a Sign of Conversion


And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father.

And they rehearsed unto his father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God.  [Mosiah 27:19-20]

and

And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father — Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth,

she knew that it was the power of God;  [Alma 19:16-17]

When Alma saw his son being carried home by his friends, rendered completely unconscious – his first reaction was to rejoice because he recognized that as a manifestation of the power of God working.

When Abish saw the Lamanite queen and king, all their servants, and Ammon laying prostrate on the ground, unconscious – her first reaction was that this obviously meant the power of God was working.

Falling to the earth in this manner is a sign that the power of God is rending the veil of unbelief and breaking the chains of hell that are on that person:

Alma and Abish share one thing in common that explains why their first thought after seeing someone fallen to the earth unconscious was that the power of God was at work – they both had first-hand experience with the miraculous works of the Father.

Alma had witnessed the word of God delivered by Abinadi in the spirit of prophecy and revelation:

…the Spirit of the Lord was upon [Abinadi]; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’ did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord.  And he spake with power and authority from God;  [Mosiah 13:5-6]

Alma went on to organize a church of believers gathered in the wilderness, himself and the church manifesting the miraculous works of the Father:

…both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit

…Alma, having authority from God…  [Mosiah 18:14, 18]

Abish had witnessed a miraculous vision that had been given to her father in the spirit of prophecy and revelation:

…she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father…  [Alma 19:16]

Falling to the earth is a result of the fear of the Lord coming upon that person:

And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.  [Alma 36:7]

It accompanies true recognition of one’s unjustified state before God, which is received when the word of God is preached in its fullness — in the spirit of prophecy and revelation, by the power of the Holy Ghost:

And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.

And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying:

“O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.”  [Mosiah 4:1-2]

Once the fear of being cast off forever from the presence of the Lord sinks into the right-brain-hearts of believers, it works there to create this “fear” spoken of in the scriptures.  Trembling/shaking and weeping/shedding tears follow next – working to rend the veil of darkness and remove the chains of hell attached to the brain of all sinners, and to manifest a broken heart and contrite spirit.

But, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”  [Psalm 126:5]:

Meaning the Lord is quick to hear the cries of his people and answer their prayers [Alma 9:26].  The conversion pattern found in the Book of Mormon shows that once the fear of the Lord comes upon a person/people, they’ve been overcome and have fallen to the earth, and have shed tears of sorrow and anguish for their carnal and sinful state – joy follows:

And it came to pass that after [the people of King Benjamin] had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.  [Mosiah 4:3]

and

And it came to pass that [Abish] went and took the[Lamanite] queen by the hand, … ; and as soon as she touched her hand she arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice, saying:

“O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, havecmercy on this people!”

And when she had said this, she clasped her hands, being filled with joy, speaking many words which were not understood; and when she had done this, she took the king, Lamoni, by the hand, and behold he arose and stood upon his feet.

[…] And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.  And behold, many did declare unto the people that they had seen angels and had conversed with them; and thus they had told them things of God, and of his righteousness.

And it came to pass that there were many that did believe in their words; and as many as did believe were baptized; and they became a righteous people, and they did establish a church among them.

And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name.  [Alma 19:29-36]

and

I [Alma] was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.  Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments… the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

[…] And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart:

“O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.”

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.  And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.  But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.  [Alma 36:12-23]

We must follow the example of the king of the Lamanites after he received the gospel from Aaron:

And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded [the gospel] unto him, the king said:

“What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day?”

Behold, said he, “I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

But Aaron said unto him:

“If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.”

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

“O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.”

And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.

[…] Now when the queen saw … she also began to fear exceedingly, lest there should some evil come upon her.  And she commanded her servants that they should go and call the people, that they might slay Aaron and his brethren.

Now when Aaron saw the determination of the queen, he, also knowing the hardness of the hearts of the people, feared lest that a multitude should assemble themselves together, and there should be a great contention and a disturbance among them; therefore he put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth, and said unto him:  “Stand.” And he stood upon his feet, receiving his strength.

Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord.  [Alma 22:15-13]

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The Baptism of Fire


The following is my current understanding of the baptism of fire.

One baptism in three parts

The gospel of Jesus Christ has one, tripartite baptism consisting of the baptism of water, the baptism of fire and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The purpose of baptism is to witness that there exists a covenant between God and the man being baptized. Unless all three witnesses have occurred, the covenant between him and God is not binding.

The doctrine of re-baptism applies equally to all three

Anyone who enters into an agreement with another is free to witness or affirm the fact of the agreement by attestation for as many times as desired. There is no law of man or God against this. In fact, under the law of God, we are to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” that we may be in, even until death. So, the principle of witnessing and re-witnessing is a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The manner in which man witnesses of his covenant to serve God is through water baptism. This means that in order to re-witness his covenant, he must be re-baptized. Therefore, he may receive the baptism of water whenever and as many times as he desires and must, per his covenant, be ever ready to be re-baptized at all times and in all places, to re-attest of the validity of his covenant. This is the doctrine or principle of re-baptism and it applies equally to both water, fire and Holy Ghost baptisms.

Order: fire and Spirit, then water, then fire and Spirit, etc.

Re-baptism being a principle of the gospel, the order in which these baptisms are received is not all that important. The only necessary thing is that each one is received, for these are really three parts of one baptism. Nevertheless, the scriptural, ideal order is first the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 20: 37), followed by the baptism of water, followed by another baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and thereafter, any part may be repeated multiple times throughout one’s life.

Another thing that the gospel states is that after a baptism of water, the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is supposed to follow on its heels, either right after coming out of the water, or right after confirmation by the laying on of hands.

To demonstrate these principles, Joseph Smith received a baptism of fire during the First Vision, then a baptism of fire during each of Moroni’s visits and during the visit of John the Baptist, then a water baptism by the hand of Oliver Cowdery, followed by a baptism of the Holy Ghost after he came out of the water. Later he received other baptisms of fire with the visits of Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, etc. He also received another water baptism after the church was legally organized, etc.

Simultaneity

A baptism of fire is always accompanied with a baptism of the Holy Ghost, but a person may be baptized with the Holy Ghost without an accompanying baptism of fire. This is why the baptism of fire is always called the baptism (singular) of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and not the baptisms (plural) of fire and of the Holy Ghost. These two parts of the tripartite baptism occur simultaneously as a single baptismal event whenever there is a baptism of fire.

Jesus alone performs the baptism of fire

Unlike the baptism of water, which can be performed by the hand of a mortal man under priesthood power and authority, the baptism of fire is reserved for Deity alone to accomplish and is based upon the state of a man’s heart and his faith in Him. (See 3 Ne. 12: 1-2; 3 Ne. 9: 20; Matt. 3: 11; Luke 3: 16; JST Mark 1: 6; JST John 1: 28.)

Confirmation is not the baptism of fire

The scriptures say that elders are “to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying of of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.” This is the ordinance of confirmation. Laying hands on someone’s head for the baptism of fire does not baptize anyone with fire. Only the Lord can do that.

When the scriptures say that this ordinance is “for” the baptism of fire, it is using that word “for” to mean “indicating the end with reference to which anything is, acts, serves or is done.” Specifically, the word “for” in that sentence means “as a preparation for” or “with the object of.” So, elders lay hands as a preparation for the baptism of fire, or they lay hands with the object of the baptism of fire.

The ordinance of confirmation, then, is a preparatory ordinance, which precedes an actual baptism of fire. This ordinance is called confirmation because it is intended to confirm the believers’ faith, both that of the one being confirmed and that of those doing the confirming. This is because true priesthood is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven,” so when true priesthood is exercised as an ordinance of the gospel, there will be a corresponding manifestation of heavenly power. So, after the ordinance of confirmation, there is supposed to be a baptism of fire that occurs, showing that the covenant of the newly baptized person is accepted of God, as well as the priesthood of the one who is doing the confirming.

Binding and accepted covenants

The baptism of fire serves to witness to the new member, to the priesthood holder(s) confirming, and to the church that is present, that the covenant that the man has entered into with his God, witnessed by his water baptism, is accepted by God and is now in force. In other words, that it is binding, both upon the man and his God.

To put another way, water baptism is man’s way of witnessing to God that he has entered into a covenant to serve Him, whereas fire baptism is God’s way of witnessing to man that He has accepted that covenantal relationship.

(Jesus said, “Whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record (witness) of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” See 3 Ne. 11: 35.)

Plasma is the medium

To serve as a witness to all these people, the baptism of fire must be a visual sign. The medium used is not the fire of a gas stove or match, but discharging plasma in appearance as fire. Depending upon where one is located in relation to the plasma display, it may look like the flame of fire, like a palpable or living light, like lightning, or just as immense glory or brightness.

Specifically, the baptism of fire consists of twin plasma filaments, rapidly rotating around a central axis, creating a plasma tube or sheath, or plasma column, in other words, a cylindrical shape around the person being baptized. When viewed from the outside, it appears to be “a pillar of fire.” When viewed from within the tube, the fire aspects may or may not be discerned, but its bright light or glory is apparent. Thus we have the various accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, which was a baptism of fire, using the words “fire,” “flame,” “light,” “brightness” and “glory” to describe the discharging plasma he was witnessing.

Sometimes the twin filaments themselves can be discerned, and so we get a description of “cloven tongues of fire,” meaning twin tongues (or filaments) of plasma flame. Other descriptions are of fire “encircling” the persons being baptized, showing that the filaments rotate around the person.

All of these scriptural accounts are describing the same plasma manifestation observed from different spatial perspectives, and so accounts vary. But even with everything before a person, sometimes details can still be missed, as in 1 Ne. 15: 27.

Other aspects

Fire baptism is by complete, or cellular, immersion. Plasma both surrounds and enters the man, so that he becomes “filled with fire.” The fire can be seen and felt. To the one immersed in it, it initially feels like he is burning to death, in an incomprehensibly complete and rapid manner, as every part of the body seems to have caught on fire. Great fear instantly comes upon the man as he fully believes he is about to die. But in the next instant his mind realizes that death has not occurred, that there is no pain and that there is no apparent cellular damage or harm. The fear leaves just as suddenly as it comes, only to be replaced with a feeling of awe and gratitude as the mind realizes that this same destroying fire, which should have instantly atomized the body, is somehow keeping the body protected from its own destructive power.

The divine plasma has the effect of cleansing the heart of man, purifying it of all dross (sinful desires), so that he no longer desires to sin, but instead abhors it. In this swept clean condition, the Holy Ghost then unexpectedly and suddenly enters the man and causes the individual bits of his soul to shout for joy, because of the presence of Deity.

Fire baptism allows other heavenly manifestations to occur

The baptism of fire purifies a person’s heart and Jesus said that all the pure in heart shall see God. So, whenever a person receives a baptism of fire, chances are real good that they will also see either an angel, vision or God Himself. At the very least some revelation or prophecy will occur along with the baptism of fire, or some other manifestation of one of the gifts of the Spirit.

Fire remits sin

Whenever a person receives a baptism of fire, his sins are automatically remitted. In other words, he becomes justified, or guiltless, before the Lord. Nephi said, “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

Fire brings forth a new tongue

Nephi also said that when a man receives the baptism of fire he then can speak with a new tongue, even the tongue of angels, and that “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.”

There are only two, definitive, scriptural examples

There are plenty of scriptural verses that mention the doctrine of baptism of fire, but there are only two accounts in our current standard works in which it is definitively stated that actual baptisms of fire occurred. Of those two accounts, only one applies to us in the latter days. They are:

Adam’s baptism of fire
After Adam was baptized by the Spirit of the Lord, as recorded in Moses 6: 64-68, he heard a voice saying, “Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost.” Nevertheless, there is no mention of any manifestation of fire in the account. Although quite interesting, this experience was, apparently, Adam specific and is not the template for the baptism of fire among the modern masses.

The Lamanites’ baptism of fire
When the Nephite missionaries Nephi and Lehi preached among the Lamanites and were imprisoned, about 300 souls received a baptism of fire, as recorded in Hel. 5: 20-49. This is the scriptural template of a baptism of fire for all mankind. We know this because the voice of Jesus Christ said so:

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Ne. 9: 20)

So, the Lord categorically states in the above scripture that the experience of the 300 souls was a baptism of fire. Additionally, He states that all baptisms of fire that He performs will be “even as the Lamanites… were baptized with fire.” The Lamanites’ baptism of fire, then, is the standard, the rule, and NOT the exception. It is the event that the Lord points to for us to determine whether a baptism of fire has occurred.

(The word “even” in the phrase “even as the Lamanites” means “in or to such (indicated) degree or kind.”)

What the baptism of fire consists of

Based upon the Lamanites’ experience, there are six characteristics of any baptism of fire. They are:

1. Fire encircling an individual, forming a cylindrical shape, such as a column or “pillar of fire” or plasma tube. This would be twin Birkeland currents (plasma cables or filaments) rotating rapidly around a central axis, in appearance like a fire tornado. This is the visual sign to all those witnessing the baptism.

2. The presence and ministration of angels.

3. Justification, meaning a remission of sins.

4. Purification, by fire entering the heart.

5. Sanctification, by becoming filled with (baptized in) the Holy Ghost.

6. Speaking with a new tongue (the tongue of angels, meaning speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost.)

Two more scriptural examples

Using the six characteristics above, we find two more scriptural examples of baptisms of fire which exactly match that of the Lamanites, although the text does not specifically say that they were fire baptisms. They are:

The Nephite little children’s baptism of fire
Jesus baptized little children with fire, as recorded in 3 Ne. 17: 21-25 and as witnessed by 2500 people. These children were encircled by fire, had angels minister to them and spoke in new tongues (see 3 Ne. 26: 14, 16.) Also, we know that they were justified, purified and sanctified, for they were little children and all little children are alive in Christ.

The 12 disciples’ baptism of fire
The fire baptism of these men is recorded in 3 Ne. 19: 11-15. They were encircled about by fire, filled with fire, had angels minister to them and prayed by the power of the Holy Ghost. From the text it is clear that they were justified, purified and sanctified.

Other intimated baptisms of fire

Joseph Smith’s baptisms of fire
As mentioned above, each of Joseph’s angelic ministrations was attended by a baptism of fire (plasma), including the First Vision.

For example, one First Vision account says, “A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with un-speakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed…I saw many angels in this vision.”

Another First Vision account says, “while in [the] attitude of calling upon the Lord [in the 16th* year of my age] a pillar of {fire} lightabove the brightness of the Sun at noon day come down fromabove and rested upon me and I was filld with the Spirit of God”. In this account Joseph couldn’t decide whether what he saw was fire or light. He finally decided on light and crossed out fire. The reason for his confusion was that he was witnessing discharging plasma.

I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the plasma nature of the angel Moroni’s visit (see The plasma aspects of the First Vision and Moroni’s visit) was typical of all angelic ministrations to Joseph, and thus all such events in his life were likely baptisms of fire.

Moses’ vision of God
In Moses chapter 1 it says that “the glory of God was upon Moses.” That sounds to me like a plasma event and that he received a baptism of fire.

Lehi’s pillar of fire
1 Ne. 1: 6 mentions Lehi seeing a pillar of fire. It is obviously a super-duper abridgment of all that occurred, but it sounds like a baptism of fire.

Nephi’s visit from the Lord
Nephi mentions in 1 Ne. 2: 16 that he was visited by the Lord. He doesn’t elaborate but my guess is that this was Nephi’s first baptism of fire. Jesus states in 3 Ne. 11: 35 that when the Father visits people, He visits them with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

Cloven tongues on day of Pentecost
As recorded in Acts chapter 2, there appeared “cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” They were filled with the Spirit, spoke other tongues and spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s not an exact match of the Lamanite experience (angels are missing), but pretty darn close.

Gentile cloven tongues
In Acts 11: 15 we read Peter’s words about how the Gentiles also received the Holy Ghost. He said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” That, to me, seems to be saying that the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles in the same way that the Holy Ghost fell on the Jews, namely, with accompanying manifestation of cloven tongues like as of fire. This could explain the astonishment of the Jews who witnessed the manifestation of tongues among the Gentiles. (See Acts 10: 44-47.)

Downgrading the baptism of fire

Now, when you compare the scriptural accounts of the baptism of fire to our modern, LDS definitions, it becomes obvious that we have downgraded the sudden, rapid changes effectuated by the marvelous, visual, power displays of the real deal to something gradual, drawn out, imperceptible and nondescript. For example:

While one definition of this expression (the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost) refers to a cleansing by the Holy Spirit as if by fire, still the scriptures and the writings of the prophets indicate there is something more.

The new convert who has accepted the gift of the Holy Ghost with the right spirit will experience not only a cleansing but a feeling that will give him a new heart and make of him a new person. Sometimes this is immediate, and sometimes it happens over a period of time.

The scriptures, and even our church history, record miraculous instances when visible flames encircled the humble followers of Christ—literal manifestations of fire and the Holy Ghost—but more often this fire works quietly and unseen in the hearts of those who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The witness, the change, the cleansing that comes gradually is no less powerful to the person with the right heart, and he or she is impelled to action whether the experience was a sudden, miraculous manifestation or the quiet workings of the Spirit.

(Fire and the Holy Ghost, Loren C. Dunn, Ensign, June 1995)

We have taken away the majesty of the Father’s witness and replaced it with something that goes entirely against nature. Nature is cyclic, cycling between periods of rest and periods of activity. All things work on this principle, including spiritual things. Baptism (all three parts) are designed to be moments of spiritual intensity. You cannot perform a baptism of water over a period of time, or gradually, quietly and unseen. No, you are outside of the water (which can be visually discerned), then you are immersed, and then you come out of the water. There is nothing gradual about it. A single water baptism cannot be performed over days and years. In like manner, the baptism of fire is a punctuated, spiritually intense event.

No one’s spirituality is designed to grow gradually. Gradual spiritual growth is the same as no spiritual growth. There is no such animal as gradual spiritual growth. You either have intense spiritual experiences from time to time or you are spiritually dying. This is why we are commanded to come together often, to intensify the Spirit so as to be capable of growing spiritually.

Joseph Smith’s life was meant to be an example to us. He had multiple, very intense spiritual experiences. It began with a baptism of fire, it continued with more baptisms of fire and it ended in a volley of gun fire. John Taylor said that Joseph lived for glory, died for glory and glory is his eternal reward. Glory = plasma = the baptism of fire. Joseph did, indeed, live for those fire baptism experiences. He had a lot of them, he saw a lot of angels and who knows how many visions, and he wanted to have more of the same. And he tried ceaselessly to get the saints to experience what he was experiencing. So did Moses and all true prophets.

You are either immersed in plasma or you are not. You are either in an intensity phase or in a rest phase of the cycle. There is no such thing as non-cyclic gradualness. If you think you are growing spiritually for the past ten years without any intense spiritual experiences, you are kidding yourself. It means that you have been in a spiritual rest phase of the cycle during this time. No one can remain at spiritual rest for any extended period of time before spirituality begins to decay. It is an impossibility. So, the LDS concept of a gradual, life-long, imperceptible baptism of fire is patently false and leads to spiritual death.

Everyone will receive a baptism of fire

It is not a question of if, but when and how. If a man humbles himself before the Lord and enters into a covenant to serve Him, he’ll receive a baptism of fire in this life, one that will purify and justify him. But there are other baptisms of fire that can be received. For example, one is the baptism of fire that the earth and all those that do wickedly upon her will receive at the Second Coming. Another is the baptism of fire that occurs when the sons of perdition are immersed in the lake of fire and brimstone. One way or another, we are all eventually going to have to go through some type of baptismal fire.

And they knew it not

In closing, let me address one other thing. Jesus said that the Lamanites “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” Some have taken that to mean that the Lamanites experienced a change upon their hearts which they did not perceive, because it happened gradually, over time. In other words, that the Lord meant that there was no great manifestation during the Lamanites’ fire and Holy Ghost baptism. And also that the Lord was not referring to the 300 Lamanites who were in prison with Nephi and Lehi, but was referring instead to other Lamanite converts.

This is an incorrect interpretation.

The real meaning of the Lord’s words is that the Lamanites (the 300 souls in that prison) had a magnificent, visual baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, but did not know what it was. That is all that the Lord meant by what He said.

Any time someone experiences a baptism of fire without first being taught about it, they go through the experience without knowing what it is. Joseph’s First Vision fire baptism was performed on him while he was still a boy totally ignorant of such a thing as a baptism of fire. In my own life, I remember that the first time that I had a baptism of fire (prior to my water baptism) I was blown away and didn’t know what it was. The missionaries that had taught me the gospel had not explained this doctrine, so it came as a complete surprise to me and it was only years later, as I studied and learned more of the gospel on my own, that I was able to determine what the hell it was. Prior to that time, it was always an anomaly to me and when talking to others about the various spiritual experiences I had had over the years, I would always set it apart by saying something like, “The second time the Holy Ghost manifested itself to me was quite different than the other times. It was, well, a really big manifestation with a lot of power and I thought I was going to die, or I did die and came back to life. I’m not really sure what happened. All I know is I was consumed in fire but somehow survived unharmed.” Such were my ignorant descriptions. But of course it was a different manifestation than the others. It was a baptism of fire, for crying out loud! But I knew it not.

And in the same manner, neither did the Lamanites.

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The role of angels in Nephite preaching


Mormon, speaking at the end of the Nephite civilization, summarized the role of angels among the Nephite church:

…[M]y beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. (Moroni 7: 29-32)

Angels performed three tasks among the Nephites: 1) they called men to repentance, 2) they fulfilled and did the work of the covenants of the Father, and 3) they prepared the way among the children of men.

Angels accomplished all three tasks by declaring the word of Christ to chosen vessels of the Lord, which were men and women of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

After listening to an angel, a chosen vessel was instructed to bear testimony of Christ. This was done by going on missions and preaching the gospel to all who would hear, bearing testimony of what the angel had said.

Those who listened to a preacher’s message, which was the word of God communicated by an angel, could then plant that word in their own hearts and have the power of the Holy Ghost generate faith in them.

The investigator of the gospel, after repenting and exercising strong faith in Christ, with a firm mind in every form of godliness, would pray to the Father in the name of Christ, and ask to see, hear and know the things taught by the preacher, after the same manner or in the same way that the preacher learned it, and God would then send down another angel to the new convert, confirming his faith and giving him a witness.

Finally, the new convert would start preaching what the angel had told him and the process would repeat over and over again. In this way, the Father brought to pass His covenants among the Nephites (and Lamanites).

Angels were the trial of faith, as well as the witness

When Moroni wrote

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10: 4)

this wasn’t a unique promise that only applied to what he was writing. This was a standard practice among the Nephites. The Nephite preachers would teach those listening to their words to ask God, in the name of Christ, for a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the words they were saying, communicated by an angel, were true. They taught the people to obtain the very same testimony that the preachers had received. They taught them to ask God to confirm the word they had received by sending an angel to them and declaring the word of Christ to them, just as was done to the preacher. In this way, both preacher and hearer would see eye to eye.

As Alma said, “For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.” (Alma 36: 26)

The trial of their faith, then, was to receive the angelic message (communicated by the preacher) and to repent and exercise faith to the point that they, also, prayed down an angel. Once the angel came down and gave them the same message, their trial of faith was over and they had the witness that they were taught to seek by the missionary.

Again, when Moroni wrote that “he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost,” he was speaking as a Nephite, with the understanding and learning of a Nephite. The Nephite understanding was the following:

Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32: 2-3)

So, when Moroni wrote “he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost,” he had in mind that God would manifest the truth by sending an angel to declare the word of Christ, because all Nephite preachers understood that angels spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost and that this was how the Father fulfilled His covenants (by sending angels).

(Keep in mind that the words of Moroni found in Moroni 10: 4 were written to the Lamanites and not to the Gentiles. The Lamanites are the Lord’s ancient covenant people and He will fulfill His covenants to them as He did anciently: through the ministration of angels.)

From Lehi onward

The role of angels in Nephite preaching began with Lehi. Lehi began his ministry in Jerusalem with a vision of “God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1: 8.)

Lehi taught all six of his sons the gospel he had received from God and then taught them that they could go to God in prayer and ask to receive the very same manifestations he had received. This is why we find his fourth son, Nephi, writing the following:

And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 10: 17)

Nephi had these desires to see, hear and know what his father had seen, heard and known, in the very same manner as his father had experienced it, because Lehi had taught his entire family this doctrine of seeing eye to eye, and had encouraged them to learn these things for themselves, by going directly to God. This is why we find Nephi so upset with his brothers Laman and Lemuel:

And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them. For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought…

And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.

And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?

And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.

Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. (1 Nephi 15: 2-3, 7-11)

“Surely these things shall be made known unto you.” Nephi said this at the beginning of the Nephite civilization. This is the same “manifestation of the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost” that Moroni wrote about to the Lamanites at the end of the Nephite civilization. It refers to the ministration of angels, in which angels declare the word of Christ, as one did to Nephi when he desired to see, hear and know.

The confirmatory role of angels was firmly established in Nephite church culture from the beginning, with Lehi and his six sons. Of the seven men, Lehi, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi and Jacob all are explicitly stated in the record as having seen angels. And the last-born son, Joseph, was said to have been a just and holy man (Alma 3: 6), the implication being that he, also, saw angels.

All recorded Nephite preachers (as well as Samuel the Lamanite) found in the Book of Mormon saw angels before they went out to preach. For example, the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger saw an angel and then went forth telling people what they saw and what the angel said. None of the preachers kept angelic visitations to themselves, but freely bore testimony of the declaration of the word of Christ received by the angels. These experiences weren’t “too personal” or “too sacred” to share with others. On the contrary, they were only too eager to get the word out, for they wanted the residue to have faith in Christ through the word of Christ communicated (to the preachers) by the angel. When asked how they knew the things that they preached, they were quick to say it was by angelic ministration:

Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things?

And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me. (Alma 11: 30-31 – Amulek)

And behold, thus hath the angel spoken unto me; for he said unto me that there should be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours. (Helaman 14: 26 – Samuel the Lamanite)

Therefore, as Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him, saying: What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people? (Alma 21: 5 – Aaron, son of Mosiah)

And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me. (Mosiah 3: 2 – King Benjamin)

Widespread angelic ministration was a hallmark of the Nephite church because Lehi’s sons Nephi, Sam, Jacob and Joseph had continued the teaching of their father Lehi, that all converts ought to get confirmation from an angel after receiving the word from a preacher. They passed this teaching onto their children, who passed it onto their children, and on and on throughout their generations to the very end of the Nephite church.

When Alma spoke the following words to the people of Ammonihah around 82 B.C.:

For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.

And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.

And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them. (Alma 13: 24-26)

the “unto many” that he referred to were the members of the church of his day. This wasn’t a select few leaders, one or two here or there, a quorum of three or twelve or fifteen, it was the general membership of the church. These ancients had all received angelic ministrations because this is what they were taught to do. This was how they tried their faith and received a witness of its veracity.

The same gospel, given to the Gentiles

The gospel given to the Nephites, including the eye to eye doctrine of confirmatory, angelic ministrations, was prayed (in faith) by the ancient inhabitants of this land to go to the Lamanites of a future day, hence the appearance of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a record of angelic sermons, or words of Christ received through angelic means. It is designed to be this way so that when the Lamanites receive it, they will, like their ancestors, seek to obtain a manifestation of its truth through angelic ministration, once again repeating and initiating the ancient gospel given to the Nephites. In order to see eye to eye on angelic ministration, you must have a preacher preaching a message received through the means of angels. That is what the Book of Mormon is. So, the Lamanites then, when they read of Nephi’s visions, or Lehi’s visions, or Jacob’s or Alma’s or any one of the angelic visitations and declarations found in the record, will be able to put that word in their hearts and exercise faith and pray down the angels to manifest the same things to them by the power of the Holy Ghost.

This was the intent and faith and prayers of the ancients for this record, to jump start the Lamanites and to give them the same gospel which the ancient inhabitants lived.

On the other hand, the Gentiles who obtained the book could also have the same gospel, if they wanted it. The angelic word is there, if they wanted to apply it as the Lamanites of a future day would. But history has shown the Gentiles to be a hard-hearted, faithless bunch. Joseph Smith tried to get the people to see what he saw, to behold the same visions, to see the same angels, to receive the same message—in other words, to accept the gospel given to the Nephites—but the Gentile church is more or less content with having one man in charge who receives from the Lord, and then having that man (or a small group of men) tell them what to do. Joseph was only able to get a few individuals to behold the marvelous power of God that he beheld, such as Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Sidney Ridgon. Everyone else pretty much rejected the eye to eye doctrine found in the Book of Mormon. Hence the condemnation found upon the church today.

No angels = no faith = no salvation

The doctrine the Nephites preached was not the doctrine the modern Gentile church preaches and practices. Yet, it is the very doctrine that God wants everyone to live, which is why He brought it forth.

Mormon stated that if the ministration of angels ever ceased, it would be “because of unbelief, and all is vain.” The cessation of the appearance of angels among the Gentile church is proof positive that the church is condemned, or to be plainer in writing, damned, because “if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” (See Moroni 7: 37-38.)

Let me re-phrase that to be clearer in writing. If angels ever cease appearing to the Gentile church of God, then faith will have ceased also among the church of God, and awful is the state of the church of God, for the church of God will be as though there had been no redemption. Notice, in particular, Mormon’s words: “for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” Abinadi and Alma also used such a phrase:

But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God. (Mosiah 16: 5)

And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; 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. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption. (Alma 12: 16-18)

So, according to the above scriptures, if the Gentile church of God no longer has angels appearing to them, it is because they don’t have faith, and therefore they are under the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will, and they (the church of God!) are enemies to God. They, then, are not in a redeemed or saved condition, but are damned. All because they do not exercise faith to behold angels, as did the ancient Nephite church.

Remember, the Lord stated in D&C 84: 55-57 that the entire church was brought under condemnation because they did not do what was written in the Book of Mormon. This condemnation has never been lifted.  Even now, we give a lot of lip service to it, but do not live its teachings.

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The faith of God, part thirteen: How charity fits in


Continued from part twelve.

Charity on a series about faith?

On December 20, 2007, I wrote the following on this blog:

Mormon also talked about faith (and hope and charity) in Moroni 7. Like Ether and Helaman, quoted in the previous part, Mormon explains that faith precedes hope. (See Moroni 7: 41-42 “…ye shall have hope…because of your faith…” and “…without faith there cannot be any hope…”) In fact, the order of these three grand principles is always given as “faith, hope and charity” because faith precedes hope, or allows hope to be engendered and then faith and hope allow charity to be engendered. (This is a topic for a different post and will not be covered here. I mention it merely to show that faith is different than hope and charity and required in order to obtain the other two necessary principles.) (The faith of God, part three bold type added.)

I had originally intended to address charity in a post separate from the faith of God series, but as I’ve researched the topic, I see now that it belongs here.

Paul’s definition of charity

Paul gives the universal definition of charity, used by all the Christian world, including us, found in the entire 13th chapter of Corinthians:

Paul said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Cor. 13)

Mormon’s definition of charity

Mormon also gives his definition of charity, which is nearly identical to that of Paul, except that Mormon expounds upon the principle a bit more, taking up the entire chapter of Moroni 7:

Mormon said, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7: 45-47; see also the entirety of chapter 7)

Charity encompasses all good things

All principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are found within charity. Using Paul and Mormon’s words, we find: patience (“suffereth long”), kindness (is kind), slowness to anger (“is not easily provoked”), joy in truth (“rejoiceth in the truth”), strength (“beareth all things”), belief (“believeth all things”), hope (“hopeth all things”), and endurance (“endureth all things”).

Charity has none of the evil gifts or principles. There is no envy (“envieth not”), boasting (“vaunteth not itself”), vanity and pride (“is not puffed up”), bad behavior (“does not behave itself unseemly”), stinginess (“seeketh not her own”), quick anger (“is not easily provoked”), evil thoughts (“thinketh no evil”) or joy in iniquity (“rejoiceth not in iniquity”).

In all cases, the principles encompassed by charity are in their fulness: “all things” not just some things. This means that charity is not given in portions (in one sense of that word), as are other gifts of the Spirit. You either have charity, or you don’t.

Charity is not the sum total

The gifts and principles of the gospel which are found within those who have charity do not equate to charity. In other words, merely possessing these gifts and principles in their fulness does not mean you automatically have charity. Charity, then, are these gifts plus something more. It is not the sum total of the gifts alone. This is why Paul says you can have a fulness of (name of principle or gift), but if you don’t have charity, you are nothing.

Mormon’s progression to charity

In chapter 7 of Moroni, Mormon gives a progression from faith to charity. He declares that “no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have” and then he lists 5 necessary principles: 1st, faith; 2nd, hope; 3rd, meekness and lowliness of heart; 4th, confession by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ; and 5th, charity. He demonstrates by his progression that it is impossible to have faith without the word of God, and that it is faith that allows one to lay hold on every good thing (see Moro. 7: 21-25; see also The faith of God, part four: the word of God), or, in other words, it is through faith (see the following note) that every good gift (which is “sent forth by the power and gift of Christ”—see Moro. 7: 16) is obtained from God, including the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is charity.

(Note: Mormon taught that the way to obtain charity is to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7: 48.) Christ said, “Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you” (Moroni 7: 26.) This shows that charity is obtained by the prayer of faith.)

Salvation = Charity and Charity = Salvation

Some may take issue with my statement that charity is the greatest of the gifts. They may bring up the following scripture:

The Lord said, “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6: 13)

For most LDS, the interpretation of the word “salvation” in this verse means “exaltation,” which all understand to be the greatest gift of all. Nevertheless, Mormon clearly states that charity “is the greatest of all.” (See Moro. 7: 46.) Paul also states the same in 1 Cor. 13: 13. There is no contradiction in these scriptures between Mormon, Paul and the Lord because charity and salvation are the same gift. I will explain why this is so later on.

Charity and Perfectness

Paul, Moroni and the Lord all aligned charity with perfectness:

Paul said, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” (Col. 3: 14)

Moroni said, “And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.” (Moro. 8: 17)

The Lord said, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” (D&C 88: 125)

These scriptures indicate that charity is not your average love.

No inheritance without charity

Ether chapter 12 also talks of charity. Moroni in this chapter said the following:

And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father. (Ether 12: 35)

Moroni makes it clear that charity is a prerequisite to salvation. No charity? No salvation. Have charity? Have salvation. This is why Mormon states in Moro. 7: 47 that “whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” In other words, if you possess charity at the day of judgment, you are guaranteed salvation because charity is all you need. You may possess anything else, in fact, you may possess all other things (gifts) possible to possess, but if you don’t possess charity, you don’t get saved. In other words, the possession of charity is the only thing that saves.

In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni reiterates this point:

And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God. (Moro. 10: 21)

The Nothing and things of naught

One of the more curious aspects of charity is that without it we are “nothing.” Paul said, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13: 2). Mormon said, “If [a man] have not charity, he is nothing” (Moro. 7: 44). Nephi said, “Except [men] should have charity they were nothing” (2 Ne. 26: 30). The Lord said, “And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing” (D&C 18: 19).

Keep in mind that Lehi also spoke of “a thing of naught” which has no power, purpose or even existence. (See 2 Ne. 2: 11-13. This is a bit deeper doctrine than I will discuss here but if the reader wants more information, you can read the Deep Waters category articles, Lehi’s model of the universe and Creatio ex nihilo, creatio ex materia and creatio ex deo are all true doctrines.)

Weak things and strong things

Charity is associated with strength and makes weak things become strong or all-powerful. Said the Lord to Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness. (Ether 12: 27-28)

Moroni then goes on to explain that the Lord “hast prepared a place for man…among the mansions of [His] Father” and that the whole purpose of the Lord’s atonement and resurrection was “to prepare a place for the children of men” so that they could “inherit that place which [He] hast prepared in the mansions of [His] Father” through men having charity. (See Ether 12: 32-34.) Thus, those who possess charity stay in the kingdom of God (see Moro. 10: 21), become strong and inherit a prepared place, while those who do not possess charity “must go down to hell” (Moro. 8: 14). These latter people lose all power and become nothing.

The pure love of Christ

When asked, “What is charity?” LDS will typically quote Moroni 7: 47 and say, “Charity is the pure love of Christ.” Obviously, this is a correct and scriptural answer, but it doesn’t exactly explain what charity is. Yes, it is love. Yes, it is the type of love that Christ demonstrated and possessed. But what the heck is it? And why is it so all important that its possession makes us saved beings?

All are alike

Moroni, in the above quote, when explaining that he possessed charity, made a point to state that “all children are alike unto [him].” For most of us, love comes in degrees and is prioritized. We love our wives more than anyone. We love our wives and children more than our own brothers and their wives and children. We love our brothers and sisters more than our in-laws, and more than our friends. We love our friends more than our acquaintances. We love our neighbors more than strangers. We love our fellow citizen more than foreigners. In other words, “all are not alike” unto us. This demonstrates that most, if not all, of the love that we manifest is not charity.

The opposite of charity

If you look at past and present history, and review the brutal murders, genocides and other atrocities committed by mankind, you will find that one of the ways these men, women and even children justified their actions against their fellow men was to view their victims as aliens. They viewed them as less than human, as animals even, as vermin, as alien invaders to be fought and exterminated at all costs. In other words, they viewed them not as “alike unto them,” but as completely different and even opposite in all things. This hatred, inspired by Satan, is the opposite principle of charity. It views others as altogether different and seeks to destroy such different “things.” Charity, on the other hand, views all things as part of the family and creation of God, and alike unto ourselves, and seeks to edify, save and exalt all things.

Between charity and hatred

The prioritized love that we feel towards those whom we consider worthy of our love, known to us as our “loved ones,” is not exactly charity and not exactly hatred. It is a mix. It has conditions. “As long as you don’t hurt me, I’ll love you.” Etc. But the moment one of our loved ones hurts us real badly, then the love we feel evaporates to be replaced sometimes by hatred. So, when circumstances are going good, the love we feel can manifest great pleasure and happiness, but when times are tough or people around us are making agency choices that hurt us, often that same loving feeling can disappear in an instant and cause us great emotional pain and anger, even hate.

Satan, who knows that the principal of hate allows him to control people, also knows that it is okay for a person to possess love, as it can easily be turned into hate, by simply changing the circumstances of the person from good to bad. It is only charity—which remains constant, or perfect, regardless of the circumstances—which altogether removes Satan’s hold upon men.

What charity really is: the LDS Anarchist definition

Charity is an over-whelming desire and willingness to share all that you have with everyone else.

In the beginning

A visitor named Doug once asked me,

This brings up the point, why is God all powerful? It’s because the intelligences TRUST him, because he never lies. Trust + a healthy dose of smarts is the key to Godliness. The intelligences not only trust God, but they adore him and do whatever he asks.

To which I answered,

All you write here is very true, but there is another, prime reason that precedes these other reasons as to why all things trust and obey God. I’m currently writing another article on this other reason. I’ll link this comment to that future post (if I remember to do so.)

God is motivated by charity and charity alone.  In fact, our current scriptural translations go even farther by saying that God is love, (or God is charity.)  Charity is the divine motivation behind both the atonement and plan of salvation and also the creation of all things.  God desires to bring the nothing into existence (or creation) so that all the many created things can share in everything He has.  It’s like a rich man in a mansion, opening his doors and saying aloud to all in the streets,

“Come in, one and all, and partake of all these riches!  Sit with me, dine with me, walk with me, learn of me and enjoy all the wealth and pleasures I have!  What is mine is yours if you but come!”

Everything He does is to facilitate the gathering of all things around Him, into His mansions, so that they can share in His treasures with others.  This is charity.  God, therefore, is the personification of charity.  In other words, God literally is love.

Man is also motivated by charity, God’s charity.  In fact, all things obey God because God has charity.   We, in the beginning, being on the outside of the mansion, in the streets (in outer darkness), entered into the kingdom of God, or came into existence, because of the offer He made of sharing all He has with us.  Who in their right mind would turn down the offer to enter into a rich man’s mansion and live there in wealth and prosperity for the rest of eternity?  And not just living there, but partaking of all of the riches as if you were the rich man, meaning unbridled sharing of all there is, with no stinginess, whatsoever.  Who would turn such an offer down?  None of us did.  No one ever does.  It is not in our nature.

Charity brought us into existence

When God first gave us awareness of the inner sphere of light, it wasn’t His intelligence or His trustworthiness or any of His many other qualities that caused us to leave outer darkness and enter into our existence in the inner sphere of light (the kingdom of God). It was that noble offer of His, His charity, His desire and willingness to share all He had with us, that caused us to enter His created mansion.  This is how created things get created, or are brought into existence.  God has a two-fold mission, one directed at the already created things which exist within the bounds of the kingdom (sphere) of light and one directed at the nothing found in outer darkness.  To the created universe, He works to facilitate their obtainment of all that He has through the atonement and plan of salvation.  To the nothing, he extends the offer of entering His sphere of light and partaking of everything He has.

The creation is ongoing because the nothing cannot resist the charitable offer.  And so the Universe expands.

All things love God

Why?  Because God loves all things.  He demonstrates that love by desiring to, being willing to, offering to, and working to give us everything He has.  This is what God is all about.  Giving.  Not selling.  Not having things earned (a meritocracy.)  But an unearned gift.  This is charity.  He likes to give gifts to all that like to receive them.  As long as we enjoy receiving, He’ll keep on giving.  He is willing to give us everything there is, without any degree of selfishness.  Not giving us a replica of what He has, but the very things He has, we becoming joint-owners of His things, or as the scriptures say, joint-heirs.  This is the greatest love there is.  There is nothing greater than God’s love, called charity.  Thus, it is the most powerful motivator, in all cases.  It motivates God and it is designed, or it is His design that charity be our motivation, also.  For all the created Universe, it is also their motivation.  They obey Him in all things because they love Him for His love for them, which defies all comprehension, for once it is even remotely understood just how much God has and is willing to give to us, all things are humbled by the magnanimity of God and all things bow the knee and bend the head in humble reverence and worship of the divine Lover of all things.

There are no two ways about it

There is only one type of charity: God’s charity.  If you don’t have an overwhelming desire and willingness to share everything you have with everyone else, you don’t have charity.  (See the Deep Waters post,  How many wives?  How many husbands?, for how charity works in divine relationships).  Any degree of stinginess gets you kicked out of the kingdom.  The law of heaven is having all things common, or sharing all things with everyone else.

Sharing.  We learn this as children in the nuclear family.  Share your toys, our mothers teach us.  This is, in fact, a sure-fire way to make quick friends.  The more open and sharing you are with others, the more friends you’ll end up having.  The minute you say, “No, it’s mine!  I’m not sharing!” suddenly even close friends don’t want anything to do with you.

As adults, we learn to share with our spouses and children.  Parents provide for their children their necessities: food, clothing, shelter, nurture, protection, education.  We do this freely, as gifts.  The family is designed to be a gift society, so that we can better inculcate charity, which saves us.  The more generous and charitable we are, the more importance we put on people and the less we put on things.  Charity is the only lesson we need to learn here on earth.  Those who learn it qualify themselves for entering into the charitable society that exists in heaven.  They also prepare themselves to establish that society here on earth, otherwise known as Zion.

What charity is not

Charity is not giving of your surplus to a church, the poor or the needy.  It is not fast offerings or tithing.  Those things are important, but they are not what is charity.  We call them charitable donations because they mimic the work that charity does.  Nevertheless, unless a person has “an overwhelming desire and willingness to share everything” he or she has with everyone else, what they have is something less than charity.  The love of a mother or father for his or her children is close to charity.  A parent will give everything, even their own life, for their children, and will share all that they have with them.  But until they have the desire and are willing to do the same for everyone, they don’t possess charity.

In the absence of charity

Without charity, men go through various stages of selfishness and stinginess.  Babylon thrives in the absence of charity.  When charity enters the hearts of men, Babylon disappears and Zion becomes established.  In Zion’s absence, men have power to do all manner of wickedness and can be partially or totally controlled by the devil.  Once charity becomes the motivating impulse in men, Satan loses all power and God rules on earth in their hearts.  This is because charity is 100% divine.  It is not a human concept, principle or emotion.  It comes only from God.  As charity overwhelms with desire, its possession makes men relinquish all the less than perfect human emotions and allows them to embrace the divine nature.

Charity can only be obtained, as Mormon explained above, through faith, hope, meekness, etc.  So, as a strategy, the devil does all in his power to destroy faith, hope, etc.  Faith, in and of itself, is useless against Satan.  So is hope.  None of these principles can stop him. Only charity can.

“Let all men have faith, hope and the rest of the gifts of the Spirit,” says the evil one.  “As long as they possess no charity, these things are powerless to save them and can be a useful means of deception.”

The fastest way to obtain the gifts

As it is through faith that all other gifts are obtained, including charity, and as charity encompasses every other gift, it may be tempting to use one’s faith to seek all other gifts first and when one has fully developed them, to seek for charity. This is actually the slowest way to obtain the gifts because it puts the one seeking the gifts within Satan’s grasp.

It is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49: 20)

This principle applies equally to the gifts of God. When we possess more gifts of God than our fellowman, or gifts which we believe are better than the one’s our neighbor has, Satan can lead us to sin in our thoughts by tempting us to think we are the better, or more righteous, man. Such thoughts can lead to sinful behavior and attitudes, which will end up damning us, despite our gifts.

The antidote is to first seek for charity and then, once it is obtained, to seek for the other gifts. This nullifies the devil’s power and facilitates and expedites the receipt of all the other gifts, for the Lord readily bestows His gifts upon possessors of charity because He knows already that they will use them to bless His other children.

The rewards in heaven will be based upon how close we came to charity

Those who enter into their exaltation are those whose lives on earth were denoted by this divine desire and willingness to share everything with everyone.  These men and women who actually obtained the divine gift of charity will receive everything God possesses and will become gods and goddesses themselves.

All others will receive according to how close they came to charity.  In the day of judgment, we will be assessed only by charity or our lack thereof.  Did we possess the desire but not the willingness to carry out the desire?  When presented with the opportunity, did we share all, most, a lot, a little or none at all?  Did we play favorites, sharing with him, her and them but not with those?  Or were we totally selfish, sharing nothing with no one and with an unwillingness and no desire to bless those around us with the good things of life?  Did we discard charity altogether and seek for its opposite, desiring and willing that others receive nothing but evil from our own hands or the hands of others?

Locations in heaven will be based upon charity or its lack

Those who receive the reward of exaltation (the ones who possessed charity in mortality) will reside in the midst of all things, like God Himself, at the center of the sphere of light (the created Universe or the kingdom of God).  Like God, they will receive all power (agency) from all things and all things will look to them (the center) and obey them for they have the same desire, willingness and now power to share everything they possess (which is everything) with all.

Persons who were less charitable in mortality will receive inheritances in other mansions or kingdoms (planets) which are located more towards the edges of the sphere of light.  These will possess less power (agency) than those who reside more towards the center of the Universe.

Repentance brings salvation (charity)

Obviously, almost all mankind will be saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ, which means that just about everyone will eventually repent of their sins and go through Mormon’s steps, acquiring faith, hope, meekness, lowliness of heart and confessing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ.  This means that they will finally obtain charity and become saved in the kingdom of God.  With this charity they will share all of what they have with everyone around them.  In the case of those exalted, “all of what they have” is everything there is to possess, even all that the Father has.  For everyone else, “all of what they have” is of a limited nature, but still everything that they were willing to receive, they not wanting or desiring to receive any more than the reward or gift which they obtained.

Only the sons of perdition lose out entirely, as they remain firm in their impenitence, refusing to receive charity, and being cast back into outer darkness.

Charity is not based upon a church

Baptism into a church is not what qualifies a person for the reception of the gift of charity.  It is one’s desires and willingness to share all with all.  Anyone who uproots the selfish spirit from their soul through Jesus’ words and the Holy Ghost’s actions, humbling him or herself before God, whether they are members of the baptized, covenant people of the Lord or not, can and will receive this gift and if so, they will receive the corresponding reward in heaven.  There will be many charitable “heathens” who will enter into greater rewards than uncharitable church members, regardless of how much tithing, fast offerings, service projects, temple work, meetings or callings they accept, attend or contribute.

The goal is charity

It may seem weird to bring up charity in the faith of God series, but I felt it was important to give an understanding of how charity fits in to God’s faith.  The faith of God is not the end of the matter.  It is merely a means to an end.  Through faith God obtains and maintains all things, granting Him possession of all things.  But possession is not the end all and be all.  The things possessed are to be used for a divine purpose.  Why get all if not to give all?  Underlying all that immense, godly power, knowledge and holiness is the divine motivation, which precedes both our own faith as well as God’s, for God works by faith in order to be able to share all that He has with everyone.  Charity, then, is God’s goal for both Himself and mankind.  Charity is both the first and the last principle.  It brought us into existence, it keeps us in existence, and using it, it can bring others into existence.  It is the reason for the happiness that is existence, the sharing of all things with all.  Charity is the Zion principle.

Everything that leads to charity is to be motivated by charity, thus, the Savior’s command of “freely ye have received, freely give” is according to the principle of charity and is to apply to all the gifts of God.  We are to use all that God gives us to benefit all His children and creations, freely, generously and openly, without reservation or respect to persons.  All are to be alike to us.

Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part fourteen: God is a miracle worker, not a scientist

Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part twelve: Truth

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The Holy Ghost is a Woman


The following is an excerpt taken from the NCCG.ORG web site. It is from the article, Yah’shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and His Place in the Godhead.  I have lifted it verbatim, trying to keep it in its original font size and color, but have hyperlinked all the scriptures. 

The Personality of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) 

To understand how the Son was created by the Father we must now turn to the third member of the Godhead, the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). That the Spirit is a PERSON and not just an INVISIBLE FORCE is proven by many passages, though it is equally true that the ACTIVITY of the Spirit is often present in neutral, sexless terms. 

To lie to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is to lie to God [Eloah] (Ac.5:3-4). And the way that the Third Member of the Godhead is linked to both the Father and the Son in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 would be a blasphemy if the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) were not God [Eloah]. The Ruach (Spirit) shows personality – thus She “understands” (Rom.8:27, Aram.), She “wills” (Ac.13:2; 1 Cor.12:11, Aram.), She may be “grieved” (Eph.4:30, Aram.). Such terms would be meaningless if applied solely to an impersonal power or influence. 

The Feminine Gender of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) 

According to both classical Trinitarian and Binitarian models, the Third Member of the Godhead is MALE. The problem here is that in the Hebrew OLD TESTAMENT the Spirit is always FEMALE and in the GREEK New Testament either MALE or NEUTER, thus creating a CONTRADICTION. No Person can have three genders! 

But the problem is eliminated when we turn to the original HEBREW and ARAMAIC texts of the New Testament from which the GREEK texts were translated. As one scholar notes: 

    “One problem that presents itself in translating the New Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic into English is that of the gender of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit). English is very different from Hebrew and Aramaic. To begin with, English has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter (i.e. he, she and it). Hebrew and Aramaic have no neuter gender. In Hebrew and Aramaic everything is either a “he” or a “she” and nothing is an “it”. Also gender plays a much more important rôle in Hebrew and in Aramaic than in English. In English gender is usually only an issue when dealing with pronouns. But in Hebrew and Aramaic nouns and verbs are also masculine or feminine. And while there are no true adjectives in Hebrew (nouns are also used as adjectives), noun modifiers must agree in gender with the noun. Now the Hebrew word RUACH (Aramaic RUCHA) is grammatically feminine as is the phrase Ruach haKodesh. This is matched by the rôle of the Ruach haKodesh as “comforter” (Jn.14-16) and the identifier of the “comforter” with YHWH acting as a “mother” (Is.66:13).
    “Now in English the Ruach is often referred to as “he” or “it” as also in the Greek New Testament. However this seems very odd indeed to the Semitic mind.
    “Now it is very clear that the gender of the RUACH has been revised in many passages of the Aramaic to agree with the Hellenistic concept of the Holy Spirit as being either a “he” or an “it”. Thus the pronouns used for the Ruach haKodesh in Jn.14-16 in the Peshitta are all masculine. However, the hand of revision is very clear. For example while both the Peshitta and Old Syriac have “he” in Jn.16:8 the Old Syriac has “she” just a few verses further down in 16:13 while the Peshitta has “he”.
    “And She the Ruach gives testimony …” 
    (James S. Trimm, Hebraic-Roots Version “New Testament”, 2001, SANJ, Hurst, Texas, pp.xxxiii-xxxiv)

The Book of Proverbs and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) 

Because of this confusion of genders both scholars and scriptorians often mistakenly believe that the “Wisdom” of God in the Book of Proverbs is an allusion to the Second Member of the Godhead, Yah’shua (Jesus). Thus William F. Dankenbring writes:  

    “A clear allusion to this fact of divine unity of plurality is found in the book of Proverbs. Here the second member of the Godhead is revealed, as the “Wisdom” of God. Notice this remarkable Scripture witness!:
     “The LORD possessed me in the BEGINNING of his way, before His works of old. I was set up [established] FROM EVERLASTING, from the BEGINNING, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I WAS BROUGHT FORTH [CREATED, BORN]; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I BROUGHT FORTH [CREATED, BORN] … When He prepared the heavens, I WAS THERE … when He appointed the foundations of the earth: THEN I WAS BY HIM, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:22-31, KJV).

 The Old Testament “Wisdom” is a Female Personage 

However, as Karen Vaughan points out: 

    Sophia, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Hochmah is the feminine personification of Wisdom in the Pentateuch. She is neither a goddess nor a new age creation of feminist theologians. She was a real biblical person with more material on her in the Old Testament (with Apocrypha) than anyone in the scriptures, except God, Job, Moses and David …
    “One reason we little consider Sophia, even in readings of the Old Testament, is that English translations usually translate the feminine Sophia into the abstract “Wisdom”. Although the Greek and Hebrew words were fully feminine, the English is not. The fullest development of her is in the so-called “Wisdom Books” of the apocrypha in the Greek Pentateuch (sic. – should be Tanakh or Old Testament – ed.) that were canonised into Christian Scripture and are still used by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Sophia dominates the first nine chapters of Proverbs and is found in both the Old and New Testaments.
    “In the Hebrew tradition, Sophia was considered to have been with God from the beginning of Creation. In Proverbs 8:27-51, Sophia says:
    “When God [Yahweh] set the heavens in place, I was present,
    When God drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
    When God fixed the clouds above,
    When God fixed fast the wells of the deep,
    when God assigned the sea its limits-
    and the waters will not invade the land,
    when God established the foundations of the earth,
    I was by God’s side, a master craftswoman,
    delighting God day after day,
    ever at play by God’s side,
    at play everywhere in God’s domain,
    delighting to be with the children of humanity.”
    Sophia, in the biblical creation was not ‘a god’, but was a divine being. It is not clear that She was uncreated like Jesus [Yah’shua]: the word used to refer to Her creation also means “acquired” by God. Proverbs 8:22 – “God created me [acquired me] (Sophia) when God’s purpose first unfolded.” Ecclesiasticus 1:14 – “before all things, Sophia was created.” She serves at the heart of the creative process, as Wisdom and as Teacher who was sent by God to save humanity. The book of Wisdom speaks to Her divinity (7:25-26):
    She is the breath of God’s power & a stream of pure glory of the Almighty.
    This is why nothing polluted enters Her.
    For She mirrors God’s energy completely, and She images God’s goodness.”
    (Review of the book Sophia in the Biblical Tradition (Harper and Row; 1986) by Susan Cady, Marian Ronan and Hal Taussig)

From this we are able to come to two stunning conclusions: 

  • 1. Hochma/Sophia/Wisdom was CREATED;
  • 2. She is GOD in a subordinate sense.
  • In other words, She was created at some “beginning” JUST AS YAH’SHUA (JESUS) was. In Hebrew tradition, Hochma / Sophia / Wisdom is known also as the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) (Prov.8:22-31) and the HEAVENLY MOTHER — a created being, and was “by God’s [Eloah’s] side. 

    Implications

    If the above is accurate about Hebrew, surely this opens up a new can of worms.  For example, would this not change our view of the nature of the Godhead (Father, Son and Mother)?  Of priesthood?  Of priests and priestesses or prophets and prophetesses (listen to verse 3: not Mrs. Priest and Mrs Prophet but female priests and female prophets)?  Of the gifts of the Spirit?  Of the miraculous birth of Jesus?  Of speaking or working by the power of the Holy Ghost?  Of our worship of the Father (in the name of the Son, by the power of the Mother)???

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    Apathy is not a problem, it’s a symptom and a solution


    Almost all of my posts are directed to LDS who are not in leadership positions.  But with this one post, I want to talk about, and perhaps even to, the leaders.

    Apathy is not a result of bad members,
    it’s a result of uninspired leadership

    Apathy in the church is a manifestation of a problem with the leadership, not the members.  Inspired leaders do not preside over apathic congregations.  Take Ammon and his brethren:

    And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.  (Alma 23: 6)

    The converts of Ammon (and his brethren) remained 100% active throughout the rest of their lives.  Apathy never became an issue.  Why?

    Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?  To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.  And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?  Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.  Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?  And if it be by some other way it is not of God.  And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?  If it be some other way it is not of God.  Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?  Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.  And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.  (D&C 50: 13-23)

    Ammon preached to the Lamanites by the Spirit of truth, which resulted in the edification of both parties.  In other words, he preached by the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost and the (non-member) Lamanites who eventually converted received the word he preached also by the gifts (see D&C 46: 14) and powers of the Holy Ghost. They continued this same process and no one became apathetic.  But no one can receive the word by the Spirit of truth unless it is preached by the same Spirit.  Therefore, uninspired leadership alone is to blame for apathy in the church.

    Ah, but surely the receivers carry some of the blame, too, right?

    Wrong.  We are talking of members of the church, not non-members, so these are people who have already received the word and who are already willing to receive more of the word.  They believe in the word, they believe the word will be at church and they go to church to receive it.  They expect and believe their leaders will give them the word in the Spirit of truth, meaning that it will be dispersed “according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy,” by the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost, “the power of God working miracles in them”, just as Ammon spread the word.  If, though, after they go and listen to their leaders, they remain apathetic, it is entirely their leaders’ fault.  The leaders are uninspired.  Period.

    Without the manifestations of the Spirit, boredom sets in

    Anyone who has experienced manifestations of the Spirit knows that any “religious” experience in which the Spirit is not manifesting itself is not really a religious experience.  It is just going through the motions.  When the Spirit is present, a religious gathering can last all day long and one still can’t get enough.  Without the Spirit, boredom quickly sets in and ten minutes becomes an eternity.  Many will say that it is up to the members to bring the Spirit to a meeting, in other words, that you get what you put into it.  This, though, is a cop-out to try to remove the responsibility of the leaders from ministering the gospel as the scriptures direct: in the Spirit of truth.

    In other religious denominations, in which pastors are paid, the members do not simply suffer through boredom-filled meetings.  If the pastor does not bring the Spirit, they either fire him or the members go elsewhere, to a pastor that they feel does possess the Spirit. Not so with the LDS.  We do like the Puritans and consider it saintly to suffer through week after week of boredom.  (See The Title of Insufferable, Self-Righteous Prigs.)

    Motivation is not the issue

    The typical tactic used by uninspired leaders is to try to motivate the members to do their duty, as if motivation were the problem.  For example, not a single Sunday will go by without an elder’s quorum president striving to remind, encourage and motivate his quorum to do home teaching.  Success stories will be drawn from talks of GA’s and such, showing that home teaching is important and effective.  Week after week the elders’ ears will grow more and more weary with hearing the broken “home teaching” record play.  In one ward that I was a part of, one of the elders got so tired of hearing it that when the bishop sent one of his counselors to deliver a special bishopric message to our quorum of elders, and it turned out to be about home teaching, this elder stormed off in anger and didn’t return again to the quorum until he was finally coaxed gently back.

    Member missionary work is another area that is treated like a motivation problem.  Members generally are excited about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and do not need motivation.  They do, however, need inspired leadership.  Bringing a non-member friend to a boring meeting is not something everyone is willing to do.  If the leadership is inspired and the gathering of the saints are occasions in which the Spirit is poured out and manifestations are regular, members naturally spread the word.  This is true of all cultures and religions.  For example, in the Catholic religion and regions of the world, when someone has witnessed a virgin appear somewhere, word spreads like wildfire and everyone goes to see what Spiritual manifestation is occurring.  The miraculous is widely held as a sign of the divine working, or as the Savior puts it, “the works of the Father.”  If you remove the works of the Father from any church, even one that carries the name of Christ, you are left with a church of man.  So, “the power of God working miracles in” leaders is very important.

    Uninspired leaders are not sanctified

    The Lord has made it plain that all leaders are to be sanctified.  If they are not sanctified, they are not to be leaders, or “teachers” of the word.  (See Scriptural Discussion #5: Teachers—Must Be Sanctified.)  Sanctified leaders possess the spirit of prophecy and revelation, yet, how many leaders have actually prophesied in the church?  How many leaders have actually received a revelation, not just inspiration, but the type that can be written down?  Go and ask your leader if he or she has ever prophesied or ever received a revelation from the Lord and see for yourself.

    Unsanctified leaders are more like managers than leaders.  No one wants to be “managed.”  Heck, no one wants to be led, either, unless the Holy Ghost is doing the leading, then everyone wants to be led.  Unless a leader is sanctified and thus possesses the guidance, gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost, those who follow his leadership are being led by just a man.

    Apathy is a good thing

    If you touch a hot iron, you feel pain.  That pain may seem like a bad thing, but it really is a good thing as it alerts you to the danger of the hot iron so that you can remove your hand and avoid further damage to your body.  All symptoms of illness, then, although they don’t feel good, are but signals to us that there is a problem.

    Leadership will often see apathy not as a signal that there is a problem, but as the problem itself. The apathy itself is then addressed, not its cause.  The members will be preached to and made to feel guilty for not doing their duty.  They will be encouraged and motivated and every other trick in the book to get them to do something that they would naturally do anyway, without any external influence, if only they heard the word preached to them in the Spirit of truth.

    An argument could be made that uninspired leadership should not be encouraged by acting on it.  Only inspired leadership should be acted upon.  After all, if the membership acted upon uninspired leadership and brought their friends to boring church meetings in droves, what would be the result?  However, such an argument is not necessary because man, by nature, negates uninspired leadership with the solution of apathy.  Apathy, therefore, is not a problem, but a solution to uninspired leadership. It is an apathetic membership which should inspire the leaders to sanctify themselves and obtain the powers, gifts and fruits of the Spirit with which to minister in righteousness among the Lord’s people.  Only the Spirit can cure apathy, or enliven a sleepy body.

    How to encourage leadership to repent: inspired, intentional apathy

    If your ward or stake leaders are uninspired and you notice that your ward or stake is full of apathetic members, the answer is not to fight them or call them to repentance.  The Lord will take care of His leaders and will chastise them in His own due time.  It is not the duty of the membership to steady the ark.  We members did not call them, although we did sustain them through our vote. And that (sustaining) is the key.

    Sustain inspired leaders and withdraw support from uninspired leaders

    The proper, scriptural way that the Lord has set up whereby membership can “modify the misbehavior of the leadership” is by withdrawing a sustaining vote.  Most people feel that once a vote is cast, it must remain cast until the end of the term of office.  The election of California Governor Schwarzenegger should have put an end to that line of thinking.  Just as the Lord giveth and taketh away, so the membership has the power to sustain and withdraw support.

    I might suggest a couple of important things to keep in mind when withdrawing support from an uninspired leader.  First, this is not a way to punish him, but to encourage him to sanctify himself so that he may again have your support.  And second, keep firmly in mind the difference between what are the commandments of God and the counsels or petitions of an uninspired man.  As long as you continue to keep the commandments of God, you will remain on safe ground.

    For example, having entered baptism and made a covenant with God, we are to partake of the sacrament each week.  So, not attending a ward that has an uninspired bishop is not an option.  However, just attending the portion in which the sacrament is passed, partaking and then skipping the rest of the meeting, might be.  On my mission, many baptized members did just that, as they had covenanted to partake of the sacrament each week, not listen to every talk given in that meeting.

    During sustaining votes, especial care might be taken as to who you vote for, or even if you vote at all.  (See Is our procedure for sustaining a rubberstamp?)  Just as there are many ways to sustain a leader, there are probably as many ways to withhold support.

    Inspired apathy is a solution

    Inspired apathy can be a great tool in the hands of those who wield it with a proper understanding of its effect on leadership.  Although apathy is often seen as a thing to be avoided, a bad thing, it can be a means of generating humble leaders who are guided by the Holy Ghost and not just by their egos.

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    Scriptural Discussion #1: Priesthood Ordinations—By The Power Of The Holy Ghost


    PRIESTHOOD ORDINATIONS—BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST

    Moroni said, “And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.” (Moroni 3: 4)

    The Lord said, “And, behold, you are they who are ordained of me to ordain priests and teachers; to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men;” (D&C 18: 32)

    The Lord said, “Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.” (D&C 20: 60)

    Discuss.

    Next Scriptural Discussion: #2 SCRIPTURES—MEN TO BE JUDGED BY

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