Sometimes, rather than correct people about me. I let them take me out of context because straightening it all out seems burdensome. I probably shouldn't do that.
If God wasn't used to being taken out of context, this psalm would never have been written, "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Psalms 50:21
The wicked being addressed assumed God agreed with their actions, but silence did not mean He agreed or approved.
Back to the point: I have some clarifications to make.
Clarification 1: Prophets...I believe in prophets. Of course I do. Without them we would not have a single page of scripture. But one might take my statement out of context in assuming I mean the men we currently call prophets of the church. I believe true prophets of God will bear the fruit that position, in actual prophecy, etc. This has been true in scripture. One thing I also notice in scripture is there wasn't a limit to "one true prophet." Prophets seem to have been called by God (I'm not saying by God through man as we assume the meaning of this phrase is today, similar to the Catholic religion, but actually by God) severally, as needed, where needed. The Book of Mormon mentions "prophets" that come preaching repentance when the Nephites are coming close to destruction in their wickedness. Samuel the Lamanite was a prophet who prophesied to the wicked Nephites, when Nephi was currently alive and also serving the Lord. By the simple order of things and the way we understand them, this should have been Nephi's job. But the Lord called Samuel, an outsider, to bear this prophecy. Moreover, the Lord insisted they record it, when He showed to them that they had neglected to do so in His later visit with them.
The order we so cling and depend on is not exclusively how God works. He works according to His pattern, and His order, which is less like the corporate structure of our church than we like to think it is, and more in keeping with the pattern of scripture.
In scriptures, there were prophetesses. They weren't performing ordinances or leading the church, but they did prophecy. One such woman was present at the temple when Jesus entered as a baby. One such woman served as a "judge" of Israel, to deliver them from their enemies before they chose to live under kings instead.
Then there is Paul. After Judas' betrayal of Jesus, and his subsequent suicide, there were only 11 apostles. Later, when the remaining apostles were gathered together, they selected by the spirit a 12th. But they didn't call Paul (he was busy persecuting them). They called Matthias. Paul did not believe Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and was busy afflicting them. Yet, Jesus personally called him to His service anyway after His resurrection. Paul became an apostle (the 13th) and for himself did witness the risen Lord (Acts 9:27). Through him came Christ's ministry to the gentiles. Through him came the majority of the New Testament books. And this done outside our recognized order of things, but not outside of God's.
So, I believe in prophets.
Of course I do.
And I believe there is a prophet today, called by God personally, at least one. Probably, hopefully, more. (...would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! Moses speaking in Numbers 11:29)
I see a lot of good, a lot of admirable traits in the men that lead the church today. But I don't see how they are the prophets of God.
After I had prayed and considered this for months, the Lord finally put it to me this way, "Would a prophet of God reject the word of God?"
My answer was, "Of course not." If anything, the prophet would accept the word of God, recognizing the source of it as the same master that He serves. If he did reject it, either he would not be a prophet of God (or cease to be the prophet of God), or the word was not really the word of God. But a true prophet of God would not reject a message originating from God, no matter which messenger God chose to send it through.
So if this prophet casts out this messenger, or upholds the casting out of the messenger, then the prophet is not really a prophet of God, or the messenger is not really the messenger of God, or neither of them are God's. In any case, the determining of which is which is up to each individual.
I have heard the word of God through this message and this messenger, who has been cast out of this church for this very message. I have recognized it. I have studied it. I have inquired of the Lord about it. I declare it.
The church recently bought ad space in the Book of Mormon musical playbill.
We teach that people must read the Book of Mormon to determine its truth rather than just listening to what other people have to say about it. You have to read it for yourself. I'm applying that same reasoning here. Read the message (or listen). Know for yourself, and then you don't have to take anyone else's word for it, mine included. But do so with an open heart, because by the power of the Holy Ghost, you can know the truth of all things. But it cannot speak so easily to a heart that is closed. A heart that doesn't want to know if something is true, or is not true. That has decided the answer already, whether or not it is the right answer.
I want to make it clear, I am not suggesting we substitute one man for another. We've had too much of that in the history of the world. It's important that we accept the messages that are God's and follow Him, not substituting following the messenger for following Him. To do so places that man in the position of an idol, as we put him between us and God. You should place nothing between you and God. I have discussed this in this series of posts.
Regarding the men who lead this church, I have this conclusion to offer:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feast, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Matt 23:1-13
Chief seats in the synagogues?
To be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi:
You can read here, what the original meaning of this title was and how it evolved. But it was a title, given to those who were thought more enlightened or educated. It could have as simple a meaning as "teacher." Likewise we should not love to be called of men master, or teacher, or doctor, or professor, or elder, or apostle, or prophet, bishop, stake president, etc. etc. etc. or always having your middle initial included in your name when you are introduced, or addressed. These are things that men love to do. But it really isn't about the title, whatever the title, or the chief seats.
Titles aside, we are all just brothers (and sisters).
Do not ye after their works:
These men appear to be good men, and I have nothing against them. In many ways, I desire to be like them. They teach good things, for the most part. They teach of Christ. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Yes, they teach of Christ, but as I have said before, an appeal goes to the first presidency, and an appeal denied by them is an casting out upheld by them. You cannot be a prophet and reject the message of Christ. It does not work both ways. Men can do things in the name of Christ. Many do. To speak in His name while not following His will is to speak His name in vain. Because it does not serve His purposes, so must only serve theirs, and their vanity. Do not ye after their works. Do not do the same. Follow God. Follow Christ, He will lead you.
The all so important Doctrine of Christ, is not "follow the prophet." There was a reason he did not mention it in His doctrine, and while alive warned the Jews of blind leaders. We are commanded not to add to His doctrine, so anyone that inserts "follow the prophet" as Christ's doctrine cometh of evil.
The Jews also thought their leaders were righteous. They looked righteous. They followed all the statutes and commandments, the definition of righteous. Right? And yet, their authorized High Priests were the ones who determined to have Christ killed according to their laws. They were not right. And anyone who trusted in their decision, also rejected the Christ who came among them. It's an easy mistake to make, particularly when you trust in a man unconditionally. And believe he cannot be led astray.
If God allowed the high priest (same current position held by the prophet of the church, by the way) of his day to make a decision that clearly led the Jewish people astray, that clearly was the wrong decision... and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever... then why would it be any different for the high priest of our day?
God allows us to make our own decisions.
The restoration was about more than another earthly church:
In Joseph Smith, we had the promise that any of us could know God the way he did.
In Joseph Smith's teachings we had him encouraging us to receive Christ in the flesh, make our callings and elections sure, etc.
In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told that the fullness of the gospel is held within the Book of Mormon, a book that describes several people witnessing Christ for themselves in many different time frames of the book. The same thing the endowment leads us to do.
Ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in:
Heber J. Grant admitted to never having had the privileges of the fullness of the gospel Joseph Smith taught of, and admitted he didn't want it.
Lately, Elder Oaks in his Boise Rescue talk, (and reportedly Elder Nelson at another time) have denied that this is a part of their calling. They have not entered in. And have never claimed it was a necessary, or even an important part of the gospel. The apostles do teach about following the prophet, though, and that he can't lead us astray; therefore, removing any reason to question a "prophet's" choices. By teaching this are they personifying this, "neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in?"
I wonder what Joseph Smith would have to say about that?
I found this blog about a letter from Elder Oaks enlightening on the matter.
Do you want to enter in?
Are you willing to inquire of the Lord and trust His guidance on how you may do this? Then, do it. Stop waiting on other people. The only one you need to wait on is the Lord.
Clarification 2: Followers of this blogBlogger tells me I have 2 followers of this blog. I believe, and I'm not very up on news and technology, that this is through an outdated service that blogger had, allowing people to follow through actual blogger. I think now any kind of following must be done through widgets, bookmarking, etc.
This blog is nothing grand, nor do I care to make it something of that effect. It is what it is. Blogger statistics from this morning reported over 5700 views globally to my blog since I started it. I see that as a very humble number as far a blogs go.
Over 1000 of those views are to my most recent blog post (aside from this one) called don't read this post. This is my most viewed post, which tells me that a lot of people don't like to be told what to do.
But if anyone were to ask me how many people follow my blog, I'll probably use the number blogger tells me: 2. I do this because I'm not sure how to know if people, other than those 2, regularly check here. That would constitute a follower of a blog, wouldn't it?
Clarification 3: Blogs that I link to
I only link to other blogs and posts within my own posts that I think offer important information. If I linked to it, it's because I found it valuable. I do not randomly select them.
Clarification 4: I write what I meanTo clear up any confusion regarding the matter. I write what I mean. I am direct on this blog. I do this because I really struggle in person to be direct and say exactly what I mean, and this is the medium where I have time to really think over the things that I am conveying.
Clarification 5: Baptism and AuthoritySo, I've been told that the authority to baptize now, must come through man (or through the chain of authorized men), though power to do so comes from God.
I would agree with that had other things mentioned above (and some not mentioned) happened, and that needs to be considered.
In reply, I will ask this:
If God is telling you to baptize someone, but the "authorized men" are telling you not to, which one should you obey? You know it is God who is telling you to do it. You know the authorized men won't let you. Really think about it. What should you do?
If God is instructing you to, and informs you that you have all you need in order to do it, aren't you definitely authorized?
Let's look first at Abinadi and Alma. The Nephites had priests to perform their ordinances. The problem was that they were wicked. So when Abinadi came in preaching repentance, they were offended. They may have scoffed and said, Who are you to tell us what God wants us to do? We're the ones with authority.
Eventually, Alma believes him and has to resort to hiding near the Waters of Mormon. Here he begins baptizing the repentant Nephites. He was a priest, however being in hiding from the unrepentant priests, I wonder it they would have told him the same. That he was no longer authorized to perform such things... Something worth pondering.
Next, let's consider John the Baptist. He by birth was a descendant of Aaron, who had the right of the high priests. His father was also a priest who worked in the temple. Yet, John worked outside the authority and grounds of the Jewish church, having been ordained by an angel at only 8 days old. He went about baptizing believers in the wilderness, by no authority that the Jews recognized.
Jesus, after entering Jerusalem in triumph and throwing the moneychangers out from the temple and healing the blind and lame, was asked by what authority He did these things. He had no claim as a priest or teacher according to his birthright, which was through Judah (as far as they knew). The line of priests came through the Levites. And yet, He taught and held priesthood and the power thereof, though it was the Levites that were authorized for these things.
Should these individuals have relied on the recognized authority of men? Rather than knowing what they had and what to do with it from God, himself?
How does one know if their authority, passed from man, comes from God as well? No matter where it comes from, it still has to be connected to God.
Or it doesn't mean much.
Mankind likes to control what it thinks it has. It makes us feel secure. But this tendency is vanity. We can't control what God gives to another. We can't control the way that God will execute His plan. We can only be humble enough to accept what part in it He may offer to us. And He will perform His strange work (strange to us, because it makes perfect sense to Him).
If we get too caught up in what we think the order of things are, we will miss the BIG picture, like so many before us did.
Just some last thoughts:
There was a delightful line in a show called When Calls the Heart, where a priest says, "Gathering together to praise the Lord, worship in His name, doesn't require a building."
That, I have found, is true.
When there was no church and no temple, where did Abraham, Moses, the brother of Jared, Elijah, and others go?
Even Christ did this, despite the current temple in existence in Jerusalem.
Wine is not evil, or God would not have told us to use it for sacraments. The Word of Wisdom actually says we should use it for sacrament. It also says mild barley drinks (a.k.a beer) are okay. Seriously!! Technically, it wouldn't make a person unworthy of the temple. Go look for yourself, D&C 89.
I've always been a vehement Not Even Once Club believer. I was always determined to "Just say NO" and always do exactly the right thing in exactly the right way, and anyone who didn't do that was wrong. And I've finally learned I was unrighteously judging people based on if they smoke, or what they drank. The Word of Wisdom is not a commandment. Inasmuch as it has been made one, it is a commandment of men and not of God. He was clear about that when He gave it originally:
A word of wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion--To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of saints in the last days-- Given for a principle with promise adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. D&C 89:1-3It's not a sin if you don't follow it. Which is great for all the major meat-consuming Mormon families out there. It's also not a righteous way to judge others. I was wrong in that.
Barring baptism and temple attendance based on following whatever today's explanation of the Word of Wisdom is, is wrong. It was wrong from the beginning.