Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Answer me this ...

I have recently finished reading Augustine's "Confessions" and have now begun to enjoy his "City of God."

I have no doubt that he was sincere in his love for God -- who would doubt that? And I picture God, upon Augustine's arrival in heaven, embracing him in His all-loving arms and thus sweeping away in an instant all the Hellenistic philosophical baggage that encumbered this great man in his search for truth.

"Precious Augustine, I do have a face to look upon you, and for you to see, My child. I do have arms to hold you."

"Why, my child, if you understood My Son to be God, as you did, omniscient and all-powerful as I am, with a body of flesh and bone, as He did testify, and that that Son did not die twice, was it so very hard for you to accept that I, His Father, also possess a body, a perfect, omniscient, all-powerful body but a body none-the-less?"

"No matter now. You have always loved Me, and sought to serve me. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into my rest."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Of temples

"And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple ... and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi ..." -- Malachi 3:1,3.

Please tell me, if temples are part of the old covenant, done away with, and the Mormons are wrong to build them, then how will this Millennial prophecy be fulfilled? To where will the Lord suddenly come?

The Lord repeated a portion of this prophecy in December, 1830, in direct first-person revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, just a few months after the Church of Jesus Christ was restored on the earth.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Celestial Marriage Paradigm

In the first pages of his classic work on human behavior, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey talks about paradigms -- how we see the world -- and the enlightenment that can result from adopting positive new paradigms.

Although Covey is LDS, and thus his book is anethma to certain rabid Mormon-haters, Seven Habits is a secular work, meant for the general public. Perhaps if it were directed towards a specifically LDS audience, or with the intent to bear testimony of the Restored Gospel, he might have used the following splendid example of a paradigm shift:

The Apostle Parley P. Pratt, a companion and follower of Joseph Smith, recounted in expressive detail what a transforming influence it was upon him to learn the doctrine of celestial marriage from the Prophet Joseph. He wrote:

“[Joseph Smith] taught me many great and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity. It was at this time that I received from him the first idea of eternal family organization, and the eternal union of the sexes in those inexpressibly endearing relationships which none but the highly intellectual, the refined and pure in heart, know how to prize, and which are at the very foundation of everything worthy to be called happiness. . . .

“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea shore. . . .

“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved with a pureness an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, 2000, pp. 361-362)

Societal paradigms also seem to be part of the intriguing theory of heresies, as described by Hillarie Belloc, about which I blogged a few years ago: http://mymormonworld.blogspot.com/2008/10/arianism.html

"[Belloc] makes another great point: the religious beliefs of a people shape their entire societal outlook. This is why he states that the study of heresy remains so important: a Protestant-based society will of necessity always be very different from a Catholic-based or a Muslim society."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Like a Trumpet

"Thus saith the Lord God, the Mighty One [Heb. abiyr] of Israel: Behold I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump." -- D&C 36:1.

Thus spake the Lord to Edward Partridge, a faithful early Latter-day Saint, calling him to missionary work, echoing the words to Oliver Cowdery earlier that same year of 1830.

Isaiah, the poet-prophet, may have first recorded this divine metaphor:

"Cry aloud
spare not
lift up thy voice
like a trumpet."
-- Isaiah 58:1

When I think of a trumpet, I think bold, compelling, clear ... and beautiful. Such should be our witness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

500 reasons

Somebody on some sad site somewhere scribbled out "500 reasons" to leave the Mormon Church.

Surely there are more productive uses for one's time.

I skimmed the list the other day. Some were the dusty detritus of old critics, to which answers have long ago been provided, answers which are stubbornly ignored by each new generation of axe-grinders. Some were as thin and weak as watered-down soup. Some simply didn't make sense.

Perhaps I could scribble out 500 refutations of 500 reasons to leave the Mormon Church (aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). But I only need one. The restored Gospel is true.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Right you are, governor!

Q: What is the history of the position of "governor" in the Book of Mormon?

A: It appears suddenly in Alma 2, rather late in the history of the Nephite nation, persists for less than a century, then vanishes for good. The circumstances appear to be the threat of a civil war, led by the Amlicite faction.

No mention of such a position is made in the great governmental reform that replaces a monarchy with judgeships.

The Bible helps us to learn that it is certainly not some 19th century anachronism -- and provides a clue that may solve the mystery of its origin. One of the Old Testament words translated "governor" is "sar," which Strong's concordance also translates as "chief captains."

Go back to Alma 2, verse 13. Facing the Amlicite threat, the Nephites appointed "captains, and chief captains, according to their numbers."

It seems to me that the Nephite governors were not so much politicians as are our modern governors, as they were chief-chief captains, sarim. More akin to the old Roman Republic emergency dictators.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Exploring Book of Mormon names

In the second chapter of the Book of Alma, within the Book of Mormon, seditionists wage war atop the hill Amnihu, east of the river Sidon, near the capital city of the Nephites.

The Biblical King David had a son, Amnon, which according to Strong's Concordance can be transliterated Aminon, but I think the etymology of this place derives from another Biblical word ... Near Damascus in the Holy Land is the hill Amanah, which is Hebrew for "faithful."

Yet another amazing cooincidence for the imaginative Joseph Smith, or a neat little mark of authenticity? You decide.

What of the river Sidon? Why would Nephites, expatriate Hebrews, name their principal New World river for that Phoenician -- foreign -- city?

Perhaps they did for the same reasons the United States has a Paris, Moscow, Memphis, Philadephia, New London, etc.

Or perhaps it is because Sidon is Hebrew for "fishery." Which could be expected to be a major business upon a major river. Old World Sidon may not have come to their minds at all.

Typically, the New Testament has Sidon while the Old has Zidon -- both of course translating the same word which in Hebrew begins with the letter "tsadee," pronounced "ts," which is neither an s or a z but a little of both. Hence the difficulty. We see this with other words such as Melchizedek (OT) and Melchisedec (NT).

But Sidon appearing in the Book of Mormon is hardly an anachronism. If you are still not convinced, Genesis 10:15 should put your mind at ease.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Experiencing the divine ...

"I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it." -- 1 John 2:21.

By this statement, the writer of this epistle seems to make clear that he is not addressing outsiders or even potential converts to the Christian faith. He is writing to Saints already grounded in the gospel, those who already know the truth. His purpose? "That your joy may be full."

And yet, this seems to contradict his earlier declaration, in which he states that his purpose in writing is that "ye may also have fellowship with us." At first glance, that appears to be precisely an invitation to outsiders, an appeal to join the family of the saints.

I puzzled over that tonight. Then the Spirit spoke to me. John is indeed addressing the membership, telling them: You know the truth. Now I invite you to ascend to the next level -- experience it, even as we apostles have!

To quote LDS author Robert Millet, referencing certain saints in his recollection: " Their [testimonies weren't] simply an intellectual disclosure but rather a report of personal engagement with things divine." (Holding Fast, P. 1)

We know from Jesus' words that the pure in heart are promised that they shall see God. And God keeps his promises.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cain's gain

Students of the Bible have long wondered at Cain's motive for killing Abel. Simple jealousy? Modern revelation, in the Book of Moses (Pearl of Great Price) adds back the lost information that the crime was not so much about hurt feelings and sibling rivalry as it was about something far more evil.

Cain had made a pact with Satan, being convinced that by killing Abel, he could become wealthy -- get gain.

It is terribly ironic that the very meaning of Cain's name is "possession" or "gain." That last detail I just learned yesterday, reading in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). I'm not sure that Joseph Smith the Prophet had any idea of that connection, when he brought forth the lost details of the Book of Moses to the world.

Friday, May 14, 2010


It is wonderful to be home visiting my family in Wash. for a few days. Dad took me along on a missionary split last night. We visited a young couple where the husband has recently been reactivated and his wife will soon be baptized.

It was a sweet, peaceful feeling in that home, in spite of some "youth minister's" attempts to poison her against the church with a list he sent to her of the usual, stale, tired, long-ago refuted anti-Mormon nonsense.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ -- the same Gospel that Paul and the other apostles preached, that came to them from Christ and the angels of heaven, not some new gospel -- is pure, sweet and exhilarating. By it we know what the Bible means when it says that when Christ comes, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. By it we know what the apostle meant when he confirmed that we are the offspring of God. By it we know that God works today in the same way that He always has, through prophets and living revelation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lehi's Dream and Psalmic connections?

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word." -- Psalms 119:9.

That is the King James Version. But reading the Jewish Publication Society translation of this passage of the Tanakh opens up a rich field of contemplation for me.

"With what shall a young man keep his way pure? By holding to thy word."

Holding to the word (bmr in Hebrew) immediately brought to mind the vision of Lehi in 1 Nephi 8, in the Book of Mormon. Then the similarities seemed to leap out at me. I hardly think I can be accused of paralellomania but judge for yourself:

The writer of the psalm has sought the Lord with his whole heart and pleads "O let me not wander from thy commandments." He prays that his eyes may be opened, as one might when wandering in a mist of darkness. He is a stranger in the earth, just as the visionary was in a broad field as it were a world.

He says the Lord has rebuked the proud who are cursed, which do err from the commandments, who held him in reproach and contempt as one who kept the commandments ... even princes sat and spoke against him.

The way of God's testimonies brought him joy.

I really believe Lehi, as a pious Jew, could have had this psalm in mind the night he beheld his great vision -- especially if his mind was harrowed up with concerns for his sons, his young men, as he specifically stated that it was.

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Visiting a friend's Christian blog recently, on the subject of the proverbial "wolves in sheep's clothing," I was struck by a terrible fact: In order for a wolf to put on the "clothing" of a sheep, a sheep must first die. Or rather, a soul must become vulnerable to the enticings of the evil one and leave the safety of the flock, where the wolf can possess it and thus gain entry to the flock.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apiculture in Ancient America

On a certain internet forum, some 13 pages of discussion revolve around whether the Book of Mormon account of honeybees in the Jaredite settlements of the New World proves said Book of Mormon to be false.

13 pages!

Once, I took a very long journey, from Washington State to Utah to Texas to Germany to Hungary. The trip was by air, with a soujourn in Utah for some training. It should be obvious to anyone that by the time I finally reached Hungary, the contents of my suitcases had changed slightly.

Had I scribbled down an inventory of my original baggage, would some hypothetical person at the other end of the flight have been able to disprove not only my journey but my very existence, by the changes in my stuff?

Notice, the Book of Mormon says the Jaredites started their journey in the Old World with honeybees. Who knows for how long they traveled before they finally made their trans-oceanic crossing? Who knows what they kept with them and what they jettisoned along the way? The Book of Mormon makes NO mention of honeybees once the Jaredites finally reached America.

Could it be possible that they didn't bring the bees with them in their boats? Can critics squeeze that possibility into their cranial spaces? Or do they simply derive endless joy from kicking a straw-man?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Alma 2:4: "[Amlici] being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights ..."

The last word in this phrase caught my attention. This is not its first appearance in the Book of Mormon. But it appears nowhere in the Bible, not even in the form of any possible synonyms such as claims or privileges.

I am no student of political science. It would be interesting to learn from such a person whether the concept of "rights" appears in the writings of philosophers pre-Declaration of Independence or even pre-Enlightenment. Under monarchies of the ancient world, did people speak of their rights?

In other words, can we defend this odd word purporting to derive from a first century B.C. expatriate Hebrew culture, or is it simply an anachronism deriving from the milieu of Joseph Smith's 19th century American environment?

Some scholars today give the Native Americans, such as the Iroquoi Confederation, significant credit for inspiring the democratic ideas that led to the American independence movement. By the first century B.C., the Lehites of the Book of Mormon had been in the New World around 500 years, completely cut off from the various kingships, tyrannies and empires of the Old World. Is it plausible that they, like the later English settlers, could have derived primitive democratic ideas from their New World neighbors?

The noun-sense of the English word "rights" as claims or privileges goes back at least as far as Old English, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Almost a fool

It is true, Latter-day Saints can tend to have an overly sensitive persecution complex.

But what can you say when dozens of webpages, hundreds of books and even special sessions at other churches are devoted specifically to attacking us?

Still, I have to laugh at myself for what happened the other day. And also, be grateful for what didn't happen.

A friend of mine on Facebook posted about how she and her husband were now preparing to go to the temple. Someone chimed in, in capital letters: BUT WHAT PRIESTHOOD DOES DAVID HOLD NOW?

Silly me. I immediately assumed this was some kind of a weird attack on LDS priesthood conceptions, based on the Biblical David, along the lines of Christians are all a priesthood of believers or the Mormon Aaronic priesthood is an anachronism or some such thing.

But I held my Internet tongue.

A day later, the original poster replied that her husband, David, was an elder now.

That's what it was all about.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strabo and the Jaredites

Strabo's third volume of "Geographica" (written during the time of Tiberius Caesar, 1st Century A.D.,) discusses the people and places of Iberia, today's Spain and Portugal. I have found many details to be of interest.

Quite striking is the mention of a city of Moron. Of course the word in English is quite unflattering, but certainly a transliteration from some other language wouldn't have the same meaning. Moron also turns up as the name of an ancient New World Jaredite city in the Book of Mormon, surely the subject of derision from people unable to comprehend the above principle.

So perhaps Joseph Smith copied "Moron" from a map of Spain, right? Not likely, since that ancient name has long since given way to Al-Merim.

If the Iberian "Moron" is of Punic origin, it fits nicely into the possible Semitic connections of the Jaredites. But suppose it is purely Celtic? Not a problem either, since the Jaredites may actually be of a different ethnic stock than the children of Shem -- and they are certainly not Hebrews like the Lehites. Celts and Jaredites may be of closely related ancestry. Strabo himself notes that the Iberian Celts "share traits with the Thracian and Scythian tribes," who ranged across Europe and into Eurasia, the latter being where LDS scholar Hugh Nibley placed the Jaredite wanderings.

Those Iberian Celts also had a "sort of women-rule," says Strabo (3:14:18), a concept that Nibley also finds among the Jaredites.

Friday, February 12, 2010

All about joy!

The gospel of Christ is all about joy.








All God's children, except for those very few who in full knowledge openly reject Him, who "deny that the sun is shining at noon-day," as it were, have a place in His heaven. Those who have developed their talents and Christ-like qualities, will qualify for greater responsibilities, and the blessings that go with them. We give those levels of progression the titles of "terrestial" and "celestial" -- and are reminded of the teaching of Christ that within His Father's house are many mansions.

But the point is, for the majority of God's children, we have reason to rejoice.

We will never be perfect in this life. Is that reason to hang our heads, and grovel in the dirt of depression? No! To do that is, verily, to reject Christ and deny His Atonement. Do not make that mistake!

The gospel is Joy, Joy, Joy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The dastardly demagogue

The Book of Mormon uses a rare word, scriptorally speaking, to describe the villain Amlici. He is a "cunning" man.

All instances of that word in the KJV Old Testament go back to its older, non-perjurative sense, as in skillful. Only in the New Testament, and only once, do we find it denoting a bad person. That is, Ephesians 4:14, speaking of "cunning craftiness."

The Greek behind that phrase is "panourgia," which translates, fittingly enough, as specious or false wisdom. Indeed, the enemy of righteousness may appear to be a clever person, honey-tongued and quick-on-his-feet, but ultimately, he is a fool with a sad fate ahead of him.

I wonder if the Hebrews, without the long history of sophistry and rhetoric of their Hellenistic neighbors, truly had a societal concept, an archetype, of the "cunning man," the panourgia, the demagogue, among them.

The closest that the Old Testament seems to get is the tale of how Absalom organized rebellion against his father, David. His doomed uprising began with beguiling promises to the disaffected subjects of his father's kingdom. ((2 Sam. 15:4) But his grandstanding seems rather clumsy -- no Greek sophist would have been impressed.

If the "cunning man," the demagogue, is not to be found among the ancient Hebrews, from whence did the New World Hebrew expatriates, the Lehites, derive the concept? Is this an anachronism? Or is it in fact a subtle clue that the Lehites were not alone in their new home, that there were among them remnants of another people who did indeed understand the concept and used it against them?

Friday, February 5, 2010

New villain on the scene

I have just reached the second chapter of Alma in my study of the Book of Mormon and am curious about the villain we meet there, Amlici. As with many of those who sought to overturn the order of things in the Nephite world, Amlici himself is an enigma. Was he wholly a Nephite or of some other ethnic derivation with an axe to grind, perhaps considering himself an aggrieved minority in the Nephite culture, as might an Ainu in Japan or a Native American in the United States today? Consider his very name -- impossible to derive from the m-l-k root so familiar in the Book of Mormon, if the transliterated "c" is in truth to be pronounced as an "s."

If he was simply a power-hungry Nephite, or if this is a title put upon him by his Nephite enemies (there is a long history in Native American culture of doing so -- just ask an "Eskimo") then I may be very off base but his name might mean "Man of Aml," if "ic" is a garbled version of the Hebrew "aish" and the final "i" is a possessive marker.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The enigma of Abgar

The enigma of Abgar:

Within the first few pages of the venerated History of the Christian Church, by Eusebius, occurs a peculiar story, which brings up a lot of questions.

Abgar was supposedly king of the Edessa region circa 30 A.D. According to Eusebius, he somehow got word of the miracle-cures being performed by one Jesus of Nazareth and wrote Him a letter, to which Jesus responded by promising to later send a disciple.

So accustomed are we Christians to our specific picture of Christ from the Bible that it is difficult, for me at least, to picture him writing a letter or even dictating to an amanuosis. The Gospels present no hint of him ever doing such. Then again, He is never mentioned fluffing his pillow or washing His hands but surely He did at some point.

The closest that we come to such a dictation, is more of a verbal command than anything else: Tell that fox (Herod) and we are not told whether anyone dared comply with that request.

But that is a trivial issue. Writing a letter is no sin and if He did, He did.

Bigger item number one: If these are genuine words of Jesus, even if they are approximated elsewhere in the New Testament, they are scripture. And if scripture, then they are a precious fragment that belongs within the canon, not buried in an old book that apparently only scholars read anymore.

Bigger item number two: This text seems to thrust a spear into the heart of scholarship that early Christians considered themselves still under the Jewish umbrella – just sectarian rivals as it were. Jews were erring brothers, not an alien race, not Christ-killers or demon spawn to be caricatured, despised and persecuted. That attitude came later as Gentiles took over leadership of the church and misunderstood the position of the first Christians.

Abgar, however, is presented as a man full of rage against apparently the whole Jewish nation for purportedly holding the still-living Christ in contempt. If his letter is genuine, then Christian anti-Semitism is much older and began even while Christ was yet alive.

If Eusebius were simply presenting a hoary old legend that he heard from a friend of a friend, the enigma might not be so perplexing. But he insists that he read the Abgar story first hand, from the official files of Edessa. That alone wouldn’t prove its purported date, provenance and authorship, but it would certainly strengthen the case.

And yet in my 30-plus years of being a Christian and reading every author from C.S. Lewis to Pope John Paul, I have never heard this story before.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book of Mormon, Part II

I am reminded of my youthful years when I was quite ignorant and very briefly questioned the truth of the Bible when I discovered the word "corn" within its pages. Any American schoolboy/girl knows that corn was an American crop, unknown to the Hebrews. Of course, corn is actually an old English word for any grain, not just maize. How foolish I was!

What of the Liahona-compass? God created a director-ball, the Book of Mormon says, and God had no need, any believer in Him must agree, to borrow the idea from ancient China. "Compass" is a good English translation-word that helps us understand the concept. But notice that no magnetism is ever mentioned, the device worked by faith, not science, and no Nephite copies of the thing were ever made. Why should they have been? How could they have been?

Shame on never-Mormons who knowingly perpetuate a lie in order to catch a man in what they suppose a lie, as God Himself warns them not to do! And double-shame on anyone who has known the light of the Gospel but throws it away over such trifles as barley, steel, whatever. How do you feel learning that massive, pre-Columbian iron slag heaps have now been found? Do you feel silly when you realize that your quotation of "an endless number of horses and chariots" from 2nd Nephi, rather than being an anachronism of the New World, is actually a direct quote from the Biblical book of Isaiah, and thus perfectly in place amongst a group of Hebrew emigrants, whether there were an endless number of horses upon the land or not?

There is an LDS chapel somewhere in your city -- you are welcome, or welcome back, next Sunday.

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is truly a complex, beautiful work of scripture. (Computer programs are not; Blogger has twice deleted this post).

If you intended to start a new religion, you might draw up a list of rules and find support for them in current scripture. You might even dare to claim direct revelation from God and write them down, or publish an edifying book of inspired thoughts. But who would be so insane as to thrust upon the world an entire volume of purported sacred history -- and even worse, make itg more than 500 pages long? Why work so very hard? Joseph Smith could simply have scribbled out the Book of Nephi and called it a day -- why pile upon himself a second Book of Nephi, and a Jacob, and an Alma, and a Helaman, etc? Why such overkill?

The Book of Mormon has withstood more than a century of unabated attack but what puzzles me is that the critics never admit defeat on any point. You will still find websites gloating, for example, about the loss of testimony of the late B.H. Roberts, an LDS General Authority. In truth, that great man kept his belief in the Book of Mormon to his dying day -- whatever unanswered questions about the Book he may have had at some point in his life.

One by one, we find answers for the supposed anachronisms within its pages, but the critics never listen. If the King James version of the Bible can have dragons and unicorns, which any Bible scholar knows are merely English approximations for original Hebrew words that have no connections to mythical beasts, then we can certainly agree that Hebrew immigrants to the New World who found and grew wild American relatives of Old World barley, could call it something that translates to barley in English!

What, for another example, about another howler, houses of cement? Pray tell, if you did not have the word adobe in your vocabulary, as the Prophet Joseph did not, what word would you use to describe a structure made of that material? Moot point, since ancient Native American cement architecture has now been discovered anyway. Acknowledgement by the critics? I hear crickets chirping.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bad Medicine

I have on my shelf an old medicine bottle, a 19th-century artifact. Its contents supposedly purified the blood and gave new life to the imbiber.

In the old days, the purveyors of such quackery often had to be quite mobile, ever seeking out fresh, vulnerable prey.

I see the same phenomenon with those sad people whose goal in life is to destroy the LDS Church. Everlastingly, restlessly, they roam the Internet, they drop off pamphlets in classrooms, they seek to shake faith. Everlastingly, they pretend as if their arsenal of cherry-picked old quotes torn from the Journal of Discourses or other obscure writings of the early Restoration prophets, are something new and shocking. Usually, they are utterly silent on whether any attempt at refutation has ever been made of their claims.

What is the result? Most Latter-day Saints ignore them. A few have their faith shaken. Of those, a handful may then move on to some other Christian church. The attackers must hope and pray that the methodology they used to poison the testimony of such people will not in turn, be used by them, in time, against whatever other brand of Christianity they embrace.

Others drop into numbed inactivity or even embrace atheism. What then, has been the gain for Christ?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Council in Heaven

Unique to the Restoration understanding of the Plan of God is that we, His children, were there! We were those "morning stars" that sang with joy at the day of Creation, as Job wrote. And we were there when our Savior accepted His Father's will to fulfil His role in the Plan.

About the other guy... Satan, the "old dragon" of Revelations 12, never presented a viable alternative in the Premortal Council. We must be clear in our understanding of that. He was not a valid candidate. He was an unauthorized write-in, of sorts, and what he suggested was not a plan but a mutiny.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Some of the ills which beset us in this life, are just part of the mortal experience. The holiest of men and women still suffer aches, pains and sorrows.

Other miseries we bring upon ourselves. These adversities result when we turn from God and pull out from beneath the shelter of His protection. It is then that the consequences of our foolishness can be described as divine chastening.

"Chasten" in Hebrew transliterates to "yacar" and can carry the meaning of not just punishment but instruction. God never lashes out in blind rage as we mortals sometimes do. He wants to teach us, that we might choose to return to Him. As scripture says, He takes no pleasure in our death. Therefore can the Psalmist sing, in great relief:

"The Lord hath chastened me sore but he hath not given me over to death." (Psalms 118:18).


As good a place as any to start, with a topical, alphabetical exploration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aaron, brother of Moses. Hebrew, Aharown.

One might say the Restored Gospel brings his name into more prominence than was typical in the rest of Christianity. Other Christians tend to consider the priesthood of Aaron as an Old Testament relic, fulfilled along with the rest of the Law.

But modern revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants goes into some detail about that priesthood and its relevance in the Church. I will treat that priesthood in a separate blog entry.

It is interesting that although the resurrected Moses appeared to Joseph Smith, no mention is made of Aaron having done so.

Aaron and Moses form one of the more positive sibling pairs in the scriptures, as opposed to Jacob and Esau, Joseph ben Israel and his brothers, Nephi and Laman/Lemuel, and Rachel and Leah. A model for Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Got to do better

I have not given this blog the attention that I need to give it. I resolve to do better.

Today I encountered a horrible anti-Mormon website -- detailed, well-organized, a true labor of hate. I've seen plenty of such sites but this was truly the worst. I resolve, not to emulate in any way such a bitter sowing, certainly never to waste my time and quench the spirit by attacking some particular church, but at least to do a better job of learning about and explaining my faith via this blog. I am thinking of proceeding in some sort of alphabetical order, topically.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of the ites

As I was reading scripture today, I had a flash of insight:

There is no such thing as an Israelite. Nor an Ammonite, Canaanite or Geshurite.

At least, not linguistically.

--ite is an English suffix. Not Hebrew.

Odd that I had never realized that before.

The original Hebrew suffix would be in some cases "-i" or, as per the masculine plural ending in Biblical NW Hebrew, -ima.

So there were actually no Book of Mormon Nephites or Lamanites either. They would have called themselves Nephi-i and Laman-i, or Nephima and Lamanima. One LDS apologist has conjectured that the Pima tribe of Native Americans might derive their name from that background.

Little hard to get used to.