What Does the Church Teach About Personal Apostasy?

June 30, 2005

Ever since I started networking online with other Latter-day Saints in the summer of 1992, I have been dismayed by the number of seemingly active saints who are in various stages of personal apostasy. Apparently, there are many who actively attend Church but do not feel it is necessary to follow the prophets, or at least they do not feel a need to hold the same “personal opinions.” When a Church leader says something in General Conference that they agree with, they call it revelation. But when they hear something they disagree with, they call it “personal opinion.” This feeling that we do not need to follow our prophet-leaders in matters of opinion and ideas is a form of personal apostasy, in my view. But that is just my opinion. What does the Church actually teach on the subject?

In True to the Faith we read:

When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy….We now live in a time when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. But unlike the Church in times past, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not be overcome by general apostasy. The scriptures teach that the Church will never again be destroyed (see D&C 138:44; see also Daniel 2:44).

Although there will not be another general apostasy from the truth, we must each guard against personal apostasy. You can safeguard yourself against personal apostasy by keeping your covenants, obeying the commandments, following Church leaders, partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening your testimony through daily scripture study, prayer, and service.

The Church also teaches the following about personal apostasy from it’s Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood manual on the teachings of Brigham Young. In fact, it devotes a whole lesson on the subject. Among other things, Brigham Young taught:

When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, “Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?” you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy. Every man in this Kingdom, or upon the face of the earth, who is seeking with all his heart to save himself, has as much to do as he can conveniently attend to, without calling in question that which does not belong to him. If he succeeds in saving himself, it has well occupied his time and attention. See to it that you are right yourselves; see that sins and folly do not manifest themselves with the rising sun (DBY, 83).[…]

One of the first steps to apostasy is to find fault with your Bishop; and when that is done, unless repented of a second step is soon taken, and by and by the person is cut off from the Church, and that is the end of it. Will you allow yourselves to find fault with your Bishop? (DBY, 86).

It is part of my testimony that we should daily strive not only to follow the Brethren in our actions, but also in our speech, writing, and even our thoughts and opinions. When we hear something that we disagree with, we ought to wonder what is wrong with our own opinion, how we should adjust our own thinking. Certainly our prophet-leaders are not infallible. They make mistakes. They have incorrect or untrue opinions from time to time. But with it all, they are very wise men. And their opinions are informed ones. Informed by what? Informed by the Holy Ghost, just as ours should be, and informed by constant conversation with other prophets of God. Therefore, when they are wrong, it is the exception rather than the rule. And when we disagree with them, we had better have a very good reason, or we will likely discover some day that the error was with us and not with them. Our default position should be one of agreement with the Brethren.

True to the Faith

June 30, 2005

True to the Faith is an official and correlated manual published by the First Presidency of the Church for introducing the youth, young adults, and new converts to some of the most basic teachings of our faith. It is organized alphabetically by topic in much the same way that Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie is, but it does not include the voluminous personal opinion and controversial material that McConkie’s work does. It is a new book, little larger than a pamphlet, that just came out last year. And it looks to be a valuable resource for those who want to separate true doctrine from false doctrine and from mere speculation.

On the Privilege of Attending Church Meetings

June 30, 2005

Occasionally we hear Latter-day Saints complain about the quality of our Church meetings. I have done it myself. Often the complaint is that the meetings are boring, or that they are mostly repetition, that there is nothing “new” to be learned. Here is a good editorial on the topic, and the part I enjoyed most was the following from President Spencer W. Kimball:

“We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even simply to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.”

I testify that if I did not attend my Church meetings, I would be among the most sinful of telestial spirits in mortality. It is only through being constantly reminded in weekly Church meetings, especially the Sacrament service, that I do anything else for my eternal welfare. I know this from personal experimentation and sad experience. It is indeed a great privilege to attend weekly church meetings; and ultimately, it is the root of all the joy in my life.

Wolves Enter Into the Flock

June 27, 2005

This is a scripture that continues to bother me. How can we protect our families from those in the Church who would bring them down by teaching false doctrine, and encouraging them to dismiss lightly the teachings of our prophets? What is the eternal principle embodied in this scripture? And how do we implement it as a Church in our lives. I am referring to the following passage from the 57th chapter of Alma:

57 And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;58 For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.

59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

On a related note, yesterday in Gospel Doctrine class, someone repeated the teaching, “Be in the world, and not of the world.” I have heard this teaching throughout the forty-three years I’ve been a member of the Church, but where did it originate? I have been unable to find it in the scriptures. What does it mean? Is it true doctrine? How are we supposed to implement it in our lives? How can we be in the world and not of the world? It has been my observation that altogether too many saints have been unable to do this. I certainly haven’t. The more in the world I become, the more worldly I become.

For an example, I watch cable television because I am a news junkie. And for the same reasons that I don’t watch R-rated movies, and I subscribe to Clean Films movies by mail, I block certain cable channels such as MTV, VH1, and the Entertainment Channel. I avoid reality “dating” shows, and reality shows in general. I don’t subscribe to premium movie services such as HBO and Showtime. Mostly I just watch the History channel, the Sci-Fi channel, the several New York Times documentary channels, and the many news channels such as MSNBC, CNN, CNN Headlines, and Fox News. But much to my dismay, I still get a lot of R-rated content from the commercials on these channels. What is a person to do? Just quit watching television altogether? Living in the roadless wilderness of Alaska as I do, I suppose I could just move out of Ketchikan into the nearby rainforest, build a little cabin, and live without electricity or indoor plumbing as many folks around here do. Reading by oil lamp without television or Internet access is certainly a possibility. But do we need to be so drastic?

So I am curious. What does it mean to live in the world but not be “of” the world? And how can we protect our families from wolves among the sheep who teach false doctrine, and encourage our children to stray from following the prophets?

Casting Pearls Before Swine

June 25, 2005

I was just reading an entry and comments on this subject at the Millennial Star, and I had a question. The Savior said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6) Is this a commandment or a suggestion?

As we all know, there are only four kinds of sentences: Declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory. Which kind of sentence is the Savior’s counsel to avoiding casting pearls before swine? I don’t think there can be any argument that it is an imperative sentence. And that makes it a command by the definition of an imperative sentence. So this is one of the Savior’s commandments that we have covenanted to keep. How important is it? I suggest that all of the Savior’s commandments are important. Therefore, we ought to obey this one with the same diligence we keep the others, the Word of Wisdom for an example.

Are there any “swine?” If so, who are they? Should we judge? If not, what was the point of the Savior giving us this commandment? Why was the Savior so judgmental in calling some people swine? If we are to follow the Savior in all things, are we to follow him in being judgmental like this? I think these are interesting questions that deserve pondering, especially by those of us who blog.

As More Children Use Blogs, Parents Struggle with Rules

June 24, 2005

This Associated Press story reports the problems that some parents are having with their children blogging, and the importance of setting rules for appropriate use of the Internet.

As Latter-day Saints we should follow prophetic counsel on child rearing and Internet usage. Just last October President Hinckley spoke at some length in General Conference about the dangers to all of us, especially children, on the Internet. Among other things he said:

This is not the only letter I have received. There have been enough that I am convinced this is a very serious problem even among us. It arises from many sources and expresses itself in a variety of ways. Now it is compounded by the Internet. That Internet is available not only to adults but also to young people.I recently read that pornography has become a $57 billion industry worldwide. Twelve billion of this is derived in the United States by evil and “conspiring men” (See D&C 89:4) who seek riches at the expense of the gullible. It is reported that it produces more revenue in the United States than the “combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises or the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC” (Internet Pornography Statistics: 2003).

It robs the workplace of the time and talents of employees. “20% of men admit accessing pornography at work. 13% of women [do so]. … 10% of adults admit having internet sexual addiction” (Internet Pornography Statistics: 2003). That is their admission, but actually the number may be much higher.

The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families states that “approximately 40 million people in the United States are sexually involved with the Internet. …

“One in five children ages 10-17 [has] received a sexual solicitation over the Internet. …

“Three million of the visitors to adult websites in September 2000 were age 17 or younger. …

“Sex is the number 1 topic searched on the Internet” (Current Statistics).

I might go on, but you, too, know enough of the seriousness of the problem. Suffice it to say that all who are involved become victims. Children are exploited, and their lives are severely damaged. The minds of youth become warped with false concepts. Continued exposure leads to addiction that is almost impossible to break. Men, so very many, find they cannot leave it alone. Their energies and their interests are consumed in their dead-end pursuit of this raw and sleazy fare.

The excuse is given that it is hard to avoid, that it is right at our fingertips and there is no escape.

Suppose a storm is raging and the winds howl and the snow swirls about you. You find yourself unable to stop it. But you can dress properly and seek shelter, and the storm will have no effect upon you.

Likewise, even though the Internet is saturated with sleazy material, you do not have to watch it. You can retreat to the shelter of the gospel and its teaching of cleanliness and virtue and purity of life.

I know that I am speaking directly and plainly. I do so because the Internet has made pornography more widely accessible, adding to what is available on DVDs and videos, on television and magazine stands. It leads to fantasies that are destructive of self-respect. It leads to illicit relationships, often to disease, and to abusive criminal activity.

Public awareness of blogging is greater today than it was last October. And it is reasonable to assume that dangerous material will be as prevalent among blogs as on other websites. Many children are blogging, and parents need to closely supervise them to make sure they aren’t getting into serious trouble.

My children are now grown, and have left home. So I no longer have a responsibility to supervise their use of the Internet. But if I had life to live over, I would do some things differently in my own home for the protection of my children. The Internet is a marvelous tool, but it can be used for evil as well as good. And our children are more vulnerable than we think.

What is Folk Doctrine?

June 21, 2005

Something that has always confused me in online discussions of LDS doctrine is the term “folk doctrine.” Apparently there are saints that think in terms of folk doctrine vs. “official” Church doctrine. On the other hand, I think in terms of true doctrine vs. false doctrine. How often do we hear our prophet-leaders talking about so-called folk doctrine? For that matter, how often do we here them making a distinction between “official” and any other kind of doctrine? Not very often, I don’t believe.

Recently I read something something by Elder Gerald N. Lund in the February 1982 issue of the Ensign. He wrote in answer to a question about President Lorenzo Snow’s famous couplet about God having once been a man:

To my knowledge there has been no “official” pronouncement by the First Presidency declaring that President Snow’s couplet is to be accepted as doctrine. But that is not a valid criteria for determining whether or not it is doctrine.Generally, the First Presidency issues official doctrinal declarations when there is a general misunderstanding of the doctrine on the part of many people. Therefore, the Church teaches many principles which are accepted as doctrines but which the First Presidency has seen no need to declare in an official pronouncement. This particular doctrine has been taught not only by Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the Church, but also by others of the Brethren before and since that time.

That pretty much sums up my feelings about folk doctrine. A doctrine or teaching is not false just because there is no “official” pronouncement on the matter. And there are undoubtedly many folk doctrines that are also true doctrines. False doctrine, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. False doctrine needs to be proclaimed against. Those who promulgate false doctrine need to be lovingly corrected. Our living prophets do, in fact, frequently proclaim against false doctrine and false teachers. Elder Ballard spoke on this interesting topic in a recent General Conference.

Perhaps the most important sermon ever given to the Church in this dispensation, The King Follett Discourse, was Joseph Smith himself proclaiming against false doctrine and false teachers. Yet this sermon has never been canonized. It is not in our standard works. Does that make it folk doctrine or false doctrine? I don’t think so.

So whenever I hear a person ridiculing folk doctrine, I just assume he means a doctrine he doesn’t agree with. If it was a false doctrine, he would call it that. At lease that is my assumption.

Are There Still Miracles in the Church?

June 16, 2005

There is a great thread going on over at Bcc: J Stapley has asked why the gifts of the spirit are gone from the Church in our day. He refers the reader to the accounts of the early saints, and mentions the frequency with which those accounts record instances of speaking in tongues, and the occurrences of other miracles. Why don’t we see these things in our Church meetings today, he asks? Why don’t we see them in General Conference? He suggests that we moderns in the Church have less faith than did the early saints.

I don’t think this is so. President Ezra Taft Benson said during one of his General Conference talks:

I testify that the church and kingdom of God is increasing in strength. Its numbers are growing, as is the faithfulness of its faithful members. It has never been better organized or equipped to perform its divine mission.

Notice that he didn’t say that the average faithfulness of the Church is growing, but the faithfulness of the faithful members. Obviously, if the general faithfulness is dwindling, that would mean that miracles among the less faithful would be less frequent.

Is this why I hear more stories about miracles when I am at the temple than in the foyer at Church? Presumably there is a difference in the average level of faithfulness among those who regularly go to the temple.

I personally believe that there are just as many miracles in the Church today as there ever were. Perhaps the number of miracles per member has dwindled, but I doubt even that. What seems more likely is that when miracles occur today, those involved are more careful about whom they share the experience with. After all, there are a lot of doubters among us these days, not only here on the Internet, but at church as well.

What Happens If the Saints Don’t Measure Up?

June 14, 2005

Here is a great column by Douglas E. Brinley who is a Professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU. I just love this kind of stuff. He sticks to the Doctrine and Covenants, and he quotes from President Hinckley. Yet he still manages to deal with such an exciting topic as LDS prophecy. Is there persecution ahead for the saints? Are the Gentiles going to be rubbed out? What will happen to us? How can we prepare for the exciting and even terrifying days ahead? Read his short piece, and let me know what you think of it?

My Talk On the Joseph Smith Conference

June 12, 2005

Today I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on the recent Joseph Smith conference held at the Library of Congress last month. Obviously, I was not able to cover the whole conference in my fifteen minute talk, so I focused on a few of the items I found to be most memorable. I thought some of you might be interested in what I said.

In 1844, Joseph Smith gave a talk in April General Conference that may possibly be the greatest sermon ever delivered in this dispensation. It is called the King Follett Discourse because it was a funeral sermon for a man named King Follett. In it, Brother Joseph said:

“You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself.?

On Friday and Saturday, May 6th and 7th of last month, an historic conference was held at the Library of Congress on the life and works of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The conference was called The Worlds of Joseph Smith.

After watching and listening to the conference on the Internet from the official Church website, I can certainly believe that no one knows Joseph Smith’s history.

In the short time that I have I would like to make three points about what was said.

First, I would like to explain a few of the reasons that it was an historic conference.

2005 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During those two hundred years, a new religious tradition has come forth upon the earth; and it has grown into major faith in the United States, and is rapidly growing in the rest of the world. It has finally become so significant on the world stage that it can no longer be ignored by serious students of religion, and there are Mormon studies programs at universities that are not affiliated with the Church.

Not all of the presenters at this conference were LDS.

Most notable was the address given Saturday afternoon by the eminent scholar, Douglas Davies, of the University of Durham in England where he pioneered a program in Mormon studies. His address was entitled, “Joseph Smith and the Makings of a Global Religion.?

In it he made a distinction between a global religion and a world religion. The one, he said, could be a religion with congregations all over the world. But a world religion, he maintained, would be culturally and doctrinally diverse and appeal to broad cross section of humanity such as do Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. He predicted that Mormonism may in fact be a global religion, but that unless it changes some of its focus, it will not likely ever be a world religion.

He especially noted two characteristics of Mormonism that work against its becoming a world religion by these definitions. First, if present trends continue, there will not be a diversity of doctrine develop that would allow the religion to be accepted by a majority of people of other cultures outside of the USA. Second, as long as Mormonism is seen primarily as an American religion, it’s spread abroad will decline as the world becomes increasingly anti-American. He cited many facts and figures that indicate that this is happening even now, especially in Europe where the Church is not growing as it is in the United States and some other areas such as Latin America and Africa.

One of the respondents who spoke after Mr. Davies address initiated some controversy when to some, including Professor Davies, he seemed to be using an academic conference to evangelize. Specifically, Dr. Roger Keller of the Religion Department at BYU, spoke on the important place of priesthood authority in Mormonism. Because of that authority, he said, there will never be the doctrinal diversity within Mormonism which Dr. Davies believes is one of the essential characteristics of a world religion.

Dr. Keller is a very interesting character. In fact, I enjoyed his remarks the best of all those given at the conference.

His specialty at BYU is comparative religion. Before converting to the Church in 1986, he received a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD in biblical studies and 20th century Christian Theology from Duke University. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1971. In 1982 he was called to be the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Mesa, Arizona. It was there that he became more deeply conversant in Mormon studies and finally joined the Church. He began teaching at Brigham Young University in the fall of that year.

I don’t believe I have ever heard a better explanation of how the authority of the priesthood maintains doctrinal purity in a world-wide church. He also mentioned a few examples of how that doctrinal purity might be maintained while also permitting cultural diversity within the Church. Unfortunately, Dr. Davies and apparently some others felt that he was preaching or evangelizing for the Church which was not understood by most to be the purpose of the conference. He definitely bore his testimony, which is probably why I enjoyed his remarks the most.

The second thing I would like to do in my talk is briefly review some of the things that were said by the various participants. I would particularly like to mention the main address in the fourth session because that is the assignment given me by Bishop Thomas. It was on the subject of Joseph Smith’s contributions to the world, and particularly to Christianity.

In the fourth session, the main speech was by David L. Paulsen. His paper was entitled, “Joseph Smith Challenges the Christian Theological World?

David Paulsen is a professor of philosophy at BYU where he has taught for about 35 years. He said that theology was unnecessary before the death of the apostles, and the Lord chose the apostles. The apostles didn’t choose themselves.

What challenges did Joseph Smith pose to orthodox Christian thought?

1. God’s resumption of revelation.
If Christians questioned present revelation, could they really believe in the revelations of the past? Joseph Smith said, “We believe the bible, and they do not.? The true church must and always will have living prophets. On what biblical grounds do traditional Christians claim that there is no more revelation since ancient times. Joseph Smith’s answer was, “None.?

Dr. Paulson got a laugh when he pointed out that since there is no mention in the Bible proclaiming that revelation has stopped or will stop, that if anyone claims that there is no more revelation, ironically he must have gotten it by direct revelation.

2. God’s restoration of divine authority.
Dr. Paulson mentioned the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist, and the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood under the hands of Peter, James and John who received this priesthood directly under the hands of Jesus Christ in ancient times.

3. A greatly enlarged and still open canon.
The early Christian church didn’t have a closed canon. Jesus didn’t use a closed canon of Old Testament teachings in his ministry. And as a result of the above:

4. A very high, and clear understanding of Christ.

5. A reaffirmation of a living God as in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a living reality.
The Christian world teaches of a cosmic God that is intangible, incomprehensible, without a body or incorporeal. This is the God of the Greek philosophers and the God of traditional Christianity. Joseph Smith taught of a God with a tangible body, someone with whom one can meet face to face as one man speaks with another. A God who, according to Enoch, wept because of the tragedy of man’s disobedience and wickedness in the days before the Great Flood. In other words, Joseph Smith challenges the Christian world with a God like the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Old Testament.

Third, I would like to share with you some of the thoughts by Elder Dallin H. Oaks that he shared with the participants Friday evening during the third session of the conference. Interestingly, Elder Oaks was the only scholar at this academic conference who was also a living prophet. He was the main speaker at that session. He was introduced by Cecil O. Samuelson, the president of Brigham Young University in Provo.

His talk was entitled, “Joseph Smith in a Personal World.?

A major focus of this talk is Joseph’s role as prophet and the originator of revelation. A prophet is one who speaks for God to others, and revelation is God’s communication to man, to prophets and to every one of us if we seek. Joseph taught that he was directed by a continuing flow of revelation throughout his life, and that everyone could enjoy such revelation. “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion,? he asked? “We have none,? he answered.

There is a contrast between two different kinds of decision making: the familiar and the revelatory.

a. The experience with fellow law clerks in the office Chief Justice Earl Warren.

b. The experience of making the prayerful decision to become a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

“When we ask in faith,? Joseph Smith taught, “God will give us knowledge in our mind and in our heart by feelings.?

Personal revelation also occurs when an inventor or artist or great leader receives flashes of enlightenment from a loving God for the benefit of his children.

Moses declared “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them.? Latter-day Saints believe the same thing today.

Perhaps it is time for educated non-believers to ask, “Where did his genius come from?? “I of course believe that it came from God,? Elder Oaks testified.

Joseph Smith taught that each individual had identity in a life before this one with God.

Joseph Smith taught that the glory of God is intelligence, and that a man cannot be saved in ignorance.

“Everything we have is a lengthened shadow of Joseph Smith,? said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Joseph Smith taught that we should preach the gospel to individuals and not groups. Affiliation with the Church must always be a personal decision.

Joseph Smith was 38-1/2 when he was murdered.

To summarize then, we have learned a few things this morning:

The academic world is beginning to take Joseph Smith seriously, even among those who do not accept him as a prophet.

Some of the presenters at the conference were not LDS, and one in particular, a Dr. Douglas Davies, said that he did not think the Church would become what he calls a worldwide Church because it would not be adaptable enough in its doctrine to appeal to a wide diversity of cultures.

A former Presbyterian minister, Roger Kelly of the BYU Department of Religion, took issue with this and bore his testimony of the importance of priesthood authority in the Church.

Dr. David Paulsen of the Philosophy Department at Brigham Young University enumerated some of the theological contributions of Joseph Smith including a resumption of revelation, the restoration of divine authority or priesthood, an open canon, a very high and clear understanding of Christ, and a reaffirmation of a living God as in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Finally, Elder Dallin Oaks spoke on personal revelation as taught by the Prophet Joseph and how it has played a role in his life.

I really enjoyed these papers and discussions. I recommend that those of you with interest go to the Church website and watch and listen to some of them yourselves. It will give you a deeper appreciation of the importance of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the role he plays on the world stage.

Further, I testify to you that Joseph Smith truly did see the Father and the Son as he said he did. He was an honest man telling the truth about his First Vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Once more true prophets speak for God to his children today. Joseph Smith was one of these true prophets, and so is President Gordon B. Hinckley in our own day. Further, we can all know this for ourselves by receiving our own personal revelations. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.