Mormons, Jews, Christians and Future Holocausts

September 19, 2011

For years I have watched a change of attitude in the Church towards traditional Christianity.  I haven’t understood the reason for it, nor have I been comfortable with it.  I joined the Church from a Baptist background, and if I had wanted to be a Protestant, I would have just remained a Baptist.  After all, we are the true Church, the only true Church.  A true church strongly implies false churches.  Sure, there is truth in all of them, but so what?  Even Satan worshippers have some truth.  They believe there is a Satan, just as we do.  They believe in keeping the commandments even though they are the devil’s commandments rather than the Lord’s.  They have scriptures just as we do.  And my guess is that their scriptures are just as inspired as ours even though the inspiration is from below.  There is truth in Buddhism, Islam, the Hindu faith, and Judaism.  There is even some truth in atheism.  I do not see how the denominations of traditional Christianity can be justified merely by asserting that they contain some truth.  They do not have the priesthood, revelation or prophets.  They teach copious amounts of false doctrine.  Perhaps of greatest importance is the undeniable fact that without the priesthood, they are unable to perform those essential ordinances without which it is impossible to obtain eternal life.  In the denominations of traditional Christianity there is no salvation.

But of greater significance to me, is the fact that the attitude of the Prophet Joseph Smith was negative concerning the “sectarians.” That was his term for the many denominations of traditional Christianity.  Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, the primary inspiration of this blog, did not use the term “sectarian” so much as they referred to “apostate Christendom.”  But although the terms they used were not the same, their negative view of the Protestant and Catholic denominations were in the tradition of Joseph Smith as was my own because of the reasons for which I joined the Church.  I had obtained a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

After all, is not this a passage from our scripture?

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.” (Joseph Smith–History)

If traditional Christianity had not gone astray, there would have been no Great Apostasy and no need for a Restoration. Because of this teaching, and the attitudes of Joseph Smith and the early latter-day prophets, this change in LDS understanding and attitude towards the false churches has been a puzzle to me to me and a source of no small amount of distress.  Are these changes from God, or are they just false attitudes creeping into the Church?

Well, yesterday I had a thought that may have been from the Lord because I never thought it before, and it answered all my questions and set my heart at rest on this matter.  A young and brilliant attorney in my ward spoke in Sacrament Meeting, and at one point he spoke about the claim some sectarians make that we are not Christians.  I thought his remarks excellent.  Whether we are Christian or not depends on how one defines the term “Christian.”  If in the course of conversation with a Gentile we are using different definitions, of course there will be little or no true communication or understanding.

Whenever this topic of who is and is not Christian comes up, a nagging question comes up in my mind.  Why do we care what the they think?  There is a sense in which we are not Christians.  We are not heirs to the false doctrines and philosophies of traditional Christianity.   On the other hand, there is a sense in which they are not Christians.  How can one follow Jesus Christ while rejecting his prophets? That is exactly what the Protestants and Catholics do.  There is a sense in which we are the only Christians.  So why do we care what they think?  Joseph Smith didn’t.  He denounced those denominations as false churches all the days of his short life.  So did his successors until recently.

After the meeting I went up to this fellow and asked, “Why do we care?  Why do we care whether or not the false churches consider us to be Christian?  We are in this life to please God, not man.  His are the only opinions that matter.  He told me what I thought he would, something I have heard from dozens of other saints when I pose this question.  “We want the other churches to accepts us as Christians because of our missionary work.”  But that makes no sense.  When others join us from a Catholic or Protestant background as I did, we are ripe to become members of the Church because we have begun to doubt the teachings of the church in which we grew up.   Do our missionaries have a lot of success in baptizing nonmembers who are still convinced their church is right?  I doubt it very much.

Then during the Sunday School part of the block, I thought something I have never thought before.  We are living in a very difficult time for people of all faiths.  Just as the other churches are being persecuted on all sides by the atheists, agnostics and secularists, so are we.  The gays are mad at us, as are those who believe there can be a legitimate “choice” to kill an unborn child.  Others hate us because we love and defend our God-inspired Constitution.  Many despise religious tea party people because they remind the wicked that there is a difference between right and wrong.  The government controlled media portray those who believe in a far more negative light than those who keep their mouths shut about God.

But more importantly, this intolerance for those who are religious is increasing rapidly.  What will happen in the future?  Does persecution lie ahead, not only for the Mormons but for all those who believe in God?  Could there ever be another holocaust or genocide, this time not just targeting Jews but all who believe? I think it could happen.  There are a couple of reasons.

First, our scriptures proclaim that when Christ comes at the Second Coming, there will be few left upon the earth.

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall akill you: and ye shall be bhated of all nations cfor my name’s sake.

And then shall many be aoffended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

And many afalse prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

And because ainiquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax bcold. (Matthew 24:9-12)

[…]

For then shall be great atribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those adays shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)

Also, the latter-day Prophet Bruce R. McConkie and others have said that the saints will endure greater persecutions ahead than those they have known in the past:

Nor are the days of our greatest sorrows and our deepest sufferings all behind us. They too lie ahead. We shall yet face greater perils, we shall yet be tested with more severe trials, and we shall yet weep more tears of sorrow than we have ever known before. (Bruce R. McConkie.  The Coming Tests and Trials and Glory.  General Conference, April 1980)

If these prophecies are true, and I believe they are.  Then all we who believe in God must stick together.  We need to forget our differences and focus on our mutual belief in God and his love for us.  For only his love and our faith in him will get us through the difficult times ahead.  Those who have taken the part of Satan, with or without realizing it,  can persecute all of us regardless of religious persuasion.  And they can persecute us with a great persecution, possibly unto death.  But as long as we remain faithful, we need not worry.  As long as we keep the promises we have made to God, he will protect us and sustain us in this life and in the life to come.

The bottom line for me, and what I learned from my contemplation is that because very difficult times lie ahead for all of us, we Latter-day Saints do not want to be alone against the terrors that evil men seek to inflict upon us.  We are all children of the same Heavenly Father, brothers and sisters.  And we need to love and care for each other amidst all the machinations of the secular world, the crusading atheists, and the worldly.

But not only that, the Latter-day Saints are very well organized.  They can do much for those of other faiths if they will let us and need our help.  In some cases we can provide some of the leadership that is needed for our spiritual and temporal survival.  We are strong in the Lord and can use that strength to love and serve others.

In any case, I am no longer puzzled or distressed that we are reaching out to the other churches.  We need friends both inside and outside of the Church.  We can help each other.  And we are going to need it.

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The Revelation of John, Comets and the Second Coming

August 26, 2010

In General Conference on April 6th of 1843 the Prophet Joseph Smith made a prediction about the fulfillment of a prophecy in the Revelation of John.  He said that when the Lord returns at the time of the Second Coming, his coming would be mistaken as a comet by much of the world.  Here are the exact words of Joseph Smith as recorded in the Documentary History of the Church:

Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, Etc.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make his appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east. (April 6, 1843.) DHC 5:336-337.

Often comets are visible and their orbits known by astronomers long before they arrive in the vicinity of Earth and are visible to the naked eye. Is such a comet known and coming? Could the arrival of such a comet be one of the signs of the time?

I am not making a statement here. I am asking a question.


Spiritual Wickedness In High Places

December 28, 2007

In my last post I reviewed some of what the prophets have taught about “churches” and the fact that ultimately there are only two: the church of Jesus Christ, and the church of the devil. Today, I would like to add what I consider to be a related scripture from the New Testament. I think it is especially pertinent today because of the primary campaigns being waged here in the USA by both the Republicans and the Democrats who are vying for the office of President of the United States.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

This is the Apostle Paul, of course. But what was he writing about, and how is it relevant to our day? Is it relevant? On the official Church website, this verse is cross referenced in the Topical Guide to Darkness, Spiritual; Secret Combinations, Governments, and Wickedness among others. Does Paul imply by this that governments are or can be a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is the Church in danger from such threats around the world? How about here at home? What can we learn from Church History? I personally feel it likely that our national elections are very much influenced by the machinations of evil men combined to get power over the people. What to do about it is much less clear to me. But I am weary of our elected leaders obviously serving someone else rather than those who voted for them and put them in office.

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Midgley’s Response To An Attack On “Prying Into Palmer”

July 3, 2006

by Louis Midgley, guest contributor

When it was called to my attention that Roasted Tomatoes had posted on a blog an item entitled “Reviewing the FARMS Review: Midgley on Palmer,” I decided that I would respond. My first stab at doing this was reads as follows:

I rather like what has fashioned. He has spunk and has done some research and discovered a few things. I would enjoy having a conversation with him and others on my “Prying into Palmer” [FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 365-410]. I will, if you will permit, fashion something responding to “Reviewing the FARMS Review: Midgley on Palmer” by Roasted Tomatoes (aka JNS). But I have to finish some editorial details on the editor’s introduction to the FARMS Review 18/1 (2006). This must be done this morning, and then I must attend a meeting of the Maxwell Institute people with Richard Bushman. Immediately after this meeting, my wife and I are leaving town for a couple of days–I am going fishing. When we return, I will draft something for you. I will have it to you on Monday. [This was obviously not possible.]

But I can say now that I agree with Roasted’s comments about Anne [Newport] Royall’s probably not being the editor of Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin. I was too confident that she had been the editor of that thing. I have been unable to figure out who it was. But, as Roasted indicates, it really does not matter. Probably Roasted does not know this, but I have already tried to address the problem of determining who the editor of that tabloid was. Who the editor was, as Roasted grants, is really not an important issue. And neither is the question of whether Grant Palmer knew that “Paul Pry” had anti-Mormon connections. He may or may not have known. However, his current effort to explain how he came up with that name is not all that plausible. And Roasted needs to ask himself if he has accurately represented the explanation that Palmer recently provided on that [Dehlin] Podcast. He needs to make and then post a transcript of the relevant portions of that interview. Why? My understanding is that Palmer indicated that on a holiday in London he visited the West End (the theatre district) and noticed the name Paul Pry on a leaflet giving tips on plays and musicals. I am confident that Palmer mentioned that he loves to travel and on one of his trips to London, which had to be prior to 1985, he found that name in the theatre district. Palmer will have to demonstrate that he was in London prior to his having adopted the name “Paul Pry” to hide his identify from CES.

His current explanation is not what he told me when I had a long phone conversation with him. Back then, what he said is that someone had suggested the name to him. He could not recall who it was. At that time he was very close to Brent Metcalfe and Ron Walker, who were then busy looking for anything they could find that would cast light on what turned out to be Mark Hoffman’s forged Salamander Letter. For example, it was Ron Walker who introduced Palmer to E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Golden Pot. And it was that tale that got Palmer partly fueled his writing “New York Mormonism” under the name “Paul Pry Jr.” So who might have mentioned Paul Pry to Palmer? I do not know and he probably cannot recall. But it is likely that it was someone who was right then working on the very earliest published literature on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Paul Pry’s Weekly Bulletin was one of the very first such publications. Palmer’s most recent account of how he just happened to come up with Paul Pry as a handle, however, is much more plausible than his efforts to see the Moroni story in The Golden Pot.

[Note: I have silently corrected a few infelicities and added a few things in brackets.]

SOME ADDITIONAL, PRELIMINARY REMARKS ABOUT ROASTED’S RECENT ATTACK ON ME AND ON THE FARMS REVIEW

I very much appreciate the opportunity to respond to Roasted Tomatoes (hereafter Roasted) who insists that he has identified “important errors” in my essay entitled “Prying into Palmer,” FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 365-410, and hence that my essay is flawed by important errors of fact. He insists that these errors demonstrate that my essay is unreliable, and then he suggests that he has thereby demonstrated a weakness in what is published in the FARMS Review. In making this leap, and it is a huge leap, he seems to have followed a talk given by John Hatch at a Sunstone conference, a version of which was immediately posted on the Signature Books webpage. That deeply flawed diatribe, entitled “Why I No Longer Trust FARMS,” is no longer posted on the Signature Book webpage. (No reason has been given for its removal.) Roasted does not seem to know that John Hatch is embarrassed by what he has admitted to me (in an email message that I am prepared, if challenged, to quote) was an immature rant. Read the rest of this entry »


Do We Still Believe in “Believing Blood?”

May 27, 2005

While using the new beta version of Google Print last night, I ran across something that Jan Shipps wrote about Mormon history that I found interesting. She said:

By revelation, he [Joseph Smith] called his own father to be the patriarch of the church, and Father Smith instituted the practice of giving individual Saints spiritual messages called patriarchal blessings. Among much else, these blessings informed Mormons of their Hebrew tribal heritage, that is, through which of his progeny they were related to Father Abraham. From this, a concept of “believing blood” developed, and a powerful symbol system gradually grew up to support the notion that people who responded positively when they read the Book of Mormon or heard LDS gospel claims already had the blood of Abraham flowing in their veins. […]For more than a century, this “believing blood” concept was extremely important. In the wake of the explosion in LDS Church membership that followed World War II, however, less has been heard of it. Even the importance of the patriarachy as a connection to Israel appears to be decreasing. Still, for almost a hundred years, Gentile had a particular meaning in the Mormon world. (Shipps, Jan. Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons, p. 25, 2000)

Do we still believe this, that we are literal descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

Checking Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, we read:

Believing BloodSee ADOPTION, BELIEF, FAITH, FOREORDINATION, ISRAEL, PRE-EXISTENCE. This is a figurative expression commonly used to designate the aptitude and inclination of certain persons to accept and believe the principles of revealed religion. In general the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood.

Since much of Israel has been scattered among the Gentile nations, it follows that millions of people have mixed blood, blood that is part Israel and part Gentile. The more of the blood of Israel that an individual has, the easier it is for him to believe the message of salvation as taught by the authorized agents of the Lord. This principle is the one our Lord had in mind when he said to certain Jews: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 26-27.)

I have discussed this on a number of email lists that I belong to, and most of those I have heard from do not believe it. It just isn’t scientific enough, I guess. Certainly it is not “official” Church doctrine. But is it true?

For myself, I do believe it. Why? Because it has been taught by the leadership of our church, and I believe they are true prophets of God. And while it has not been taught for many years from our General Conference pulpit, no prophet has taught that it is false, to the best of my knowledge. Has there been a revelation to overturn this teaching? Or is it just one of those early Mormon beliefs that is being allowed to die a natural death by neglect?