Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are we alive!!!

White's -
Last week I saw Fire for the first time in ages. It brought great joy to see him with is white wife and baby.

Let us continue to expand our minds in gospel truths. I will post shortly; the teachings of the Book of Mormon have begin to take on a new meaning for me lately. I've been studying the geographical orientation of southern Mexico and how it relates with the BOM and the Mayans.

Can't wait to share my thoughts with you all.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Do All Enjoy the Resurrection? Part 2

Why is it that the wicked will receive perfect, immortal bodies? Should this great blessing not be reserved for those who kept God’s commandments, those who took upon the name of the Savior? I believe the scriptures indicate a few reasons why all shall rise. Before I share my thoughts I want to address Reverence’s idea that this is a reward for keeping our first estate.

I think Rev’s judgment on the idea is sound. It makes sense that those who keep their first estate earned the right to a test and a body and therefore earned the blessing of the resurrection (though we never actually “earn” anything, God always gives us more as Rev said, but you know what I mean). Joseph Smith hinted at this with the following statement: “When those have come into this world and received tabernacles, then died and again have risen and received glorified bodies, they will have an ascendancy over the spirits who have received no bodies, or kept not their first estate, like the devil. The punishment of the devil was that he should not have a habitation like men. The devil's retaliation is, he comes into this world, binds up men's bodies, and occupies them himself” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843–44, p.305)

Now for my other ideas regarding the universal blessing. First, all shall rise, yes, but not at the same time. As the Doctrine and Covenants teach, there will be various resurrections, depending on the righteousness of the person. There will be a resurrection of the just (D&C 76:64-65), and of the unjust (D&C 76:85). This section also mentions different types of resurrected bodies, verse 70 says that those who rise in the first resurrection will be they “whose bodies are celestial.” The section goes on to say that others will have terrestrial bodies (D&C 76:78).

I think the primary reason that everyone will resurrect is so that they can withstand the judgment of God. The scriptures indicate that we must have a resurrected body in order to stand in God’s presence. “And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day” (2 Nephi 9:22); “ . . . He shall rise from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works” (Alma 33:22); “And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat” (Mormon 7:6). Lehi also teaches, (and Jacob may have snagged his idea for 2 Ne. 9:22 from this), that “no flesh can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead . . . wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him” (2 Ne. 8,10).

It is my opinion that we need resurrected bodies to bear the presence of the Father, in order to receive our reward, or our punishment. The resurrection is a glorious gift for all, for it prevents people from becoming “angels to a devil,” but it will not be a happy day for those who did not live righteously and faithfully while here on the earth (2 Ne. 9:9). When Alma even considered the thought of being in the presence of God his soul was racked with “inexpressible horror” and he wished he could “be banished and become extinct both soul and body that [he] might not be brought to stand in the presence of [his] God, to be judged of [his] deeds” (Alma 36:14-15). This desire to become extinct may be the result for the resurrected unjust.

While there is reason to believe that we can see God in the flesh, as many scriptures describe (Moses 5:10, 2 Ne. 9:4, Job 19:26), I think all of those scriptures are describing our state after the resurrection, supporting my claim that we need a resurrected body to bear His presence. The scripture that best supports this idea comes from Moses, chapter 1, verse 11.

“But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him” (Moses 1:11).

I believe that any person that has ever had a vision of the Father saw Him through their spiritual eyes (which may be why we call Joseph Smith’s experience the “First Vision” instead of “First Encounter” or something . . . first encounter sounds way too science fictiony anyway). That is one of the reasons that all, including the wicked, need a resurrected body.

Happy, as always, to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Resurrection: Part 1

In light of the spring season, I thought I'd post about the Resurrection. I'll share my take on couple of issues and as always, would love to hear your thoughts. I want to ask about the difference in sacrament prayers, as well as why the Resurrection is a universal gift, or if it is a gift for everyone.

First, the difference in sacrament prayers.

Blessing on the Bread

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (D&C 20:77)

Blessing on the Water

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (D&C 20:79)

Why does the blessing on the bread contain two conditions for the ultimate blessing (to have his spirit with us) that the water does not have? I don't know the answer to that, but would love to hear your thoughts. I want to focus my comments on the word “always.” I believe it comes from the universality of the Resurrection. It is for all people, therefore the spirit of the Resurrection should always be with us, whereas the spirit of the Atonement may come and go as we sin and repent. When I scraped my hand the other day on the corner of a cupboard, it bled a little. Now, however, the wound is healing quickly. I think this is evidence of the power of the Resurrection. My bones have found their way back together after a break, the muscles around my hip have formed around the bone on their own after a dislocation. These miracles happen every day, and while there are anatomic explanations for why they happen, I believe it is the body’s obedience to the Redeemer. He did redeem the body, and the spirit of that Resurrection can always be with us. I think our bodies heal themselves, and that the word "always" is in the prayer on the bread, because of the absolute universality of the Resurrection.

Thoughts on this, or other aspects of the blessing on the bread? I'll post my other resurrection thought in a couple of days.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Calling and Election

As usual, it's been too long that the White Table has sat dormant. Maybe if we dive a little deeper into the doctrinal ocean we'll get White Table sparks flying again.

I read an interesting article about calling and election today, from the editor of BYU Studies. He talked about calling and election outside the context of a personal visitation from the Savior. While I may have heard this before, I have always associated calling and election with a personal visitation from the Savior, or the Savior's voice (as seen in Mosiah 26:20, Helaman 10:4-11, 3 Nephi 28:3, D&C 132:46) but this scholar cites Heber C. Kimball's, Newel Knight's, and William Clayton's calling and elections to be given through a personal written revelation, a heavenly vision, and by the prophet, respectively.

I suppose first I'd like to hear your thoughts on the medium by which calling and election comes and if the personal visitation from the Savior is something we should seek in connection with Joseph's charge to "go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it" (History of the Church, 6:365; 5:388–89). I personally have always thought of, and on a few bold occasions, prayed for the Savior to appear, or hear his voice physically. What are your thoughts.

Another question I pose, is why do we not hear word of calling and election any more, let alone of people receiving their calling and election. The author mentions that the last time it was mentioned in conference was 1977. Are we falling behind as a church, to the point that we have to get over the hurdles of pornography, debt, and a lack of faith before leaders can address calling and election? Is it too sacred a matter to discuss in the face of constant media, and an international audience?

Finally, I ask: can we receive our calling and election? I believe we can. I know people have, and I know the Lord wouldn't keep blessings from us that others have received. I guess my real question is how? What do we need to get rid of in our lives? What do we need to start doing to receive this great promise, to be sealed His (Mosiah 5:15)? I know it begins with faith, repentance, the companionship of the first comforter, and the changing so we have no more disposition to do evil (Mosiah 5:2), the below quote from the Prophet indicates as much: "The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted" (TPJS p. 150).

But I can tell you it hasn't happened to me, and occasionally I have a strong desire for it to happen. I'd love your thoughts on this important gospel topic.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Establishment of Zion

I’ve thought a great deal ultimately on the establishment of Zion here on the earth. Hugh Nibley’s book “Approaching Zion” has thrown a new light on the subject for me, as did Elder Christofferson’s recent conference talk.

Nibley makes the point that Zion is a possibility and that “the instant one realizes that Zion is a possibility, one has no choice but to identify himself with the program that will bring about the quickest possible realization of its perfection.” (p. 28) I agree with this statement and believe it includes Elder Christofferson’s charge: “to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen” (“Come to Zion;” General Conference October 2008)

We know from Elder Christofferson’s talk and the scriptures that the establishment of Zion means the elimination of poverty. We know that in Alma’s early church, they were blessed because, “in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need” (Alma 1:30). King Benjamin asks the powerful question: “Are we not all beggars?” (Mosiah 4:19). He makes it clear that we are not to judge a person for why they happen to be in poverty, but only to help them get out of it. The Lord Himself taught the Church in the early days that “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin” (D&C 49:20). Some of the best people to walk the earth came in the generations following the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites. One of the defining passages about them describes that there were “no manner of –ites (among them); but they were in one, the children of Christ” (4 Ne. 4:17). I could go on with many other examples, but it is clear that Zion can only be established where there is equality among people.
After a brilliant discourse on the evils of wealth and coveting, Nibley states, “All my life I have shied away from these disturbing and highly unpopular--even offensive—themes (the uses of money). But I cannot do so any longer, because in my old age I have taken to reading the scriptures and there have had it forced upon my reluctant attention, that from the time of Adam to the present day, Zion has been pitted against Babylon, and the name of the game has always been money—‘power and gain’” (p. 58).

Satan taught Korihor principles of the free competitive market when he said, “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17). Does this not bring to mind our capitalistic society?

In 1875 The First Presidency stated in a letter to the Church that “The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice.”

This contrasts with President Benson’s statement (then a member of the quorum of the twelve) that, “a redistribution of wealth through the federal tax system. That, by definition, is socialism! . . . It has been fundamental to our way of life that charity must be voluntary if it is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity” (“A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion;” BYU Devotional 1977). Perhaps giving taxes to help the poor does not constitute "charity," but until the day comes when we willingly live the law of consecration, it seems that the welfare system serves a decent, albeit distant, substitute.

Nibley states that "the man who devotes himself to tiring routines of business should be rewarded, but should all others be penalized who do not engage in that particular line of work?" He quotes Joseph Smith in the first chapter saying, "Here are those who begin to spread out buying up all the land they are able to do, to the exclusion of the poorer ones who are not so much blessed with this world's goods, thinking to lay foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual families . . . now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in any such way." I figure we should strive for Zion, even if it's an unlikely outcome, and that the welfare system works toward a Zion outcome more than the alternative.

It seems that whether we lift up the poor by our own free will, or whether it is mandated by the Church, or whether it is mandated by the government—it needs to happen. I hear people say that they would give more if they were taxed less. Perhaps, but that doesn’t seem to be our inclination as a collective group, at least in my personal experience. I’d rather my taxes go to the welfare system and help people by mandate, than me keep more and maybe give an additional $10 to fast offerings every month. I think our unity and our holiness (the other two pillars discussed by Elder Christofferson), are getting better and better as a church. It’s the third pillar, that of “caring for the poor” where I feel we are falling further and further behind. I saw it personally in my inner-city mission; perhaps that is why I feel so strongly on the subject.