Sunday, January 15, 2017

D&C 1: An Interpretation

Freed from its unjust justified captivity:
"Hearken, O ye people of my church!"
saith the voice of him who dwells on high,
and whose eyes are upon all men;
Yea, verily I say:
"Hearken ye people from afar,
and ye that are upon the islands of the sea,
Listen together!
For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men,
and there is none to escape,
and there is no eye that shall not see,
neither ear that shall not hear,
neither heart that shall not be penetrated:
And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow,
for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the house-tops,
and their secret acts shall be revealed;
And the voice of warning shall be unto all people,
by the mouths of my disciples,
whom I have chosen in these last days,
and they shall go forth and none shall stay them,
for I, the Lord, have commanded them!
Behold, this is mine authority,
and the authority of my servants,
and my preface unto the book of my commandments,
which I have given them to publish unto you O inhabitants of the earth:
wherefore fear and tremble,
O ye people for what I the Lord have decreed,
in them, shall be fulfilled."
And verily, I say unto you, that:
"They who go forth,
bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth,
to them is power given to seal
both on earth and in heaven,
the unbelieving and rebellious;
Yea, verily, to seal them up
unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out
upon the wicked without measure;
unto the day when the Lord shall come
to recompense unto every man according to his work,
and measure to every man according to the measure
which he has measured to his fellow man.
Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth,
that all that will hear may hear:
Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come!
for the Lord is nigh;
and the anger of the Lord is kindled,
and his sword is bathed in heaven,
and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth;
and the arm of the Lord shall be revealed;
and the day cometh,
that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord,
neither the voice of his servants,
neither give heed to the words of the prophets, and apostles,
shall be cut off from among the people:
for they have strayed from mine ordinances,
and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness,
but every man walketh in his own way,
and after the image of his own god,
whose image is in the likeness of the world,
and whose substance is that of an idol,
which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon,
even Babylon the great,
which shall fall:
Wherefore, I the Lord,
knowing the Calamity
which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth,
called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jr.
and spake unto him from heaven,
and gave him commandments;
and also gave commandments to others,
that they should proclaim these things unto the world;
and all this that it might be fulfilled,
which was written by the prophets:
The weak things of the world shall come forth
and break down the mighty and strong ones,
that man should not counsel his fellow man,
neither trust in the arm of flesh,
but that every man might speak in the name of God, the Lord,
even the Savior of the world;
that faith also might increase in the earth;
that mine everlasting covenant might be established;
that the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed
by the weak and the simple,
unto the ends of the world,
and before kings and rulers.
Behold I am God and have spoken it:
These commandments are of me,
and were given unto my servants in their weakness,
after the manner of their language,
that they might come to understanding;
and inasmuch as they erred,
it might be made known:
and inasmuch as they sought wisdom,
they might be instructed;
and inasmuch as they sinned,
they might be chastened,
that they might repent;
and inasmuch as they were humble,
they might be made strong,
and blessed from on high,
and receive knowledge from time to time:
And after having received the record of the Nephites,
yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jr.
might have power
to translate
through the mercy of God,
by the power of God,
the book of Mormon:
and also, those to whom these commandments were given,
might have power
to lay the foundation of this church,
and to bring it forth
out of obscurity,
and out of darkness,
the only true and living church
upon the face of the whole earth,
with which I the Lord am well pleased,
speaking unto the church collectively and not individually;
for I the Lord cannot look upon sin
with the least degree of allowance:
nevertheless, he that repents
and does the commandments of the Lord,
shall be forgiven,
and he that repents not,
from him shall be taken even the light which he has received,
for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of hosts.
And again, verily I say unto you,
O inhabitants of the earth,
I the Lord am willing to make these things known
unto all flesh,
for I am no respecter of persons,
and willeth that all men shall know
that the day speedily cometh,
the hour is not yet,
but is nigh at hand,
when peace shall be taken from the earth,
and the devil shall have power
over his own dominion;
and also, the Lord shall have power
over his saints,
and shall reign in their midst,
and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world.
Search these commandments,
for they are true and faithful,
and the prophecies and promises which are in them
shall all be fulfilled.
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken,
and I excuse not myself,
and though the heavens and the earth pass away,
my word shall not pass away,
but shall all be fulfilled,
whether by mine own voice,
or by the voice of my servants,
it is the same:
For behold, and lo,
the Lord is God,
and the Spirit beareth record,
and the record is true,
and the truth abideth forever and ever:
Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2016

On Baptism

Many questions came to mind as I pondered discussions I've seen taking place on the interwebs this evening among believing "independent Mormons".

Do we honestly believe the words of Messiah are contained in 3 Nephi 11? If so, why do we believe He so specific and insistent on the manner of baptism of water? Why could Christ not ask those who have been baptized of water *not* in accordance to His word to be properly baptized again? Do we believe He recently extended this invitation to repentant Gentile LDSs? Have LDS baptisms been in accordance with what Christ asked in 3 Nephi 11? What would prevent Him from extending the same invitation to Christians not formerly LDS?

Does a person's experience receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost necessarily mean any baptism of water at the same time was valid? If a baptism of water that does not conform to the doctrine of Christ declared by Christ in 3 Nephi 11 is to be recognized by God as authoritative, why was Christ so insistent and clear in his instruction?  Are there ever instances in our scriptures of persons or a people receiving the baptism of fire and the holy ghost even without having had *any* baptism of water? If so, why must our day somehow be different?

Do we really believe the explicit instructions given by Denver regarding the manner of proceeding with baptisms, which he plainly attributed to direct instruction to us from Jesus Christ, really came from Jesus Christ as claimed? If so, with such explicit instructions (including sustaining by seven women, obtaining authority directly from heaven, and following the "ordinance" of baptism with exactness as given in 3 Nephi 11), what justification can we offer for departing from any portion of it? Is it Christ's direction and words  to us today or not?

And, if a person believes in the Book of Mormon, she could ask why Christ, immediately after authorizing a group in 3 Nephi 11 to perform baptisms, then bothered to state: "On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you"? Had there been disputations before? Why did He expect there might be again and thus also the need for a clear warning? Who among us can dispute His instruction? When He said:
On this wise
shall ye
baptize them…
and
These are the words which
ye shall 
say…
How are these not commandments from Christ?

How completely do we believe what the Lord stated in D&C 82:10?
I, the Lord, am bound
when ye 
do what I say;
but when ye 
do not what I say,
ye have no promise.
But, you might say, what of those who know Christ's voice and have received His spirit or the baptism of fire and the holy ghost but who have not received baptism of water "on this wise" yet? The Mena Grebins, Todd Whites, Jonathan Cahns, Ian Claytons, their followers, or others in the Christian world? Such a person could also ask, can they not be offered this baptism of water? Should they not? And if they were to accept it, would it suggest that they somehow did not know God previously? (Did it mean this when Nephi was baptized again? Or Joseph? Or Denver?) If it really is God's will and they hear and follow His voice (which His sheep do), why do we suppose they could not or would not hearken to His invitation? And what pride within a group would tempt them to believe that if such a movement really were a manifestation of God's renewed work that it would begin and end almost entirely within the Mormon corridor? Is our view of God's work so myopic?

And if such other Christians were not offered this invitation by a group asked to extend the invitation, who do we think the Lord would hold responsible? Them? Or do we feel we have the leeway and authority to tell others that their previous baptisms of water--not "on this wise"--will be recognized, when Christ Himself offers no such leeway? Would such a person feeling such latitude also feel authorized to improperly represent such baptisms as having been done according to the doctrine of Christ such that they can be submitted to the Recorder's Clearinghouse web site to be included in the record presented to the Lord in His temple? Exactly who could the "Christian ministers" be that Denver spoke of at the second coming who "knew they had taught falsely and that their faith could not save"? Must it be only Christian ministers that are "not us"? Could it include any who now count themselves among this "independent Mormonism" movement?

And what precisely does the correct performance of a rite (i.e., precisely according to the words & instruction of Christ) have at all to do with anyone "being" any better than anyone else? How does the offering of such a baptism "on this wise" by one group make them in any way superior to another? Or necessarily mean the one is judgmental of the another? When the repentant anti-Nephi-Lehi's united themselves to the Nephites, presumably taking upon them the rite of baptism by water, did it somehow make the Nephites better? Have we not been commanded to extend the invitation to all in love and without judgment, coercion, priestcrafts, or pride?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Snuffing Servant

As I was studying chapters 42 and 43 of Isaiah not long ago using the Gileadi translation, I came across an interesting pair of prophesied events. Both seem to refer to the future Davidic servant, or "one mighty and strong" that Isaiah discusses so often.

The first reference explains what this servant will not do and to whom:
Even a bruised reed he will not break;
     a dim wick he will not snuff out.
He will perform the work of justice
     in the cause of truth. - Isaiah 42:3
The second reference declares what he will do (or what Jehovah will do via him):
... who dispatches chariots and horses,
     armies of men in full strength;
they lie down as one, to rise no more,
     they flicker and die, snuffed out like a wick. - Isaiah 43:17
Some may think they have an idea who this servant might be. But as has been pointed out by others, it is not Christ Himself. Among the many other prophecies concerning this "one mighty and strong", he will have a clearly associated visual sign:
My servant, being astute, shall be highly exalted
     he shall become exceedingly eminent:
just as he appalled many—
     his appearance was marred beyond human likeness,
     his semblance unlike that of men—
So shall he yet astound many nations,
     kings shutting their mouths at him—
what was not told them, they shall see;
     what they had not heard, they shall consider. - Isaiah 52:13-15
Though Christ will heal him:
But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand;
     therefore they shall not hurt him,
     although he shall be marred because of them.
Yet I will heal him,
     for I will show unto them
     that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. - 3 Nephi 21:10
Were this person to be aware of such a prophecy potentially referring to himself, he might be reluctant to have his appearance widely known.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Joseph vs. Brigham and the Brethrenites

The following is a short sampling of contrasts between what Joseph Smith taught & practiced (including what the Book of Mormon and D&C teach) versus Brigham and his successors' alterations, adjustments, removals, replacements, modifications, additions, and evolutions. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive list by any means and does not present more than just a few references. The reader is encouraged to study the topics out for herself or himself, reviewing newly available historical records and scriptures. Also, as a caveat, the middle column, in particular, represents only a limited snapshot in time of some of the author's understanding and is expected to change as his understanding of the gospel and Mormon history expands. The author expects some minor fixes to the article may be made due to unintentional errors or incomplete thoughts by the author.



Joseph (& the Book of Mormon)
Brigham and the Brethrenites
The church
·  Per D&C 10:67, "whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church"
·  Not an earthly institution
·  More a movement and collection of like-believing individuals who gathered together with Joseph
·  In the plural referred to groups or congregations of believers
·   "Church" referring to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", a trademark owned by The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (COTPOTCOJCOLDS)
·   Or: The "Brethren" (upper ecclesiastical hierarchy, or "general authorities"), that govern the spending of sacred funds, control who receives "saving" ordinances, speak at general conference, manage church corporations, direct those below them in the hierarchy, receive generous compensation, etc.
·   Or: an earthly institution of people who have been baptized by an authorized LDS Aaronic priesthood-holding male and confirmed by an authorized LDS Melchizedek priesthood-holding male, whose names & private personal data are maintained & tracked in a central Church database
Offices in the church
·  Apostle, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon, Member
·  Did not require priesthood (see D&C 20, where it is not mentioned; or JS-H 1:72, where Joseph and Oliver were elders after the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood)
·  Were able to perform sacred rites outlined in D&C 20 according to the power of the Holy Ghost in (i.e., acting through) a person
·  Later: Bishop, Seventy, Patriarch, Historian
·  Some of the apostles were later organized into the Traveling High Council, composed of 12 apostles, in 1835
·   All but "Member" (which is no longer a church office) is conflated with requiring priesthood
·   Many others added: High Priest (as part of higher instead of lesser priesthood, as in BoM & OT)
·   Even offices changed, for example Brigham swore anyone unmarried or less than mid-twenties could never be a Deacon (which matches the New Testament requirement that Deacons be married), whereas now Deacons are essentially all 12-year-old boys
Presiding Patriarch
·  A lineal office in the church first filled by Joseph Smith, Sr., then by Hyrum Smith by virtue of having received the birthright
·  Hyrum & Joseph being the first (and last) in many generations to be joined to the Fathers via the Patriarchal Order/Priesthood (see below)
·  Office later filled by lineage or descent of any descendent deemed "worthy"
·  Could not be stolen by an elected interloper, thereby creating a separation of power within church government
·  Formed an independent line of priesthood authority
·  This line was not to be dependent upon selection by temporary office holders drawn from many family lines--instead the Smith family, through whom the church was restored, would hold this hereditary office forever
·  Office was intended to be succeeded by the officeholder's oldest, direct, descendant, unless there was still a living sibling of his upon whom the office would devolve
·   An interesting office, sometimes used & sometimes not for ordaining the office of President of the Church
·   Title changed to "Patriarch to the Church" by Pres. Grant in the 1920's
·   Sustained as "prophet, seer, and revelator" alongside the First Presidency and twelve
·   Most recent "Presiding Patriarch" made "emeritus" by the President in 1979, with no one placed in the office to follow
·   Last "Presiding Patriarch", Eldred G. Smith, passed away in April 2013, with the office no longer being filled or deemed necessary by the Church

Second Comforter
·  Required for salvation, redemption, and exaltation
·  The core of the "Doctrine of Christ" spelled out in the D&C, throughout the Book of Mormon, and the New Testament
·  Consistently urged by Joseph as what all saints should strive to attain to in mortality in order to be able to qualify for the Celestial sphere, returning to the presence of the Father
·   Not only no longer taught as important, but now, per Dallin Oaks, “the suggestion that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary”
·   Effectively abandoned as doctrine until 1960's, then actively rejected by Correlation as a topic not permissible for general conference talks, church publications, etc.
·   No longer really spoken of at all
·   More important to "follow the prophet", not Christ
Book of Mormon
·  A guide on how to receive the Second Comforter, as shown by authors who actually have traveled the path and reached the destination
·  Text is more pure than any other scripture now available
·  A book of prophecy: Events included are ones that typify actual prophesied events in the latter days & end times
·  Isaiah's words are central to understanding the entire text
·  Gentiles are primarily the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are roundly criticized, condemned, warned & called to repentance by the text
·   A moral guide
·   How "to be happy in this life"
·   How to "come unto Christ" in some unspecified, non-literal way
·   Commonly thought to somewhere foretell of a latter-day "Restoration" of a New Testament church, this time among the Gentiles
·   Thought to be a witness to the authenticity of the Bible (though the text seems to state the opposite)
·   A tool to get people to join the church, using the argument: the Book of Mormon is true, therefore Joseph was a prophet, therefore the church is "true", therefore we have a "living Prophet" today who has the same keys, therefore you need to be baptized
·   Much more palatable as children's cartoons for those that have a hard time with it
·   Big scholarly emphasis on arguing & proving its historicity and on identifying the location of events recorded, rather than focusing on uncovering and living its message
·   Inclusion of quotes from the Book of Isaiah is annoying and, for some, reason to doubt the authenticity of the BoM
·   Reading is something to check off as completed, often requiring business-inspired incentive programs (food, rewards, fun trips to water parks, etc.) in order to coerce participants to complete their "spiritual feast" on time
·   Changed title, misleading chapter headings, many strange computer-generated & linked footnotes
Gentiles
·  Primarily the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as spoken of in the Book of Mormon and D&C
·   Everyone but members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the warnings in the Book of Mormon being given to those who will never read them but which will boost the pride of Latter-day Saints at "not being them"
Scripture
·  Came regularly by translation of ancient records
·  Came regularly and frequently via revelations/oracles
·  Came regularly by Joseph's own hand (letters, LoF in the 1835 D&C)
·  Expanded & extended the saints' understanding
·  Given by the Holy Ghost acting through any person
·   Ceased completely; no further "thus saith the Lord", except for a couple unpublished ones claimed through John Taylor
·   Changed to instead use "official" proclamations, declarations, First Presidency statements, general conference talks, press releases, "tweets", and Facebook posts
Doctrine of the Church
·  Published as the first part of the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants
·  Intended to elucidate the "Doctrine of Jesus Christ", meaning the Second Comforter
·  Voted in general conference by the church to be binding as scripture
·   Removed from "standard works" by committee in 1923, without any vote from the church
·   Current D&C includes only the "Covenants" portion of the 1835 edition (and later 19th century editions)
·   Renamed "Lectures on Faith"
·   No longer taught or discussed, including the Second Comforter
Nature of God, Godhead
(from the 1835 D&C, called today the "Lectures on Faith")
·  "The Father [is] a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness."
·  "The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, [is] a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;--he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him"
·  Holy Spirit: Not a personage, but the "Mind of the Father and the Son", which men & women must also receive, per LoF 5
§  "which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son"
§  "Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead? A. Two: the Father and the Son. (5:1.)"
§  "[the Son] possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit"
§  "all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one
·   God the Father is a male personage with a glorified, resurrected body
·   The Son is a male personage with a glorified, resurrected body
·   The Holy Ghost is a male personage of spirit, not having a body

From the 2013 publication Teaching the Gospel in the Savior's Way:

There are three separate personages in the Godhead: God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost (see Articles of Faith 1:1; Acts 7:55–56). The Father and the Son have tangible bodies of flesh and bone, and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit (see D&C 130:22–23). Although the members of the Godhead are distinct beings with distinct roles, they are one in purpose. They are perfectly united in bringing to pass Heavenly Father’s divine plan of salvation.
The Holy Ghost
·  The Holy Ghost is our own spirit, sanctified and connected to the Holy Spirit (the Mind of God)
·  The Holy Ghost is a personage and an individual. It is a Spirit that will dwell inside a person. (D&C 130:22)
§  Is the "record of heaven" which lives inside a person and that the person lost contact with because of the veil. It is a personage of spirit who resides inside a person that he or she must "receive" after baptism by finally listening to that inner "truth of all things" or "record of the Father and the Son." (Moses 6:6166)
§  "In effect, you receive holiness through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This in turn makes your own spirit holy. Your spirit or your ghost is within you, connected to heaven to such a degree through this process that you are in possession of a "holy spirit" or a "holy ghost" within you."
·  "Falls" upon a person as part of an event called the "Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost", creating a permanent, lasting connection
·  Bears record of the Son. When the Son speaks to a person through the Holy Ghost, she or he hears the words in the first-person (thus the HG speaking that it "is the Son" in Moses 5:9)
·  "The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence." (TPJS 149)
·  Has a different effect on Hebrew vs. Gentile
§  "It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence." (TPJS 149-150)
·  (See "The Holy Ghost vs. the Holy Spirit" for a succinct comparison.)
·   A male spirit personage of the Godhead
·   His influence is felt everywhere, although his spirit can only be in one place at a time
·   Will someday have to "get a body", although uncertain how or why
·   Makes a person feel good or "warm all over" when something is right or true
·   Seen as the source of powerful, strong emotions, commonly bringing a person to 'tears as evidence of his presence
·   Even when “received” as a gift, is a temporary influence based on our choices
Baptism of Fire & the Holy Ghost, or Gift of the Holy Ghost
·  Core part of the Doctrine of Christ
·  Controlled & given only by the Father (through the Son) directly to a person
·  Deemed synonymous with repentance, baptism of the Spirit, a Mighty Change of Heart, etc.
·  Accompanied by other gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, tongues, etc. and often by interaction with angels
·  Only Apostles touched by Jesus Christ could confer directly (after mighty prayer and at the Son's direction)
§  Per D&C 20 & BoM
·  Otherwise came directly from God to those qualifying, usually just after baptism though sometimes “out of order” before (see Helaman 5)
·   Almost completely lost core doctrine, despite being plainly laid out (& often read) in the Book of Mormon
·   Taught to be an undetectably gradual effect on a person
·   Apostles play no role
·   Believed by most to be immediately bestowed by Elders as part of "confirmation"
·   Some believe the person confirmed is only directed by the elder to do so (as current "confirmation" wording suggests), then believing that it somehow just comes to most or all members thereafter undetectably
·   Taught that the Holy Ghost is only present when we "do what is right"--not a permanent connection
Authorization to Institute Rites & Doctrines and to Receive Revelations for the church
·  The Lord vouched specifically for Joseph by revelation in D&C 5:10: "But this generation shall have my word through you"
·  Believed that ordinances and doctrines established through Joseph, as "dispensation head" should not and could not be altered in the slightest without breaking the eternal covenant
·  The Lord appointed Hyrum as replacement prophet to the church in D&C 124, having also been elected co-president with Joseph
·   From Brigham onward, presidents of the church considered the Lord's pronouncements regarding Joseph to then be expanded & generalized such that they applied to anyone occupying the "seat of Joseph"
·   Commonly believed to permit church presidents to make changes to ordinances and doctrines "in the absence of revelation" and that this is why they are so important(!)
·   Hyrum’s role as prophet to the Church and president are not acknowledged or honored
Prophets
·  A gift from God, known as having the spirit of prophecy, or as having "received the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 19:10)
·  Regarded as something all saints, male and female, should aspire to receive/become--that is, to receive the gift of prophecy. I.e., to receive "the testimony of Jesus" per D&C 76, which is the "spirit of prophecy"
·  Per Numbers 11, Moses desired that all his people would become prophets and prophetesses ("would that all men were prophets")
·   Regarded as an office, not a gift from God
·   Brigham Young: “I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me that I am.”  Journal of Discourses, 5:177
·   Presidents of the LDS Church have never claimed themselves to be prophets; it is always others that claim such

Infallibility
·  Considered fallible and "only a prophet when speaking as such"
·  Saints expected to confirm truth of his words by the power of the Holy Ghost
·  Joseph warned repeatedly against reliance on a prophet, including sermons on Ezekiel 14
·  Per Joseph, blind obedience to such is "worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme"
·   Brigham early on expressed great fear that saints would blindly follow leaders without confirming truth with God
·   Today: Considered effectively infallible
·   Began with Wilford Woodruff's 1898 unscriptural assertion in the manifesto press release: "God will not permit me to lead the church astray"
·   Statement resulted from President Woodruff being so criticized by members for the Manifesto (abandonment of what was taught to be required for exaltation) that he defended himself by claiming that the Lord wouldn't let him make a mistake on that order--said that the Lord just wouldn't let the church's president lead the saints astray
·   Any comments or opinions are deemed immediately (without question or heavenly confirmation) commandments of God, with no possibility of being
"commandments of men"
Status of the President of Church
·  An administrative and priestly office, a final arbitrator and judge, a presiding authority and a leader whose words were to be considered carefully
·  Elected by the body of the church, not appointed
·  Part of the First Presidency, which was equal in authority with the Traveling High Council (the Twelve), the Seventies, and Stake High Councils (D&C 107)
·  Never once selected co-presidents or counselors from the Traveling High Council (the Twelve) during Joseph's lifetime
·  Not regarded as better/higher, more worthy, more "exaltable", flawless, or deserving of accolades & adoration, God being no respecter of persons (LoF 3:17)
·  According to D&C 76, not to be adored, "followed", or worshipped--those who do so inherit a Telestial kingdom
·  According to 2 Nephi 28:31, such followers of men are cursed ("maketh flesh his arm")
·  Joseph actively discouraged and preached against the error of elevating any man above another, including and especially himself

·   No one but Joseph referred to as "the Prophet" until 1955
·   Since then church publications have aggrandized and encouraged adoration of the office of President of the Church, referring to the office holder as "the Prophet"
·   Marked beginning of Fourth-Phase Mormonism, where adoration of the President/Prophet & the Brethren is a central practice, to the point of perhaps being the only real remaining “Church doctrine”
·   Change in nomenclature done as a response to the immense unpopularity of Heber Grant administration; church members then found it much harder to disregard a "prophet of God" without risking damnation, resulting in dramatic change in perceptions ("criticism is apostasy") & dramatically reducing criticism
·   Today: "Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, Don't go astray!"
·   Declarations of the president now considered to be more important than scripture (not subject to scripture for validation of truth)
·   Definition of “prophet” now expanded to include all members of Quorum of the Twelve but thought not possible to include any lay members of the church
·   Now commonly referred to as our "Beloved Prophet", a term reserved by God only for use with his Only Begotten Son, in whom He is well pleased
Succession of President of church
·  Always done by vote
·  Not considered as needing to be the same as the “prophet to the church”, which was considered something that must be received from the Lord by revelation, then consented to by the church ("by common consent")
·  Hyrum was the designated successor to Joseph as prophet to and head of the church (D&C 124)
·  Had become church prophet and Patriarch
·  Was co-president and co-testator with his younger brother, Joseph
·  Brigham admitted Hyrum was to be the successor in the succession debates
·  But Hyrum fell first, as he and his younger brother died martyrs
·  Many in 1844, including Brigham and Sydney, assumed that Joseph III would succeed Joseph and that interim leadership would be temporary
·  (More in "Hyrum Smith, Part 2")
·   Today: Dictated by the articles of incorporation of the corporation sole "Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints": most senior member of quorum of twelve is entitled to take control immediately on the death of the previous president
·   Voting by the church and ordination are considered as mere outward formalities that take place after the fact
Aaronic Priesthood
·  Never fully laid out & explained by Joseph
·  A brotherhood or sisterhood that includes fellowship with angels
·  Conferred by authorized angels/servants ("true messengers"), as portrayed in the temple endowment, not by men
·  Ordination is only an invitation to connect with heaven, but is incomplete of itself
·   Definitions created by men and evolved over time
§  E.g., at first priesthood was believed not to be lost when leaving church, then was decided it is lost when leaving church
§  Although in practice, when a man is rebaptized today, he is not ordained again (i.e., his priesthood is considered "inactive" after having left the church, only needing to be switched back on when rejoining)
·   Now: Something you "hold" (like a sugar cookie) as opposed to something you are part of
§  Can be given by one man to another as directed by men who "hold" "keys"
§  Despite D&C 121, believed to be controlled by men, including making it "inactive" when a person is excommunicated
§  Line of authority concept is considered very important, since God & angels are not directly involved
Melchizedek Priesthood
·  Never fully laid out & explained by Joseph
·  A brotherhood or sisterhood that includes fellowship with angels and the person of Jesus Christ himself
·  Conferred by Christ himself and not man
·  Done by Christ Himself making an oath to the person after the recipient has been so thoroughly proven, that God “will not repent” and remove the authority given to the recipient
·  Not required for any church office, including elder, priest, teacher, or deacon. (D&C 20)
·  No line of authority needed; is between a man or woman and God himself
·  Ordination is only an invitation to connect with heaven, but is incomplete by itself
·   Because not laid out by Joseph, the definitions were created by men and evolved over time
·   E.g., priesthood not lost when leaving church, then lost when leaving church
·   Although when a man is rebaptized today, he is not ordained again
·   Now: Received when a young man gets approval by a local congregation and some quorum leader “confers” this priesthood
·   Something you "hold" (like a sugar cookie) as opposed to something you are part of
·   Can be given by one man to another as directed by men who "hold keys"
·   Can be controlled by men, including making it "inactive" when a person is excommunicated
·   Line of authority concept deemed very important
Fullness of the Priesthood, or Patriarchal Priesthood
·  Restored early, then lost
·  A brotherhood or sisterhood that includes fellowship with angels, the person of Jesus Christ himself, and God the Father himself
·  Jan 19, 1841:
·  D&C 124:28: For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood [When was this lost fulness restored? Where? To whom? How was it brought back? Any records, journals, scripture?]
·  v. 31-32: But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me. But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
·  v. 45: And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.
·   Later claimed as having persisted despite D&C 124, despite incompletion of Nauvoo temple, despite being driven from Nauvoo ("moved out of their place"), despite no record or evidence whatsoever of its subsequent restoration (no revelation, account, journal entries, etc.)
·   Believed by many to somehow be embodied in the temple ordinances
·   Believed by many to be lesser than the Melchizedek Priesthood
·   E.g., Boyd Packer recently taught in general conference that it is just a smaller part of the priesthood LDS adult men already have--pertains to being married
·   Sometimes explicitly stated that the church does not have it when quoting D&C 107:1
Priesthood Keys
·  Important knowledge required to save a person that is considered part of the mysteries (D&C 84:19)
·  Received and possessed by a person by virtue of God having given them and man having actually done something with it
·  Is the kind of knowledge used to "unlock" understanding ("mysteries") or other heavenly gifts
·  One of several things that those of the true priesthood (or order) declare, also including: their dispensation, rights, honors, majesty & glory, and power of their priesthood (D&C 128:21)
·   Some metaphysical, intangible thing that gives the possessor authorization to direct the actions of those below him in the church organization's male hierarchy (i.e., "authority over" others)
·   Considered to be delegated authority to act & decide in God's place: worthiness, eligibility for ordinances that exalt the person
·   Includes:
·   Ability to direct & control what others do in their assigned duties or church assignments ("callings")
·   Directing spending of sacred funds donated by church members
·   Ability to allow people into the church via baptism or forbid such
·   Ability to expel people from the church
·   Mirrors the Catholic tradition
·   Contradicts D&C 121 where such control is forbidden for those with priesthood
Priesthood Power
·  Authority that comes by virtue of true priesthood association/fellowship with the Powers of Heaven, the operation of the Holy Ghost through a person, and the precise alignment of one's own will with the will of Heaven
·  Can be forfeited instantly and very easily by offending or grieving the Powers of Heaven (per D&C 121:36-37)
·   Available to priesthood "holders" who have not committed sins classified as serious
·   Required to perform "ordinances" (sacred rites)
·   Gives the "holder" authority to direct others (contrary to D&C 121:41)
Priesthood Ordination
·  The giving of an authoritative invitation to become part of a heavenly priesthood order, typically by one who is already part of that order or fellowship
·  From the original meaning of "ordain": To appoint; to decree
·  (See Oliver's charge to the original Twelve in 1835)
·   Now: The act of "giving" a male the priesthood, done by one or more men laying hands on another and "conferring" the priesthood, then "ordaining" to an office "in" the priesthood
·   For a period of 20 years by the direction of President Grant, men were only "ordained" to the office in the church/priesthood and "conferral" of the priesthood was thought to be implicit
Powers of Heaven
·  Heavenly beings (angels), association with whom is an essential part of ascending back into the presence of the Son and then Father
·   Completely incidental to LDS theology
·   Levels are unknown and unrecognized
·   Any interaction with such is regarded as questionable and likely evidence of having been deceived
Temple rites
·  Apparently established in final days of Joseph's life in lieu of restoration of fullness of priesthood, as symbolic of the actual process involving angels, covenants, etc. in ascending back to the Father, having first conversed with the Lord through the veil, and then passing through it
·  Initiatory (washing & anointing) was much more involved: vigorous washing with cinnamon-flavored whiskey and anointing by pouring of large amounts of oil over heads
·   Modified immediately after Joseph & Hyrum's deaths with the blood oath to avenge them
·   Later modified many, many times by Brigham and others in the absence of revelation on the matter. Too many to list, however two recent examples:
·   In 1991, removed penalties, removed the only mortal player (a preacher), and changed the final sign. Also revised the lecture at the veil, removing the 5 points of fellowship. Done as a result of public polling of saints who were uncomfortable with parts of it.
·   In 2005, changed covenant making in endowment to be done in a seated position rather than standing
·   In 2005, changed initiatory to be “symbolically” performed, by removing touching of the body as part of initiatory. Also, began clothing of initiates with garment of the priesthood before washing & anointing, then doing so “symbolically” afterward.
Baptisms for the Dead
·  Consisted only of baptism for some specific dead:
·  Those personally known to the one doing the ordinance as someone who would have accepted the truth had they been permitted to tarry, and they could bear personal testimony of the character of the deceased
·  Those persons who left a record from which it could be judged they would have accepted the truth had they tarried
o The same standard as the first category, but the evaluation is based on their written record, rather than the personal knowledge
·  Those who, by revelation, are known to be willing to accept the truth had they tarried
·  Were only permitted to be performed outside the Nauvoo temple for a short time
·  If the Nauvoo temple was not completed in the allotted time, the saints would be "moved out of their place" (D&C 124:45) and "[their] baptisms for [their] dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God." (D&C 124:32)
·   Evolved into the modern practice of indiscriminate performance of ordinances for everyone deceased, even those who were known to have rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ outright or whose character was known to be ungodly
Temple garments
·  Temple garment created as a single piece of linen, from ankles to neck to wrists
·  Marks made during Initiatory by making cuts into the cloth ("cutting" a covenant, as "making a covenant" literally translates to in Hebrew)
·  Not worn 24x7
·  After crossing the river headed to Carthage where he would be martyred, Joseph directed that those who had received the rites in the red brick store destroy their garments
·   Altered for convenience of saints (as a result of their complaints of inconvenience), raising bottom to knees, splitting across the middle into two garments (not one; possibly unintentionally imitating the results of the second penalty), raising sleeves to shoulder, dropping neckline significantly, changing fabrics, and disallowing homemade garments
Commandments
·  Directions given by the Lord's own voice directly to a person
·  Not given as demands but by invitation & persuasion, easily ignorable
·  Directions given by the Lord through an authorized servant by revelation, particularly as received by Joseph as dispensation head or as recorded in scripture
·   Some of the commandments given by the Lord in former days (as deemed still desirable), and
·   Ever-growing list of outward rules, guidelines, and checklists introduced by church leaders from Brigham up to the present which must be abided by in order to have access to the power of God they are believed to control—“commandments of men”
·   Includes things like how many earrings are appropriate, what color dress shirts should be worn by young men, a required part in the hair of male missionaries, payment of "tithing" for temple entry, etc.
·   Hard to forget, because of how often they are repeated, checked, and measured
Obedience
·  Expected by God to His commandments only (see definition of "commandments" above)
·   Expected by the Brethren to their own commandments, traditions, and preferences, which are commonly taken to be the measure of a person's "sustaining the brethren" in their callings
·   Many formalized and distilled in the "Church Handbook of Instructions", a corporate policy manual
·   Often measured and tracked using business-like indicators and reports
·   Many such "commandments" & traditions are, by definition, specific to conservative US culture, regularly exhibiting Utah-specific quirks, such as veneration of pioneers and reenactment of the divine curses they greatly suffered under (“trek”)
Apostles
·  Ordained as directed by God through revelation
·  Charged by Oliver Cowdery in 1835 that their "ordination [was] not complete" until revived under hand of God himself
·  Charged with teaching & baptizing throughout the world
·   A church office, appointed by the President of the Church & perfunctorily approved by church vote of "common consent"
·   No longer charged with "completing one's ordination" by having God himself lay hands on the man (since Reed Smoot in 1900)
·   No longer any evidence of being chosen by revelation
·   Emphasis on managerial skills, worldly financial security, amount of tithing paid, & business acumen
·   Derived almost exclusively from the proud posterity of Nauvoo-era saints
Mysteries
·  Joseph encouraged saints to seek out the mysteries, including receiving angels (or "servants", as they are most often referred to in the scriptures)
·  Taught to heed Book of Mormon counsel & direction to seek out the mysteries.
·  1 Nephi 10:19: "For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round."
·   Actively discouraged and frowned upon
·   “I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences.” (Ensign, January, 1983)
Angels
·  Key part of the Plan of Redemption, who, as "servants", help prepare a person to receive the person of Jesus Christ (the Second Comforter).
·  Per the Book of Mormon, are received by those of a "firm mind". (Moroni 7:30)
·  Key part of path to Christ & salvation, as demonstrated in the lives of Saul, Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John.
·   Any such accounts looked on with high suspicion of having been deceived (a reaction I directly observed in the mission field)
·   Hugh Nibley's description of his grandfather, a member of the First Presidency, who said that if he ever saw an angel he would "jump out the window."
Miracles
·  Speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, even raising from the dead were not uncommon
·  Were the primary motivation for many joining the church (not the First Vision account or the Book of Mormon)
·   Almost unheard of today and rarely discussed when they do happen
·   An uncomfortable topic when they rarely do occur
·   Members prefer they happen at a distance--in time or space--or not at all
·   In fulfillment of 2 Nephi 28: 5-6
Prophesying
·  A gift from God ("prophet")
·  Something accepted as normal and encouraged
·  A gift highly sought after
·   Now: No prophecy ever given by the Brethren
·   First Presidency and Twelve are sustained & voted to be "prophets", despite no evidence of such a gift
·   Frowned upon by members of the Church and considered problematic
·   Alternative reliance on scholars and scholarly approaches to finding "wisdom"
Seership
·  A gift from God ("seer") that is greater than prophecy
·  Possession & use of seer stones by Joseph
·  Also possessed and used by some other members
·   Now: First Presidency and Twelve are sustained & voted to be "seers", despite no evidence of such a gift
·   Seer stones still possessed and used by some into early Utah era (e.g., locating a stolen cow, etc.)
·   No longer claimed to be used for "seeing"/scrying
Revelations
·  A gift from God ("revelator")
·  Joseph produced many revelations, given as spoken by God in the first person
·   Now: No revelations given by the Brethren
·   First Presidency and Twelve are sustained & voted to be "revelators", despite no evidence of such a gift
·   Policy changes often spoken of in private as "revelations" or received via a "revelatory process"
·   1978 granting of priesthood to Blacks
·   Proclamation on the Family (Boyd Packer referred to it as revelation in general conference only to have the written transcript changed to remove the designation later)
·   2012 change in age for missionary service
Translation of ancient records
·  A gift from God ("translator")
·  Done regularly by Joseph: Book of Mormon, New & Old Testaments, Book of Abraham
·   No additional translation of any ancient records, even when requested & given opportunity
Ordinances
·  Considered to be unchangeable from what was given through Joseph
·  Part of the covenant from God that must be remembered and not broken
·   Deemed changeable as desired and "in the absence of revelation" by the Brethren, with neither explanation required nor vote from the body of the church needed
Sacrament
·  Wine used, although "it mattereth not" was permitted
·  An apostle or elder blessed, administered, and "passed" it, per the pattern in D&C 20:38,40,46,50 and 3 Nephi 18:3-9, with the oldest priest covering only if an apostle or elder were absent
·  Person offering prayer knelt and prayed with uplifted hands
·  Congregation knelt while prayer offered
·  Generous portions of bread & wine used ("until filled"), as in a meal
·  Single cup used for the wine
·   Wine continued to be used through the late 1800's
·   Church established wineries in Southern Utah that served congregations in Idaho, Utah, and Arizona
·   Now: Water used
·   Wording of both ordinance's prayers changed: “hath” instead of “had” in the first, and “water” instead of "wine" in the second
·   Administered ("passed") by teachers and deacons, who are forbidden from participating in D&C 20:58
·   Person praying is only person kneeling, usually with hands clasped low or arms folded
·   Congregation does not kneel
·   Tiny pieces of bread used to optimize distribution for large congregations
·   Many small, disposable plastic cups used for water
Common Consent
·  Voting in both the affirmative and negative for church offices was normal an acceptable, often even involving friendly discussion about it before a vote was taken
·  Was no concept of a "retro-active" vote to sustain "ordaining" of someone to a church office
·   Voting in meetings to "sustain" people in church offices is, in practice, purely a formality: members are strongly expected to vote in the affirmative
·   Negative votes are almost completely unheard of
·   Normal procedure for negative votes purportedly is to ignore it and then have a "leader" confront the negative voter in private after the meeting to determine if there is some reason that they can deem valid for the person's objection
·   Negative votes commonly result in punishment, such as removal of temple recommends, etc.
·   Social morays in this area are very strong, where objecting to a proposed officer would be perceived as "not sustaining" one's leaders
·   "Priesthood" ordination is regularly done in advance of a vote by the church
·   As of October 2014, sustaining is now expected to be taken as "an oath-like indication" of fealty to the president of the Church
Meetinghouses
·  No meetinghouses built or used for meetings, except for Kirtland temple
·  Meetings held in the homes of the people or outdoors
·  Nauvoo's "bowery" was according to the original definition of the word ("a shady place; a natural shady or leafy shelter in a wood or garden"), not the later definition as used in Utah settlements. (the first structure put up in a new community in order to have a temporary place for worship and other kinds of meetings, including school, until permanent facilities could be built)  See here for more details.
·   Built everywhere, often extremely luxurious, ornate, and expensive, in fulfillment of 2 Nephi 28:13
·   Build according to protestant standards, including elaborate & impressive sounding pipe organs, elevated seats for "leaders", crosses (at least in 19th century LDS churches), etc.
Church Meetings
·  No formal structure to meetings, but conducted by "the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost … whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing" "according to the commandments and revelations of God" (Moroni 6:9)
·  Informal, smaller gatherings where the sacrament was partaken of (most often, during the week)
·  Not structured in advance
·  Preaching done from the scriptures, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost
·   Highly structured, business-like meetings, identical in form from one week to the next. Include formal agendas, printed and distributed to attendees
·   Church officers presiding are always seated on an elevated stand in specific seats of honor and acknowledged as such
·   Speakers stand at an elevated stand having a microphone that loudly projects his or her voice to attendees, commonly with two spotlights trained on the pulpit to provide added luster, stage presence, and overall effect
·   Conducted according to strict structure and list of rules, as dictated by the “Church Handbook of Instructions”
·   Topics, order, who is involved, and music are all carefully determined in advance by the deliberation of the ward bishopric (sometimes delegated entirely to a single person)
·   Formalization of each program is normally put into printed form so the arriving congregation knows exactly what will happen in advance
·   Preaching often done by reading or summarizing as a basis, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s portrayal (Isaiah 29:13)
Sabbath Observance
·  Weekday activities set aside to allow the person to wholly focus on the Lord
·  No checklists used and no required Sunday meeting attendance
·   Expected attendance at block meetings in order to be considered "active"; "inactive" members are considered in spiritual peril
·   Professional business attire for men (suit, tie, leather shoes) and fancy dress (jewelry, shoes) for women is expected as necessary in order to properly worship and reverence God
·   "Reverence" is preeminent in meetings, which is used to mean: silence and obedience to superiors, particularly among children, where it is commonly enforced or coerced through use of candies
·   Extremely rigid schedule and elements in meetings, with often quite repetitive wording and business-like agendas 
Calling
·  A person's work to perform, as revealed by God Himself to the person
·   An assignment in the church, whether scriptural or not, to be performed according to Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI) rules & procedures and as directed by those holding "keys"
·   Repeatedly taught to be something to accept without question to show proper deference to and “faith” in leaders
·   Formerly referred to as a "office", though "office" now refers to a male's "place within the priesthood"
Tithing
·  Established by the Lord (D&C 119) after the saints failed to live the United Order
·  Those joining the church gave one tenth of all their possessions at the time they joined (paid in kind)
·  Then gave one tenth of their surplus, or profit, at the end of each year thereafter (paid in kind)
·  I.e., after obligations & necessities had been taken care of
·   Members are taught to pay one tenth of their gross income
·   I.e., before taxes and anything else
·   "Do you want gross blessings or net blessings?"
·   Members taught to do so even if it means not having enough to buy food for their families
·   "Full tithe" payment is a requirement for entry into the temple, which members believe is the only place they can access essential "saving" ordinances that give them access to the highest blessings of God
Word of Wisdom
·  Explicitly stated by the Lord not to be "by commandment or by constraint"
·  As given to Joseph in D&C 89, actually allows for beer (v. 17) and wine (v. 5), among other things
·  Hot drinks being understood to mean either very hot in temperature, or the same as "strong drinks": distilled alcoholic drinks like whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.
·  Joseph having regularly enjoyed wine (as the night before his murder) and beer (see original, unredacted DHC, June 1, 1844 entry)
·   Is a requirement (a "constraint") for baptism or entry to the temple
·   Is now interpreted as meaning all alcohol in any amount is forbidden (began in 1920's, during Prohibition)
·   "Hot drinks" now changed to mean coffee and tea and, commonly, anything having caffeine
·   Meat is no longer considered something that need be used "sparingly", the saints commonly participating in "meat-loving" American culture, despite Lorenzo Snow teaching this as the most critical part
Polygamy
·  Something Joseph Smith very actively, very vocally, and publicly decried and fought against in Nauvoo
·  Had multiple people brought before the Nauvoo high council to be tried for attempting to practice & teach polygamy
·  In the 1835 D&C, voted to be considered scripture by the church, it included a since-removed section 101 declaring polygamy to be a whoredom
·  The Book of Mormon equating polygamy to a whoredom
·  Joseph’s journal entries noting his public preaching against polygamy later doctored & rewritten to portray him preaching in favor of it, as now revealed in JS Papers
·  Joseph’s private practice of sealing women and men to himself later being altered in the historical record to suggest marriage, though DNA testing now confirms that no lines of offspring from sexual relations resulted 
·   Practiced broadly & publicly in latter-half of 1800's starting with Brigham Young
·   Considered an absolute requirement for exaltation
·   Practiced with goal of producing children (though Brigham only had 51 with his 55 wives)
·   Begun in the absence of revelation "to the Lord's people"
·   Included practice of Brigham Young openly taking still-married women from their husbands, sealing them to himself, and then fathering children by them
·   Discontinued at turn of century as a direct result of governmental pressure and without any recorded revelation
·   Then considered an excommunicable offense
·   Still believed & taught by modern Mormons to be a true principle
Temple Sealings
·  Only performed by the Prophet Joseph, though not in a temple
·  Promise of eternal union based on conditions
·  Must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, which was in Joseph (but not controlled by men)
·  Performed after a couple had been married for some time
·   Performed by any "sealer" whom the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve have delegated "keys" to (are "authorized")
·   Regarded by most church members as automatically guaranteeing eternal union
·   Was "families can be together forever", now is "families are forever"
·   Considered shameful or disgraceful when a sealing does not happen at the same time as a couple's wedding
Sealing Power
·  A gift from God only entrusted to his most loyal children (Helaman 10:5-10; D&C 132:47), allowing the person, in precise accordance with God's will, both to bind on earth and in heaven
·  Given only directly by the mouth of the Lord himself to the person, pronounced in the presence of the angelic hosts of heaven
·   A power handed from one man down to another, effectively fully delegated to men on earth to manage & control (per 2 Nephi 28:5)
·   Believed to be governed, directed, and controlled by the President of the Church
·   Once believed to only be useable by the President of the Church, now believed to be "delegatable" two levels: to the twelve and from them again to "sealers" in temples, but such that it cannot be given again to others without permission from the President of the Church
Sealing
·  A sacred rite where a person is "sealed" to a Father, such as our dispensation head (Joseph) by that person, having received the sealing power from the mouth of God himself in the presence of the angelic hosts of heaven
·  Apparently permits the "sealer" to "bring" those sealed to him with him on the fiery ascent back through the heavens to where God dwells
·  Also related to bringing the "children" back into a covenantal relationship with "the Fathers", such that they can be redeemed by virtue of the relationship with a "vassal king"
·  Not used to link a person to his/her unsaved dead ancestors, who are not in heaven but remain unexalted in the Spirit World instead
·   Once in Utah, the practice until the late 1800's was to "seal" people to the dispensation head (known as "Law of Adoption"), Joseph, not to each other or genealogical lines
·   Now: a rite used to "seal" or link a person to his/her spouse, children, or dead, unsaved ancestors in the Spirit World, performed by one holding delegated, corporate-directed LDS sealing power (see above), only available to persons conforming to modern Mormon evolved definitions of tithing and the Word of Wisdom
Marriage
·  Always performed in public according to direction in section 101 of the 1835 edition of the D&C (removed sinc)
·  Considered a "sacrament", thus marriage feasts included consumption of alcoholic wine (as in John 2 and D&C 89:5)
·   Removed section 101 in 1835 edition from D&C when plural marriage began being publicly practiced in Utah to allow for privacy of plural marriages from suspected government spies
·   Now: Normally takes place in private within temples where only adults deemed "worthy" are permitted
·   All members taught from childhood they should settle for nothing less and allow no one "unworthy" to do so
Black/Negro Race
·  Not taught to be regarded as any different than any other "race" of man, Joseph Smith having campaigned for the liberation of black slaves by payment of “owners”, which would have prevented the American civil war
·  Black males ordained to priesthood, like Elijah Abel
·   Deemed & taught, starting with Brigham Young, as descendants of Cain and unable, therefore, to obtain priesthood in this life, having been unvaliant in the life heretofore
·   Decided in the absence of any recorded revelation
·   Both male AND female blacks denied all temple ordinances deemed essential to eternal life, not permitting initiatory, endowments, or eternal marriage

Prayer Circle / True Order of Prayer
·  Practiced in both homes and in temples
·  Was expectation of divine manifestations when practiced
·   Long taught to patrons in temples, so the instructions could be followed privately in homes, in ward and stake leadership meetings (meetinghouses not uncommonly having had altars in special rooms for this purpose), etc.
·   Banned from practice in homes & meetinghouses in 1978 by Spencer Kimball, thereafter only temple ordinance workers being permitted to perform it within temples
·   Unclear why temple goers are still instructed in how to do so at all since it is not a permitted practice
The Remnant / Lamanites
·  A group of descendants of Lehi desperately sought in order to preach to them the "fulness of the gospel"
·  First people missionaries were directed to find
·  Search continued despite US government's attempts to block, clear up until Joseph & Hyrum's deaths
·  Expected to be found in the "Rocky Mountains"
·  Regarded as the group that will build the earthly New Jerusalem, allowing for the heavenly City of Enoch to return as part of the Second Coming (3 Nephi 21:22-24)
·  Expected to be "assisted" by "a few" Gentiles that repent
·   An interesting historical footnote no longer relevant to the progress of "the kingdom of God"
The United States
·  A Gentile nation destined for destruction prior to the Second Coming (D&C 87:6, Isaiah 19), having fallen away from its God-directed beginnings
·   The Lord's nation, which will serve as a vehicle to save other nations
·   Its existence will "hang by a thread" only to be rescued by the Church and proceed to some glorious, nebulous role in ushering in the millennium
Church Discipline
·  Always locally conducted
·  Only available penalty was excommunication (removal from the congregation)
·  Conducted according to strict guidelines given in the revelations of D&C (D&C 20:80, 42) and the Book of Mormon (Alma 42:15-22), including requiring:
·  Offended parties to first approach the offender and attempt to be reconciled before bringing the matter before church authorities
·  Multiple witnesses of known integrity to bring forth the accusation of the unrepented offense
·  Restrictions on the origin of information that may be used for any trial
·  Use of Elder's Courts in advance of high council hearings
·  Defenders of the accused in every case, but not a requirement for prosecutors
·  Multiple levels of appeals and rehearings to address the possibility of biased or erroneous judgment
·  Measures preventing judges from rendering verdicts without majority agreement from a high council
·  Measures preventing an accuser from sitting in judgment against the accused
·  The accused and their defenders to always be granted the last word, so any true words of defense of the innocent will ring out over the words of accusation
·  Involving the congregation with excommunication (vote of agreement, public rebuke before them, etc.) 
·   Now:
·   Conducted according to continually changing, often vague guidelines in the secret corporate guidebook (CHI Vol. 1)
·   Can result in varying levels of penalties including informal probation, formal probation, "disfellowshipment", and excommunication
·   Uses different public vs. private definitions for apostasy
·   Great latitude taken by stake presidents regarding following even the CHI instructions
·   Normally initiated by a leader after a private confession of a member, thought to be part of reconciling oneself with God (no other witnesses as accusers)
·   Commonly initiated or conducted by local leaders as directed by general authorities, including coming to conclusions as directed
·   Commonly put the stake president in the role of plaintiff/accuser, detective, prosecution, defense, witness, jury, and judge, compromising any possibility of fairness by eliminating all checks and balances
·   Regularly excommunicate for purported apostasy without telling the accused what he or she has allegedly incorrectly taught
·   Vote taken by the high council has no bearing on the decision but is merely symbolic and seen as a demonstration of loyalty to the stake president's decision
·   Elder's Courts are completely unknown
·   Proceedings of councils resulting in excommunication are kept secret, allowing non-participants always to suppose that "there must be more to the story" whenever a claim is made of unjust accusation or judgment
Zion
·  A Terrestrial society of those able to withstand the presence of Christ himself (having already individually received the Second Comforter)
·  Do not suffer to have any poor among them
·  Are of "one heart & one mind", as a result of "possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit" (LoF 5:2)
·  Also referred to as the "f of God on the Earth", required to be in place in order for the "Kingdom of Heaven" to return (D&C 65:6)
·  As a city, to be established in the "tops of the mountains", not in a valley
·  Believed to be destined for the Rocky Mountains
·  To be primarily Lamanites with some repentant Gentiles (3 Nephi 21:22-24)
·   Now: A synonym for the church as a whole, where "all is well!"
·   Historically (per Brigham and successors), Utah
·   Also, historically, the Lord's Bank
·   Somehow different than the New Jerusalem  (despite the 10th Article of Faith)
Kingdom of God
·  According to Christ:
·  Is not of this world--not an earthly, Telestial kingdom (John 18:36)
·  Cannot be observed by mortal man (Luke 17:20)
·  Is within you (Luke 17:21)
·  Must be "set up on earth" in order for the Lord and "Zion above" to descend (D&C 65:5)
·  Is intended to be a kingdom of kingdoms, with a King of kings and Lord of lords, as hinted at in the LDS Endowment
o Men and women are intended to rise up, enter into God's presence, and made "kings and queens, priests and priestesses" to Him
o Just as Joseph and Emma were made a king and queen in the presence of the Council of 50, after Joseph turned the church over to Hyrum to be its president, Hyrum having replaced Joseph as the church's head (D&C 124
·   
·   Evolving meaning:
·   The Council of 50 (referred to in shorthand as "the kingdom")
·   In the 19th century, an earthly, political kingdom, under the presidency/reign/governorship of Brigham Young and those governed by him
o Brigham having had himself made an earthly king by the Council of 50
·   In the 20th century, the LDS Church
Role of Women
·  Considered by the Lord to be very important
·  As evidenced by women being the first to receive the Second Comforter and the twelve being chastised for not believing their report
·  Considered to be destined to become part of a matriarchal priesthood as part of her ascent
·  Prophetesses regarded as normal and expected anciently (Miriam, Elizabeth, Anna) and in modern times (Eliza Snow)
Commonly laid hands on other women and children to heal by their faith in the Lord
·   Now: May hold certain positions in the church, and do as directed by priesthood superiors
·   Relief Society no longer has autonomy organizationally and financially
·   Not even permitted to hold church offices not believed to "require priesthood", such as Sunday school presidencies
Personal Testimony
·  An inner spiritual witness of truth received from God by the Holy Ghost
·  Results from earnestly seeking truth
·  Requires asking, seeking, knocking
·  Given on the Lord's time, not man's
·   A conviction to be gained by repetitively stating something is true before audiences, thereby conditioning the mind to accept and believe whatever is presented is, in actuality, true
·   This technique used particularly with those preparing to serve proselytizing missions for the Church who may harbor doubts or who may lack what they feel is sufficient knowledge of what they will be daily claiming to others is true
·   Sometimes alternately taught that it comes from reading the scriptures and other literature and then praying to God about it
Repentance, Confession, & Forgiveness
·  Repentance is simply turning away from the sin & confessing to God (D&C 58:43)
·  Confession to God is required, directly and in private, for all sins, then, when asked for forgiveness, He forgives almost all sins immediately (D&C 64:3-7)
·  If applicable, confession is further required only to the "offended party" (person), in private, who has been offended, hurt, or damaged by our sins (D&C 42:88,92)
·  Public confession required, if public sin (e.g., Alma, Jr.)
·  Not forgiving confessed sins brings condemnation to the offended party (D&C 42:88; D&C 64:8-11; D&C 98:39-40; D&C 82:1)
·  Only when a sinner refuses to repent, offering no confession of guilt to the party offended, are the ecclesiastical authorities to be informed of the sin
·  Considered innocent until proven guilty
·  Requires testimonies of 2 or more bona fide witnesses, having personal knowledge of the unrepented sins in question, 2 of which must be trustworthy LDS
·  Must know sin is not confessed & not forsaken
·  Confession of repented sins to ecclesiastical leaders unscriptural and therefore was not practiced
·   Repentance is a multi-step "process" that takes some time
·   Confession is expected to a ward's bishop for sexual sins, lapses with the Word of Wisdom, serious crimes, and abortion, whether the person has confessed them to the Lord or not
·   Believed that the Lord cannot forgive a person of these unless and until they are first confessed to a bishop
·   The bishop determines what the person must do to "sufficiently" repent and when he or she can be forgiven and is thus believed to be able to control who can receive forgiveness from the Lord
·   Sometimes teach there is a distinction between the Lord forgiving a person and "the Church" doing so