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Is The LDS Church the Only True Church? Understanding Religion and Truth.

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I hope in this article to try to share some things that have helped me figure out how my religion fits with all the other religions in the world (pluralism); thoughts which have helped to break down barriers that inhibited my abilities to accept, love and learn from aspects of humanity not sharing my faith. Ideas that made me afraid of learning and seeking for truth. In a way I am trying to stand between believers and unbelievers and help them see eye to eye. As an active member of the LDS Church, I hope that by reading and thinking about this article, other active members will also be able to break down barriers that might inhibiting their love of others, as well as gaining a different perspective which may better allow you to learn about conflicting or “anti-Mormon” ideas or literature and still keep your testimony and fellowship. For those who have left the church I hope it might give you the verbiage and understanding necessary to rebuild damaged relationships or build new ones with LDS people & their beliefs. I hope it serves as an authentic apology for our pride and often unChrist-like behaviors or as helpful verbiage to help LDS acquaintances identify possibly selfish aspects of their worldview. I hope that if you are a truth seeker the ideas I perhaps poorly try to explain will help you as they’ve helped me.

 

Personal Introduction

As a preamble I’d like to share an experience that changed my perceptions on truth. On my LDS mission I met a christian man who was strangely inquisitive, kind, polite and had love for me in his eyes with everything he said. After talking to him for only a short time it was obvious by his questions and love that he knew Christ more than me, even though he wasn’t interested in converting to my religion. That stood as a stark contrast to most of the religious and unreligious people I talked to. As an ignorant 19 year old, I could still tell by the poor way most people treated me that they obviously cared more about themselves than me or my truth. Most weren’t very interested in knowing me or in listening to what I had to say. Many of them believed they already had the “truth”, and that what I had was false. In that missionary environment of trying to convince others of my truth, it didn’t take me too long to begin to search myself for hypocrisy. Was I more like that loving inquisitive man or like most others who did not want to talk to me, caring more about their truth than knowing about my truth? What really was truth? How could I know that what I had was better than what they had if I did not really understand what they had? From that time I resolved to be like that kind man and seek and accept truth regardless of its source or my preconceived biases. This was a surprisingly scary endeavor and required more bravery and honesty than one might suppose—because at that time I still saw religious truth in black and white terms, I thought it meant that if I found out that my church “wasn’t true” I would have to leave my mission and likely be ostracized to some degree when I came home to Utah. Really confronting that possibility was difficult, but I really wanted to show myself that I was willing to do what I was asking many others to do—what I think few cultural Mormons or mainstream religious “believers” would do—search out and give up our own pride for “truth”.

From that early point in my mission I began to hungrily eat up all the information on religion I could find. I quickly read ALL the LDS scriptures (including the entire Old Testament in less than a month). I read any anti-Mormon information I could get my hands on (which wasn’t hard to find in the evangelically populated areas of southern California). I read a great deal of classic Mormon scriptural commentary and apologetic material. As a young teen I had a very profound metaphysical experience when I first read the Book of Mormon (which I finished in less than a week). My “testimony” had always been based on that extraordinary classic “burning heart” experience which I had several times while I read it; however I met numerous people on my mission who had very similar spiritual experiences which formed the basis on their belief in their differing religions. That knowledge always unsettled me a bit. But I pressed on learning, determined to find truth regardless of its source or packaging.

Continuing my search for truth after my mission, over the last 15 years I’ve read or delved deeply into many of the world’s most popular religious works; such as the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, The Avesta, The Vedas, The Apocrypha, Baha’i Scripture, The Zohar, The Kolbrin, and a wealth of new age and channeled material such as Oahspe, Emanuel Swedenborg, J.S. Ward, The Urantia Bible, The Theosophical movement, The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Seth Material and The Law of One. And perhaps most interestingly, I’ve read through hundreds and hundreds of Near Death Experiences. Through all of this I would have to say my “testimony” of the LDS Gospel has been seriously challenged. In fact I could honestly say it has repeatedly been shattered–but in a good way which forced me to rebuild it with increased understanding, faith and love (For my own LDS Faith and all others). I’ve learned over this period that in my youth, my circle of Mormon culture taught me a very limited and childish understanding of both testimony and truth. We hear these words repeated and passed around so much in Mormonism that I think few ever even stop to think what they mean. We say things like “I have a testimony that the Church is true”; but what does that even mean? Imagine someone saying “I have a testimony that my school is the true school or their country is the true country”. Wouldn’t your response be something like “what do you mean?”… “that really doesn’t make any sense, and seems a bit prideful.” Or if they said “I have a testimony that Thomas Jefferson was a true president”, wouldn’t you think it was kind of a confused thing to say? And yet through repetition we LDS members teach our children these couplets and get them to recite them in church even though they kind of distort the meaning of the word or concept of truth.

 

What is truth?

The idea of whether a church, an individual or an organization is “true” is a convoluted one. Truth as an absolute, is essentially a complete knowledge of things as they really ARE from all possible perspectives. Its not the purpose of this article to go into too much detail on philosophical definitions on truth, but hopefully all readers can agree that the above secular definition agrees with the LDS definition of truth given in D&C 93:24, and that given this definition it is impossible for any mortal or organization to really be “true” in the full sense of the word because every human has only their own unique limited and biased perspective. When most religions try and claim to be the “true one”, they are actually saying “our views on eternity and our interpretation of ancient scripture is the only one that is right“. But at best, each religion in this world obviously teaches but shadows of the greater unseen spiritual realities of the heavens. I would ask Mormons, what do we mean by our truth claims anyway? Really ask yourself that and you will see how arrogant and misleading these types of statements actually are. Perhaps we should more rightly say that we believe that the church is true in the sense that it is legitimately authorized. And that “only God is true” or knows all truth or knows the real truth of a matter since we suppose he is the only being who can be conscious of all things from every possible perspective, fully understanding all the details and contradictions. To most non-Mormons and youth, calling oneself “the only true church” is actually paramount to making that church and its hierarchy into a God. As Mormons we believe that Joseph Smith had many amazing supernatural experiences and that through him, God restored a great amount of truth which had been lost to mainstream Christianity. We also believe He gave our Church a great restorative work to do and that He restored certain priesthoods and authorities to aid in that work. But misinterpreting D&C 1:30 to suggest that we are the “only true church” suggests many things to the world and our youth which actually go against our goal of proving to the world that the heavens are still open and that Higher Beings speak truth individually to mankind through his Spirit as well as collectively through 19th century farm boys and assorted modern prophets.

I believe the cultural idea and practice of claiming to be the “only true church” has created an environment where our members are actually more closed to God’s truths (which instead of coming through accepted cultural Mormon channels, might come through science or other religious leaders) than the average person in the world in general. In a religion founded on the principles of religious pluralism and continuing revelation this should not be. In the following pages I will attempt to show through LDS scripture the sources and error of this doctrine. And make a case for the idea that if one really wants to know truth, one needs to gain as many perspectives on a thing as possible. Which requires loving and empathizing with others enough to see things the way they do. And that as we go through this process of loving others and adding their perspective to our own we get closer to the ever illusive real all-truth which is only known by God (more on the definition of “god” later).

 

The Key to Truth: The Proverbs of the Elephant & Mountain

There is a sage Hindu proverb about six blind men and an elephant who each feel different parts of the same animal but each have completely different ideas about what they are experiencing because of their limited perspectives. One thinks it’s a rope, another a pillar, the other a fan, etc, but all are wrong because they can’t see the whole picture. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve shares a similar parable which Jesus supposedly gave to Thomas and his Twelve Apostles in order to illustrate this concept about truth. I think it’s one of the most profound Christian discourses on truth I have read….

2. And as they were speaking Jesus appeared in their midst and said, Truth, one and absolute, is in God alone, for no man, neither any body of men, knoweth that which God alone knoweth, who is the All in All. To men is Truth revealed, according to their capacity to understand and receive.
3. The One Truth hath many sides, and one seeth one side only, another seeth another, and some see more than others, according as it is given to them.
4. Behold this crystal: how the one light is manifest in twelve faces, yea four times twelve, and each face reflecteth one ray of light, and one regardeth one face, and another another, but it is the one crystal and the one light that shineth in all.
5. Behold again, When one climbeth a mountain and attaining one height, he saith, This is the top of the mountain, let us reach it, and when they have reached that height, lo, they see another beyond it until they come to that height from which no other height is to be seen, if so be they can attain it.
6. So it is with Truth. I am the Truth and the Way and the Life, and have given to you the Truth I have received from above. And that which is seen and received by one, is not seen and received by another. That which appeareth true to some, seemeth not true to others. They who are in the valley see not as they who are on the hill top.
7. But to each, it is the Truth as the one mind seeth it, and for that time, till a higher Truth shall be revealed unto the same: and to the soul which receiveth higher light, shall be given more light. Wherefore condemn not others, that ye be not condemned.
8. As ye keep the holy Law of Love, which I have given unto you, so shall the Truth be revealed more and more unto you, and the Spirit of Truth which cometh from above shall guide you, albeit through many wanderings, into all Truth, even as the fiery cloud guided the children of Israel through the wilderness.
9. Be faithful to the light ye have, till a higher light is given to you. Seek more light, and ye shall have abundantly; rest not, till ye find.
10. God giveth you all Truth, as a ladder with many steps, for the salvation and perfection of the soul, and the truth which seemeth today, ye will abandon for the higher truth of the morrow. Press ye unto Perfection.

Full truth is a view of the whole mountain from every angle, which can only be seen looking down from the highest peak (which is infinite and impossible for mortals to reach). It is to see all of eternal creation as it really is. Thus for man truth is a process as much as a destination, and the only way to head toward it is love. Because love is the unifying principle, and truth is a journey to perfect unity of perspective or at-one-ness with all sentient life in the universe. The same is true for perfection and righteousness, they are journeys heading toward unity and wholeness, which is accomplished through harmony and balance.

I believe we must traverse the lower foothills in order to progress toward higher perspectives. The lower foothills are full of moral and ideological absolutism because they are not yet aware other paths exist, nor are they really even aware of their own real goal. But the higher we climb, the more we see the higher peaks, and that we are only on a foothill, and that there are other foothills, and that there are other people on those foothills headed toward the same goal.

The pride of imperfect men and organizations are always trying to turn complex concepts into black and white, true or false dogmas. I think in Mormonism we too often get stuck into that narrow mindset instead of following a more pluralistic approach such as exemplified in this quote from LDS president Gordon B Hinckley,

 “We do not debate. We, in effect, simply say to others, ‘Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it”.

Full Truth is a composite of all knowledge. Religion is a “schoolmaster” designed to help us gain the mind of god.

Another Story

When I was younger, I put Joseph Smith way up on a pedestal and interpreted scripture and history through what I felt was the true worldview which he restored. I saw only one narrow interpretation of his experience which was that the Most-High God of the infinite universe appeared to Joseph in person, because of his worthiness/forordination, and started His One and Only True Church on earth through him. That this Most High God picked Earth of all the gazillions of planets in the infinite universe to bare His ONLY True Son in the flesh, and this royal heir to the throne started His ONLY true church with the keys to eternal exaltation. That essentially every thought, action and aspect of human existence was ruled by the devil except for the things the Bible, Joseph or my Church leaders sanctioned. I was taught to attribute every personal spiritual experience or powerful emotional reaction to truth, as proof that this worldview was the true one.

But the older I get and the more I look outside myself, experiencing God, studying history, scripture and human experience — the more the rigid aspects of this definitive worldview break down. Why earth? Why Israel? Why Joseph? Why a church hierarchy? What about China? Who’s this Buddha guy? Why was Joseph so good and Warren Jeffs Bad? Why was Moses & Joshua true but Mohammed false? Why is the Bible/Book of Mormon the true word of God but the Bhagavad Gita, Rigveda or Oahspe not? Just like the Book of Mormon I have strong spiritual feelings when I read them. But I also have strong spiritual feelings when I hold my children or kiss my wife–does this mean they are the only truth? Just like Joseph I am a thinker and have continually asked God for wisdom; but much like Buddha or Mohammed my visions from God have been uniquely different than Joseph’s (although with many commonalities as well).

To further illustrate the point of pluralism, I recently talked to an LDS youth who had an experience seeing a “being of light” (as he described it). He told me about how in an altered state of consciousness induced by fasting, this being had appeared to him and told him to start his own church. I have talked to others who have seen visions and light beings as well. I have had my own wild metaphysical experiences. I have read the experiences of scores of others. Some resonated with me (ie. I felt the Spirit) and some did not. But the more I explore these the more I see that whether or not I “feel the Spirit” in someone elses experience has more to do with my own worldview and biases than anything else.

I think that this is a really important point and a major key to pluralistic understanding, empathy and love. The world of truth is not black and white. We are all running about this huge mountain trying to figure out what it is. Trying to decide what our own as well as others’ experiences and perspectives mean.When one runs into a differing perspective, the question is not whether it is true or false but what are you going to do with it? Will you use it to unify or divide? To help people climb up the mountain or to hold them down? My goal in this article is to unify, and to show LDS people ways which some of our prideful traditions or scriptural interpretations might be polarizing people into division and unbelief. How some of our reactions to other perspectives might force people further and further out of the Church. As an example, I offer this pretty typical reaction of an (LDS?) mother’s reacting to her son when he tells her he’s decided to be an atheist. (warning: profanity alert!)

Now there’s probably more to this particular family issue than shown in the video, but in general why is it that there is so often negative emotional reactions to others who have different religious viewpoints? Why the anger? I believe it usually boils down to power struggles and the concept that most people would rather be right than learn truth; and not understanding that truth is seeing how everyone’s perspective fits into the big picture. Going back to our mountain analogy, if you’ve put a lot of energy hiking up a mountain and someone comes and tells you about their different awesome mountain, it might make you fear that maybe you’ve been hiking the wrong mountain which might piss you off if it threatens your feelings of life-purpose and value. But if you understand that life & truth is a process of exploring every mountain (and finding how they’re connected) and not just a race to reach the top then you can instead listen to the differing perception and see its beauty, instead of being threatened because you were so sure your little hillock was the highest peak and that you had “arrived” at truth. Giving up our pride allows us to love everyone, and see how everyone’s religious or personal viewpoints fit into one big beautiful picture. It is important to realize that “Christ” came to His people, to be rejected of them in order to teach us this very lesson. The fact that Christ is and would be rejected by the mainstream of every religion that thinks they already have the truth is very important to our journey of growing in truth.

 

You have to lose your testimony to truly gain it

At some point in the maturing process everyone has to stop relying on the “testimony” of their parents and find their own light. There is often a similar process wherein we transcend the testimony of our church leaders and find God & truth for ourselves. I believe a major key in this process is remembering the parable of the mountain; we approach the ultimate truth by seeing EVERYONE’S perspective (including those in heavenly realms) and finding how it fits into the big picture. So there is no need to fear information because even “false” information is a part of the truth. The key is releasing our desire to be “right”, to define your truth as the only truth. By assuming your truth is the highest truth you assure that you would have been one who rejected Christ, because he came for the express purpose of testing whether we loved others enough to learn truth even if it conflicted with our deeply held beliefs. By assuming your truth is the highest truth you assure that your truth is falsity because it is fated to remain so partial. It’s like a man who never makes it past the mountain’s first foothill because he’s deluded himself into thinking he’s reached the top. This is taught beautifully in the Book of Mormon in these verses..

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?

Once we learn everyone’s perspective then our religion becomes a matter of choice instead of a matter of force (force and manipulation ruin religion’s power to save anyway). When we realize no church is “true” or “perfect”, but that a church is a vehicle to aid us in our progression then we CHOOSE our religion as we choose our spouse based upon what gives us the best opportunities for growth and service. And this frees us to truly learn truth because we are no longer trapped in the constant fear that if we learn our church isn’t “true”, it might disrupt our comfy world-view and lifestyle. Thus you have to lose your testimony or desire to be “right” in order to gain a true testimony or free yourself to explore all truth. I’m not advocating leaving your church… in fact quite the opposite. I believe God puts us in churches based on certain pre-incarnate lessons we want and need–but that doesn’t mean our wants and needs won’t change. This is really the same concept taught by Christ when he says you have to lose you life in order to gain it. I believe he is teaching the principle of losing our ego, pride or desire to be the center of the world in order to be free from the fear which keeps us from going out and loving people and finding “life”. This is why Christ was excommunicated and found few believers from the orthodox pharisee sect. This is why “new” religions like Mormonism, that make people question their culturally ingrained truths and traditions, have so much of God’s Spirit. This is also why I say cultural “Mormons” need to lose their testimony to gain it. (More on priesthood and prophets later) Have you ever thought that “Gods” purpose in religion and politics is not so much to see if you can chose between mans perspectives of true or false, right or wrong but instead to gain His perspective which is to see through eyes of perfect unconditional love how all things fit into the big picture” (That all truth can be circumscribed into one whole). The point is to enlarge your perspective, and that is what will get you God’s spirit. That despite all people and religions being selfish, egocentric and kind of messed up they are all true and all beautiful when seen in the big picture. The truest religion is the one with the most all-encompassing perspective. A picture of a sunset may have a lot of darkness in it, but when you step back and see how it contrasts with all the hues of light you see that it is all amazingly beautiful and harmonious.

I believe LDS scripture, priesthood and doctrine were all initially revealed as a “schoolmaster” to enlarge humanity’s view of truth, not to restrict it.

Dealing with Troubling Aspects of Religion

Now one of my biggest motivators in writing this is my belief that as a Church, LDS members often set ourselves and others up to truly “lose” our/their testimonies (in the negative sense) by basing them on such polarized and egocentric concepts of truth (often perpetuated by our leaders). On the other hand, the worldview I’ve outlined lays the framework for dealing with troubling aspects of Mormon history or anti-material of any type. If you have a proper understanding of truth (that its not black & white), and love others more than you love yourself; and your testimony or love of the church is not founded on distorted “idyllic” principles— anti-material or the “messed up” aspects of the church will not affect you much. Because of your Christ-like love, you will neither idolize nor demonize the church. Just like with people, you’ll love them regardless of whether they are perfect or imperfect, truthful or self-deceived. If you read some literature that offers a different negative spin on some cherished Mormon belief or history and you find it challenging your testimony, then you can guess perhaps your testimony is built on a distorted “sandy” foundation. That perhaps it is based on an egocentric desire to be right or perfect instead of a Christ-centric desire to learn truth by loving and empathizing with others; built on selfishness instead of unselfishness. I believe a lot of negative traditions have come into the Church which are increasingly dividing cultural Mormons. We idolize our past and present prophets in very egocentric ways. We idolize our religion, pharisaically suggesting we are god’s elite “chosen” people and the only true church in a sea of falsity. Like most orthodox religions we are often full of ourselves in a way that causes division in ourselves, our families and our communities. Our pride and desire to be “right” and “righteous” divides us in a way that you must either “have a testimony that the church is true” or not. It’s either entirely led and directed by “God” or it’s not. You must be one of us, or a gentile apostate. Joseph Smith must have been a great hero and a prophet, or a polyandrous adulterer and false prophet. Brigham Young was either a prophet commanded by God to take 55 wives and lead the people in righteousness, or a ‘bad man’ who was racist, misogynistic, egotistical, philandering and power hungry. Church policies on issues such as polygamy, the priesthood ban on those of African decent, homosexuality, etc are either divine edicts straight from the Most High God Himself or the church isn’t true. It’s my strong opinion that we should seek to stop promoting this attitude in social material, firesides and occasional general conference talks. - Instead of spreading God’s love and good news, it comes across prideful, manipulative, contrary to our own scripture (D&C 121:41–42), and pushes a lot of good people out of the church. Instead we should realize that the whole spectrum of good and bad exists within each of us as well as every organization. We should try to focus on and promote the good without idolizing or demonizing (polarizing) the extremes of the spectrum.

In scripture, God often compares Himself to a groom and the church to his bride. This is because the relationship between a church and their god is the same as the relationship between a married couple. The symbolism runs deep in order to teach us important concepts (especially in the LDS temple ceremony). Until true unity is achieved, God is hidden behind a (bridal) veil. As we come to know God we learn of him/her through the veil. We enter a covenant relationship with him/her in hopes to come to intimately “know” him well enough to really “see” him. Idolatry (adultery) is a sign that we don’t really know god, and eternal life is to know Him and become symbolically one with him (John 17). And just like failed marriages most people leave the church because they had a inappropriate expectations concerning their relationship with the Church. (Often perpetuated from the top down as well as from the bottom up.) In a relationship it is common for people to become disillusioned and fall out of love. This is caused when our partner doesn’t measure up to our idyllic preconceived notions of what we think a spouse or lover should be. So in the courting process we essentially create a mold or idol of what our “perfect” partner should be, and then we often hold them to idea that they must conform with our ideal— and the problems come because that perfect image or ideal is usually a projection of our own selfish desires.

Similarly, the majority of people in the organized religions of this world actually inappropriately worship an idol or a personal perception of a god/church who is a projection of their own ego. And when something happens and they discover that the reality of God or the church doesn’t match their ideal/idol of God or the church, they are disillusioned, fall out of love and end the relationship. (Or on the flip side they self-righteously force some poor brother or sister out of the church because they don’t measure up to orthodox ideals.) Often this has to do with a belief that God or the church or church members should be “better” (according to our perceptions) than it/they are. It all boils down to relationships based on or laced with unwise or distorted expectations. Expectations which are created and fostered by distorted traditions and concepts such as “my church is the only true church”, or “my spouse is my one and only destined partner”. Or “Our prophet is God’s only mouthpiece and every significant decision they make straight from the Most High”. These concepts are flattering because they feed our egos, but they miss the important point that we are all equals and should enter relationships for opportunities to grow and serve, not just to feel comfortable, feel “right” or be served.

All earthly religions are imperfect and frankly a bit messed up, but we should all realize that we enter both marriage and religion for the purpose of progressing toward unity which is the gateway to truth and the true God. If our goal is to serve another, would we leave our spouse or children when we learn they are lazy? If our goal is to learn tolerance would we leave an organization when we find it is intolerant? If our goal is to learn forgiveness would we leave our spouse or church when they wrong us? If our goal is to gain another perspective and enlarge our understanding of truth would we leave an organization when we find that there are far different ways of looking at things than what the majority of the group believes? Or on the flip side, is it right to excommunicate, divorce or belittle those who have widely different views or behaviors? We enter relationships in this life to learn from, and enter into those relationships believing what we choose to believe about our lovers. I think in this life we far too often end relationships when they become painful, not realizing that the only reason they are painful is because of our preconceived egocentric perspectives about other’s behaviors. All people and organizations are composed of positive and negative attributes — good and bad — and the happiest people in this life I believe have learned to love the whole spectrum of attributes between these extremes. Similarly, the most beloved leaders and lasting organizations are careful to be honest about themselves and not make themselves out to be more than they are. They treat others as equals and don’t hide behind propaganda or a forged persona.

Every religion fluctuates on a spectrum of "Good and Bad" depending on how beneficial it is to humanity at the time.

Every religion fluctuates on a spectrum of “Good and Bad” depending on how beneficial it is to humanity at the time.

The only true church?

Many churches through history have taught or believed on some level that they are the only “true” church. It is an idea highly appealing to the ego; in the same way, many people in relationships want to believe they are their partners predestined one and only. I think emphasis of this truism is a distortion of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Leaders have focused on D&C 1:30, patting themselves on the back as it says “to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”. But I believe they misplace the emphasis and misinterpret what and who this statement is referring to. We overlook that verses 17-18 refer to both Joseph Smith “and others”. We don’t understand that the “true and living church” is a symbolic title/catchphrase much like the “fullness of the Gospel”, not a literal declaration of elitism. We suppose that the ” living Church” is the organization Joseph started and that the “others” are Joseph’s friends and converts, but D&C 10:52–55 makes it pretty clear that God as Joseph Smith revealed Him defined HIS church as one that transcends organizational lines. D&C 10:67–69 says “This is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.” Moroni 7:16–19 combined with 1 Ne 14:10–17 add yet more clarification of how Joseph’s God considers all those do Good, seek his counsel, accept his mystics and believe in love or the archetypal Christ are His Church; and those that fight and hate on others are the devil’s church. Christ’s spiritual Church (The Kingdom of Heaven) was in “obscurity and darkness” because the organizational churches of the era were full of elitist pride and contention (doing more harm than good, JS-H 1:19). I think we look beyond the mark when we do the same and think this revelation gives us right to consider the LDS Church God’s only true and living Church or the only aspect of the “Kingdom of God on earth”. Given other scriptures I do not think the emphasis in the verse is on there being only one true organizational or denominational Church, but Like 1 Ne 14:10, it is saying the attributes in the previous verses can make the LDS movement & priesthood part of the restorational spiritual Church of Christ which is the “only true and living church.., with which I, the Lord, am well pleased“.

I believe High beings direct lower beings to create religion to point the way to eternal progression; which is love through unity.  Man alters true religion to fit his perceptions, cultural & religious biases and ego.  We should not shun or demonize organized religion, but we should see it and use it for what it is– a “schoolmaster” pointing to “Christ” or the archetype of selfless service and love.

We also seem to dismiss the fact that within a decade of this revelation, the Lord was no longer well pleased with the LDS organizational Church. D&C 84:54–57 which states that by 1832 the church was “under condemnation” for unbelief, and that by 1842 the Lord was threatening to withhold the “fulness of the priesthood”, in much the same manner which He did to the children of Israel in Moses’ day (D&C 124:28–48). It should be obvious that the world is God’s so all churches are managed by Him according to their agency. Each is free to choose what degree they are influenced by the agents of harmony and unity, or the agents of disharmony and separation. I believe these scriptures make it clear that God considers Churches “living” and “His” for as long as they follow and lead people to unity in Him (by accepting personal & group inspiration and helping to bring love and unity to humanity). But as soon as they become lifted up in pride, believing they are God’s chosen elite with God’s only authority; but cause more separation and disunity than good through their self-righteousness and narrow-minded creeds, then God effectually disowns them & invalidates their priesthood or authority (ie. withdrawing the mandate of Heaven, as with the Jews at Christ’s time). LDS scripture surely seems to suggest that if the LDS church and other restorational Churches continue leading people into love and unity, doing more good than harm—then they will eventually merge into one “Kingdom of God on earth”, which will occur as they unify with “the Kingdom of Heaven” or spiritual church and everyone but those who willing chose division and separation will be saved in a kingdom of glory when Christ “gathers ALL THINGS together in one”, and presents the kingdom of the brotherhood of man to the Father of all mankind (D&C 27:13, Eph 1:9–10, D&C 128:18, 1 Cor 15:24, 3 Ne 11). It is pride and arrogance that derails organizations from this unifying work and the “orthodox” of organized religions should continually ask themselves whether they would disbelieve or even excommunicate their prophet founders were they to come in disguise a hundred years down the road to their own religions. It is likely that Joseph Smith with is 30+ secret wives and unsanctioned revelations would be excommunicated from modern Mormonism in the same way he was rejected by his contemporary religions. It is less obvious but no less likely that Christ with his unorthodox teachings would also be excommunicated from most modern Christian religions as he was by the Judaic priesthood of his day. Nearly all true prophets are rejected by the mainstream, because most people are more concerned with being right than loving and learning truth.

Now before anyone starts squabbling over the issues of priesthood lets cover a few more points and then come back to it. What exactly are we saying when LDS people say we are the only true church or that the church is true? Are we saying we have all the truth? Our own scriptures make it clear that is not the case. Are we saying we are free from error? This is also obviously not the case either. Are we saying we are more true than other churches…? Are we really so petty that we need to be like kids at recess saying “my dad loves me more than your dad, and I understand god better than you, and your priesthood authority comes from the devil”. (see here, here and here for a better understanding on how religious and political priesthood or authority works in a broader sense. See this article for a better understanding of the difference between priesthood and prophets.) Hopefully we all see the silliness of such statements and aren’t insinuating them when we talk about the “truthfulness” of the church. This is illustrated well in a story from The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. In it the young Jesus comments on a self-righteous statement made by one of the chief rabbis about Israel being a “chosen” people.

13 Now, in the evening [the young] Jesus and his mother sat alone, and Jesus said,
14 The rabbi seems to think that God is partial in his treatment of the sons of men; that Jews are favored and are blest above all other men.
15 I do not see how God can have his favorites and be just.
16 Are not Samaritans and Greeks and Romans just as much the children of the Holy One as are the Jews?
17 I think the Jews have built a wall about themselves, and they see nothing on the other side of it.
18 They do not know that flowers are blooming over there; that sowing times and reaping times belong to anybody but the Jews.
19 It surely would be well if we could break these barriers down so that the Jews might see that God has other children that are just as greatly blest.
(see also Romans 3:9–23, JS-H 1:19, for reiterations of the same point)

 

Priesthoods & Zoramiteism

When LDS people and apostles use their priesthood as “reasoning” for why they are God’s elect, they disobey the God they/we are trying to serve. In D&C 121:45–47 Joseph Smith is told

“no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [!]”

It seems like common sense that we should not attempt to influence people, or legitimize our position by using arguments of priesthood. Instead any power or influence we seek to verbally or physically exercise over others should be gained and maintained solely by christ-like principles such as

“by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile

It’s a bit unwise to teach our children or investigators that they should “follow the prophet” just because he is in our eyes “The Lord’s anointed”. Or that they should be a Mormon because we are God’s chosen people and the only true Church; because the pride inherent in these statements often backfires, and sours or angers people. I think this is why Joseph Smith received this revelation in Liberty Jail after asking “why all the persecution” and “when will you avenge our wrongs?”  Within His consoling response the Lord basically reproves both the persecutors and the saints. The Zoramites of the Book of Mormon are a classic example of a people who went to the opposite extreme of this counsel. The Zoramites as a consequence invented a religious tradition which shares many common characteristics with some Mormon traditions and many other sectarian religions. In their “testimony meetings” they stood upon a pulpit and mechanically repeated the same prayer…

16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children…
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down… which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.
19 Now it came to pass that… every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.

When LDS people and/or leaders assume we are the only ones with God’s prophets, truth or priesthood… well we all know what happens when we assume. This is likely one of the major reasons the Jewish priesthood leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah, because not being a Levite he did not hold their priesthood, and thus they believed he had no right to the office of High Priest (Hebrews 7 addresses these issues). The same was likely true for many of the Old Testament prophets who were not from the tribe of Levi, and for this and other reasons were seen as not having right to speak in the name of the Lord by the orthodox mainstream. In the Book of Mormon Jesus made it clear that he was commanded NOT to tell his apostles in Jerusalem concerning the specifics of his “other sheep” unless they specifically asked about it. (3 Ne 15:14–18, 16:4-5). The record also suggest than non-Abrahamic branches such as the Jaredites and Israelite offshoots such as the Nephites were somehow given a priesthood even though according to Jewish tradition, they had no right to it because they were not Levites. Mormon’s cannot assume that Buddha or Mohammed or other non-biblical holy men were false prophets or “lesser” holy men on grounds that we think they did not hold priesthoods. We cannot assume that Hindu or Chinese religious founders were not given a priesthood, just as the Brother of Jared must have.

The truth is we just dont know. A thorough reading of scripture shows that as much as LDS people know about religious & political priesthood or governing authority (like the Jews & the Catholics) there is also an awful lot we don’t understand. So likewise we cannot assume that God did not restore additional priesthood to some other unknown eastern Lama or Yogi or other major modern religious players such as the Bab (a contemporary of Joseph Smith who founded the Baha’i Faith). Our own scripture teaches that the immortal John was “ministering” among the 10 tribes of Israel in the Latter-days (D&C 77:14–15). And that at a future point “their prophets” (unknown to Mormons) “shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves” and will come and make themselves known to the children of Ephraim (D&C 133:23–36). Both the Bible and D&C strongly suggest that in addition to restorational work occurring with the “Lost Tribes”, a “parallel restoration” will occur among the Jews of the Holy Land and that a strictly Jewish Priesthood will restore the Jewish Temple which will begin the Jewish restoration and gathering (D&C 133:12–13, D&C 45:24–31, D&C 98:17, JS-M 1:12–32, Revelation of John Ben Kathryn). Scriptures like D&C 107:64–67 and 132:7 do not preclude the idea of parallel restorationism, given that other LDS scripture clearly shows it occurred over and over in the past (Alma in the Book of Mormon being a good example). In fact D&C 49:8 seems to directly infer it. We also do not fully understand the manner in which aspects of priesthood “continue… in [one’s] seed throughout all their generations” regardless of whether it is “reconfirmed” for ceremonial purposes (D&C 84:17–18,48). This is why priesthood is often “confirmed” on holders and not “given”, because priesthood is a right passed hereditarily  and genetically (D&C 107:67–76, see my article The Scattering and Gathering of Israel for more detail on the genetic aspects of priesthood). I believe that pride perpetuated through well meaning LDS leadership has spread a Pharisaical spirit of elitism which not only causes many to leave the church, but also keeps many more from joining our faith (see this general conference address). I am personally grateful for caring friends and family who have kindly pointed out my arrogance and the ways in which I exercise “unrighteous dominion” or unwise influence; and I believe LDS people would do great service to our leaders by meekly advising them of the same. A greater spirit of meekness will aid in the quest of LDS people to aid God in his aim to “gather together in ONE all things” (D&C 27:13). To put down contention instead of causing it (3 Ne 11:28–30). Rearranging our worldview on this issue will also help LDS people to apply 2 Ne 29:11–14 to themselves to prevent rejection of ancient and modern prophets and revelation which don’t originate from our priesthood leaders. (See this article for a better understanding of the difference between priesthood and prophets).

All the major players in the Human Drama have had the choice whether to unite or divide humanity. I believe in this final age, God will favor and sustain only those who unite. All other groups will become extinct. See the article The Scattering and Gathering of Israel for details on gods evolutionary plan for populating, diversifying, civilizing and unifying the planet.

 

Saving Ordinances

Associated with this concept of priesthood pride, is the worldview that some LDS people hold which causes them to believe that only LDS people who have received LDS saving ordinances (performed personally or vicariously) occupy the highest echelons of heaven. Once again I believe it is misunderstanding of our own scripture which causes some to believe this.  At times LDS teachings seem similar to those of Medieval Christianity, which caused popular belief in the doctrine that an individual who was not baptised by a Catholic Priest with Catholic Priesthood goes to purgatory; giving rise to seemingly irrational practices (to reformational Christian standards) such as death-bed rites and infant baptism. I can remember being on my mission and wondering if the people who slammed the doors in my face were relegating themselves to a millennial abode in “Spirit Prison” after death.  The truth is that answers to these difficult questions surrounding post mortem salvation can come only from detailed analysis of all available life after death experiences in conjunction with the revelations of both LDS and non-LDS mystics (revelators).  Even a cursory investigation of the evidence points to the idea that the generally held LDS cultural interpretation of D&C 76 and other scripture concerning life after death has been distorted by medieval christian beliefs of converts and leaders since the time of Joseph Smith. In fact, the principles held in common by so many life after death experiences and religious works are actually vindicated in the revelations of Joseph Smith in teaching that the condition of souls after death has less to do with their religious membership or loyalties and more to do with unity with others as exercised in loving and harmonious communions.  Since explaining the divisions and stratifications of the afterworld are as complex as seeking to delineate the mental and sociological stratifications of our temporal earth this article will not seek to address in detail the specifics of how saving ordinances might relate to one’s afterlife. (For a very detailed article which corrects LDS misunderstandings concerning the afterlife by comparing it to the greater body of available revealed information see my article,  Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection: A Comparative Cosmology.) But the important point to get across is that the principles governing the importance of ordinances are relevant only within the authoritative sphere they are placed. If the United States Government decides you have to hold up your right hand and swear an oath to become a United States citizen in order to enjoy the privileges of our national organization that is their authoritative (priesthood) right. It does not mean that the Mexican government needs to institute the same ordinance for its citizens. And some might argue that the United States of America is the “Highest” or most exalted nation on earth, but that is a matter of opinion.  Many convincing witnesses suggest this is also how heaven operates.  In heaven men inherit the state of mind they built for themselves and their associates on earth. The highest and most exalted realms and states of the afterlife belong to those who gained the most exalted states of mind, love and association here on earth. Ordinances are a means to that end—not an end of themselves. God helped Joseph Smith design LDS ordinances to do a great job of leading people to the Father and manifesting “the power of godliness”.   But if we ever use them pridefully as a reason why “we’re right and you’re wrong” and “Joseph Smith was God’s only prophet” and thus “you must become one of us to get to heaven or paradise”, we miss the mark and distort the good these practices seek to accomplish.

Telestial: The realm of sectarianism (some of Christ, Some of Moses, Some of Brigham. D&C 76:99–101).
Terrestrial: Unified with one of the Son(s) of light, but not the Father of all mankind yet. (D&C 76:77)
Celestial: Equal and One with the Father in ALL things. They are made Perfect or Whole redeemed from all division. (D&C 76:94–95)
See  Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection: A Comparative Cosmology.

 

No mortal’s understanding of God is completely true

No One understands the true nature of God and no mortal’s understanding of God is exactly true. We know only our limited perspectives gained from the limited information we have on the limited ways He has revealed Himself to us. We don’t even really know each other and yet each religion thinks they “know” or have the correct understanding of God? God calls prophets and has them organize religions to teach people about the nature of eternal beings, universal consciousness and reality; and to teach them about themselves. But how do you teach someone who you are with mere words or even repeated short visits? Being married dozens of years, one still doesn’t really exactly “know” who their spouse or family members are. A person can’t explain themselves in words, pictures or even face-to-face conversation. Even living with someone 24/7 we can spend our whole lives really getting to know them; but because most people are so complex you can never properly depict them on canvas, or paper or stone. The problem with religions is that they are like a young infatuated lover who has just got a girlfriend and thinks he “knows” her and is in love with her. Well it doesn’t take long before the magic wears off and the person can see in retrospect that the person isn’t quite what they thought they were. Hopefully they realize that the person is better than they thought, but typically since “infatuation” is really love of self, they find that they were projecting their own hopes and “desires of self” onto their lover. There is good reason why God and Christ compare themselves to a husband and the Church or us to their young bride. God is trying to teach us something about our own psychology.

God wanted Israel to come up to the mount with Moses and personally worship the “true” God (D&C 84:23–27); but they couldn’t comprehend Him, so they had Aaron build them an idol that they could worship. (They needed something beautiful, concrete, visible and agreeing with their notions of god!) Since it was obvious that’s all Israel couldn’t understand that “God” (just like everyone) is to be experienced with your heart not seen with your eyes, as a punishment/reward God appointed Aaron and His posterity as priest to teach people the nature of God. The problem is that Aaron didn’t know God either, so God helped Israel form a religion that was actually predominately a projection of their own ego. That was all they were capable of receiving at that point in their progression. At this point the “God of Abraham” also allowed the management of Israel to be maintained by a group of lower ruling heavenly beings (the lower or Aaronic priesthood- D&C 84:18–21,23–27). The free system of only two great affirmative commandments was replaced with the negative ten commandments, which the priests turned into hundreds of laws and eventually thousands. The priests were appointed to stand between Israel and God, and in a way, give them the idol that they wanted just like Aaron did (Ps. 81:10–12, Acts 7:38–48). They got a rigid religious system based on Egypt’s, a hierarchal priesthood with an elite priestly class based on the Midianites and they got the understanding of God they were ready for (a watered down gospel) which also essentially became egocentric. Those who, like Moses, knew there was more than “what was being taught” and sought for true messengers to teach him a gospel that couldn’t be etched in stone, wasn’t constrained to a temple hewn by man (Acts 17:24–25), and can only be transmitted and understood in the fleshy tablets of the heart got truth as they asked for it. But it was only relatively few, like Elijah, who ever graduated from the lower Aaronic system into the Melchizedekian system of statutory freedom and personal experience with the invisible God (Colossians 1:15–20). The rest press on under the schoolmasters (Gal 3:19,24–29), who are men led by men, led by exalted man-gods.

The biases and egocentric ideals of each culture become projected onto their ideas of God

Who Is The Father?

Now I’m not saying the LDS doctrinal view of God is all wrong, in fact just the opposite. We often boast that our concept of a God with a body is more true than other religion’s concept of a God without a body. But I believe Joseph Smith introduced an amazingly pluralistic concept that actually reconciles monotheism and polytheism as well as the incorporeality and anthropomorphism of God; that earth’s God is just an exalted earth-man operating within a chain of higher eternal beings extending and existing infinitely. This concept is supported and explained in more detail in other restorationist movement texts such as Oahspe (see Chap 7 Book of Jehovah). But few LDS members really think about the implications of this when it comes to understanding God or arguing with other religion’s concepts of God. Joseph Smiths revelations (Facsimile 2D&C 132:17–20) and King Follet discourse suggests that “Christ” who is taking on rule of this planet is following in the footsteps of a “Father” who followed the same pattern and ruled before him. And that this “Father” also had a Father and so on, and so on. But the questions remain, “exactly which God or Gods relate to us”, “who was the first Father” and who is the “Most High God” or the “Eternal God of all other gods” as D&C 121:28–32 puts it? Here we run into the philosophical paradox of first cause and the realization that because of the principle of Divine Investiture of Authority, all “gods” take upon themselves the authority of the Most High God, but it is unknown whether anyone has physically “met” Him. Understanding the micro/macrocosm nature of the universe (see this article) or the “pattern in all things” spoken of in D&C 52:14, and following the succession of God taught by Joseph Smith to its logical conclusion, it seems evident that the “Most High God” must in a way be eternally distant and yet also omnipresent spirit, finitely embodied in all of us (especially his mediator gods), but in fulness comprising ALL THAT IS.  These biblical verses make this clear; Jer. 23:23–24 | 1 Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24–28, John 4:24 | 1 Tim. 1:17 | 1 Tim. 6:16. LDS Scriptures such as D&C 88:6–13 also support this in saying “He is in all things and through all things” including being “in the sun [moon, & stars], and the light of the sun [moon & stars], and the power thereof by which [they were] made”. Thus both Catholic, Christian and eastern views of God are all true in Josephs cosmogony, but use different words to label the different echelons of beings (those who Hindus or who Joseph Smith label as gods in D&C 132, would be labeled archangels by most Christians). So in light of this worldview the question we should be asking when comparing the gods mentioned in scripture is which “Father” was seen in the “visions” of Enoch, Moses or Joseph Smith and relates to us as earthlings, and what language does he speak? (ie. what kind of distortion of the message is occurring because of difficulties of framing Gods image & words into the language, culture and biases of the prophet).  In these transcendental experiences is it the God/Father/Ruler of the House of Israel (ie. Abraham)? Is it the Father of just this Earth (ie. Adam)? Is it the God of Kolob or our small section of the Galaxy? Or of our entire Milky Way galaxy? (see the cosmology of Oahspe and the law of one for more info on this.) Of our supercluster? Our supercluster complex… ad infinitum?

Contemplating infinity, omniscience and omnipresence, the answer I think should be obvious. We just don’t know; but given the differences in global prophetic experiences it seems almost certain that each prophet uses his own language, culture and worldview to interpret what they envision. It is completely possible that in some cases, these appearances are subjective visions, where “God” is working from within the minds of the prophets themselves. And because of this it really shouldn’t matter so much exactly who was envisioned by Joseph Smith, Moses or ourselves anyway because we all relate to the level of beings in heaven of which we are best able to comprehend. And at the highest levels we are all connected and are all part of the ONE God (the idea of the trinity/godhead is trying to esoterically teach us this concept, the three are ONE). Man’s ideas of God are just like the mountain allegory. Each religion’s or person’s view of God is a partial distorted idea based on their limited perspective and are like the individual foothills in Jesus’ allegory on truth.  An understanding of the Most High God includes an understanding of all limited perspectives fit into one great whole. This is part of what I believe was Christ’s first teaching to the Nephites in 3 Ne 11:27–32. He essentially says to his multi-denominational audience, “stop bickering over religious doctrine and gods”. “Don’t you see that my goal is to lead you to unification in the Father, and my doctrine is that you stop fighting and get along?!” Let’s switch back to the illustration of the mountain again and compare it with our understanding of and relationship to God. It is so silly for us all to be sitting on our own peaks in the foothills of eternity arguing over whose hill is the top of the mountain. None of them are. The top of the mountain is eternal, and so even though we are all on different lower extremities of the same mountain none of us fully understands the whole picture because the mountain is never ending. Christ’s teachings of unconditional love and acceptance of all people and all creation are of course the beginning to truly understanding the Most High God. That type of love is the Christ-principle that no man can come to the Father without.  Christ tried to teach everyone the keys to love and unity in the principle that like numberless biological cells in a single body, we are all connected and thus part of God with statements like John 15:1–12 and John 17:11,21

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us

Christ also tries to teach that by overcoming his selfish ego, and being fully conscious of his unity with ALL THAT IS, he is indeed a microcosmic division (son) of God the Father.

8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me (John 14:8–11).

Yet at the same time he tries to teach that the father is much bigger than us all with statements like “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).  Paul makes the same distinction when he says,

“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (NIV 1 Tim. 6:16, see all translations)

Hidden in these types of scriptures are deeply esoteric teachings & understandings concerning the relationship between human unity, group consciousness and the faces/images of God as revealed by His messengers (those who are able to reach into the realm of spirit and put a face to the deepest spiritual needs, faith and yearnings of mankind & creation).

cooexist

The purpose and end game of all divine religious teaching is unity and peaceful coexistence. Differences of opinion on the path to best get there are the cause of religious strife and conflict.

All Earthly Churches are both true and false.

So back to the question, is the church true? As mentioned before, thats a lot like asking whether a person or your nation or government is true; especially since today’s religions are essentially the nations of tomorrow (and of the next life). The children of Israel were given a system of worship that they could understand and relate to. It was what they needed and was “true” for them, because it was created by them in conjunction with a group of both positive and negative higher beings through a process watched over by yet higher beings and so on eternally. It was true, living and often utterly messed up just like them (full of “god ordained” genocide, misogyny, stoning, animal slaughter, idolatry/temple worship, imperialism, xenophobia, bigotry, etc). And so it is with every major culture-changing church in every dispensation. They are all created in a very round-about way by the Most High God through many, many mediators. They almost all claim the mandate of heaven, and perhaps their very success and existence shows they’re getting it.  But we can’t imagine that means there is one universal church run the same way for all forms of life in the infinite number (trillions upon trillions) of inhabited planets in the infinite universe. As explained in more detail in my Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection article. (And not taking into account how progenitors work within this system to rule progeny from beyond the grave). Every religion is led through inspiration by both “good & bad” influences. Religious and political leaders such as those who directed the canonization of the Bible always want to paint the actions of their religious icons as coming ONLY from the Most High God of Goodness, when in fact all mortals (from Moses to Nephi to Joseph Smith) often mistake the direction of their own egos as well as negative higher beings for God. Understanding how both the positive and negative paths and groups work together as ONE harmonic Father is another important aspect of understanding the truth behind the paradoxes of religion such as the monotheistic and polytheistic traditions taught in and symbolized by the Christian Godhead/Trinity; or the God of mercy & love vs the God of justice & violence of the Bible.

Many iconic Israeli, Christian, and LDS church leaders were good intentioned, but hypocritical, well meaning but a bit self righteous, bigoted and sexually indulgent (cough- polygamy) or even flat out murderous to our standards. David & most biblical kings were imperialists with slaves and scores of concubines which the bible says were sanctioned by God (2 Sam 3-5). Judah slept with his daughter-in-law, thinking she was a prostitute (Gen 38) and yet still was chosen as the priesthood line through whom Christ would be born. Moses chose his elite by seeing who would follow his command to kill their “wicked” family members (Exo 32:25–29). Joshua & Aaron just like Muhammad carried out genocidal campaigns which seem criminal to Christian war standards (Joshua 6-11). Many of the nation’s beloved founding fathers also had nontraditional moralities. But it would seem apparent they were led by higher powers to help create idealistic organizations with amazing roles to play in human history. It could be truthfully said that both the LDS Church and United States of America are organizations called of god and led by god to the extent they desire. They both have amazing parts to play in the drama of earth’s History. I truly believe the Mormon Church will eventually become the predominate religion in the Western Hemisphere and follow a history very similar to both Israel and the Catholic Church in Eurasia (see my article on similarities here). They all have parts of their history, people and leadership which are domineering and hypocritical but if we demonize them it only shows our own littleness. If we give them too much control over us the resulting fanaticism will not end well either. Yet if we divorce them it is equally self-destructive. After all, we helped create them in the same way we helped create the earth and bring about its fall. It is far better to focus on all the good and amazing things they have and seek to maintain a loving harmony and balance of power in all things.

I think the pressing problems in the world, the church and our families will be reconciled as we come to realize that we all have to be unified in order to ascend to the higher heavens. LDS Scripture and other texts such as Oashpe make it clear that we can not be exalted in our fallen and divided state. Only large cultural units which have learned to reconcile or atone all their differences ascend (as a group in a circle of harmony). No one gets a free ride, we must ALL loose our pride and reconcile our differences to achieve the unity requisite of the celestial glory (D&C 105:4). A revisit of the movie Megamind might help one to understand how it is most often the self-righteousness and controlling natures of the “righteous” who create the wicked (and vice-versa). Every viable division must be atoned before Christ can present the kingdom spotless before the father. All things must be gathered together in One (Eph 1:10, D&C 27:13). It seems that if we all just realized that we must address each-other’s concerns and reconcile all differences in order to progress along the positive path of selflessness, we would more quickly resolve the issues of organized religion in the same way a couple or family learns to get along when they realize they must in order to be happy.

LDS Theology, like many religious traditions, teach about two fundamental “plans” for Eternal Progression. Historically, organizations always seem to follow a “mixed path” where they seek to use force, manipulation or even violence to achieve peace, unity and harmony.

My Testimony

My testimony of the church is the same as my testimony of my wife. That I have chosen her. That I believe a higher aspect of my consciousness led me to her and urges me to stay bound to her. That we have children with each other that are teaching us unselfishness. That she makes me a better person, and that by better knowing and loving her, I come to better know and love myself. And that by continuing in this course, despite all the imperfections, we will grow and develop faster and better than we would apart.

I also have a testimony that the LDS Church and Christianity in general has a divine origin and purpose foreshadowed by the story of Joseph in the Bible. Its a story of favoritism, jealousy, self-righteousness, separation, enslavement, humility and finally redemption and atonement.

I believe the LDS Church is true in the same sense that I believe all churches are true if they expand people’s views of reality and lead people to the unity of Christ (and other cultural translations of the same living symbol; al-Mahdi/Maitreya/Krishna) & our Father in Heaven. I believe the church is divine and that the deeply conflicting doctrines of the Church create an environment of rapid progression for the sincere seeker who works diligently to reconcile them (ie. loving acceptance vs. discrimination, monotheism vs. polytheism, religious legalism vs. grace, justice vs. mercy, freedom vs. restraint & constraint, God of Old Testament vs. God of the New). I also believe that sadly because of unbelief, there are currently more gifts of the spirit being manifested outside the LDS church than in it (such as the gift of prophesy and revelation; and here’s just a few example’s of their works). I believe that both Moses and Joseph Smith “would that all the Lord’s people were prophets” (Num 11:29) and that “every man might speak in the name of God the Lord” (D&C 1:20), but as in many mainstream religions, I believe that a good deal of the Church’s best adepts, healers, theologians, clairvoyants, clairaudients, or “seers” are excommunicated or driven out. I believe the lower and higher priesthood’s of the Church symbolize a lower and higher aspect of the Church as it exists in heaven; One being a strict and legalistic schoolmaster which leads us to a higher more free & true system. (More true because its view is more all encompassing.) Despite any negativity, I love the church and always want to try and focus on all the good in it. I have faith it will grow up and learn greater levels of humility & humanity. I believe it does far more good than bad. I believe it is young and its future is very bright.

Lastly, I believe in the principle taught in masonic and LDS temple ceremonies, as well as many other religious and popular works such as The Wizard of Oz or The Matrix; that the religions and politics of this world are part of a grand plan of sorts that is purposely concealed behind a curtain or mystery; almost like a layer of clouds hiding the top half of a mountain. I’ve worked hard to get glimpses behind that veil, and what I saw was really beautiful and seemed to reconcile all the divisions and conflict in the world and in my heart, making all the diversity of opinion in this life make sense.

See also: Needed reformation in the LDS Church

 

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Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection: A Comparative Cosmology

Eternal Progression Diagram
Introduction
This article seeks to present a new and comprehensive cosmology as seen from an LDS viewpoint, but using the best of non-LDS sources for greater understanding. Cosmology is defined as “the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe”, but in religious terms it is more properly an understanding of how man, god and religion fit into the origin, purpose and destiny of the human soul within the universe. LDS people call this “Eternal Progression” within The Plan of Salvation. Joseph Smith’s view of eternal progression added a lot to the existing cosmology of Catholicism and Medieval Christianity, but the many works cited in this paper add immensely to the general LDS view, and clear up some misunderstandings which have crept in.

 

Note

This article is under construction. Check back for updates!

Outline of Concepts

1. Our Solar System has an orbit within our galaxy much like our planet orbits our sun. This orbit brings us through many varying energy densities which essentially control the progression or evolution of our planet and its inhabitants. The progression of mankind and people individually cannot be fully understood outside of the context of of physical cosmology–because they are synchronous.
2. The fractal (micro/macrocosm) or law of relative relationships is the key to understanding ourselves, our earth/ solar system, galaxy and the universe. The majority of ancient and esoteric cosmologies seek to use symbols to typify the fractal patterns of our galaxy–patterns existing in the respective levels of; the atom, the human body, the planet (body), the solar (body) and the galaxy. The patterns are often summarized in the religious use of the numbers 1,2,3,7, & 12 and their corresponding shapes (sacred geometry). The religious use of these numbers & symbols loosely summarizes very complicated concepts of physics which govern the major divisions of our earth & galaxy. Thier use also serves as a pattern or outline to understanding cosmology.
3. The number one. One symbolizes the Father; the universal natural law or the infinite & intelligent unifying field which unites all matter and intelligence in our galaxy and the universe. This all encompassing principle which Hebrew religion called “The Most-High God” & His Power/Spirit. Many high beings seek to mimic and speak in the name of this highest principle. Differing religious systems use different words and concepts to explain this symbol of first cause… but agree that it is the all-highest, eternal or first created principle of intelligence in the universe.
4. The number two. Two symbolizes the fundamental duality of the aforementioned unity (or “The Father”). Relative relationships of this duality include corporality & spirit, seen & unseen, positive & negative, masculine & feminine, father & son. Every atom and inhabited body (planet, sun, etc) in our galaxy contain this duality; which we will call physical and spiritual dimensions– a visible, particle-like core and an invisible, wave-like energy shell. In the case of bodies large enough to house consciousness these are the planetary body, and its electromagnetic field wherein non-incarnate intelligence dwells.
5. The number three. The Trinity/Godhead, symbolized by the Father-Mother-Son or Father-Son-Spirit or three realms of glory, etc. Each of two aforementioned dimensions naturally tend to separate into three divisions each, which we will classify as quantum levels, “kingdoms”, “realms” or “glories”. A few physical examples of these divisions are the three states of matter and the three electron orbitals (not counting ground state). Most modern Christian descriptions of heaven use this pattern to divide the heavenly regions of the earth. The LDS three degrees of glory spoken of in D&C 76 dualistically speaks of these divisions. Although classifications vary greatly, each earth and each heaven or spirit word contain these divisions.
6. The number seven. The seven archangels, dispensations or Elohim. On a much greater scale, the galaxy contains seven divisions of energy/light which we will term as densities, “glories” or progression levels. Every sphere in the Galaxy (planet or sun) progresses up and down through these levels sequentially. The seven periods or energy levels of the atom are a fractal of these states. Density boundaries are equivalent to the Hebrew and Christian “harvest” seasons and described in greater detail by Hindu and Buddhist cosmologies. Also symbolized by the Elohim, Archangels and creative periods. Some uses of LDS Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial glories seek to represent levels three, four and five of these seven divisions.
As an example of how these divisions pertain to earth and mankind, we could summarize by stating the earth has two dimensions; the material world we live in and the spirit world which houses our consciousness when we die. Each of these dimensions tends to divide into three somewhat arbitrary divisions or glories. As the earth and its heavens orbit the galactic core (along with all their inhabitants) they progress through the seven energy densities, evolving/progressing from a state of lower/fragmented intelligence into what are often classified as gods, higher beings or unified planetary consciousness/intelligences. The various terms such as ‘heaven’, ‘resurrection’, ‘god’, ‘celestial’, ‘angel/archangel’ used by mystics and religion to explain these divisions and processes can be very confusing and misleading for reasons we will explain.


Mankind is ignorant. But with help we are getting smarter
The advocacy group “Survival International” suggests that as of the year 2010, there are at least 100 uncontacted indigenous tribal peoples living world-wide. The pictures below were taken by airplane in 2010 of a tribe living near the Peruvian / Brazilian border which officials in the civilized world have known about and monitored since at least 1910. Groups such as Survival International fight for these group’s right of self-determination and try to uphold policy enforcing no-fly zones and no travel zones which leave the groups in peace until they purposefully seek contact with the outside world for themselves. It is obvious from pictures such as these and other encounters that these tribes are frightened and negatively affected by encounters from the outside world. It is a bit amazing to think that there are dozens of these isolated unevolved groups living in the midst of such a connected, advanced, technological world.

The implications of this on the idea that man is alone in the universe should be obvious. Are we really so egotistical, naive, or ignorant that we would think we are the only advanced life in the galaxy? Does anyone really believe there are not sophisticated civilizations which exist in the heavens, watching over, protecting, and studying us on our evolutionary journey of self determination and progression? Isn’t it probable that advanced life in our galaxy looks at earth’s inhabitants with the same pity, compassion and respect for self determination, as our technologically advanced world looks on these aboriginal tribal groups?

Uncontacted primitive tribe living in Brazilian rain forest photographed in 2010

Uncontacted primitive tribe living in Brazilian rain forest photographed in 2010 (red & black is body paint). Many such groups exists which are totally unaware of the advanced world around them.

In the following article I will attempt to show that most of the world’s religious and scientific advancement is the result of inspiration passed to man from advanced extra-dimensional groups in the heavens. These groups carefully and subtly have worked within our superstitions and religious traditions to telepathically pass information which might help us individually and as a planet to one day join the galactic community–without frightening us or violating our right to self-determination. Such information might seem a bit crazy… but then again you might think about what the aboriginal people in the above pictures thought when they tried to tell their friends about their unbelievable encounter with a low-flying helicopter.

Law of witnesses
LDS people like to talk about the law of witnesses spoken of in 2 Cor. 13:1 which says that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. I believe this common-sense concept applies to all truths revealed to man by higher dimensional groups. The highly organized, and strictly governed groups in the heavens, which religion’s typically associate with “God”, subtly reveal truths through multiple witnesses to each respective class of people on earth according to their ability to receive it. So not only have heavenly truths been shown to multiple witnesses within Israel or the earth’s major religions but those heavenly truths are also revealed through multiple separate secular witnesses and thus on to the world at large. In Mormonism we call the religious witnesses, prophets, seers or revelators; in the secular world we call them scientists. The generally accepted term in most of Western society for a religious witness is a “clairvoyant”, “channel” or “mystic“. But I think it’s very important for people of all religions to realize that higher beings do not just reveal religious or secular truth through your religion or your accepted channels. (see the article, What is Truth) As I have combed the world’s revealed texts for cosmological information, I have found a handful of works which have been especially helpful in piecing together a cohesive view which expands and makes sense of the piecemeal and often ambiguous descriptions of cosmology found in LDS scripture.

Most Mormon’s see Joseph Smith (1805 to 1844) as the ultimate modern witness to heavenly beings, and the only true modern revelator of religious cosmology. However, this article will seek to prove that there are many more modern cosmological witnesses outside of Mormonism than in it. For instance, John Ballou Newbrough’s work (1828-1891) claimed to receive a book of scripture from light-beings which is larger than Joseph’s Book of Mormon & D&C and contains far more detailed cosmological information. He was followed by another in the seer and mystic John Sebastian Ward (1885-1949) whose channeled works on the Spirit world correspond closely to Joseph Smith’s revelation of heaven found in D&C 76. Yet an earlier forerunner was Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) whose exhaustive works likely influenced Joseph’s theology. There are many more skilled adepts and scientists in each major division of the world who were parts of the inspired religious reformation movements, religious great awakenings and industrial/technological revolutions.

In the last few decades it seems most modern individuals producing ‘revealed’ works have considered themselves part of the “new age movement”. One quite modern example was Don Elkins, whose strangely original works pioneered much of new age cosmology and like Newbrough, did a fantastic job of harmonizing the worldviews of ancient eastern and western prophetic or mystic works. All of these individuals taught controversial cosmological concepts which are in many cases validated by modern consensus oriented scientific inquiry. All of these prophet/seers (called mystics in modern terms), claim to have been taught by light-beings or angels (or Jesus), seen heaven and channeled large literary works. Works which give strikingly similar accounts of eternal progression, the constitution of heaven and a new theology—greatly advancing the prevailing ideas taught in Catholicism and medieval Christianity. Each of these individuals work’s mirrored larger cultural changes in social and industrial thought and development. By piecing together the evidence given by all their accounts, I’ll attempt to construct picture of the afterlife which seems to harmonize the views of many major earthly religions with each other as well as with scientific findings. And I believe that future consensus oriented scientific inquiry will eventually iron out the misconceptions and distortions of the world’s religious views and bring the world into a general unity of belief and understanding.

The plan of salvation

standard simplistic LDS view of eternal progression

Identifying misunderstanding
Like most large religious sects, the LDS church is typically a little narrow minded as to what revelations or prophets it accepts or believes. Because of this, LDS theology has not advanced much past the cosmological ideas of Joseph Smith and the early nineteenth century. In teaching our view of cosmology, LDS missionaries commonly use the above diagram, which although accurate in a simplistic sense– ends up distorting the available picture of revealed Christian cosmology. It suggests that the degrees of glory seen in D&C 76 are different spheres or planets of sorts, completely separate from earth or the spirit world to which men pass after corporeal resurrection. A careful reading of Joseph Smith’s revelations, in comparison to other given revelations shows this is not quite the case (we will cover this misunderstanding in detail much later). They also suggest nothing of the earth’s future status as a “terrestrial kingdom” during the millennium, or the earth’s future status as a “celestial kingdom” (LDS Terms to be described later). The illustration also perpetuates distorted views concerning the ‘Spirit World’ being a two-divisioned, disembodied realm where the majority of people on earth wait for an extended period of time until the “resurrection”, which will occur at the beginning and end of the millennium (which again is a gross oversimplification.) I have attempted to create some diagrams of my own to better show the complexity of Christian cosmology. However, I have been met with frustration realizing that they will also inevitably introduce confusion and misunderstanding in people’s minds. It is simply too difficult to properly depict the complexity of the dimensional divisions in pictures so I will try to draw on as many examples in physics as possible. Hopefully they will help people get at least one step closer to the complete picture of reality as described by the many witnesses, but all should realize that if your view of the afterlife is based on 2 dimensional illustrations or just one or two revelations, it is likely highly distorted and incomplete!

Another failed attempt to produce a more detailed (but still highly over-simplified) illustration of the eternal progression of the earth and its inhabitants.

 

Cosmology
The first step to understanding “eternal progression” is to have at least a general understanding of the earth’s progression or orbit within the galaxy. Since this progression somewhat follows that of the earth’s evolution, an understanding of cosmology gives a framework for us to better understand earth’s origins and destiny. Many LDS scriptures, show this is often the first step taken by higher beings in educating mystics/prophets, and was among the first concepts shown to Moses (Moses 1:4,33–38), Abraham (Abr 3:2–21), Enoch (Moses 7), the Brother of Jared (Ether 3:25) and others. Joseph Smith purports to have introduced a very basic version of this cosmology in the Pearl of Great Price (see facsimile 2). In his channeled works (footnote: it is important to note that Joseph’s works were channeled, not translated), Joseph Smith suggests that there is a physical and spiritual hierarchical order to the universe where stars/planets gravitationally and energetically rule over the evolution of other stars/planets and the higher dimensional rulers of those systems rule over the inhabitants of the governed bodies as well. Abraham states that he,

2 …saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

In the notes written by Joseph Smith for the hypocephalus (facsimile 2) we get more detail stating that “Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.” Is “first in government, the last pertaining the the measurement of time”. Abraham is further taught that Kolob has a binary or sister sphere of sorts called Oliblish by the Egyptians that “stands next to Kolob”, being “the next grand governing creation near the celestial or the place where God resides. …which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time”. The account suggests these bodies are either governing masses in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, or a binary system composing one of the “twelve fixed stars” described below. The power and gravitational influence of these bodies is then traced down through two more “stars” called Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam which then pass their power onto Kae-e-vanrash which in turn “governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, [including]… the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions.” In Joseph Smiths personal notes to the hypocephalus and “Alphabet of the Egyptian Language”, he goes into a bit more detail naming the “twelve fixed stars” (of which Kolob belongs) and “fifteen moving planets”, as well as giving what seems to be a slightly different explanation of some of the aforementioned spheres…

“Oliblish, Enish-go-on-dosh, and Kaii-ven-rash, are the three grand central powers that govern all the other creations, which have been sought out by the most aged of all the fathers, since the beginning of the creation, by means of the Urim and Thummim: The names of the other twelve of the fixed stars are: Kolob, Limdi, Zip, Vusel, Venisti, Waine, Wayoh-ox-oan, oansli, Shible, Shineflis, flis, os. The Egyptian names of the fifteen moving planets are: Oanisis, Flosisis, floese, Abbesels, Eleash, Subble, Slundlo, Carroam, Crashmakraw, obblesisim, Izinsbah, missel.

“Kli flosisis signifies Kolob in its motion, which is swifter than the rest of the twelve fixed stars; going before, being first in motion, being delegated to have power over others to regulate others in their time” (J.S. Alphabet of the Egyptian Language)

Comparison of Earth\’s nearly circular orbit around the Sun to Our Solar System’s more elliptical orbit around the Galactic Core in our Milky Way Galaxy. In reality the orbital path more resembles a serpent as it helically spirals or zig-zags above and below the galactic equatorial plane.

Comparing this to what we currently know of our Galaxy, its not easily understood what Joseph Smith was getting at (or if this is a feasible astronomical model at all). But although this cosmological model may at first seem a bit far-fetched, it in fact has more witnesses to its general validity in both John Newbrough’s work and in Hindu and eastern cosmology. Newbrough wrote of a cohesive and highly illustrated cosmology consisting of our solar system orbiting through our Milky Way galaxy in a circuit, in his book Oahspe, A Sacred History of the Higher and Lower Heavens on the Earth.

1. First, the earth plieth in a circuit around the sun, which circuit is divided into four arcs called spring, summer, autumn and winter.
2. Second, the sun, with his family, plieth in a large circuit [around the center of the galaxy], which is divided into one thousand five hundred arcs, the distance of which for each arc is about three thousand years or one [harvest] cycle.
3. During a cycle, the earth and her heavens fall in the spiritual regions of hundreds of etherean worlds, where dwell Jehovah’s high-raised angels, whose Chiefs have to do with the management of worlds.
4. During the time of a cycle, the earth is therefore under the control and management of such of Jehovah’s angels for the resurrection of man of the earth. (Oahspe 9/1.1)

Like Joseph Smith’s work, Newbrough’s work suggests that as our Solar System orbits the Galactic core, we pass by higher dimensional “etherean” worlds or “governing” systems which are inhabited by higher dimensional beings who subtly govern the inhabitants of world who pass within their domains. Newbrough’s works contain hundreds of pages which detail the histories, philosophies and tactics of these extra-dimensional beings. And the picture they paint is surprisingly similar to Joseph Smith’s and many ancient religious myths which integrate religion into the movement of our solar system’s as it orbits around the milky-way galaxy. Just as a single rotation around the sun can be separated into 4 seasons, 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days; so also did the ancients try to give names to the corresponding orbital periods of the solar system moving in the Galaxy. An example is given below

1. And thou [speaking to an officer of the current governing “god” of earth] shalt dwell in thy kingdom seven years and sixty days, and the time shall be called the first dawn of dan, and the next succeeding shall be called the second dawn of dan, and so on, as long as the earth bringeth forth.
2. And the time from one dawn of dan to another shall be called one dan’ha; and four dan’ha shall be called one square, because this is the sum of one density, which is twelve thousand of the earth’s years. And twelve squares shall be called one cube, which is the first dividend of the third space, in which there is no variation in the vortex of the earth. And four cubes shall be called one sum, because the magnitude thereof embraceth one equal of the Great Serpent. (Oahspe 07/2.6)

The Zodiac, Precession of the Equinoxes & their Effect on Earth
Both Newbrough’s and Smith’s works suggest that in ancient times, higher beings came to earth and taught men a general understanding of astronomy & astrophysics and their relationship to galactic rule. The idea of a “great celestial serpent” is found in many ancient cultures and generally seems to describe the Galactic Orbit of our Solar System following a sinusoidal or possibly helical pattern as it dips above and below the galactic equatorial plane. These motions relate to Earth’s precession of the equinoxes as well as the precession or axial wobbling of our sun. (The sun wobbles and travels in a slight helical pattern because of the gravitational effects of Jupiter and the other large planets; seen from the side this orbital path would look like a stretched spring or partially coiled flying serpent.) What makes Oahspe, the Law of One and Joseph Smith’s mystic works unique is the picture they paint of how these well understood astronomical phenomena affects the earth and its inhabitants. Their works agree, first in suggesting that just as the earth experience’s periodic “conjunctions” with other larger planets in its orbit around the sun, our solar system also experiences conjunctions with far larger star clusters as it orbits the galactic core. These star clusters not only subtly affect our solar system gravitationally and electromagnetically, they also rule us spiritually as they contain “gods”, archangels or unified planetary consciousnesses who “have to do with the management of worlds” (Oahspe 9/1.3). This gives a bit more insight to Joseph Smiths hypocephalus where “god”, who is associated with a celestial body (throne) is said to rule earth from/by the fixed star known in a certain Egyptian dialect transliterated as ‘Kolob’. This idea of course, is not limited to Mormonism, Star Wars and other science fiction but exists in some form in the astrology of many ancient cultures. The following is another excerpt from Oahspe which gives a more detailed account of earth’s galactic orbit and how it relates to “heavenly” government.

04/7.2. And Jehovah caused the earth, and the family of the sun to travel in an orbit, the circuit of which requires of them four million seven hundred thousand years. And He placed in the line of the orbit, at distances of [approximately] three thousand years, etherean [celestial] lights, at which places, as the earth passes through, angels from the second heaven come into its corporeal presence. As ambassadors they come, in companies of hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands, and these are called the etherean [celestial] hosts of the Most High.
04/7.3. They come not as single individuals; nor do they come for a single individual mortal.
04/7.4. And Jehovah gave this sign to man on earth; which is to say: In the beginning of the light of dan’ha, the spirits of the newly dead shall have power to take upon themselves the semblance of corporeal bodies, and appear and talk face to face with mortals. Every three thousand years Jehovah gave this sign on earth, so that those, who learned the powers and capacities of such familiar spirits, could bear testimony regarding the origin of man on earth. || Jehovah said: And when it shall come to pass in any of the times of dan’ha that these signs manifest, man shall know that the hosts of the Most High come soon after. Let him who will become wise, enumerate the great lights of My serpent, for in such times I set aside things that are old, and establish My chosen anew. ||
04/7.5. In the time of the earth, when man was brought forth from mortal to immortal life, the earth passed beyond se’mu [interstellar organic debris]. The angels of heaven remained with corporeal man, but not in the semblance of mortals, but as spirits; and by virtue of their presence, strove to make man wise and upright before Jehovah. Upon the earth the number of such angels was millions. To these angels Jehovah spoke:
04/7.6. Behold the work you have taken in hand! It was commanded to you all, to partake of all the fruits of the earth except of the fruit of the tree of life, which is of the knowledge of the earth and heaven, lest you lose your inheritance in etherea.
04/7.7. Behold, you now have sons and daughters on the earth; by your love to them you have become bound spirits of the lower heaven. Until you redeem them in wisdom and power even to the sixth generation, you shall not rise again and inherit My emancipated heavens.
04/7.8. To which end you shall be co workers with one another in system and order. In My name you shall become an organic body and known as the heaven of the earth, or lower heaven, which shall travel with the earth.
04/7.9. And I will allot to you a Chief, who is wise in experience in founding heavenly kingdoms; and he shall appoint from among you, officers, messengers, ashars, asaphs, and es’enaurs [angel leadership positions], and you shall be numbered and apportioned to your labor and places, like in My other lower heavens on other worlds.
04/7.10. He who is Chief shall be called God of this heaven and the earth, which are now bestowed to his making.
04/7.11. And God shall have a Council and throne within his heavenly city; and the place shall be called Hored, because it is the first kingdom of God in this firmament.
04/7.12. And God shall rule on his throne, for it is his; and his Council shall rule with him; in My name they shall have dominion over angels and mortals belonging to the earth.
04/7.13. And God shall appoint Chiefs under him who shall go down and dwell on the earth with mortals; and the labor of these Chiefs shall be with mortals for their resurrection. And these Chiefs shall be called Lords, for they are Gods of land, which is the lowest rank of My commissioned Gods.
04/7.14. And God and his Lords shall have dominion from two hundred years to a thousand or more years; but never more than three thousand years [a Dan]. According to the regions of dan (light) into which I bring the earth, so shall the terms be for the office of My Gods and My Lords.
04/7.15. And God and his Lords shall raise up officers to be their successors; these officers shall be appointed and crowned in My name by God and his Lords.
04/7.16. At the termination of the dominion of My God and his Lords, they shall in these, My bound heavens, gather together all those angels who have been prepared in wisdom and strength for resurrection to My etherean [celestial] kingdoms. And these angels shall be called Brides and Bridegrooms to Jehovah, for they are Mine and in My service.
04/7.17. And in the time of dan I will send down ships from etherea to God, his Lords and the Brides and Bridegrooms; by My etherean [celestial] Gods and Goddesses, these ships shall descend to these heavens to receive God, his Lords and the Brides and Bridegrooms, and carry them up to the exalted regions I have prepared for them.
04/7.18. All those who ascend shall be called a Harvest to Me, through My God and Lords. And the time of My Harvests shall be according to each dan, which is two hundred years, four hundred years, six hundred years, and five hundred years; and these shall be called My lesser cycles, because they are the times of the tables of prophecy which I give to My servants.
04/7.19. But at no other times, nor in any other way, shall My Harvests ascend to My emancipated worlds in etherea. For each and every dan’ha I have created seven dans, and to each dan given six generations of mortals.

Oaspe as well as other channeled texts also detail the spacecraft and dimension shifting technology which these higher beings use in covertly guiding and governing the affairs of earth. The Law of One, a more modern cosmological work channeled by Don Elkin, goes into great detail to explain the rules of non-intervention these beings are bound by, in order to preserve man’s rights to self-determination. These texts also explain the way in which communication and travel between the various dimensions is bound by laws of physics relating to the earth’s 11 year solar cycle and the position of our solar system within its Galactic orbit.

Illustration comparing the divisions of earth’s Gregorian Solar Calendar with the divisions outlined in Oahspe and ancient mythologies of the Galactic Calendar. These divisions are the ‘Times and Seasons’ mentioned in the Bible and the LDS D&C. Just as the earth’s seasons are caused by our planets position in the solar system combined with our earth’s axial tilt, so also are solar seasons dependent upon our solar system’s position in the galaxy combined with our Sun’s ‘axial tilt’ and position in the galactic plane.

 

[add another illustration that is a closeup of a square made on the above illustration. so in a small portion of the universe orbit we zoom in on the earth going from one of these “fixed” star systems to another. make its orbit a sinusoidal wave like oahspe shows, and explain that it is spiraling and show how it moves through the dimension, and perhaps even how it splits or activates new dimensions…]

Additionally, Oahspe and the Law of One suggest that as the earth travels through differing energetic densities of the galaxy, it affects the consciousness and intelligence of mankind in general. This concept linking energy or light in the galaxy with intelligence and consciousness is also taught in Mormonism in the Doctrine and Covenants.

7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made….
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (D&C 88:11–13)

Oahspe and the Law of One go into far more detail on the specifics of how the intensity of cosmic energy affects human consciousness and behavior. It suggests that most ages of enlightenment as well as ages of apostasy and intellectual darkness are caused by the amount of intergalactic energy reaching our solar system.

38/7.6. The prophets of old divided time into cycles of three thousand years, with slight variations. And they found that at the beginning of these periods of time, a certain impulse came upon the people, causing them to try to be better and wiser—even as the same feeling is manifesting itself this day in many nations.
38/7.7. The scale then rises for four hundred years, more or less; and, after that, wars and epidemics come upon the people. They then begin to decline, especially in virtue and peace, but the general intelligence suffers little for about another six or seven hundred years. After which time, they destroy their libraries and records, and reduce themselves to ignorance and vice. Then a darkness follows of one thousand or more years, with slight intermissions. And after that, for six hundred years the corporeal senses [intellect] begin to ascend. Self conceit comes upon them; they think they are the beginning of wisdom on earth. Then comes another cycle of light. Angels descend from the unseen worlds. New revelations crop up in every quarter. Inspiration comes upon mortals, and they go to the opposite extreme, becoming superstitious and obedient to unseen influences.
38/7.8. Such, then, is the general character and behavior of man during a cycle (dan’ha cycle). And he rises and falls in all these particulars as regularly as the tides of the ocean.
38/7.9. These revelations are chiefly made so that man can begin to comprehend these things, and learn to classify them so as to rise in wisdom and virtue, and thus overcome these epidemic seasons of cycles.
38/7.10. As previously shown, there are positive and negative forces continually going to and escaping from the earth. Without these no creature could live on the earth. The negative imparts to man his corporeal growth, as well as his corporeal desires, passions, and so on.
38/7.11. According to the quantity and quality of the corpor solutions in the firmament and their precipitations to the earth, so will man be affected and inclined to manifest. These influences are easily discernible by some persons. As one is depressed by a dull day; another inclined to drunkenness and fighting. A bright day inspires man with energy… (Oahspe 38/7.6-11, Cosmogony)

[add a law of one quote here illustrating the same point. That the “logos” (law of one terminology for a governing celestial body) dictates progression of consciousness on earth ]

The following illustrations visually depict the theorized “arcs” or regions of reinforcing or cancelling galactic energy patterns described in the preceding verses.

The Oahspe text contains many supposed ancient illustrations (channeled in 1882) of astronomic regions though which the earth passed in its galactic orbit which purportedly affected human behavior and consciousness, the pattern in this illustration (left) is surprisingly similar to the reinforced wave patterns of toroidal energy flow (right); a theoretical field pattern existing in the galaxy. The blue equatorial circle could very roughly symbolize our solar system’s orbit around the galactic core. Line nodes would represent reinforcing waves which create areas of high energy density.

Much of the Christian idea of “harvest” (Rev 14:15) comes from this same concept of Galactic “Times & Seasons”. Suggesting that higher beings in our galaxy seek to help people on earth progress in the same way that a gardener tends his garden. There are cosmically induced “winters” where the earth travels through un-energetic or thick nebulous regions of galactic dust which inhibit earth from receiving much of the higher wavelengths of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum (God’s spirit in religious terms), which mankind’s body and spirit rely on for intelligence and connectivity with each other and the rest of creation. These beings plant the “seeds” of civilization in the autumn (such as Moses to Christ), clear the weeds during winter (such as the dark ages), pour down inspiration during spring (such as the renaissance to present) and gather the fruit during summer (coming millennium). The higher off-planet beings who aid the earth transmit most orally communicated information first to the upper realms of earth’s spirit world where it filters down through multiple realms of that dimension before passing on to our dimension in the material world (see D&C 76:86–88).

18/6.21. Is a summer on the earth not half a time? And the winter half a time? And the two, one full time? So also I created for atmospherea [the spirit dimension] a dan (cycle) of four hundred years, and a half time of two hundred years. And in seven times and one half time I created one dan’ha.
18/6.22. For thousands of years I sent My Gods to teach these things, so that My angels could know the times of My resurrections. Does a farmer not have knowledge of the resurrection of spring, when I cover the earth over with new growing things, which I raise up out of the earth? How much more knowledge should My angels have of My spring times, in atmospherea [earth’s spirit world], when My archangels come to gather in My harvests of emancipated souls?

There are several other cosmic influence dictated by our position in the galaxy, explained in Oahspe’s cosmology which we dont have time to cover in this article. These include the 11 year solar cycle affecting the ability to travel and communicate through space. There are many activities which can occur only with the collapse of the sun’s magnetic field during solar max (get refs). These cycles as well as regions of nebula and gas clouds also affect man’s ability in the spirit world to raise or be resurrected between realms or kingdoms (refs). The realms or kingdoms of the spirit world are also raised or lowered depending on these galactic conditions (get refs).

[Add a few paragraphs here showing how the highly fragmented hindu, buddhist and mayan cosmological belief systems and calendars each sought to literally or figuratively describe the “arcs” or discs of the solar system’s orbit through the galaxy. Name specifically a few of the most popular. End with a chart showing how they fit with Christian Harvest cycles, Mormon cosmology ideas and how Oahspe contains the most detailed and believable framework for tying them all together with modern scientific/astronomical observations.]

 

Re-examining what LDS scriptures say about the ‘Only True Church’ doctrine

67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church (D&C 10:67–68).

Introduction

In this article I hope to show from numerous scriptures in the Book of Mormon, the New Testament & the Doctrine & Covenants that the “one true church” of Jesus Christ mentioned in most of our scriptures is a non-denominational “spiritual church” or heavenly church which manifests as a cultural movement and NOT strictly the LDS ecclesiastical organization as has been established in LDS tradition.[defs] I also hope to show in this and other articles in this series that Judaism, Christianity and Mormonism were created to be a symbol, or type/archetype of the heavenly church, but by failing to establish Zion the early saints also failed to establish & gather the temporal “true and living church” spoken of in D&C 1:30. The “only true church”, or Kingdom of god/heaven is something earthly churches aspire to and lead people to, not an inherent right that comes with priesthood keys. The scriptures toward the end of this article hit the point home, and show that like Peter and other ancient prophets, Joseph seems to have partially misunderstood the divine counsel given to him in the first vision and subsequent revelations.

 

Outline of points covered in the article
-The cultural overuse of the only true church concept in LDS testimonies too often follows the example of the Book of Mormon Zoramites. (see Alma 31:12–21)
-The Book of Mormon, Bible and Doctrine and Covenants teach that Christ’s one true church (as well as the church of the devil) are spiritual churches which transcend organizational and priesthood lines. (D&C 10:67–68, 1 Ne 14:10Moroni 7:16–17, Mark 9:38–402 Nephi 10:16Matt 12:30, etc)
-The Doctrine & Covenants (D&C 10:67–68) clearly teaches the condition required to be part of Christ’s Spiritual Church. Declaring more or less than that definition threatens Mormonisms’ membership in Christ’s one true spiritual church.
-A temporal sect or religion’s “trueness” or whether they can be classified as part of the “one true church”, depends on how well they copy, obey or “come unto” the spiritual church in heaven. (D&C 10:53–69)
-The separation of the wheat and the tares at the end of the age is synonymous with Christ’s separation of the Church of God and Church of the devil. The point of the parable revolves around the difficulty for humans to distinguish between the two. (see Matt 13:37–43, D&C 86:1–3, D&C 88:94)
-D&C 10:52–54 makes it clear that Christ’s spiritual church existed on earth before the restoration of the LDS sect. Joseph Smith’s church & priesthood were meant to “build up” and correct the already existing spiritual church on earth. And to be a symbol and archetype of the end-epoch separating and gathering process (see Heb 8:5;9:23-24;10:1; Alma 13:16).
-Mormonism should never boast of being the only true church until Messiah’s final gathering of all people and churches in One Body, and that universal brotherhood or kingdom is ready to “present to the Father”.
-Interpreting D&C 1:30 to suggest the LDS church is ‘the ONLY true church’, contradicts other scriptural evidence concerning the matter. We LDS people need to relook at the conditional nature of what the verse actually says. (see exegesis of D&C 1:30)

Zoramitism in the LDS Church

It seems to me that many Mormons have misunderstood D&C 1:30, and discount an abundance of scriptural information to the contrary, in order to support the tradition of being “the only true church”. Like the biblical Pharisees and Zoramites in the Book of Mormon, we sometimes twist the scriptures in a manner that makes us think that God has “separated us” and “elected us to be saved”, while “all around us are elected to be cast by [his] wrath down to hell” (or lower kingdoms until we do their temple work). Understanding the pride inherent in our doctrines is the first step in unraveling what I believe to be the incorrect traditions and scriptural interpretations which crept into the church from its earliest days. The similarities between the Book of Mormon account of the Zoramites and the average Mormon testimony in Fast & Testimony Meeting should be enough to convict us and open our hearts to the need to look closer at what the scriptures teach concerning the only true church doctrine. For those unfamiliar with the story of the Zoramites, let’s read through Alma’s experience for some insight into this extremely prideful sect—one that LDS people don’t want to be like!

12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld;
13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person.
14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.
16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.
19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. (Alma 31:12–21)

Although the beliefs of the Zoramites concerning the nature of God and Christ were different than our own, we sometimes share some of the same pride concerning salvation. Like all fundamentalist sects, the Zoramites saw themselves as a “chosen and holy people”. Like us, the Zoramites truly believed that their doctrines, divine election, (and likely priesthood & ordinances)  made them the only true church, “elected by God to be saved”. They did not understand the following concepts taught by Nephi, and reiterated by Moroni, Jesus and other prophets—that until Zion is fully established & redeemed, the only true church is a spiritual church which transcends cultural and organizational lines.

The ‘Only Two Churches’ are ‘Spiritual Churches’ or Social Movements

I suggest the LDS concept of being the ‘only true church’ comes from a small handful of misunderstood scriptures. One example is Nephi’s vision of the two churches. In his vision given in 1 Nephi of the Book of Mormon, Nephi was taught that there are only two churches, the church of the Lamb of God (or the true church), and the church of the devil (the false church). This vision is often used to support the idea that there is only one true church on earth — however, since Nephi specifies that everyone on earth belongs to one of these two churches— it should be obvious that term “church” here is referring to a “spiritual” state of being and not just a temporal sect or ecclesiastical organization.

10 And [The angel of the Lord] said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (1 Ne 14:10)

It should be apparent from the context of this verse, that the term “church” in this scripture, can not be referring to the most popular modern definition of the word church (which is a specific religious denomination). Since the verse says “there are save two churches only”, defining “church” as a denomination would mean there could only be two religious denominations in existence, and everyone on earth would have to be a member of one or the other.

As implied by the context and noted by other authors, the word church anciently had a much broader meaning than it does now (Hebrew qahal or edah; Greek ekklesia). For instance, in Greek texts it referred more broadly to a general assembly, or association of people who bonded together and shared the same loyalties. Scholars have noted that the modern concept of a church as a single religious denomination, didn’t exist among Jews of the first and second temple periods. Instead the differing religious groups or sects of late Judaism were forced to work together to manage the Jewish theocratic state.

In regards to Nephi’s vision of two churches, LDS apostles and church leaders have often misunderstood the scriptural use of the word “church” by arguing an inconsistent definition-— suggesting on one hand that the “church of the lamb of God” refers to a literal ecclesiastical organization (the LDS church and its ancient equivalent), but yet that the “church of the devil” refers to a figurative or spiritual church that transcends organizational lines. Others have tried to define the Church of the Devil in Nephi’s vision as the Catholic or American Evangelical Churches. However any interpretation to make either “the church of the Lamb of God” OR “the church of the devil” into literal Christian organizations or sects, contradicts the principle taught in Moroni 7 where he teaches that “every thing which inviteth to do good… is of God” and “whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil… is of the devil”.

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Moroni 7:16–17)

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good… (Ether 4:12)

The idea sometimes pushed by early church leaders that every other Christian denomination BUT the LDS church is part of the Church of the devil would be a complete contradiction to Moroni’s words. How could Catholicism or protestantism for instance be a part of the “church of the devil” when the devil “persuadeth no man to do good[0], no not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him“! The idea is prideful and contradictory and has subsequently been abandoned by most modern LDS teachers. But at the same time, how could the LDS church be the “only true church” when according to Nephi and other scriptures THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHURCHES? According to Nephi’s vision, holding that the LDS denomination is the only true church requires all others to be part of the church of the devil, which as we will see in this article goes contrary to the words of Moroni, Christ’s and the Joseph’s Doctrine and Covenants. The answer to this apparent contradiction is that Both Moroni and Nephi understood the spiritual nature of Christ’s true church. [1]

Is it any wonder that we are scorned as being a cult by other churches when we repeatedly infer that they are part of the church of the devil? (Perhaps some LDS members don’t realize it, but our insistence that we are the ONLY true church infers by definition that unlike us, all others are false!).

Early LDS Church leaders were not alone in their misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of Christ’s true church.  In the New Testament John and other apostles make this same mistake when they forbid a man who would not follow them, from casting out demons by Christ’s name and authority. Jesus rebuked them and teaches the same principle as Nephi and Moroni. No-one who does good in Christ’s name is of the devil—and the apostolic followers weren’t the only one’s allowed to act with Christ’s authority. Because all who do good in Christ’s name are part of Christ’s spiritual church.

38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone forcing demons out of a person by using the power and authority of your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.”
39 Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! No one who works a miracle in my name can turn around and speak evil of me.
40 Whoever isn’t against us is for us. (Mark 9:38–40 GWT)

Nephi makes essentially the same statement using reverse logic later in his writings as he explains the nature of both the true church of Christ and the False church of the devil. (Christ also says almost the exact thing in Matt 12:30)

“Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.” (2 Nephi 10:16, see also Matt 12:30)

So Christ in one place says “whoever is not against us–is for us”, but then also says along with Nephi “whoever is not for us–is against us” (see Matt 12:30). Although circular in reasoning, these statements make absolutely no sense at all if you try to define a church as an ecclesiastical organization. (fn 4) They are far more in harmony if you realize that the “only two churches” are simply a restatement of the same spiritual dichotomy taught over and over in scripture which teaches that those who do good and are heading toward love are part of the spiritual church of God, and those who do evil and are fighting good are part of the church of the devil. And that every ecclesiastical church, sect, denomination, religion, person or nation is constantly aligning themselves with one or the other in everything they do–and will eventually have to chose allegiances in the heavenly or spiritual battle.

good-vs-evil

The Good vs. Evil Dichotomy in Scripture

The dualism or dichotomy of good vs. evil is taught throughout the scriptures. And perhaps nowhere is the idea that these terms transcend organizational lines taught better than in the parable of the wheat and the tares. In the parable the Master commands his servants to plant wheat in a field— but when it grows he find tares MIXED WITHIN the wheat. He tells his servants to allow them to grow together, least pulling out the tares, “ye root up also the wheat with them”.  The meaning of this parable is explained not only in the New Testament but also in D&C 86 & 88, where we learn that that “the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed” (D&C 86:2), the good seed are the children of Christ’s kingdom (true church), and the tares are the church of the devil or bad people and bad works that come from twisted doctrine (Matt 13:38, D&C 88:94).

37 …He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom [Christ’s true church]; but the tares are the children of the wicked one [ie. devil’s church, see D&C 88:94];
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt 13:37–43, see also D&C 86:1–3)

Verse 38 (clarified in D&C 88:94) makes it clear that in this parable the wheat are the kingdom or church of Christ, and the tares are the ‘kingdom or church of the devil’. And the whole point of the parable is that it is hard to tell the difference between the two because they look so similar and grow together within each organization! Both the wheat and the tares exist within every religion, culture and nation.  And it is not until the end of the world (end or close of the age in most translations) that Christ will separate the two; gathering the wheat into heaven and burning the tares with the stubble to prepare a new crop cycle. [2].

Redefining the LDS (Protestant) View of the “Great Apostasy”

Apostasy3

In this article I hope to unravel some of the confusion caused by the current LDS perspective on the “Great Apostasy“, which I believe is for the most part a popular protestant view adopted by church leaders during Joseph Smith’s time. Instead of universal apostasy, LDS scriptures seem to support a type of universalist and dispensationalist view of religious history. In this view, the assignment to be a living symbol or archetype of heaven, and transfer or renewal of the Jewish priesthood covenant to individuals and peoples such as Abraham, Moses, Nephi, Peter or Joseph Smith did not require or infer that all other earthly priesthood were rejected or had been invalidated through apostasy. Instead, the renewal of the covenant and religious priesthood keys, is part of a repeated pattern wherein God or the “heavenly church” establishes new covenants and symbolic systems with new worthy peoples at assorted key times and seasons of human history.

The Great Apostasy doctrine was conceived by 16th century reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Thomas, John Knox, and Cotton Mather. It is a necessary pillar in the protestant idea of the universal priesthood of all believers, and was used to justify the protestant view of salvation without need for Catholic priesthood or apostolic succession. For early Mormon’s the doctrine was seen as an effective backdrop to show a need for priesthood restoration and exclusivity claims. However, I hope to show how adopting this doctrine has caused us to misinterpret the Bible and modern scripture and actually weaken the LDS position. It causes many to lose faith in the illogical, contradictory and inconsistent ‘God’ that this doctrine requires. As an example I offer the following logical contradictions and inconsistencies that are caused by mixing the idea of Universal Apostasy with LDS theology.

  1. Why would divinity reject the religious priesthood (or keys) of the Gentile Medieval Church for their possible small succession breaches and doctrinal corruptions, when he supposedly continued to honor the priesthood of ancient Israel despite their enormous repeated succession crises, repeated disobedience, doctrinal corruptions with neighboring false religions, idol worship (including the promotion of the asherah sex cults and the sacrifice of their children to Baal), as well as killing of the prophets and even their national destruction and captivity?
  2. If God’s priesthood and ordinances are so important, why did God wait nearly 2000 years to restore them after they were supposedly lost? If God’s church plays such a huge role in salvation, why has it always had such a minimal (or non existent) role in human affairs? Why couldn’t God select a few people to go 2000 miles into middle of uninhabited Asia and reestablish his Church like he did with the early LDS Saints? If we think the devil would have destroyed any attempts, then doesn’t that make God weaker than the devil? Couldn’t He have preserved the church with his “matchless power” as He did over and over with the tiny (and usually wicked) nation of Judah? (Or as we suppose He did with early Mormonism.)
  3. Why would God have ancient prophets prophesy that the gospel & kingdom would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles, and later command the apostles to preach his gospel to the ends of the earth— just to let that kingdom completely fail within a few hundred years? Didn’t he say to Peter “thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:16–19). So why did the gates of Hell prevail within a few hundred years? Especially when history shows there were so many scattered groups of good (priesthood authorized) people doing their best to live this newly formed Christian faith throughout the history of the Gentile church.
  4. Suggesting that the Catholic/Orthodox Church, which is by many standards the largest and most influential, globally civilizing church that the world has ever known, was completely rejected by God because of its numerous issues and evils (or in fact is the Church of the Devil as some have suggested)—requires the logical thinker to draw the same conclusions about the ancient Israelite religion, and also modern Mormonism when presented with the repeated episodes of internal conflict, church endorsed brutality, succession crises and doctrinal corruptions that each of these organizations have experienced.
  5. LDS scripture suggests that God “restored” gospel knowledge and a new priesthood covenant to many different dispensations throughout the scriptural history (such as Abraham, Moses, Nephi and the Jaredites). None of these restorations were the result of universal apostasy. What evidence is there that Joseph Smith’s case was any different?
  6. Why does close examination of the most prominent scriptures which have been used to support a universal apostasy, show that they make little sense in such a context?

I believe these issues come from an overly fundamentalist interpretation of restorationism, history and scripture. Instead of seeing Biblical prophets as religious archetypes and messengers of a heavenly church, and seeing the Israelite and Christian priesthood covenants as divinely created symbols or shadows of what heaven is planning for the whole of society; fundamentalist interpretations get caught up in narrow minded inconsistent arguments that end up destroying faith in god and dividing groups and distorting the heavenly system they are meant to display to the world.

As a beginning proof of divinity’s guiding hand in both the history of Israel and the European Gentile Church (which includes protestant Christianity), I offer this comparison of the unbelievable symbolism, historical typology, and repeated patterns displayed in the histories of Israel and the Gentile Church. In this article I will attempt to show those patterns as proof of heaven’s influence on human affairs, as well as taking another look at the scriptures used to uphold the misunderstood doctrine of universal apostasy.

 

Timeline summarizing the historical correlations or types between the times of Israel and the times of the Gentiles. Redraw this to show correlations better.

Timeline summarizing the historical correlations or types between the times of Israel and the times of the Gentiles.  Note the similarities in the upper timeline (spanning from Abraham to Christ), and the lower timeline (spanning from Christ to present). The following section will show how each “age” or “time” followed a divinely guided blueprint in order to create a group capable of having the largest possible impact on human evolution and history.

14 And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived (D&C 52:14)

The Divine Pattern of Western Civilization & Global Advancement

People tend to find meaning and patterns in the strangest things. Apophenia, which is the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data, is something I’m all too aware of.  But as I’ve studied religious history over the last decade or so I have been amazed by the striking patterns and types that I myself (and thousands of others) have seen between the biblical narrative of Israel’s history and the Gentile Christian Dispensation. In my opinion, self fulfilling prophesy simply can’t account for the correspondences. For instance as shown in the above diagram, both dispensations were started by a “King of Righteousness” known as a “Son of God” (Melchizedek vs. Christ). Both involved an early period of 12 closely related tribalistic factions. Both tribal groups were brought into special position and growth within a major southern global empire, only to later be enslaved by the arrangement (Joseph of Egypt vs Constantine of Rome). Both were freed from that arrangement about the same time that a spirit of legal codification swept the region. (The Mosaic code, with Hammurabi’s code and others matching with Justinian’s code, Sharia law and the host of legal codes which swept through the Germanic nations almost exactly 2000 years later.)

Both of these periods of codification (legal codes which strongly shaped the future of civilization) were accompanied by a type of imperial Holy War to help bring those legal codes to a larger populous. Joshua and Hammurabi’s conquest of the Holy Land and Mesopotamia corresponding to Belisarius’ and Muhammad’s conquest of the Mediterranean & Middle East (where Belisarius expanded the rising Christian Byzantine Empire to double its size). Just as Joshua’s conquest occured nearly the same time as Babylon’s first major burst of expansionism, Belisuarius’ campaigns match very closely with the rapid growth of early Islam. The rise of Islam from Judaic & Christian roots in the 6th and 7th centuries AD, matching the raise of proto-Indo-Aryan religion out of Babylonian and Egyptian traditions 2000 years earlier. This indo-Aryan religion would go on to spread into Rome, Greece, Persia and India and was the base for the pantheons of Vedic/Hindu, Zoroastrian, Akkadian and Greek religions.

Each of these dispensations went through a centrally defining period of religious imperialism, where the religious leader began to anoint the emperor (Samuel anointing Saul in the case of Israel and Pope Leo II anointing Charlemagne in the case of the Gentile Church/Holy Roman Empire). Both of these religious empires shortly thereafter experienced a major schism. The division of the kingdom of Judah & Israel in the dispensation of Israel, and the Great East-West Schism which split the Roman & Eastern Orthodox Church. And not too long after that, both dispensations faced a radical destruction of their power and authority. Israel’s ‘Babylonian Captivity’ matching with the 70 year Avignon Papacy, called the ‘Babylonian Captivity of the popes’ by many. In both cases this destruction of power created a dissatisfaction with authoritarian/priesthood abuse and gave rise to a spirit of protestant or sectarianism. Ezra’s reforms matching those of Luther, where scripture was rewritten, translated and recanonized–accompanying fundamental shift in the way authority was viewed. In both cases this pluralistic religious sectarianism (called ‘Second Temple Sectarianism’ in Israel, or ‘schools’ by Josephus) seemed to accompany a similar spirit in the regional political arena where democracy and republics began to replace monarchies.

Also during this period, each dispensation went through a matching colonial phase where people from the region began to colonize the entire world. Although 15th-20th century European expansionism and colonialism is well known, fewer are aware of the massive Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Jewish colonial efforts which took place 2000 years earlier. Apart from the well known colonies of the Mediterranean, Britain, Scandinavia, Crimea, India and central asian (Scythian) colonies, Mormon theology proposes that at least three distinct and influential colonies to non-eurasian continents or “isles of the sea” (2 Ne 10:21, Jacob 5) existed—suggesting that the Israel/Gentile Church pattern or analog may be even stronger than modern archaeology is willing to currently accept.

In my article Parallels between the Times of Israel and the Times of the Gentiles, I detail many additional types, patterns and parallels many of which are inevitably a product of confirmation bias, but given as a whole the correspondence is not easily dismissed. Indeed LDS and other restorationism scriptures are replete with allusions to the parallelism between dispensational ages. (see Ether 13:2–12, JS-Matt 1:32–33, 3 Ne 8, 2 Ne 21:1, D&C 113:3, Deut 8:15, Acts 3:22, 3 Ne 21:8–11, D&C 103:16, etc)  By comparing the dispensation of Israel with the dispensation of the Gentiles, we can see how a Universal Apostasy in either of these dispensations makes little sense. I think these strong parallels and the doctrinal contradictions which they help clear up are a solid reason to take another look at the scriptures which we use to support the old protestant Great Apostasy doctrine promoted in modern LDS theology. I propose that just like throughout the Dispensation of Israel, priesthood continued in the Catholic Church throughout the Dispensation of the Gentiles. However, much like the forerunner John the Baptist, Joseph Smith was called to announce the End of the Gentile Dispensation and its coming fall (its fullness), and the restoration of the Lord’s covenant to Israel.

Why I Stay LDS (with tips for challenging, and handling challenges to your faith)

Introduction

First off. I hope this article doesn’t come across as patronizing. I don’t want to talk down to anyone as if my truth should be your truth, or like my perspective is more valid than yours. And I’m not here to verbally strong-arm anyone into staying in, or leaving Mormonism. But I do want to share with you my unique pluralistic perspective in hopes that it might be helpful to you or someone you know who might be struggling with certain aspects of the LDS Church.

Like many out there, adulthood and the internet has brought me unimagined insight into Mormonism’s faith inspiring story and its troublesome issues. But perhaps more uniquely than many practicing Mormons, it’s also helped me to study much of the the world’s prominent religious works; inspiring me to realize the amazing ways that a universalist view is supported by Mormon scripture. I’m attempting to show with this site how Jewish, Christian and LDS scripture & ritual may have been intelligently designed to purposefully begin believers on a path of egocentric belief, binary thinking & fundamentalism, in order to bring them onto more nuanced beliefs respecting universal love and religious pluralism. Transforming them, as Paul in the New Testament puts it, from a “slave” of lower religion, to a “joint-heir” of the god’s themselves. (Gal 4:5–7, Rom 7, Rom 8:17, see details in my articles Is the LDS church True, and My Testimony of the LDS Church.)

My interesting spiritual experiences may also make my perspective unique to you. From the baptism of fire or burning heart, to visions of ministering beings or seeing spirits. I’ve not only had profound metaphysical experiences, but I’ve carefully analysed and  written about them from both a faithful religious perspective as well as from an agnostic scientific perspective. (I’ve tried to explain these experiences as frankly as possible in one of my articles.) I’ve scoured countless religious canons, near-death experiences and channeled works to find a worldview that best harmonizes my subjective supernatural experiences with both Mormonism’s and those of countless others coming from various cultures. In addition to Joseph Smith’s visions of Deity, I’ve studied the incredibly similar subjective theophany experiences and revealed scripture of contemporary modern ‘prophets’ like Siyyid Shírází (Founder of Bahá’í Faith; 8 million adherents), Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad (Aḥmadiyya Muslims; 20 million adherents), Hong Xiuquan (prophetic icon of Chinese millennialism), Jachanan Ben Kathryn (Messianic Judaism), and others. I hope that the perspective and worldview that I attempt to share in this and my following articles might help you as they’ve helped me to find a space in the Mormon tradition that is objectively aware of both its divine destiny and beauty, as well as its contradictions while still remaining a believing active participant of the faith and its culture—even if like me you come to see its exclusive truth claims as a common example of mistaking intelligently designed symbols, shadows, types and archetypes for the unexplainable realities they are meant to symbolize (see Col 2:16-19Heb 10:1).

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What do u see Optical illusion

Perspective is Everything. The differences in human perspective can make the same truths take completely different shapes and memes depending on the way we look at them.

 

The Power of Perspective & Empathy

As I get older, I’m continually amazed at the difference perspective makes. The angle you approach a topic from, or the biases you are culturally conditioned with can be the difference between seeing an old ugly hag or a beautiful young maiden in all the things of life (to borrow from William Hill’s famous illusion shown above).  Like many youth raised in a religion, when I was young all I could see was beauty in my religious culture, doctrines and history. Like a beautiful new bride, the church and its doctrines were the model of truth and perfection to me. But as I got older and really dedicated myself to knowing the truths of religion and the afterworld — and began carefully comparing the Church’s teachings to its own history & scriptures, or to that of other religions and their holy literature, I came to see a dark side I never anticipated. Instead of just seeing the LDS church’s teachings as the pinnacle of truth and right-living, I came to see a more conflicting, contradicting and egotistical side of the church (see here for examples).

Perhaps coming to see the “shadow side” of my religion shouldn’t have come as a surprise in my life. As opposed to my literal marriage, which I fully expected would be a challenge as the infatuation glasses slowly came off—I never suspected that close scrutiny of my religion might reveal a combination of truth mixed with well meaning pretense.  As the shiny ‘correlation’ clothes and the ‘hidden-history’ makeup have come off, I’ve had to make a decision of loyalty and focus. Do I choose to focus on this newly discovered ugliness to the point that I forget the divine beauty I once was in love with? Do I divorce or leave this “bride of Christ” because she made herself out to be far more divine than human?  Or do I recognize her mixture of falsity and divinity as a reflection of the same conditions in my own nature, and use it as a tool for social, spiritual and personal improvement?

Through my faith journey I’ve striven for the goal to see all people, religions and concepts from an eye of unconditional love and universal understanding. I’ve been lucky enough to have dreams and visions to show me unique new ways to see how my cultural beliefs fit into the larger picture of faith and human spirituality. Maybe my experiences were my imagination—but either way, I’d like to share with you some of the concepts I’ve learned. I hope I can show how the pluralistic beliefs of powerful thinkers like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell or even contemporary authors like Reza Aslan (interviewed by Oprah in the hour long special posted at the end of this article) can fit within the Mormon scriptural narrative. And how the Mormon scriptural narrative might be intelligently designed to fit into the global human drama. Like them, I’m trying to speak from a perspective of one who is fully aware of both the positive and the negative fruit in all religion but has overcome the true/false trap, consciously choosing to find beauty, meaning and utility in the whole of it.

 

The Church’s Pattern of Progression in its Historical Context

As we come to understand how biased, partial and flawed our human religions are, I think that more than anything else it’s important to come to see them as the dynamically changing and evolving social structures that they are. Like living stones in a rising temple of humanity that has, is and will go through the same Fowler’s Stages of Faith and progression as the rest of us. Although impossible to prove or disprove, the Christian and LDS scriptures (as well as many other holy texts in other cultures) seem to present the idea that deceased ancestors, higher dimensional beings, a collective unconsciousness or even our future selves are somehow involved in starting religions and then intermittently working on them through the different times & seasons like a gardener. In the cold and darkness of early spring the imaginations and subconscious of charismatic (but often egotistical) dreamers and visionaries are used to plant revolutionary religious seeds according to the pre-existing soil type or culture. As the creators step back to watch and see which new religious branches or sects do best they often allow rigid garden cages or strict rules and mores to be emplaced in order to hold the ‘plant’ while its young. They seem to often allow (or possibly encourage?) fanatical egotism or violent struggle in the early stages to build a cohesive culture and sustainable base of cohesive believers. Eventually, they come again in early summer to remove unsuccessful starts as well as the stakes and cages on the plants that have evolved past them and can stand on their own. Then when fully grown they use those diverse organizations to unify cultures and influence politics according to their aims. And lastly, they come to harvest the fruit & new seeds before the winter comes to bring death and dissolution to the spent plant or culture. (see Scattering and Gathering of Israel)

Regardless of your particular views on divinity or religious evolution, the reason why I believe it’s incredibly important to see religion in its evolving historical context is that if we only see our religions as they are now (instead of what they will hopefully become), it is more tempting to leave them when we realize how imperfect, fallacious and culturally biased they might currently be. Like wanting to divorce our young lover or parent when we realize how egocentric, narrow minded, controlling or deceptive they might often be. But if we realize that the very act of faithful metaphorical marriage and childbearing with our religion may eventually help them to grow up into a humble, broad-minded, passive yet powerful influence for good on society–we may be able to find the patience needed to help them become their best selves. And what’s more we might find that this path of unconditional love and acceptance is the best way to assure the same for our own character.

I think this is a powerful message in the archetypal story of Jesus. In the New Testament narrative, he sees through the myth, darkness, misunderstanding and corruption of the Jewish political and religious system. But even though he had the power and following necessary to lead an armed rebellion to destroy those systems—instead he worked within the system, speaking his powerful truth in a spirit of pacifism all the way to the point of religious excommunication and political martyrdom. And in so doing he made god and man one–while radically transforming one of the most radical religions in the civilized world.

Uncontacted primitive tribe living in Brazilian rain forest photographed in 2010

Uncontacted primitive tribes like this one currently living in Brazilian rainforest help us to consider how our world might also be just like these groups which are totally unaware of the advanced civilizations which dwell around and above them. Just as international laws are being drafted to protect the self-determination of these groups, it is logical to consider that higher dimensional groups are also constrained by law in the manners they are allowed to subtly influence human culture, through the imaginations, thoughts and visions of our cultural icons. (see Zoo Hypothesis & Fermi Paradox)

 

Choosing a Positive Focus

It seems to be true that like early Judaism, and aspects of CatholicismIslam and many churches before us, Mormonism currently sees itself as God’s highest and most-true, final revelation. It has a unique view of history which often puts itself squarely in the center of almost everything. Many in the church see being a faithful adherent as dependent upon a “testimony” that they are members of the only true church with the only true priesthood in the earth’s final dispensation with the only means of receiving ordinances absolutely necessary for salvation in the highest heavens. Some perceive that our church is fully in charge of single-handedly saving the entire world through our vicarious ordinances. Some view salvation as dependent upon faith in the nearly demigod status and teachings of current or founding prophets. A few see every human advancement (like democracy, airplanes and the internet) as specifically given by God to mankind JUST to help Mormonism be spread throughout the world. The almost narcissistic exclusivism inherent in these beliefs, when combined with overwhelming historical proof of our fallibility on topics like early polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, myth in scripture, or ‘prophetic’ errency combined with the numerous historical and doctrinal contradictions like those addressed in the popular CES letter, may upset many members to the point where they want to abandon belief in divinity or the church.

Before I had really studied out the opposing arguments, I was once absolutely convinced of all the above truth claims, and I can empathize with those who still feel that way. On the other hand, if my words on LDS narcissism explains part of the negativity you perceive, let me just say I get you too, and can truly empathize with you–even though I hope to show you a way to stay a positive, loving participant in the faith; as well as showing how Mormonism might fill a more humble role within a larger divine universalist perspective.  My existing paradigms and faith were seriously challenged and entirely rebuilt, when my own spiritual experiences and research on history and other religions helped me see how complex, contradictory and difficult some of our exclusivist beliefs and traditions were to defend. (Given we simply use different words to say essentially the same things as so many others religions which we call falseand our testimonies are based on the same logic and emotional/spiritual confirmations. Watch this video for example.) My experiences growing up in the church were so positive and full of overwhelming spiritual confirmation that I never quite understood friends and family members who left. But when my desire to empathize with those I loved caused me to study enough to really see the ‘ugly old woman’ of contradiction in the same doctrines which had once given my life beauty and purpose I fully understood why many people I know would leave or feel forced out. But my advice for those just beginning this process, echoes the advice given to me in my own dark night of the soul as well as that given in Christian Scripture. That “Christ” (as an archetype of unconditional or universal love) is the only fully joyful escape from the binary paradox or true/false paradigm in fundamentalist religion.

By seeing that Christian and LDS core scripture is divinely influenced to encourage us to progress from selfish doctrinal absolutism, exclusivism, and religious authoritarianism, to a more selfless system of pluralism, openness, democracy and love, we can peacefully transition from negative, overly-orthodox false religion to positive, free, true religion. All religion’s radically change over their lifespans, and Christian scripture is designed not only to show you that cyclical progression—but to help you determine where your denomination is in that cycle. So if you’re ahead of the group in your love and awareness of contradiction; the most effective solution may be to follow Jesus’ lead of being patient and thoughtful with those who might be behind the curve. And just as there is wisdom in the idea of being a saving light in the darkness, or the salt of the earth—there is also wisdom in the idea of being a Mormon who sees through the fundamentalism and cultural mythos and yet still humbly participates in the underlying divine community in order to save or help others by your example of selflessness. Realize that like the Chinese yin and yang seeks to symbolize — that bad, falsity, egocentrism and negativity are an inseparable part of humanity’s good, truth, selflessness and positivity. Because of the binary nature of human perspective, they cannot meaningfully exist apart from each-other. Every individual, human religion, political entity or scientific organization has a healthy mixture of both across its lifespan. Realize that there might be intelligent reasons why most of the world’s largest and most influential organizations have been led by strict, narrow-minded, egocentric and sometimes even blindly fanatical individuals and power structures in the early stages of their development. As much as I hate to be machiavellian, It seems all too clear to me that without power (which tends to be dogmatic and inherently egocentric), the good one has to offer in the world is often largely irrelevant. It seems obvious to me that the good people of this world (and we might suppose divine beings in the next world), use these inherent attributes of human nature to both build influential people and organizations and turn them toward the light.

 

All organization go through different stages in their lifecycle. The Judeo christian canon seems to paint a historically based metaphorical story of life stages and archetypes. Early group archetypes selfishly focus on increasing the power & purity of the group through legalism, absolutism and fundamentalism (typified by orthodox Judaism and the Mosaic law). Later the group reaches an inflection point or transformation to selflessness through mercy and universal love (typified by Christ’s sacrifice & Pauline Christianity). Finally the unified view gained from their various experiences give them the wisdom to guide future generations from beyond the grave (symbolized by Resurrection eschatology. (see Redefining the LDS/Protestant view of the Great Apostasy)

 

The Inevitable Idolatry of Organized Religion

As I’ve moved from the fundamentalist orthodoxy of my youth to perhaps more nuanced rational beliefs, one of the most impressive testimony builders in my view of Mormonism & Christianity has been how (like most global religions) the revealed aspects of the religion seemed to be intelligently designed to allow for opposing perspectives of interpretation. Like brilliant poetry, musical lyrics or literature which purposely use ambiguity to allow their works to mean different things to different people. It seems each generation is purposely given the opportunity to reinterpret the same scripture, and use them for good or bad, pride or humility, power, love or wisdom. And what’s more, LDS revelations seem to have hidden clues to the religion’s own inevitable falsities or lower aspects within its own doctrinal narrative (especially within its temple rituals)! As one Judaic example of this— the beginning of the Biblical narrative essentially starts with Moses coming down from the Mount with a law from God, commanding above all other things not to put human-imagined gods before the ONE incomprehensible universal god of creation who just freed these ignorant slaves. This God tells them not to kill or be unfair and especially not to make or worship human-conceived gods, religious systems or idols (and especially not to do it in the name of God!).

And what happens when Moses comes down from the heavenly Mount? His brother Aaron is already making the people an Egyptian golden calf-god to worship!  So in a strange display of irony, we are told that this divine deity representing the One True Universal Reality or I AM makes that same idol-creating, Aaron and his posterity, Israel’s religious priesthood who are put in charge of executing opponents, and building and officiating in a temple and religious system that history has shown was in many respects uncannily similar to the one they just left. One which (like almost every major religion since) then goes on a rampage of supposed benevolent genocide conquering desired territory in the name of the national God (see Ex 32:19-29!).

Volumes could (and have) been written on the paradoxical irony of the amazing biblical account. An account of a universal God who is in so many ways the exact opposite of every religious system and deity of the time, within the framework of a people and priesthood who in more ways than not, behave exactly the same as every selfish and egocentric religious and political system in history. So I ask myself what might wise humans or divine beings be trying to teach us with the story of how Jewish priesthood originated? Somewhat secular books like free-masonry’s Morals and Dogma by Robert Pike lay out the conclusion of many of the most wise and influential minds of the post-medieval period. While angelically revealed books like Oahspe share a surprisingly similar message from a divine perspective. A message that I believe is clearly and cleverly hidden within eastern religions like Taoism, the LDS endowment, the writings of Paul and all Christian scripture. In the spirit of Mystery — which these books and other esoteric rites such as the LDS endowment are partly based on — I’ll leave it to the reader to work out their own specific conclusions. But hint that it has to do with understanding that all earthly religion has an unfathomably large, man-made component. (see my article on LDS priesthood for more information on this)

Every religion is a temple that (even if founded on divine foundations) is largely built by human hands which creates an idol or image of God that by the very fallibility of man must inevitably be carved from a limited and biased human perspective. Whether you believe a prophet or scripture is divine or not should not change the inescapable truth that all men intentionally or accidentally create idols of God by projecting their cultural biases and paradigms onto God (even in their visions of the metaphysical realms)! But what makes religious participation so divine is the way that simply participating in these traditions helps to unify huge groups of people, creating culture and paving the way for nation-building, democracy and global unity. Religion is a key component in driving philosophical and political thought as adherents learn to find and ‘prize the good’ by learning differentiate the human from the divine through the trial and error of darkness. It is the practice hall or schoolmaster for political thought. The thinkers who have effectively worked their way through the gambit of these religious paradoxes rule the world, and the befuddled religious faith of today becomes the more perfect cultures, gods and political realities of tomorrow.

 

Timeline summarizing the scriptural type, pattern or repeat of history between the times of Israel and the times of the Gentiles. The two segments of the four thousand year history are placed one on top the other to better illustrate the repeated events. Within this historical allegory are countless other types, shadows, historical allegories and teaching tools reportedly created by higher divine beings to manifest their influence on human history. See Parallels between the Times of Israel and Times of the Gentiles. Note the progression of the religious systems from dogmatic authoritarianism to more pluralistic democracy.

 

Keeping the Faith & Staying Mormon.

I want to offer the reader an unpressured bias to reconsider the importance of faith despite the contradictions or paradoxes you may have found. In my experience of spending years on Mormonthink, Reddit and other assorted webpages and facebook groups I found that although the thoughtful negativity found in those places may have helped to deconstruct the idols of cultural understanding that my mainstream Mormon upbringing may have carved in my mind— it didn’t give me many constructive ideas on how to improve myself, my culture or my spiritual understanding. It definitely didn’t bring me any profound visions of my own. I found that reading core scripture in completely new ways; and thoughtful esoteric literature such as featured on this site, did a much better job of giving spiritual insight and heavenly visions which presented paths of cultural unity and religious reconciliation. What did bring me happiness was learning to see past the rigid symbols, metaphors, memes, myths, rules and carved trunks of our man-made aspects of religion— into the hidden universal truths, purposes, wisdom and communion of divine spirituality. Finding ways to steer the culture into more constructive paths instead of merely abandoning it or trying to tear it down. (see needed reformation in the church)

I believe Mormonism is built upon some pretty amazing religious metaphors. I’ve found it has within its scriptural theology the language and symbols to begin to reconcile some of the world’s most difficult opposing religious ideas. Issues such as polytheism versus monotheism; visionary experience versus hallucination; resurrection versus reincarnation; legalism versus antinomianism, priesthood versus protestantism, heavenly revelation versus human thought; and religious infallibility versus pastoral errancy. And reconciling each of these paradoxes has essential political applications. Just because church leaders may currently dictate fairly one-sided views of these complex ideas, adherents shouldn’t feel forced out of communion for their opposing views. In fact your debate, even if it means excommunication, is essential to the progression and power of the group. I believe constructive change usually comes from activists (even if they’re excommunicated), more than separatists. I made a decision sometime ago that I would not throw away any of my relationships & religion simply because I saw the yin when everybody else only seemed to be blindly aware of the yang. (Even if sharing my personal perspectives and truths occasionally causes conflict.)  I offer you the unpressured bias that it’s possible and worth it—and I hope my articles give you some scripturally-based language to share perspectives differing from the often fundamentalist mainstream. I hope I can illicit your help and friendship as a new generation of Mormons begins to take the reigns of the church and steer it ever closer into line with what the subtle whispers of Spirit constantly direct for every religion and the whole of mankind. As we correct our own idolatry pointed out by the coming wave of Israeli & Islamic reformers. And as America’s power and unity over the next century continue to wane, we’ll need everyone’s help to promote a unified LDS culture of openness, humility, pluralism and democracy that will take the lead in shaping the political destinies of the regions where LDS culture forms a major influential force.

 

I hope these articles I’ve written can help you look at LDS and Christian scripture from a new perspective that reconciles some of the issues you may have discovered.

Article 1. Re-examining what LDS scriptures say about the ‘Only True Church’ doctrine.

Article 2.  A Doctrinal Look at The Universal Priesthood of God & Its Relationship to LDS exclusive truth claims.

Article 3.   Re-examining the LDS adoption of the protestant fundamentalist view of the “Great Apostasy”.

Article 4. Clearing up Misunderstandings in the LDS View of the Afterlife (The 3 Degrees of Glory and their support for religious pluralism)

 

See Also. Needed Reformation in the LDS Church.

Clearing up Misunderstandings in the LDS View of the Afterlife

Note

This article is Under Construction.

It is an excerpt from our larger treatise on Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection: A Comparative Cosmology.

Eternal Progression Diagram

 

Perhaps more than any other area of religious theology, understandings of the afterworld have repeatedly been used by fundamentalist traditions and individuals to manipulate adherents into conformity with their assorted religious and cultural mores, laws and customs. From the practice of some Evangelical fundamentalists of condemning to Hell those who don’t “profess Jesus as Lord”, to the past practices of some Catholic literalists of condemning even children who die without baptism to Limbo—nearly all the world’s large religious traditions develop popular myths and egocentric beliefs about what it takes to go to a good place when we die. Like Muslims, Catholics and Jews, Mormonism also, has our own similar cultural teachings and mores which often suggest that only the faithful of our own religion who receive all the needed LDS ordinances (personally or vicariously) get to make it to the highest heaven.

In this article I hope to show that like most religious canons, LDS scriptures on the afterlife are deliberately ambiguous about such matters. They are designed to allow for fundamentalist interpretation from cursory readings, while at the same time hiding of a more broad pluralistic or universalist perspective within their metaphors. In this article we will show how by looking closely at LDS scripture and comparing Joseph Smith’s revelations to those of other mystics of the restorationist movement and near-death experiences, a far more open and common sense view of the afterworld in LDS scripture becomes apparent. A view showing that the same principles that make a nation or kingdom strong, advanced and free from corruption, moral decay and division in this life — are the same principles which classify nation’s in the afterworld as heavens. And conversely the same exclusivists fundamentalism which make nations and religions weak, divided and self-deceived in this world, makes those cultures hells in the afterworld.

 

Major Points Concerning the Afterlife Covered in this Article

-The after-world is a whole lot like the present world. Your hell or heaven is a product of your own thought patterns and behaviors and those of the groups, religions and nations you have bound yourself to.
-Church membership has only minor bearing on one’s placement in the afterlife. Placement has to do with earthly affiliations, but personal rewards and punishments (karma) are overwhelmingly a product of our works and the eventual return of the emotions & acts we send out to others.
-Telestial glory societies are for those divided, wicked sectarian societies who did not learn any of the lessons Christ came to embody and teach; and thus build and inherit hellish nations in this world and the world to come. (Comparable to a 3rd world totalitarian nation)
-Terrestrial glory societies are isolated groups stuck in hellish after-world nations who create or join a celestial or harmonious subculture (religious group) which then gives and prepares them for a place in the Resurrection of the Just (A resurrection within a Celestial nation, instead of the telestial nation they belonged to).
-Celestial glory societies are groups or nations who learn the degree of harmony, unity, love and ‘respect for law’ required for admittance into the higher heavenly realms, and have thus earned a resurrection into the most paradisiacal parts & times of the future earth. (Comparable to a 1st world democratic nation which enjoys equality)

 

The LDS View of the Afterlife

The plan of salvation

typical LDS view of eternal progression

For the typical LDS adherent the view of eternal progression and the afterworld goes something like this. After death all souls go to either the Spirit World or Spirit Prison. In some of the more egocentric LDS views, all those who reject the LDS gospel go to spirit prison until they accept the LDS version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see Gospel Principles, Encyclopedia of Mormonism). In other more pluralistic LDS interpretations the divisions have less to do with religious affiliations and more to do with right living. In the Spirit World, both those of paradise and prison await the resurrection which reunites one’s spirit with a physical body. In the most accepted LDS theology, individuals are resurrected into one of three degrees of glory as delineated by Joseph Smith in D&C 76. The highest degree, called the Celestial Kingdom is for the faithful who receive all the necessary LDS ordinances and live the LDS commandments. The middle degree, called the Terrestrial Kingdom is more ambiguously defined as the abode of those who rejected the Gospel in life, but accepted it in the Spirit World. The lowest degree is typically defined as those who rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both life and after death.

In the first part of this article, I challenge some of these interpretations in order to show that placement in the afterworld has little to do with one’s religious membership—and everything to do with one’s desires, character and social connections. In the second half, I’ll attempt to show the similarities and differences of the after-world according to those who claim to have seen it. Showing how Joseph’s vision of D&C 76 is actually a dualistic reference to the spirit world as well as the future higher dimensions of earth after resurrection.

 

Requirements for Entrance in the Celestial Kingdom

Although I’ll show in a minute how such a belief is contradictory, it’s easy to see why many (if not most) LDS people believe that the highest heaven or Celestial Kingdom is reserved for only faithful members who receive (either in life or vicariously after death) all the necessary LDS ordinances and live the LDS commandments. In Joseph’s vision of the Celestial Kingdom given in D&C 76, it begins right off the bat by saying,

51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 76:51–54)

D&C 88  & John 3:5 follows in a similar fashion saying,

21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom. 22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. (D&C 88:21–22)

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Although these verses contain obvious metaphors and symbolic wording, the simplest interpretation seems to be that reception of the gospel law through the church as well as baptism and confirmation by a priesthood holder is required for admittance into the highest heaven. This belief is not unique to Mormonism and is similar to Catholic doctrine requiring baptism for admittance to paradise. It’s easy to see how Joseph himself might have been troubled by these words when considering the death of his brother Alvin, nine years earlier–who died without receiving baptism or any of the LDS or christian ordinances. Perhaps in response to this apprehension, Joseph again received a vision in 1936 concerning the afterworld. Here, Joseph saw Alvin in the Celestial Kingdom with God and the Holy Patriarchs of the Bible, and was assured that all are judged and exalted “according to the desires of their hearts” and not simply according to whether they received “saving ordinances”.

The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God…
6 And [I] marveled how it was that [Alvin] had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.
7 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;
8 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;
9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.
10 And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. (D&C 137:6–10)

Despite the clear statement that men are judged and exalted according to their willingness to “receive this gospel” (note that ‘this gospel’ is not the same as ‘this church’) as well as “according to their works [and] the desires of their hearts”, some LDS people still attempt to use the verses from D&C 76:51–52, to reason that living or vicarious baptism are absolutely necessary for exaltation to the highest Mormon heaven [1]. However, as we’ll see by the next few scriptures, such overly literal interpretation might be an example of establishing as doctrine “more or less” than what scripture says (3 Ne 11:40;18:13, D&C 10:68; 93:25; 124:120). Consider for instance the following explanation of the Bible’s true meaning of “endless torment”, where D&C 19 supports the idea that higher beings have deliberately designed the metaphors of scripture to allow over-exaggerated interpretations or even fear tactics to catch the attention of casual readers.

6 Nevertheless, it is not [literally] written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment. (D&C 19:6–12)

There is no doubt that throughout the scriptures, the importance of following prophets, keeping ordinances and obeying political and religious law is emphasized (Alma 13:16D&C 84:21; 124:38-39, Isa. 24.5; Mal. 3:7, etc). However, leaders or members who take those allusions too far, and pridefully try and suggest that obedience to LDS ordinances are absolutely necessary or the primary requirement for exaltation in the highest heavens are reading undue literality into metaphorical scriptures. By teaching things that contradict the conscience of so many good people on earth, they harm the church and drive away righteous members whose hearts tell them that it makes no sense to send good people to lesser eternal abodes simply because they did not receive the ordinances of an earthly religious sect. Or as some LDS traditions suggest, to have wait outside the highest heaven until their temple work is done.

In reality Joseph Smith should have never had the concern which necessitated his vision of his brother Alvin in Doctrine & Covenants 137, because the Book of Mormon already cleared this issue up.  Like most Mormons today, Joseph must not have noticed that Nephi 9:25–26,  Mosiah 15:21–25 and Moroni 8:20–24 all teach clearly that those who die “without law”, are saved by the atonement. The picture painted in all three of these verses is that everyone is saved and exalted except those that have the Jewish law and then specifically transgress that law. Nephi says of those without law.

25 Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.
26 For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel. (2 Ne 9:25–26)

And Abinidi echos this sentiment in Mosiah 15 saying children and those “not having salvation declared unto them” are redeemed to eternal life in the First Resurrection.

 23 They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.
25 And little children also have eternal life. (Mosiah 15:23–25)

Later in the Book of Mormon, Moroni sharply rebukes not only those who believe children are in need of baptism, But also those who believe baptism is required for the eventual salvation of those outside the Jewish religious law or covenant.  Note verse 22, where “all they that are without the law” are made synonymous with children. Bracketed text is mine.

 13 Wherefore, if little children [and also they that are without the law as per verse.22] could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell… 15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism. 19 [But] Little children [and those without the law. ibid] cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy. 20 And he that saith that little children [and those without the law. ibid] need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption.  21 Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and an endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me. Listen unto them and give heed, or they stand against you at the judgment-seat of Christ.
22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing
23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.  24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.  25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; (Moroni 8:20–25)

Phrases in these verses like “dead works”, “alive in Christ”, and “without the law” are obvious parallelisms to Paul’s writings in the New Testament (footnote) which denounce the legalistic ideas of New Testament Jews who insisted salvation came by fulfilling the “outward ordinances” of ancient Jewish religious law. The same ideas that caused legalistic Christians of the middle ages to believe children or non-Christians would be damned without baptism or Christian ordinances—or legalistic Mormons to mistakenly believe that the purpose of baptisms for the dead is to fulfill the demands of religious law. Like Paul, Mormon explains that baptism is only for those under condemnation or under the curse of “dead works” or a “broken law”.

Paul emphasizes over and over in his epistles the idea that outward ordinances of religious law are not required for salvation (Gal 2:16-21, Eph 2:8–18, Rom 3-8, Acts 15:10, 1 Cor 15:56). In his epistle to the Romans he reminds the Roman Jews that circumcision (the ancient Jewish ordinance equivalent to Christian christening and baptism) was a symbol which did not have saving power in and of itself. In fact those who are “circumcised of heart” fulfill the law without the physical ordinance. While those who receive the temporal ordinance without fulfilling the spiritual counterpart, receive no saving benefit. Simply replace the word “circumcision” in the following verses with “baptism”, “confirmation”, or any of the LDS “saving ordinances” to see how what Paul says in Romans applies to LDS theology.

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the [spirit of the] law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the [spirit of the] law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. (Romans 2:25–29)

[Put this paragraph in a footnote? rewrite?  So how do we reconcile these Book of Mormon LDS scriptures which seem to suggest salvation can come without church or christian membership with the earlier verses which seem to be a complete contradiction? They key to understanding lies in a few simple principles.  0. Christian ordinances were created to be physical symbols of spiritual realities, not the realities themselves.  1. We currently live in Hell or the telestial kingdom (explain. if you are on earth, you are in hell. the lowest of the low). 2. Everyone will continue on to live in a post mortal version of this same Hell we live in now (unless someone helps them advance far beyond the mainstream of humanity–this is the ‘salvation’ Jesus taught). 3. Paradise and prison are effectually states of mind both here and in the afterworld.]

Baptism is a rich metaphor, and is meant to represent an inflection point of transformation from old to new or from dead to living in one’s personal and social evolution. Likely based on the Mosaic purification rite of Tvilah (which was especially required for those who had come in contact with a dead body), it was made to represent the point where one dies to selfishly living after the manner of the beast, the flesh, a ‘dead law’ or a religious system that had become a lifeless idol to an individual— and is then purified and reborn as the Spirit of God is breathed into their body and a new life and communion established. Christ’s sacrifice and crucifixion obviously played into this same metaphor for Israel, representing an infection point of their culture; where the dead, corrupted religious system or law of the Jewish people was destroyed and reborn into a new Christian covenant of love, openness and selfless service.

The Book of Mormon gives several examples of this group ritual where a new generation must reinvent and renew their religious system and commit to living the new transformed version (see Mosiah 6; 18; 21; Alma 7). So although the Book of Mormon emphasizes the importance of baptism within a particular religious communion or covenant (2 Ne 31-32),  Mormon’s point in his letter quoted above seems to be that neither children nor those without or outside of a particular religious law are capable of repenting and renewing a covenant with God they know nothing about. So it is a mockery (defined as a misrepresentation) of the ordinance to use it to condemn them. Especially since baptism’s primary purpose was to renew and free people who were already condemned by the “dead works” of a broken, misunderstood or distorted religious law (v. 23) — by turning baptism into a ‘dead work’ itself, and completely misunderstanding its intent, followers twist its purpose into the exact opposite of its original design!  Baptism, like other Jewish or Christian outward ordinances, has no saving power of itself, it is simply a symbol pointing our minds toward these sublime concepts of personal and social reform.  (see Romans 3:20, 4:14-20, 5:20, 6:14, Romans 7:1–13,8:2-3, Acts 15:101 Cor 15:562 Cor 3:7–10).

10 The law [ie. the Jewish outward ordinances] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices [or ordinances] repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (Hebr 10:1 NIV)
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter [γράμμα: that which is drawn or written] but of the Spirit; for the letter [of the law] kills, but the Spirit [meaning behind the symbols] gives life. (2 Cor 3:6 NIV, compare NLT))
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:14)

 

Comments

D&C 76 would seem to be a direct contradiction to 2 Ne 9:25–26 and Mosiah 15 and Moroni 8 by saying

 72 Behold, these are they who died without law;

 73 And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh;

74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
75 These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.
 .
 .
This verse is usually interpreted as meaning the Terrestrial Kingdom is for those who reject the Israeli/LDS Gospel law in life, but then “afterwards receive it” in the Spirit World. But that’s not at all what it says when you look at it carefully. There are at least four New Testament allusions in these verses. In verse 72, those who “died without law” is an obvious allusion to Paul’s word’s in Romans 2:2 where “those without law” (ἀνόμως) refers to a heathen or pagan who is without the moral character the Mosaic Law was meant to teach. But look what Paul is saying in whole of that chapter. Taken in context it serves as a scathing rebuke of the orthodox Jews who though their religion and ordinances were the key to salvation! He goes on to say in verse 28, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly“. The Jews were so focused on the outward aspects of their religion that they rejected Christ when he came “in the flesh” (see 1 John 4:2–3, 2 John 1:7, 1 Peter 4:1, 1 Tim 3:16).  The captive “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men” were the orthodox religious Jews! (see Luke 20:23)
Christ followed the same pattern on earth as he did in the Spirit World he came not to call the righteous Gentiles to repentance, but the wicked Jews. The religious Jews were the “captives” or “prisoners” he came to set free.  So who goes to the Terrestrial Kingdom?  The Pharisees would have interpreted this verse like modern Mormon’s do in suggesting it was those “without the law [of Moses]”.  But in reality it was those Jews who were so blinded by the pride inherent in their religion (see x.x) that they rejected the “testimony of Jesus” when he came to preach to them in their prison.  So it is with us in restored Israel, those held in Limbo or the Terrestrial Kingdom are those kept in the psychological prison of false religion who are so blinded by the craftiness of their leaders that they can’t see the day star when ….
Likewise D&C 88.   21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.   This paints a completely different picture… saying instead of “everyone is saved but those who sin”… it says, everyone is damned but those who receive and live the law!  So which is it?  Unless maybe you completely redefine the concept of “law”.  That instead of law being rules written on paper, and given by a church… its simply a spiritual understanding “the spirit of Christ” that is given to EVERY MAN through telepathic means.  So ALL RECEIVE IT.  And only those who “are blinded by men, religion or themselves and transgress that light of christ, are condemned…..
LOOK AT THE CONTEXT! They who “died without law” is an allusion to Romans 2:12, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law“. This cryptic verse is a poor translation. Look at the lexicon and you’ll see it more literally reads “as many who have lawlessly sinned or looked beyond the mark

 

Sectarians Who Brag or Argue Over Baptism Go To Hell

Christian and LDS scripture seems to paint religion as a two edged sword. It has the ability to unite and exalt people with teachings and systems of harmony and right living. But it also has the tendency to divide people into divisive, self-righteous groups. Numerous scriptures seem to teach that the entire purpose of revealed religion on earth is to get people working together in a system which can perfect their character to the point of creating a harmonious kingdom or political group (D&C 105:3–5 for instance). Because the harmony of a group is what creates heaven both on earth and the afterworld. Anything which detracts from this goal is looking beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14), and aligns a group with the Church of the Devil. Like Paul’s teachings, Joseph Smith’s revelation of the afterworld in D&C 76 hits the point home by specifically pointing out that religious groups who accept Christ or Peter or any true prophet and their outward ordinances, but misunderstand or don’t actually follow the spirit of the unifying “gospel” those prophet’s revelations teach will take their place in the lowest afterword abode with liars, adulterers and whoremongers.

98 And the glory of the telestial is one..  99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.  100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; [might we add, some of Joseph Smith, some of Brigham Young here?]  101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.  102 Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.  103 These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. (D&C 76:98–103)

Like most of the descriptions in D&C 76, these statements concerning some “of Paul and of Apollos”, is an allusion to Paul’s writings in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3 he chastises the Corinthians for their divisions relating to baptism, where “there is jealousy and quarreling” among them (1 Cor 3:3 NIV). Just like the modern sects of Christianity it seems that the early Corinthians were already pridefully dividing themselves according to which apostle they considered greatest or who they were baptised by. Paul says,

11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name… 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…  (1 Cor 1:11–17 NIV)

Paul seems horrified by the idea that the early Saints were using baptism of all things as a tool for divisive pride (suggesting the authority of the one who baptized them makes them more legitimate than others). His letter is a strong rebuke reminding the Corinthians that the gospel is what’s important, not baptism or sectarianism! And D&C 76 seems to use this as a perfect example of the Telestial mindset. Those individuals, churches and religions which get caught up in the mindset of divisive sectarianism cannot produce the harmony and universal love necessary for exaltation. They are counted among “liars, sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers” because their fruits are equally divisive on a society.

This important lesson is explicitly taught in the Book of Mormon’s appearance of Christ in 3 Nephi. The very first order of business in Christ’s visit to the Lehites after proving his divinity is to chastise the people for their “contentions” specifically concerning baptism. Given that pride and ‘inequality’ are said to have caused the church to be “broken up in all the land” (3 Ne 6:14), some four years earlier, we can assume that a spirit of sectarianism promoted by both politicians and the religious ‘high priests’ (v. 21,22,27) had over taken the people. Christ’s rebuke echo’s Paul’s… that disputations concerning baptism are a tool of the devil, and have no place in Christ’s spiritual church— nor anyone wishing to call themselves after his name.

28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Ne 11:28–30)

So although Joseph Smith seems to be specifically instructed in D&C 22 to re-baptize converts from other Christian churches, it is clear that such baptism in itself should never be a source of dispute between Mormons and those of other sects or faiths. Nor should it be a source of pride or religious exclusivism. In addition to Joseph Smith’s revelation of his unbaptised brother Alvin, the scriptural stories of the criminal on the cross in Luke 23:43 who is assured of paradise; and the beggar in Christ’s parable of Luke 16:19–31 who goes to “Abraham’s bosom” suggest no absolute need for personal or vicarious baptism or other ordinances to make it to heaven. As mentioned in the article ____ it seems more than reasonable to assume from the account of Christ’s coming to the Nephites that when Christ comes in unmistakable glory to found his kingdom both on earth and in heaven, he will gather all the righteous together and help them fulfill any needed outward ordinances of the Gospel, while making any and all needed exceptions in the name of mercy.

So what good is temple work some might ask? To give an answer to that, it might help to consider the influence of the afterworld on the mortal world.

 

Understanding the Afterworld

In order to understand what it means to be saved in a good place in the afterworld, its important to understand the afterworld itself, and how the scriptures symbolize the states of the soul after death. I attempt to give a more complete picture of the complexities of the afterworld in my article Eternal Progression, Degrees of Glory, and the Resurrection: A Comparative Cosmology, but here I will attempt to summarize things enough for a general understanding.

In the Universe, there are two major divisions of intelligence and matter; which to symbolize, biblical prophets used terms such as water and spirit; heaven and earth. the grave and the resurrection. The word spirit in the bible comes from the Hebrew reuch, which literally meant breath or air. Thus “spiritual” things were things which like the wind can be inferred, but not directly seen. This opposed to water or earth, which are used to symbolize our present world in its current or future state. (give an intro to the various accounts)

 

Eternal-Progression-(3-models-compared)

Three differing (and often contradicting) models of Eternal Progression inferred from LDS Scripture

 

 

THIS ARTICLE UNDER HEAVY CONSTRUCTION FROM THIS POINT ON…..

Still To Do-Notes

Emmanuel Swedenborg

Eman lived in…

Oahspe

Oahspe, a channeled text written by John Ballou Newbrough’s work in ~1870 claims to be a book of scripture revealed by higher dimensional light-beings. In its view of the afterworld, beings pass from life into a realm which he refers to as “atmospherea”. (roughly analogous to the LDS concept of the Spirit World)  This realm is said to be more subtle than

John Ward, Gone West Series

John Sebastian Ward (1885-1949) was a British authority on Masonry who wrote a series of channeled texts concerning life after death. In his Book “Gone West”, he receives descriptions from his dead brother about a Spirit Realm divided into “seven planes” (p. vi). He suggests that higher beings are unwilling to communicate knowledge of the higher planes to those of the lower planes. And concerning “resurrection” and forewards a dual view where “the most exalted spirits rise [or resurrect] higher and higher without the need of reincarnation, whereas more lowly spirits need to return to earth to develop certain characteristics.” (p. vi)

Urantia Book

Law of One

I want to show you first the differing models and scriptures… and then spend the last section clearing things up.

Any way you look at it there is a good amount of contradiction in our understanding of these models that needs to be addressed. The LDS endowment and numerous other scriptures support paradigm #1 shown above, where the Telestial kingdom IS “the world in which we now live”. Perhaps confusingly, D&C 76:84,106 echoes this understanding by describing the Telestial World as those “who suffer the wrath of God on earth” (although it also supports model 2). Later in the Temple endowment we are taught that the earth will become a Terrestrial world when Satan “is cast out of our midst” (as in at the beginning of the Mellinium when Christ comes to reign on earth and Satan is bound and earth receives its paradisaical glory. 1 Nephi 22:15, 26; Revelation 20:1–3; D&C 88:110; 101:28. D&C 63:20–21; Articles of Faith 1:10; 2 Peter 3:10–14 ). D&C 76:77 seems to somewhat support this paradigm by saying of Terrestrial souls “these are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father” (but then it goes on to also support model 2). The doctrine and Covenents ALSO teaches that the earth WILL become a Celestial world which is “crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father; That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever” (D&C 88:17–20).  When earth become a Celestial world, it “in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it”. (D&C 130:9. see also D&C 77:1)

NOW HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH THE PREDOMINATE MODEL, AND ITS A BIG ONE. The entire vision of the Three degrees of glory in the Doctrine and Covenents is framed around the question of who would come forth in the ‘resurrection of the just’ and the resurrection of the unjust. In D&C 76 (v. 17,50,65) we are told that BOTH Celestial and Terrestrial souls will be be resurrected at the beginning of the Millennium during the resurrection of the just. But how is that possible if the earth is only to have attained a terrestrial glory at that time? Most people say, “well, they don’t get resurrected to earth, they resurrect to other worlds or reams”. But that simply does not work, it contradicts D&C 88:17–20 which says says that this earth is..

D&C 76 can’t be states AFTER the resurrection if it teaches that both Celestial and Terrestrial spirits will come forth in the Resurrection of the just at the same time. But that Resurrection is said by some scriptures to be on earth (refs) and other to be in heaven (ref). In either case it occurs at Christ’s coming at the beginning of the Millennium.  Joseph Smith in the x article of faith states that the resurrection is to mellenial earth..   So if the earth is going to be the Celestial glory one day “like unto a sea of glass glass”

[http://www.phildrysdale.com/2013/10/37-scriptures-that-prove-christians-are-not-under-the-law/]

-born again of water and spirit is refering to the two states

-when scriptures talk of flying “in the air” or “from the sea”, they are making this distinction

Look at nearly every allusion to  in the description of the Celestial world of D&C 76. The “general assembly and church of Enoch and the Firstborn” is an allusion to Hebrews 12:23, which clarifies that these are “the SPIRITS of just men made perfect”. In fact D&C 76:69 quotes this phrase as well in describing Celestial Beings, “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant”.

In the description of terrestrial world, the clarification of what type of beings we are talking about is made again. “And also they who are the SPIRITS of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh” (D&C 76:73). Isn’t it clear that this is equating the terrestial world to the Spirit Prison of 1 Peter 3:19, Rev 20:7, and Alma 40:14?

Even the description of the telestial world seems pretty clear that it is speaking of beings in hell or prison BEFORE the resurrection of the dead.

84 These are they who are thrust down to hell. 85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work. 86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; (D&C 76:84–86)

However, these descriptions are dualistic….  (how do I summarize that…?)

D&C 129:1–3 explains it clearly, there are two different kinds of beings in “heaven”, resurrected angels and disembodied spirits. Both, it says, can inherit the same glory.

1 There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—
2 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
3 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory [as resurrected personages]. (D&C 129:1–3)

The term “just men made perfect” in verse 3 is an allusion to both Hebrews 12:23 and D&C 76:69 which speaks of Celestial beings saying, “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant”

D&C makes this dualistic distinction as well saying “88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, OR who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.”  The telestial glory can receive the gospel from terrestrial ministering resurrected angels OR terrestrial ministering spirits.

-temple work’s purpose (which is an important one) is to make a “welding link” between the living and the dead.   does it say it is to fulfill the law?—the law never required baptism while alive. It’s silly to suggest that baptism can’t occur in heaven just as easily as it can occur on earth.

Outline of Points

-at the end you need to summarize as succinctly as possible the symbolic nature of christian eschatology as clarified in Oahspe and the Law of One. The seven thousand years is symbolic for a complete ‘time’ or harvest from Oahspe. Cycle times in scripture is highly symbolic because of its complexity and relativity. Almost ALL the supernatural events in biblical eschatology occur in the afterworld. Even Christ’s second coming occurs predominantly in the afterworld. (don’t get caught up in timeframes). Paint the picture, we live on earth, we go to the afterworld and continue almost the exact same system of veiled progression with minimal difference. The afterworld can be seen as a composite of the earth through all its progression and times. Thus the future celestial earth, is in the afterworld now. So also the past hellish societies of earth’s past, are in the afterworld now. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVSe8JZ_eag)  Societies are subject to rises and falls in heaven just as they do on earth. Christians are prodded to avoid the falls by making the small windows of resurrection which allow societies to rise to higher levels before a heavenly or earthly collapse. Resurrection is a dual term and occurs between major levels of the afterworld occur only at Dans or minor cycles. The biblical resurrection which occurs when Christ comes, is also dualistic. One meaning has to do with Christ coming in heaven, the other with the time the earth finally rises to the level of glory matching the saints in heaven (terrestrial/celestial). The nature and timing of that transition is not clear, however it appears that there will be birth but no death and thus after the transfiguration of the earth to a higher plane and different order of natural law. When it occurs, the saints will re resurrected back to earth.

-The Telestial World Church is in reality two churches. Both the Church of God and the Church of the devil—the wheat and the tares, the goats and the lambs—all huddled together in one organization. This telestial world (and the church as the living metaphor of this world) is the place where people are tested and polarized into choosing which path they will follow in the next round of progression. The church’s purpose is to train and polarize the elect of both the left and right hand path.

-Most LDS people (as well as the orthodox of every major religion) view the “faithful” of their church as being holy and good, and view the unfaithful, lackadaisical, and unorthodox as being more or less “evil”.  (rewrite this paraphrased content) D&C 76 subtly alludes to the truth that the sons of perdition, or the devil and his angels, are actually among the most faithful and orthodox of the church in every dispensation. The son’s of perdition (those who will be taken with “Satan” off-planet at the judgement) are “all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power— They are they who are the sons of perdition” (D&C 76:31–32)…Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame (D&C 76:35).

-A proper understanding of the afterlife helps us to see how the only true church doctrine (although having a semblance of truth) is actually Satan’s most important tool in creating the pride necessary for the physiological captivity which maintains the structure of the church of the devil.

It’s fairly obvious that this is talking about those faithful enough to have been made “partakers” of God’s covenant and power. Those who have received the Holy Ghost, which is a conscience that has been properly informed as to right and wrong by God’s law. But the part here which is most important to church goers is the reference to “having crucified [the Son] unto themselves and put him to an open shame”. So in figuring out what type of individual this is talking about just ask yourself who did that historically? Was it the Samaritans?  Was it the harlots? Was it the Romans? No, it was Judas Iscariot and the Jewish priesthood. It was those who by every indication where the elect of God, and yet they denied what the Spirit or Holy Ghost told them was right (that Christ was a good man and that to kill him was completely unjustified), and they had him, his gospel and his followers shamed and killed.

LDS people generally believe that the three realms or degrees of glory spoken of in D&C 76 are separate planets or realms of sorts–separate from the Spirit World—which the righteous will inherit AFTER the “resurrection of the dead”; the first of which is said to occur at Christ’s return to the mortal earth. Comparison with other available revelatory texts suggest this is in some ways a misunderstanding of our own revelations. We see this not only from Oahspe and other more descriptive texts, but by the revelation itself (as we will address in a moment). Comparative analysis shows that the three degrees of glory shown in Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s vision, are actually just a more detailed description of the earth’s spiritual dimension or “Spirit World” where souls await the various resurrections. Although, because of the fractal relationship (see main article) they could also be used as dualistic descriptions of a future state of earth when it will obtain these glories by virtue of its orientation in the galactic energy field (see main article for details). Oahspe and JS Ward’s works spend hundreds and hundreds of pages describing these same 3 degrees of glory in detail, making it clear that they are principally realms within the current ‘spirit world’ or spirit dimension of earth.

The fact that Joseph Smith’s vision is speaking principally of souls in the spirit world before the physical resurrection is clear from a careful reading of the revelation, as it consistently speaks of “those who SHALL [at a point future to the revelation] hear the voice of the Son of Man; and SHALL [at a future point] come forth in the resurrection” (D&C 76:15–17). The entire vision is of the inhabitants of the heavenly realms BEFORE their resurrection at Christ’s second coming and is correspondingly framed with the resurrection in future tense. Notice for instance at the end of the description of the Celestial Glory, it says that this was a description of “they who SHALL [in the future] have part in the first resurrection.” or “they who SHALL come forth in the resurrection of the just” (D&C 76:63–65).

  50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth [not those who “have” come forth, but those who shall come forth at a point future to this revelation] in the resurrection of the just—
62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever [after they are resurrected].
63. These are they whom he shall bring with him [not those whom he did bring], when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people
64 These are they who shall [in the future] have part in the first resurrection.

Not those who have come forth or did come forth or do come forth, but those who shall in the future. As opposed to the next verses which explain that these celestial spirits “are those who ARE [currently] come up to Mont Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all” (D&C 76:66). Which Oahspe explains in detail is the name to the highest realm of earthe’s Spirit dimension where the currently acting god of earth dwells (see next section for misunderstandings in the concept of resurrection). Likewise in the description of the inhabitants of the telestial kingdom it says its inhabitants are “they who ARE thrust down to hell” (D&C 76:84).

81 And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser…
83 These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit.
84 These are they who are thrust down to hell.
85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

It does not say the Telestial Kingdom is those who were or shall be, but instead speaks of those who “ARE” [currently] in the telestial realm—which IS hell or spirit prison. It continues to say that those in hell or the telestial kingdom “are they who SHALL [future tense] not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection” (D&C 76:85) which is after the millennium. There are literally dozens of references where the verb tense shows clearly that these visions were not so much of a future state of people after the resurrection, but the current state of those in the Spirit World awaiting the resurrection; the time in which they are raised or will come back to a physical plane of earth when it has attained a glory equal or greater than their own.

Now this is where the confusion comes in, because these realm names are often used dualistically. They can refer both to a realm within the earth’s spirit world (as in D&C 76) OR to the earth itself at a future state when it reaches that same glory (as in D&C 77:1, 88:18-31, D&C 130:9). In fact the term resurrection (which comes from the latin, ‘raise or appear again’) can also be used dualistically. It can refer to an ascension within the earth’s spirit planes (as in Alma 40:15, or Oahspe which ubiquitously uses it in this sense.). Or to the return of an individual to the physical dimension of earth, which occurs when earth has risen to a density/glory or vibratory level which matches that of their spirit world abode. For instance, terrestrial souls would wait in the terrestrial realm of the Spirit World until a Physical Dimension of the earth attains an equal energy density; which then allows them to be either resurrected (in the case of the 4rth density earth plane) or reincarnated (in the case of the 3rd density earth plane) back to earth’s “physical plane” or dimension (for more information on reincarnation, see the article, To Go No More Out).

Hopefully this will all become a bit more clear in the next sections, where we will describe how for the last few thousand years, the earth has been at or below a telestial glory. But it is currently moving into a terrestrial level as well as activating a physical 4th density (or a parallel physical plane that is roughly a Terrestrial glory) which will climax during the prophesied “millennium”. This will be followed by other raises and falls, until the earth one day far in the future is irradiated sufficiently to contain a dimension where it is a celestialized star (D&C 88:18–20, 130:9).

[Put in footnote. Misinterpretation of D&C 76:106–112 is a big part of LDS people’s incorrect views. verse 106 steps out of the vision and begins to talk about the telestial glory (a state which the physical realm of our earth currently exists) after the fulness of times or the end of the millennium. It is after that future date that Christ shall deliver His kingdom to the Father (at which time all remaining terrestrial glory people of earth will be “caught up” or translated to the “new” 4rth density parallel “heaven and earth”. Leaving the Telestial glory inhabitants of earth’s corporal and spirit dimensions to be judged and transplanted or “cast out” to a telestial sphere in the Galaxy which because of laws of divergence will entail that “where [our] God and [his] Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end” (D&C 76:112, Rev 12:10). ]
[Also might want to note the discrepancy between sources concerning whether our current 3rd density/telestial earth will fluidly transition into the 4th density/terrestrial world (as oahspe suggests) or whether the 4rth density is activating in parallel with this 3rd density existence and all will have to die or be translated to make the transition. (Law of One states this emphatically and LDS suggests it with scriptures such as “there will be a new heaven and new earth, like unto the old, save that the old has passed away”. There are far more witnesses suggesting the latter, which also seems more logical. This is where many of the misunderstandings in Christianity come with groups mistakenly believing they will suddenly disappear in a “rapture” or that Jesus will come flying through heaven with his Saints in a grand mystical experience which defies all the current laws of physics. ].

Misunderstandings in the Concept of Resurrection

There are a few complicated concepts which make understanding the earth’s Spirit World and the Christian “Resurrection” very difficult. The first has to do with the ambiguous meaning of the words “physical” and “spiritual” in relation to bodies and realms. Most Christians view the “Spirit World” as somehow inferior to the “Physical World” (because people only have spirits there). Mormon’s especially, because of statement like those in D&C 45:17 & D&C 138:50, see the Spirit World as an inferior “state of bondage” where beings live in constant anticipation of “resurrection” back to earth–or some separate planet/realm. Both LDS scripture, other descriptive revealed texts and numerous life after death experiences suggest this to not exactly be the case. For example, Christ took his resurrected “physical body” back to heaven, showing that resurrected bodies are not just about returning to earth, but can live in heaven. Likewise many angels in the Old Testament (such as the one who wrestled with Jacob or wrote on Nebacanezzers wall; see) apparently had bodies just as corporal as Jesus’s or any mortal on earth. Moses and Elijah were both translated to heaven in their bodies without tasking death (ref). So what was so special about Christ’s resurrection which made him the “first fruits”? (see 3 Ne 28:36–40)  And what really is the difference between a spiritual body and a physical body?

Joseph Smith himself seems to have tried to address misunderstandings in these concepts by explaining that “there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes” (D&C 131:7–8).  This idea that the spirit dimension is made of perceptively palpable or “physical” matter just as this dimension, is verified in other religious accounts of the after world as well as life after death experiences. All the accounts cited in this work assert that, despite the many different descriptions of the places people find themselves after death, they all seem to agree that they still have a “body” very similar to the one they possessed in mortality (most agree it is a better body than their earth body). They also suggest they live on an improved version of “earth”. It is simply an earth in a parallel reality which has little interaction with our own. As we shall see in a moment, the only individuals to whom the spirit world is a “bondage” or inferior state to that of earth, are those who level of personal glory or righteousness causes them to inherit a realm of the Spirit Dimension which is below the earth’s level of glory at their death. For example, since the earth is currently nearing the threshold of Telestial/Terrestrial glory (3rd/4rth Density in other texts), then any one who dies and has failed to raise their spirit to that median level–will find themselves with all the other like-minded people in a less comfortable or “hellish” type of society and environment after death. 3 Ne 28:36–40, Oahspe and the Law of One also detail that the times of resurrection (called times of Dan in Oahspe) entail a “greater change” of the physical reality and thus constitute major jumps in the “glory” or core vibrational frequency of matter.

The Dualistic Meaning of the world Resurrection

Another complicated concept which causes confusion concerning the Spirit World, has to do with the dualistic meaning of the word “resurrection”.  As mentioned above, Oahspe and many other texts give strikingly similar accounts of the earth’s heavenly kingdoms. They also talk about the principles governing movement (ascension and declension) between these realms. In Oahspe this movement is confusingly called resurrection, which is the same term it and the biblical canon use for movement to other higher dimensional locations in the galaxy, as well as the prophesied return of souls to the millennial “terrestrialized” or “celestialized” earth when the physical dimension of earth raises to a level of vibration or glory matching those found in the spirit world and the temporary abodes of the estranged heavenly travelers (more on this later). Alma speaks of the confusion caused by this terminology in the ancient texts when we speaks to his son Corianton about paradise and prison in earth’s spirit dimension.

14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.
15 Now, there are some that have understood that this state of happiness and this state of misery of the soul, before the resurrection, was a first resurrection. Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection, the raising of the spirit or the soul and their consignation to happiness or misery, according to the words which have been spoken. (Alma 40:14–15)

The Gospel of the Holy Twelve also speaks of these dual resurections

2. As all creatures come forth from the unseen into this world, so they return to the unseen, and so will they come again till they be purified. Let the bodies of them that depart be committed to the elements, and the Father-Mother, who reneweth all things, shall give the angels charge over them, and let… their souls awake to a joyful resurrection.
3. There is a resurrection from the body, and there is a resurrection in the body. There is a raising out of the life of the flesh, and there is a falling into the life of the flesh. Let prayer be made For those who are gone before, and For those that are alive, and For those that are yet to come, for all are One family in God. In God they live and move and have their being.
4. The body that ye lay in the grave, or that is consumed by fire, is not the body that shall be, but they who come shall receive other bodies, yet their own, and as they have sown in one life, so shall they reap in another. Blessed are they who have worked righteousness in this life, for they shall receive the crown of life. (See the article “To Go No More Out” for more details on the relationship between resurrection and the eastern notion of reincarnation).

So although there can be some confusion when certain texts speak of resurrection, when the bible and LDS cannon speak of resurrection, they are sometimes referring to the return of souls to the physical dimension of earth, and sometimes referring to the periodic ascensions which occur between the various sublevels of the earth’s spirit world or spiritual dimensions. For instance, both Abinadi and Alma in the Book of Mormon define the “first resurrection” as occurring at the time of Christ’s mortal resurrection (Mosiah 15:21–26; Alma 40:15–17). But Joseph’s Doctrine & Covenants define the first resurrection as occurring at Christ’s Second Coming (D&C 45:54; 63:18, 132:19-26). This discrepancy can be harmonized by understanding the dual nature of the term resurrection.

Time translation  & movements between dimensions

[to finish… wrap it up…..]

All of these concepts are simplified by understanding that time is measured differently in the earth’s spiritual dimensions than it is here in the mortal dimension. The spirit world is a fractal of the earth and contains its entire history from beginning to end. All points in times exist simultaneously there.

Perhaps explain the cosmically induced cycles, how they relate to the solar cycles and solar max. How the current reversing of the earth’s magnetic field relates.  Go through examples of scriptural references to resurrection and show how some are in heaven, some are on earth…    Or just link back to the christian eschatology section of the main article?

A Lesson From Jesus- Condemning Him to Hell

As a segway to a discussion on the afterlife, I think it’s important for Christians of every flavor to begin with the mental exercise of imagining themselves to be a  religious Jew at Jesus time, and asking ourselves if our personal theology would have him going to Hell (or the Telestial kingdom in the case of Mormonism). The scriptural record makes it clear that the Jewish Orthodoxy almost certainly fully expected Jesus and his followers would go to hell for his disobedience to their religious law. Just like many modern religious traditions, the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ time had created a complicated system of beliefs, rules and religious mores that the people felt obedience to would determine their place in heaven. And although He was true to the Spirit of the Law (loving each other) Jesus however, seems to have taken every chance to defy those cultural regulations in everything from the Rabbinical law concerning correct behavior on the Sabbath (Matt 12:1–14, Luke 13:1–17), to defying the Mosaic Law itself concerning the punishment of sinners (Levit 20:10, John 8:7).

In fact not only is there no evidence that Jesus participated in the revered Jewish ordinance of temple animal sacrifice, but his unorthodox teachings and behavior got him and his followers excommunicated from the Church and banned from the temple (or put out of the synagogue. Luke 4:29, John 16:2). Eventually he was denounced and condemned to death by the highest authorities of the Jewish religious priesthood and political state. As we reread LDS scriptures which define our understanding of what it takes to get to heaven, let’s ask ourselves, would Jesus and his unorthodox followers really have qualified?

In Mormon cosmology these divisions are somewhat mistakenly referred to as the spirit world and the resurrected worlds. In scientific terms, we can use what we currently know of the atom to paint a more complete picture. Atoms are composed of matter existing in two very different states, the nucleus and the electrons. The nucleus of an atom can be compared to the physical realm of the universe which we presently occupy. Nucleic particles exist as material objects in space and time, and have scientifically measurable dimensions and mass. Electrons are far more illusive, having properties of both an intangible wave and a particle. Because they vibrate at close to the speed of light, they exist in a probability array around each atom, which although indirectly observable is not directly measurable. I believe the electron rings of an atom exist as a fractal or microcosm for the universes spiritual realm or world of spirits.

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Other Articles In This Series

Article 1. Re-examining what LDS scriptures say about the ‘Only True Church’ doctrine.

Article 2.  A Doctrinal Look at The Universal Priesthood of God & Its Relationship to LDS exclusive truth claims.

Article 3.   Re-examining the LDS adoption of the protestant fundamentalist view of the “Great Apostasy”.

Article 4. Clearing up Misunderstandings in the LDS View of the Afterlife (The 3 Degrees of Glory and their support for religious pluralism)

 

The Priesthood of God & Its Relationship to the Only True Church Doctrine

The true priesthood is not meant to be like Sauron's ring of power

45 “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood…” (D&C 121:45).

 

Like many modern books and movies I believe Lord of the Rings teaches an important gospel message. One of its central themes revolves around the idea that power corrupts—so it’s up to the strong and wise to keep it in the hands of the weak and humble until the time that it can be “cast down” by perfect equality and fellowship. I believe this message is very important when it comes to understanding Christian priesthood, and is a theme that runs throughout LDS scripture. In this article I would like to try and show that LDS scripture teaches religious priesthood is not so much a ‘power of God’ but a preparatory symbolic authority given to man by divine beings to test who will stay “humble as a hobbit” like Frodo and Samwise, verses who will be corrupted by its influence like Boromir, Theoden, and Saruman.

I love the LDS Church, but I believe that since the days of the earliest Saints there has often been fundamental misunderstandings and misapplications of priesthood in the church which lies at the root of the division this topic has caused—whether it be the use of priesthood authority to to support our exclusive truth claims, or using arguments of priesthood to pressure people into doing things they don’t really feel good about… or even instances of using priesthood arguments to marginalize blacks, women or other groups.

On one hand, misunderstanding and misapplication seems to have has caused people to want a burden and obligation which no person should really desire. On the other hand, privilege and abuse have sometimes caused a thing designed to maintain equality — to promote exclusivity, elitism, inequality and division. Misunderstood principles like “the one true church” and “only true priesthood” doctrines have often turned an equality promoting symbolic responsibility into an inequality promoting honor & privilege. But assuming priesthood really has been given to man by higher beings, I believe all of this must be part of the test given to religious leaders to find out who might be worthy of true authority in our next rounds of progression.

 

Common LDS misunderstandings regarding priesthood—as defined in our own scriptures
-Scripture makes it clear that the priesthood is not the power to do miracles or create worlds and should not be confused with that ‘power’ of God.
-The priesthood is not, and never was, needed to be a prophet, seer or revelator—otherwise how could you explain biblical prophetesses and the many non-levitical prophets?
-The priesthood is not, and never was, needed to heal; or perform any other skills said to be ‘Gifts of the Spirit’, given freely to all.
-The priesthood was never entirely lost during apostacy. (see D&C 86:8–10; D&C 84:17–18, Abr 1:4, 2:11. ‘keys’ were simply taken from Israel and transferred to the Gentiles; now they’re being restored to Israel.)
-The higher priesthood has never been exclusive to one religion or people. (only the lower priesthood is fundamentally exclusive)
-The priesthood should never be used to support or legitimize the only true church doctrine.
-The lower priesthood IS a symbolic authority to administer the offices, ordinances and symbols of salvation.
-The higher spiritual priesthood invisibly governs all the religious and political affairs of the earth while maintaining equality and mankind’s self determination..
-The lower, temporal or religious priesthood should not be confused with the higher universal spiritual priesthood it is was created to symbolize, copy and prepare for.
-ALL priesthood IS a responsibility to active servitude in order to equalize inequalities. It’s proper use NEVER guarantees any special privilege, special standing, special respect, authoritative legitimacy, reward or power simply by virtue of its possession.  If people desire this burden, then it is a sign that it is being misused, misunderstood and misapplied.

 

Sauron, Satan, and the Corrupting Influence of Power

In the book/movie The Lord of the Rings, J.R. Tolkien walks us through a story which illustrates the corrupting influence of power. The story begins with the forging of the Great Rings of power. Nineteen of these rings are given to the leaders of earth to give them “the strength and will to govern each race”.  But Tolkien teaches that in accepting these rings the leaders…

“were all of them deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged, in secret, a Master Ring to control all others. And into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all.”

With this master ring, Sauron begins to enslave the people of earth bringing about an apocalyptic war for freedom. In the quest to destroy this “Ring of Power”, Frodo and the fellowship are tested and tried as they battle not only the evil followers of Sauron, but the evil that the ring creates in the hearts of the heroes by its very essence. Gandalf summarizes Tolkien’s view of power with his words concerning the ring,

“I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”

To Mormon’s & Christians this plot and what it teaches about power and authority might sound eerily familiar to the Biblical concept of Satan’s fall and plan for worldly dominion. In LDS and even general Christian theology it was the lust for power which caused the archetypical Satan to become a “the fallen archangel”—warring against all that is good. In Joseph Smith’s book of Moses (ch.4), it is explained that in the beginning Satan wanted the honor of redeeming mankind. As opposed to Christ’s plan of self sacrifice and equality— Satan’s plan was to use God’s power to “destroy the agency of man”, redeeming “all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost”. We can only assume from the context given in Moses 4:1–4, as well as subsequent biblical history that his plan was one of using God’s honor & authority to create a global totalitarian autocracy to coercively exalt all mankind (but especially himself and his cronies).

After his totalitarian plan is rejected, Satan rebels and comes to earth to carry out his plan anyway. Without the true secret to God’s political power or authority (self-sacrifice) he comes to earth and creates a false priesthood, which like Sauron’s rings of power, he uses to subtly manipulate, “deceive, blind and lead [people] captive to his will” (Moses 4:4). Satan’s goal seems to have been to either manipulate or trick people into obedience to his autocratic system through false pretenses, or as a last resort to do what the ancient Jews and many Christians still hope of their false Messiah. To come in power and glory dyed in blood, ready to force every knee to bow to his own egocentric concept of truth, order and righteousness (Moses 1:19–22, Rev 13, Dan 7). Just as Tolkien’s book details the corruption of earthly authority into what could be considered Sauron’s ‘false priesthood’, the Bible is–cover to cover–a story of the continual corruption of Jewish and earthly priesthoods into ‘Satan’s false priesthood’ of idolotry and autocratic domination.

In this article I hope to show that by upholding the only true church and only legitimate priesthood doctrines, Mormonism has unwittingly gone contrary to the democratic agency-promoting principles given in our own scriptures—and sometimes used the same manipulative tactics of Satan’s false priesthood to uphold autocratic power and authority. Something that we must eradicate if we are to play our key part in Christ’s true spiritual church.

 

The Difference Between Priesthood and The Powers of Heaven or Spiritual Gifts

Before going into other aspects of the priesthood I believe it’s important to cover what LDS scripture says the priesthood is, and is not. There are many traditional LDS beliefs and teachings which have contributed to the general pride that’s developed around priesthood in LDS culture. Some of this stems from the nearly ubiquitous misunderstanding that priesthood is the supernatural power of God [1a] used to create the world or do miraculous or supernatural acts, or that the priesthood is needed in order to be a prophet (one with the gift of prophecy), exercise divine power or be a religious icon like those idolized in Christian scripture. So why wouldn’t everyone lust after it, right?!  If like a magical ring, it gives the power to to heal or to prophesy or to cast out devils or move mountains or split seas or be a leader, prophet, seer or revelator of course it would become a source of pride to those lucky enough to have it, and a source of envy to groups forbidden from it!

A careful examination of the scripture show that priesthood is neither needed nor uniquely gives people power to do ANY of these things. The scriptures instead teach that Judeo Christian priesthood was simply a symbolic religious order, authority and responsibility which obligates the powerful aspects of society to be a metaphor of the heavenly church, and use one’s attained power for good, and to establish the level of equality needed for group exaltation. The scriptures make it clear that all the supernatural powers of God are given equally to ALL WORTHY MANKIND (humankind) as “gifts of the Spirit” and are available “by faith” to all people regardless of gender, religion, color or priesthood ordination (see D&C 45, Moroni 7, and 2 Cor 12, 2 Ne 26:33, Lectures on Faith #1).

To confuse the priesthood (which is accessed only by ordination into a specific religious order) WITH the ‘powers of heaven’ or ‘power of God’ or gifts of the Spirit which are accessed by faith is like confusing the force of George Lucas’ star wars with the order of the Jedi who are trained to use it or Tolkien’s wizards/Istari order with the power or magic they have learned to access. After all, Christian scripture teaches that even Satan and his followers have learned by faith to use the miraculous divine powers, and his power is obviously not the same as the priesthood or order of God. Although mixing these definitions may seem a trivial debate in semantics — by perpetuating these unscriptural misunderstandings we inadvertently cause many to covet or feel excluded from a burdensome obligation of sacrifice that no one should desire.

There is simply no scriptural support for the ubiquitous traditional LDS doctrine that the “priesthood” is the supernatural power God used to create the world and universe. There is no scriptural support suggesting priesthood has exclusive claim to any of God’s miraculous powers, except an authority or burden of responsibility to religious administration (servitude), to officiate in symbolic ecclesiastical ordinances and seal and symbolically bring a people into God’s presence. D&C 121:45 makes it clear that “That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven”, but the priesthood should not be confused for the “powers of heaven” or the “power of God” which D&C 88 teaches is “is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed”.

There are literally hundreds of verses of scripture proving these points, but I trust the average LDS reader can be convinced by reading just a handful. (see footnote [a] for more scriptural examples comparing priesthood with the power of God accessed through faith. see also The Difference Between Priesthood and Prophets , and Ether 12, Heb 11, TG; faith, D&C 88:7–13, 84:45-46, Moses 1:32, Jacob 4:9, Morm 9:17, D&C 29:30–31).

 

The priesthood is primarily a metaphor or symbol of a heavenly or spiritual system

Technically, priesthood does not even give people a right to authority or rule, per se. Much like Israel and the Christian Church in general, the scriptures teach that the priesthood was created to be an order of servitude and symbol or type of a heavenly spiritual system. A light to show the world how heaven operates. The true priesthood is not like Sauron’s ring, or some imaginary crown which mystically gives individuals God’s authority to rule over others — or to be God’s only revelatory mouthpieces or political regents. [1] Even Tolkien understood that such a system could only come from, and lead to evil. Joseph Smith echoed this sentiment that religious priesthood was never meant to give men true power or authority over others. He wrote in revelation,

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, long suffering, meekness… [and other Christlike attributes]” (D&C 121:45)

This was fairly clear in the Jewish religious system, as the priesthood was held only by Levites, and authorized its holders ONLY to work as priests in the temple. Prophets, Rabbis and many other Jewish political and religious leaders had no need for the priesthood. It was clearly only a responsibility to administer the symbolic outward ordinances of the religious system. With the advent of Christianity, the Church or congregation became the temple, and the symbolic managerial duties of the temple priests moved to ordained men of the congregation (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5) . With the new covenant, instead of sacrificing animals and performing ordinances on behalf of the people, the priesthood was now to follow Christ’s example of sacrificing themselves and performing symbolic ordinances on behalf of the congregation and world (Romans 12:1–2; 15:16; Philip 2:17; 4:18; Heb 13:15–16). So even though early church records show a clear hierarchical administrative system [2] which was associated with priesthood, Christ’s teachings were clear that the Church was not to follow the world’s model of using that priesthood position to support and maintain the organizational hierarchy.

The system of heaven which Jesus came to teach was that power and authority came not from position but from self-sacrifice. Ordination to an office was never meant to prove one’s legitimacy or give one person authoritative control over another. He taught that only by humbly serving others can we righteously create a hierarchy or gain privilege over the will of another. That no ordinance can truly give authority, the ordinance and priesthood office is symbol pointing to the type of character and level of service which earns true power and authority over others while completely preserving agency. Take the words of Christ to his apostles in Matthew 20 for instance.

25 But Jesus called [his disciples] to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life… (Matt 20:20–28 ESV) [2b]

The entire system of Jewish temple worship & sacrifice, culminating with Jesus coming to be judged and executed by the Jewish priesthood & Roman authorities can be seen as a clear symbolic teaching and example to show both the right way (by humble example) and the wrong way (by religious or political authority) to lead man. The Christian priesthood was not meant to give man the right or legitimacy to rule over others.  It was instituted to give mankind a symbol of a heavenly system—and to teach mankind that true authority over others comes only through self-sacrifice. Heavenly authority is meant to maintain equality through the self-sacrifice and subservience of the leadership. This is why this responsibility of servitude is often only given to the most assertive and domineering (masculine) aspects of humanity and withheld from the humble or subjugated (feminine) aspects of humanity. [2c]

In fact other revealed texts such as Oahspe 32/ch. 30 (God judges dominions) teach the scripturally supported idea that the cost of human leadership is that no leader can ascend to the higher realms of existence, until he has exalted or risen up all those who had become physically or mentally subjected to them! (see Matt 23:12) That is, that the responsibility and burden of both righteous ecclesiastical leaders or wicked despots was that they could not gain an exalted resurrection until they helped every one of their willing subjects ascend with or ahead of them! In Christ’s words, the first will be made last and the last will be made first. (Matt 19:30; 20:1-16, D&C 29:30)

… I show man not only the way of liberty, but the way of bondage. He shall know understandingly the ways of my dominions, and the judgment that is upon him. 32/30.20. And the same rules shall apply to every king, queen, emperor, and every other ruler in the world. 32/30.21. The resurrection in heaven of each and every one of them shall be with, and no faster than, those they ruled over on earth.  32/30.22. And they shall be responsible to all their subjects[2d]

LDS teachings commonly use arguments of priesthood to legitimize LDS authority as the only true church, and our General Authorities as Christ’s only true living prophets and apostles on earth. Our entire cultural system of giving General Authorities and priesthood holders the “chief seats in the synagogues” or always insisting “to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi” [President or Bishop in our case] is directly contrary to Christ’s teachings (see Matt 23:6–12; Luke 23:6, 11:43). Like the Pharisees of Jesus time, I believe we have slowly come to focus too much on priesthood as an eternal authority and honor to be desired instead of merely a responsibility to be shouldered. It has become a way to legitimize dominion and exert one’s own will upon others, instead of being a responsibility of public service. We forget that God respects self determination above all, and will never force compliance contrary to the voice and conscience of the majority. We too often seek to ‘talk up’ the priesthood when we should instead be focusing on the fact that earthly priesthood is a symbolic responsibility and burden that gives assertive individuals an obligation to service that prepares them to be worthy of the real power that comes only from heaven. (A power open to ALL worthy humankind.)  Paul tries repeatedly in his New Testament letters to show the Jews that the Old Testament system and priesthood were types, symbols or schoolmasters pointing to heavenly systems and spiritual truths—not to be confused with the real thing.

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (Hebr 10:1 NIV)
5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Hebr 8:5 NIV)
23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. (Hebr 9:23-24 NLT)
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter [type/symbol] kills, but the Spirit [meaning behind the symbol] gives life. (2 Cor 3:6 NIV, compare NLT)

Latter day LDS scripture echoes the same sentiment,

16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order… (Alma 13:16)
13 …that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another—that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly… (D&C 128:13)

According to the LDS worldview, the ancient Jews looked “beyond the mark”, and twisted their religious system into an organization satanic enough to excommunicate and execute their own heavenly King (Jacob 4:14, 2 Ne 10:3). We also hold that the Catholics have their own record of priesthood abuse stemming from their belief that their priesthood is what makes them elected or chosen of God. Certainly, when a religion or mankind misunderstands temporal symbols given by heaven and creates an organization that manipulates people into a leadership hierarchy fostering feelings of pride, subservience and inequality the true priesthood is corrupted. Just as declaring one’s self “the only true church” makes a religion run the risk of being part of the church of the devil, using any arguments of priesthood to justify our authority over others runs the risk of losing the true spiritual priesthood (D&C 121:37). Paradoxically, if Mormonism wants to be part of the True Church of God, it must never boast of being the only true church. If it wants to be worthy of the true priesthood, it must hide the tokens of that priesthood by never using priesthood as a reason for its authority or legitimacy. (For example: repeated talks on being the only true church or priesthood, talking up church apostles or leadership, or excommunicating those who challenge authority or repeated talks on “obedience to priesthood”, talks suggesting leaders, the “prophet” or General Authorities are unequal or superior to regular members, or manipulatively teaching that their priesthood “mantle of authority” deserves special respect and thus shouldn’t be questioned or challenged (ie. talks on not “steadying the ark”), instead of letting obedience, respect and submission to authority be a natural outgrowth of people wanting to follow their leaders because of the leadership’s humility, service and sacrifice).

 

The Two branches of Mormon Priesthood and what they symbolize

I believe LDS scriptures teach that the two branches of Mormon/Biblical ecclesiastical priesthood are a type or metaphor of two larger types of priesthood used by Higher Beings in the management of our world— The Aaronic or temporal priesthood and the Melchizedek or spiritual priesthood. In a way, I believe LDS scriptural teachings on these priesthoods are meant to reconcile the Catholic views on ministerial priesthood with the Protestant views of universal priesthood. The Mormon Aaronic or lower priesthood being a type or symbol pointing to the “temporal” priesthood or earthly authority of the earth’s religions & political organizations. The Mormon Melchizedek, higher or “spiritual” priesthood being a symbol of the “invisible” spiritual or universal priesthood which is used by heavenly/spiritual beings to rule ALL earthy political and religious affairs according to their agency.  The earthly temporal lower priesthood like the temporal church, is supposed to copy that higher perfect heavenly system. Its primary purpose is to be a type, symbol or example and schoolmaster to the world.

 

Re-examining what LDS scriptures say about the ‘Only True Church’ doctrine

67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church (D&C 10:67–68).

 

Introduction

Perhaps ironically, most us Mormon’s aren’t keen about challenging religious authority or tradition.  That being, I wanted to begin by shamelessly using a cliche disney movie theme to hit home on a few important points. Specifically I would like to use the lesson taught in Pixar’s Brave to suggest that Mormon tradition & pride has created some really serious rifts which are in need of mending. In the movie, the story is told of Mor’du, a royal prince charged with ruling a kingdom with his three brothers. But Mor’du, blinded by his pride does not want to share the kingdom. He goes to a witch and asks for the strength of ten men so he can seize the entire kingdom for himself. Receiving the payment of his family ring, she turns him into an enormous bear and essentially gives him a choice… take the kingdom & remain a beast, or give up his selfish pride and be human.

After the fall of Mor’du’s kingdom, the heroine Merida finds herself making the same pact with the witch. And she is given the same choice—destroy her family to get what she wants, or make peace with her mother and “mend the bond torn by pride”.  The beauty in the show lies in how both Merida and her mother make the right choice to reconcile their differences, and find that their deepest desires are actually fulfilled by doing so.

There are many parallels we could draw between the Mormon Narrative and Pixar’s Brave, but I would like to focus on a few revolving around the ideas of tradition, pride and reconciliation. I believe that like Merida—the early Latter-day Saints put their desires above those of their Christian neighbors. Like Mordu and the Jews of the Bible, they wanted to be the sole owners of their father’s kingdom. And because this is what they desired, they were given revelations which gave them a choice— they could in their pride interpret themselves as being “the only true and living church” and the sole possessors of the kingdom of God on earth. Or they could humbly acknowledge themselves as but a symbolic part of a greater spiritual kingdom which transcends earthly organizations—and by doing so, join hands with their brothers and create a religious and political kingdom of equality.

I would like to suggest that the same pride which was caused by that early choice (epitomized in the ‘one true church doctrine), still exists in Mormon tradition & theology; and has impeded us from fully achieving our scriptural mandate to join hands with the other good people of the earth and “gather all things together in Christ” (Eph. 1:10, D&C 27:13). We have sorted through the partially ambiguous scripture given in our revelations, and picked interpretations which gratify our pride, while ignoring those I will present here which present a more pluralistic or unitarian gospel.

I’ll show from numerous scriptures in the Book of Mormon, the New Testament & the Doctrine & Covenants that the “one true church” of Jesus Christ mentioned in most of our scriptures is a non-denominational “spiritual church” or cultural movement and NOT strictly the LDS ecclesiastical organization as has been established in LDS tradition.[defs] I also hope to show in this and other articles in this series that Mormonism (and Christianity) was created to be a symbol, or type/archetype of the heavenly church, but by failing to establish Zion the early saints also failed to establish & gather the temporal “true and living church” spoken of in D&C 1:30.

 

Outline of points covered in the article
-The cultural overuse of the only true church concept in LDS testimonies too often follows the example of the Book of Mormon Zoramites. (see Alma 31:12–21)
-The Book of Mormon, Bible and Doctrine and Covenants teach that Christ’s one true church (as well as the church of the devil) are spiritual churches which transcend organizational and priesthood lines. (D&C 10:67–68, 1 Ne 14:10Moroni 7:16–17, Mark 9:38–402 Nephi 10:16Matt 12:30, etc)
-The Doctrine & Covenants (D&C 10:67–68) clearly teaches the condition required to be part of Christ’s Spiritual Church. Declaring more or less than that definition threatens Mormonisms’ membership in Christ’s one true spiritual church.
-A temporal sect or religion’s “trueness” or whether they can be classified as part of the “one true church”, depends on how well they copy, obey or “come unto” the spiritual church in heaven. (D&C 10:53–69)
-The separation of the wheat and the tares at the end of the age is synonymous with Christ’s separation of the Church of God and Church of the devil. The point of the parable revolves around the difficulty for humans to distinguish between the two. (see Matt 13:37–43, D&C 86:1–3, D&C 88:94)
-D&C 10:52–54 makes it clear that Christ’s spiritual church existed on earth before the restoration of the LDS sect. Joseph Smith’s church & priesthood were meant to “build up” the already existing spiritual church. And to be a symbol and archetype of the end-epoch separating and gathering process (see Heb 8:5;9:23-24;10:1; Alma 13:16).
-Mormonism should never boast of being the only true church until Messiah’s final gathering of all people and churches in One Body, and that universal brotherhood or kingdom is ready to “present to the Father”.
-Interpreting D&C 1:30 to suggest the LDS church is ‘the ONLY true church’, contradicts other scriptural evidence concerning the matter. We LDS people need to relook at the conditional nature of what the verse actually says. (see exegesis of D&C 1:30)

 

Zoramitism in the LDS Church

It seems to me that many Mormons have misunderstood D&C 1:30, and discount an abundance of scriptural information to the contrary, in order to support the tradition of being “the only true church”. Like the Zoramites in the Book of Mormon, we sometimes twist the scriptures in a manner that makes us think that God has “separated us” and “elected us to be saved”, while “all around us are elected to be cast by [his] wrath down to hell” (or lower kingdoms until we do their temple work). Understanding the pride inherent in our doctrines is the first step in unraveling what I believe to be the incorrect traditions and scriptural interpretations which crept into the church from its earliest days. The similarities between the Book of Mormon account of the Zoramites and the average Mormon testimony in Fast & Testimony Meeting should be enough to convict us and open our hearts to the need to look closer at what the scriptures teach concerning the only true church doctrine. For those unfamiliar with the story of the Zoramites, let’s read through Alma’s experience for some insight into this extremely prideful sect—one that LDS people don’t want to be like!

12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld;
13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person.
14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.
16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.
19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. (Alma 31:12–21)

Although the beliefs of the Zoramites concerning the nature of God and Christ were different than our own, we sometimes share some of the same pride concerning salvation. Like all fundamentalist sects, the Zoramites saw themselves as a “chosen and holy people”. Like us, the Zoramites truly believed that their doctrines, divine election, (and likely priesthood & ordinances)  made them the only true church, “elected by God to be saved”. They did not understand the following concepts taught by Nephi, and reiterated by Moroni, Jesus and other prophets—that until Zion is fully established & redeemed, the only true church is a spiritual church which transcends cultural and organizational lines.

 

The ‘Only Two Churches’ are ‘Spiritual Churches’ or Social Movements

I suggest the LDS concept of being the ‘only true church’ comes from a small handful of misunderstood scriptures. One example is Nephi’s vision of the two churches. In his vision given in 1 Nephi of the Book of Mormon, Nephi was taught that there are only two churches, the church of the Lamb of God (or the true church), and the church of the devil (the false church). This vision is often used to support the idea that there is only one true church on earth — however, since Nephi specifies that everyone on earth belongs to one of these two churches— it should be obvious that term “church” here is referring to a “spiritual” social movement and not just a temporal sect or ecclesiastical organization.

10 And [The angel of the Lord] said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (1 Ne 14:10)

It should be apparent from the context of this verse, that the term “church” in this scripture, can not be referring to the most popular modern definition of the word church (which is a specific religious denomination). Since the verse says “there are save two churches only”, defining “church” as a denomination would mean there could only be two religious denominations in existence, and everyone on earth would have to be a member of one or the other.

As implied by the context and noted by other authors, the word church anciently had a much broader meaning than it does now (Hebrew qahal or edah; Greek ekklesia). For instance, in Greek texts it referred more broadly to a general assembly, or association of people who bonded together and shared the same loyalties. Scholars have noted that the modern concept of a church as a single religious denomination, didn’t exist among Jews of the first and second temple periods. Instead the differing religious groups or sects (churches) of late Judaism were forced to work together to manage the Jewish theocratic state.

In regards to Nephi’s vision of two churches, LDS apostles and church leaders have often misunderstood what a “church” was and sometimes argued an inconsistent definition, suggesting the “church of the lamb of God” refers to a literal ecclesiastical organization (the LDS church and its ancient equivalent), but yet the “church of the devil” refers to a figurative or spiritual church that transcends organizational lines. Others have tried to define the Church of the Devil in Nephi’s vision as the Catholic or American Evangelical Churches. However any interpretation to make either “the church of the Lamb of God” OR “the church of the devil” into literal Christian organizations, contradicts the principle taught in Moroni 7 where he teaches that “every thing which inviteth to do good… is of God” and “whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil… is of the devil”.

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Moroni 7:16–17)

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good… (Ether 4:12)

The idea sometimes pushed by early church leaders that every other Christian denomination BUT the LDS church is part of the Church of the devil would be a complete contradiction to Moroni’s words. How could Catholicism or protestantism for instance be a part of the “church of the devil” when the devil “persuadeth no man to do good, no not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him“! The idea is prideful and contradictory and has subsequently been abandoned by most modern LDS teachers. But at the same time, how could the LDS church be the “only true church” when according to Nephi and other scriptures THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHURCHES? According to Nephi’s vision, holding that the LDS denomination is the only true church requires all others to be part of the church of the devil, which as we will see in this article goes contrary to the words of Moroni, Christ’s and the Joseph’s Doctrine and Covenants. The answer to this apparent contradiction is that Both Moroni and Nephi understood the spiritual nature of Christ’s true church. [1]

Is it any wonder that we are scorned as being a cult by other churches when we repeatedly infer that they are part of the church of the devil? (Perhaps some LDS members don’t realize it, but our insistence that we are the ONLY true church infers by definition that unlike us, all others are false!).

Early LDS Church leaders were not alone in their misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of Christ’s true church.  In the New Testament John and other apostles make this same mistake when they forbid a man who would not follow them, from casting out demons in Christ’s name. Jesus rebuked them and teaches the same principle as Nephi and Moroni. No-one who does good in Christ’s name is of the devil. All who do good in Christ’s name are part of Christ’s spiritual church.

38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone forcing demons out of a person by using the power and authority of your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.”
39 Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! No one who works a miracle in my name can turn around and speak evil of me.
40 Whoever isn’t against us is for us. (Mark 9:38–40 GWT)

Nephi makes essentially the same statement using reverse logic later in his writings as he explains the nature of both the true church of Christ and the False church of the devil. (Christ also says almost the exact thing in Matt 12:30)

“Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.” (2 Nephi 10:16, see also Matt 12:30)

So Christ in one place says “whoever is not against us–is for us”, but then also says along with Nephi “whoever is not for us–is against us” (see Matt 12:30). Although circular in reasoning, these statements make absolutely no sense at all if you try to define a church as an ecclesiastical organization. (fn 4) They are far more in harmony if you realize that the “only two churches” are simply a restatement of the same spiritual dichotomy taught over and over in scripture which teaches that those who do good and are heading toward love are part of the spiritual church of God, and those who do evil and are fighting good are part of the church of the devil. And that every ecclesiastical church, sect, denomination, religion, person or nation is constantly aligning themselves with one or the other in everything they do.

good-vs-evil

 

The Good vs. Evil Dichotomy in Scripture

The dualism or dichotomy of good vs. evil is taught throughout the scriptures. And perhaps nowhere is the idea that these terms transcend organizational lines taught better than in the parable of the wheat and the tares. In the parable the Master commands his servants to plant wheat in a field— but when it grows he find tares MIXED WITHIN the wheat. He tells his servants to allow them to grow together, least pulling out the tares, “ye root up also the wheat with them”.  The meaning of this parable is explained not only in the New Testament but also in D&C 86 & 88, where we learn that that “the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed” (D&C 86:2), the good seed are the children of Christ’s kingdom (true church), and the tares are the church of the devil or bad people and bad works that come from twisted doctrine (Matt 13:38, D&C 88:94).

37 …He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom [Christ’s true church]; but the tares are the children of the wicked one [ie. devil’s church, see D&C 88:94];
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt 13:37–43, see also D&C 86:1–3)

Verse 38 (clarified in D&C 88:94) makes it clear that in this parable the wheat are the kingdom or church of Christ, and the tares are the ‘kingdom or church of the devil’. And the whole point of the parable is that it is hard to tell the difference between the two because they look so similar and grow together within each organization! Both the wheat and the tares exist within every religion, culture and nation.  And it is not until the end of the world (end or close of the age in most translations) that Christ will separate the two; gathering the wheat into heaven and burning the tares with the stubble to prepare a new crop cycle. [2].

 

On the Great Whore & Counterfeits in the Church.

counterfeits-in-the-church



I don’t like to label things as evil. I like the detached scientific view where everything on earth is working together in a balanced ecosystem according to natural laws– to “God’s” laws if you will. Each plant and animal follows the natural laws of instinct, and the fittest survive maintaining the balance. The lion is certainly the lamb’s enemy when the lion is hungry, but calling one of them good and the other evil is simply a matter of perspective. The fly would certainly be justified in teaching its children that the venus flytrap is a bad evil thing… but an intelligent human observer would likely not take sides.

In the ecosystem of people there are also Lions and Lambs, predator and prey, those acting and those being acted upon. It is a common thing for both these groups to use camouflage or deceptive and counterfeit tactics to fulfill their desires.

Call it what you will. I would like to draw two short parallels to counterfeits in sexuality and religion. Perhaps different than most articles on this topic, I would specifically like to use counterfeits in sexuality to make some points about counterfeits in religious orthodoxy and priesthood.

 

Sexual Counterfeits 

There is a natural instinct for people to be attracted to each other, to explore that attraction, to eventually fall in love, to build a family together, to perpetuate the species and find self-fulfillment in serving and protecting offspring. Although there are exceptions, this is a fairly ubiquitous human instinct and emotional desire.

In that quest for each individual to fulfill the natural law (god given instinct), they often come across “predators” who are following their desires and instinct to manipulate others for their own gain. In terms of sexuality, we often hear the term “whore” (correctly or wrongly) used in religious contexts to describe aspects of this phenomena.

In the context of this article I would redefine a “whore” as male or female sexual counterfeit who tricks another into thinking they are following the natural law which would lead to long term sexual fulfillment, when in reality they are not. Not so much a prostitute, but an intentional or unintentional counterfeit; a deceit.

I think in the religious context of Latter Day Saints this definition is sorely needed. I hear so many voices calling attractive women a whore or “walking porn” or calling anything which leads to sexual thoughts, porn. Each person holding their own imaginary line of moral “correctness”. An outfit which would be overly modest at a beach becomes “walking porn” if it is in the mall. Or an outfit that would be considered puritanical in Western society becoming “walking porn” if it were in the Muslim world. Michelangelo’s “David” or the “Venus de Milo” are art to one and porn to another. I see it as inherently wrong to negatively label as whorish or “evil porn”, human bodies which nature has created.  In my opinion the whore or porn stigma should not be attached to a person or object, but to a state of mind. Similarly scriptural “lust” should not be considered the emotion of sexual desire (a God-given desire), but the act of desiring a counterfeit which will never fulfill the natural impulse to fall in love, find sexual fulfillment or procreate and raise and protect offspring. Over-sexualized depictions in media are not “evil porn” because there is something inherently evil about the people, their bodies or even their behavior. But they often bring negative consequences when the voyeur is deceived into thinking they will achieve their desires of companionship and long term sexual fulfillment from people they will almost certainly never be able to court, love or have fulfilling relationships with. The deceptive illusion can cause people to habitually consume a substance which never actually fulfills their basic needs because it is an unobtainable illusion.

(I am not trying so much to speak to the morality of this issue, as much as I wish to use it to make my next point.)

 

Lust or “whorishness” can not be defined by dress standards. It is better defined as a male or female sexual counterfeit who tricks another into thinking they are following the natural desire for love, unity and family creation… when in reality they are not.

 

Religious Counterfeits

In certain LDS scripture the term “whore” is also used to describe “false” religion.

I think this term in light of the definition discussed above is incredibly important to LDS people, and in fact people of all faiths.

Just as a whore in a sexual context is one who deceives another into thinking they will help them fulfill their true sexual desires (but doesn’t), a whore in a religious context is one who deceives another into thinking they will achieve their spiritual desires but never fulfills. A religious “whore” is a spiritual counterfeit. An institution which feigns to be God’s bride, but isn’t.

Now this is where it gets tricky, because even more than with sexuality, everyone’s spiritual needs are different. Spirituality is deeply personal and is defined & fulfilled differently for everyone. Using the porn analogy, U.S. pornographers have institutionalized sex and sought to manipulate the world into thinking a certain body type and sexual style is superior. They have deceived many into thinking their sexual desires as dictated by the natural law can only be fulfilled with the sexual icons and behaviors they promote. Many fall for this deception and continually try to find sexual fulfillment by following their program. For some it works. For most it does not. The test is whether it brings long term joy and happiness to one’s life or leaves one feeling hollow, empty and unfulfilled.

In terms of religion this is something religious leaders must be careful not to do in a religious sense. Every person is unique and different, so when we institutionalize spirituality and suggest to people that our rigidly defined program is the one and only way for people to fulfill their deeply personal spiritual needs–we run the risk of becoming religious whores or part of the scriptural “whore of all the earth” who manipulates and captivates those who are just trying to be “good people”.

Every person is unique, but there are common spiritual yearnings within most people. Psychological and emotional needs which cause a yearning for and enjoyment of things like a sunset or beautiful vista. Holding a new baby. Walking through a forest. Connecting with people. The enjoyment of music. Having structure and bounds in one’s life. Connecting with books, ancient wisdom and the ideas of others. Religion is divinely given to mankind to fulfill these instinctual yearnings. But we must take care that in the institutionalization of religion, we do not allow priests or prophets, temples or templates to become porn or prostitutes who give the appearance of satisfying the spiritual yearnings of the people, but by their rigidity and dogmatism actually keep them from that fulfillment.

I dont say this to demonize religious activity or religious leaders any more than I would demonize a lion for doing what it does. But I do think this is an vital scriptural principle that all us Christians should be aware of.

Religious things can also become counterfeits, which

Religious institutionalism can also become counterfeit, and trick a people into thinking they are satiating their natural desire for spirituality… when in reality they are not.

 

The Example of Stephen

Just before Stephen was stoned by the orthodox Jews for denouncing their condition he made many profound statements. One of which was,

David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob… However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?” (acts 7)

 

Stephen wasn’t just saying that the Spirit of God had left the Jewish temple, he was saying it had left their religion and that their temple and all their ordinances had become man-made counterfeits. They had become porn and part of the “whore of all the earth”. They had allowed their symbols and rituals to morph from teaching tools into deceptive representations of the True God and His true temple—which are composed of the earth, a loving human heart and other natural creations built “without human hands”.

You see religion, ordinances and temple worship are all symbols (or schoolmasters) meant to point us to God and true spirituality. True spirituality is a state of being which is deeply personal and can not be universally taught with words or attained by human ordinances or sophistry. It’s like one’s natural instinct to join with another person and procreate an infant life. It’s a natural instinct to join with creation and co-create something special— your life.

No one can tell you exactly how to do that best. Hopefully loving parents, priests, prophets and leaders can point the way and use symbols and ordinances to help you build connections with the greater unseen reality outside our narrow human perception. But for some these sacramental powers which connect us to God and goodness might not come through church. They might not come through the temples built with human hands. Instead, they might come through God’s temple of the natural world. They might come through solace. They might come through the true natural sacraments of a kiss, a hug or holding a new baby. They might come through loving relationships. I believe these truths are woven throughout Christian scripture and ritual.

The Christian Religion is made to free the captives, not to make them feel enslaved.

Christ’s gospel was to preach freedom to the captives, not captivity to the free. Both sexual and religious counterfeits cause captivity by tricking our God-given instincts.

 

Conclusion

I write this because I see far too much whoring in the church.  Not so much from those making mistakes in the areas of human sexuality… but from those who have made the church into an idol—those believing personal salvation lies in correlated institutionalism instead of through the common sense principles of goodness defined by “God” to everyone on earth individually though His Spirit. Those who mistake symbols, idealism and counterfeit-things for the greater reality these emblems are trying to convey. Those who think the Spirit of God dwells more fully in prophets and temples than in the stillness of each individual’s heart. I see far too many people leaving the church not for their own selfish reasons, but for the egocentric ideals and selfishness they feel coming from the increasingly institutionalized church.

Nephi suggests that the crowning attribute of the counterfeit “whorish” church is control over others. Those of the false church “bind”, “yoke” and “bring into captivity” the peaceable followers of God” (those just trying to be good people). In biblical times that control over others was maintained by literal stones thrown by the orthodoxy, but for us it may be metaphorical ones. It can be control maintained by self-righteous and manipulative comments or talks given by those in authority. It can be religious doctrines which threaten damnation for those who do not follow one denomination’s specific practices or ordinances. It can be lessons which involve manipulative “wickedness bashing” or demonization of groups or human tendencies or making standards into heavy burdens. It can be insensitivity to each person’s unique situation, or promotion of faith in a vengeful dictator Messiah or a totalitarian millennial kingdom. It can leaders and members who feel they need to bad-talk or use church discipline on other members who see things a little different from the mainstream. We need more Jesus in the Church. We need less phariseeism and less dogma. We need to give each other more freedom to personally work through what’s real and what’s counterfeit in this world. We need to allow ourselves and others the freedom to try to identify things from the church’s youth which may have been manipulative, misleading or more human than divine. We need to emphasize the divinity and prophetic abilities in all men—not just institutional leaders or religious founders. We need to realize that if in religious zeal we cast stones of dogmatic moral judgement it might be us that God labels the whore at the judgement bar. We need to identify the counterfeits in our lives and the counterfeits in our religion which pretend to give fulfillment but just aren’t doing the trick. We need to be understanding of the fact that for some people there is very little of God’s spirit in the symbolism of temples, scriptures or church ordinances–because Creation speaks to them in the truer thing these symbols typify. We need to hold preeminent the undefiled “pure religion” of selfless service mentioned by James. We need to find the Spirit in all of us and work together toward a communion thats real, genuine and fulfilling for all.

 

References: John 1:29/Rev 5:5, Acts 6:8–15, 7:1-60 (NLT), Jer. 23:23–24 | 1 Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24–28, John 4:24 | 1 Tim. 1:17 | 1 Tim. 6:16, D&C 88:6–13, 2 Ne 2:13–14,261 Ne 13:5, 1 Ne 14:10–11, James 1:27, Gal 3:24–25, Heb 7:5–28, Heb 10:1–16

The Scattering and Gathering of Israel

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[This article is a draft.  It needs a lot of work].

Introduction
This topic is highly speculative, but a lot of fun nonetheless.  I theorize that the evolution of humankind is guided by higher-dimensional beings in accordance to the Zoo Hypothesis (except that beings would be extra-dimensional, not necessarily extra planetary). I believe that the historical domination of the world by Middle Eastern and European peoples was the result of interference on the part of these higher beings. I believe that the Bible, and other religious and channeled works (especially Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon), detail the movements of a group of genetically altered peoples (The House of Israel) throughout the earth since the days of Abraham. This view might perhaps make the biblical statement from the “Lord” to  to Abraham a bit more meaningful

“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; …And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:16–18).

Outline

1. The scattering and gathering of Israel is the ultimate global civilization program. Many channeled works have suggested it was a eugenics program carried out by higher-beings who minister or watch over the evolutionary process of our planet. Its purpose was to civilize the planet in a timely manner and prepare the planet for entrance into the terrestrial glory or Millennial Era. Many have also speculated that higher beings used Abraham’s sons along with a few others to introduce certain DNA sequences which have aided mankind in several important aspects of human evolution and eternal progression. Jacob 5 can be used to speculate the scope of this program.

2. The people of “Israel” are NOT the Israel we think of as existing today.
-It is important to make clear that “Israel” is NOT the Jews as we know them today. The full 12 tribes of Israel are not recognizable by trying to compare them to the mixed remnants of 2 tribes which compose “Israeli” or Jewish people today. The Bible suggests that Israel was far more multicultural than many suppose. Jacob was purposely inspired to have children with semitic women (mesopotamian/indian) & their non-semitic slaves (handmaidens) who represented two other major divisions of the earth– Africa! & central Asia?). Israel has further been purposely mixed throughout the world. The “mother tree” of Jacob 5 is also not a religion, it is a people and culture. The final product will be a global culture & universal brotherhood.

3. “Pruning” is overseen by the higher beings guiding our evolution. It likely occurs through population decline, war and plague. Just as with natural selection, the most spiritually and physically healthy live while the undesired and non-robust genetic groups become diminished or extinct.

4. A Basic outline of the mixing/pruning or natural selection driven breeding program is as follows (following Jacob chapter five/dates given in carbon dates until ~600BC):

FIRST MIXING, PART A. (planting genetic material into 3 branches/divisions of afro-eurasia)
1-Israel mixed into Africa through the Egyptian captivity. Great influence on early Egyptian religion, culture & government.
2-Israel mixed into Greece/Anatolia, North Asia (Mongolia) & Europe through Assyrian captivity. Great influence on Greek philosophy & government, as well as mesopotamia and turkish/mongol law, religion and government.
3-Israel mixed into Near-east & Indian Subcontinent through Babylonian captivity. Great influence of Israeli law (hammurabi’s code, etc), religion and government spanning from Akad/Babylon to Tibet.

FIRST MIXING, PART B. (major period of general diasporic colonialism where Middle-Eastern cultures and Israeli genetic material colonizes the world–including the “island continents”– in the same way european imperialism colonized the world following the renaissance).
1-African Israelis mixed into South America through phoenician trade vessels sometime between 1000BC-500 BC.
2-Ephraimitic Israelis mixed into MesoAmerica by multiple groups just before Babylonian captivity (~600 BC).
3-Asiatic Israelis mixed into Oceania through Tibetan (through Indochina) & early Mongolian groups.  Many groups are inspired to island hop throughout the West Pacific.

-The first mixing reaches its climax as Israeli culture takes over the Western World through Christianity & Islam. North African, Middle Eastern & Asiatic groups (including Israeli genetic carriers) move into Europe gradually and come to dominate the cultures of civilized western world by the end of the first Millennium AD.
_
–SECOND/REVERSE MIXING, PART A. (major period of colonization and imperialism where Europe spreads its people and culture/religion into all the world, especially the 3 main aisles of the sea, N. America, S. America & Oceania. It is a reverse of the First Mixing, Part B).
1-Iberian (mixed-African) Christians of Spain & Portugal colonize and Christianize South America.
2-Norman (mixed-Semitic) Christians of England and France colonize and Christianize North America.
3-Slovic (mixed Asiatic) Christians of German & Dutch countries colonize and Christianize much of Oceania.

–SECOND/REVERSE MIXING, PART B (European Christians colonize and spread their political and cultural ideology into the 3 branches/divisions of Afro-Eurasia).
1-Western European countries colonize almost the entirety of Africa.
2-European culture & ideology is spread by the Russians throughout most of North Asia and the Asian steppe.
3-European culture & ideology is spread by Britain & others throughout India, Indochina and the Middle East.

–FINAL DOUBLE MIXING (final future stage of program where everything is gathered together in one)
-a final third version of the mother tree is recreated by creating a people and culture/religion who are all inclusive and incorporate the best beliefs/teachings of all the scattered branches into one religious brotherhood of man (the United States began this–spreading its influence across the Christian world, but restored Israel in Judea will finish it–spreading its influence across the Islamic world).
-this mixing parallels both the former mixings. With each superpower (America & Restored Judah) becoming a mixing pot of all the cultures on earth (but especially Christian culture for America & Islamic culture for Restored Judah). this is spread to the scattered branches and then the scattered branches are gathered back into it as well, and both pruned and cared for until they all resemble one healthy tree bearing fruit.

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-The first division into 3 was the sons of the archetype Noah.  (2,600BC/40,000BC)
Its hard to judge which aspects of the story of Noah are literal and which are metaphorical. I believe dates are hard to define because of extreme time dilation and overlap of methods. I also believe the biblical Patriarchal Period (from Noah to Abraham is symbolic of a larger span of history, each patriarch representing an early epoch. Oahspe gives some interesting ideas on this.) First we look at the 3 divisions of the earth given to Noah’s 3 sons after the flood (explained best in the book of Jubilee). They may be actual individuals or more likely be metaphorical archetypes of groups of people. The oldest, Japheth is given the north-lands (East Asia/china), the youngest, Ham is given the southlands (Africa), and Shem the birthright middle-child is given middle-earth (Mesopotamia to India).

lands given to Ham, Shem and Japeth as explained in Oahspe and other texts.

lands given to Ham, Shem and Japheth as explained in Oahspe and other texts.

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Mother Israel is nurtured in each of these divisions (1800 BC – 74 AD sd/ 12,000 BC – 74 AD cd)
Abraham was a living archetype born in the lands of Shem. Joseph leads his posterity into Ham where they become captive for somewhere between 230 – 400+ years (and are scattered throughout Africa), before they are liberated back to their central homeland [1]. I speculate they integrate heavily with Shem in India during this time (Period of the Judges to just after king David). The second major captivity brings them into Japheth’s captivity with the Assyrian invasion and captivity of the Northern 10 Tribes of Israel [3]. Josephus, the Book of Jubilee and other obscure sources suggest at least one group of the Northern Kingdom flee deeply into north and east Asia assimilating with the Scythians or proto-mongols & European nomads (Scandinavia, Mongolia & China). Others likely integrated with the early nomadic turkish peoples and Arian’s of the caucasus region. The Babylonian invasion brings large populations of the Southern Kingdom of Judah into captivity in Shinar where they spread throughout the lands of Shem [2] from Mesopotamia to India & Tibet… especially during the Persian and Macedonian periods. (Babylon is primarily Semitic even though Nimrod its founder was of Ham through Cush).

Israel is scattered into Ham, Shem and Japheth during the Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.

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Mesopotamian Colonialism (500 BC – 200 AD/ 4,000BC – 200 AD)
During the era from about 500 BC to the time of Christ, the empires of the Middle east experience a period of expansionism and colonialism similiar to that of European Colonialism 2000 years later. There is evidence of Phoenician trade, shipping, colonialism and settlement from Northern Europe to Southern Africa to Indonesia. The Jews are also prolific during this era in setting up colonies in much of the known world. The Book of Mormon tells of the colonization of North America by at least two Israeli group, and Jacob 5 alludes to two other large colonizations to two other major “isles of the sea”, which I speculate are South America and Oceania. (The key to inferring this is in the verse that says the reverse grafting happens in last days… so just look at where europe colonized and you will see these are the obvious places.)  Even discounting the Book of Mormon narrative, there is evidence of extensive colonization throughout much of the Old world, and quite possibly even in the new world. The Kolbrin also recounts in detail the early colonization of Britain during this era by Israeli Egyptians and Phoenicians.

The three transplanted branches of the mother tree (groups from mother israel) are taken to North America, South America and Oceania. During the Israeli diaspora period of 600 BC to 450 BC.

The three transplanted branches of the mother tree (groups from mother israel) are taken to North America, South America and Oceania. During the Israeli diaspora period of 600 BC to 450 BC.

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European Settlement (800 BC – 600 AD/ 6,00 BC- 600 AD)
Europe is kept largely unsettled by its climate in early history, but with climate change europe opens up for heavy colonization about 600 BC. Ham, Shem & Japheth move into their respective areas. The Kolbrin talks about huge egyptian & phoenician migrations. After Christ, Israel is salted into Europe and Jewish merchants and mystics become likely the single largest ruling influence upon the continent. By this time genetic code has been mixed thoroughly enough as to make historical differentiation between “jew and gentile” impossible.  Even so cultural jews seem to thrive.

After Rome's destruction of Judah in 70 AD, the final diaspora leads hundreds of thousands of Jews into Europe, which is just beginning to grow rapidly in population and prominence.

After Rome’s destruction of Judah in 70 AD, the final diaspora leads hundreds of thousands of Jews into Europe, which is just beginning to grow rapidly in population and prominence.

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European Colonization & The Great Mixing (1500 AD – 2000 AD).
Grafting ‘them into them’: the colonial era and european imperialism is the key to knowing where the three branches of Jacob 5 were transplanted. just look where Spain and England settled and civilized. England, largely colonized every division on the world (Ham, Shem and Japheth in Africa, India and China respectively). It also civilized “the isles of the sea” or the Americas & Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, etc..). The Iberians (Spain & Portugal), did most of the rest with South America & Oceania (Philippines, more, more, etc).

Europe’s colonization and conquest of the world. need to add boat routes and colonies.

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The restoration of Israel
the restoration began in the 19th century with the zion movement. The gathering will take place in two locations, Israel and North America. Both have already begun. The european jews are the first fruits, but the book of ben kathryn chronicles the wholesale resettlement of the entire middle eastern region as the climate shifts to more hospitable conditions. America has also become a melting pot, but the major gathering will take place after the united states divides and then begins to be rebuilt with true states rights.

To finish

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Allegory of the Olive Tree
The key to fully seeing the totality and fulfillment of this promise unto the House of Israel, is a simple line found in the prophesy of the ancient prophet Zenos. And an understanding the global colonialism by Gentile Christianity beginning with Christopher Columbus until present, is a preparatory fulfillment to the grafting in of the natural branches spoken of by Zenos.

Zenos’ Allegory of the Olive Tree is perhaps one of the most profound treatises offered on the topic of the scattering and Gathering of Israel found in Holy Writ. It is so impressive, in fact, that hundreds of years after it was given, Paul seems to drawn from its imagery by memory as he states to the Romans “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). One reading Paul’s treatise on the scattering and gathering of Israel might not catch the full significance of the comparisons made had they not access to the original text from which he quotes. (available here).

The prophet Lehi, also drew from this allegory over 600 years before Paul. We are told of his exposition,

“Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive-tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be … scattered upon all the face of the earth. And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fullness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive-tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.”

Here we learn that the olive tree used by Zenos is made to represent the House of Israel. And that multiple branches

A few chapters later Nephi sums it up even clearer as he states,

13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—

This of course is a half of the equation explained by Zenos himself. A careful reading of this verse will lay the groundwork for the discovery of all the branches of the House of Israel. After explaining (quite literally) that .. planted in 3 different spost he says.. Explain first that the mother tree is Israel/The gentile Church. Then that the 3 trees in the nethermost are 3 righteous branches planted upon the isles of the sea (1Ne? ref)

“Wherefore, let us take of the branches of these which I have planted in the nethermost parts of my vineyard [3 groups planted on different major isles of the sea], and let us graft them into the tree from whence they came [Israel/Gentile Christianity]; and let us pluck from the tree those branches whose fruit is most bitter, and graft in the natural branches of the tree in the stead thereof… And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive; wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose, I will take of the branches of this tree [the mother tree], and I will graft them [the mother tree’s branches] in unto them [the three scattered Israelite people on the isles of the sea]. Yea, I will graft in unto them [again, the three trees] the branches of their mother tree, that I may preserve the roots [of the three trees] also unto mine own self, that when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.”

So by grafting both ways…

 

Map of religious influence

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All the major players in the Human Drama have had the choice whether to unite or divide humanity. I believe in this final age, God will favor and sustain only those who unite. All other groups will become extinct. See the article The Scattering and Gathering of Israel for details on gods evolutionary plan for populating, diversifying, civilizing and unifying the planet.

 

Map of physical migrations…

Scattering of Israel

Illustration of Scattering of Israel

Summary of what I need to explain when I get time…

-The birthright is almost always given to the middle-child in the middle-land. The middle son, like Christ is the divine center. They are the strait and narrow way (or narrow middle way). The type is continued again and again, the first looses favor because of pride. From Cain, to Japheth, to Ishmeal, to Isau, to Rueben, to Saul, to Lamen, etc… The middle son becomes a microcosm of the opposites. He is the at-one-ment, and type of harmonizing the older and younger. He becomes a type of the first and the last, and is charged with redemption and bringing them together in harmony. This is also the job of scattered Israel.

-In both the times of Israel (Abraham to Christ) and during the Times of the Gentiles (Christ to present), God scattered the body of Israel (the chosen seed of Shem) into the lands of Japheth, Shem and Ham, as well as scattering/leading splinter groups of Israel into new frontier lands separated from the main body of humanity/civilization.

Scattering during the Times of Israel
1-The Egyptian habitation/captivity. During this 200+ year era, all 12 tribes are scattered throughout Hams seed by trade, migration in intermarriage.
2-The Assyrian deportation. Around 750 BC, Assyria sacks the Northern Kingdom of Israel and deports a large portion of its population into the Northern reaches of Assyria.

Alter this flash application to show the colonization of all European colonies around the world. Perhaps turn it into a leaflet map. and show how the colonies in Europe mirror the colonies of Israel and the 3 branches of the olive tree in the allegory.

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