Thursday, April 21, 2005


Great Things

My pointless and presumptuous commentary on
The Great Things Which God Has Revealed
by President Gordon B. Hinckley. (Again, my comments are scattered between the quoted and redacted material.)

"[T]he great things which God has revealed through Joseph the Prophet...distinguish us from all other churches..."

The doctrines and practices revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith set us apart as a church. Without these fundamental revelations, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would be just another protestant denomination. These are the very differences to which the protestants point when they cry heresy and blasphemy. A successor to the Prophet Joseph Smith touches briefly upon these great revelations: The First Vision, the Book of Mormon, Priesthood Authority, Eternal Families, Innocence of Little Children, Salvation for the Dead and the Eternal Nature of Man, and Modern Revelation:

"The first of these, of course, is the manifestation of God Himself and His Beloved Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This grand theophany is, in my judgment, the greatest such event since the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of our Lord in the meridian of time. "

"And upon the reality and truth of this vision rests the validity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "

No first vision, no Church. Without divine instruction proclaiming that the true church had been lost from the earth, there would be no need for a restoration. Recent reading in Preach My Gospel notes that the bright pearl of the Restoration must be presented against the black velvet of the Apostasy.

"The Christian world accepts the Bible as the word of God.... The hand of the Lord was in its making. But it now does not stand alone. There is another witness of the significant and important truths found therein.
"Scripture declares that 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established' (2 Corinthians 13:1).
"The Book of Mormon has come forth by the gift and power of God. It speaks as a voice from the dust in testimony of the Son of God. It speaks of His birth, of His ministry, of His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and of His appearance to the righteous in the land Bountiful on the American continent.
It is a tangible thing that can be handled, that can be read, that can be tested. It carries within its covers a promise of its divine origin. Millions now have put it to the test and found it to be a true and sacred record."

"As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. They go hand in hand in declaration of Jesus as the Son of the Father.
"This sacred book, which came forth as a revelation of the Almighty, is indeed another testament of the divinity of our Lord.
"I would think that the whole Christian world would reach out and welcome it and embrace it as a vibrant testimony. It represents another great and basic contribution which came as a revelation to the Prophet. "

I am acquainted with a gentleman who has a degree in divinity and has studied Judaism. He says he has read the Book of Mormon part way through 2 Nephi. He says that he stopped there because that was all he had to read to know that it wasn't true. He bases this contention on the fact that the Book of Mormon contradicts his interpretation of the Bible and the way the death of Lehi is handled is inconsistent with Judaism. Somehow it does not seem to bother him that the New Testament contradicts Judaism's interpretation of the Torah, and that the various witnesses in the New Testament are often contradictory. It is unfortunate that so many refuse to consider the fact that their interpretation of scripture could be in error. These are those who would close the mouth of diety.

"Another is the restored priesthood. Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. That authority is the keystone of any religion. I have read another book recently. It deals with the Apostasy of the primitive Church. If the authority of that Church was lost, how was it to be replaced?
"Priesthood authority came from the only place it could come, and that is from heaven. It was bestowed under the hands of those who held it when the Savior walked the earth.
"First, there was John the Baptist, who conferred the Aaronic, or lesser priesthood. This was followed by a visitation of Peter, James, and John, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, who conferred upon Joseph and Oliver Cowdery the Melchizedek Priesthood, which had been received by these Apostles under the hands of the Lord Himself when in life He said, 'And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:19)."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, the only person on earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys states the nature of that authority and declares it "the keystone of any religion." The imagery is interesting. Any religion that does not have priesthood authority, has no keystone; it cannot stand and must collapse upon itself as its ordinances are without true force and effect. Many churches claim to have priesthood authority, but where did they get it? Joseph's Smith's claims are clear and unequivocal.

"Another great and singular revelation given to the Prophet was the plan for the eternal life of the family. The family is a creation of the Almighty. It represents the most sacred of all relationships. It represents the most serious of all undertakings. It is the fundamental organization of society.
Through the revelations of God to His Prophet came the doctrine and authority under which families are sealed together not only for this life but for all eternity."

I was listening to the radio today and the program host read quotes from radical feminists. The theme of the quotes was that so long as marriage existed, women would continue to be burdened with children; marriage must therefore be eliminated so that staying home and raising children would no longer be a viable choice for any woman. Indeed, the family is being stalked (see Pres. Monson's talk, Constant Truths).

"The innocence of little children is another revelation which God has given through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph. The general practice is the baptism of infants to take away the effects of what is described as the sin of Adam and Eve. Under the doctrine of the Restoration, baptism is for the remission of one's individual and personal sins. It becomes a covenant between God and man. It is performed at the age of accountability, when people are old enough to recognize right from wrong. It is by immersion, in symbolism of the death and burial of Jesus Christ and His coming forth in the Resurrection."

There seem to be two erroneous schools of thought when it comes to baptism: 1) Everyone, including innocent children must be baptized; 2) Baptism isn't important for anyone as long as they accept the Savior in their heart. This second option is a natural growth from the denial or lack of priesthood authority.

"I go on to mention another revealed truth. We are told that God is no respecter of persons, and yet, in no other church of which I am aware, is provision made for those beyond the veil of death to receive every blessing which is afforded the living. The great doctrine of salvation for the dead is unique to this Church. Men boast that they are "saved," and in the same breath admit that their forebears have not been and cannot be saved.

"Jesus's Atonement in behalf of all represents a great vicarious sacrifice. He set the pattern under which He became a proxy for all mankind. This pattern under which one man can act in behalf of another is carried forward in the ordinances of the house of the Lord. Here we serve in behalf of those who have died without a knowledge of the gospel. Theirs is the option to accept or reject the ordinance which is performed. They are placed on an equal footing with those who walk the earth. The dead are given the same opportunity as the living. Again, what a glorious and wonderful provision the Almighty has made through His revelation to His Prophet."

The principle is great and wonderful -- the great equalizer of generations and circumstances. I often wonder how anyone can be offended that their kindred dead have ordinances performed for them vicariously. If the ordinances are efficacious, then it is a great blessing to them. If the ordinances are without effect, then what does it matter and what is there to be offended about? The work for the dead is either meaningful or it is not.

"The eternal nature of man has been revealed. We are sons and daughters of God. God is the Father of our spirits. We lived before we came here. We had personality. We were born into this life under a divine plan. We are here to test our worthiness, acting in the agency which God has given to us. When we die we shall go on living. Our eternal life is comprised of three phases: one, our premortal existence; two, our mortal existence; and three, our postmortal existence. In death we die to this world and step through the veil into the sphere we are worthy to enter. This, again, is a unique, singular, and precious doctrine of this Church which has come through revelation."

"There is one more that I must mention. This is the principle of modern revelation. The article of faith which the Prophet wrote declares,
"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Articles of Faith 1:9.)
"A growing church, a church that is spreading across the earth in these complex times, needs constant revelation from the throne of heaven to guide it and move it forward. With prayer and anxious seeking of the will of the Lord, we testify that direction is received, that revelation comes, and that the Lord blesses His Church as it moves on its path of destiny."

I missed something here the first time or two that I read this. Here is a testimony of a modern day prophet holding all the keys of the priesthood on earth who testifies that constant revelation is received. The revelation need not be momentous manifestos and proclamations (thought it can be); it can be simple and may appear mundane from the outside.

"[Joseph Smith] was truly a seer. He was a revelator. He was a prophet of the living God who has spoken to his own and all future generations. To this I add my solemn witness of the divinity of his calling, of the virtue of his life, and of the sealing of his testimony with his death, in the sacred name of our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen."

The sealing witness of one prophet seer and revelator upon another.

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