Category Archives: New Testament

Divinely Inspired

A conversation I had with a friend today reminded me of an Ann Althouse blog post I read a while back.  She’s responding to a Gary Willis article in the New York Review of Books.  Mr. Willis is uncomfortable with the fact that Mormons believe the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were divinely inspired.  It is somehow indefensible to believe that something so hotly debated, amended, and changed could be divinely inspired. There are a few major problems with his objections.

First, Christians in general and Mormons in particular should have no problem believing that something can be divinely inspired AND alterable.  Take the Law of Moses, literally written in stone. It was a preparatory law meant to point the children of Israel towards the Lamb of God, that they might be ready to receive the higher law rejected at Sinai.

When Christ took the believing children of Israel into a different mount during His earthly ministry and declared, “it is written by them of old time…But I say unto you…” He was effectively giving the higher law.  And the New Law of the Gospel was to be written upon our hearts.  As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews put it,

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

~Hebrews 7:11-12

Second, Mr. Willis clearly has a different understanding of God’s dealings with His children.  See here for more about Providentially directed chaos.  And as Joseph Smith once said,

I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priest-craft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty.

~History of the Church, 5:401

We believe in progress, in improvement, and that that process is not neatly linear.  Part of the majesty and inspiration of our Magna Charta is that it can be changed, perhaps even improved.  That process may look like mad chaos, but polishing stones is brutal business.  There’s plenty of room for disagreement about what constitutes improvement to the Constitution, but hot disputes might be just the friction required to make this country better.  Despite popular belief you’ll find Mormons standing on all sides of those debates, and yet they remain faithful Latter-day Saints.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Articles, Book of Mormon, New Testament, Rebuttles

Sunday’s Thoughts On Testimony, Conversion, and Being Born Again

Testimony, conversion, and being born again are distinct but related principles.  When we first come to suspect that there is a God, that He sent His Son to redeem mankind, the Holy Ghost begins to work within us.   As Alma taught in the Book of Mormon, the Word “begins to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves–it must be that the…word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it enlighteneth my understanding.”  This is testimony, the beginning of knowledge that the Word of God is good.  It’s not a perfect knowledge by any stretch, but it is enough to act on.

Testimony will lead to a mighty change of heart provided the Word falls not on stoney soil and we permit the Holy Ghost to work within us.  This mighty change of heart leads to a desire to shed the sins of our former lives and be born again.  But as the name implies, rebirth is the first not final act. We are still spiritually young.

Conversion is the transformation process where our fallen selves are literally converted into new creatures in Christ.  It is a process of becoming, of sanctification.  This conversion from sinner to saint can only occur by the power of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  This is perhaps why the Lord, in His final hours, said to Peter, chief Apostle and witness to all of Christ’s ministry and miracles, “when thou art converted….”  Peter and the Apostles had not yet received the Gift of the Holy Ghost or partaken of its transformative power, though they had felt His influence.

Through the process of testimony, new birth, and conversion our natures are changed into a state of glory, a process completed not begun at resurrection.  Effort is required but powerless to purify.  That cleansing comes through the merits of Christ, and Him alone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book of Mormon, Daily Bread, New Testament, Random Thoughts

Predestination

Mormons tend to shy away from the charged word “predestination” primarily because we’re uncomfortable with its deterministic connotation.  We favor the word “foreordination” which feels more friendly to the possibility of rejecting the call or election.  While foreordination is doctrinally accurate (Alma 13, Jeremiah 1:4-5) predestination is the actual biblical word (Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:5,11.)  But predestination properly understood does not negate Free Will at all.

To have a destination predetermined does not guarantee arrival.  If I plan a vacation to Baja but stop and visit friends on the way and waste all my vacation days, it doesn’t mean the destination wasn’t available.  My hotel and dining reservations would likely be filled with travelers who may have made a last-minute decision to head south of the border from some delectable oceanic cuisine.  They have every right to enjoy the fish tacos I forfeited.

This is in large part what Christ taught in the parable of the marriage feast:

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which amade a bmarriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and athey would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and agathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding agarment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into aouter darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are acalled, but few are chosen.b

Mathew 2:2-14, KJV

The Feast was prepared for the predestined, and rejected.

Unlike vaycay in Baja, Salvation is not a zero sum affair.  The mansions prepared in The Father’s House are open to all who embrace the Christ.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book of Mormon, Free Will, New Testament

The Promised Messiah

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels. And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.(1 Nephi 19:7,9)

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11-12)

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. (Mosiah 3:7)

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19:18-19)

God will provide himself a lamb. (Genesis 22:8)

Your lamb shall be without blemish. (Exodus 12:5)

Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. (Exodus 12:21)

He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. (Isaiah 53:8-9)

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:8)

death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen. (Luke 24:5-6)

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (Luke 24:36)

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands andhis feet. (Luke 24:39-40)

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zechariah 13:6)

Leave a comment

Filed under Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament, Old Testament