Does one have to be Christian to be saved? Did Christ teach that you had to believe in him in order to go to heaven? Could a Buddhist get to heaven through Buddha?
Scriptures such as John 14:6 which says “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” is one example of a verse seeming to suggest that only Christians can go to heaven or that all must go through Jesus to get there. Terms such as “only begotten son” (or monogenēs: John 1:14; 1:18; 3:18; Heb 11:17; 1 Jn 4:9), similarly suggest to many that salvation is only through Jesus. But is there a deeper symbolic truth hidden in these scriptural expressions?
I believe that Christ came from a realm of the highest, completely unified beings to be a living Symbol or archetype. This is why he is called the Word of God. Words are symbols which are meant to communicate thoughts, and Christ (which is simply the Latin tranliteration for the hebrew Mashiach meaning “anointed one”) was a living symbol sent to communicate the mind of God to man. What he symbolized was a certain character or manner of thought and being which is epitomized by love, self-sacrifice, wisdom and power. Christ, like the offices of Buddha or Lama was and is a title which means Messiah or Anointed One. So when the prophet say that there is no other way to salvation but through Christ, and all the other similar phrases they are saying that redemption from the Fall or Division of Man comes only through the same path he and all the Great Anointed ones prophets came to teach us.
The “Only Begotten” Son
AUTHOR: Clifton H. Payne, Jr.
As a small boy growing up in Alabama I had a deep love of God and a real hunger to know him better. By the age of eight I had read the entire Bible. But, like most people, I often struggled to understand what the Scriptures were saying. Many verses didn’t seem to make sense.
One of the first verses to puzzle me was the verse that is perhaps the best-known verse in the New Testament, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten [monogenes] Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV). Why does the text say, “only begotten Son” and not “one and only son” as the NIV renders it? “Only begotten son” is not a term that modern English-speakers normally use.
To begin with, can we say that Jesus is the “one and only son of God”? While many people might at first say, “Yes,” the answer is actually, “Yes and No.” In the Gospel of Luke 3:23–38 the genealogy of Jesus is listed beginning with Joseph and going backward to Adam, “the son of God.” In Biblical terms, we are all children (sons) of God. For example, in John 8:41 the Jewish audience that Jesus was addressing said to him, “We have one Father-God” (NKJV). Also, in Isaiah 43:3–7 God called his people his sons and daughters. So, if we are all sons of God, how can Jesus be the “one and only son,” as the NIV renders the text? And if the text should be properly rendered “only begotten son,” what does this awkward expression mean?
The answer is found in Scripture and an ancient Midrash (Jewish commentary on Scripture). To understand what “only begotten son” means we must look at several ways it is used in Scripture and at the way the term “begot” is used in the Midrash.
We also find the term “only begotten son” in Hebrews 11:17: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son” (NKJV). Now, it is clear that Abraham had more than one son. His firstborn son was Ishmael, but the Book of Hebrews calls Isaac his “only begotten” son. Obviously there is a meaning to this term that is different from simply “only son.” However, in Genesis 22:1–2 at the beginning of the story of the Akedah (the binding of Isaac), God told Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering” (NKJV). In this text God referred to Isaac as Abraham’s “only”[yahid] son. Is it possible that God was confused, or that he had forgotten about Ishmael?
One clue is in the way that the term “only”(yahid) is used in the Hebrew Scriptures. Normally yahid meant “only” and referred to an only child (Gen. 22:2, 12, 16; Judg. 11:34; Jer. 6:26; etc.). It also sometimes meant “lonely” or “solitary” (Ps. 25:16; 68:6), or “precious” (Ps. 22:20; 35:17). It is perhaps in this last sense that the Septuagint (the second-century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) rendered yahid as agapetos (beloved), instead of the usual monogenes (only begotten) as in Genesis 22:2, 12, 16. The Septuagint’s rendering is significant because this is the word used by God for Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration according to Matthew 17:5: “This is my beloved [agapetos] Son” (NKJV). In these examples we see that “only [one]” is the one who is unique and especially loved.
Another meaning of “only son” [yahid] is found in the story of Abraham and his relationship with Ishmael. Genesis 21:9 states that Sarah saw Ishmael “mocking” [mezahek]. Abraham subsequently expelled Ishmael from his home providing him with nothing but bread and water. Abraham was a rich man. Why would he have sent his firstborn son out of his home with nothing but bread and water? In Exodus Rabbah 1 (on Gen. 21:9), we find the Midrash’s answer:
What did Ishmael do? When he was fifteen years old, he commenced to bring idols from the street, toyed with them and worshipped them as he had seen others do. So “when Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport” [mocking] (the word mezahek being always used of idolatry as in “And they rose up to make merry” [Ex. 32:6] [i.e., to worship the Golden Calf]….) (trans. Soncino)
The commentary goes on to explain that Abraham expelled Ishmael because Ishmael had fallen into idolatry, and to prevent him from leading Isaac astray, Abraham sent him away. He treated Ishmael as though he had died. Even to this day, in some Orthodox Jewish families if a child becomes an apostate the family holds the son or daughter’s funeral. This is similar to the story of “the prodigal son.” The son had become apostate and upon his return the father said, “For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Lk. 15:11-32). In this sense Isaac was Abraham’s only son since Ishmael was the same as dead, even as God warned Adam and Eve that if they sinned they would die (Gen. 2:17).
Isaac was indeed the “beloved” son of Abraham and Sarah’s old age, and due to Ishmael’s idolatry, their “only” son. Thus, we can understand “only” (yahid) as both unique and especially beloved.
This brings us to the terms “begot” and “begotten.” In Genesis 25:19 it is written: “This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot [holid] Isaac.” Genesis 25:12 reads: “Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore [yaldah] to Abraham.” The Bible records that Abraham “begot” Isaac, but it never says that Abraham “begot” Ishmael. The Bible states that Ishmael was the son of Abraham, but the text never uses “begot” in connection with Abraham and Ishmael. The verb yalad is used in connection with Hagar, but not with Abraham. The commentary to Genesis 25:19 in Exodus Rabbah 1 explains the text in this way: “And it is written: ‘And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begot Isaac,’ to teach you that he was like his father in all things: in beauty, wisdom, riches, and good deeds” (trans. Soncino).
Accordingly, “begot” means “to have the full nature of and to be exactly like.” This understanding comes from the biblical text itself. In Genesis 5:3 it is written: “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” Similar are Jesus’ sayings in John 14:9 (“He who has seen me has seen the Father”) and John 8:39–47 (“They answered and said to him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham… You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do'”). In this sense, “begot” and “begotten” convey, “to be the complete image and representation of the father.”
Both Isaac and Jesus can be said to be unique and especially beloved of their father: each was the exact likeness and image of his father, and the full nature of his father was in each. Hence, each was called “the only begotten son” of his father.
In the above sense we could say that Jesus is the only son of God, who is the exact image of God and in whom the full nature of God dwells, as it is written: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9, NKJV). Although, in one sense, we all are sons of God, only Jesus was God’s unique and especially beloved son who bore the exact image and likeness of God the Father.
Lastly, there is another understanding of the terms “begot” and “begotten.” The terms are used metaphorically where no literal birth is intended, for example in Job 15:34–35: “For the company of hypocrites will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of bribery. They conceive trouble and bring forth [yalad] futility; their womb prepares deceit” (NKJV). Here the meaning of “begot” is “to bring forth.” Again in Psalm 7:14: “Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood” (NKJV). It is in the sense of “to bring forth” that Psalm 2:7 employs yalad: “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, You are My Son, today I have begotten You” (NKJV), or, as The Complete Biblical Library translates the word, “I have brought you forth.” This is the sense of Hebrews 5:4–5 where Psalm 2:7 is quoted referring to Jesus as called and appointed by God.
In a positive image, the messianic prophesy of Psalm 2:7 speaks of God bringing forth the Messiah. In a kingly sense, the son who was to take over the kingship would be brought forth and presented to the people as a co-regent. In this way, full authority was given, preventing violent struggles for the throne. (The Complete Biblical Library, Hebrew-English Dictionary, p. 564)
Biblical words can have extremely deep meanings. How true it is of the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” It appears from the above sources that the writer of John understood “only begotten” in a far deeper sense than simply “only son.” For John, Jesus was proclaimed by God to be the one and only unique and dearly beloved son who alone was the express and exact image of God the Father, in whom dwelt the fullness of God’s nature, and who was the one true and faithful son that was proclaimed by God to be king and co-regent at his baptism (Mt. 3:17).
This article, written by Clifton H. Payne, Jr., was first published online with Jerusalem Perspective in 2004. The author has given permission to reprint his original work for the Haverim Study Community where he has been a longtime participant. Clif was a personal friend of Dwight A. Pryor whom he calls rabbi and mentor.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/jesus-and-father-e1448295397625.jpg344450MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2014-09-02 12:52:422017-01-29 17:29:13Christ as the Only Path to the Father
Much like “truth”, purity is another word which often is hijacked and convoluted by society and/or organized religion. In a religious context, purity is most often associated with innocence, virginity or sexual abstinence. The suggestion by religion often is that one who is “pure” is one who has not been “corrupted” by sin, forbidden sexuality or “Babylon” or the wicked world. I believe that although these colloquial definitions can be related to moral purity, they essentially miss the mark on a concept which is vitally important to one’s personal progression.
More properly, purity is defined as a state of being “unmixed with any other matter” (see webster’s dictionary). Gold is said to be pure if it is not mixed with other substances. A music note is pure if it is unmixed with other sounds. A musical chord is pure if it contains only the desired notes in perfect harmony. A color is pure by the same definition. And perhaps most importantly in our present context, an intention is pure if it is directed toward a single goal without being convoluted by conflicting ones. In this light purity is indeed a “straight and narrow path” to a goal. Thus personal purity in thought refers to a personal belief system that is not convoluted by conflicting, unharmonized or unbalanced ideologies.
At the heart of personal purity is a lack of conflict. In this light we see how purity is related to peace, harmony and balance. “Pure” white light, is light in which the whole rainbow spectrum is perfectly balanced. A “pure” natural environment is one which is in harmony and balance, and its purity is lost when elements are added to that environment which mix up that balanced environment. A “pure” individual is likewise one who is not mixed up or filled with inner conflict. Their inner and outer selves are at peace and in harmony. Their beliefs and actions are harmonic, and are in accord with their goals of what they want to do and who they want to be.
A traditional Christian religious definition of purity is certainly true in a sense, but what many fail to realize is that organized religion plays just as big a role in corrupting or convoluting the “pure” as the “wicked” world does. The great masters of this world have come to earth to show what’s possible. In nearly every case they defied the religious mores and regulations of their day in order to pursue a pure path to their chosen missions. One of the problem with organized religion is that they then often tend to block the “pure” path to obtaining desired experiences by their laws, standards and mores. For example, Christ was excommunicated for rejecting Judaic moral law and blaspheming their holy temple. In just about every case, the “true” prophets though history have shown their purity by rejecting or going against the mainstream political & religious systems of their day. They showed that purity is indeed following an unwavering path toward a god given desire in your heart regardless of what the present social or religious norms are.
In regards to sexual purity, we see it is related to innocence and virginity but not bound by these attributes. Historically speaking, in LDS or Biblical doctrine is it obvious one could be sexually pure regardless of whether they are virgins, monogamously married or indiscriminate polygamists. Sexual purity is our unwavering and unconvoluted, balanced path toward a specific sexual goal. So then we must firmly know our sexual goal in order to practice sexual purity. In Mormonism this sexual goal is encouraged to be marriage as a virgin in the temple to a “worthy” person. But the problem with trying to “teach” or instill a goal in someone is that if it conflicts with pre-existing deep seated desires or goals which lie in the heart of individuals it often throws them out of balance and destroys their purity. There are many “worthily” married LDS couples who are actually not “pure” because by trying to be “righteous” (by their perception of Mormon standards) they create conflict with their true inner desires, throw their inner harmony off balance and become miserable people who are not progressing upward toward their goals. Their goals become mixed and convoluted and so do their paths; and their lack of purity (finding a harmony which true to themselves as well as others) sooner or later manifests in extreme depression or divorce. The New Testament speaks often on the “deadness of the law” or the inefficient manner of teaching people how to “progress” through rules, regulations, standards and dogma. Truly the only way to achieve true happiness and the purest way to progress is to “live by the spirit”. We best help others do this by “teaching correct principles and then letting them govern themselves” which often means teaching idealistic social standards without strong expectations of individual outcome. (Which is a difficult task, and impossible without real love for, and personal relationships with, those we teach!) We help them form definite goals which achieve their true desires and then let them plot out their own course while following their inner voice. To lead others to a path of sexual purity is to help them form a sexual goal that harmonizes with their true inner desires, and then help them see which actions lead directly to that goal and which actions will lead them through a convoluted or conflicting round-about path. Any other path which does not truly respect the free agency of the individual will lead to the very pain which the teacher may be hoping to help the learner avoid.
In the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ much is taught about purity. In the opening pages Mary and Elizabeth are taught by a Jewish Egyptian sage in Egypt about the destined missions of their sons. Elizabeth is taught that John has come as a living archetype of Purity, which prepares the world for Jesus, who will be the archetype for true love; and that purity is essential for love.
21 The only Savior of the world is love, and Jesus, son of Mary, comes to manifest that love to men.
22 Now, love cannot be manifest until its way has been prepared, and naught can rend the rocks and bring down lofty hills and fill the valleys up (balance the inequalities) , and thus prepare the way, but purity.
23 But purity in life men do not comprehend; and so, it, too, must come in flesh.
24 And you, Elizabeth, are blest because your son is purity made flesh, and he shall pave the way for love.
25 This age will comprehend but little of the works of Purity and Love; but not a word is lost, for in the Book of God’s Remembrance a registry is made of every thought, and word, and deed;
26 And when the world is ready to receive, lo, God will send a messenger to open up the book and copy from its sacred pages all the messages of Purity and Love.
27 Then every man of earth will read the words of life in language of his native land, and men will see the light, walk in the light and be the light.
28 And man again will be at one with God.
The relationship between purity and love is an interesting one, and something that I believe the current christian religions of the world teach poorly. As mentioned in the above verses, the world knows little of purity and love. The degenerate aspects of society do not even try to understand or achieve these ideals. The religions of the world strive toward them, but just like the Jewish culture to whom John and Jesus were sent, they miss the mark. They think purity and love comes through the law (or religious standards like the law of chastity, etc). But purity and love are not found in keeping moral strictures. They are in the balanced and harmonic use of gods energy or spirit; and this is not something that can be easily taught. A harlot can often be more full of purity and love than a high priest. This should be evident to a Christian by the fact that apparently harlots recognized and followed Jesus, while the High Priest (Pope or Prophet) and the Sanhedrin (ruling elders) of the Judaic religion rejected and had Christ murdered. And unfortunately this is a scene that plays over and over especially among the youth of Christianity. Because the religiously active “good” kids in the schools do not understand purity and love, they wrongly judge and despise the “bad” kids in school. Adversely, many of the rebellious kids in school do the same to the “goody two shoes” religious crowd. Neither understanding that love and purity are not determined as much by your behavior, but by the harmony between your actions and your beliefs. The balance between your inner and outer selves or how true you are to your inner voice and highest light (In LDS terms, one’s obedience to personal revelation, over organizational rules or worldly fads). Sexual abstinence does not guarantee sexual purity, nor does sexual promiscuity preclude it. In reality neither makes much of a difference, what matters is that you stay true to your own personal inner beliefs and let the free flow of God’s energy manifest in unselfish and unconvoluted ways.
This idea of following our inner light is taught well in the following dialogue,
15 And then the people asked, What must we do that we may make our bodies fit abiding places for the king?
16 And Jesus said, Whatever tends to purity in thought, and word, and deed will cleanse the temple of the flesh.
17 There are no rules that can apply to all, for men are specialists in sin; each has his own besetting sin,
18 And each must study for himself how he can best transmute his tendency to evil things to that of righteousness and love.
19 Until men reach the higher plane, and get away from selfishness, this rule will give the best results:
20 Do unto other men what you would have them do to you.
Another great dialog teaching the principles of purity and love is given in Chapter 8 of the same book. In this excerpt Mary and Elizabeth are taught concerning the higher and lower selves. It is by listening to and following our higher or spiritual self that our lower or carnal self is conquered. The carnal self follows after the philosophies and religions of the world. The higher or spiritual self follows the path god has laid out for us in our hearts. The difficulty in achieving purity is learning to listen to that higher inner voice and learning to differentiate it from our lower carnal voice or the voices programmed into us by society or earthly religion.
AGAIN Elihu met his pupils in the sacred grove and said,
2 No man lives unto himself; for every living thing is bound by cords to every other living thing.
3 Blest are the pure in heart; for they will love and not demand love in return.
4 They will not do to other men what they would not have other men do unto them.
5 There are two selfs; the higher and the lower self.
6 The higher self is human spirit clothed with soul, made in the form of God.
7 The lower self, the carnal self, the body of desires, is a reflection of the higher self, distorted by the murky ethers of the flesh.
8 The lower self is an illusion, and will pass away; the higher self is God in man, and will not pass away.
9 The higher self is the embodiment of truth; the lower self is truth reversed, and so is falsehood manifest.
10 The higher self is justice, mercy, love and right; the lower self is what the higher self is not.
11 The lower self breeds hatred, slander, lewdness, murders, theft, and everything that harms; the higher self is mother of the virtues and the harmonies of life.
12 The lower self is rich in promises, but poor in blessedness and peace; it offers pleasure, joy and satisfying gains; but gives unrest and misery and death.
13 It gives men apples that are lovely to the eye and pleasant to the smell; their cores are full of bitterness and gall.
14 If you would ask me what to study I would say, yourselfs; and when you well had studied them, and then would ask me what to study next, I would reply, your-selfs.
15 He who knows well his lower self, knows the illusions of the world, knows of the things that pass away; and he who knows his higher self, knows God; knows well the things that cannot pass away.
16 Thrice blessed is the man who has made purity and love his very own; he has been ransomed from the perils of the lower self and is himself his higher self.
17 Men seek salvation from an evil that they deem a living monster of the nether world; and they have gods that are but demons in disguise; all powerful, yet full of jealousy and hate and lust;
18 Whose favors must be bought with costly sacrifice of fruits, and of the lives of birds, and animals, and human kind.
19 And yet these gods possess no ears to hear, no eyes to see, no heart to sympathize, no power to save.
20 This evil is a myth; these gods are made of air, and clothed with shadows of a thought.
21 The only devil from which men must be redeemed is self, the lower self. If man would find his devil he must look within; his name is self.
22 If man would find his savior he must look within; and when the demon self has been dethroned the savior, Love, will be exalted to the throne of power.
23 The David of the light is Purity, who slays the strong Goliath of the dark, and seats the savior, Love, upon the throne.
Purity is following your higher self. It is overcoming the law and lower priesthood and learning to walk by the spirit. Purity is not being tarnished or convoluted by the doctrines of others (be they religious or worldly)–it is following the Spirit as it guides you personally. This is why John the Baptist, the archetype of purity lived alone in the wilderness away from organized religion and society. Purity is being true to yourself by living your inner beliefs or the direct personal revelation that God puts into your heart. The following section from Oahspe 9 does a great job of explaining the importance of personal revelation and the difference between direct and indirect inspiration.
34/9.1. Man I created with capacity to distinguish My direct from My indirect inspirations, says Jehovah.
34/9.2. And My angels gave him rules, by which he could make manifest the difference between the two.
34/9.3. Man has said: Behold, any man may say: Thus says Jehovah! || One kills his neighbor, saying: I was thus inspired by Jehovah. Another practices all goodness, and his words are wisdom and comprehension, and he says: I was inspired by Jehovah!
34/9.4. I say to you, O man: In this I also gave you liberty; therefore, judge for yourself as to which came from Me, and which from his surroundings.
34/9.5. You shall be your own judge in all things.
34/9.6. Behold, I sent My God to judge you; but you shall also judge the judgments of your God; and afterward, you shall judge yourself in the same way.
34/9.7. I created you a perpetual judge, not only to judge yourself and all the world besides, but you shall judge Me, your Creator.
34/9.8. I have given you many sacred books, and I said to you:
34/9.9. Unless you judge them, you shall be caught in a snare; I charge you, you shall accept nothing from men, angels, or Gods.
34/9.10. But you shall rely on your own inspiration from your Creator.
34/9.11. Such is My word which I speak to your own soul.
34/9.12. What comes to you from a man is indirect inspiration; what comes from an angel is indirect; and what comes from the Gods is indirect.
34/9.13. No direct inspiration by Me can come to you from a book, or a sermon, or from anything in all My creations, but only from Me, your Creator.
34/9.14. Though one man receives direct inspiration from Me, and he writes it in a book, yet, when it comes to you, it is indirect inspiration, and is not binding upon you, except only so far as My direct inspiration upon you moves you to receive it.
34/9.15. Yet, I did not create all men with the same clearness to perceive Me, and to frame My wisdom in words.
34/9.16. Only a few will turn away from the inspiration of the world, and come to Me.
34/9.17. Many profess Me in words, but they do not fulfill My inspiration in practice.
34/9.18. My words come easily to the pure in heart; and My wisdom shows itself in the frame of their speech.
34/9.19. For I give them words, just as I give inspiration to the animal, to do perfectly and wisely the parts for which I created them.
34/9.20. Behold, I show the dumb spider how to weave its geometrical net; is it a greater wonder for Me, to give words of wisdom to a righteous man?
34/9.21. Or to put him in the way of receiving My revelations?
34/9.22. Or to show him the harmony and glory of My creations?
Sexual purity is an extension of the same concept–having sexual relations with those that your heart (your personal inspiration) says you are in harmony and compatible with. This is the meaning of “true marriage”. It is not just getting married as a virgin in the temple by a priest and then being “faithful”. Faithfulness is true love which is an unselfish love that gives (sexually and physically) instead of takes. It is a balanced love that gives but at the same time doesn’t give too much by playing the martyr; it does what is wise, balanced and most harmonious for all. It is true appropriate action untarnished by what others “say” you should do.
This is explained well in the following excerpt attributed to Jesus,
2 Now, marriage in the sight of law is but a promise made by man and woman, by the sanction of a priest, to live for aye in harmony and love.
3 No priest nor officer has power from God to bind two souls in wedded love.
4 What is the marriage tie? Is it comprised in what a priest or officer may say?
5 Is it the scroll on which the officer or priest has written the permission for the two to live in marriage bonds?
6 Is it the promise of the two that they will love each other until death?
7 Is love a passion that is subject to the will of man?
8 Can man pick up his love, as he would pick up precious gems, and lay it down, or give it out to any one?
9 Can love be bought and sold like sheep?
10 Love is the power of God that binds two souls and makes them one; there is no power on earth that can dissolve the bond.
11 The bodies may be forced apart by man or death for just a little time; but they will meet again.
12 Now, in this bond of God we find the marriage tie; all other unions are but bonds of straw, and they who live in them commit adultery,
13 The same as they who satisfy their lust without the sanction of an officer or priest.
14 But more than this; the man or woman who indulges lustful thoughts commits adultery.
15 Whom God has joined together man cannot part; whom man has joined together live in sin.
These are interesting concepts and point to the difficulty in achieving the deepest levels of purity, or being true to our highest light. I believe the definition of “lustful thoughts” in these verses is thoughts full of sexual desire which seeks to possess or be possessed of another without love (harmony & unselfish giving). It is taking from someone instead of giving to them. Common sense should reinforce the lessons here that religious or civil marriage do not make sexual union “loving” or righteous. Nor do lack of religious or civil marriage make sexual union “unloving” or unrighteous. Righteousness is interrelated with purity which is being in harmony with our higher spiritual self which teaches us to love others selflessly. Religions and Societies constantly try to use ritual and rigid laws to keep order and teach people the higher ways; always with the same poor results. Additionally, in both cases selfish individuals always eventually end up heaping more and more laws on the populace to control them for their own ego-filled reason of power or self-righteousness. It is from these laws that Christ came to free both the Jews and us.
18 The Hebrew prophets, seers, and givers of the law, were men of power, men of holy thought, and they bequeathed to us a system of philosophy that was ideal; one strong enough and good enough to lead our people to the goal of perfectness.
19 But carnal minds repudiated holiness; a priesthood filled with selfishness arose, and purity in heart became a myth; the people were enslaved.
20 The priesthood is the curse of Israel; but when he comes, who is to come, he will proclaim emancipation for the slaves; my people will be free.
21 Behold, for God has made incarnate wisdom, love and light, which he has called Immanuel.
This is what I believe Joseph came to give, and the eventual future of Mormonism if it stays “pure”. To offer freedom or emancipation to the slaves of corrupted religion and sin. However, currently we are not pure. Not because we are too lascivious or sexualized but because we are not true to our inner voice. And we are not true to our inner voice because we have allowed ourselves to be corrupted by the polarized maelstrom of medieval Christianity (teaching sexual prudery) and popular western culture (teaching no sexual restraint). I believe a large Part of true purity comes through sexual emancipation balanced by wisdom & love. For too long has sex been held hostage by the prudery of the dark ages. Joseph Smith’s ideas on morality and sexuality are, even today, too free and liberal for most LDS members to accept. Additionally, much like the children of Israel at mount Sinai, it would seem that from the early days in the Church the people have been too selfish to handle the kind of freedom god would like to give them. They thirst for regulation, idols and lower laws written in stone—likely because they know they are not unselfish enough to handle the freedom of the higher law. I believe self-righteousness has caused many LDS church presidents to follow the historical trend of heaping additional moral laws upon their people for self-righteous reasons; and that these strictures have cause a large amount of unneeded division among the people. But the balance between unconditionally loving others and following the “law” exists for important reasons, and to each who would strive for purity and love; the spirit is ever present to guide individuals to transmute the laws written in stone into laws written on the fleshy tablets of our hearts. I also believe in this generation the spirit is being poured out in great measure in all the churches trying to free them from the pitfalls of organizational “orthodoxy” which cause division; and lead them to a more free and loving condition. Much like a young innocent and virile teenager… a more pure condition.
In light of these definitions, I personally like to think of purity in light of pursuing a path to salvation, which I define as balance and harmony with ALL that IS through service to others by directing each action purely to that course following the steps of self realization. At face value, these concepts seem to contrast irreconcilably with the usual Mormon and Medieval Christian concepts of focusing on controlling the self above all else. But I believe Christ came to show a better way of focusing on finding love, understanding, and forgiveness in our experiences instead of punishment, control and retribution. In application this means not trying so hard to fit a rigid mold of how you “should be”, or spending your mental emotional energy controlling yourself as a dictator would his people. But instead spend your energy living life and finding the love and meaning in the experiences God sends your way (be they good or evil by social standards). Let the experiences come as they may, and as they come go through these steps to progress through the experience; first, consider all experiences, relationships and desires in relation to our own personality then to its effect on and relationship to society, then find unconditional love & acceptance through it so it can be used to enhance free communication which serves others, then through interpersonal interaction the well understood experience will facilitate active energy exchange to occur with others, and eventually sacramental unity (atonement) with the divine. All without getting sidetracked into paths devoid of purpose.
In my personal life I have found only pain by following the “mosaic” approach of focusing heavily on self-control, measuring up, and retribution. But in time I finally came to the realization that it was too much focus on these attributes that caused the Jews to not recognize and crucify Christ. Christ did not fit “the mold” that these Pharisaical Jews had built to define righteousness. And because their personal and religious focus was on control instead of acceptance and love, they simply could not recognize their own king when he came. They were too busy controlling the “imperfect” aspects of themselves and others to love themselves, and so they naturally did the same to Jesus and others. This is why they were so angry and miserable, and sought to kill Jesus–because they could not repress and control his “imperfections” (by their perception) as was their habit. Christ came to free people from the law by showing them love, acceptance and forgiveness–which is actually the true fulfillment of the law anyway. When I found love within myself, I found Christ and that allowed me to let go of the law, and find happiness and joy. In a symbiotic way I believe it is love which allows us to be pure (which is acting true to your inner conscious, or the light of Christ within)—and it is purity which helps us to find love in all the experiences of our lives.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/purity-myth.png388500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2014-03-26 08:30:192015-11-23 10:30:51A Bit on Moral Purity
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 ideas or worldviews and still keep your ‘testimony’ and fellowship. For those who have left the church and are unable to find the language to explain your differing views to orthodox Mormons, I hope this article might give you some ideas on how to approach the difficult topics you may have wrestled with. I hope it serves as an authentic apology for our pride and often unchristlike behaviors. 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.
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’ better 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 I’d have guessed—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—which is 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, (called epistemology) 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 interpreting 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 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 Joseph Smith,
“I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like Methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 183-184)
Full Truth is a composite of all knowledge. Religion is a “schoolmaster” designed to help us gain the mind of god.
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 HisOne 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 earthly church, but only the heavenly 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. If we choose Mormonism we do it because we want to be part of the work its been given to do… not because its the only vehicle to salvation. 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 Mormonism or any 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” dispensational & religions and revelations 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–as the LDS temple teaches us ). 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, and open to the most revelation. 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.
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 God considers all those do Good, seek his counsel, accept his prophets 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 or Heavenly Church 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, 1Cor 15:24, 3Ne 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.
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.
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/She/It has revealed Him/Her/Itself to us. Or more properly, we know God through those who mystics or channel the divine. 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 2, D&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 of God. It seems quite likely that these appearances are more often 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).
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 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.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/truth-small.jpg309388MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2014-02-13 17:06:282021-05-26 07:15:56Is The LDS Church the Only True Church? Understanding Religion and Truth.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction... (James 1:27)”
Organized earthly religion is a schoolmaster or preparatory gospel that tries to bring us up to a higher form or truer, heavenly religion; which is essentially a harmonic, balanced life which is at-one or unified with all of creation. The truths of this principle are hidden in the scriptures and symbols of all earthly religion–but more especially in the LDS Church and temple ceremony. Most LDS members are well aware of the offices, functions, duties and responsibilities of the two main divisions of the priesthood–the Aaronic and Melchizedek. However, many may not realize the important principles that the liturgy concerning these priesthoods is trying to convey. Were these concepts better understood, many of the problems inherent in organized religion could be resolved. In fact, all of the issues surrounding the apostasy of medieval Christianity and needed reformation and restorationism movements are dealt with in this symbolism.
Organized religion’s goal is to create a people who do not need organized religion. To create a people who can live in zionistic harmonious communities led directly by personal revelation from the creator with no need for intermediate kings, priests, popes, rituals, principalities, rigid laws, armies, prisons or presidents. A people who are in all ways one with eachother and one with God. This is the blessed state of those in the highest heavens who we call god and the destiny which all the worlds religions (and especially mormonism) teaches in their creation dramas, priesthood organizations, scriptural stories and a myriad of other ways.
The Lower & Higher Priesthoods
The LDS Doctrine and Covenants describes things well in D&C 84 when describing the differences and symbolism behind these priesthoods. In v. we see that the “higher” priesthood holds the keys to the mysteries of the knowledge of God and seeks to help man “see the face of God”. Through learning the principles of these mysteries Moses was able to regain God’s presence and talk with him face to face—and he sought to help the Children of Israel do so as well. But because Israel was unbelieving, hard-hearted, and simply not ready God gave them a “lower or preparatory priesthood” and religion to help them along their spiritual journey. And so it is with all earthly organized religion. It is a lower or preparatory system devised to help people learn to re-enter God’s garden; a schoolmaster as Hebrews puts it, to bring us up to Christ.
The higher priesthood essentially has one goal; to re-unite us with God. By descending into flesh mankind has forgotten who God is and what he stands for. Passing through the veil we forget that our source is God and our destiny is God. We were a part of God and we will be a part of Him again once we raise our consciousness and ‘overcome’ the psychological obstacles which keep us from Unity with the divine. Religion is not God, nor is it expressly his organization. The
A few of the most prominent religious symbols showing the dualism of a higher and lower law, power or energy. Volumes could be written on the meanings behind the dualities.
Differences between the Lower and Higher Priesthoods in mormonism.
-Called the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood<br> -Deals with Temporal (earthly) things <br>-Administers the “outward ordinances” of the Church
-Called the Melchizedek Priesthood or Holy Order after the Son of God <br>-Deals with “spiritual” (heavenly) matters<br> -Administers the inward faith or things of a personal spiritual nature
In the Mosaic Law
-aaron built an idol, so god made him a priest of the lower priesthood to give israel the idol they desired.
In the Temple Drama
-the garden drama symbolizes this also, lucifer offered adam and eve ‘the law’ which is the knowledge of good and evil. This kabalistic tree of knowledge, stands in opposition to the tree of life. To be fully redeamed is to be ‘one’ with god, or in his presence. When we obtain knowlege from a mediator, we become blinded by him and he becomes our god. We are blinded because mediators take us away from the higher god (kicked out of the garden and god’s presence). In the LDS creation drama & temple depiction Satan becomes very angry when he is ‘cursed’ for giving knowledge of the law (good and evil) to adam and eve. Why do you think he is so mad, when he is simply excersizing his ‘priestly right’, doing what is done ‘in other worlds’? Because he thought he was being righteous and doing the will of the Father! Much like Aaron & his posterity, when many in religion find they are cursed for spending so much time and energy ‘giving religion’ to the posterity of Adam and Eve (doing what they thought was God’s will) they to may get angry and rebel.
In Paul’s Teachings
-Paul was all about teaching this lesson. Law worketh death, spirit breatheth life.
In Joseph Smith’s Teachings
Joseph Smith compared the gospel program to building a temple (find quote, sprit of elias, spirit of elijah is cap stone). Essentially we are building an idol or a making a sacrifice and in the end we are going to have learned a lot about ourselves and eachother, and then we will set it on fire and watch it burn. Just like any of our earthly posesions and creations, those who can’t let go will arrrest thier own progress and quite possibly turn into bitter enemies of god. We must learn that God can not be housed in buildings built by human hands, but only in our hearts. His law cant be held by tablets of stone, but by tablets of our hearts. We will etrnally rise, but our church organizations will fall. (song, we’re going to let it burn, burn, burn)..
-true religion is this, to feed the hungary, visit the fatherless…
-start by talking about the symbolizm of the two priesthoods
[make chart comparing two priesthoods, showinging temple spires symbols, etc..]
-there is a lower and higher priesthood. these are symbolized by the LDS aaronic and melchezidek. the aaronic is over the “outward ordinances” of the law, the melchezidek is over spiritual things. “outward ordinances” are things meant to point people toward the inward or true meaning of the law or ‘spirit’ of the law. It is a schoolmaster.
-this relationship is symbolized by the ‘temporal’ (earthly) and ‘spiritual’ (heavenly) aspects of these priesthoods (ref). Thus earthly religion and most especially all physical ordinances and ritualistic aspects of religion are part of the lower law or priesthood.
-these two priesthoods also symbolize the terrestrial and celestial. The earthly religions are ruled by terrestrial beings, and since the terrestrial glory has mixed polarity, it is administered by both positive and negative beings. God and Lucifer.
-the higher law has two counsels, love god and love your neighbor. The lower has a mutitude of ‘shalls and shall nots’
-once you chizel a law in stone, it looses much of its redemptive power.
-organized religion, is not true religion. The tao tries to teach this… the tao that can be named, is not the true toa, etc… (quote this)
-one of christ’s temptations was to make himself a political king, the other was to make himself a religious leader.
-D&C 121 shows this paradox ‘no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood’. Well to fully live that there can be no ‘visible’ priesthood. If you have a structured governmental prieshtood organized which regulates through laws and strictures then you have a priesthood which is maintaining power or influence by virtue of priesthood organization.
TAKE AWAY POINT.
As soon as you stand between god and man, you block man’s view of god–unless you are invisible or exactly like god. This is the symbolism that the trinity is trying to teach (that christ is in the express image of the father), but the truth is that all mediators distort the light. like a prism dividing the light into 7 or 12 colors. they try to ‘bring us up to’ the father, but in reality they distort the light (oahspe quote on religion).
-Start with the mystic cosmology? (from Aquarian gospel?) In the beginning there was only unity, this unified singularity was God. From the one came two, and the two bore a son who was the third. From these three came the seven and from the seven all that is. It was only after the seven (symbolized by the seven Elohim and seven creation periods) that good and evil was born. Before the Fall of Man there was no good or evil… all was of God and all was good.
-These two polarities of good and evil can be pictured on a continuum… t In their most primal sense, good is that which tends to unity and harmony. Evil is that which tends toward disharmony, entropy and chaos. Let’s define “progression” as the paths that tend toward unity.
-On the path of progression to the destination of unity, there are two roads; service to self (selfishness) and service to others (selflessness). These are the left and right hand paths.
-these are symbolized by the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods; the universal governance structures.
-they can be visualized as side by side or as one leading to the other.
-Each form of government exists on a continuum epitomized by these paths at the extremes. These two paths are explained well in the “Law of One” material, but proven in human history. They are symbolized by the Lion and the Lamb of scripture. (The Lion of Judah and Lamb of Joseph, the Lamb of Christ and Lion of the pseudo-Christ).
On one side is service-to-others governments. This is a government where freedom and agency are respective above all. It is rule of law by love and freedom. It is consensus driven system where all energy, resources and power are equally shared. This is the law Christ brought and in its purest form requires that all participants be at least 51% selfless, or willing to put another’s will above their own in any confrontation of wills. Even one selfish person can destroy this government (because all the selfless will submit their wills for his/her desire for power and resources). This does not exist on telestial earth but is the government of the upper heavens and the goal of all true Christians. Democracy on earth tries to emulate this government as much as possible according to the grade of selfishness/selflessness of the people. In this government people are so selfless that they are all equal and unified in all things. It has no need for a king or leader (like Israel during the reign of the judges), and if one is appointed he stays equal in power, authority and wealth with the people. In fact no one would allow themselves to be made a king or master for fear of what this would do the balance of power and self-determination of others. It is a hard concept for those on telestial earth to grasp because it is not possible in the telestial glory. In this realm the governments and religions have to have aspects of top-down governance in both our political and religious systems in order to regulate the selfish populace.
On the other extreme is service-to-self governments. These are top down governance systems which put force over agency. Since in it’s purest form everyone puts themselves above all others this government is epitomized by the law of the jungle. The government structure which naturally forms among brutish beasts who have no concept of selfless giving. A hierarchy naturally forms where the strong rule over the week, the many over the few. The lions (elite) rule from a position of power and all the nations wealth/resources flow to them. They are dictatorships and monarchies. The head is tyrant and usually an egomaniac of which people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao are good examples. They believe themselves to be Gods and wish to be worshiped as such. When they die they often become false-gods ruling in the lower heavens. They deny the existence of any beings higher than them, calling themselves the “most high god”, when in fact they are at heart atheists. They rule by force with armies and in heaven become Lords of Hosts.
-the true God of this world (who in fact is more of a quorum or ruling body) always acknowledges the existence of the Father. The Father is a symbol of the infinite nature of conscious beings in the universe on top of being an actual representative from the star system currently nurturing us.
-the current true God of this world (who works on a scheduled rotation as Oahspe and the D&C teaches, allows people to chose which Gods they will follow, as he allowed the children of Israel to chose at the Mount of Sinai.
-the lower priesthood is a governmental structure ruled by lower more selfish gods, all of which follow the father in their own egotistical distorted ways.
-it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished, and similarly it is by the wicked that the wicked are ruled.
-when the children of Israel rejected the higher rule of the Melchizedek priesthood, they were given over to the lower Aaronic priesthood. Which is administered by much harsher Gods, who although regulated by earth’s “most high” God. Are themselves a bit tyrannical, but that’s what they wanted so that’s what god gave them.
-the God of the old testament is not a very nice guy. people who haven’t come to terms with that either haven’t actually read the old testament (or an understandable translation of it), are deluded (put me in this category) or they didn’t give any thought to what they were reading. The God of the old testament constantly threatens to kill off all of Israel. He institute laws where not only are perpetrators executed, they are brutally executed by their piers with stones. He wages an ethnic cleansing campaign against the inhabitants of the Holy Land. We justify that they were wicked, but really, so was Israel. (it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished). Curious where the principle of jihad comes from? Read the conquest of Joshua. The God of the old testament uses every governance principle used by the earth’s most nefarious dictators. From genocide, to infanticide. From a personality cult to a religious and political caste system. Their laws were often brutal and their freedoms few… all because this is what they wanted. It is all Israel was ready for.
-Aaron gave the people what they wanted… they wanted a god that could be seen, an idol like the Egyptians had.. so he gave it to them. He became their idolatrous priest, so God gave/cursed his posterity with the job of being idolatrous priests. The wanted the blood of scape-goats to cleanse them from sin, so God gave them the idolatrous law of sacrifice.
-the mosaic law was a lower law led by lower gods and lower priests, but it was a schoolmaster to lead them to the higher law.
-two towers of temple are symbols of two priesthoods (also symbolized by upper and lower chakras.)
work in progress…. finish this some time.
Rename this to order of the priesthood or something.
In the LDS Church the Priesthood is divided in two primary divisions, the Aaronic and Melchezidek Priesthood. LDS Scripture teaches us that the Aaronic Priesthood is a “Lower” and “Temporal” Priesthood set to preside over temporal matters; whereas the Melkezidek Priesthood is a “higher” “spiritual” priesthood designed to preside over spiritual matters. I believe that these two priesthoods were meant to be profound symbols pointing us to two distinct aspects of religion; namely that there is a “temporal”, earthly or humanistic aspect of religion, and a “spiritual”, heavenly or divine aspect of religion. The biblical record makes the existence of these two aspects of religion fairly clear.
-lower priesthood is a school master to bring us to christ. (the catholic reformation were trying to make many of the same points that Stephen and early apostolic reformers were)
-god of old testament commands israel to build him a house/temple (made with human hands), but then tries to teach israel that He does not dwell in temples made with human hands.
-god tells israel they should not have a King, because he wants to personally be their King. But they insist and so he helps them coronate a king and the result is just as the prophets foretold; oppression, repression, taxes, war, imperialism and politically influenced religion.
-god wants israel to come worship “the true god” on the mount at sinai, but they are afraid and need a god made with hands—so they have Aaron fashion a golden calf. As a punishment, god makes Aaron and his posterity priests (like the egyptians), gives them a temple (made with hands), and a “lower” religion which was a also a human construct.
-The purpose of the human aspects of religion (things like the temple, the altar, the outward ordinances) are designed to point us to the higer inward spiritual aspects of religion.
-define and explain the two aspects of the priesthood
-both these priesthood functions are related to family lines because abilities of the adept are often passed genetically. (but not necessarily!). give examples of when they were and weren’t! lehi/nephi/lanuel, david, samuel, Jesus is best example of both, had a kingly line NOT a priestly one and defied the jewish concepts of traditional priestly lines!
cover the two aspects one at a time…
-both of these functions were given to MANY different dispensational heads in early history and continue in thier seed, so mormons dont need to pridefully think we are the only ones with priesthood!
-in regards to priesthood ‘power’, the ordinances are symbolic. You do not need to be ordained to exercise god’s power. you do not need to be lds, or jewish.
-quote extensively from law of one. quote oahspe about those capable of “hearing the voice” or clairvoyance. genetic manipulation and off planet implanting might be associated with this.
-talk about it in regards to women, non-Israel, and blacks in priesthood.
-in regards to priesthood ‘authority’, it is the lower priesthood which governs this. talk about two paths.
-women hold the priesthood in many ways.
-god is like a computer network or internet which we can tap into to access power. power gives authority. the most powerful are selfless because it is a superior system.
-need to talk about the ideal masculine and feminine and how true power is achieved though balancing these. quote pearl on story of martyr couple, and androgynous adepts. also oahspe on principles of androgyny.
There is a misunderstanding in the Church, that members of the LDS Church are the only ones with any “priesthood”… This is simply not supported by restored scripture.
Firstly, it is important to realize there are different aspects of the priesthood. In Mormonism, the priesthood is “the power and authority of God given to man”. One aspect of this power or authority is the right to govern. In this case priesthood is essentially political. The second aspect of priesthood is the “power of God” in the sense of one obtaining God’s supernatural abilities. Although closely related to governance, this aspect of God’s power is done by the “gifts of the spirit”, more than by virtue of the priesthood, per se. For more information on how the gifts of the Spirit tap into priesthood power and allow any worthy individual to do healings, prophesies, miracles or other supernatural phenomenon see ‘The Difference Between Priesthood and Prophets‘.
Both of these powers are given to man in assorted ways and have many examples in scripture. This article will show that in both cases God’s priesthood is not limited to the LDS Church. Although God often restores and reconfirms priesthood power as an addendum to reconfirming his covenant with subsets of humanity, aspects of his priesthood continues within the bloodlines of those to whom it is given and serves its needed purposes outside of organized religion. Many of these rights and powers of the temporal priesthood are passed hereditarily from father to son/daughter with no need for an ordinance.
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.
17 Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.
18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.
8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
9 For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
10 Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.
11 Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.
Show that the priesthood comes through the new and everlasting covenant. And that covenant was made with MULTIPLE parties from the beginning.
Abraham received it from Melchizedek.
BUT Moses received it through Jethro’s line which began with Esaias, of whom we learn “And Esaias received it under the hand of God. Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed by him…” (D&C 84:12–13)
This of course was not a singular occurrence, the Brother of Jared also lived just before Abraham and we can only guess that he also received his priesthood “under the hand of God”. After all, we learn from D&C 88:22 that “without this [the authority of the priesthood] no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live” (D&C 88:22). Which brings us back to our previous point, with the question; “how then did Joseph Smith see the face of God and live, when he had not yet been ordained to the priesthood at the time of the first vision?” The answer… this scripture is deeply symbolic. But additionally Joseph was a blood descendant of a high priesthood line (Ephraim), which even through the apostasy “must needs remain through… your lineage until the restoration of all things” (D&C 86:10)
Why then was the priesthood even restored? The answer, the entire process of the restoring of the priesthood and keys through the holy ordinances is a necessary part of confirming and renewing the new and everlasting covenant. Even though the covenant was made of old, and remained through the seed of the original testators, God renews it at the beginning of each dispensation for the sake of the faith of those involved and the whole world at large. For “without the ordinances thereof… the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:21). As the Lord says…
48 And the Father teacheth him [the priesthood holder] of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
Explain a bit more how he gave it to multiple dispensations heads. Abraham, Brother of Jared, Esaias, (and others we dont know about). Then he confirmed it with multiple people. Moses, Jaredites and others we dont know about). Today he has renewed it with Joseph Smith and the LDS church, but to think that he has not re-confirmed it with the other divisions of the earth is a bit narrow minded. Was not John the Revelator himself “preparing the lost tribes” (D&C 77:14, ref). Do we not think God renewed the covenant with them as well? And what of the Jews? Doesn’t the Lord say concerning both the Jews and the 10 tribes,
26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves…
35 And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever.
-explain how the Church, 10 tribes and Judah are all to be restored separately. The Jews do not need the priesthood restored to them; they will rebuild the temple and offer an acceptable sacrifice (Mal. 3:3–4, D&C 13:1) using the Levitical priesthood which has been maintained through their generations. The prophets of the 10 tribes also may have intact priesthood lines.
Finish the article. Hit the points
-anyone can access intelligent infinity, or the ability to alter reality by our wills. it is a “gift of the spirit” and is free to any diligent seeker. However, use of this ability is guarded by higher beings on many different levels.
– It is important to understand the two paths of the Law of One; service to self and service to others. These are essentially the two ends of the spectrum concerning governance systems in our world and the galaxy in general. The service to self system is a top-down autocratic system of rule in which the few govern the many. This political/religious system exists to bring prestige, power, glory, energy, money and sustenance from the many to the god leader and his elite supporters. On the opposite side is the service to others system where there no inequality and all are entirely ONE. In this system no-one lifts themselves above another and all share power equally and serve eachother unfailingly. There is no need for a king (Samuel 8:4–22, D&C 38:21, Mosiah 29:10–32). If there is a leader appointed, they serve the people without requiring the people to serve or worshiping them. This system is only possible with a righteous selfless people, and historically when people are too selfish to establish this type of democratic system, the higher gods hand governance to the the lower gods who establish monarchies and dictatorships.
Service to the self is always inferior to service to others. It is impossible for the one to consistently defeat the many. The entropy in an inward/upward flowing political configuration is too high. Earthly and galactic history consistently shows that an outward/downward flowing political configuration is more powerful. Service to others IS the superior configuration. Show the densities; by 6th density all selfish groups switch to selflessness because there ceases to be possibility for progression otherwise.
-survival of the fittest governs the universe; even among gods. As taught to Abraham (Abr 3:16–19), the most intelligent/powerful always gains the right to govern. The “gods” who govern this world do so because they have used “intelligent infinity” or God’s power to become powerful enough to subjugate others to their wills. Man, Lucifer and lower gods do this through selfish force and violence. Higher gods have grown wise enough to see the detrimental entropy caused by the force and violence of tyranny; they instead use powers of “selfless” mental coercion and selfless service (D&C 130:36–46).
-there is a higher and a lower priesthood. An earthly and heavenly priesthood. One is essentiall selfish, the other selfless. One visible, the other invisible.
-because the selfless gods are more powerful than the self-made gods, they control our galaxy. but they allow gods of a lower order (of both paths) to rule earth and give them priesthood keys in accord with mans agency.
-priesthood power of both paths is passed through bloodlines and remains in one’s seed.
-Lucifer has priesthood and powers. As a god of this world he rules the lower priesthood and is permitted to instill and regulate the thrones, dominions, powers and principalities of this world until Christ puts this system under his feet at his coming.
Four Fold Ministry of the Twelve.
Talk about the four-fold from gospel of the holy twelve… It is a symbol of the four divisions of the earth, and the four divisions of Israel, or God’s elect on earth and in heaven… all working independently of each-other, often without each others knowledge, to accomplish God’s purposes…
12. And from these there were called twelve to be Prophets with the Apostles, and twelve to be Evangelists and twelve to be Pastors, and their Helps were added unto them, and Deacons of the Church Universal, and they numbered one hundred and twenty. And thus was the Tabernacle of David set up, with living men filled with goodness, even as the Master had shewn unto them. [look for a type in soloman’s temple…]
13. And to the Church in Jerusalem was given James the Lord’s brother for its president and Angel, and under him four and twenty priests in a fourfold ministry, and helpers and deacons also. And after six days many came together, and there were added six thousand men and women who received the holy Law of Love, and they received the word with gladness
6. And to the Apostles were given staves to guide their steps in the ways of truth, and crowns of glory withal; and to the Prophets burning lamps to shew light on the path and censers with fire; and to the Evangelists the book of the holy law to recall the people to the first principles; and to the Pastors were given the cup and platter to feed and nourish the flock.
7. But to none was given aught that was not given to all, for all were one priesthood under the Christ as their Master Great High Priest in the Temple of God; and to the Deacons were given baskets that they might carry therein the things needful for the holy worship. And the number was about one hundred and twenty, Peter presiding over them.
The four divisions are also symbolized by Brahman man Nebuchadnezzar statue. Also four divisions in D&C 77:3, as well as 4 divisions of the earth & Noah, Japheth, Shem, Ham.
This would have to be a really long article to explain this all, but in summary. Every major religion on earth has come about through the priesthood. Hinduism and its restorationist sect of Buddhism came through Shem’s priesthood. Judaism and its two restorationist sects of Christianity and Islam came through Abraham’s priesthood (also Shem’s decedents). Japheth also has/had the priesthood and he uses it to rule China and southeast Asia (passed into Taoism and other Chinese religions). To add a higher degree of complexity the brother of Jared’s priesthood was spread to South America, Tibet and Anatolia by Heth’s great empire (not a lot revealed on this yet, see Law of One). It is very important to understand the distinctions between the lower and higher priesthoods. Organized religion has the lower “temporal” priesthood, and it is never long until this right to governance is hijacked by the selfish or self-righteous. Historically it has predominately been used by service-to-self individuals who are well-meaning but full of ego, self-righteousness and self-deception. These well-meaning individuals gravitate toward positions of power and quickly fill the ranks of most governments and churches. They are usually good people and should not be demonized but the populace should be aware that we give them power out of love so they can obtain their desires and progress. This lower priesthood is all about visible power, visible right to governance, power and prestige. It is the schoolmaster.
The higher priesthood administers in “spiritual” things and is held by those who rule in heaven. True prophets, adepts and mystics of every religion access this priesthood and by it do miracles, obtain revelation, and start systems which alter the coarse of human history. Most of this activity occurs in secret. That which is not done in secret becomes the stuff of legend and scripture. It is without “beginning of years” or “father and mother” and is not passed down hereditary like the lower priesthood. Nor does it need a visible ordinance to be conferred. The evidence of this priesthood is in the works of those who possess it.
In this light, I believe every lover of equality, freedom and “righteousness” should be encouraged to study the breadth of the world’s political and religious systems. The political systems and empires of Communism and Democracy which grew out of the ideas revealed by these higher beings during Joseph Smith’s time are examples of the heavenly forces vying for control of our world right now. I believe political systems (religions) in heaven and the galaxy follow similar patterns to those on earth. And just as they have in the past, these heavenly and spiritual forces constantly work to win over the decision makers of all earth’s powerful organizations. As I have learned more about these heavenly organizations and forces, I am sad to see the inroads they have made in overcoming organizations which I love such as the United States government and the LDS Church.
Mormonism should be the epitome of service to others governance, where the leaders serve their people without expectation of reward.
Wishful and childish thinking will almost always try and get you to believe that the Church is either led entirely by the benevolent God of the Universe, or falsely led entirely by a devil or a bunch of old normal Joes. Through a lot of prayer and meditation, I have come to see that all earthly people and organizations are led by many voices of differing polarity. The more my understanding of the unseen higher planes grows, the more I see how phenomenally amazing the visions in the Book of Mormon are, and also how sadly poor the basic LDS understanding of our own scripture and revelation is. The LDS people (myself included for most my life so far) are blinded by our own unbelief and self-righteousness to the point that we don’t realize we are in nearly all cases associated as much with the “Gentiles” mentioned in LDS scripture as with “God’s people” (D&C 109:60, 113:10). The “marvelous work” and restoration of Israel has not yet fully come forth. The LDS Church is only a small part of a much larger work which is taking place predominately in the world’s political arena. But we are still in a probationary period at the end or fulness of the times of the Gentiles where the work of restoration and harvest has only begun. And the LDS Church, just like the “Gentile” organizations of the world will soon have to choose whether they will “repent” or change their world-views and traditions which are still largely based on distorted views of morality and negative ideologies of control and inequality.
The great and abominable Church mentioned in LDS scripture is a highly controlling organization which exists in heaven and works on all earthly organizations for the express purpose of bringing the world into bondage. The “illuminati”, an oversimplified cliche from the new age movement, are well known or secretive groups (secret combinations in the Book of Mormon) which work under varying degrees of inspiration from these heavenly forces. It is my testimony that just like much of the world’s current political and religious organizations, the LDS church has espoused many principles and ideologies of these negative forces. Much as Jesus (for good reasons) chose a spectrum of highly positive (John) to highly negative (Judas) apostles in the beginning of the Christian era, so too does our current LDS church contain a wide spectrum of positive and negative hierarchy and proponents. The primary philosophies of these positive and negative paths are fairly intuitive …
spectrum of organizational polarities from self serving to serving others. where does the LDS Church fit? Where do we fit in our families or personal responsibilities?
Principles of positivity (service to others, democratic principles)
-To forsake self and labor to serve others. To put the needs of others and the group before your own. To not put yourself above others. To expend more energy helping others than the energy others expend to serve or praise you. To give more than you receive. To be meek and humble. To seek equality for all. To warn others of danger in order to prevent suffering. To love and serve the “wicked” or those who seek to hurt you. To not label and judge others as wicked, but look for the best in others while advocating propriety. To pass praise and worship on up the chain. To break up class systems or systems of inequality. To promote freedom to all. To value common sense and each individuals right to personal inspiration over religious fanaticism or rigid legal systems of control or manipulation. To offer people positive/constructive counsel but not negative proscriptions. To rule by loving brotherhoods instead of rigid laws determined by an elite and enforced by punishment.
Principles of negativity (service to self, autocratic principles)
-To set up an elite where the few enslave and rule over the many, politically and religiously (kings & priests). To create a populace (not part of the ruling class) who is selfless and thus meek and easy to manipulate into being willingly enslaved. To create systems where the energy and resources of the many benefit and enrich you, the elite few (righteous kings & priests are rewarded). To crave or demand praise and worship. To utterly destroy the” wicked” (in other words, your enemies) and use fear and manipulation to rule and enslave your “servants”. To put yourself above others as much as possible (as a benevolent God or King or Priest), while manipulating your subjects into a belief that they are unworthy, unequal to you, subservient to you and in need of your benevolence and forgiveness. To build up class systems and psychologically, spiritually, physically and economically subjugate as many people as possible (by their own free will) in order to serve the elite. To promote religious & political fanaticism and keep people from thinking for themselves or thinking out of the box. To enforce rigid laws by manipulation, armies, imprisonment and violence.
Principles common to both.
-To work toward unity, in order to increase the groups power. To seek wisdom and knowledge in order to raise in power.
Extreme Examples of these Groups
In our day, North Korea in particular is a good example of how an almost purely negative governmental system works. Even before Genghis Khan, this region of the world has been a major proponent of the negative path. Much like the governments of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, North Korea one of the most closed, controlled, autocratic totalitarian governments in the world. To someone accustomed to the freedom of the west, it seems obvious that there is something inherently “evil” about their political systems. If you love control and power, then its a great place for you to be born as an elite because all control is in the hands of a small ruling class, and much of the countries resources go to supporting that elite (many capitalistic organizations use the same principles). The people have very little freedom, and are manipulated by fear and propaganda into thinking their leaders are God-like. And yet by creating a closed-minded mentality, good intelligent people in these cultures are fine with the status quo because they are almost entirely ignorant of the fact that most the world operates much differently. It’s important for members of any nation, religion or political organization to be able to look outside their little boxes, and compare the spectrum of governmental systems so they can best chose between the pluses and minuses of each.
North Korea fanfare and tribute to their “beloved leader”, Kim Jong-un. A classic example of self serving governance, where the many serve the elite few.
I’m no neophyte to Mormon doctrine or controversy. I’ve read a lot of religious material from LDS sources and most of the earth’s religious systems; and it seems the more material I read, the more I find myself having to pray and meditate for a while in order to integrate everything and figure out exactly where I think the LDS Church is right now. It is obvious to me as I’ve studied history that no earthly religion is perfect or even close to perfect. They all contain mixed and distorted material and teachings, and often when I delve into the controlling, compulsive, manipulative and occasionally deceptive aspects of LDS church doctrine and history… I worry that they are far too ingrained in the negative or service-to-self path. (see distinctions below) However, on the flip side I am hopeful as I listen to conference, see the open dialog occurring about troubling aspects of church history and feel out the general attitude of members in Utah that the Church and its hierarchy are predominantly seeking service to others by relaxing their power grip, opening their dialog, letting go of their pride and moving more and more toward the positive polarity.