The April issue of Ensign magazine (pages 38-42) includes an article by LDS Seventy (First Quorum) Richard J. Maynes. “The Eternal Importance of Honesty” is itself a breath of fresh air in its own honesty. The article clearly reflects traditional LDS teachings, the sort of ideas Mormons like to believe aren’t really Church doctrine.
To begin, Mr. Maynes expresses the imperative of being honest:
“The big questions for each Latter-day Saint are these: Will I be true to the covenants I have made with the Lord in the waters of baptism and in the holy temple? Will I be totally honest with the Lord?”
Then he goes on to explain what it means to be honest with the Lord.
“…when we are honest, we act upon our knowledge by obeying the commandments.
“…being honest with [Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ] means we are true to the covenants we have made with Them (see Deuteronomy 6:2-5; 8:11). We make promises to the Lord when we are baptized, and we make additional promises to Him as we participate in temple ordinances.
“There is nothing more important than being true to the covenants we have made with the Lord. Our eternal life depends upon the principle of honesty.”
Mr. Maynes then explains the inverse,
“…when we break a commandment, we are actually breaking our word, our promises, and our covenants. We are also being dishonest with the Lord and, as a result, we are subverting His work.”
Mr. Maynes’ article then includes a story about marble sculpting in the Golden Age. After pointing out that an excellent sculpture requires flawless marble as its base, Mr. Maynes writes,
“In a gospel context we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expected to be righteous, not just appear to be righteous” (emphasis mine).
Finally, in a section subtitled “Honesty and Gospel Principles” Mr. Maynes writes,
“The doctrine taught by Jesus Christ and revealed to prophets throughout the ages is true and needs to be understood and applied is we want to return to live with Him and His Father. Basic principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are not negotiable. They represent the foundation upon which life is lived in the celestial kingdom.
“It is true that we can exercise our agency and choose not to live celestial law, but it is also true that we will ultimately be compelled to accept the result of that decision when our inheritance is justifiably telestial or terrestrial.
“Honesty is the trait that connects the promises we have made to the Lord to our everyday actions. If we are honest we will keep the covenants we have made in the waters of baptism…and we will keep the covenants we have made in the holy temples of the Lord…
“Remember, the Lord expects us as members of His Church not only to appear to be good but also to actually be good.”
My question to Latter-day Saints is this: When you made your covenants with the Lord at baptism, and as you renew them each week during sacrament, do you promise to try to keep His commandments? Or do you promise to actually keep them? If you’ve been to the temple, did you promise to try to keep your covenants? Or did you promise to actually keep them?
Mr. Maynes’ article does not talk about repentance. It does not talk about trying to keep covenantal promises. It says that eternal life depends on being honest with the Lord by actually keeping and obeying all covenants and commandments. One cannot appear to be good or, by implication, merely be getting better; one must “actually be good,” which is defined as “keeping the covenants” made at baptism and in the temple.
Mr. Maynes’ teaching, as unwelcome as it may be to Latter-day Saints who recognize that they are not keeping their covenants, is entirely consistent with that of many LDS Authorities. For example, Spencer W. Kimball made it clear that “Trying is not sufficient” (Miracle of Forgiveness, 164). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “To enter the celestial and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept…” (The Way to Perfection, 206).
Here’s the problem. Mormonism says that God requires people who wish to spend eternity with Him “not only to appear to be good but also to actually be good,” in that they keep all their covenants and obey all the commandments. But the Bible says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
What, then? What hope have we? This:
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:21-28).
My friends, you cannot achieve eternal life through the restored gospel of Mormonism. It is impossible. But God offers you another way, a sure and perfect way, to be reconciled to Him and embrace His gift of eternal life: receiving the flawless righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Now, I don’t know if this was truly something Joseph said, but if he did say it, I think a reasonable person might see some place for giving him the benefit of the doubt. As a normal man, he would naturally think about the universe and the things that had been revealed to him. It just might make some sense for him to assume, even incorrectly, that the moon must have been one of those other worlds to which God was referring.
In other words, Joseph could have been wrong about something, but understandably so based on real revelations from God.
So what do I believe? I think Joseph was right when he said that he never said he was perfect, but the revelations that came through him were correct. I include a lot of things in that category of revelations, but I can give him some latitude on his casual musings on such topics.
I don’t want to divert attention to this totally random topic, but simply want to use this as an example of how the standard of perfection is not realistic and likely never has been.
I adamantly deny the frequent claim from critics that the leaders of the church are liars. While delving into every conceivable controversy in church history might earn the label “honest” from some, it would not further the mission which Christ’s church must have- bringing souls to Christ. And I do not think such a diversion would change any minds. The brethren preach what the Lord wants them to preach. Time is sacred.
And consider that Christ was silent in the face of many accusations and claims against Him. Makes sense that His apostles would follow this general course.
The rush to judge based upon unrealistic expectations keeps some people from seeing a pretty cool perspective and from a whole world of congruent and eternal truth. But this challenge is nothing new- it has existed in every dispensation of the gospel, whenever the Lord has revealed truth.
Then (please) can you answer the post I made above about John Taylor and Polygamy (about 10 up now). The only way I see it is: he lied.
The following was published in the Times and Seasons as DOCTRINE in 1841: “We believe in God the Father, who is the Great Jehovah and head of all things, and that Christ is the Son of God, co-eternal with the Father.” Times and Seasons 3 (15 November 1841): 578.
John Taylor consistently did so in numerous sermons, as well as in his book, The Mediation and Atonement, which he wrote as President of the Church. The following hymn, written by Taylor, clearly identifies Jehovah as the Father:
“As in the heavens they all agree
The record’s given there by three,
Jehovah, God the Father’s one,
Another His Eternal Son,
The Spirit does with them agree,
The witnesses in heaven are three.”
In 1896, Edward Stevenson, one of the Seven Presidents of Seventy, had “a deep talk” with President Lorenzo Snow about the Adam-God doctrine. Afterwards, Stevenson wrote in his diary concerning the temple creation gods:
“Certainly Heloheim and Jehovah stands before Adam, or else I am very much mistaken. Then 1st Heloheim, 2nd Jehovah, 3rd Michael-Adam, 4th Jesus Christ, Our Elder Brother, in the other World from whence our spirits come…. Then Who is Jehovah? The only begotten [sic] Son of Heloheim on Jehovah’s world.” (Diary, 3-3-1896)
For a complete evolution of this doctrine, read my thread on it here:
This is not unique to non-Mormons, it has been well addressed by many Mormons (believe it or not).
In the above quote by Stevenson, you see him trying to rationalize it all out …. not something you do if it had been clearly ‘revealed’ and set in stone. You would think this would be the case with a doctrine about God.
Aside from that Stevenson then makes the assumption that Jehovah (God the Father) was the only begotten of the Grandfather God (who the Mormons call God the Father now) on ANOTHER WORLD. (Hence, showing you that point I made about other saviours of other worlds).
It all came to a head about this time, and the Temple (Lecture at the Veil) Ceremony was changed to reflect the new thinking that no, OUR Jesus was Jehovah. But that would not fit into Young’s views about Michael(Adam) so Young’s Adam-god Doctrine was laid aside as unscriptural.
If there was divine revelation, why did the doctrine go through so much ‘speculation’? Again, it shows that these men were working on opinion and interpretation of Smith & Young’s doctrines, much like the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. They ultimately came up with the Modern Mormon Concept of the Godhead and they commissioned Talmage to write ‘Jesus the Christ’ where it was defined.
I take it, unless you correct me, that what you’re saying here is that “these men” (leading Mormon theologians) were working on a theology derived from Smith and Young’s revelations. And the parallel you draw is with the Council of Nicea, which worked on a theology that was derived from the Biblical writings.
Which begs the question; why slam one as “the teachings of men” but not the other? (Notwithstanding the sources from which they derived their respective theologies.)
I also took interest in your comments about the Christ figure in Mormon theology, which made me feel like my previous arguments might have been rather blunt.
However, I still find much to object to in the combined message of Milton R Hunter and Lorenzo Snow. If God (whichever one you wish to pick from the Mormon pantheon) got to be God without the atoning work of a Christ figure, can we? After all, the path that God trod is the pattern for the path we tread (Snow’s couplet). Are we a special species that got tangled up with sin, whereas God’s species managed to avoid it (Aaron’s “special line of saviors” theory)? If there is such a gulf between our species, how can the path of one show the way to the other? Surely, they should be different.
I think all of this derives from Mormon Theology that Jehovah was the Father and the Creator God. Therefore, there are many statements by EML’s (Early Mormon Leaders) that attribute much to HIM, but MML’s (Modern Mormon Leaders) misinterpret them. The Doctrine of the Saviour did not ‘crystallize’ in Mormon Theology until 1915 with the Publication of ‘Jesus the Christ’ by Talmage. (which was authorized by the FP (First Presidency). Much now attributed to Jesus in Mormonism was attributed to the Father in the Early Days of the Church. Praying only to the Father is a good example of this. That is a holdover from the early days, because he is the ‘head god’ appointed by the ‘council of gods’ according to Smith. The MML’s assertions that all doctrine was logically inherited by ‘revelation’ is false. Read Kimball’s version of the ‘revelation of the priesthood’ in the 70’s. It happened by prayer and good feeling and of course the most important element to Modern Mormons (a universal Vote of Approval by the 12 and FP). Sounds just like the Council of Nicea (with the President of the Church being the ‘dictator’ and holding the veto power of any new doctrine much like Constantine). If they say they get direct ‘revelation’ by the mouth of God (thus saith the Lord) they would have to start prophesying again, and you know what a dismal failure that has been in the Mormon Church.
What is extremely interesting is that Taylor and Woodruff had ‘thus saith the Lord’ revelations about polygamy (not to stop it) but Woodruff reversed these a few years later under pressure from the U.S. Government.
For the definition difference between salvation and exaltation, here is what Elder Nelson had to say in General Conference –
This agrees with what Olsen Jim stated about the CK. Also in the Institute Manual “Doctrines of the Gospel” there is this statement by Elder McKonkie –
Sorry if you misunderstood my previous postings. I never said that Jesus was not a God, I just stated that we do not worship or acknowledge Him as our one and only God – That is Heavenly Father. However we do believe that Jesus is a God, not a ‘superhero’, as stated here –
I could probably find more statements but I am running short of time at the moment.
I find it interesting that OJ said: “Many like to think that God handed Joseph Smith and his successors a neatly organized and complete blueprint for all doctrine and organizational issues of His kingdom. That didn’t happen. But this is the standard against which the church is often held to- perfection from the outset.”
So, here’s the question to consider: If God was going about the business of restoring the gospel because of “evil” men; and, if the Bible was so corrupt because of these “evil” men, why would God go through the same process as what “evil” men went through when restoring His Church? OJ is talking about the evolution of the LDS Church, but can’t see that such an evolution is exactly what happened with the Church that Jesus started. So, it seems that he can make allowances for the pitfalls of a false religion, but can’t make the same allowances for the healthy tensions of Christianity.
Martin makes an astute observation: why is it that Mormons think they have an argument against the Bible because men wrote it, but don’t see that men wrote their canon?
We are all men, and God uses a broken and fallen humanity to bring forth His Word. You see, the broken vessel isn’t the hero–God is!
This agrees with what Olsen Jim stated about the CK.
It [technically] does not. All who enter the CK MUST live a Celestial Law. (Any LEVEL of the CK) This requires the ENDOWMENT just to get there, which Jim said it did not. I have answered this on another thread.
He also never answered (neither did any other Mormon) why John Taylor would lie about polygamy.
“I never said that Jesus was not a God, I just stated that we do not worship or acknowledge Him as our one and only God – That is Heavenly Father.”
Here’s the problem with that Ralph.
Your church calls Heavenly Father – your “one and only God” – by the name of Elohim.
Remember when Elijah went up against the false prophets of the false god Baal (do you think Baal is a real god?). What happened? Read 1 Kings 18:21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40 really fast (sorry, that looks like a lot, but I’m just hoping to get all the links on here so you can read it fast)
Summarized: Elijah says, “here, let’s compare gods. you guys call on your god to start a fire on your altar there, and I’ll call on mine.” and the Baal prophets tried and cried and bled themselves and nothing happened. So Elijah poured water all over his altar, soaked it really good. And then he called on his God to set it on fire, and of course, God did just that. Water-soaked and everything.
Here’s the clincher, Ralph. The Hebrew wording.
Verse 24 (Elijah talking) “… And call ye on the name of your elohim, and I will call on the name of Jehovah: and the elohim that answereth by fire, let him be Elohim. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken…
Verse 36 “…Hear me, O Jehovah, hear me, that this people may know that thou art Jehovah Elohim, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”
Verse 37-40 “…Then the fire of Jehovah fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, Jehovah, He is Elohim, Jehovah, He is Elohim”.
You see, Ralph, those verses you gave aren’t about Jehovah AND Elohim, two separate gods. They are about the one true God, the one true Elohim, JEHOVAH. He is the only real Elohim.
I thank God that he sent his son in order that I may be righteous in his sight. Through bible study I finally realized that I could not possibly be righteous within myself by my own works in the flesh. It is by his power, the spirit of God, that I have been made righteous in his sight.