Friday, December 8, 2017

Baptism

by Christopher R. Greenwood
and Spiritual Atrophy

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (Ephesians 4: 5)


     When my oldest daughter, Casey, was getting ready to be baptized in the fall of 2003, my family and I had the opportunity to attend a picnic luncheon for LDS Humanitarian Center employees as an expression of gratitude from the Sr. management for all of our hard work we had done for the year.  I remember that it had been a pretty rough year for natural disasters around the world, which had kept us pretty busy sending out Hygiene kits, Neonatal resuscitation kits for newborns, School kits and other humanitarian aid.  There was an enormous earthquake in Algeria that required much assistance, as well as a devastating heat wave in France that had attributed to thousands of deaths and crippled the country at the time. 
     Upon arriving at the picnic spot, I introduced my family to the manager of the Humanitarian Center, Bill Reynolds. When introducing my daughter Casey to him and his wife, Bonita, I quickly volunteered that Casey was soon to be baptized.  I remember while Bill was shaking her hand, he looked her in the eye and asked “Are you sure you want to be baptized?”  I remember some momentary anxiety over the question and worried how Casey would respond, but her innocent response not only surprised me, but made me quite proud.  Without any hesitation, she looked right back at Bill and said “Of course…..don’t’ you think it’s the right thing to do?”  I remember Bill standing straight up, smiling, and looking over at Tami and I and saying “you raised her right…!”
     Although the desire to be baptized is one thing, it is another to fully understand the commitment involved and the covenant we make at baptism. When it comes to gospel principles, I have always used the “crawl, walk, run” methodology of teaching that I learned from my own parents, who learned it from their parents. For example, taking your children to see their friends and neighbors get baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a wonderful teaching opportunity. It generates gospel oriented questions from them and offers a perfect time for parents to conduct personal interviews with their children to address those questions. It also is a good opportunity to teach them by the Spirit in their own language and understanding.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Enduring Discipleship

by Christopher R. Greenwood
and Spiritual Atrophy

     A few years ago, I was waiting at the bus stop to catch a ride to my place of employment.  It was very early in the morning and quite cold outside.  I had gotten off the train and was expecting a normal day.  But the events that happened at the bus stop caused me some reflection, concern, and pondering, and stand out in my mind as a key day in my life.  The bus to my place of employment was running late for some reason.  Most of us were very anxious to get on the bus, mostly because we were all cold and additionally because I had a professional development class I needed to get to which started promptly at 7:00 am.  The bus that day was about 15 minutes late, so I was a little concerned that I was going to show up to class late, which I don’t like at all.  I am one that does not like to be late to anything.  I remember that an older gentleman came up to me with $5.00 in his hand and asked me if I had change for a five, so that he could take the bus, which only took exact change.  I looked at him, and told him that “I am sorry, but did not”. He started to walk away, but then came back to me, looked me in the eye, and told me that “I needed to be happier and smile more often.”  I was a little shocked that an absolute complete stranger would tell that to my face, but I smiled back at him and told him that “I was happy.”  He smiled at me, and then walked away. 

     I found this particular event in my life very interesting, especially with regards to its timing.  At that moment in my life, I was going through much personal tribulation, stress, and had many professional assignments that I had started working on that needed completion.  My cup was running over!  My church assignments were very busy and my daughter, Casey, had just been admitted into Brigham Young University and I was worried how we could help her financially, while still keeping a missionary son, Collin, out in the field.   I stood there at the bus stop pondering over what this gentleman had just said to me. 

     For me, it was an eye opening and life changing experience for me to have a complete stranger come up to me and tell me that I need to be happier, or smile more.  I am a very happy person, but the problem at the time was evidently a disconnect between what I was feeling on the inside and the expression I showed on my face.  I pondered over how I could tell my face the happiness I am feeling on the inside?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ambition in the Lord’s Church

by Christopher R. Greenwood

      A few years ago, I was speaking on the phone to a friend of mine who was in a bishopric in another state and he asked me what calling in the Church I was currently serving. I enthusiastically answered, “I have the best calling in the ward; I am the ward mission leader!” There was a long, awkward pause, and then my friend responded with, “So, when do you think you are going to have an important calling?”!

    It is no surprise to anybody to know that there are people in the world who measure their success by the type of position they currently have in the Church. It is “the nature and disposition of almost all men” (D&C 121:39) to have temporal ambitions. It reminds me a lot of the man who had an assignment to serve as a Sunday School teacher but decided that particular calling wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to be the Sunday School president. Then, and only then, would he be truly happy! Once he became the Sunday School president, he would only be satisfied with becoming the elders quorum president. Then, and only then, would he be happy! Once he became the elders quorum president, he wanted to be in the bishopric! Where does this process end?

Seek Spiritual Gifts

     What we really need to do, if we are sincere in our desire to serve the Lord to the best of our ability, is to pray for the gifts of the Spirit rather than seek office. This may be more difficult than it sounds because the gifts of the Spirit are generally invisible to others. In a world that values titles, positions and notoriety, it can be very difficult for some people to seek their true spiritual potential rather than someone else’s idea of it. So what can we do about it? How can we overcome this natural and carnal tendency?

     Hugh Nibley makes an interesting observation here:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A “McConkie Papers” Leak Update: More Evil that can be Turned to Good


The copyright law-defying anti-Mormon “Mormonleaks” website has posted another collection of documents and papers from the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, formerly a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1972-85).

            As with their first installment, these new papers are again filled with typos. I don’t know how they are arriving at their final product presentation and reformatting, whether retyping materials, using OCR software, or some other way, but whatever it is, they seem to have little interest in presenting a sharp, professional, typo-less text.

            They also seem to have done little or nothing to research the previous availability of their pieces. Many of these are available in archives (although I don’t imagine they would get much cooperation from the Church History Library archives for their nefarious purposes). Suffice it to say, they are wrong about most of what they say about these. A brief contextualization and review follows:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Now Available: I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ

Announcing the release of Dennis B. Horne’s new book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ. Published by Cedar Fort, 300 pages.

This work delves into the life and testimonies of 13 (now deceased) apostles as they gained and shared their special witness of Jesus Christ with the Church and the world.

For a bibliographical introduction to the new book, see this essay.

For some substantial exerpts on google books, see here.


The book is now available at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, and Amazon. Also Eborn Books, Benchmark Books, and other bricks and mortar and online stores.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s Leaked Papers: a Sorry and Sad but Salvageable Situation


In the spirit of the informative item found some time ago in the Deseret News, I thought I would review some recent postings on a website called Mormonleaks, created and run by an enemy of the LDS Church. This individual seems dedicated to trying to embarrass the Church at all costs in the name of transparency or freedom of speech.

He can’t tell the difference between a regular tax-exempt non-profit charitable organization, and a church. He wants to know how the Church allocates its charitably received resources so he can disagree with it. One wonders if he realizes that for-profit, church-owned businesses pay taxes on profits and that the Church is welcome to do whatever it wants with any and all financial resources. The monies that faithful members pay support its mission, which is ultimately to save souls. But it seems that every critic has their own idea of how those resources should be used and wants to make a fuss over it. What a disaster it would be if anti-Mormons were enabled to decide how to use tithing and fast offerings. (That actually happened in the 1890s, when the Federal government escheated most of the Church’s finances and property assets and the court-appointed receiver, Marshall Frank Dyer, stole much of it for himself.)

            Be all that as it may, this man has chosen to prey on the disloyalty and grudges of some current or former members and church employees and local leaders, to, as noted, try to embarrass the Church. Whether he is successful or not is debatable, as each person has their own idea of what they think would be embarrassing. But with so many people involved, a certain small percentage of traitors, for whatever reason, is going to feed him various kinds of documents and other materials.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ, and Doubt


            A few years ago, I learned of a newer blog on a fairly prominent LDS-oriented website that was seeking authors to make occasional contributions. The purpose was to defend the Church, using logic and reason, against the critics ill-conceived charges. (Parenthetically I will state here that my experience is that most critics don’t really know LDS doctrine or history.) I offered my services and they were accepted—until the editing and pre-publication/posting process began. That is when I learned that the blog would not be as straightforward and direct as I had assumed it would be; further, the site's ultimate owners meant to exercise strong censorship control over all content.

            When I write, I say what needs to be said even if that points out flaws or errors or falsehoods in a prominent LDS academic’s publicly-shared reasoning. It seems this site wasn’t ready for that and feared they would lose readership. So as fast as I was accepted I was dropped with none of my pieces being posted there. At first I was annoyed with the hypocrisy, but as time passed I found that the site didn’t achieve the popularity and wider audience it had sought, so the whole experience really became little more to me than a learning experience.

            Then last year I wrote another book, this one being on the subject of Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ. As I researched and studied the lives and teachings of a strong sampling of these Apostolic special witnesses, I realized that I had found marvelous support for the main thesis of some of the pieces I had prepared for that other website: that “doubt” is just plain bad, with no redeeming value whatever. I found that these apostles believed and taught, without exception, that doubt is the enemy. (Not necessarily doubters, but doubt itself.) I constantly ran into quotations from the apostles on the subject of doubt, all used in a negative sense. The apostles teach and engender faith in Jesus and His gospel, not doubt—and that is just how it is, without exception. They do not cease to love or help those struggling with doubt to believe, but they also do not coddle or entertain doubt themselves. When they are called they are charged to purge all doubt from themselves until they have acquired a special witness (see D&C 107:23). This witness is a sure knowledge of the reality that Jesus lives today as a resurrected being that guides His Church. There is no doubt to be found in their pure, revealed, knowledge. That is why their testimonies are so valuable and powerful.