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.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

President George Q. Cannon as a Special Witness of Jesus

            Although President George Q. Cannon is better known today than some others that I have written chapters about, such as George F. Richards and Melvin J. Ballard, memory of him within the Church has still largely faded. (These chapters are all found in my forthcoming book, I Know He lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ.)

            One current project now underway, and supposedly nearing completion, that will help to broaden knowledge of who he was and what he did, is the publication of the diaries of George Q. Cannon by the Church Historian’s Press of the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This project, which has been underway for years, is finally nearing the online posting of the most interesting portions of his life: when he became a member of the First Presidency of the Church. I have drawn on these diaries, where appropriate, for information for Cannon’s chapter in my book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ. The problem is that my book has had to go forward with printing and binding (in order to be released in September of 2017), before the final installments of the diaries have been made available to the public.

            For over a century, President Cannon’s diaries remained in the First Presidency’s vault, where they received little to no attention and became an item spoken of (by a few) in hushed tones, with regret that they were not available for study. Then not too many years ago, they were transferred to the custody of the Church History Department, which also received permission to publish them in cooperation with President Cannon’s descendants. (For further information, see here and here.) I am informed that the publication team hopes to finish making all of the diaries available online by the end of July. This means that if there is anything in the diaries that Cannon wrote about his special witness, beyond what I have already found and included in my chapter, it will not be able to be included in time. Perhaps I can write an update someday, if such is necessary, on another blog on Cannon for this website.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Elder David B. Haight as a special witness of Jesus

            One of the most loved and highly regarded Apostles of the last generation was Elder David B. Haight, who died in 2004, only 13 years ago. I was thrilled as I researched his special witness and wrote a chapter about it in my forthcoming book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ. In his day, he spoke of some rare and humbling blessings of spiritual knowledge he had been given.

            In my opinion, one of the reasons that Elder Haight is so fondly remembered is because in his last years, which people now remember best, he was too blind to read a teleprompter. This forced him to speak extemporaneously in his talks—especially his General Conference Addresses. He would stand and begin reminiscing before the Church, telling stories of his past life, talking of former beloved associates such as LeGrand Richards, or sharing his witness, based on being personally present, of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.

            On at least four occasions I know of, two by him and one each by others, his marvelous visionary experience of seeing the Lord Jesus and the important events of his earthly ministry, was shared or noted publicly. This event, along with another powerful experience received at the time of his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, qualified him to be a special witness of Jesus.
All of these sacred steps of his life are recounted in as much detail as is possible in his chapter in my book. As he neared the twilight years of his very long and productive and influential life, he could bear testimony with great power, benefiting many.