Friday, December 8, 2017


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.

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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

President Harold B. Lee as a Special Witness of Jesus

            The below information serves as an introduction of sorts to a full and detailed chapter about President Lee’s special witness of Jesus as found in my forthcoming (September) book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ.

            President Harold B. Lee only served as President of the Church for a year and a half before he unexpectedly passed away right after Christmas in 1972. He did, however, spend a long and productive ministerial term as an Apostle. In my researches, I have found it interesting that a number of younger apostles, men who became his protégés, always spoke of him with the highest regard.

            Later leaders like Boyd K. Packer, Marion G. Romney, Bruce R. McConkie, and others of the Twelve referred to their mentor with the highest esteem and regard. They spoke of him as one of the greatest teachers of this dispensation. They also spoke of him as a prophet and seer possessing the Holy Spirit in great measure. Further, President Lee seemed to recognize that one could teach by sharing spiritual experiences without necessarily casting pearls before swine. He was not of the school of thought that nothing sacred could ever be shared with others; in fact, he constantly did so as a means of strengthening the faith of others and bearing testimony that God is active in the lives of those who want Him to be.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Elder Melvin J. Ballard as a Special Witness of Jesus

            This brief review of the life and testimony of Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873-1939) serves to introduce a more thorough and detailed chapter about him and his special witness of Jesus Christ as found in my forthcoming book (due out in September), I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ. Elder Ballard is one of those witnesses.

            Although Elder Melvin J. Ballard is not known to most Church members today, in his day he was known to the Church as great preacher and spiritual giant in the Church. In my opinion, he might be thought of today as something of a cross between President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Bruce R. McConkie, because he taught powerful doctrine with clear explanation and force.

            Though brought up as a farmer, he educated himself with some higher learning, and then magnified his talents while serving missions for the Church. He eventually developed a reputation as a great singer and preacher, both useful gifts in missionary work. He spent most of his adult life on missions, both in the East of the United States, in the Northwestern States, in South and Central America, and as an Apostle.  

Possessing great faith and Spirituality, he received many visions and revelations and performed many miracles, such as healing the sick and bringing wayward souls back to the fold. While serving as a mission president, and working with new members in a native American tribe, he sought the Lord in mighty faith for help and answers regarding how to solve some problems that had arisen. One night he received a powerful and extended dream in which he was introduced to and embraced the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. This experience helped to qualify him to become a special witness of Jesus Christ. Because he spoke of it on several occasions, giving one degree or another of detail, we suppose he was given permission by the Spirit to do so. One of his hearers that was unusually impacted by the power of his testimony of seeing the Son of God was a young Marion G. Romney, who thereafter resolved to go on a mission.

Friday, May 26, 2017

President George F. Richards as a Special Witness of Jesus

            Most latter-day saints today do not know who George F. Richards was. Some of the older generation will remember his son LeGrand Richards, who served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church and also as an Apostle, but died in the 1980s. LeGrand’s father George was a spiritual giant that we might compare to President Boyd K. Packer today. President Richards was a member of a very prominent Mormon family that generationally seemed to possess the gift to dream inspired dreams—and George perhaps stood at the forefront.

            George was the son of Franklin D. Richards, most famous today for having compiled the material that became the Pearl of Great Price, which he did as president of the European Mission. He himself had a dream in which he saw himself conversing with President Brigham Young. In the dream, President Young called him to be an Apostle, and this was fulfilled soon thereafter. This family saw three generations of Richards’s called to the Quorum, with Stephen L. also among that number, and a later Franklin D. being called as an Assistant to the Twelve. Their family proved a great strength to the Church.

            President Richards began his service as a leader in the church as a stake president in Tooele, Utah, a small town west of Salt Lake City. From there he was called to the Twelve, where he served long and faithfully, eventually passing away in 1950 as the Quorum President. His Quorum associates felt he possessed an abundant measure of the Spirit of the Lord.

            Not long before his call to the Twelve, Stake President George F. Richards received a powerful dream, in which he saw the Savior Jesus Christ and felt the overpowering presence of the Holy Ghost as he came to a new understanding of love for His Lord. Along with this dream, he also received one with Hitler in it, in which he was taught that an Apostle must be able to love all mankind, even the worst and most heinous of God’s children.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

President Marion G. Romney as a Special Witness of Jesus

            The below information serves as an introduction to a much more complete chapter about President Marion G. Romney’s special witness of Jesus Christ, found in my forthcoming book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ. Brother Romney was a mighty pillar among the Twelve Apostles of his day (30 years ago plus).

            As a boy I used to listen to Elder Marion G. Romney give talks in General Conference. They seemed less than compelling to my immature mind. By the time I was old enough to really pay attention and understand his messages, he was too old to give them. He spent his last few years largely blind and suffering memory loss.

            After some years passed, I came to recognize what a spiritual and doctrinal giant he was. I read his fine biography and talked with some mentors who had come to know and love him before I was born. Some of them spoke of him as an Apostle’s Apostle; I have found that they were right.

            Marion Romney’s first real awakening to spiritual matters came as he listened to Elder Melvin J. Ballard (grandfather of M. Russell Ballard), testify in a meeting of having seen and embraced the resurrected Savior Jesus Christ in the Holy Temple. This powerful narration electrified him so much that he decided to do whatever it took to serve a mission. He soon thereafter did so, laboring in Australia, where he had another precious and remarkable spiritual experience, firmly cementing his testimony and spiritual roots.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Volume 5: October 1835 - January 1838

By Trevor Holyoak

Publisher: The Church Historian’s Press
Date Available: May 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 768
Binding: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1629723129
Price: $54.95

(Page numbers are from an Advance Review Copy, and may be different in the published version.)

This volume covers an interesting period of Joseph Smith’s life that includes the finishing and dedication of the Kirtland Temple and the associated visions, work on the Book of Abraham, the Kirtland Safety Society, and persecution and apostasy. Some of the documents included are from Joseph Smith’s journals, and so have already been published in Journals, Volume 1:1832-1839. Others are from Minute Book 1, archival collections, periodicals, other peoples’ diaries, legal records, etc. There are no journals available covering April 1836 to January 1838, so some of the best contemporary sources were chosen to try to fill things in.

The book starts with the usual material for this series, including a timeline of Joseph Smith’s life, maps, an explanation of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, a volume introduction, and an explanation of the editorial method. The book is then divided into seven parts, based on time periods. There is an appendix with blessings to Don Carlos Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Frederick G. Williams, and Sidney Rigdon. And then there is the usual reference material with source notes, a chronology, geographical directory and maps, pedigree chart, biographical directory, organizational charts, essay on sources, works cited, a cross-reference with the Doctrine and Covenants, index, etc. At the very back is a note about resources available on the Joseph Smith Papers website that relate to the series as well as this particular book.

Most of the first and second chapters of the Book of Abraham are included as “Book of Abraham Manuscript, circa Early June - circa November 1835-A [Abraham 1:4-2:6].” There is a historical introduction that explains how the papyri were obtained and what is known about the translation, as well as the publication in Times and Seasons. A footnote points out that “Though a notice printed in the 1 February 1843 issue of the Times and Seasons suggested that JS would publish ‘further extracts’ from the Book of Abraham, there is no documentary evidence that other extracts were produced. All extant manuscripts generated by JS and his associates during their study of the Egyptian papyri, dated circa 1835 to circa 1842,  are available at the Joseph Smith Papers website,” (page 77)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Elder Matthew Cowley as a Special Witness of Jesus

            Elder Matthew Cowley was one of the more unique men to be called to the Apostleship in our day. It might be said that he served in his ministry more like one of the three Nephites or John the Revelator, all translated beings, than as a businessman. He in fact disliked working in the business-related aspects of the departments that support the ecclesiastical Church. He preferred to be out among the people, blessing them, which he did by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This was his great spiritual gift and was probably the most pronounced way that he demonstrated his calling and authority as a special witness for Jesus (only excepting bearing his testimony)—by exercising his faith to heal the sick and afflicted as directed by the Spirit. During his ministry he healed hundreds of ill people.

            He was also known as a special friend and supporter of the Polynesian peoples of the Pacific, among whom he served for many years. He sometimes hinted that it was from them that he learned and developed his pure and simple but powerful faith in Christ. One of his missionaries, Glen L. Rudd, became an unofficial companion to him as he blessed the sick, both as a mission president and as an apostle. Rudd seems to have had like faith to Cowley and they made a great team, going to hospitals and the homes of the sick to bless and encourage. Glen Rudd, who passed away just this last December (President Monson spoke at his funeral), later became a General Authority himself. Along with his own ministry, and especially after having been released from the Seventy, Elder Rudd spent considerable time and effort keeping the memory of his great mentor alive among the latter-day saints. Elder Rudd often spoke about Elder Cowley and took time to record many precious stories in talks and booklets that he passed out to friends and relatives and work associates. He gave many of these to me, including copyright permission to publish from them.

            Years ago, Cedar Fort published a book that I wrote about healings, Faith to Heal and be Healed, that also contained a chapter by Elder Rudd, adapting some talks he had given about Elder Cowley. Yet he had preserved much more about Elder Cowley than what was included in the chapter there.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Elder Bruce R. McConkie as a Special Witness of Jesus

            Twenty years ago, when I was trying to become an LDS seminary teacher, I did some student teaching, and also some part-time teaching for a few months (till I got cut). I remember that on one occasion, I asked a class of 35 ninth graders if they had ever heard of someone named Bruce R. McConkie. This was in Bountiful, Utah, in the heart of Mormondom. Not one hand went up. He had only been gone for a little over a decade by then, yet the rising generation was unaware of him.

            That was one of many reasons I decided to write a book about him: Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights from His Life & Teachings, issued in 2000 and in 2nd edition in 2010. I wanted to help preserve memory of him and his doctrinal insights. I think I helped do that in some small way. As 2 more decades have passed, I find that few under the age of 50 remember him, and I continue to feel a desire to keep memory of him alive, and also that of other apostolic spiritual giants of his generation. Hence, I have now prepared a 300 page work, I Know He Lives: How 13 Apostles came to know Jesus Christ (published by Cedar Fort), slated to be available in mid-September. Among other things, the chapters therein review 13 testimonies of now deceased apostles, with especial and pointed focus on their special witness of the resurrected Christ. Elder McConkie’s chapter is the longest of them, the main reason being because I know the most about him of any of the others and because I have assembled the most precious source material.

            Many of the older generation remember his final testimony given in General Conference in April of 1985. Those spiritually historic words have been quoted and requoted by church members who felt the Holy Spirit witness to them of their truth, in power, at the time they were uttered. And Elder McConkie was dead 3 weeks later. It is true that Elder McConkie’s voice cracked with emotion as he bore that final witness, but that is not the reason they were powerful—anyone can speak emotionally and say most anything. It was because they were perhaps the best wording that can be harnessed from the English language to convey his meaning and were conveyed and enveloped by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Elder Boyd K. Packer as a Special Witness of Jesus

            Editorial Note: this blog piece introduces and comments on a few matters relating to a chapter in my forthcoming book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to know Jesus Christ.

            Some six years ago, Elder David A. Bednar gave an interview to a staff member in the office of the BYU Religion Department’s Religious Educator journal. It was all about the work and purpose of special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world; the work and testimony of the apostleship. In this piece he mentioned the following conversation: “President Boyd K. Packer and I were talking one day when he made a most helpful observation. He said the longer one serves as a member of the Twelve, the weightier the mantle becomes and the more overwhelmed you feel. I think this truth also applies to all Church callings. The longer I serve, the more I see and understand the weight of the calling. Consequently, the responsibility drives me to my knees and requires me to rely upon heavenly help instead of the arm of flesh.”

            President Packer’s apostolic mantle found place upon his shoulders for over four decades, and he bore it well. I recently listened to a talk by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, now an emeritus member of the Seventy. He spoke of listening to a very old man who had served in many local leadership capacities, and who had known most of the General Authorities for many decades. This old man replied to someone’s question about who among all those church leaders impressed him the most. His answer was that they all impressed him, but that Elder Packer impressed him as having a marvelously pure heart for one so young. He felt Elder Packer evidenced a clean and pure mind and heart, with no guile.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Book coming about Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ: “I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses came to Know Jesus Christ”

            During the decades around the turn of the 19th to 20th Centuries, Andrew Jenson, for many years an assistant Church Historian, collected voluminous amounts of data and published hundreds of short biographical sketches in his LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (4 vols.). Orson F. Whitney did the same in the 4th volume of his imposing History of Utah. Also around this time Elder Matthias Cowley (father of Elder Matthew Cowley) also produced similar work in his Prophets and Patriarchs. (This was before his fall from grace as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve over plural marriage issues.) Some other similar works, such as Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, by Frank Esshom, also appeared.

            These works often traded information and articles with one another and it is sometimes said that to more recent academic historians, they feel more like lengthy obituaries. They concentrated on the highlights of what their subjects had done, including various inspirational stories and important leadership positions held. The more prominent subjects usually got more space. While limited in nature, these earlier treatments remain valuable as being a source of helpful biographical information on many early prominent Mormons and Utahns.

            In the 1950s, Bryant S. Hinckley, father of President Gordon B. Hinckley, then in his late eighties, wrote Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers. This work of under 300 pages has some 22 chapters, each biographically covering an important LDS church leader from the past. The individual pieces are somewhat longer than most of the previous treatments mentioned above and contain more stories and anecdotes and spiritual experiences had by their subjects. This volume was published in 1956 when Hinckley was 89 years old. His intention was to be faith-affirming and inspirational as well as truthful—a worthy goal.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The LDS Doctrine of Sex in the Spirt World and the Resurrection

In the proclamation on the family, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”[1] From this we are assured that male and female reproductive organs will remain in their proper place as gender identifiers for all eternity, worlds without end.
Misled people can make use of all the science and surgery they can to change these identifiers in mortality, but in the next life beyond the veil they will see that they still have the same essential characteristics they were born with to those same heavenly parents in their pre-existent home. God our Eternal Father is a perfect being with all knowledge and all power and he knows how to put a male spirit in a male body and a female spirit in a female body and he has never made one mistake in this regard in all the history of the world; nor will He ever. For those rare incidents of nature or other intervention, where some confusion (on our part) is present with these organs, if nothing sorts them out before then, death certainly will. Surgery cannot affect the eternal spirit found within the body of a man or woman in any way.
            But there is a further question as it relates to the resurrection: will those sexual characteristics/organs be functional—will they be operative? The revelation says: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1-4). These verses constitute the settled doctrine of the church, that those who are resurrected with any kind of body other than an exalted glorified body in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, will not be able to have increase, or spirit children—a continuation of the seeds: “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever” (D&C 132:16-17). This is the eternal law.