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.