Monday, August 12, 2019

Terryl Givens Seeks to Weaken Church Doctrine re: “Becoming Like God”



            A couple of years ago (Nov. 2017), Terry Givens (now with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute) was interviewed for an LDS Perspectives podcast, giving his views on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ gospel topic essay “Becoming Like God.” As he answered questions, he made a concerted effort to diminish or weaken or dilute the long-standing settled doctrine of the Church that man (men and women) can become like God; can become gods themselves.

            Some of Mr. Givens’ disturbing comments are these:

There is a good deal of folk theology that has developed around this notion, especially during the Brigham Young years. Because of the theologizing of people like Orson Pratt and others, the emphasis was often on world creation. Joseph Smith, of course, in section 132 referred to the possibility that men and women sealed in the everlasting covenant of marriage would produce seed eternally. That was extrapolated to mean that men and women who were exalted would create their own worlds and people them with their own spirits, then preside over those planets as God does over His. There isn’t, as far as I can find, any authoritative scriptural or prophetic pronouncements with that degree of specificity. I think it’s an unfortunate misdirection that serves the church poorly, both because of the delusions of grandeur which it can lead to and because the last thing we want to be known for to an outside community is the aspiration to have planets of our own.

            Setting aside the troubling issue of discounting the teachings of such inspired apostolic timber as Elder Orson Pratt and President Brigham Young, not to mention their contemporaries; and forgetting for a moment the temerity of labeling of their teachings as “theologizing” and “folk theology”; and setting aside for a moment that the Book of Abraham and modern apostles have taught that in the pre-existence the “noble and great ones” already helped create this earth as practice; the most startling comment found in this narration is that Mr. Givens has been unable to find “any authoritative scriptural or prophetic pronouncements” that directly speak of or teach that exalted men and women would one day become gods and preside over worlds/planets, “as God does over His.” And further that Mr. Givens states as a reason that Latter-day Saints don’t want to be known to “outsiders” (also known as non-members) as aspiring to have planets of their own.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Revisiting Book of Mormon Historicity Out of Necessity


I was unpleasantly surprised by this quotation from a website that purports to know what it is talking about: “Many BYU professors, even on the religion faculty, do not believe the Book of Mormon is historical and are not convinced that historicity matters.” No proof was provided for this statement, and so we cannot say that it is true. I am sure many if not most BYU professors would be offended by it and would declare their testimony of the historical authenticity the Book of Mormon. However, if there is some truth to it, and if there are some few that it speaks correctly of, let us review, point by point, what these professors, and others of like mind on the fringes of the Church, are rejecting—to view this book as (perhaps inspired) fiction; a 19th Century production.

They are rejecting the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith as found in the Doctrine and Covenants wherein the Lord references the Nephites and Lamanites as an ancient people. See section 3 and also 38:39; 1:29; 10:48.

They are rejecting the revelations to Joseph Smith that speak of modern peoples as descendants of the ancient Lamanites. See Doctrine and Covenants sections 32:2; 28:8-9, 14; 49:24; 30:6; 19:27; 54:8. It seems that if the Book of Mormon isn’t speaking of real ancient peoples, we may as well toss out the Doctrine and Covenants as well.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Glaring Problem with Book of Mormon Geography Theories


and some other issues also



            Book of Mormon geography location theorizing has become enough of an issue among scholars and laymen alike, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a formal Gospel Topic essay stating a neutral position. The pertinent sentences read: “the Church’s only position is that the events the Book of Mormon describes took place in the ancient Americas.” And, “The Church does not take a position on the specific geographic locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas.” When I first read the entire statement, and the quoted sentences in particular, I thought it very wise, to the point of inspired.

            In me this statement accomplishes some valuable and necessary objectives. 1) It should hopefully reduce argument among well-meaning members who often heatedly debate the subject into the realm of contention. 2) It avoids sticking a pin in a map. 3) It relieves the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of the burden of taking a position on something that may well not have been revealed to present or past prophets, beyond that stated in JS—H 1:34 (quoted below).

Saturday, March 30, 2019

By Common Consent Blog Baloney (or Can We Become Like God)


            On the liberal/progressive/dissident blog “By Common Consent,” a feminist author wrote the following comment, which I provide here in context. The main subject of the piece is an attempt to set forth a warped “straw-man” definition of the Latter-day Saint concept of heaven (that all women are tired/exhausted there—she doesn’t know what a resurrected body is), and then shoot it down. Further trouble is found in the parenthetical aside that she throws in: “Sometimes Mormons joke about the reality of what heaven looks like, especially for women. I suspect this is doctrine that the institutional church may be turning away from (like the doctrine of ruling planets that makes us just look really weird to other Christians), . . .” Incidentally, this woman also admits that she is glad she is “moving away from traditional Mormon beliefs.”

            So we have a feminist making the doctrinal determination that she thinks The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is turning away from “the doctrine of ruling planets that makes us just look really weird to other Christians.”

            This is actually a “really weird” thing for a supposed Latter-day Saint to say. Many of our doctrines make us look really weird to other Christians. After all, they are in a state of apostasy. This feminist author is allegedly a member of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, a “peculiar [even weird] people.” If we didn’t have doctrines that made us look weird to other Christians, we would therefore be (or be joining) the other Christians—Protestants/Evangelicals/Catholics. Does she not understand this fundamental concept that the Church is founded upon?—restored doctrine and authority that other Christians don’t have. We better be weird to them or we won’t be Restored and right with God.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Highlights from Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone as found in BYU Speeches talks


Compiled by Dennis B. Horne

“Whenever we find problems in the Church, we usually find them under one of two umbrellas or canopies, either transgression or lack of faith in Christ. If members have faith in Christ, then they are active in the Church and they are absolutely committed.”

“I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I would rather lay down my life this instant than deny that Nephi, King Benjamin, Alma, Ammon, Moroni, Mormon, and the Brother of Jared were prophets of God. I know they were. As I stated to the missionaries, the enemies of the Church could line up four abreast from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and come to me to try to convince me that the Church was not true, and when the last one had passed by I would still know that this church is the only true church on the face of the earth.”

“Long before I was a General Authority I would sit out in the congregation and look at the faces of the General Authorities. Do you know what I always saw? Besides integrity, devotion, love, and commitment—and I love them more now than I did in those days—I saw almost a translucence, that is, a whiteness, a countenance change. I don’t know if any of you saw LeGrand Richards in his later life, but it is true his skin was smooth and almost translucent. I believe you could have almost looked into the soul of LeGrand Richards through this crystal clear, translucent flesh of his and seen “the foulest deed his heart doth hold.” I believe in President Kimball’s case his face is almost translucent. In the upper room of the temple quite often in our first Thursday meetings—and we’ll have one again this Thursday—I have seen on occasion some of the Brethren stand there with an aura of light around them as they spoke. One of the men around whom I saw an aura when he spoke was the president of this great institution [BYU], Jeff Holland. It was about four inches wide. He reported to the Brethren, and I could see it. I knew that Jeff Holland was speaking in an inspired way to the Brethren at that time.”

[An explanation of D&C 132:46: “and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven”]
“Let me digress here just to say this: Do you know that the President of the Church is the only man on the face of the earth who can actually forgive on behalf of the Lord? The rest of us who are common judges forgive on behalf of the Church, as the Lord’s agents. President Kimball has said that he never uses this authority unless he really knows.”

“President Kimball, our beloved prophet, not too long ago, did something that is very tender to me. We were at an area conference. He heard about a man that had been burned in an explosion. . . . He left the area conference and flew down to this particular place, spent a few moments administering to this good brother and then flew back to the area conference. We arrived back at the hotel at about 10 o’clock and President Kimball was just coming in. We are just a little over half as old as President Kimball. We had been out to dinner and had a lovely evening together and he had been doing the Lord’s work. When he came he looked tired. We found out that the man that he had administered to, about two weeks later or so, when he finally gained his consciousness, he said he could only remember two things: one, that he had talked with the Savior and his time was up. And the other, that President Kimball came. He couldn’t remember anything else that happened during that period of time. As he started to heal, his wife said, Of course you’re going to make it; you’re going to live. He said, no I am not, I already know.” [He died within two weeks.]
https://byui-media.ldscdn.org/byui_ft/devo_audio/1981_10_27_ADV_Featherstone.mp3

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone’s Experience with the Scriptures and the Savior


Cobbled together by Dennis B. Horne

            Note: In his earlier years, in some talks given in the 1970s, as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone referenced a marvelous spiritual experience he received. The below contains both published text and newly transcribed wording that was withheld for whatever reason (perhaps felt to be too sacred then), from the published version, that gives further insight into the experience. Links are provided so readers can listen to both of the talks at their convenience:

Let me tell you the greatest experience I believe I have had in all my readings of the scriptures—and I am sharing something that is very tender with me. I remember the night that I read 3 Nephi the 17th chapter [3 Ne. 17]. That is when I discovered the Lord Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, my Savior, my personal Savior; and I believe that is where I finally found the description of the Savior as I thought him to be.


He had been with the Nephite people all the day long, you will recall, and finally said:

“I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.

“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and … I come unto you again [on the morrow].

Monday, January 28, 2019

“Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach” (D&C 43:15)



            Questions have arisen, and various thoughts expressed by some, regarding the role that non-Latter-day Saint scholars, meaning academics of the world (friendly or not), have to play within scholarship of the Restoration. Simply put, should we be studying their works to inform our own understanding of scriptural texts? Let us review this issue.
            Twenty-five years ago I attended a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Emanuel Tov, given at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. Sitting on the stand was then-Elder Russel M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Elder Holland conducted the meeting. Tov gave an excellent presentation and Elder Holland indicated afterward that he considered it outstanding himself and even said that if the building wasn’t dedicated that we would all have applauded.
            I feel safe in suggesting that neither of these apostles were there to learn new doctrine or to obtain an improved interpretation of any scriptural text from this fine Jewish scholar, who did not believe that Jesus was/is the Christ. Neither of them could be taught doctrine about God and the plan of salvation by Tov. But they both wanted to know more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were a trending subject of scholarly study at that time, and Tov was an expert. So they enjoyed learning from him, as did I.
            This illustrates a wise way to approach the scholarship of the world. Where they know more than Latter-day Saint scholars, in matters related to historical, linguistic, geographical, or specialty subjects, their studies may make a helpful contribution. Yet when it comes to doctrinal explanations or interpreting any of the standard works (usually the Bible), we should be very wary of accepting their conclusions.
            Elder Mark E. Petersen gave the following counsel to Church Education System instructors. While it is true that teachers employed at church universities have greater (academic) freedom in their teaching than do those in the Seminaries and Institutes, Elder Petersen’s general cautions still apply: