Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Prophets, Part 4:
Presidents, Popes and Politicians

 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
—Psalm 149:2-3

This series on prophets has brought up a number of questions for various people about how to identify a true prophet. God works in patterns, and His prophets generally fit the patterns He established. 

If you haven't yet read the prior 3 parts of this series, I recommend you read them first, in order, to lay the groundwork for this installment. 


I've put together the following table to help us recognize and identify the patterns before us, as seen in scripture, church history, and modern practice.

In the following table, "Then" refers to prophets in scripture, up to and including Joseph Smith. "Now" refers to the modern LDS prophets, most particularly during the last 30 years or so. 

The statements in this chart are all factual, and the pattern items noted are generally applicable. Of course, there are isolated exceptions to all the items here, but my purpose is to point out the widely applicable patterns, not the exceptions.

I have made no attempt to categorize any items as good or bad, right or wrong. I am merely stating things as they are. I didn't take the time to link to proof of each item noted, but they are all factual statements. If you doubt anything you read here, please investigate it further.

One more thing: If you are uncomfortable or angry with the facts presented, ask yourself why you feel that way. Since I have not attempted to make judgments about the facts, the judgments you make, and the resulting emotions are your own. I suggest that allowing emotion to cloud your logic and intellect puts you in great danger. Therefore, I think it's a good idea to suspend emotion and simply read as if you were seeking to understand a topic in school. If these facts bother you, it is because you find them negative.

More discussion will follow after the table. But for now, here are the obvious parts of the prophetic pattern, then and now: 







Some thoughts:
  1. Take a look at the columns on the right, but forget we are talking about one we call a prophet. In fact, let's take it out of the realm of religion altogether. Read the list on the right as if we are talking about a business leader. What would we call such a man? Chief Executive Officer? President? Boss? Read the list and see how well it fits.
  2. Now think in terms of political leaders. What would you call such a man? President? No, that doesn't go quite far enough. Presidents are limited in power and sometimes opposed, threatened, contradicted, and ultimately even rejected by voters. No, such a man at the head of a state would be an absolute monarch. A king. A dictator. One need look no farther than North Korea to see the results when hero worship and propaganda are combined with absolute power. 
  3. Now getting back to religion, but not the LDS church. What would you call someone described in the right-side columns—but in some other church? Is he Catholic? You would call him Pope. Does he lead a small movement with strange ideas? You would call him a cultist. 
  4. And now, bringing it back to the modern LDS church. What do we call such men? Prophets, seers, revelators, and the Lord's mouthpiece on earth. We revere the "keys" they hold, though we can't tell you what those keys are. We teach and believe our very salvation hinges upon the keys they exercise in our behalf. We view such men as lights and give them praise. Most LDS members will vehemently defend the holy and exalted status of such men, while being utterly unable to point to any prophetic fruit. Many will bear testimony that such men are exactly, precisely what the Lord wants us to look to and emulate for salvation, while being unable to support their ideas with a single scriptural reference.
  5. And what will the Book of Mormon call such men as are described in the right columns? 
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (2 Nephi 26:29).
Look at the right columns again, and look at the Book of Mormon definition of priestcrafts. Then think carefully.

(Incidentally, priestcraft is a largely misunderstood, but nonetheless very negative term among Latter-day Saints. One who practices priestcraft would not want to be accused of such. That's why I find it curious that if you visit www.scriptures.lds.org and search on the term "priestcraft," the above scripture will not come up. And yet there it is in the Book of Mormon.)

We'll talk more about the prophetic pattern in my next post. But until then, here are some important things to consider:

You are no longer ignorant of the Lord's prophetic pattern. It has now been pointed out to you in specific detail. You have the facts before you, and you must make a judgment. You can choose to follow or believe whomever you want, but if you accept a man described in the right columns as the Lord's mouthpiece and representative, you cannot later claim you did so in ignorance.

Similarly, if you intend to lay claim on your salvation or excuse your errors by pointing to such a man as your leader, you will have no defense in the face of the justice of an offended God. Claiming you "followed the prophet" will provide you NO protection at the day of judgment. The Lord never commanded you to follow any mortal man. You, and you alone, will be responsible for your errors.

If you conclude all may not be well in Zion, and the man we call a prophet doesn't seem to live, act, work or teach like a prophet, take heart. All is not lost. First and foremost, you can go to the Lord yourself. You do not need a man to stand as intermediary between you and God. Whoever said you do was deceiving you.
O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; (2 Nephi 9:41)
As I said, all is not lost. Through this all there is actually good news to consider as well. But first, it's necessary to remove the scales from our eyes so we can see what the Lord has done in the past and is doing in our day. We'll discuss the good, hopeful, and inspiring modern works of God in a future post.

I'll close with a personal story. 

My local LDS temple was extensively renovated and rededicated in 2012. As is standard church-wide practice, the youth in my stake were recruited to perform in a "cultural celebration" the night before the dedication. This occasion was touted as an opportunity for the youth to "dance for the prophet." I thought that sounded troubling, but chalked it up to some over-exuberance on the part of the one promoting the event. 

Three of my children participated. As they prepared, I attended one of their rehearsals at my stake center. There, in the gymnasium, there must have been 300 kids crammed wall to wall, all facing the same direction and practicing their dance moves while trying not to step on one another. The dance instructor was at the front calling them through their moves, and above the dance instructor, taped to the wall at least 12 feet high, was a photo of President Monson. The picture was there to remind the children they would be "dancing for the prophet" when they performed. The phrase was used as motivation for the kids to give it their best. After all, they wouldn't want to let the prophet down. 

This is a true story. I won't share the thoughts and pictures it brought to mind. I'll just summarize by saying it gave me a lot to think about.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
—Luke 4:8

PS: I probably could have saved you a lot of time by simply sending you to this link. It summarizes in 30 seconds what I've taken several minutes to explain.


60 comments:

  1. I could probably take issue with how you phrased the "nows", but I'll concede that everything seems factually correct. I just wonder to what extent the man himself is culpable. President Monson seems to me to be a very good man. Very sick, probably barely sane by now, but basically a good man who has tried to be a good leader and administrator. But I see him more as a victim than anything else, victim to a system that has its own powerful momentum and agenda. Look at the January message that has everyone in fits. I highly doubt he had anything to do with its composition. Someone took a story from some old talk and repurposed it, then signed his name. There's this faceless, nameless force running the church from the COB, that no one individual could be completely responsible for. It really bothers me. But I suspect Brother Tommy is as much caught in the trap as any of us, if not more so. He deserves our pity.

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    1. There are 15 who we call PSR's. Are any of them culpable? Are they all at the mercy of the nameless, faceless force running the church? Or do at least a few of them like the current paradigm and the luxurious lifestyle and power it gives them? Should we have pity on all of them?

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    2. Yes, as we should all who are under the influence of evil. That doesn't mean they aren't culpable, but that is not for me to decide. It is only for me to decide whether to participate in the charade. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

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    3. I don't think appearances and circumstances can rule someone out as a prophet, after all, Daniel and Joseph were both second in authority in Babylon and Egypt, Abraham was extremely wealthy, and Enoch, Melchizedek, and Jonah were all believed.

      This modern-day church organization being what it is, those who are called to any position are culpable to the extent they let the fear of man or desire for acceptance get in the way of taking the Holy Spirit to be their guide. I believe most leaders in the church operate according to their training. Those at the highest levels have been trained and groomed for years to do what they do.

      The Lord is no respecter of persons,and I believe those called as prophets, seers, and revelators can receive the gifts that qualify them as true messengers. However, I don't know what it would take to get past the training to get a gift from God that you have been taught you already have by ordination. By the time our leaders are in a place that their words are taken as scripture, they are old enough to be discounted (by age or health) if they went "off script" and called the church to repentance. Until that time, they seem to be kept too busy to ponder in solitude. Maybe that is why God chooses farmers and shepherds- they have time to listen to him.

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    4. The Lord anticipated such an eventuality with these words:

      We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (D&C 121:39)

      Hence the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      Rare is the man that could spend 15, 20, or 50 years being treated as the most important person in any room, adored, waited on, and praised without beginning to believe what is being said.

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    5. "I don't think appearances and circumstances can rule someone out as a prophet, after all, Daniel and Joseph were both second in authority in Babylon and Egypt, Abraham was extremely wealthy, and Enoch, Melchizedek, and Jonah were all believed."

      Daniel lived in captivity all his life and publicly broke the law of the land in order to follow the law of God at penalty of death. Joseph spent most of his life in prison, was almost killed several times for his righteousness, and did what was right at the point of death when that lady tried to seduce him. Abraham was very wealthy, but it was despite his constantly giving things away, not as a result of not doing so. For example, he gave Lot the fertile part of the land, refused gain from the attack on the invading armies to get Lot back, and constantly opened his home to *any* passersby who needed a place to stay, food to eat, etc. He even went out in a killer sandstorm, as an old man and only days after circumcision, just in case there were strangers who were trapped in the sandstorm. Enoch was *not* believed. The people called him a wild man and fled from him. At least a few believed him, but certainly no where close to a majority. I could go on. I might be wrong, but I am not aware of a single man in the LDS hierarchy whose situation has paralleled any of these since Joseph. You might be able to make a case for Brigham and John Taylor, but after that, I don't think so.

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    6. RaNae,

      Your observation that appearances and circumstances cannot rule out persons as prophets seems reasonable and fair - I would even go so far as to say self-evidently true. It would be trusting in the arm of flesh to think it safe to judge otherwise, wouldn't it?

      Let us take the detractor's position seriously.

      If, heaven forbid, God were to call a righteous man, even a true prophet - one who had stood in the divine council and beheld the earth and the history thereof from beginning to end and knew the secret plans of God - to a leadership position in the Church, well, the detractors would know nothing of it, judging after appearances and circumstances, would they? They would not know whether this prophet had seen the Lord unless the man said so - and since he's a leader, would the detractors trust him? Probably not, I'm guessing. If he worked any miracles, they'd know nothing about it unless he did so publicly - but wasn't that the point of Satan instructing the preacher to ask any supposed apostles or prophets to cut off an arm and restore it so the people could know they came with power? And if he, like Abraham, helped out strangers in need, and kept the Lord's saying to not sound a trumpet before him, the detractors would know nothing of it, would they, unless they were themselves one of those so assisted. And if he, like Job and Abraham, was rich, well, that's enough to condemn him, well, what more evidence could the detractors have of his perfidy? And if he never spoke of his knowledge because he kept Christ's saying to withhold one's pearls from swine and to speak of holy things only by constraint of the Spirit, well, the detractors would be just as well off, wouldn't they?

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    7. Log,

      You're absolutely right—we cannot judge by appearances. Christ instructed us to judge by their fruits, which is why my comparison also focuses on messages delivered (or not delivered.) But the appearances, living circumstances, etc. do tell us something of the character of the men.

      I do believe that one who is qualified as you outlined would not allow himself to be idolized and adored, would not fare sumptuously upon the widow's mite (Job and Abraham earned their riches through their own industry), and would not accept the implicit and explicit self-importance of the office. True messengers will always point to Christ, not to themselves.

      Even if the unbelief of the people will not allow miracles (as Moroni 7:37 teaches), testimony is still appropriate--even required. How else will unbelief be overcome? It is not casting your pearls before swine to declare your witness of the risen Lord. It is what his witnesses are required to do.

      Therefore I reject the idea that one who offers no prophetic message, lives as a king on the tithes of the poor, points to himself, demands obedience, accepts adulation, and personifies the rest of the list on the right side is congruent with one who has stood in God's presence, received His mysteries, and is doing His work as His representative.

      In short, one who disregards so many of Christ's teachings and is so completely opposite to the kind of character Christ displayed makes a rather unconvincing representative of Christ.

      But follow who you will. Believe who you will. That is the test you came here to face.

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    8. Adrian,

      Christ said false prophets would be known by their fruits. He said nothing of how true ones would be known.

      Such an one as I described would have no choice but to accept the accoutrements of office - meaning the stipend, the house, the cars, and so on. He would not value them - but who would know that from the outside?

      A prophet such as I described would not consider himself above another, but again, who would know that from the outside?

      His message would be from God - but what that message would be would be up to God, even whether the prophet testifies or not, since prophecy doesn't come by the private will of men, but from God by the Spirit. Anything less is not of God - speaking truths without the Spirit is not of God.

      By the by, even if a man is a prophet, it does not follow that the attitudes described in Ezra Taft Benson's 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet talk are accurate or appropriate.

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    9. Brother Log,

      I'll admit I'm quite surprised at this comment. It's not up to your usual high standards.

      Christ said false prophets would be known by their fruits. He said nothing of how true ones would be known.

      Matthew 7:
      16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
      17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
      18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
      19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
      20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

      Clearly Christ speaks of both good and evil fruits.

      Such an one as I described would have no choice but to accept the accoutrements of office - meaning the stipend, the house, the cars, and so on. He would not value them - but who would know that from the outside?

      The current Catholic pope has rejected the accouterments and luxuries of his office at an unprecedented level, and instead ministers meaningfully and personally to the poor. Of course the LDS President could do the same if he chose to, as could an apostle. In fact, the LDS President could change whatever he wants to. His word is unquestioned.

      A prophet such as I described would not consider himself above another, but again, who would know that from the outside?

      It’s plainly obvious from the outside the level at which a man in the right-hand column considers himself. I actually just wrote up a bunch of the more egregious examples of haughtiness I didn’t cite in the original post. But I thought better of it and didn’t include them here. I’ve already made my point. Christ was meek and the servant of all.

      His message would be from God - but what that message would be would be up to God, even whether the prophet testifies or not, since prophecy doesn't come by the private will of men, but from God by the Spirit. Anything less is not of God - speaking truths without the Spirit is not of God.

      I agree with you there. And, as prophets have always done, he would identify his message as having come from God. As such, it would be qualitatively different than messages that are merely inspired, but do not rise to the level of revelation.

      By the by, even if a man is a prophet, it does not follow that the attitudes described in Ezra Taft Benson's 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet talk are accurate or appropriate.

      I’ll agree with you there!

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  2. Two thoughts.

    1. You have done a masterful job of crafting a lawyer's case against the prophethood of the leadership of the Church, who did not call themselves to their positions, without actually stating outright they are not prophets; you merely informally imply they are not.

    Why not be forthright in your accusation?

    2. With respect to priestcraft, unless you know the hearts of the leadership, or have a documented statement of intent, you don't know they're not laboring for Zion - however they conceive of, or understand, Zion. Therefore, you would not yourself know what the Book of Mormon would say about them, and I again observe that you don't make the bald claim that they are committing priestcraft, even if you do informally imply it.

    Why not be forthright in your accusation?

    Why this careful dissimulation?

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    1. Why do you question the form and not the content?

      Will you present the counter argument or enlist someone that can?

      I wish to judge the matter correctly. I believe my salvation is at stake.

      Adrian's distillation is the best I've seen. I've had these concerns for years, but I always brushed them aside or suppressed them. I would like to hear an equally powerful counter argument on the content. I'll accept whatever form.

      If they are not laboring for the form of Zion that the Lord Jesus Christ intends, then I want nothing to do with their form of Zion, regardless of their intentions.

      Gary

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    2. Please clarify. Are you saying that Mormon, for example, knew the hearts of all Gentiles that he accuses in 3 Nephi 30 or had documented written statements of intent from these Gentiles that they were not laboring for Zion?

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    3. What would be accomplished with a forthright accusation? What is his accusation supposed to be? As you mentioned, he can only judge on the outward appearance, which would not be a righteous judgment. That would place Adrian as an "accuser". I believe he is attempting to "teach correct principles" so that honest seekers of truth may "govern themselves" after being cautioned.

      I assume Adrian is doing the best he can to follow the Spirit in his personal blog posts. Allowing someone to believe that following a man with a title will save them, if he has been prompted to warn against that, could put Adrian in danger of being a watchman who does not warn of coming danger and he would have to share the punishment of those caught in the trap he did not warn them of.

      He has said nothing concerning the prophethood of any specific person. God may use his prophets in any way he chooses. Our test is to recognize the voice of the Lord from whatever source it arises, and not be found worshiping anything or anyone other than God.

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    4. Gary - if it's the right answer you want, ask of God. For anything less, pick someone's opinion to agree with.

      Anon - what do you think?

      RaNae - a forthright accusation would be the mark of a man who was committed to his position, one who is either a brazen liar, or who knows whereof he speaks. If he doesn't know, then he's not a watchman, but a freelancer.

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    5. Was not Christ at times subtle in his accusations and claims? And other times more forthright?

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    6. What is the purpose in trying to push a direct accusation? If we agree that, as Joseph taught and we have quoted, that we ought not be an accuser of the brethren, why not stay on the level of principles and truths and let the accusations be. Can't we love church leaders and each other and still ponder the weight of the dilemma we face in the church--the awful situation we are in?

      David S.

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    7. Since you asked...

      The purpose to pushing a direct accusation - that is, encouraging Adrian to move from implicit to explicit accusation - is that I suspect Adrian is an honest person, and that he would not knowingly lie - that is, declare he knows something he does not, in fact, know. If this is true, then Adrian would not say the presiding 15 are not prophets without first inquiring of God to find out if they were prophets. If I am correct about his character, he would want to be absolutely sure.

      Adrian is (presumably) honest, and (presumably) not malicious. Adrian probably understands and cares that this is a realm where, if we're wrong and others believe us, people can die, spiritually.

      So I encourage him to commit himself one way or another, hoping that he will inquire and thus move forward with the surety of knowledge. One who knows is not an accuser - that is the difference between a just judge and an accuser.

      After all, by the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things. It is the evil spirit which teaches that a man must not pray.

      And you'll note that I do not prejudge the outcome of the inquiry. And I don't ask anyone what answer they get, either, because that's between you and God. I have mine from God. Do you?

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    8. Log,

      I will not dissimulate. I don't believe Adrian has, but I will add my voice.

      Are these not fruits by which to judge a true prophet from a false one (I sense you know these references verbatim, but for others benefit, I’ll quote them):

      1. Financial Gain & Priestcrafts

      “…I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time. And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?” (Alma 30: 33-34)

      "Let the residue of the elders watch over the churches, and declare the word in the regions round about them; and let them labor with their own hands that there be no idolatry nor wickedness practised." (D&C 52: 39)

      "And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple." (D&C 52: 40)

      “He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”

      “And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power; For I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats. Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire… Therefore, let no man among you, for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry, from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom. Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come. And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money. And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward. And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.” (D&C 84: 78-79; 86-91)

      Do the leaders of the church today receive ANY compensation for their service? Do they preach without purse or scrip? Indeed, do they go out and preach and cry repentance at all as the apostles of old, in homes, on the streets, in the synagogues, before kings? Is the declaration that “we cannot lead astray” setting themselves up as a light? Do they exclusively seek the welfare? Are building shopping malls and expanding holdings and investments part of the establishment of Zion? Can we judge a true prophet by whether or not they do these things as so clearly outlined in scripture?

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    9. (continued...)

      2) Principles of Righteousness and the Powers of Heaven

      “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”

      Do the leaders exclusively use the principles of righteousness enumerated here?

      3. Changing the Ordinances

      “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24: 5)

      “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.” (TPJS 308)

      Have the prophets since Joseph changed the ordinances? Are the temple rites pure as given by Joseph? Do we kneel as a church when partaking of the Lords supper? Did Brigham make any changes to the endowment? Have there been any changes since—to the garment, to the structure, the language, the signs?

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    10. (continued...)

      4. The Commandments of Men

      “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7: 7)

      “Which are after the doctrines and commandments of men, who teach you to touch not, taste not, handle not; all those things which are to perish with the using?” (Colossians 2: 21-22)

      “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1: 14)

      Are the teachings of the brethren from Brigham to Thomas fully consistent with the revealed word of God in the scriptures and with the teachings of Joseph? Are they consistent on the Word of Wisdom, on Priesthood, on ordinances, on sealing, on calling and election, on the Holy Spirit of Promise, on eternal lives, on blacks and the priesthood, on plural marriage, on the fullness of the Gospel, and a whole host of other teachings?

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    11. 5. Denying the power of God

      “And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.” (2 Nephi 28: 5)

      Do the brethren teach us to go to Christ to receive our covenants directly from him, to be sealed by Him by the Holy Spirit of Promise, to obtain our own more sure word of prophecy from Him and by His own voice? Do the leaders today teach the necessity of faith unto miracles, gifts of the spirit and manifestations by angels, or do they rather teach that these are only the extraordinary exception and not necessary?

      Do they teach the following in plainness and liken this unto us?:

      “And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved. And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made” (Moroni 7: 29-38)

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    12. Log,

      A few more thoughts...

      Do you believe that the references to the leaders of the church, the elders and shepherds of Israel referenced in Isaiah 3; Ezekiel 34; 2 Nephi 28; Moroni 7 (among many other references) are only regarding those of ancient Israel?

      What about in D&C 101 and the parable of the vineyard? Does this parable say anything to you about the leaders of the church today?

      Do yo believe the Gentiles referred to in 3 Nephi 16, 20 & 21 refer anyone other than the members of the LDS Church?

      Do you believe that Lord's promised blessings in D&C 124 to the saints concerning the fulness of the priesthood, revelations, manifestations, glory and honor, and not being moved out of their place were fulfilled?

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the great post Adrian. I think of you and your family often even though you don't know me. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So, I went to LDS.org, clicked the "Scriptures" link, then typed "priestcrafts" in the search box. 2 Nephi 26:29 was the first result returned. I then went to the address you provided and entered "priestcrafts" - again, first result returned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Note that you typed "priestcrafts" in the plural. If you type it in the singular, you don't get the plural results and you don't get the scripture I quoted.

      Now try the same experiment with the words "prophet", "president", "church", or "priesthood." Enter them in the singular—you'll get ALL the results, both singular and plural.

      I wonder why that doesn't happen when you type in "priestcraft." Why is this word treated differently?

      Delete
    2. It most likely has to do with poor programming practices, not malice. At least, one hopes so. I have the same problem looking up the words "temporal existence."

      Delete
    3. In fairness, I informed the Church of this particular error probably over a year ago, but it has not been corrected; the iOS scripture app shows the same problem. "Temporal" and "existence," either separately or jointly, should bring up D&C 77:6 and they do not. It is easy to imagine this might be purposeful, since there is an uneasy truce between LDS orthodoxy and science, so-called. Gosh, I hope that's not the real reason; I hope it's just an oversight.

      Delete
    4. Adrian, interesting. One hopes it is poor programming and not malice. Thanks for the clarification.

      Delete
    5. It appears that D&C 77 may not be indexed for searching at all. After searching on five different words found in that section it never reported the hits in that section.

      Delete
    6. As a software developer I can provide some context on the behavior of LDS.org. Scripture searches utilize a word-based instead of character-based algorithm. This is why searching for "north" doesn't find any matches for "northward". The search terms entered are first located in the dictionary. Related words such as the plural and singular forms are automatically added to the search set using the dictionary. Once the search set is formulated by adding the related words, only exact matches are reported.

      In this case if you search for "ministry" you'll also get "ministries" but if you search for "priestcraft" you won't get "priestcrafts" because the dictionary doesn't include priestcrafts as a plural form of priestcraft. You can see the same issue with online dictionaries.

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ministry
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/priestcraft

      Notice ministry is a noun with a plural form but priestcraft is a noun with no plural form shown. So this isn't malicious or deliberate but a side effect of dictionaries not linking the two.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous software developer:

      Thank you for your explanation. It makes sense now. Unfortunate, but understandable.

      Delete
  5. "And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God..." D&C 85

    Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

    And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

    First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

    Therefore, see to it that ye trouble not yourselves concerning the affairs of my church in this place, saith the Lord.

    But purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it
    D&C 112


    ReplyDelete
  6. Adrian, rather than make the accusational assumption that you don't accuse because you are a mere "freelancer," I take your sharing of the facts and leaving conclusions to the readers as more of a respect of agency and a desire not to be an accuser. The wording may reflect a bit of emotional angst with the brethren, I also have the same thing going on and find it entirely understandable, but I think what you've presented is correct.

    Log, it seems like you've become very contentious lately, perhaps matching the shift from sharing scriptures to sharing opinions? What's up with that brother? You used to generally provide good scriptural insight to topics. Now you just seem to have beef with Adrian, as your attempts at correcting him don't reflect any spirit of love at this point, and your words in general to others (when I see them) have gained a condescending quality. It comes off as just wanting to be right and make them wrong.

    When someone speaks out about issues with the brethren, your responses seem very fearful rather than loving, as in you seem afraid of misjudging the brethren and you project that fear against others and their words. The words reflect no spirit of love for either Adrian or the brethren. Love allows for honest feedback on problematic issues so that they may be corrected or navigated around. Love allows telling someone their actions are wrong without assuming their heart is anything but good. But silence enlightens nobody. God Himself speaks to correct, His silence tends to be ominous.

    If Adrian is wrong in expressing ideas and sentiments so many feel, I'd like to see the brethren attempt a correction for our sakes. What I see is instead punishment, iron fisting, doubling down on the errors using assurances rather than corrective explanation to improve the understanding of the troubled.

    I don't know your heart Log, but your words reflect the same spirit I'm seeing you implicitly accuse Adrian of. That's just some feedback for your consideration. You've provided a lot of good insight in the past brother, I've benefitted from it, and I'd like to see a return to that.

    Mike

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    Replies
    1. Mike,

      I may be a contentious, fearful, opinionated, unloving jerk who just wants to be right all the time.

      Or I may be contending without anger for true principles, fearful for the souls of those who are led to point the accusing finger at the leadership of the Church, expressing scriptural truths while leaving out the pedantic references, speaking because I have a care for your soul, wanting to warn my neighbors because I have myself been warned.

      Who can tell?

      Delete
  7. Adrian,

    Thank you for your valor in doing what the Lord has asked of you.

    Michael, Kim, and I had a wonderful visit today and I mentioned this post.

    I related to them that when faced with hearing correlated phrases like "follow the prophet" I always assume the close with something like, "I know what you mean. It is so important that we follow the example of righteous men and women, anciently or modern, as their example points us to a more abiding relationship with Our Savior, Jesus Christ."

    The Lord always invites us to judge righteously and correct with charity. We should allow someone to change the way they think about something without condemning their ignorance. Aren't we all in need of the Lord's grace?

    Thank you again for all you share, do, and sacrifice to bring light out of darkness.

    Mahalo,
    Kaai

    ReplyDelete
  8. Then: Called down fire (to destroy evil opponents), the annals of which are written in a book.
    Now: Starts a fire to impress a friend, the annals of which are written in a book.

    Then: Consults God regarding military involvement. Told to take on the most powerful 9+ foot tall warrior known. BAM! Nails him between the eyes. Rock on, shepherd boy.
    Now: Consults an apostle regarding military involvement. Told to take a pass.

    Then: Spoke by the power of God.
    Now: Recycles talks.

    Then: Public pronouncements preceded destruction.
    Now: Public pronouncements (in book form) perennially precede Black Friday sales.

    Then: Often manifested the power of God as they called people to repentance.
    Now: Often manifests the power to wiggle his ears as he recalls fishing trips.

    Then: Reach out and rescue the lost sheep.
    Now: Have servants kick 'em off the cliff for you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 2 Nephi 28
    21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

    Clearly, "All is well" attitudes can lead one to hell. There is nothing more "all is wellish" and pacified than the un-scriptural dogma that God guarantees that the President of His restored church will never lead anyone astray and should automatically always be trusted and sustained.

    Since members are given the right to sustain or not sustain, how could it be a sin to not sustain when there are legitimate controversies that need to be settled?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great piece, but one error...I found the priestcraft scripture in 2nd Nephi twice very easily on LDS.org.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John,

      See the comments above. If you type "priestcraft" it will not come up. You have to type the plural. I just verified it again.

      Delete
  11. I'll say it: They're not prophets.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great follow up to the previous three articles. If we are to discern true prophets by their fruits, what would a preponderance of the evidence lead any half awake person to believe? Is there even a shred of evidence that could be used to refute these articles, if so, where is it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brent-
      The problem is this, even IF someone presents "a shred of evidence that could be used to refute", you will immediately dismiss it or excuse it because it is not what you want to hear.

      There has been plenty of "shreds" (as you call it) of evidence presented by many that could be used to refute, but obviously you chose to ignore such. The typical response to such "shreds" (as you call it) is to ignore the point made, tell someone they are being a nit-pick, or say something like "well that is your interpretation", etc. Be honest, you don't want to believe they are prophets, so NO AMOUNT of evidence (shred or not) will change your mind. Right?

      -A fellow seeker of truth.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, can a man serve two masters?

      Delete
  13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie

    Look at the above link in reference to a “lies”. I find it interesting that one can “present facts” but still lie. Three examples from the above link…

    Contextual lie:
    One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them. To say "Yeah, that's right, I ate all the white chocolate, by myself," using sarcasm, a form of assertion by ridiculing the fact(s) implying the liar believes it to be preposterous.

    Economical with the truth:
    Economy with the truth is popularly used as a euphemism for deceit, whether by volunteering false information (i.e., lying) or by deliberately holding back relevant facts. More literally, it describes a careful use of facts so as not to reveal too much information, as in "speaking carefully".

    Misleading and dissembling:
    A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth. "Dissembling" likewise describes the presentation of facts in a way that is literally true, but intentionally misleading.

    And I am not just "implying" that this blog contains "lies", I am saying it does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I welcome the opportunity to seek truth together. Please offer any corrections you feel are appropriate.

      Since one of the definitions you cite has to do with deliberately holding back relevant facts, perhaps you could start by making your identity known. Of course you may not feel it is relevant, and there's the rub, isn't it? Who gets to define what is relevant? I have good reasons to believe your identity is very relevant to this conversation. If you refuse to reveal that information, am I justified in calling you a liar? I think not. Nevertheless, it's worth considering this idea when you level the same accusation against me.

      I'll also point out that I control which comments get approved and published here. If I had something to hide, I would certainly not publish your comments calling me a liar, and reply by inviting your corrections.

      Lying requires intent to deceive. This is altogether different from merely being mistaken or getting facts wrong. I readily admit I sometimes get facts wrong and make mistakes. But by calling me a liar, you make a statement more about my heart and my intent than about the words I write. You have become my accuser and my judge.

      Whoever you are, you are my brother or my sister. You and I are both imperfect, fallible, and desperately in need of Christ's grace. It's not about who is right and who is wrong, because in the end, only God is completely right and you and I are both wrong in so many ways. I hope we can help each other learn God's truths in the spirit of love and unity without the need to make accusations. I don't know your heart, but I assume the best about you and wish you love and light.

      Delete
  14. From LDS.org:

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.

    Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God's will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.

    We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

    Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see D&C 1:14-16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church:

    Doctrine and Covenants 1:14-16:

    14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;

    15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;

    16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous,

      Would you care to contribute anything to the discussion besides copying and pasting the LDS church website and mis-applying two scriptures?

      Please don't think me unkind, but an anonymous response this lacking in substance leads me to believe you are one of the paid shills assigned to respond to blogs like mine—or perhaps a robot. No thought went into your response. It is a mechanical, knee-jerk reaction.

      If you are a real person, and you care about the topics here, I welcome the opportunity to have a discussion with you. Please reply with something substantive, and perhaps your real name. You have nothing to fear.

      Thank you,

      Adrian

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  15. Nope. Do not wish to have a discussion with you. I know the things you are saying (or rather, implying) are untrue. Evidence is all over your claiming "factual" statements filled with one-sided emotion. The living prophet or president of the church has been given the keys and authority to receive revelation to lead and guide the church. The first presidency and the council of the 12 apostles are given keys through the proper channels (as outlined in the scriptures) to be prophets seers and revelators. I do not wish to respond with my name as you are only attacking those you disagree with you and I really do not wish to debate you. I truly hope and pray that you will continue to study with the necessary change of heart in order to have the spirit testify to you that Thomas S. Monson is the true living prophet of today.

    I will say that I agree with you on one thing- The phrase "dancing for the Prophet" sounds ridiculous! However it sounds like a silly thing your local church leaders made up. I can appreciate their intent as your youth had a wonderful opportunity to serve the prophet! But definitely should have thought through their phrasing!

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    Replies
    1. Well, thanks for stopping by all the same.

      I urge you to investigate your claim about how keys are passed down (through the proper channels). Church history shows that those "proper channels" have changed a number of times and in important ways. Ultimately, they are untraceable. If you're going to stake your salvation on keys, I believe you will be disappointed.

      I understand you don't want to share your identity, but I find your statement perplexing that I am "attacking those you (sic) disagree with you." I have not attacked anyone. I have welcomed opposing viewpoints and responded to them with kindness, even when I have been attacked.

      I think it's worth noting I'm the one putting my name, reputation, and self on the line out there so people can drive by, anonymously hurl some insults, then slink away when they are invited to actually discuss the gospel of Jesus Christ. This tells me such people are not at all serious about understanding the gospel or seeking salvation. They are only interested in attempting (poorly) to discredit my viewpoint.

      I hope you will overcome your fear and reconsider. The Gospel is the most amazing, wonderful, hopeful and joyful thing in this fallen world. There's no reason to fear it.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, you balk at "dancing for the Prophet," but then you seem okay with the youth having the "opportunity to serve the prophet." This is exactly the problem--too many people want to "serve the prophet," instead of serving the Lord.

      Delete
    3. As I quoted in the post from Luke 4:8--

      "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

      Delete
  16. To Anonymous, and everyone else who might oppose the message of Adrian.

    I'm a lifelong member of the LDS Church living in Europe. I haven't had many questions of faith or doubts during my years in Church. Joseph Smith, his wives, seer stones, Book of Abraham and so forth are as far as I'm concerned non-issues. As I've pondered, prayed, studied and read from different sources (among which this blog is one), questions regarding the current leadership of the Church, and in some instances as far back as the days of Brigham, have arisen.

    I've read all of the posts on this blog, and my view is that Adrians makes a pretty solid case. Then you, Anonymous and others, comment and call Adrian misguided and also misleading. You've shared your testimony of the current Prophet, and that's fine. But there has been no rebuttal to what Adrian actually has said.

    I would very much like you to do just that. This matter is serious and deserves of equal representation from each side of the spectrum. Right now, there's only compelling arguments from the side of Adrian.

    Would you please consider accepting this invitation?

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  17. And one thing you, Anonymous, could comment on is the conferring of keys and how these have ended up in president Monson.

    ReplyDelete
  18. There are different ways of grasping new truths, which include revelation, reasoning and research. I have found the reasoning of the following quote from Denver Snuffer's Grand Junction talk (p. 10) to be compelling. Note the distinction between Terrestrial and Telestial folks. Terrestrial are blinded by the craftiness of men; Telestial are IDOLATROUS (put faith in men, or anything other than Christ) AND blinded by the craftiness of men.

    "The coming change at the Lord's return is going to alter the Telestial condition of the world to a Terrestrial condition. To the extent any church tries to convert you to follow men, as I read you just a few moments ago, if you are of Paul, or of Peter, or of Spencer, or Ezra, or Howard, or Gordon, or Thomas; if you're of them, you will not survive the Lord's return. You will not survive the Lord's return, period. A revelation was given to Joseph Smith informing you of that. I am not, I never have been, and I never will be “of Thomas,” or of any of those who will follow him and sit in that same chair. I would recommend you hesitate also.

    "I have to tell you though, and this is one of the ironies of the Second Coming. The Lord is big on irony. If you look at the description of those in the Terrestrial condition, from Doctrine and Covenants 76: 72, 'Behold, these are they who died without law; And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.'

    "So if you're in the world and blinded by the preaching of false ministers, but you live honorably according to that - but you don't follow them, you don't worship them, you simply do the best you can - you will survive the Lord's coming. If you are instead worshipping a man as your leader, to whom you look for your salvation, who holds 'keys' to take you away from death and hell and put you on a throne somewhere in heaven - that group of people have gotten too close to the truth to be excused for their error. They are idolaters, blinded by the craftiness of men. Without idolatry, they are simply confused about the nature of God, which is different from approaching nigh unto it, and then following and idolizing a man. I don't know if you can create idolatry outside of a religion claiming 'keys.' That limits it to the Catholics and the Mormons. And various off-shoots of Mormonism."

    David S.

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  19. If you search "priestcrafts" instead of "priestcraft", the scripture in 2 Nephi does come up as a result.

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    1. Yes, as noted above, it only comes up if you put in the plural.

      The same experiment with the words "prophet", "president", "church", or "priesthood." Enter them in the singular—you'll get ALL the results, both singular and plural.

      I wonder why that doesn't happen when you type in "priestcraft." Why is this word treated differently?

      Delete
  20. Coming late to this post. Provoking article, by the way...something I have been pondering for the past two years.

    There's another important aspect you could include in the table. The prophets of old were out ministering to the poor, the needy, the sick, and the afflicted. Our brethren are way too busy administering the affairs of the church to do anything like that. Even if we'd like to think they do, there is simply no time.

    Also most/all of the prophets of old would take their message to the world, not just to the members of the church. Our leaders deliver their messages primarily to a group of "fans" (for lack of a better word), and not to the world. They visit stakes, wards, members, and only occasionally government heads and politicians. The percentage of non lds who would actually listen to conference has got to be extremely low. Gone are the days when prophets and apostles would personally deliver the message.

    In Acts 6 we learn the apostles of old began to be worn down by the affairs of the church, which was preventing them from ministering the gospel. Their message was to preach to the world. So what did they do? The leaders had the members nominate 7 honest men to run the affairs for them. Pretty cool the members had a voice...in fact, it "pleased the whole multitude" that they did.

    ReplyDelete