Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Name of Jesus Christ, Conclusion: Naming and Shaming


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

—Romans 1:16


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


A Question of Punctuation


As you probably know, the punctuation, verse divisions, and chapter divisions of the Book of Mormon were not given by Joseph Smith, but were arbitrarily added later, as part of the printing process. They are not part of the inspired record and can therefore be changed, as long as the words are not.


With that in mind, I’d like to examine something Moroni said about our day, but that might be obscured by current punctuation. Here it is, same words, punctuated differently (from Mormon 8:35-38):


Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not—but behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.  
And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts.
And there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities.
And your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker!
Well there’s a rousing condemnation. Much could be said about these accusations, but Moroni gets right to the heart of the matter by asking some pointed questions:
  1. Why have ye polluted the holy church of God? 
  2. Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? 
  3. Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies?
Then, Moroni gives the thundering answer to these questions:
Because of the praise of the world! 
This is a significant condemnation, to say the least. But before we talk about the praise of the world, let’s let’s examine Moroni’s second question, and its curious wording:
Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? 
Ashamed? Really? My first impression upon reading this question is that it makes no sense. Members of every Christian church out there happily claim the name of Christ. Mormon, Protestant, Catholic—all claim His name without shame.

In this series we’ve looked at the eagerness with which so many pray, preach, practice scholarship, gain power, and get rich “in the name of Jesus Christ.” It seems there’s no hesitation to claim Christ’s name for practically anything and everything, and certainly no shame among those who do so. In fact, we see quite the opposite: all take pride, not shame, in claiming His name.


Moroni, a man who knew the Lord face to face (Ether 12:39), finds the defects of pride and pollution in ALL churches of our day. All are “ashamed” to take upon them Christ’s name. There must be more here than we realize.


We’re aided if we include the fuller understanding of how Christ’s name is received, and what it actually means to receive it. This was the focus of the prior post in this series. You receive Christ’s name by personal interaction with Him, when he formally accepts you as His child and part of His family and household. This is the truth of the matter, but also an extremely rare occurrence in our present state.


Moroni certainly understood this, and therefore, he’s really saying we’re ashamed to become Christ’s children, join his household, and receive adoption into His family. Though many millions readily claim His name in vain, they are ashamed to meet the requirement of actually becoming His children.


I saw this born out first hand in reactions to the prior post in this series. Despite the clear words of the Lord in scripture, some folks concocted complex arguments, fanciful scenarios, or simple wishful thinking to support the claim that you don’t *really* have to know the Lord or become his child to be redeemed. (See Mosiah 26:23-27)


Relying on a false understanding of concepts like grace, mercy or love as reasons you don’t need to repent or be redeemed will have exactly the effect you argue for. You will not be redeemed. Nevertheless, I appreciate all these arguments because they helped me understand Moroni’s accusation. So with that background, let’s discuss shame.


Shame

Shame: A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt or impropriety, or of having done something which injures reputation, or of the exposure of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
In short, it’s shameful, and therefore painful, to be guilty or wrong. It’s painful to admit it. It injures your reputation, and prompts you to conceal, rather than reveal, your error. Most will never willingly admit their errors, preferring instead to cling to prior claims and double down on unbelief. Your corrupt human nature (here called the “pride of your hearts”) drives you to always believe you’re right and can’t possibly be wrong. The larger and more central your unbelief is to your culture, family, lifestyle, and devotion, the less likely you are to ever turn from it. Even if you claim to be Christ’s humble follower, will you actually turn and face Him? Will you give up your unbelief to know Him?

We have a word for the act of recognizing and admitting error, then correcting course to turn and face the Lord. That word is repentance. And the sad truth is that most of us are too ashamed to repent, though we badly need to. Our pride simply will not let us admit we are wrong about some things.


Abominations


Every church out there has built up a body of unbelief and false doctrine that has no power to save, and bears no fruit. The Lord condemned all the creeds of the Christian world as abominable, barren, and fruitless. (Jacob 5:46, JSH 1:19)


Moroni’s primary audience, the various branches of Mormonism, are particularly guilty because they actually have access to, and claim belief in, the record sent by God to correct unbelief and establish saving truth. And yet, they largely ignore it, practice against its teachings, and even insist they cannot possibly be wrong. This is the antithesis of repentance, and the LDS audience, therefore, suffers under the Lord’s condemnation. (D&C 84:54-57)


Yet, to admit our error is too shameful. Therefore, the error continues and grows, and truth is actively denied. The idea that it’s impossible for church leaders to be wrong was invented to avoid shame. The false claim that the Bible is uncorrupted, complete, infallible, and God’s only word is also born of the need to avoid shame.


Naked and Ashamed


Shame has been the Devil’s tool from the beginning. When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden, their state of sinless innocence was typified by the statement that they were naked and not ashamed. This, of course, had nothing to do with their lack of clothing, but rather the fact that they could comfortably stand in the presence of God without the guilt of sin.


After Adam and Eve transgressed, they “knew good and evil,” became aware of their fallen, sinful state, and could no longer comfortably bear God’s presence.

For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you. (Mormon 9:5) 
Therefore, they attempted to hide themselves. In the LDS temple endowment portrayal, it is Lucifer who points out their nakedness—causing both their shame, and their attempt to hide. This is no surprise, as Lucifer is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). He seeks to reinforce shame as a tool to prevent repentance.


In response to Adam and Eve’s fallen state, the Lord made coats of skins to cover their shame so they could bear His presence. Of course, acquiring the skins required animal sacrifice, thus pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, which would cover the shame of all humanity.
Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. (2 Nephi 9:14)
The Devil has concocted the perfect conundrum by this use of Shame. It is only Christ’s atonement that has the power to remove our shame, so, ironically, those who are ashamed to take His name will never have their shame removed. It is better to suffer shame now “for His name” by literally confronting our error, correcting our course, coming unto Him, and receiving His name. Then, and only then, will our shame be removed in the day of judgment.

Shame as a Tool


Just as the adversary uses shame to keep us from repenting, people and institutions use shame as a means to control one another. Indeed, shame is the workhorse tool of false religion. It is particularly rampant in the LDS church, where “worthiness interviews” place sinners in the position of judging other sinners, meting out punishment to those who don’t meet some imagined standard of “worthiness” as if anyone is “worthy” before God.


Faced with the potential public shame of punishment and exclusion, some prefer to lie about their “worthiness” and thus add to their private shame and conviction that the Lord will never find them acceptable because they not only don’t measure up to some arbitrary set of man-made rules, but also feel compelled to lie about it. So called “Catholic Guilt” has nothing on Mormon Guilt.


Of course, the harshest institutional and social condemnation are reserved for those who find the path that leads to God, rather than seeking to appease the demands of the world or of a great, worldly institution:

And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed. 
And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. (1 Nephi 8:25-27)
Those who follow Christ will suffer the shame of the world, but will despise it, rather than succumbing to it. They will find freedom from shame in Christ.
But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Nephi 9:18)
Either way, shame will come. It’s part of our fallen, mortal situation. If we receive Christ’s name, we will suffer the shame of the world. If we refuse to receive what He offers, He will be ashamed of us.
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)
At the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess our Lord, (Mosiah 27:31) some will kneel in gratitude; most will kneel in shame. Each of us gets to make that choice now.

Pride


This discussion of shame provides the background to understand Moroni’s other observation that “ye do walk in the pride of your hearts” and that we fail “because of the praise of the world.” Whether institutions or individuals, we all tend to seek popularity, praise and acceptance.


Institutions make decisions based on surveys, polling and focus groups precisely to gain the “praise of the world.” They tout their good works and manufacture a public image designed to gain the world’s approval and thus increase market share.


Similarly, as individuals, we all tend to desire praise and acceptance. When a religious institution offers flattery, calling you chosen, royal, mighty, holy, righteous, inspiring, or the best generation ever to come to earth, your pride is fed and your repentance is thwarted.


Of course you’re good! You know you’re right! There’s no need to consider your lost and fallen condition! There’s certainly no need to turn to the Lord in desperation! Just stay in the ship and trust your leaders to save you! They cannot lead you astray!


King Noah knew the power of flattering his people:

Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them. (Mosiah 11:7)
By sufficiently flattering his people, King Noah gained the support he needed to build monuments to his pride:
And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper; And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things.

And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass.
 
And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people. And it came to pass that he built a tower near the temple; yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about. (Mosiah 11:-12)
Institutions offer praise to their adherents as a means of building loyalty, which also builds pride, and ultimately builds buildings—both great and spacious, providing at once proof of worldly success, and a needed vantage point from which to point the finger of scorn.

Toxic



And so, you confront the toxic combination of shame and pride. You’re told you’re amazing, wonderful and right, but also given a list of rules and requirements you know you don’t meet. Like combining incompatible drugs, this bizarre combination of outward pride and inward shame has disastrous and debilitating consequences. Appearances must be kept up, shame must be covered up, you must pretend to measure up; and hence lives are screwed up.

Here are some of the social results of this toxic combination of pride and shame in Utah, where approximately 60% of the state is LDS:

I’m not quoting these statistics to nurse some vendetta against the Beehive State. I’m just trying to illustrate the tragic consequences of shame-based religion in a culture dominated by outward appearance and illusions of perfection. These are not the fruits of Christ’s gospel, and the use of His name in conjunction with a system that produces these results is an offense.

The Cycle of Shame


Sadly, young people who grow up in this toxic culture of inward shame and outward pride eventually become the leaders who perpetuate the pattern on future generations. That teenager who today is terrified his bishop or parents will find out what he’s been up to—is tomorrow’s bishop who will self-righteously lecture teenagers about not doing the very things he has never been able to admit he did. He will interview young people regarding their “worthiness,” reward those who lie, and punish those who confess, all while taking comfort in his office and keys—both of which convince him he must be right, despite what he knows about himself. Thus, the cycle of shame is perpetuated, and Christ’s mighty atonement is rendered powerless to save those who are ashamed to take His name.


Many, of course, will attempt to claim His name as a defense in the last day.

Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (3 Nephi 14:22-23)
Claiming Christ’s name when he has not placed it upon you will bring tragedy, not safety, in the day of judgment. To quote another blog:

Calling Christ “Lord, Lord” will accomplish nothing. There will be those who claim they are “of Christ” but who are no better than the liars, thieves and whoremongers. (D&C 76: 99-104) It is not a “brand name” to associate with. It is a Teacher to follow.


Christ teaches the will of the Father. Conforming to the will of the Father is required to “enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Confession without conformity to His will is worse than meaningless. It is evidence that you are superstitious and foolish. You want Christ as a magic talisman, to be invoked to control the outcome of your life. But you do not want to honor Him by doing as He teaches. You do not want to live as He would want you to live. You do not want to surrender your sins and seek after truth and light.


…He reminds those present that calling out to Him and honoring Him with the title of “Lord” will never be enough. You must do as He taught.


There is no other way.


The path is identical for everyone. 



(From Denver Snuffer’s blog, 10/31/2010, emphasis mine.)

Moroni was correct. We pollute the holy church of God and demonstrate our shame to take Christ’s name when our pride prevents repentance. We cling to our unbelief, even as it destroys us. But Moroni also gave us the solution. It’s up to us to take his advice:


O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

—Mormon 9:6


Update September 2, 2016: Elizabeth Smart gave an interview to online magazine Vice about the shame culture of LDS purity teachings. She takes on the “chewed gum” and “nail holes in the fence” analogies used to shame young women about sexual purity and addresses how she felt when she had to sit through those lessons after being repeatedly raped for nine months. Here’s a quote:
Elizabeth shakes her head. “I just remember thinking, This is terrible. Do they not realize Im sitting in class? Do they not realize that I'm listening to what theyre saying? Those are terrible analogies. No one should use them, period,” she says. “Especially for someone who’s been raped, they’ve already felt these feelings of worthlessness, of filth, of just—” she lets out an exasperated sigh “—of just being so crushed, and then to hear a teacher come back and say, 'Nobody wants you now'... You just think, I should just die right now.

27 comments:

  1. Wow-this is spot on and I got a confirmation of the truth that was spoken/written in this post. I need to share this with others.

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  2. One of your best posts. You really need to compile your blog into a book!

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  3. Thank you for always posting truth. I truly do "enjoy" your posts as you remind us we can change through the atonement and it is joyous.

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  4. Touching Adrian. I like Sally received confirmation of the truth shared in this post. Thank you for using your talent to express and share about this important topic. It's important that each of us do what we can to break the cycle of shame, and truly come unto Christ.

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  5. Awesome. Thank the Lord for men who will serve to teach His word.

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  6. Thank you! I love the new understanding I have of the symbolism of the coats of skin that the Lord made for Adam and Eve. How rich in symbolism! An animal, or Christ, had to be sacrificed for the coats to even exist. And only then could our nakedness and shame be covered by the Atoning sacrifice of Christ.

    I give temple recommend interviews now, and I have to confess that I feel shame every time I give one of those because I know the recommend itself is a briliant institutional tool to control people and I abhor controlling people. Indeed, shame is the workhorse tool of Satan.

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    1. Oh my holy hell, Underdog. Your shame at administering the loyalty test known as a temple recommend interview reminds me of a time when I did the same. Even more disturbing to me then was the yearly worthiness interviews we were tasked with administering to the young people so they could go do baptisms for the dead. Even with the kindest, gentlest, genuinely friendly manner, I never got used asking 13 and 14-year old girls if they were masturbating. The bishop instructed us to ask the question in a light, casual manner. The reality was that both interviewer and interviewee were forced into a moment of mutual shame in the name of holiness and eternal progression.

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    2. Richard, I can't even begin to comprehend the horror for these young girls. I'm not directing my comments at you, but rather at church leadership when I say this line of questioning is inappropriate and probably illegal. Putting a middle-aged man alone in a room with a 14-year-old girl to ask her about her masturbation habits is absolutely shocking. And it cuts both ways. Asking a 14-year-old young man is no better.

      Now, I'm hearing reports of bishops asking 8-year-olds about this as part of a baptism interview. Not kidding.

      If masturbation is such a horrible moral sin, the Lord sure neglected to put anything about it in scripture. The fact that this false standard is used to destroy and shame young people destructive in more ways than the church probably realizes. In short, it promotes, shame, guilt, feelings of "unworthiness" and lying as part of religion, starting at a very young and impressionable age.

      Those who survive it grow up to become the leaders who do it to the next generation, knowing full well they are no better than the kids they're interviewing.

      While we were still church members and this abuse happened to one of our children, I met with the bishop and made it clear that a parent had to be in the room anytime any of our children were interviewed for anything, without exception.

      There is NO excuse and NO gospel justification for these "worthiness" interviews.

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    3. I believe at some point (another) teenage suicide over guilt from masturbation interviews will lead to (another) lawsuit that will gain traction from a sexual abuse perspective. Clergy sexual abuse is too charged of a topic to mess with. The church could avoid that outcome by simply backing down from this unwarranted and unscriptural questioning, as they did with oral sex between married couples.

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    4. Richard, for those youth interviews (6 months after their b-day), I keep it casual and brief, just to check it off the list. There's no real direction or training on how to do it.

      Masturbation? Not something I've been asked to bring up. If the topic was brought up by a youth, I'd tell them it's non scriptural. What IS scriptural is to not even think of having sex with others.

      I've got a daughter who had masturbated and felt shame and even depressed when she was 12 - 15 years old. We didn't understand the cause, because she didn't tell us, and then we learned the source was something she heard at church -- yes, from the bishop in a group meeting.

      My wife sat down with her and explained it's not the end of the world. You're not having sex with a boy, you're not violating the Law of Chastity, and it's nowhere mentioned in the scriptures. So she was set straight by her mother and a tremendous burden was lifted. She went from debilitating depression at times to being normal again almost overnight. We told her to keep her thoughts pure, and that's what living the Law of Chastity is all about.

      If we ever catch a Church leader guilt tripping youth for masturbation, we will correct it, and have done so.

      When I interview young women, I leave the door wide open to the room I'm in, invite a parent, or do it in a corner of the gym. I think going forward I'll apply that practice to YM as well.

      I mainly ask for feedback on how things are going at church, since that's something I can have an impact on. The main complaint is that they are bored by all the lesson redundancy between 2nd and 3rd hours! Correlation from SLC strikes again!

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    5. It will be a shock to most folks when we learn that God doesn't hate our genitals and our sexual urges the way we've been taught to hate our genitals and sexual urges. Those worthiness interviews were always a little excursion into insanity for me. Like has been articulated, I felt like a shameful, hypocritical tool for being complicit in trying to coerce abstinence. Good on you for insisting that the abusive interviews for your own kids not take place without you being present.

      To hear of bishops making this inquiry of eight-year-olds is abhorrent. The next thing you know they'll be asking the kids if the president of the church is God's one-and-only prophet on the earth. Oh wait, they already do that.

      What is much more intriguing to me than repeatedly giving kids a chance to lie about not pleasuring themselves would be to clearly, lovingly and faithfully teach them about preparing to meet Jesus Christ in this life. That would be a cause.

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    6. If the LDS president is someone important to you, Underdog, my apologies for my flippant comment about eight-year-olds being asked to assert their loyalty to him as God's sole messenger here on earth. No offense intended. Good strength in your service.

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    7. Richard,

      No offense taken. "Sieg Heil" infallible one! Jingle jangle those keys. I get it.

      I was battling just this very morning a stake directive at the ward level right now which is just pure busy work for the deacons in our ward. There is no scriptural commandment or basis, and the monthly activity is largely a waste of time, whereas something meaningful could be done instead. The answer I got was. "We will follow the stake president's directive. We will align ourselves with him." Discussion over. Fall in line.

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  7. This was precisely what I needed to hear today. Many times I had pondered why the phrase was used about being ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ. I believe most of in the church skim over these verses and don't think them applicable to us because they ignorantly think they have taken upon them His name, so they assume the verse can't be speaking to them. I'm glad to now have this blog post to refer a person to for enlightenment.

    There are a couple verses in the Gospel of John that support some things you said that may be of interest to someone out there; they've given me strength for what I'm currently undergoing.

    "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

    For THEY LOVED THE PRAISE OF MEN MORE THAN THE PRAISE OF GOD" (John 12:42-43).

    I believe as each of us struggle with our new understanding and eyes being opened to all our false traditions and unbelief; we are all eventually confronted with the choice of either trying to play the game of sticking with the "Good Ship Zion" while we keep SECRET our belief/knowledge that it is off course because we are afraid of the ramifications that come from being kicked out if we confess the truth of what we know, just like those in Christ's day; or we eventually decide to gird up our loins and put our trust in Christ and fear not the shame brought about by man upon those truly seeking after Christ above all else. We really can NOT serve two masters.

    The verses in John above (as well as what you covered), show us that the test we are experiencing now, is the same test that has always been laid before man on earth. Thanks again, for an excellent post that brought more light and intelligence to the subject we all face.

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  8. This is a good one and opens the way for a lot of introspection. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

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  9. I believe the doctrine as you teach it, Adrian, and as Denver Snuffer teaches it. That to "be redeemed" one must be brought back into the presence of Christ. To "be saved" is another definition, requiring belief and baptism and humbling oneself as a little child. Christ clearly teaches that doctrine in 3 Nephi 11. It appears "to be saved" refers to at a minimum of salvation into the telestial kingdom but certainly isn't "redemption" or exaltation.

    King Benjamin teaches in Mos 5:7 that the people who heard his preaching were changed, they were "born of [Christ] and [became] his sons and daughters." And yet they were NOT redeemed, by the definition you (Ether 3:13) give.

    King Benjamin in the very next verse (v. 6) implores, "I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God..."

    So we see that to be "born of God," to "become his son or daughter" isn't the same thing as "taking upon ourselves Christ's name".

    I see no record in Mosiah chapters 2-6 of ANYBODY being brought into God's presence. But they were "born of God." Being "born of the Spirit" then is something that happens has a precursor to redemption.

    I have not seen God, but I feel I've been changed by Christ's power, that I have no disposition to do evil (Mos 5:2). The spiritual rebirth is real through the power of Christ, through repentance, but that is a spiritual precursor or TYPE to the REAL thing of being adopted as a son or daughter by God via The Second Comforter.

    Would you agree with what I've said? Or where do you disagree?

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    1. Hi Underdog,

      Thanks for bringing this up, as it is an important instance.

      Becoming Christ’s child requires a covenant (Mosiah 5:7). At times in human history, the Lord has made this covenant available to a group, through an authorized servant who is also a king and priest, as was Benjamin. A temple is required for this to take place, and it must be a temple the Lord has accepted and visited.

      The incident with King Benjamin’s people at the temple is one such instance. Note that a covenant is specifically referenced, though the actual words and details of the covenant have been withheld from the record in its current form (and with good reason.)

      A similar offer would have been made through Joseph Smith (also a king and priest) if the Mormons had completed the Nauvoo temple in the time allotted (see D&C 124:28-41). But they didn’t, and the opportunity was lost.

      The covenant will be made available again through the temple in Zion. This is part of the blessing the returning tribes will seek under the hand of Ephraim (D&C 133:32).

      But until there is an appropriate place prepared and sanctified by the Lord’s presence, and until there is a king and priest servant authorized to restore the covenant, it is only available individually through the personal ministry of Christ himself. Therefore, in our current situation, it requires the presence of Christ to provide what is required, which is also the definition of redemption.

      The incident with King Benjamin’s people gives us some idea of what may be ahead if we can qualify to build Zion and her temple. But until and unless that happens, we must receive the Lord’s personal ministry to receive the covenant.

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    2. Was such a covenant not the destiny of the saints at the Kirkland temple? There were manifestations at that temple but I recall no "King Benjamin" event.

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    3. Perhaps it would have led to that outcome in Kirtland, had the people remained faithful. That was pretty early on, and there was still some time and development ahead for Joseph Smith. But given adequate time and spiritual development, I believe this is ALWAYS the outcome the Lord aims for. This is the very purpose of temples (as opposed to endless, ineffective ordinance work for the dead.)

      A temple is a place to literally, not figuratively, connect with God.

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    4. It is an interesting concept to think about King Benjamin as being a covenant holder akin to Abraham or Joseph Smith in our day but that would imply Patriarchal Priesthood through the backbone lineage stretching back to Adam. Also interesting is the idea of Benjamin being a king and a priest in the way Joseph Smith laid out prior to his death and likewise the idea that Benjamin had a temple which had been accepted by the Lord in the way the Nauvoo Saints were being prepared for by their covenant holding prophet leader. But I just want to note that the record is silent on all three of these issues and King Benjamin's status with the Lord isn't clearly defined as having been in the presence of the Lord that way that most of the other Book of Mormon prophets plainly state. All we know for certain about Benjamin is that he was taught by an angel directly and elected a King by the voice of his subjects.

      Excellent post Adrian. See ya soon

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  10. Thank you Adrian. Your posts tend to cause me to really look at myself and see where I need to repent.

    As I read the part about "Abominations" I am reminded of something I read recently in 'Removing the Condemnation' by Denver C Snuffer, Jr. I thought I understood what iniquity and abominations meant until I read his explanations of those two words.
    Alma 13:17 "Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness...." We have to realize that these were people probably a part of "the church" at that time right? Now let me quote Denver's explanation: ".... Keep in mind that 'waxing strong' means to be increasingly determined or committed. 'Iniquity' is generally evil practice, but 'abomination' involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes 'abominable' when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error." He points out that people are more apt to become violent than repent when confronted with the idea their religious beliefs are false and wrong or are "abominable". Look at history.
    I understand the scriptures a bit more that talk about "The great and abominable church" and what that really means. It's not "The great and iniquitous church". There are save but two churches, those that take upon themselves the name of Christ without shame, The Church of the Firstborn, and then there is everyone else. Which church do we want to be a part of? We must choose, and as Denver stated once "we ought to have to choose or be damned by our ignorance".

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  11. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Adrian.

    Regarding depression and suicide, more recent research is painting a different picture: https://mic.com/articles/104096/there-s-a-suicide-epidemic-in-utah-and-one-neuroscientist-thinks-he-knows-why#.vRyi3xhZl

    Same with pornography usage: https://virtuoussociety.com/2014/04/16/rethinking-mormons-and-porn-utah-40th-in-us-in-new-porn-data/

    This doesn't mean we don't have need to repent -- we are all in great need of repentance, from top to bottom.

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  12. I came to point at the same thing. In fact, the connection drawn between LDS culture and pretty much all of the social ailments listed by Adrian is tenuous at best. One of my favorite websites: http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

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    1. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes there are other factors contributing to the Utah statistics, besides the LDS Church. Yes there are newer statistics that show improvement. But has the LDS church contributed? Absolutely - on both sides of the stats. The LDS Church has upscaled their worthiness interviews, most likely in response to the "bad" statistics to save Utah's reputation. They are catching people in the act, so to speak, and enforcing laws of moral conduct like the gestapo! Is this the free agency that is spoken of in the church? It seems to me that God allows us to use our choices for good and bad and we get to learn from it. He isn't going to send lightning to zap me every time I make a mistake. We all learn a lot more when we are the ones who correct our own behavior and repent, rather than being micromanaged and forced into repentance by people who think they are the police, judge, and jury.

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  13. Adrian,
    You need look no further than the way people drive in UT to verify where the majority of their hearts are! The majority of drivers in UT are Mormons of some stripe of another. In the supposed anonymity of their private auto they appear to feel free to act out the deepest feelings of their hearts. UT freeway drivers are the most uncaring, selfish, and aggressive people I have ever seen, and I grew up in Los Angeles and have driven in almost every state and numerous foreign nations.
    All the sweet facades drop as soon as they are behind the wheel, middle fingers flying out the window, their cars speeding up to cut other drivers off or cutting in to get 2 cars ahead in traffic!
    Good article. Thank you.
    James Russell Uhl

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  14. Adrian,
    Thank you for your clear and thought provoking articulation of such powerful indughtsI have never viewed the concept of "shame" in that light before and I believe that what you have expounded in this post is absolutely crucial to understanding the huge role that shame plays in Lehi's Dream and why it so aptly applies to our day!

    Thank you! Thank you!

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  15. Thank you. The Lord is blessing us with your voice of light in the darkness.

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