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Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Voice Is Still Small

[What follows is excerpted from a general conference talk given by Elder Graham W. Doxey of the Seventy (See "The Voice Is Still Small," Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 25.)  All italics are in the original.]

President Spencer W. Kimball, a man with unique experience in all levels of Church leadership, described the subject that has been on my mind since this speaking assignment came.... President Kimball said:

"The burning bushes, the smoking mountains,... the Cumorahs, and the Kirtlands were realities; but they were the exceptions.  The great volume of revelation came to Moses and to Joseph and comes to today's prophet in the less spectacular way—that of deep impressions, without spectacle or glamour or dramatic events.

"Always expecting the spectacular, many will miss entirely the constant flow of revealed communication."  (In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference, 1973, p. 77.)

Dramatic and miraculous answers to prayer may come, but they are the exceptions.  Even at the highest levels of responsibility in this kingdom of God, which is being built up upon the earth, the voice is still small.

In the Bible we read of the account of an earlier prophet who was rejected and discouraged.  The word of the Lord came to Elijah when the children of Israel had forsaken their covenant, and thrown down altars and slain prophets.  He was told to "go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."  (1 Kgs. 19:11–12.)

My testimony is that the Lord is speaking to you! But with the deafening decibels of today's environment, all too often we fail to hear him.  I remember as a youth having the experience of being in company with an older man who had lost much of his hearing ability.  He had no hearing aid and was continually asking that we speak louder so that he could be part of the conversation.  He would say, "Talk louder; speak up; I can't hear you."

That was before the days of television and CDs and boomers and blasters.  I was interested in someone's observation: "With TV, and radio, and tapes, what young person has time to listen to reason?"  Listening is a challenge for us all today.

Time to listen.  The ability to listen.  The desire to listen.  On religious matters, too many of us are saying, "What did you say?  Speak up; I can't hear you."  And when he doesn't shout back, or cause the bush to burn, or write us a message in stone with his finger, we are inclined to think he doesn't listen, doesn't care about us.  Some even conclude there is no God.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, "Every common bush [is] afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes."  (Aurora Leigh, book 7, lines 822–23.)

The questions are not "Does God live?  Does God love me?  Does God speak to me?"  The critical question is, "Are you listening to him?"  Have you removed your shoes?  It is the same for you as it was for Elijah, as it is with the modern-day prophets: "The still, small voice is still small."...

As it was with Elijah, so it is today.  God is not in the earthquake, nor in the winds and fires of war, but he speaks to us in a voice that is small.  With President Kimball, I, too, testify that it is this constant flow of revealed communication which continues to direct this church through our prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, and through his counselors, and through the Twelve Apostles.  It comes to the Seventy and to the Presiding Bishopric.  It comes to the stake presidents, and to the bishops and to the quorum and Church officers throughout the world.  It speaks to our missionaries; it comes to heads of families.  I further witness that this still, small voice is speaking personally to you.  Please be still and listen! The Psalmist said, "Be still, and know that I am God."  (Ps. 46:10.)

I know that he lives.  He loves you.  He wants you to follow him, and to follow him not because of any spectacular showmanship on his part, but simply because you love him—simply! I bear my solemn witness that he lives and is near you, and that we are being led by his living prophet in these last days.

[The above is excerpted from a general conference talk given by Elder Graham W. Doxey of the Seventy (See "The Voice Is Still Small," Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 25.)  All italics are in the original.]

33 Comments:

Blogger R. Gary said...

The above post was in response to a comment posted by Jeffrey D. Giliam on another thread and is an extension of my response there.

This morning, Jeffrey responded again — welcome back, Jeffrey, I hope you had a wonderful weekend — and if it's okay with all concerned, I'd like to continue the discussion here, beginning with this comment.

Although this whole discussion may seem unrelated to "no death before the fall," there are some possible benefits to pursuing it even in that context.

First, let me emphasize that I see value and worth in Jeffrey's opinions. In what I say, I am not attributing any superiority to my point of view (see (A of F 11). I, of course, defend my point of view strongly; as does Jeffrey defend his strongly. If I didn't believe the process has benefits for both of us, I'd let it drop.

Jeffrey, between what you've said in your SS article and what you've said in your comment this morning, it seems apparent that you consider the 1978 revelation on priesthood to be something other than a revelation. Isn't that correct? This morning you used the word "incident." And this in spite of the fact that all members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency agree it was a "revelation."

Aren't you attempting to impose your "uses of the words inspiration and revelation" on leaders of the Church who obviously don't agree with your definitions?

That is how it looks to me.

5/23/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

I am saying no such thing about the 1978 communication. (I don't use this word to down play it or deny it's status as revelation. I use this word since we are discussing whether it is a revelation or not and my simply cally it a revelation kind of defeats the purpose.)

Like I said, it is very possible to believe that our leaders are guided by revelation all the time. But this is not the same as our receiving the revelation as members. In the early days, the church received the revelations instead of being merely guided by them. There is the difference.

The 1978 communicatio could very well have been a revelation. I'm not contesting it at all. What I am saying, and this is not a faith claim, but a veriable fact, is that the revelation was never given to the church if it was one. We were given the outcome, or interpretation taken from it, but we never received the actual revelation.

Leaders of the church often equate inspiration with revelation. They are, after all, two forms of the same thing. But this doesn't make the two forms equivalent. Sometimes in some contexts 'revelation' is used to described what I call inspiration. I don't think that any person is wrong in doing this for I feel that they simply mean "communication from God" whem they use either of the words.

But if we are going to get specific (which is very rarely done in the scriptures or prophetic statements) a difference must be made. We believe that other churches receive inspiration but not revelation. What is the difference? If we are just talking about feeling certain things, most members would rightly allow this in other churches. Thus, it is not really revelation if we are really going to maintain that we have revelation and they don't.

I knew many people would get confused in many of my claims so I was very specific in my paper as to what I meant and did not mean.

5/23/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey said: "The revelation was never given to the church if it was one."

    1.  It was a revelation. All members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency agree that D&C OD–2 was a "revelation"—all who were present when the revelation was received and all who are alive today.

    2.  The revelation was given to the church on September 30, 1978. On that day, "a constituent assembly" of the church voted unanimously in the affirmative to "accept this revelation as the word and will of the Lord" (D&C OD–2).

Eyewitness descriptions of what happened that day in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple have been published. I have quoted one of those published descriptions here.

In saying "the revelation was never given to the church," you attempting to impose your "very specific" definitions on leaders of the Church and millions of its members who don't agree with your views.

5/23/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey asked: "We believe that other churches receive inspiration but not revelation. What is the difference?

Here's the short version:

"God reveals His will to all men through the Light of Christ. (See Moro. 7:16; D&C 93:2; John 1:9.) They receive the additional light of the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands by God’s authorized servants following baptism. (See A of F 1:4; D&C 20:41.)" (Ezra Taft Benson, I Testify," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 86.)

5/23/2005 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey asked: "We believe that other churches receive inspiration but not revelation. What is the difference?

Here's the long version:

"We need to understand the important differences between (1) the Light of Christ, (2) a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and (3) the gift of the Holy Ghost.

"The Light of Christ, which is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of God, 'giveth light to every man that cometh into the world' (D&C84:46). This is the light 'which is in all things, which giveth life to all things' (D&C88:13). The prophet Mormon taught that 'the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil' (Moro.7:16; see also Moro. 7:19; 2 Ne. 2:5; Hel. 14:31).Elder Lorenzo Snow spoke of this light when he said, 'Everybody has the Spirit of God' (in Journal of Discourses, 14:304). The Light of Christ enlightens and gives understanding to all men (see D&C 88:11).

"In contrast, a manifestation of the Holy Ghost is more focused. This manifestation is given to acquaint sincere seekers with the truth about the Lord and his gospel. For example, the prophet Moroni promises that when we study the Book of Mormon and seek to know whether it is true,sincerely and with real intent, God will 'manifest' the truth of it unto us, 'by the power of the Holy Ghost' (Moro.10:4). Moroni also records this promise from the Risen Lord: 'He that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true' (Ether4:11).

"These manifestations are available to everyone. The Book of Mormon declares that the Savior 'manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people' (2Ne. 26:13).

"To repeat, the Light of Christ is given to all men and women that they may know good from evil; manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism.

"The gift of the Holy Ghost is more comprehensive. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: 'There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized,which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel,but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 199; emphasis added).

"The gift of the Holy Ghost includes the right to constant companionship,that we may 'always have his Spirit to be with [us]' (D&C20:77)....

"It is important to remember that the illumination and revelation that come to an individual as a result of the gift of the Holy Ghost do not come suddenly or without seeking. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the Holy Ghost 'comes a little at a time as you merit it. And as your life is in harmony, you gradually receive the Holy Ghost in a great measure' (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 114).

"The blessings available through the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon worthiness. 'The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples' (Hel.4:24; see also Mosiah 2:36–37; 1 Cor. 3:16–17). Even though we have a right to his constant companionship, the Spirit of the Lord will dwell only with us when we keep the commandments. He will withdraw when we offend him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other serious sins.

"Worthy men and women who have the gift of the Holy Ghost can be edified and guided by inspiration and revelation. The Lord has declared that 'the mysteries of his kingdom … are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him' (D&C76:114, 116)." (Dallin H. Oaks, "Always Have His Spirit," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 60.)

5/23/2005 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

You seem to be deliberately misinterpreting my essay in order to promote the faith. I have no problem with your motive, but I do take issue with your total disregard for accuracy. It should seem obvious to anybody reading my essay that I don't consider inspiration to be a bad thing, nor do I consider it to be strictly distinct from revelation. You can call the 1978 communication a revelation all day long but the fact is that we have never been told how EXACTLY the revelation was given. Was it just a feeling or was there a voice? If it was a voice what did it say? If it was a voice in the head what did it say? If it was just a feeling, how is this different from what I receive and my christian friends receive. Throwing around quotes about how people have called it a revelation and how good they felt afterwards, or how sure they were is NOT the same as giving us the exact content, uninterpreted, of what was received, and this was never done.

"I was in the temple when President Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation regarding the priesthood. I was the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was there. I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterwards. We just left quietly to go back to the office. No one could say anything because of the powerful outpouring of the heavenly spiritual experience."

This is great but it doesn't answer any of the questions. HOW did he receive it? What, exactly, did he receive? If we are simply going to say that he asked "We are going to allow blacks the priesthood, is this Okay?" and then felt good, I don't think any non-member would ever be impressed. Lot's of people, especially liberals, were doing the exact same thing around the country for decades before that.

5/24/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Two comments, one by Greg and one by Jeffrey were made on a previous thread but should be considered as part of the current discussion here.

5/25/2005 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: I feel bad that you think I would deliberately misinterpret your essay in order to promote anything. If I have created the impression of doing so, I apologize.

I confess the ideas in your essay are a little foreign to me. Maybe that is why I'm just not getting it. Perhaps we could trade abbreviated explanations of each other's point of view. I will go first.

For me, there are three levels of communication from God to man. (Notice I carefully avoided both of the words inspiration and revelation.)

Level one: The Light of Christ fills the immensity of space and is everywhere present—it is not an entity, person, or a personage. It is given to all men and women everywhere to help them know good from evil. Joel 2:28 and JS–H 1:41 describe how the Light of Christ has been associated with the rise of science.

Level two: Manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to help sincere seekers find the truth about the Lord and his gospel. As with the Light of Christ, these manifestations are available to all men and women everywhere and are given to those who are seeking true religion. Moroni 10:4 and Ether 4:11 describe how these manifestations lead men to Christ.

Level three: The Gift of the Holy Ghost, received after baptism by the laying on of hands, makes constantly available a variety of spiritual blessings or abilities that are given through the Holy Ghost. D&C 46 and the 7th Article of Faith describe some of these gifts.

A final note: Anyone on earth, regardless of which church he or she belongs to, may experience any of these communications or gifts from God. It would not be expected, however, that someone outside the Lord's Church would receive a communication from God stating that Joseph Smith was not a Prophet, or that the Church restored through him is not the Lord's Church presided over by a Prophet today. If communication from God about Joseph Smith or the Lord's Church comes to someone who is not yet a member of the Church, it will be for the purpose of bringing that person to a knowledge of the truth. Within that context, any form of communication may occur, limited only by the will of God.

I hope the above is clear enough for you to see my point of view and maybe even better understand one or more of my previous comments.

5/25/2005 12:42:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: Regarding the 1978 revelation on priesthood, you ask "Was it just a feeling or was there a voice?" I am certainly not in a position to answer your question. You'd have to ask someone who was there, but you'd better hurry because one by one they are all moving to the other side of the veil.

Now if you'd be willing to discuss feelings versus a voice in a more general context (i.e. not the 1978 revelation on priesthood), I can give you an answer from personal experience.

My oldest son started driving in 1986 and his next younger brother started driving the following year. One evening, the second son was out with his friends in our family car. Suddenly, I had an impression that he needed to be told to slow down. Nobody spoke to me, but the thought came clearly into my mind. Well, what could I do? We hadn't even heard of cell phones in those days. I wasn't sure exactly where to find him, so I couldn't just take off in another vehicle and go tell him to slow down.

So I didn't do anything about it. I guess you could say I shrugged it off, although I was now quite worried about him. Later, the same thought came again, this time more clearly in my mind and definitely more persistent that he must be told to slow down. Although there was no audible voice, I knew it was the voice of God. I thought to myself, "I would, if I could. But what can I do? How can I tell him?"

Finally, I decided to pray about it. (Why I hadn't done that in the first place, I don't know.) Anyway, I asked for heavenly assistance in telling him to slow down. And then I waited. A couple of hours later, he came home. He was safe and I was thankful. As he reported on his evening out, I told him of my experience. I told him I'd been worried about him because God had wanted me to get a message to him to slow down. I was shocked by what he said.

He said, "Yeah, that's what the cop told me when he pulled me over."

"What do you mean that's what he told you?" I asked, "Did you get a ticket?"

"Nope," he said, "he just told me to slow down."

This wonderful young man has now served faithfully as a bishop and is raising a beautiful family of his own. I am humbled to be his father. And I am grateful that one evening when he needed it, I was worthy to have a feeling, and in my mind, hear a voice. It wasn't "just" a feeling. The thought was not mine and it was as clear to me as if it had been spoken by an audible voice. It was the voice of God.

And from what I've read, that might be the way it was in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple in June of 1978.

5/25/2005 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Aw shucks, you don't have to feel all that bad. I probaby over-reacted a bit. As you might have read in the comments to my paper almost all of the 'objections' to my paper were simply answered by quoting a paragraph or two from the paper itself. In other words, I had already addressed their issues, but they hadn't taken the time to read the paper thoroughly enough before reacting to it. When I saw people starting to do it here to, I guess I freaked a little bit. I understand that the ideas are a bit foreign to many members. But that is why I wanted people to read it a little slower than they probably did. If people don't fully understand the definitions of inspiration and revelation which I attempt to clearly stake out in the beginning, then they will undoubtably confuse the rest of the paper, viewing it as an attack on their faith. It is not an attack at all. I am only trying to point out some things that I think all of us see in the church, but have never articulated, mostly due to our lumping inspiration and revelation into the same thing. I don't have problems with people using the terms as synonyms, but don't treat them as such while reading and commenting on my paper. I separated the terms in order to facilitate analysis of the many differing degrees of communication from God.

There are obviously more than two (in fact I suggested 7 of them!), but two is the best for pointing out the differences which exist between the many degrees. Is is a false dichotomy? Of course! But dichotomies, especially false ones, can tease out some points which simply wouldn't be as obvious without them.

Now regarding your three levels there still exists a significant amount of ambiguity. Now of course when we talk about the light of Christ we almost always mean promptings or feelings. This clearly falls under my definition of inspiration as I'm sure you will agree.

Now regarding your second level, there is hardly any difference at all between this and the second one. If there is a significant difference it is certainly in degree not kind. This too, should be inspiration, and I doubt you will disagree with that either.

Now your third level simply isn't clear enough. Simply lumping all gifts of the spirit together in one will hardly allow us to analysis the real difference which exists between each gift. Many of these gifts will probably fall under revelation, but some will definitely fall under inspiration as well. For instance many feel the the Gift of the HG is simply more frequent and powerful promptings. This is clearly inspiration under my definition. Another gift would be seeing and knowing for oneself, clearly a revelation if there ever was one.

My issue with your levels is that there is no significant difference between the first two and the third one isn't defined very well, if it is at all. Merely describing who has access to each level is only describing those people, not the actual levels. For istance: level one is everbody, two are non-members seeking truth and three are faithful members. Great, we have divided up the people without even mentioning the forms of revelation. My essay tried to leave the people out of it as much as possible and analyse each form on its own terms. Hence the two paradigms are really addressing two separate issues altogether.

Your experience may well have been what happened that day, but we must admit that you are putting words into their mouths. They never have let us know how, exactly it was received or what, exactly was received. I don't say this to call it into question, like I said, it obviously came from God. But I do wonder if it ws a full blown revelation by the standards set in my essay and by the rest of the world.

5/25/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: I appreciate your thoughtful comments about what I said last night. I probably did read your paper faster that you would have read it to me. I will "read it a little slower" and get back with you.

5/25/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff - Hi. I am glad that you brought your SS paper into the discussion. I am developing on overall response. In the meantime, I hope you don't mind if I respond in sections:

Jeff Said:

"Perhaps it would be better if we asked, why do we no longer hear of visions? Why do we not see any angels?

One reason we don't get many "revelations" as a Church, as you define them, is that the Restoration process required that certain objects and individuals in time and space be transmitted. There was only one set of plates. Accompanying it were at least one angel, 3 special witnesses, and 8 other witnesses. (As you know, most of them left the Church and some never returned). So many keys and priesthoods needed to be restored. Once these events transpired, the necessity for "time and space" type of revelation was no where near as compelling.

Jeff Said:

Why do our leaders not say, “Thus saith the Lord?”

They don't have to. It would be redundant, at least from my perspective. When someone with keys speaks in an official capacity, the Holy Ghost says "thus saith the Lord" to each individual who wants that confirmation, unless what is being said is not from the Lord.

As I have said before, I have been deceived by alternate voices and false revelatory systems. Thus, rather than being some kind of a "sheep," I have carefully studied the Lord's plan for "speaking" through his authorized servants. He sets up councils, which make unanimouse decisions; few individuals are called; they do not seek their positions. So, we have 15 men out of 5 or 6 billion who are chosen to stand up in conference and speak for the Lord.

I have been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Because of my sins, the only way I can access this gift is for Jesus' unimaginable suffering to pay, on an ongoing basis, for my sins as I strive to live the commandments, but fall short. The only way I can be "clean enough" to be able to be in the presence of a God, the Holy Ghost, is for another God to be paying for my sins. My point here is that the Gift of the Holy Ghost, by which I perceive "Thus Saith The Lord," when authorized servants speak, has been dearly paid for.

Jeff Said:

"We will become dissatisfied with our current complacency and actively search for truth and spiritual progression."

I have no complacency in my search for spiritual progression or search for truth due to any lack of revelation, by your definition, in the Church. Nor do I see any in the Church.

Jeff Said:

"We will hear new ideas and doctrines in General Conference making it less boring."

I try to listen to and then read all of general conference. When I am tired, it is less stimulating than when I am feeling better, but, it is seldom, if ever boring to me. Why? Because that Gift of the Holy Ghost, so dearly, dearly paid for, is like a burning bush to me during conference. (By the way, I am a veteren of the 60's, and I get bored easily.)

Jeff Said:

"People will once again view the second comforter as an attainable goal. We will start to receive more revelation."

When I was your age, I was quite interested in the second comforter. These days, my life is consumed with accessing the first comforter, you guessed it, the Holy Ghost, so I can safely lead my family back home.

I will close this section of my comments on your SS paper with some excerpts from Elder Packer's talk one year after he was called to be an Apostle. It is right "on point" with aspects of your SS paper. The talk can be accessed here

"occasionally during the past year I have been asked a question. Usually it comes as a curious, almost an idle, question about the qualifications to stand as a witness for Christ. The question they ask is, “Have you seen Him?”

* * * *
"There are those who hear testimonies borne in the Church, by those in high station and by members in the wards and branches, all using the same words—“I know that God lives; I know that Jesus is the Christ,” and come to question, “Why cannot it be said in plainer words? Why aren’t they more explicit and more descriptive? Cannot the apostles say more?”

* * * *
Some seek for a witness to be given in some new and dramatic and different way.

* * * *
The bearing of a testimony is akin to a declaration of love. The romantics and poets and couples in love, from the beginning of time, have sought more impressive ways of saying it, or singing it, or writing it. They have used all of the adjectives, all of the superlatives, all manner of poetic expression. And when all is said and done, the declaration which is most powerful is the simple, three-word variety . . .

* * * *
To one who is honestly seeking, the testimony borne in these simple phrases is enough, for it is the spirit that beareth record, not the words.
* * * *
There is a process by which pure intelligence can flow, by which we can come to know of a surety, nothing doubting.

* * * *
Now, I wonder with you why one such as I should be called to the holy apostleship. There are so many qualifications that I lack. There is so much in my effort to serve that is wanting. As I have pondered on it, I have come to only one single thing, one qualification in which there may be cause, and that is, I have THAT witness.("THAT" italicized in original)


* * * *
I declare to you that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he lives. He was born in the meridian of time. He taught his gospel, was tried, was crucified. He rose on the third day. He was the first fruits of the resurrection. HE HAS A BODY OF FLESH AND BONES. Of this I bear testimony. Of him I am a witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
(CAPS ADDED BY GREG FOR EMPHASIS)

5/25/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff and Gary,

The link to Elder Packer's "on point" talk to Jeff's SS paper in my last post didn't work. The link here should be better.

5/25/2005 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff said:

"While inspiration can give any individual great faith, few people, I suspect, would be willing to reform their lives based on a good feeling received by another person. Revelation, on the other hand, can be used to build faith in other people. See Moroni chapter 7 for details."

Accepting Jeff's distinctions between "inspiration" and "revelation," (but not necessarily his interpretations of their relative merits), - I would like to apply some verses from Moroni 7 to exchanges between Joseph Smith, Elder Packer, and myself.

"31 And the office of their(Angels) 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 achosen• vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.

32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the aresidue• 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."

Declaring his special witness in 1971, Elder Packer said "I declare to you that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he lives. He was born in the meridian of time. He taught his gospel, was tried, was crucified. He rose on the third day. He was the first fruits of the resurrection. HE HAS A BODY OF FLESH AND BONES. Of this I bear testimony. Of him I am a witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen"
(CAPS ADDED BY GREG FOR EMPHASIS)

This is an example of the process described in Mor 7:31, in my view. While it was not an Angel declaring the word of Christ to Elder Packer, it was the Lord himself making a personal visit to a "chosen vessel." At the time this talk was given, I was undergoing a conversion process. My "spiritual coach" at the time pointed out to me that Elder Packer, and other "special witnesses" often have what Jeff would call "revelatory" experiences with the savior and testify of Him.

If Mor. 7:32 is then going to apply to someone like me, so that "the residue of men (those who don't have the direct, "chosen vessel" experience, "may have faith in Christ," it must be by some other (in Jeff's paradigm, "non-revelatory") way. Moroni, in my view, is including this "other way" when he says "that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof."

In the same talk, Elder Packer describes this "other way," several times, but without ever saying exactly what it is. In my view, that it is because it cannot be described. Like the Savior or Alma comparing faith to a seed, Elder Packer compares this "other way" experience to someone saying "I love you," or to an electronic receiving device receiving video or audio signals.

"There is a power of communication as real and tangible as electricity. Man has devised the means to send images and sound through the air to be caught on an antenna and reproduced and heard and seen. This other communication may be likened to that, SAVE IT BE A MILION TIMES MORE POWERFUL, and the witness it brings is ALWAYS THE TRUTH.

There is a process by which pure intelligence can flow, by which we can come to know of a surety, NOTHING DOUBTING.(Caps added for emphasis).

Around the time this talk was given, I had the life-reforming experience that Jeff says must involve "revelation" and not just "inspiration." Joseph Smith received "revelatory" experiences by Angelic visits, translating the Book of Mormon, and receiving the First Vision. He recorded these experiences. I will call this "experience A".

By the Holy Ghost, I had what Jeff would describe as "inspiration," that confirmed Joseph's experiences. I will call this "experience B." Elder Packer testified as a special witness of Christ. This was an "experience A." I also had an "experience B" regarding that witness.

Jeff is right, I would not have changed my life if Joseph and Elder Packer had had "experience B's" only. They had to have and testify of an "A". Where I will differ with Jeff is in the following, which I will explain in more detail later.

1. I believe Moroni is describing this "A + B" process in vs. 31 and 32.

2. This is happening now in the Church, because it happened, and happens, to me.

3. This "combination", whether "B" is labeled as "inspiration" or "revelation," is sufficient for the Lord's purposes. I don't need "A"s, as long as I have access to the combination.

4. The inspiration that comes to inventors, politicians, or other Christians or Muslims, etc., etc., etc., is outside of this "A +B" range, leaving Latter Day Saints in a unique position.

5. I accept Elder Packer's reasons for not being more "descriptive" about his "A" experiences. We have plenty of well-described "A" experiences in the Scriptures.

6. Without the "B" experience, which I believe is referrenced in Mor 10:4-5, "A" experiences would mean very little and not sustain the Church or an individual for very long.

7. Unlike the "A" experiences, the "B" experience cannot be described. It is not part of the telestial, temporal world. It is the Holy Ghost, a non-telestial entity, communicating with another spirit being, and cannot be measured or described in temporal or telestial terms.

5/26/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Boy, I have a lot of responding to do apparently.

Greg,

1) The "we don't need it as much anymore" excuse is rather popular, both in our church and the catholic. I'm not sure we want to go there. The BoM explicitly says that if the day comes that we don't receive the visitation of angels and visions wo be unto us! Is anybody going to say that we have enough?

2) They DO have to if they want to be completely honest. There are differences between speaking ones opinion or beliefs, speaking from ones position and relaying information for the Lord. While we see plenty of the 2nd and a bit of the 1st, we don't see hardly any of the 3rd. When one says "thus saith the Lord.." they are sticking their neck out to a much larger degree and claiming far more authority for the content of what is said. I can understand if one is afraid to do this, but let's not pretend that its the same as not saying it. I don't think that saying this is necessary to say that a message is inspired, but there is a difference between saying something inspired and saying the words that God gives to you and claiming that what you are saying is actually what He is saying.

3) I don't doubt the average Mormon's desires to learn more about the Gospel. But as long as we think that we are receiving revelation to the same degree as before, we will not seek more. This is probably the case no matter how little we receive, most of us will always believe that we are receiving just as much revelation as ever. But the fact is that we aren't adding anything new to our doctrine. We haven't for a long time. We have had policy changes, but every church has had those. The complacency that I see is that we don't seem to want anything new in our doctrine, we want to stay safe.

4) You can't tell me that there isn't a difference between conference talks as we hear them today (endless variations of the same old thing) and those we read about from the 19th century saints. Wouldn't it be exciting to hear another King Follett discourse? Now we can be entertained or uplifted by conference, but for a person such as myself who really only feels the spirit due to intellectual content, conference simply doesn't to it for me. I'm not sure if you went on a mission or not, but the best conferences were when a 70 would come and open up the discussion for ANY questions. Those were exciting. We wanted to take notes, not of how I felt or any impressions that we got, but of the content which was so new and exciting to us. With more revelation would come more of that in general conference. Call me less than faithful but I haven't taken notes at general conference for years. I used to try to, but there just wasn't anything worth writing down.

5) Your views regarding the comforters aren't too uncommon any more. Consider sec. 131 however. A man cannot be saved in ignorance... of what? Of his KNOWING that he will be saved, the more sure word of prophecy. This verse hopelessly diluted to better fit what we now observe in the church. If we go back to Joseph's original train of thought, however, he really meant for us to receive revelation as I have defined it. This wasn't in order to "help the church" or anything like that. The church is here to help us, not the other way around. Joseph really expected us to be visited by angels, have the gift of tongues (not the watered down version we now attribute to missionaries), and prophecy. Not only do we not do these things anymore, but the leaders don't either. It's kind of sad.

A great resource for the topic of apostles seeing the Lord is Quinn's Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power pages 1-6. Here are some main points:

a) the 12 were originally 'charged' to seek and find the face of the Lord and have His hands laid on their heads. This started to change at the turn of the century.

b) at that point they started to say "as if" such as they can testify of Christ "as if" they had seen Him.

c) Packer, when asked if he had seen Christ answered "I do not tell all I know. If I did, the Lord could not trust me." I guess this puts Joseph Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon, Pres. Mc Kay, James E. Faust and other under condemnation. It should also be acknowledged that he didn't answer the question.

The BoM clearly indicates that perfect knowledge cannot be attained through an inward witness. On repeated occasions it places outward revelation on a higher level than inward inspiration.

I thought of responding to your last comment, but it seems like the content is a bit personal, and I don't want to go there.

5/26/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

I disagree with (c). I think the Lord reveals himself on his own terms, which can change.

I think Jeff and Greg are both making good points, though.

The correlation effort has the advantage of reducing the ammo available to our quote mining critics. The disadvantage is that new ideas are slow to come out to the general membership.

I have lots of questions I'd like to ask an Apostle, but given the opportunity I would probably pass it up. Why? Well it would probably be in a group setting, and I think I can predict with reasonable certainty that if the question involved controversial issues, I would get a PR response--if any at all. Even in a one-on-one setting, I'm doubtful that the two of us would be able to really dig into the issue. But to be fair, a good spiritual experience--even without new ideas--is desirable also.

Certainly Church policy, procedure, and official doctrine--matters of salvation--come from the top. But it now seems that other meaty issues are left to be discussed elsewhere with the Church occasionally, usually subtly, giving a yeah or nay. I'm talking off the cuff here--what do you think?

5/26/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff Said:

"The complacency that I see is that we don't seem to want anything new in our doctrine, we want to stay safe."

Jeff (& Jared) I only have a minute - will answer your post later, but, I am intrigued -

(Other than those that might affect evolution) - What new doctrines would you be interested in?? I sort of look at the Restoration as a package that has mostly been delivered.

I think I have enough doctrine so that me and you and our families can get from here to the Celestial Kingdom.

What is missing?

5/26/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

I think I have enough doctrine so that me and you and our families can get from here to the Celestial Kingdom.

I absolutely agree with this statement, but it is somewhat a different issue. Strictly speaking, D&C 76 probably wasn't required for our salvation, but I'm glad we have it.

I mostly have in mind other issues of a more scholarly, historical, or philosophical nature. Think of the work of FARMS and other apologists and how they are influencing the thinking of the broader membership.

5/26/2005 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Greg,
Can you name one single doctrine which has been revealed to an extent where questions cannot be asked about it? If Joseph could ask whether John the Beloved really died or stayed alive and Mormon could ask if the 3 Nephites are still roaming around somewhere, I don't think it would be too much to ask "Why do we have to perform ordinances?" "Why can't we have protected pre-marital sex?" "How, exactly, will we become like God?" "Why don't we hear of visions anymore?" and on and on... My whole blog is pretty much dedicated to asking these very questions.

"I think I have enough doctrine so that me and you and our families can get from here to the Celestial Kingdom."

That is the very complacency I am talking about. 2 Nephi 29 is running through my head right now. There is a big difference between merely getting to the celestial kingdom and pushing for a higher exaltation within that kingdom.

5/27/2005 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

I think Jared might also agree with another example of where more revelation is badly needed. Such a need can clearly be seen in our insistence in clinging to the 1909 statement (notice, not revelation) regarding evolution. It denounces it as a mere theory, which it was at the time. But times have changed. It is no longer a theory by an stretch of the imagination and more light and knowledge is badly needed as can be seen in our discussions at the various blogs. Is it too much to ask that the statement at least be brought up to speed?

5/27/2005 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff said:

"Why can't we have protected pre-marital sex?"... "My whole blog is pretty much dedicated to asking these very questions."


First of all, any of you bloggers could go to the Lord and get answers to any of these questions. As Nephi said to Laman and Lemuel "Have you not inquired of the Lord? . . . If ye . . .ask in faith . . . surely these things shall be made known unto you." (1 Neph 15:8,11)

I have received answers. Here is how they have come to me - "There is a power of communication as real and tangible as electricity. Man has devised the means to send images and sound through the air to be caught on an antenna and reproduced and heard and seen. This other communication may be likened to that, SAVE IT BE A MILION TIMES MORE POWERFUL, and the witness it brings is ALWAYS THE TRUTH.

There is a process by which pure intelligence can flow, by which we can come to know of a surety, NOTHING DOUBTING.(Caps added for emphasis).(Boyd K. Packer)"

One of the first things I asked about, after receiving my witness about Book of Mormon historicity throught the process described above was about the Law Of Chastity. Due to the nature of mortality, and the fallen nature of man, I re-ask this question from time to time. I have been answered through the same medium, that is a million times stronger than electricity, and always brings the truth.

I cannot state the "inspiration" I received about the law of chastity in words with enough clarity to be meaningful. It involves things at the heart of the Gospel that are so sacred as not to be discussed, and, there are parts, like some of the truths revealed through infants in the Book of Mormon when Jesus was teaching the Nephites, that are simply beyond words.

Second: Through this same medium I have received my answer confirming the truth of the 1909 revelation that I am not descended from Apes. This "communication" has, as you know, recently been republished in two leading Church platforms, "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church" and The Ensign, "Gospel Classics." In "The Law and the Light,"
Elder Packer warns that those who are seduced by the MFA (men from apes) doctrine risk giving too much control in their lives to the natural or carnal man over the spiritual part of their being. In my view, no individual who has truly been "born again" and who, as an active part of their life, is receiving regular communication from the Holy Ghost that is 1,000,000 time stronger than electricity would ever challenge the Lord to explain the Law of Chastity in any kind of a non-private way.

If I were Gary, at this point I might publish a Scripture Chain long enough to construct a rope with which I could hang Darwin, Dennet, and Dawkins, (with Duane Jeffery thrown in for good measure). Instead, let me remind you that violations of the law of chastity (such as pre-marital sex, with or without protection) are described in Scripture as being second only to murder, as a sin, and that those who contemplate such violations "commit adultery in their hearts" and quickly lose the Spirit. You might as well have a blog question about "why can't we indulge in cannibalism like the Nephites did, on occasion." The fact that our culture indulges freely in pre-marital sex, in my opinion, does not make THAT question any different from the cannibalism question. Both practices perpetuate spiritual death: both require atonement from the blood of Christ.

Third: Asking privately about the Law of Chastity is one thing. Blogging about it seems to me like "murmering." Laman and Lemuel said: "..the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us." Gary and I have published, now, many, many statements from both ourselves and Church leaders with credentials equally those of Nephi, describing the power of this "small voice" that you would describe as "inspiration." Are your "3D glasses" blinding you to something? (Darwin, Dennet, Dawkins). Are you tuning in to this voice that is 1,000,000 times stronger than electricity?

On the table to the side of me here is a dvd, "The Elegeant Universe," patterned after a book of the same name by Brian Green. I have read the book. This will be my second time going through the DVD. Not being a mathematician, I cannot "see" or really understand any of the "primary" language by which all of this marvelous information about physics is known to such individuals as Brian Green, or Stephen Hawking. And, even though most of these individuals are atheists, I trust most of what they are telling me, because they have the tools that I lack, and, their individual witnesses pretty much agree with one another. However, mathematics is nowhere described by God as being a source of reliable truth. Accurate information about a limited part of reality? Perhaps.

"Truth" is a spiritual concept. It is literally, "out of THIS world." As I said in an earlier post. I have an eternal spirit, that has a "truth sense." The Holy Ghost, a God who dwells in the spirital realm, has been ordained, set apart, and delegated the responsibility to teach and confirm truth, Spirit to spirit. Just as mathematicians can "see" important things about the physical universe and report about them to those of us who cannot, God has set individuals in certain positions and given them "seership." To accept "reports from the field" by experts such as Green,
Darwin, Dennet, and Dawkins and then ignore similar reports from individuals such Elder Packer in their specialized field, to declare TRUTH, seems naive to me.

On Tuesday, Peggy (my wife) and I went to see "Revenge of the Sith." This week, we watched Episodes IV,V and VI on DVD. We're just average fans. In a year or two, these episodes will be converted to "3D" (it costs about $5 million to convert any film to 3D with digital techniques), and I will be excited to see them. We recently went to Universal City, on a day without any lines, and saw amazing 4D
(3D plus sensual effects) presentations of Shrek and the Terminator, and really enjoyed them. However, if I would have kept my 3D glasses on when I was driving home, I might have killed myself, Peggy, and other innocent parties. 3D glasses have their place. But, if you never take them off, you could be in real danger.

5/29/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Come on Greg, Jeff isn't questioning whether we should obey the law of chastity. He's asking what fundamental laws or principles are behind it. There must be something unifying that allows polygamy to be ok under some circumstances and not in others. You may answer that the circumstances that dictate it are whether God gives permission or not. But the deeper question is what principles guide God's judgment of whether it is alright or not? (Not that this is the place to persue such questions, Jeff just brought it up to illustrate is argument.)

5/29/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jared - I was responding to what was written. "Why can't we have protected pre-marital sex?" didn't sound like asking the Brethren or the Lord to explain justifications for plural MARRIAGE. (Which explained in D&C 132 - for those who can receive it). Sex and marriage and children are the very most sacred parts of life. These are not to be bantered about on Blogs, in my opinion. The way the question was phrased shows - at the very least, a lack of sensitivity to spiritual things.

5/30/2005 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Greg,

1) I have inquited of the Lord on most of the questions I pose. I present the information I have come up with, not as revelation because it isn't such for anybody but myself. Besides, I'm sure you have noticed that I allow a lot of room for fallibility in the reception of revelation. To say that something is 'beyond words' is basically saying that there were no words. Without words, how much content was there really?

2) I cannot say it loud enough "THE 1909 STATEMENT WAS NOT A REVELATION!" It was, if anything, a statement of non-revelation. "We don't know, but this we do know from the scriptures...." The only revelation given in such a statement was that (possibly) received by the authors of the quoted scriptures. It's because members are now willing to call pretty much anything and everything the church leadership says a "revelation" that I wrote my paper in the first place. For instance, if I were to become an Apostle (yeah, right) I'm sure many people would start elevating the posts which I have written to 'revelation.' No, they aren't, not to anybody but me anyways. I can easily see people beginning to republish my posts over and over again. But does the number of times a statement gets published help make a statement more 'true'? It can make it more official thats for sure, but the truth content will be completely unaffected by the number of times it is published or considered a revelation by how ever many people.

3) By your statements regarding "truth" and "mathematics" I can tell that you believe in a very different version of God than I ever have. Now of course physics should be kept within it's proper bounds, but Mathematics is true by very definition. It is true everywhere, it can't not be true. If there ever was an eternal law it was mathematics. (No, I'm not indulging in the annoying ranting of a math major who can't stop saying "math is the universal language!, all other sciences bow before it!" though there is something to this.)

Inspiration depends on our reasoning. Inspiration without reason is just meaningless warm fuzzies. If there is any content whatsoever in inspiration it comes through reason. Therefore inspiration is not better than reasoning, it IS reasoning. See D&C 50.

Now to accept reports from people that can be verified by anybody at anytimes with 100% accurracy doesn't seem very naive to me at all. To accept a report from somebody, a report which is very difficult to verify, and even when somepeople do, they get a different result, and then be willing to dump the first kind of report at the drop of a hat when it contadicts one of these second reports sounds a little irrational a best to me. [BTW, I love the 3D glasses. ;-) ]

Jared was more on the right track. I'm not saying "maybe we shouldn't obey the law of chastity." I'm saying that there must be some reasoning, based on eternal law, for such a strict commandment which doesn't seem to entirely square with our reasoning. Clearly we are missing something, what is it? This type of questioning can apply to chastity, plural marriage, word of wisdom, repentance or anything really. Now my being blunt can certainly be seen as being insensitive, which it certainly is to a certain degree. But if we really want to learn and evaluate some issues, its time we dropped our convenient euphemisms and got down to the brass tacks, if only temporarily. This is what I try to do on my blog.

5/31/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff Said:

"but Mathematics is true by very definition. It is true everywhere, it can't not be true. If there ever was an eternal law it was mathematics."

Greg Says: Love is an eternal law.
Mathematics could never describe what is conveyed when someone says "I love you." Mathematics's truth is, in my opinion, circular. It exists only in a phantom world. It can describe relationships among objects in the telestial world. It has no relevance, in my view, in the spiritual world. However, "I love you," in the spiritual realm, means everything.

Jeff Said:

"Inspiration depends on our "reason is just meaningless warm fuzzies. If there is any content whatsoever in inspiration it comes through reason. Therefore inspiration is not better than reasoning, it IS reasoning. See D&C 50."

Greg says: The inspiration that I have and do receive that really matters is beyond reasoning. It is like the "unspeakable" referred to in the Book of Mormon that was uttered by Jesus and by little children. In Jeff's heaven, his God may speak mathematics; mine will speak in love. It was not "warm fuziness" that parted the red sea or that changed my heart from selfishness to a different state. Reason based and reason-limited inspiration seems to me, at best, a terrestrial concept. Whereas "Eye hath not seen . . . nor has yet entered into (man's reasoning) the things that God hath prepared . . ."

Neal Maxwell says: "In the same way that a whiff of bad breath can detract from a whispered compliment, a lack of meekness can likewise diminish the impact of one's testimony."

6/02/2005 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Yes Math is self-referential and circular, but that is why it is ALWAYS true, not why it could be false. It is based on a few, extremely conservation axioms. Which one doesn't exist in the celestial kingdom? 1) 1+1=2, 2) 2>1 3) 1x1=1 4) 1x0=0, 5) 1x1=1, 6) 1+0=1, etc. Mathematics is built from the ground up on these very basic definitions. This law is fairly well defined.

Now let's consider love as an eternal law. How do we define this law? I'm not really sure, but I'm sure it has something to do with love and how it's good for people to have and use it. We can't just say God commands us to love people because this just begs the question. Why does God command us so? Because He loves us. Why does He love us? Well He learned to love in His probation. Why? He was commanded to by His father. Why did He command Him so? And so on.

Now I'm obviously not saying that Love is bad, or that God doesn't use love in dealing with us. I'm merely saying that giving an undefined law a name doesn't accomplish much if we are really interested in investigating the matter.

Of course love is important in both this and the spiritual world. But to say that Math has absolutely nothing to do with the spiritual world is referring to a spiritual that simply doesn't exist in any kind of reality.

Now when I say reason I refer not to some kind of logically deduced argument. I refer instead to intellectual capacity of any kind. If we are going to be inspired, or have something revealed, it MUST go to our mind somehow, otherwise we wouldn't know ANYTHING about it. There must be reason involved for there to be any content whatsoever. This is why inspiration without reason (inspiration without anything happening in the brain whatsoever) is mere warmfuzzies. Now we can say that it transcends reason, but quite frankily I have no clue what that's even supposed to mean. Clearly revelation can transcend logical deduction, but to say that it transcends our minds entirely is balderdash. Thus we can say that in one sense inspiration is hardly limited by reason. In another sense however, any revelation which is beyond reason was never really received.

6/03/2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

I think maybe Greg and Jeff are talking past each other. The physical laws of the universe are cold in and of themselves. It is love (in its various forms) that gives existence meaning, like spirit to body.

On the other hand, Jeff's argument reminds me of Joseph Smith's criticisms of people's spiritual manifestations where no information is imparted and all they can do is shout "Hallelujah." (see TPJS p. 204)

6/03/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff Said:

"If we are going to be inspired, or have something revealed, it MUST go to our mind somehow, otherwise we wouldn't know ANYTHING about it. There must be reason involved for there to be any content whatsoever."

I will concede this, but, since I haven't seen anything from you that places, in my opinion, the proper weight on the way the Lord is guiding the Church these days, I will describe the following and gage your response:

"President McKay had prayed earnestly to the Lord for permission to rescind the exclusion, and “Harold B. Lee, shortly before his death, spent three days and nights fasting in the upper room of the temple, praying earnestly to the Lord for guidance on this matter,” without receiving an answer. Both were anxious and prepared, but in the inscrutable timing of the Lord, the revelation would come later, when Spencer W. Kimball was the prophet."

Greg Says: Note that these Prophets were not asking IF the exclusion would be rescinded, or even WHEN, but, CAN WE DO IT YET?

"It was, then, with both keen desire, and awe and reverence for God, that he began his heart-felt petitions, not believing for a moment that the matter was merely in his hands to make a change."

* * * *
"According to Joseph F. McConkie, “President Kimball did not act in isolation on the matter. He freely sought the feelings of his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve. In March of 1978 he invited any of the Twelve who desired to do so to make any expressions they desired to him in writing so that he could carefully consider them. Three members of that Quorum responded to this invitation, Elders Monson, Packer, and McConkie. Elder McConkie’s memo centered on the doctrinal basis for conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood on the Blacks."

* * * *
"President Kimball described his own process of seeking revelation this way: “I remember very vividly that day after day I walked to the temple and ascended to the fourth floor where we have our solemn assemblies and where we have our meetings of the Twelve and the First Presidency. After everybody had gone out of the temple, I knelt and prayed. I prayed with much fervency. I knew that something was before us that was extremely important to many of the children of God. I knew that we could receive the revelations of the Lord only by being worthy and ready for them and ready to accept them and put them into place. Day after day I went alone and with great solemnity and seriousness in the upper rooms of the temple, and there I offered my soul and offered my efforts to go forward with the program. I wanted to do what he wanted. I talked about it to him and said, "Lord, I want only what is right. We are not making any plans to be spectacularly moving. We want only the thing that thou dost want, and we want it when you want it and not until."
* * * *
“On this occasion he raised the question before his Brethren—his Counselors and the Apostles. Following this discussion we joined in prayer in the most sacred of circumstances. President Kimball himself was voice in that prayer. I do not recall the exact words that he spoke. But I do recall my own feelings and the nature of the expressions of my Brethren. There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room. For me, it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his Brethren. The Spirit of God was there. And by the power of the Holy Ghost there came to that prophet an assurance that the thing for which he prayed was right, that the time had come, and that now the wondrous blessings of the priesthood should be extended to worthy men everywhere regardless of lineage.

“Every man in that circle, by the power of the Holy Ghost, knew the same thing." (The quotes from an article in Meridian Magazine, the last from Pres. Hinckley).

Greg Says: Now - here is a process whereby both the intellect and the Spirit were involved. A simple question: HAS THE TIME COME? a simple answer YES. While the intellect was certainly involved, Jeff claims that the Church has not been told what the content of this (communication; inspiration) Revelation was. All men present received the YES at the same time and in the same way. I, myelf, have partaken of the same Spirit in which the YES was revealed, and so can any other Church member, in my view.

Would it have been better if Peter James and John, or Joseph Smith had come? I don't think so. One reason is that, I was able to partake of the ANSWER in the same way. I know for certain that the inspiration, such as this, that Latter Day Saints receive through the Holy Ghost is of a different nature than that received by others.

Again, I just don't understand how a Church member who is conversant with receiving answers through the Holy Ghost such as that received on the occassion in 1978 could beleive that the Church has not been told what this revelation was, or that the Church is inept, behind schedule, or out of step with the Lord in its ability to receive revelation.

6/06/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

"These Prophets were not asking IF the exclusion would be rescinded, or even WHEN, but, CAN WE DO IT YET?"

I'm not at all comfortable with saying that Harold B. Lee was asking this. He emphatically wanted blacks to be kept separate from whites, and made his point in rather offensive language on a number of occasions. Now to his credit, I do believe that He was praying to know if maybe he was wrong. This is VERY good in my opinion showing me that he was a great man. Nevertheless, this doesn't change the fact that Harold B. Lee and Joseph Fielding Smith while they were apostles played a huge part in blocking Pres. Brown's efforts to lift the ban.

It should be noted that the ban was VERY close to being passed in 1969, thanks to the efforts of Pres. Brown. The lift was approved by the 1st Pres. and the 12, until Lee, who had been absent in the approval meetings, came in and flatly rejected it. Not because of it's not being a revelation (there was no revelation, as far as Brown could see, that started the ban in the first place), but because he strongly felt that Blacks should not be given the same rights as the Whites.

Only after those who were so strongly against the ban had passed on, and EVERYBODY in the 15, now felt to one degree or another that the ban should be lifted, was a good feeling given which to them meant "yes." Could it have been God? Yes. COuld it have been themselves feeling what they knew was right? yes. Do I allow for other churches to be directed by God in this exact way without infringing on our unique claim to revelation? YES, and this is the material point. Nobody outside of the church has ever been too impressed with the manner of the 1978's revelation's reception. They were not impressed because most religious people experience the exact same things in their lives.

Now there are two options open to us: 1) we can say that their experiences really aren't the same, but we will have to give a heretofore unmentioned reason why. 2) we can admit (as I think we should) that other churches experience these same things, and continue to look for a better example of the church being guided by revelation to a degree which transcends the experience of other churches. I choose 2.

Now to address your last paragraph, again:


I ACCEPT THAT THE 1978 COMMUNICATION WAS FROM GOD! for don't get too riled up. I think that what those men experienced was a feeling of comfort and piece which in that context they INTERPRETED as being an answer of 'yes.' Given that the 'communication' consisted almost exclusively of feelings we simply must admit in all honesty that these feelings COULD have originated from within these men. (This is what non-members believe, and this isn't a very outrageous claim.) Thus while we, as members can claim that it was a revelation from an external source (God) given in that very moment, we should not for a second think that this experience sets us apart from other churches to any significant degree.

6/06/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Jeff Said:

"Thus while we, as members can claim that it was a revelation from an external source (God) given in that very moment, we should not for a second think that this experience sets us apart from other churches to any significant degree."

Greg Says: I believe in a distinct dimension of inspiration/revelation/communication
that exists between that experienced through the light of Christ in other Churches and the "Tangible" Revelations received by Joseph Smith and others, that Jeff does not recognize. This level is received through the Holy Ghost by worthy members of our Church (and seekers -pertaining to limited inquiries).

I can give at least 2 reasons why this level should be available.

1. Due to the uniqueness of our Truth claims, the Lord provides a unique and distinct "truth" manifestation that must go beyond what even honestly faithful Christians have before experienced, in part because of the sacrifices that will be required to conform to them.

2. In order for someone to enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost, they must have been cleansed by repentance and baptism. They must have been cleansed by the Blood of Christ. If this gift, granted at such a cost, does not provide for unique access to truth, what good is it?

When I am in the company of the atheists at my book club, and religous experience is discussed, they chalk it up to pure psychology.
"If I haven't experienced it, it doesn't exist" is their attitude. Similarly, I expect individuals, in and out of the Church, to not believe that the Gift of the Holy Ghost can actually communicate TRUTH, nothing doubting, to an individual's Spirit. Instead, they will say it is just "really, really, really, really, really strong belief." Those who have experienced it know better.

Greg was going to comment on Pres. Lee when he noticed the new topic on the biography of Pres. McKay, so he will limit his comment here. Someone who did not live through the 50's and 60's America might not understand the cultural mindset. Like Peter, who had been taught to not mingle with Gentiles, even some of the best people needed to wait for further light. In a paralell manner, light was also breaking forth in Africa. Female circumcision was finally under assault.

6/08/2005 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

I guess that all I can say is that I don't buy it and that I have given pretty good reasons for my position. Your two differences are the exact same differences which other churches use to distinguish them from us, which means that we ARE in the exact same boat as them. Point proven.

6/09/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Greg Says: Other Churches claim authority from God and manifestations of the Holy Ghost. (Rent the film "The Apostle" for an accurate and sympathetic portrayal). However, the First Vision, Book of Mormon, and Priesthood restoration are either real or fabrications. Joseph Smith told someone, I think it may have been the President of the United States, that the one thing that sets us apart most from other faiths is the Gift of the Holy
Ghost.

Nothing I have read in any of Jeff's posts (and I have only read some of those that have appeared on 2 blogs) show me that he has an understanding or appreciation of the Gifts or manifestations of the Holy Ghost that Joseph was describing that set us apart. If some HAVE been written, I would LOVE to read them.

6/11/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Yes, we claim those things happen, but they happened almost 200 years ago. Why doens't the Catholic church get to claim modern revelation based on what happened 2,000 years ago if we are willing to open up the gates like that. I would be willing to say that the world is as different now from 200 years ago as it was 200 years ago from 2,000 years ago. Again, our claims are running thin.

6/11/2005 01:15:00 PM  

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