Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon

An Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon is yet another pamphlet I own, this one written by David Whitmer (one of the three witnesses). I assumed this would be an official declaration of his testimony of the Book of Mormon (he died one year after this pamphlet was published in 1887). What I read was not quite what I expected.

While this pamphlet did affirm Whitmer's testimony of and belief in the Book of Mormon, it was actually mostly a defense of his decision to not unite with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor the "Reorganized Church." The reasons he gives are often without foundation, and even contradictory. Here is just an example:

He says that the Church did not remain the way it was supposed to be. He deplored the calling of high priests, stating it was not part of the original church organization, nor part of the original revelations. He also says that Joseph Smith was only called to be a translator of the Book of Mormon, and he took the church leadership upon himself when he wasn't supposed to. However, in another place, Whitmer admits he believes the revelations contained in the Book of Commandments when these revelations talk about Joseph's calling to be the First Elder of the Church and for members of the Church to obey the words from his mouth as if from the Lord's own mouth.

Sadly, more than anything, this pamphlet just shows how blind one can become when they fall from light and truth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage

Another pamphlet on my shelf, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage is a discussion between Joseph Fielding Smith and Richard C. Evans (second counselor in the presidency of the "Reorganized Church"). Mr. Evans wrote an article in a Canadian newspaper denouncing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of these two topics. However, he got a lot of his facts wrong, and so Joseph Fielding Smith replied and this pamphlet contains their discussion.

More than anything else, this book reaffirmed my frustration and impatience with anti-mormons and the tactics they employ. The first item they Smith clarifies is the Church's teachings of blood atonement. He states the scripture in Hebrews that says "without shedding of blood is no remission" and applies it to the atonement of Jesus Christ. Evans responds with quotes from Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and others to show that the Church taught that they must spill the blood of their enemies and apostates in order to save their souls. Smith reveals Evans' desperation and folly by showing that the quotes he used were taken out of context and put together to describe something different than was actually taught.

I really liked a quote that Smith uses from President Anthon H. Lund in response to vague comments that anti-mormons love to take hold of and declare it to be bizarre doctrines of the Church. Lund said, "When our missionaries are met with these sophistries and with isolated extracts from sermons, we say to them anything that is a tenet of our religion must come through revelation and be sustained by the Church, and they need not do battle for anything outside of the works."

Evans also goes to great lengths to denounce Brigham Young and "prove" that Joseph Smith did not found plural marriage in the Church. He uses statements from various people to make his point. Smith again reveals his folly when he points out his sources are all from other anti-mormons and apostates. Again, attempting to twist the words of others, Evans quotes from some members of the Church, but stops his quotation in mid-sentence because the very next word would defeat his argument. This dishonesty crumbles his argument to dust.

Smith reveals that many of the people Evans quotes from have also attacked his own church and beliefs and that it is foolish to use them as a source. Smith then provides multiple testimonials from people that prove beyond doubt that Joseph Smith truly did reveal the doctrine of plural marriage, but it was not publicly taught until after his death.

Smith is able to support his argument with facts, testimonials from good reputable people (both members and non-members of the Church), and scripture. Evans resorts to deception, the words of slanderers, and blatant lies to try to prove his point (in fact, when Evans had this conversation printed in his church's magazine, he left out many of Smith's words that proved Evans to be wrong). Truth is able to stand on its own, and anybody who resorts to deception, subtlety, and lies does not have the truth in them.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Father and the Son

While not really a book, I do have The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve in pamphlet form, so I decided I'd do a short review anyway.

This was originally published in 1916 and its purpose can be found in the title. It defines the relationship between Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as well as their relationship to us. It is broken into four parts: 1. Heavenly Father as our literal parent, 2. Jesus being called Father due to His status as Creator, 3. Jesus is the "Father" of those who abide in the Gospel (being born again and becoming His sons and daughters), and 4. Jesus as the Father by Divine Investiture of Authority. The explanations given by the leaders of the Church are backed with scripture, including several scriptures from the Bible to support each concept. This is a great resource for teaching about the Godhead and helping students of the scriptures to understand the phrase that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are "one God."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Fall of Adam, The Atonement of Christ, and Organic Evolution

The Fall of Adam, The Atonement of Christ, and Organic Evolution (wow, that's a mouthful!) compiled by Reid E. Bankhead is a 48-page pamphlet I received at BYU as part of my biology class, if I am not mistaken. This is a great book that contains quotes and teachings from Church Leaders about these three topics, mostly all woven together.

In short, they teach that the idea of evolution is a false doctrine that comes from the devil in order to destroy faith in the mission of Christ. If man has evolved from primates, then the fall of Adam is a myth. If the fall of Adam is a myth, then there is no need for an atonement. The teaching that says we all had our origin from scum in the ocean is a heresy that flies in direct opposition to the revealed truth from on high.

Scientists do not take into consideration that the entire earth changed from a terrestrial to a telestial state when Adam fell. No amount of scientific research can determine the true origin of earth and all the life thereon. Furthermore, nature itself teaches that the Lord's decree that all life multiply after its own kind is strictly adhered to. If this is the case, how did scum become man? How did man gain a conscience, something lacking in the rest of the animal kingdom? There are obviously some serious flaws to the theory of evolution.

My favorite part of the whole book is a quote from Joseph Fielding Smith that says, "If great joy will be felt by the individual who has, through his humble effort, saved one soul, then how great must be the remorse of these learned men when they discover that their efforts have been the means of destroying thousands of souls." I think this applies not only to those who promote the theory of evolution, but all those who seek to shatter the faith and testimony of others. How profound!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life of Joseph Smith

I have to say that Life of Joseph Smith by George Q. Cannon is one of the best books written about the prophet. The author states at the very beginning of the book that he has an agenda and the reader knows immediately that the book will speak very favorably of the prophet. Cannon states that his purpose in doing so is to give the reader a clear picture of Joseph Smith from those who knew him best, and not from the slanderous reports that were being published in his day.

Although it can be accused that the author writes with a bias, it also must be stated that he uses reliable sources for his information (eyewitnesses to the events he describes in the life of Joseph Smith). He does not try to paint the prophet as a perfect man, but he does demonstrate that Joseph constantly tried to do the right thing.

As I read the account of the final days of his life and the action taken by Governor Ford that led to the prophet's death, I decided that I was wrong about a statement I made on another post. Ford is not a modern-day Pilate. He is much worse. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but feared the people and so he allowed the Savior to be crucified. Ford knew Joseph was innocent, but he never admitted to being in compliance with the mob. His heart was with the mob all along and constantly told lies to the prophet and his associates. Reading the accounts of Ford himself, along with others involved, there can be no doubt that Ford had a perfect knowledge about the planned assassination to take the prophet's life.

Contrast the actions and attitudes of Governor Ford, Governor Boggs, apostates, or mobbers with that of Joseph Smith, and you can plainly see a man who was endowed with a higher calling and a clear vision. Joseph was a man of remarkable character. Today there continue to be many people, both in and out of the Church who attempt to discredit him. But these scoffers will also fade into history, or leave an embarrassing stain on their name as those who opposed the prophet in his own day. Yet the name of Joseph Smith shall continue to be had for good despite those who have it for evil. Opponents will never be able to erase who he was, what he did, and who he represented as he restored the true Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.