The following comments were shared at a conference held in Layton, Utah, May 21, 2023.
I want to thank the conference organizers for all the work that they have done. It was an unusual format this time, and it worked well, I thought. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we got here, but I think the way that they have planned it and executed it has worked remarkably well. And I appreciate all of the sacrifices that got made in order to bring this conference to pass. And I’m grateful to accept the invitation to give a talk.
As Alan Vanleer said this morning (and by the way, I had no idea what any of the speakers were gonna say in advance), the Answer to the Prayer for the Covenant has a context, and it should be understood within that context. When the context is disregarded, the Answer can’t be fully understood. So this talk today is about the context of the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant.
There’s a passage that is in the Teachings and Commandments section 36,
verse 5 paragraph 5, in which there’s an allusion made after an admonition to pray that says, You shall ask whatever you will in the name of Jesus, and it shall be done. But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask (emphasis added). Now that was in a specific context, to a specific person, at a specific time. And what preceded the statement to that individual was, “This will work as long as you’re purified and cleansed from all sin.”
Well, we don’t do that. We don’t purify ourselves; we don’t cleanse ourselves—that is a gift that gets bestowed upon us. But if the Lord chooses to accomplish something and He wants to give someone “what you shall ask in a prayer,” then the Lord is under the necessity then of purifying and cleansing the person from all sin in order to have this to work. It worked once in Scripture that we read about in Third Nephi chapter 9, paragraph 4, when the apostles were kneeling—well, the disciples; they weren’t called apostles in the Book of Mormon—when the disciples were kneeling and praying while in Christ’s presence: And they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray.
So they’re giving a prayer, but the prayer is really a recitation of what it was that the Lord wanted to be included within the prayer. That ought not surprise anyone that the Lord is capable of accomplishing that because, as the Lord told us in the Sermon on the Mount, your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him (Matthew 3:28). So if He would like you to address Him and
to tell you something to you to tell Him something in prayer, and He would like it to be an altogether appropriate petition to be given, then He’ll give you what you shall ask.
“To place events into a context” challenges historians and puts us all in the position of having histories that disagree, that contradict, and offer differing viewpoints of exactly the same events. I’ve read, researched, studied, and contemplated the history of the Restoration. It’s taken me over two million words to explain some of that history. The revealed Prayer for Covenant contains only 2,759 words. That’s less than one and a half percent of the volume of words I’ve written in order to try to understand the events of the Restoration. In those few words, the Lord tells us the history of the Restoration clearly, succinctly, and truthfully. The Prayer is His.
Truth is a knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come. The Prayer for the Covenant is our history, as explained and set down by the Lord through revelation, and it is that prayer that gives context and definition to the answer. In fact, it’s called the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant because the Prayer for Covenant preceded it and is essential as part of it. T&C section 156 is needed to understand T&C section 157. Part of this was read this morning, but I’m gonna read it and probably interrupt a time or two with some comments. This is T&C 156:
Heavenly Father, [it’s] I whom you named David, asking you in the name of Jesus Christ for your mercy and grace to be with those of us who seek to become your people. We hope to repent and return to your path, and no longer be condemned and rejected as a people because of those who went before. Take pity on us all and have mercy for us, as we acknowledge and accept the condemnation and rejection of the latter-day [saint] gentiles, and petition that we may overcome it. (❡1, emphasis added)
See, that’s the first thing He wanted. He wants an acknowledgment—and not an acknowledgment that resists accepting it. He wants us to acknowledge the failure and to accept it as a given fact.
We are mindful that in [September]…
The petition says The prayer says, “in 1832.” I’m adding that month; it was in September of 1832.
…the gentile saints were condemned for vanity and unbelief because they treated lightly the things they had received, and they were warned by you that they would remain under condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments, not only to say, but to do…
To say requires that we have a correct statement. It requires us to have corrected Scriptures before we can do what God asks.
You commanded the gentiles that they bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom, and if they failed to do so, there remained a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon those who claimed to be the children of Zion. They failed to bring forth the required fruit, and were judged and scourged, and then violently driven out of Jackson County, Missouri. (❡2, emphasis added)
That happened within one year of the September 1832 events. They were told, “You have to do this.” They didn’t do that. And within one year, in the fall of 1833, they agreed, because of the demands of the citizens who are going to expel them, that they agreed to leave, one-half by January of 1834 and one-half by April of 1834.
You explained there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires by them; therefore, by these things they polluted their inheritances. But they did not repent, and in their pride they threatened to wage a war of extermination against the Missouri citizens…
I don’t know how many of you know this, but the extermination decree by Lilburn Boggs (as the governor of Missouri) was mirroring what the Latter-day Saints had done previously by threatening to wage a war of extermination. Lilburn Boggs was reactive; he wasn’t the aggressor—as the Lord makes clear in this statement.
…in their pride they threatened to wage a war of extermination against the Missouri citizens, heedless of your warnings. But it was you who used the Missouri citizens as your hand of judgment to scourge the condemned saints in your attempt to persuade them to repent and no longer treat lightly your word. They still saw no Divine purpose behind their distress, and railed against their Missouri persecutors. Despite their suffering, they were not sufficiently humbled to repent. Instead, they breathed out threats and expressed hope[s] to gain vengeance against the same Missouri mobs to whom you had given power to afflict the gentile saints to inspire them to repent. Because of the hardness of their hearts, the gentile saints were again mobbed and slain, and in 1838 altogether driven out of the State of Missouri, with Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and other leaders, cast into prison and condemned to die. But you were merciful, and did not suffer Joseph, Hyrum, or any of those imprisoned with them, to be killed. In your mercy, the surviving saints and the imprisoned leaders were [allowed] to obtain refuge in Illinois, whose people welcomed the saints, and a season of peace followed. (❡3, emphasis added)
This is the first hinge point in the prayer. Something now is going to change, and something else will follow because a new offer is extended by the Lord (in January of 1841) to the Saints after they’d been driven out because of their follies and because of their inability to repent earlier when they were warned.
In 1841 you mercifully extended another opportunity to the gentile saints to repent and return, and you approved Joseph’s offering and acknowledgements of the past failures of the saints when he petitioned you on their behalf. You found the prayers of Joseph and the gentiles were acceptable before you, and you granted to the saints another chance for you to recover them as your people. As you stated to the former gentiles, There is not a place found on earth that you may come to and restore again that which was lost unto us, or which you had taken away, even the fullness of the Priesthood…
It had been earlier offered on condition; the condition was not met. Therefore, it was taken away. They didn’t “have it” and lose it. They had it offered to them, and they lost the offer. So now God is renewing again the offer at this point in the recitation of the history.
…You offered and intended for a house to be built unto your name in which you deigned to reveal to your people things which have been kept hidden from before the foundation of the world, things which pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times. You gave to them sufficient time to build a house unto your name, warning them to complete the work or their baptisms for the dead would be unacceptable.
In those days, you warned the people you will not perform the oath which you make, neither fulfill the promises which they expect at your hands, or in other words, you would remove your covenant if they failed to do what you commanded. And you foretold what you would do unto the people if they neglected to do the work assigned them. You warned, For instead of blessings, we, by our own works, would bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon our own heads, by our follies, and by all our abominations, which we practice before you. You foretold that at the end of this appointment our baptisms for our dead shall not be acceptable unto you; and if the gentiles did not do the things you commanded, at the end of the appointment we would be rejected as a church, with our dead, said the Lord our God…
So now He has set it up so that we understand what comes next. Because what He’s going to describe next will be the response to the offer that was extended the second time to give to them the fullness.
…But the secret works of darkness multiplied, and the gentile follies did not end, and they practiced secret abominations in violation of your commandments and in defiance of your warnings.
The wickedness of the gentile saints dismayed the people of Illinois who had welcomed them, and provoked the anger of their indignant neighbors, who then implemented your judgments against the rebellious saints…
Nauvoo was a place where there was fraud, forgery, theft, counterfeiting, adultery, violence, and dishonesty. If you study the history, you’ll reach that conclusion.
…The former gentile saints were driven into the wilderness, and relocated into a desolate land, where they suffered hunger, cold, and sickness. In that isolation the gentile leaders were emboldened to openly practice abominations and wrongly teach the people to call them sacraments, as they reigned with blood and horror over the people. Secret murders, open defiance, and the slaughter of over 200 men, women, and children fixed the anger and opposition of the entire United States, who were moved by your will to curtail the barbarism of the gentile saints. (❡4-6, emphasis added)
That slaughter of over 200 men, women, and children was the Mountain Meadows incident that took place.
Even today the gentile saints justify lying to others as part of their religion, believing you will vindicate them in their dishonesty. They seek deep to hide their counsel from others, and now deny your judgments against their ancestors, claiming you have never rejected them. They have, as you foretold, spoken both good and evil of your prophet Joseph. They ascribe many of their wicked practices to Joseph, who correctly told their ancestors that they never knew him — for indeed, the gentile saints have grown distant from you because of their willful rebellion, pride, foolishness, and blindness…
Now we reach the second hinge point.
…We acknowledge that we must distinguish ourselves from them, admit the errors of the past, and in the depths of humility, seek to be reclaimed as yours. (❡7, emphasis added)
Then what follows is an explanation to us of how we fit into the Restoration.
But I want to take just a moment to read you some words that we’ve been going through, extracted from the prayer. As of 1832’s warning through 1838 (when they were altogether driven out of Missouri), these are the things which the Lord found offensive by the Saints:
- treating lightly
ing: andnot saying and doing,
- failing to bring forth fruit,
- lustful desires,
- wanting vengeance, and
- hard hearts.
This is a bad list of stuff that justified judgments. However, after the second offer, this is the list of the words that get used to describe what the Saints did after they were given an opportunity to repent and return:
- secret works of darkness,
- secret abominations,
- violating the commandments,
- openly practiced abominations,
- wrongly taught,
- secret murders,
- reigned with blood and horror,
- slaughter over 200 men, women, and children,
- justifying lying,
- denying the judgments of God,
- speaking evil of Joseph,
- willful rebellion,
- foolishness, and
The first list in response to the first offering is pretty bad. The second list in response to the renewed offer is so much worse. If it was a downhill ski slope, they augered in somewhere beneath the turf itself after the Lord in His mercy extended the offer.
So, now we get to an explanation of how we fit in.
The neglect and rebellion of the saints during Joseph’s day and thereafter included how they have treated the scriptures, carelessly inserting numerous errors and transcription problems into the Book of Mormon and other commandments and revelations. The original Book of Mormon translation manuscript was placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House where water and mold destroyed over 70% of the text. This was a similitude to the restoration provided by you through Joseph. Just as the original manuscript was allowed to decay, with only approximately 28% surviving, so likewise the Restoration has also decayed.
Using that remnant of the original translation, we have confirmed there were numerous transcription errors made when Oliver Cowdery copied it for the printer. We know that E. B. Grandin’s Print Shop also made errors, and the punctuation was supplied by John Gilbert, which changed the meaning of the text. We know there has been over a century of debate caused by the errors in understanding the text, solely due to the way in which the text has been punctuated. [We’ve] labored to make corrections and to recover a truer meaning, but are required to use our best conjecture to sort out the many textual dilemmas we now face. [We’ve] inquired of you and prayerfully sought guidance on even small issues out of respect for your words. Joseph Smith revised the printed copy in 1837, and again in 1840, to try to eliminate errors and make the text more correct. Most importantly, we know that you have, by revelation, recently supplied corrections to some of the writings in the Book of Mormon quoting you, for which we are grateful…
…which I would point out is language that gets identified in the Preface to the Book of Mormon, and the corrections that were made weren’t translation errors, apparently. They were quotes of the Lord, in which the Lord said, “I want to make what I said a bit more clear.” And so there were a handful of revisions made—by the Lord, to the text—which quotes Him.
…We have labored over the text of the Book of Mormon to try to remove as many of the mistakes in the text as we can discover, but know that our efforts fall short of perfecting the text.
The other revelations given through Joseph Smith have also not been maintained and transmitted to us in their purity. Many originals have been lost, and some of what we have from Joseph are copies of copies, and many were later recorded by others using their recollections of your revelations to him. [We’ve] used brackets and re-punctuated the texts as [we’ve] worked with them, all in an attempt to show respect for your holy texts. We ask that you accept this work and the punctuation and allow us to remove the brackets.
[We’ve] also determined to update some words that were in use and understood by earlier people, but whose meaning has been lost or so changed as to render the language foreign to modern usage. We ask for your approval to update the wording so as to clarify the language for modern readers. Mindful of how mistakes can be made, [we’ve] attempted to gather only those revelations which are authentic, attested to have come directly from Joseph in a reliable transmission, and which likewise involve general principles applicable to us rather than a personal revelation to an individual. We are mindful of the criticism of David Whitmer…
And I want to pause there. David Whitner, when he was an old man, published a small booklet called An Address to All Believers in Christ. He made the charge against the church, and the church members, and Joseph, in particular, for having led the church into error by accepting Joseph’s revelations as Scripture. And there are those who, having read An Address to All Believers in Christ by David Whitmer, have accepted the general idea that Joseph Smith’s mission should have been confined to the Book of Mormon—or the other charge that David Whitmer made: that Joseph was a fallen prophet. And there are those who argue over that still today. The Lord is clarifying in this prayer that Whitmer was wrong.
…We are mindful of the criticism of David Whitmer, who thought the recording and use of Joseph’s revelations was never wise and, therefore, we ask to be corrected in anything we have gathered and ask to be instructed by you to discard what ought to be discarded, and inspired to keep only those things which should be kept…
That begins our offer to the Lord, which is what He wants to be made. We ask to be corrected in anything we’ve gathered, ask to be instructed by you to discard what ought to be discarded, and inspired to keep only those things which should be kept.
…We were not responsible for neglecting your warnings, for treating lightly the Book of Mormon and former commandments, nor for failing to do as you asked, but have inherited that legacy and acknowledge that we also suffer under your condemnation as our inheritance. (❡8-11, emphasis added)
And then, this issue comes up, which is section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (the revelation on plural marriage) that comes up in this prayer.
We also have been left with a copy of a copy of a revelation recorded July 12, 1843 that is not in the handwriting of a scribe of Joseph’s, and which we believe to have been altered from its original form before it was publicly disclosed. That revelation has been the source of a great deal of mischief, sorrow, ungodly conduct, violence, and adulterous lusts among those who accept the published version of that revelation among the various Mormon factions. We first attempted to edit it to make it more consistent with your other commandments and revelations, but have ultimately concluded to remove it altogether because we cannot fix it. We ask that if there are any commandments, principles, or precepts involving the marriage covenant you would be willing to reveal to us to become part of our record, we would receive it with gratitude and rejoicing. We desire as a people to repent and remove the condemnation, and to overcome your rejection, and to be true and faithful to your commandments. All those involved have labored to avoid and eliminate the interpolations and uninspired emendations of others, however well they may have meant. If it is not from you or of you, we do not want to acknowledge it as scripture, and therefore we have labored to present this to you in the hope we have shown respect for your word and not the works of men. We acknowledge that you have inspired and guided this work by your spirit.
We acknowledge we are imperfect and, despite your inspiration and assistance, we know there are faults and weaknesses with us, and therefore we ask for your mercy to cover our weakness. We have attempted to be unified in this work, but have sometimes disputed with one another, and therefore ask to be forgiven for our own contentions as we were laboring beside one another. I confess my own failure in securing a replacement for the former section 20. You required a unified statement of principles for us to adopt, and I asked others to provide such a document. I have understood that you required that to be developed by others and not myself, and therefore I have refrained from any involvement. Despite three attempts by representatives of twenty-three fellowships, there remain disputes, and no agreed statement of principles has been composed and accepted by the people as you directed. Forgive those who have worked unsuccessfully. I ask that you look at the earnest desires of those involved and forgive this failure. I would ask that we not be required to provide a statement of principles, but the people be left to govern themselves according to their varying circumstances, needs, and desires. We are mindful of the duties expected by you for any people who would claim to be yours, and ask that our weaknesses be forgiven and our own follies and errors be corrected and not condemned. We as a people present the result[s] of our labor to you as our best attempt to preserve and recover the scriptures provided to us in the restoration through Joseph Smith at the beginning of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
As you began to roll forth a restoration through Joseph and others, we ask you to now continue that work and to allow your revelations, work, covenant, and blessings to roll forth with us, and things kept hidden be uncovered, and a fullness be given to us as a people. It is written that those who will not harden their hearts will receive a greater portion of your word, until they know the mysteries of God in full. It is also written that those who will harden their hearts will receive a lesser portion of your word, until they know nothing concerning the mysteries of God…
You can see that dynamic playing out on the losing end of light and truth within all of the churches, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints down to the apostate groups scattered everywhere. It gets diluted; the ignorance increases; the darkness grows. There’s hardly a difference between evangelical television shows and general conference from the LDS Church anymore, except that there’s probably more biblical truth, by far, among the evangelical group than you find in general conference—with the possible exception of Joel Osteen, who’s rallying on the “gospel of success” is such rubbish that… Welcomed rubbish! He lives in a $10 million home supported by his fan club (who want to know that if they follow that, they “too will be blessed” [imitating Joel Osteen]. “You can be blessed, too!”).
…We seek to leave behind a hard heart, and to be open to receiving a greater portion of your word, and to know of your mysteries, and obtain your grace for us as a people, that we may become yours.
Though only a remnant of the original Book of Mormon manuscript has survived, and though only a remnant of the original faith you established through Joseph [Smith] has likewise survived, we ask…
And at this point, the Lord takes over and defines what we should be asking. He gives it to us. This is our request: We ask…
…to be reconnected as a people to you by covenant, to make us yours, connected to a living vine, restored as a people, and numbered with Israel. We seek as a people to honor you and to keep your commandments so that a living body of your disciples may again exist on the earth. We desire that we may rise up through your grace and mercy so that you will perform your oath and vindicate your promises to the fathers concerning a faithful latter-day body of gentiles to be numbered with the remnant of Jacob, that your kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
O Lord, remove our blindness, forgive our sins and weaknesses, give to us a new heart that we may become children of the Most High God. We acknowledge our unworthiness. We are descended from rebellious and wayward ancestors and know that without your mercy we will remain in an awful state, unprepared for the return of our Lord in glory. The scriptures foretell of a latter-day recovery of your people, and of natural fruit returning to your vineyard. We seek to be part of that so [that] you may value us as yours and preserve us against the coming season of harvest.
We have added only things to the scriptures as we have understood to also have come from you and would be pleasing to you. We ask that you accept these books as yours so that people of faith may then…
I want to pause right there and tell you that up until this moment, it was unclear and unresolved whether or not the Scriptures would be, in effect, a “supplementary commentary,” that we would all continue to buy Scriptures from Deseret Book and paying to get them—and use the Scripture Project as kind of a supplementary commentary that we could use alongside it. At this point, however, the Lord makes clear: Get rid of everything, and keep what He’s going to approve.
…so that [the] people of faith may then rely upon this work as your word to this generation, as a standard for governing ourselves, as a law, and as a covenant, to establish a rule for our faith, and as the expression of our religion, so [that] we may have correct faith and be enabled to worship you in truth. If this body of writings are not acceptable, we ask that you guide us further so [that] we may correct, remove, or add whatever you would require for the writings to become acceptable for a covenant and law, a rule of faith, [and] as a correct expression of the religion that honors you, so [that] we may be in possession of correct faith and be enabled to worship you in truth.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, in faith, believing that with you all things are possible. Amen. (❡12-18, emphasis added)
That was the prayer that the Lord wanted offered—and which was offered—to Him on behalf of the people, which produced the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant and then the Covenant itself.
In Third Nephi chapter 5, paragraph 2, after there’d been a whole lot of destruction, and the people were gathered around, showing one another all of the terrible events that had transpired to change the typography in the area of Bountiful where the temple had been built, they heard a voice as if it came out of Heaven…they understood not the voice which they heard.
So something from Heaven spoke, and they didn’t hear. Later on: [And] again they heard the voice and they understood it not a second time. And then the third time they did hear the voice and did open their ears to hear it….they did understand the voice which they heard.
Well, God’s voice spoke in September of 1832, and they understood it not. God’s voice spoke again in January of 1841, and they understood it not. And God’s voice spoke again in July of 2017 (which was presented in September of 2017). Will we hear? Will we open our ears? Will we understand? Because on the other side of the third invitation, when the people open their ears to hear, they receive things which are not lawful for man to utter because of the Lord’s visit.
Now, there’s a chapter in Matthew that was considered so singularly important to Latter-day Saints that they put it in as one of the books in the Pearl of Great Price. Because we had adopted the Joseph Smith Translation (which is where this text came from) as part of our book of Matthew (just as we adopted Joseph Smith’s Translation of the book of Genesis, instead of the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price—we just have it in our Genesis texts), there’s a chapter that has been singled out—but even the Latter-day Saint scripture committee [who] tossed away the Lectures on Faith thought this was important, so maybe it really is.
Jesus leaves the temple after He’d said a bunch of stuff that was somewhat hard for locals to understand—and even the disciples who’d been tagging around with Him for lo those three years previous had a hard time understanding—and they said,
[Well, tell us] concerning the [building] of the temple, as you have said, They shall be thrown down and left unto you desolate. …Jesus said…Do you not see…these things? …do you not understand…?
And then He sat on the Mount of Olives, and He gave an explanation, and it shows up in the book of Matthew. Specifically, they pose the question,
What is the sign of your coming? And of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world? (Matthew 11:2)
Now, His answer begins with things that these people locally—that were then talking to Him—would experience. But after He tells them about the stuff they will encounter, then He jumps forward to a much later generation that will be around when the Lord returns. It’s that latter stuff that’s kind of relevant. But the former stuff is interesting, too, because He draws some analogy between the two. But this is gonna happen during the lifetime of those disciples:
Take heed, that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.
Apparently, if you’ve got the Lord setting an example and fulfilling things that are contained within the Scriptures, then anyone can pick up the Scriptures and say, “Oh, that needs fulfilling,” and imitatively say, “Look, I fit that pattern too! Me too! Me too! Me too!” And so He’s saying there’s gonna be a whole lot of the “me too’s.” As soon as someone does it, as soon as someone lays out the course, as soon as someone provides the example from which you can reach the conclusion that Scripture and prophecy can be fulfilled by the efforts or actions or teachings of someone, then I can imitate that too. And therefore, there will always be those who are imitative.
…I am Christ, and shall deceive many. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted…
…and so on. And He adds a little later,
…many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that remains steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved. (Ibid. ❡3)
Then He warns them about the desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. And He tells them to flee to the mountains and tells them that there will be distress that falls upon Israel in that day that will be greater than any distress that Israel will experience later—which is almost hard to imagine because we all know from our vantage point about the Holocaust and what was done to the Jews in Europe, behind Hitler’s rule. But if you read the accounts of what happened, there were literally mothers killing their children, roasting the bodies of their children, and eating them because of starvation. They despaired for the life of their children because of the circumstances. So rather than wait for their child to die, they killed them. And then rather than bury or show respect for the body, because of the hunger, they ate their dead infants. I mean, it’s hard to imagine the distress that they felt. But the Lord said it’ll be greater at that point than it ever will be at any other point in history. And in fact, that is true. But that’s not the end of the suffering of the Jews, as history will tell us.
Now, He jumps way ahead because they’ve asked Him two things. “When’s the Temple of Jerusalem going to be destroyed?” He gives them that, and then He jumps way ahead because they’ve also asked, “What’s the sign of your coming at the end of the world? Or in other words, when are the wicked gonna be destroyed?” And He jumps way ahead:
…after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem, if any man shall say…Look, here is Christ, or there — believe him not; for in those days there shall also arise false christs…
“In those days” = contemporaneous with us.
…there shall also arise false christs and false prophets…
Dude, that “false Christ” thing—there’s some guy who keeps mailing me books about the… Nah, never mind.
…and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders…
Yeah, that fits there. Yeah.
…insomuch that if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant. Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake. (Ibid. ❡6)
There has to be, at some point, an “elect according to the covenant,” in order for the subject that He is discussing to become relevant. And He’s saying, almost as a matter of fact, “There will be a covenant body in the last days,” and there are gonna be people who are trying to deceive them left and right. They’re gonna show signs and wonders, they’re gonna be out…
Now I show into a parable…
And this is where the Lord allows the information that He is conveying to drift off into the requirement that you have some interpretive ability to understand prophecy so that, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, the words of prophecy become clear unto you.
…[I’ll] show…you a parable. Behold, [where] the body is…
Keep that thought in mind.
…there will the eagles be gathered together. So likewise shall my elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth. And they shall hear of wars and rumors of wars — behold, I speak unto you for my elect’s sake — for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. And again, because iniquity shall abound, the love of men shall wax cold. But he that shall not be overcome, the same shall be saved.
So, there are a body of people that are called the elect; they have a covenant. The elect people get gathered; there will be a body that gets gathered. (He’ll clarify that there’s more than that later.) But He says that’s gonna happen, and the people who are there are gonna hear about nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom. They’re going to hear about famines. They’re gonna hear about pestilences. They’re gonna hear about earthquakes in diverse places. They’re gonna see the iniquity abounding. They’re gonna see the love of men wax cold. But the people that are there—who are not overcome—they’ll be saved.
And then this remarkable statement (and this is the Joseph Smith Translation or clarification or inspired restatement):
And the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached, in the whole world, to a witness over all people; and then will the end come, or the destruction of the wicked.
…a singular individual who will witness about what is called the “gospel of the Kingdom.” It’s going to come to a witness, and that witness will be everyone’s warning—even if they ignore or reject it—because it is to a witness “over all people.” Being over all people doesn’t require you to have any authority or position or rank or bully-pulpit. It just requires that the message be God’s message, relevant to all the people…
…and then will the end come, or the destruction of the wicked. And again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.
And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun[’ll] be darkened …moon…and…Powers of Heaven…be shaken.
And He says about these events,
This generation in which these things shall be shown forth shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled. (Ibid. ❡7-8, emphasis added)
And then the Son of Man’s sign appears in the heavens, and all the tribes of the earth are going to mourn, and the Son of Man is going to appear in the clouds of Heaven…
…with power and great glory. And whoever treasures up my words shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, …he shall send his angels before him with the…sound of a [great] trumpet…
And so now, this is after the appearing of the Lord, and they that [the angels who’ve now come with Him]…
…and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Ibid. ❡9, emphasis added)
So, He’s now told us two things about the covenant group that will exist (called the “elect” in the last days). There is one “gathered together in a body,” where the angels will be gathered, from the four quarters of the earth—and they will be in one place. And then there are a number of other people who are also elect that are scattered far and wide, in an ungathered state. And after His appearing, the angels “shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to [an]other.” So we tend to think that there’s one and only one [gathering], and the Lord is talking about, “No, that’s not…” It’s probably not even possible for that to happen, but it’s not going to happen. And then He says,
Now [let me tell you] a parable of the fig tree.
This is a new one.
When its branches are yet tender and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is near at hand. So likewise, my elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors. (Ibid. ❡10)
So He’s saying, “If you’re gonna see any of this stuff begin to take place, then you need to recognize/you need to realize that something’s afoot.” And it’s going to culminate in the destruction of the wicked and the final gathering together—after His return—of all the elect.
But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man, for it shall be with them as it was in the days which were before the flood. For until the day that Noah entered into the ark, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so [also shall] the coming of the Son of Man be. (Ibid. ❡11)
I see some of that kind of behavior going on right now. So He then describes how gathering will take place: not everyone is going to be gathered, even if they’re “elect.”
…two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken…the other left; two shall be grinding at the mill, …one [shall be] taken…the other left.
…know this: if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up, but would have been ready. Therefore, you [also be] ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.
Who then is a faithful and [a] wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his [house], to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord (when he comes) shall find so doing. And truly I say unto you, he shall make him [a] ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunk, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. (Ibid. ❡12-14)
So, you know, He’s using graphic language here to describe things about people in the last days who pretend or think or even have the conviction that they are a servant, but they begin to get abusive and to smite the fellow servants. Well, I would take that word “smite,” and I would cross reference it into the letter that Joseph wrote about the restrictions that ought to be employed by anyone who claims to have the priesthood; that is, you don’t get to cover your sins, to gratify your pride, to exercise your vain ambition, or to have control or dominion or compulsion in any degree of unrighteousness. So when you begin to smite your fellow servants, it involves the very kind of behavior that got recently defined as what it means to sustain someone when you raise your arm to the square.
And then He tells the story of the ten virgins. And the virgins—as I heard Steve VanLeer mentioning—all of them knew there was a wedding, all of them knew what was coming, all of them had been invited, all of them were preparing for the event; it’s just that five of them were still foolish.
And then He tells the story of a man traveling into a far country; [he] called his servants, and gave them five and two and one talent. And then some of them increased the amount that they were able to produce from the talents they were given,
and some of them buried them and one of them buried them in the ground. And he took from those that didn’t produce, and he gave to those that did.
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory—the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left. And He’s going to say that when He separated the sheep from the goat, some of the goats are gonna complain and say, “HEY! Uhh, we don’t belong here!” But more interestingly, some of the sheep are gonna say, “I’m not sure… Lord, I’m not sure I’m really a sheep belonging on your right hand.” And the Lord’s gonna explain to them, I was hungry, …you gave me food. I was thirsty, …you gave me drink. I was a stranger, …you took me in; naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came [to] me. And the righteous is gonna say, When did we see you hungry, and [feed] you? Or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? Or naked, and clothed you? And He says, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me. And then the others—the goats—weigh in and say, “Wait a minute! We didn’t abuse you in that fashion!” And He said, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it not unto me. (Ibid. ❡21-25, emphasis added)
So we’ve got ourselves an interesting opportunity that has been presented to us because the Lord has, in our dispensation, done pretty much—over a period of years and generations, because when you reject the covenant and you kill the one through whom it was being offered, then you have to wait four and five generations before it can be renewed—but it’s the same pattern as the one that was had at Bountiful: The voice speaks, they don’t hear it (1832-38); the voice speaks, they don’t hear it (1841 through the end of that generation); the voice speaks a third time, and they open their ears, and they heard it.
It’s really incumbent upon us to decide whether or not we’re interested, willing, and capable of doing what has been asked of us—because the Prayer outlines the kind of conduct that fails; it defines for us what they were up to that provoked His judgment; it tells us what not to do…and then they got worse. When the offer was made in 1841…
Clearly, if you don’t humble yourself and accept what the Lord has offered and you rebel against Him, and in your pride, you look up, curse God, and die (as the Scriptures say)—which is exactly what they did. I mean, cursing the people through whom the Lord administered punishment to humble you is the same thing as cursing and rejecting the Lord! It’s like the Catholic nun that gets the ruler out and bangs on your knuckles, “Do you understand me now, Jake and Elroy Blues?” It’s the same thing. And when you say, “There’s nothing wrong with what I have done, and I can lie, and I can cheat; I can commit adultery and engage in all of the kinds of misbehavior” (even worse than what had provoked your judgments in the first place), well, then the outcome turns out pretty much like it has. And you see, right now, the restoration petering out everywhere, except among us. The loss of light and truth, of understanding, and of comprehension is falling day by day, just like was foretold at the time the covenant was offered in Boise about the eclipse that had occurred recently before that conference. An eclipse that crossed from
border to sea to sea, border to border, and there’s another one coming. It’s almost as if the Lord is doing everything He can to call attention to the fact that He really is up to something. This really is His work. And signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath are being given, and the question is, Will any heed at all be given to that?
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Question and Answer Session
Now, I said to whoever it was who called me… I think it was you, Taylor. Yeah. I said that I have two grandbabies—a four- and a two-year-old’s (grandbabies born in the same month, within, I think, three days of one another)—whose birthday is being celebrated down in Sandy. And I’m heading there to eat birthday cake and forget about this. And I said that I would have a few minutes… They wanted to open it up for questions—and I’ve heard that there is a microphone… And there’s Reed, Mr. Microphone himself, (which kind of reminds me of a story that I’ll tell at some point).
They’re trying to record this stuff—and so you can put the mic there, and if anyone’s got a question, you can feel free to come up, ask your question into the mic. A question is a sentence that ends with a question mark.
My wife taught a class yesterday, and she said she was interrupting people and saying, “That’s not a question. What’s your question?” So getting her counsel before I came up here, I decided I’d define question in advance: It’s a short statement, and it ends with a question mark—and normally, you raise your voice at the end of the question to make it clear you’re done and now something’s on the table, deal with it.
Now, you can ask absolutely any question you want to ask. And I might answer some of them. So does anyone have a question? Oh, look, there we are.
Question 1: All right. So I’m new to all this…
DS: Oh, good. Yeah.
Q1: …just so to preface. I want to know: What exactly does God expect of us—here, as a covenant people—to actually accomplish in our lives?
DS: Most of what the Lord would like us to do at the moment is internal to ourselves. There’s a kind of analogy/a description that’s given when Ezra returns and they’re rebuilding the temple, of how they had the scroll/the Scriptures in one hand and a trowel in the other. The people that returned to rebuild the temple in the Second Temple era were only a remnant of the people that were taken, a remnant of the descendants of the people that had been taken captive into Babylon. So you have a large body of believers who got exiled from the holy land, taken captive into Babylon. The overwhelming majority of those people remained behind in Babylon, and only a remnant returned back—because returning back from Babylon meant you were leaving a kind of secure economy, a kind of stable society, a place where things were stable and good. You… It took a lot of faith for someone to leave there and go to a city that had been destroyed, in order to rebuild and re-civilize. So the environmental circumstances were such that they’d already made up their mind that they were going to follow the Lord and accepted the reality that following the Lord meant a sojourn into difficulty and hardship. They were willing to do that; that was what they knew would come by doing that.
In our day, we’re being asked, for the moment, to stay put but to adopt a new set of values, rules, scriptural understanding, a body of teachings that really have been dissipated and lost. And we’re doing that in the face of unrelenting criticism.
Many of it Much of the criticism that gets leveled against the Restoration gets leveled against Joseph Smith specifically and gets done against a body of lies and falsehoods. The library of material that has been produced in order to suggest that Joseph Smith was a liar and an adulterer and someone who loved and made a lie—which, by the way, in and of itself tells you that he’s damned to hell, based upon the “Three Degrees of Glory” revelation. Those who love and make a lie are those that are going to be cast down/thrust down to hell, and in the Book of Mormon text, it says the liar shall be thrust down to hell. And the body of information that people spread now, even within the “Answers to Gospel Questions” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, states that Joseph Smith was unequivocally a liar because there were “some truths that are just so special and sacred” that one can’t divulge that they’re out there bed-hopping because that would not be understood by the “moral Gentiles” who accepted the ten commandments that included, among them, Thou shalt not commit adultery! It’s just irony upon irony.
What is expected of you at this moment, is to recognize the truth, accept the truth, and change from within you. Then the even greater change is to get along with other people. I’d like you to meet Rob Adolpho; he’s sitting about…
You’re good? Okay! He’s solved the riddle! You’re there.
Any other questions? (I hope you’re getting up to leave and not to ask a question.)
You wrote it down?
Question 2: I did! So you mentioned that we need to acknowledge our failure. What does He mean by “acknowledge”?
DS: Well, there’s a… I think it’s a psalm, but it could be a proverb. I wrote it down in the front cover of my quad, but I don’t use my quad anymore, so it’s home on a shelf. There’s a statement that says, “I’ve inherited the heritage of the righteous.” Okay? And that was a psalm that was given at a time when, well, like… It’s like Ruth and Naomi, where someone comes in and accepts the covenant, and then they’re welcomed within the family of Israel. And by doing so, they become really an inheritor of everything that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Judah… Well, Joseph more than Judah. Ah, Judah—and we’re supposed to get rid of the envy and the jealousy between Joseph and Judah. So strike that last part.
We inherited a mess. So when we start out…
There’s an expression—it’s a baseball expression—that someone was “born on third base and thinks they hit a triple.” Well, we were born outside of the ball field and don’t even have the opportunity to enter the dugout—because the way in which the Lord has treated the Restoration, based upon the response of the people to the Lord in offering the Restoration, is, “You’re gonna get kicked out of Missouri. You’re gonna get kicked out of Independence (where you think you belong) and driven into another county, you’re gonna found a county…” They literally created new counties in order to, you know, put the city of Far West together and start their own local government. And then because they still couldn’t get along with people, they wind up with the militia of the state of Missouri driving them out to Illinois. And Illinois was so sympathetic because the one thing that the church has always been really good at is propaganda. I mean, when they arrived in Illinois, the propaganda that had come out of the mouth of the Latter-day Saints made everyone there, you know, dry an eye and say, “How can we help?” but it didn’t take long for them to, you know, gain the reputation of being—back then it was called, “making bogus”; today, it’s counterfeit money making. Money all along the Mississippi River was plagued with counterfeit money, and a significant part of that appears to have been produced by the printing press that was in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Mark Twain was born in 1835 in Hannibal, Missouri, and he would have been like nine years old when Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. And, you know, despite all of what Mark Twain would have heard, he actually came out in Roughing It and visited Salt Lake and gave a pretty fair description of the Mormons. Funny! I mean, Mark Twain was! But it gives a pretty fair description of us. We’ve inherited that.
So when we start out, we are painted with the same ugly yellow paint, and we’re leaving handprints and fingerprints all over everything, covered in unworthiness and offensive stuff. We can’t even sit on the Lord’s furniture without wrecking it. That’s where we start out from. So what we have to do is largely what the Lord instructed us to do in the Prayer for the Covenant—that gets answered with the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant and then the Covenant itself—and that involves a real sober assessment of exactly where we stand in God’s eyes at the beginning of this and the acceptance of grace. And if He bestows grace upon us… It’s like the apostle Paul writing to the Romans: “What? Shall we continue to sin so that grace can abound? Do we benefit ourselves by having even more grace because we don’t repent, and we continue sinning, and then God’s grace can be, you know, even more rapidly and widespread applied?”
We’re not supposed to be doing that. I mean, he says—after posing that question—he says, “God forbid!” He’s saying, “Don’t impose upon God’s patience by getting forgiven of your messes and then turning around and making another mess!” Part of what the saints did was not… It wasn’t just a defect internal. Envyings and strifes and all of the conflict that went on, that’s not just a Latter-day Saint treating a Latter-day Saint that way. That’s not just people in this room dealing with people in this room in an inappropriate manner. I’ve never heard of anyone financially cheating anyone else that’s among the body of believers; that was going on back in Missouri and in Illinois and in early Utah—and it goes on right now, except the perpetrator is the Corporation of the President, and victims are everyone that was willing to donate money to ‘em.
But it was a problem that existed between the body of believers and the “outsiders” who they treated with the kind of… If you could put it over on them, then, you know, “Good on us! Our side wins,” you know? We’re not supposed to be doing that. We ought to approach the people with whom we are dealing with the same kind of humility and respect that we would hope they would show to us or for us. We ought to be really good neighbors. The last thing we want is to have Independence, Missouri repeat itself or Far West repeat itself or Nauvoo repeat itself, where neighbors are… The neighbors felt themselves defined as “outsiders.” It’s just… You know, “You’re a Gentile.” You know, “We’re a saint!” I mean, the word “saint” has a kind of hallowed meaning because of Catholicism. So when you say, “We’re saints,” you’re… It’s offensive. I mean, if I’m… “You should be building magnetic statuary to me, and putting it on the dashboard of your car.”
I don’t care if it rains or freezes
Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Sitting on the dashboard of my car.
Who did that song? Okay, anyway, the…
Yeah, you were at the microphone. Save us.
Question 3: You read in Matthew 11
verses paragraph 11 that “the people of Noah were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them away.” Does that mean that we need to be careful about eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage? And if so, how do we do that?
DS: Well, there’s two ways to look at that. One way is exactly like the question you posed. The other is to say: While you’re eating and while you’re drinking and while you’re giving in marriage, be aware that the end is just around the corner—which will make you eat a little more carefully and share your food with others, drink a little less and be sober-minded, and only marry—in righteousness—someone for whom you have shared values and respect. And of the two readings, I would say I favor the latter.
Question 4: In 2019, you made a statement that you felt like we were getting… There’s a chance that we were getting close…
[replying to the microphone being repositioned] Oh, thanks.
There’s a chance we were getting close to gaining the spirit of Elijah. And I was curious as to where you think… It’s been almost four years. How much closer do you think we are?
DS: Umm… Closer still. Okay, look: There… That… Joseph Smith makes a passing reference to three different kinds of spirit. There’s a spirit of Elias, there’s a spirit of Elijah, and there’s a spirit of Messiah. Now, there are those who say that Joseph was an ignorant farm boy (as he confessed that he was) and that he didn’t understand that Elias was simply the Greek form of the name Elijah—and so Joseph didn’t know what he was talking about. I rather favor the other view, which is that Joseph found the term useful to illustrate a point and that he wasn’t giving you a language course. He was trying to inform you about the manner in which restoration of material rolls forth.
- The spirit of Elias, as he defined it, was a forerunner that would deliver a message that warns you of things to come.
- The spirit of Elijah is where you begin to have a restoration that includes fulsome enough material to seal people up unto salvation against the day of the harvest.
- And the spirit of Messiah is when the Lord Himself comes and returns.
And he commented about how David had failed to get the greater spirit. So the question needs to be answered and the question needs to be understood in the context of the talk and the vocabulary that Joseph was employing at the time. And the answer I would give is that everything that the Lord has intended to accomplish, He has set about achieving the steps necessary to move everything forward. And that if the Lord were to command that a temple be built, we have everything that would be needed in order to fulfill, at our end, what Heaven expects to take place here, from Heaven’s end. And that, should we get the command, we won’t have anything at our end that impedes getting that done.
Yeah, you’ve got a question, I can tell.
Question 5: I’m gonna give a quote and then try to formulate the question. It’s ummm…
DS: K, that doesn’t sound like my wife’s definition of a question. But go ahead, you can make an attempt. Hey, you can throw a shoe…
Q5: I’m trying to “honor her circle.”
Q5: So, I think it’s in Isaiah: “Wo unto those who are big with child or give suck in those days.” It almost suggests that, at some point, it’s not a good idea to have kids. But I don’t know if that’s just a false conclusion of mine, or I mean, I feel like… I would like to ask you to… If you would be willing to kind of expound on that?
DS: Yeah. Okay, the first thing you need to understand is that you’re a boy, and you can’t get pregnant.
The statement that was made by the Lord quoting from the earlier text was made in the context of the distress that would befall Jerusalem in the generation that He was talking to at that time, which included the very Jews who rejected Him. It’s really a big deal. You can reject a message and a messenger the Lord sends, and He’ll send another in another generation. If you kill the prophets, then it’s three and four generations. And if you kill the son of God, it’s more than a millennium before work will begin again, okay? He was talking to a generation who would not only kill Him, but they would also kill Paul, and they would kill Peter, and they would kill Stephen. (Paul would hold the cloak of some of those throwing the stones at Stephen, which just goes to show you how willing the Lord was to forgive and is willing to forgive, because Paul looked back on his sins with just dismay).
But He was talking to a generation, He was saying that… And it literally unfolded exactly as He foretold. The people in Jerusalem, and pregnant women in Jerusalem, or nursing mothers and babies in Jerusalem, it was an awful, awful circumstance. He didn’t say that about this day. It was apt, and it fit then. But in particular, where the body is and the eagles are gathered, they don’t… They will hear about famines; they will hear about wars; they will hear about this distress that goes on. But it doesn’t sound like that gets right into the community in which the eagles have been gathered.
But then after all of the distress and after all of the wretchedness that happens globally in His return in glory, the angels still gather out “elect” that remain. And that remainder has been a remainder that’s spread literally everywhere. And so, if you read the words of the Covenant, there’s a promise of protection, and that promise extends from Heaven and the Earth, who’s gonna watch out for righteousness that appears upon her face. The Earth itself… If you read the Enoch prophecy in Genesis or, if you’re still holding on to your Pearl of Great Price, the Moses/Enoch text in Moses in the Pearl of Great Price is reporting the lamentation from the Earth itself. She is speaking—she is cognizant of wickedness, and she is cognizant of righteousness that appears upon her. And let me tell you, the Earth has extraordinary destructive capability. But if she targets it, a landslide can wipe out a community, and there can still be someone standing there unscathed; a tornado can come through and wreck an entire neighborhood and leave one home largely untouched. Hand grenades can be thrown into a crowd of soldiers and detonate when it hits, and some die, and some are grievously injured, and some are trying to figure out, “How did I survive that?”
My father arrived on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6—D-Day. And when he was dying in a hospital in his 80s, many years later, the thought that puzzled him was, Why did so many of the friends that he had, so many of the people that he had served with, why did they die? And why was he spared? Because he was uninjured on D-Day. On the morning of June 7, his company was gone. He was a combat engineer when he landed on the beach. He was an infantryman on the morning of the next day because they didn’t need a combat engineer; they needed an infantryman. And he walked from there to Paris and from Paris to Berlin. And except for frostbite during the Battle of the Bulge, apparently the Lord intended to spare him. And if the Lord can spare a combat engineer landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, the Lord can spare anyone—anywhere, in any circumstances—that He intends to keep in His fold.
“I have graven you on the palms of my hands.” He’s saying the mark on His hand is a reminder to Him of how intimately acquainted with “those He intends to preserve” He is. So I wouldn’t worry about… You know, Thomas Wolfe didn’t coin the phrase, but he used the phrase to good effect in
Breakfast of Champions [Bonfire of the Vanities]. When you’re in an inner city—any big city—and the pigeons take off, what the pigeons do when they take off is they begin to flap their wings, and they crap—and the term is a “shitstorm.” And he used that to good effect in Breakfast of Champions [Bonfire of the Vanities]. And in the coming shitstorm, don’t worry; you’ll have an umbrella…assuming you’re penitent and your heart’s right and you meet the conditions of the Covenant.
Yeah, you’re clearly getting ready to ask a question, I can tell.
Question 6: Thank you. You talked about the indelible gift of the Holy Ghost, which is awesome, but we seem to not have access to that at this point. So, many of us are still wondering about the kind of lesser gift of the Holy Ghost, which we have access to. In our LDS upbringing, it’s very confusing. It’s a… They really just kinda muddle it up. Many questions on that, I mean, is it a one-time event? It’s the entrance into the straight and narrow path, but does this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost happen many times, one time…? Just so many questions on that. And if you could give any clarification on that lower… If that’s something you would like to speak on more. I mean, I’m still curious.
DS: They do a fairly reasonable job of talking about that, among the Latter-day Saints. Henry Eyring has talked about how, you know, you can grieve the spirit, and it withdraws from you, and then you have to be penitent in order to fetch it back. The admonition in the ordinance given in the LDS Church is to receive an admonishment to receive the Holy Ghost. And I… It’s not as if the Latter-day Saints have any kind of a franchise that allows them to either be guaranteed of the presence of the Spirit OR of having some exclusivity that prevents other people from doing so. There are some brilliant, enlightened, meaningful material that gets produced by Buddhists who are reflective. There was a time when some of the greatest theological minds, some of the most well-informed people that understood things by the power of the Spirit were Muslim.
There was an effort—a translation of ancient text effort—made in Brigham Young University, and a deep theological thinker (a fellow by a Muslim scholar) that lived around—I think it was around 1100 AD—wrote some things that were remarkably, just remarkably praiseworthy and deep and contemplative. The problem is that Islam has lapsed into another Dark Age. But there was a time when it was contact by the Crusaders with the Enlightened Muslims who had preserved Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, that brought back material from the Crusades, that provided the stimulus for the Renaissance. We think of the Renaissance as some kind of a re-awakening in Europe. And, in fact, all that was is the Islamic traditions (that had been valued) getting spread into Europe and reawakening/reigniting that fire of knowledge and truth and love.
(And I’m getting the sign; I’m gonna get a sheep hook around my neck here in just a second.)
The Holy Ghost gets redefined in… It’s like chapter 6, verse 61 (or 2 or 3) of the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price; you’d have to go into the book of Genesis (in which it’s now paragraphs) in order to locate it. But it’s redefined as the truth of all things, the keys of the kingdom, the fullness, and the comforter; it’s a string of words. That’s what we seek to have access to. You lived in Heaven before you came to Earth. And that is true of everyone everywhere, no matter where they hail from. They all came from Heaven. And they have a pre-existence that embedded within them knowledge of truths that you have to bring back to the surface here. The way in which you detect the truth of some things is by deep study and reflection and finding it here, and then recognizing it as being true—because something within your core is able to do that. There are some…
I heard a talk that was given by… Actually, I think it was Rob and Q both talking together about some native traditions that were remarkable in their application of truths and knowledge and symbols that convey eternal truths. There was a time and… God, who’s that great anthropologist…? Campbell! Joseph Campbell wrote a book that said that there was a time when there were navigators. (And these guys are not necessarily living only in Polynesia. We’re talking about people who had sailed, you know, as part of the Portuguese fleet, as part of the Spanish fleet, as part of the English fleet.) There were times when sailors could see Venus in the daytime. We don’t see Venus in the daytime! We’ve lost it. (Well, if you’ve got a program that gives you the stars that will tell you on your iPhone, you can see it—but that’s not Venus; that’s your graphic on your iPhone.) There were times when people could see things and perceive things that we have become too coarse because they’re irrelevant to us to behold anymore. But within every one of you, there are powers and capacities, gifts and abilities that lie dormant that only need to be awakened within you. And you can talk about how miraculous something is or how enlightened you’ve become. Largely all you’re doing is waking up something that was resonant there before. It was there. It is there. It longs to be reignited. And it can be reignited by careful attention to Native traditions, the gospel of Christ, the teachings of the Buddha.
Everywhere you find truth in this world, it is an echo of something that began with Father Adam and Mother Eve. They had possession of a body of information that has been disseminated throughout the world. And every culture that has some great truth that they prize ultimately reckons from that same original source of truth. We just have the obligation of discerning between the one and the other and holding fast to the things that are true indeed and leaving to the side the things that are corruptions or inappropriate emendations. One of the challenges that the body of Scripture that we’ve been given has been supplied to us in order to help us overcome.
So, last question, and then I will go see some grandbabies.
Question 7: So, the Scriptures say that the natural man is an enemy to God. My question is: Is that a result of the fall, or was that true at the time of creation as well?
DS: Okay. Yeah, the statement found in the Book of Mormon about how the natural man is an enemy of God and has been and, you know, will be—we are, in our present condition, unlike God, okay? We get tired, and He does not. We get hungry, and She does not. We feel pain and can be manipulated through the application of outside, deliberately-inflicted pain, and They do not, okay? Your vulnerability and weakness and susceptibility to hunger makes you something that is not merely “other” than God, it puts within you something that is or would be detestable as a god. It is “unlike,” and therefore it is a way in to compromise you. God cannot be compromised. He and She and They are above that—can’t be manipulated, can’t be compromised, can’t be made vulnerable to weaknesses. We are filled with weaknesses. We…
There was a prayer that got read by Taylor, and I knelt down, and I was reminded (when I knelt down) that I bumped my left knee on furniture a couple of days ago, and there it was: It kind of hurt. And I endured as much as I could kneeling, and then I sat down, hoping all you people had your eyes closed, so you wouldn’t see that I was given up on that kneeling thing. But I did that ‘cuz my knee hurt. Well, it’s another manifestation of how easy it is to get me to do something just by inflicting a little bit of pain.
Go on a hike and put a pebble on each heel in your shoe, and see how long you hike. It’s… You’ll hike as long as you can remain on your tiptoes—and then you’ll either sit down and cry, or you’ll take the rock out of your shoe ‘cuz it’s kind of stupid to do that.
We are an enemy to God because we can be easily compromised. We’re an enemy to God because we have vulnerabilities, susceptibilities, weaknesses, and frailties that get used more or less consciously. We are vulnerable (in addition to all that) to lies; we are vulnerable to emotional manipulation. You take the language of virtue and you apply it to corruption, and you get people to say evil things and do evil things because they are paraded as if tolerance and kindness should openly embrace things that are repugnant to and in direct opposition to the will of God. And it doesn’t matter that the language of virtue gets used in order to manipulate that, we’re susceptible to that. God is not. You can’t fool Him. You can’t fool Them. You can fool us. A false Christ never got the angel Gabriel to say, “Ooh, wait a minute, I want to hear this guy out! He might have something good to say. I think he might be the real thing.” Gabriel wasn’t gonna do that because he exists in a plane that is shed from this. And as long as we occupy bodies of dust, these bodies are weak, and they’re vulnerable. And therefore, that—all of that—makes us liable to error, failure, and sin, and that is an enemy to God’s plan to exalt you, to raise you, to make you a holy being. Because in our current state, we are not that, and therefore, that weakness/that vulnerability is what makes us an enemy to God.
I’ve got little baby Harper and little baby Nora waiting for me with birthday cake in hand, I’m sure. Thank you, all.