QUESTION: Why Does The Church Not Portray The Seer Stones In Church Published Art

seer-stones-js

I received this question from a friend when I posted Elder Uchtdorf’s post about comparing the seer stones to cell phones:

Hi Paul, I saw your post about the seer stone on your FB. I did not want to comment on your timeline to avoid other people attacking me. When I joined the church I knew nothing about the seer stone nor it was portrayed in the church published art. The art shows Joseph Smith looking at the golden plates and dictating to his scribe. Why not tell people the truth the first time?

Here is my response:

Thank you for your message and I apologize for my slow reply. I knew my response would be lengthy and I needed to carve out some time to provide the attention needed for your question.

I understand what you are asking, but I believe it comes from a much deeper concern. However, a quick answer to your question is that an artist’s depiction of the translation of the Book of Mormon hardly constitutes a doctrinal teaching.

My undergrad degree is in philosophy and theology. In my senior year at BYU one of my philosophy professors asked if I would assist him on writing a philosophical dissertation for the Library of Congress on Joseph Smith. My job was to study all the negative material written about Joseph Smith and the Church and provide a summary of it.

For six months I read through a mountain of books about Mormonism. I learned quite a bit about the history of the Church that I hadn’t known before. This doesn’t mean the Church was hiding this material. In fact, most of the history I learned came straight from old Church lesson manuals.

I came across some doctrines that required me to research more into them, and after all my research I gained two very interesting insights. First, many of the attacks on the Church were against people who trusted in the Holy Ghost for revelation. Surprisingly, those who professed a personal relationship with Christ didn’t believe you could gain a spiritual knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through Holy Ghost and prayer.

Instead, many of the detractors would state you could only trust the Bible as the ultimate source of truth and would give some scriptures (with their interpretation) about why the Book of Mormon was false.

My struggle with this line of thinking was how do you know the Bible is true? It is circular reason to believe that the Bible is true because the Bible is true. I found many authors answered this question by pointing to the historical accuracy of the Bible. Yet, there are many books that claim divinity that are historically accurate, but no archaeological fact or proven historical event in the Bible could prove that Jesus was the literal Son of God and that he died for our sins.

To me Joseph Smith best answered the question of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, Bible, and even Jesus being our Eternal Savior by saying, “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject” (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 324). He also declared that “the best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching” (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 324, p. 191).

This brought me to the second point I gained by studying the negativity towards the Church — all that matters is finding and believing truth, no matter how bizarre or strange it may be.

Truth is truth, and we are to seek it out and live it. I don’t care if Joseph Smith used a top hat and glowing rocks to translate the Book of Mormon, or if there is a purple turtle that holds up the entire universe, if it is true I want to know it and follow it.

So far, the only way I have been able to validate spiritual truth has been through sincere and earnest study and prayer. I’ve never seen who I pray to, but not only have I felt an undeniable spiritual force, but I’ve seen it at work in my life.

What is interesting is that the Church never declares that they have all the truth (Article of Faith #13 proves that). What the Church does declare is that they are the only ones to have the Priesthood authority. Beyond that it is left up to us to find all the truth we can.

Is it possible I am wrong with my understanding of the truth, yes, I believe so. However, so far everything the Mormon Church teaches me has pointed me towards something that brings deep and sincere happiness to my life. You are welcome to disagree with my understanding of the truth, but it is difficult to disprove the fruits of these truths I follow (e.g. chastity, service, health code, and sacrifice to name a few).

I’ve written about my conversion, which you will see it follows the same reasoning of finding truth and living it. Yet, I didn’t come to the conclusion of the Book of Mormon’s truth in the usual way. Anyway, I share it so it helps you better understand where I am coming from.

If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to me.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on Seer Stones

Last week Elder Uchtdorf posted on his Facebook page the below quote and picture. I shared it on my page and was surprised to receive a lot of interest around it. The quote resonated with me because I think Elder Uchtdorf is spot on. We simply cannot understand an infinite universe with our current finite science (and spirituality for that matter)!

uchtdorf

“Not long ago, the Church published photos and background information on seer stones. People have asked me, “Do you really believe that Joseph Smith translated with seer stones? How would something like this be possible?” And I answer, “Yes! That is exactly what I believe.” This was done as Joseph said: by the gift and power of God.

In reality, most of us use a kind of “seer stone” every day. My mobile phone is like a “seer stone.” I can get the collected knowledge of the world through a few little inputs. I can take a photo or a video with my phone and share it with family on the other side of our planet. I can even translate anything into or from many different languages!

If I can do this with my phone, if human beings can do this with their phones or other devices, who are we to say that God could not help Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, with his translation work? If it is possible for me to access the knowledge of the world through my phone, who can question that seer stones are impossible for God?

Many religions have objects, places, and events that are sacred to them. We respect the sacred beliefs of other religions and hope to be respected for our own beliefs and what is sacred to us. We should never be arrogant, but rather polite and humble. We still should have a natural confidence, because this is the Church of Jesus Christ.”

Missionary Picture Goes Mildly Viral on Twitter

I received a message from Elder Ward, one of the missionaries in my Ward yesterday morning asking me to checkout Twitter. Apparently, he had received a message from a friend in California (we live in Charlotte, North Carolina) about seeing a picture on Twitter that reminder her of him.

The picture showed two missionaries playing a pickup game of street ball. When he looked at the picture he was surprised to see that it was actually a picture of a game he and his companion, Elder Spencer, played the day before. Someone observing them took a picture and posted to a Twitter account of almost a million followers (last I checked they had a combined total of 7,000 retweets and likes).

The game was of eternal consequences because if the missionaries won (which they did) the other team had to attend Church that Sunday. Now we just need to work on our branding so that people don’t confuse us with the Jehovah Witnesses :)

 

elders

In order for the Elders to send the picture home they asked me to edit out the questionable language. I posted this censored version to Facebook and it was picked up by Mormon Memes, which received some comments about my edits. Personally, I like my version a lot better :).

 

Some Help With Your Ward Mission Plan [TEMPLATES]

Ward Mission Plan Template

In March of this year I was called as the Ward Mission Leader. It took me by surprise because I’ve only been in the ward/state for four months. At the time, I really only knew the Bishop and the Elders Quorum President (and that’s because the EQP helped us move in).

However, more surprisingly was when the Bishop shared with me that the Ward Council had set a goal that year for 15 baptisms. The year before the ward saw 7 baptisms and it wasn’t until the end of last month that we had our first baptism for the year.

I’ve never been one to turn down a calling, but if there was one I wanted to turn down it was this one. On the way home from church that day, I lamented to my wife how I never wanted to be the Ward Mission Leader because there always seemed an unrealistic/vague number associated to the success of the calling. I felt there was no way to magnify my calling if I wasn’t hitting that goal.

To compound things, two weeks after I accepted the calling both the Bishop and Mission President requested a mission plan from me. Having never done this calling before I had no idea where to start. The Bishop sent me the plan from last year and from that I was able to quickly pound something out.

I’ve since calmed down about my calling and have gotten into a rhythm with our missionaries (in North Carolina there’s four missionaries per ward). I vowed I would do better than 99% of the Ward Mission Leaders on my mission and I think I am starting to get the hang of the calling.

In fact, I might dare say that after a few months I’m actually enjoying myself. We still have 14 baptisms to go, but I’m not so wound up about numbers and now I am just focusing on doing my best.

To help others, I thought I would provide both mine and last year’s mission plan. They may not be the best, but hopefully they might help a newly called Ward Mission Leader who is breathing into a bag trying not to hyperventilate.

A few notes on these plans:

  • UPDATED: As stated in the comments by John, the Ward Mission plan should be an effort between the Ward Council, Bishop, and Ward Mission Leader. Due to the fact that I starting in March, I was more thrown into the mix of things, and the time to plan the upcoming year had passed. I still worked closely with the Bishop and we sent out a copy to the Ward Council (no one really provided any additional feedback), but the majority of the work fell on me. I still haven’t gone through the process of planning next year, but knowing my ward, I am anticipating that they will want me to write the first draft of the Ward Mission Plan. So, hopefully this post is still helpful and relevant.
  • The plans are simple and basic, which is intentional. I am actually working with our Elders to put together a tactical plan of everything we want to do in depth. However, the last thing I wanted to do was supply the tactical plan to the Ward Council. I’ve learned the less complex a vision is the less people stress about it. In a future post I hope to share my tactical plan.
  • You will notice at the end of my plan I’ve requested the ward goals, which  I’ve not yet to receive.
  • Finally, I make mention about a Youth Missionary Program title Prepare the Way. This is something I’ve been working on and hope to share it here soon. I think implementing something like this will make a big deal.

Again, I hope these are helpful, and if you’re a seasoned Ward Mission Leader, by all means, please share your plan from over the years. It would be nice to see what everyone else is doing!

Ward Mission Plan 1 Ward Mission Plan 2

 

 

For What Purpose by Alvin R. Dyer (March 18, 1961)

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Photo: Taken of Alvin R. Dyer on December 1958, just after he was released as the Superintendent of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association. The original photo was granular and difficult to see. I blended and blurred the image to allow for a smoother effect and added a Sepia filter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following introduction was written to help better understand the Church’s current stance on Elder Dyer’s address. It is very important you first read the introduction, in its entirety, before evaluating the talk. If not, your perspective on the following doctrines will be inaccurate.

Elder Dyer is an interesting person in Church history. He was called as an apostle, but was never in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President David O. McKay appointed him as an additional counselor of the First Presidency, but no one was certain if his calling was as a counselor “to” the First Presidency or “in” the first presidency. He is the only person in the history of the Church to be ordained to the office of seventy after having been ordained to the office of apostle.

However, I think all of these oddities would have been forgotten by history had Elder Dyer not given a talk in the spring of 1961 to a group of missionaries serving in the Oslo, Norway mission. His talk, “For What Purpose,” put forth an interesting doctrine about judgment in the premortal existence and blacks not receiving the Priesthood. His reasoning suggested that blacks were less valiant with their first inheritance (or premortal existence) and therefore received a “lesser reward” in their second heritance (or mortal existence).

In June 1978, after “spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance,” Spencer W. Kimball, the Mormon prophet at the time, received revelation that “all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood.” It was this revelation, which was later canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants as Official Declaration 2, which brought serious questions concerning Elder Dyer’s talk given over 17 years earlier.

Recently the LDS Church entirely disavowed Alvin R. Dyer’s racial premortal belief (though, not directly pointing out Elder Dyer) by officially stating:

“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Even Elder Dyer had issues (however, probably not doctrinally) about people sharing this particularly talk when he stated,

“The author, while serving as president of the European Mission, during which time (1961-2) this volume was originally published, delivered an address to the missionaries of the Norwegian Mission at Oslo, based upon the materials contained in “The Day of the Gentile.” This talk, taped at the time, has in various ways and places been published and republished in mimeographed and printed form under the title of, “For What Purpose,” without the editing and approval of the author, except in one instance. This has resulted in the distribution of many thousands of copies. As might be expected, without editing, this distribution from many sources has resulted in some changes which do not reflect in a true light the knowledge and understanding of the author on certain subjects.” (Alvin R. Dyer, The Meaning of Truth, rev. ed., p.ii, 1970)

Regardless of the controversial nature of this talk, I publish it in its entirety, just as I received it as a missionary almost 20 years ago. I also state unequivocally that I do not believe Elder Dyer’s racial premortal theories. However, I do find the notion of a just God judging and rewarding his children before coming to this existence as an interesting theological argument.

Understanding this, I hope you realize that I do not teach premortal judgment as doctrine, nor did Elder Dyer (since this talk was before he was called as an Apostle). Rather, I encourage you to read Elder Dyer’s reasoning, remove the heavy racial overtones, and assess for yourself on why some individuals receive so much in life, while others receive so very, very little.

Paul L. Wilson


For What Purpose
by
Alvin R. Dyer

Talk given: March 18, 1961
Oslo, Norway
Missionary Conference

The following is a talk given by President Alvin R. Dyer at the missionary conference in Oslo, Norway, March 18, 1961. It is recommended that each missionary should read this message several times in order to get a better understanding of the purpose of the restored Gospel.

——————–

We have talked a lot about missionary work and heard the testimonies of those who have spoken. I want to talk to you a little bit now about something that is not missionary work and what I say is not to be given to your investigators by any matter or means.

In the Korean War there was a thing that took place that, I don’t know as it brought disgrace upon our country, but it tends to prove the fact that so many of the young men of America didn’t have the concept of liberty and freedom as sponsored by our own beloved country. This was such a shock to our leaders that a program was instituted throughout the country, which still carries on, to better prepare our young people to meet the future, both physically and mentally. I was disillusioned at what took place.

Always in my life I have thought that a “Yankee” or an American was just about the greatest of everything in the world. I have always been a kind of hero-worshipper anyway, and a great football player or a great baseball player or something like that has been more or less my ideal. Anything American was the best. I still feel that way when it comes to my personal inward feelings. I still have an affinity for that.

There was an episode that took place in the Korean War that was very hard for me to take, and hard for me to understand. I am sure that it was much harder for those who were in it, who were called upon to endure the privations of that war, or any war for that matter. After the war was over, the information concerning the behavior of our young men who had been captured by the Koreans (Communist Koreans) revealed the fact that they behaved most ashamedly and with almost cowardice. In the interrogations that were made of our young men, there was less than 5% of them that even knew why they were fighting and what was meant by liberty and freedom and the America way of life. Less than 5% of them were reactionary to the point that they wanted to fight to live, though they had been prisoners, and I know that they must not have had a very easy life. But the official records also reveal that 38% of the American soldiers that were taken prisoners by the Koreans, who died in prison camps, didn’t die from starvation or from any punishment. They simply quit and laid down and died because they did not have the moral stability to fight. This was the disgraceful thing about it all. Nearly 4 out of 10 of the American prisoners died because they didn’t have the will to live. They did not have any reason or rhyme for what they were there for.

When this became known to our leaders, they immediately called into conference a great body of men and established in America what they called a physical fitness program. Ezra Taft Benson and Marion D. Hanks and several others from the Church were called upon and they are still serving on it. I was glad to see that President Kennedy has reinstated this program among our young people.

You might say, “What has that to do with us?” It doesn’t have a great deal to do with us except that I would feel rather embarrassed, as a leader of the Church, if any one of our missionaries did not know why he was in the mission field, and all you could say is, “I am here preaching the Gospel and I have been sent out here. I know the Gospel is true and I have a testimony of it.” If that is all you could say, you don’t have the full meaning for the purpose of missionary work.

I have always felt that if you would place in the minds of anybody the reason for doing things and the purpose behind it, you wouldn’t have to worry about what that person would do. If you young men and women know why you are here and why the Lord is so anxious for us to preach the Gospel today, and then would ask yourselves a number of questions connected with that, such as: Why is it that you are born today instead of 2,000 years ago? Why is it that you are sitting in this room today and were for some reason, not born in the day of Moses or in the day when Christ was upon the earth? Or do you think that is just something haphazard – that it just happened that way – that nobody had anything to do with it? You would ask another question maybe: Why is it that you are white and not colored? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Who had anything to do with your being born into the Church? Why not born a Chinese or a Hindu or a Negro? Is God such an unjust person that he would make you white and free and make a Negro cursed under the cursing of Cain, that he could not hold the Priesthood of God? Who do you think decided and what is the reason behind it? Then maybe you would ask yourselves another question: Why is it that you were kept in the Spirit World until the last dispensation to come forth among the children of men? Was there any reason for that, and who decided it?

When you begin to get the answers to these questions, then perhaps you will begin to understand why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in the world today, and why the plan of salvation is taking its affect upon people. I think that every missionary ought to know the answers to those questions. When he does know the answers, he stands before the Lord without excuse to go forth and labor with all his strength to serve the Lord.

There isn’t anyone in this room that would have the fantastic notion that this life is of any great duration. This life is merely a pinpoint or speck on the eternity of man’s existence. It is over so fast that it is merely a short period of time in the existence of eternal life of man here upon the earth – just a few short hours of the Lord’s time. To us it is many thousands of years.

I want to talk with you just briefly about this, not with any information that you would convey to your investigators, but that you, yourselves, may have a better understanding of what we are doing in the mission field today, and why it is that we come to you with encouragement to work with all your strength to get the people into the Church and why we set goals. It isn’t for the purpose of a goal. That is just a kind of game between us to become physically motivated to go out and to do our best and work as a team and as a mission. The real purpose behind this is more far reaching than that.

I will read to your from the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, “And the Lord said unto me,” speaking to Abraham, “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they,” indicating that in the pre-existence there are three divisions of spirits. “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”

This statement of Abraham’s is directly connected with the degrees of glory because we taught that when people die, all shall be resurrected who are born in this life – sons of perdition and all. They are then, after the Spirit World, assigned into one of these three degrees of glory – the Celestial, the Terrestrial, and the Telestial. Others who were spun off who can no longer repent, and because they can no longer repent, they can become Sons of Perdition and are not worthy to go into a degree of glory. The consequence of this is that they shall go with Lucifer and the disembodied spirits who never were permitted to take upon themselves a body of flesh and bones.

You recall the scripture that missionaries very often use in Corinthians when Paul is speaking of the three divisions of people. We often use that scripture as a resurrection scripture but we do not apply it properly. If you will read it carefully it says, “Such are they in the resurrection,” which means that Paul is calling to the attention of those who listen to him, that there are three degrees of glory of people who are in preparation on the earth while they live here. Now let’s suppose, to make this more plain, that the earth would end at this instant; that there would be no one upon the earth; that life would cease and that judgment was immediate. Obviously the people who had been living on the earth would be assigned to one of these three places. Therefore, the people are the embryos of these three kingdoms.

The suggestion here by Abraham is that they were born into this life with the same degree of division. There were three divisions of mankind in the pre-existence, and when you are born into this life, you are born into one of three divisions of people. There is an imposed judgment placed upon everyone who leaves the Spirit World, just as there will be when they leave this life and go into one of the three places. When they left the Spirit World, they had already been judged by what they had done in the Spirit World and in their previous life. When you understand that, you know then that God is not unjust to cause a righteous spirit to be born as a cursed member of the black race, or to be cursed as one of the other people of the earth who has been cursed. Everything is in order. The procreation of man is orderly and is in accordance with the plan of life and salvation.

In keeping with this thought, when Noah went into the ark, here again he took with him his three sons – one representing the chosen lineage, the second representing the lineage of adoption, and the third representing the cursed lineage. Thereafter, when men began to be born again into this life, they were born through one of these three sons of Noah, either through the lineage of Shem, Japheth or Ham.

I suppose you often may have heard missionaries say it, or have asked the question: Why is a Negro a Negro? And you have heard the answer: “Well, they must have been neutral in the pre-existence or they must have straddled the fence.” That is the most common saying – they were neither hot nor cold, so the Lord made them Negros. This, of course, is not true. The reason that spirits are born into Negro bodies is because those spirits rejected the Priesthood of God in the pre-existence. This is the reason why you have Negros upon the earth.

You will observe that when Cain was influenced by the power of Lucifer to follow him to fall down and worship him in the beginning, it was then that the Lord came to him and said, “Cain, if you will abide the law – if you will keep the commandments, you too can be acceptable to me.” But Cain rejected the counsel of God. He rejected again the Priesthood as his forebearers had done in the preexistence. Therefore, the curse of the pre-existence was made institute through the loins of Cain. Consequently you have then, the beginning of the race of men and women into which would be born those in the pre-existence who had rejected the Priesthood of God.

There was another division in the pre-existence – those who were not valiant in the acceptance of the Gospel. You see, there is a great difference between one who accepts and one who accepts and does something about it. We had a division in the pre-existence who did not reject the Priesthood, neither did they fully accept the plan of salvation that was advanced by the Christ. They, therefore, in accordance to the plan of the Gospel, became those of the lineage of adoption.

I want to read to you a very important scripture in the Old Testament. We talk about studying books and reading manuscripts to prepare ourselves to teach the Gospel, but there are very few missionaries who ever study they Old Testament. The 10th chapter of Genesis, according to my information, has had at least 2,000 volumes written about it – just about this one chapter. It is so important because the whole plan and purpose of life was understood by the ancient people of Israel and they knew and understood what was meant by the teachings of the Old Testament here given to us by Moses. I want to read something to you and make an explanation. “And Ham, the father of Canaan,” this is in the 9th chapter of Genesis, “saw the nakedness of his father and told his two his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and went backward and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” Now, that is a Jewish story – that is a Hebrew story, in legend form, that merely implicates the fact that Ham reinstated the curse of the pre-existence when he rejected the Priesthood of Noah, and in consequence of that, he preserves the curse of the earth. Therefore, the Negros to be born thereafter or those who were to become Negros were to be born through the loins of Ham.

All of this is according to a well worked out plan, that these millions and billions of spirits awaiting in the pre-existence would be born through a channel of race of people. Consequently the cursed were to be born through Ham. We cannot accept this story literally because, in order to understand that, you have to read the Pearl of Great Price very carefully. Because, in the early days when the Egyptian government was established under its first rulers, the Pharaohs, they set up a system that was exactly like the Priesthood of God. It was exactly like the Patriarchal Order, but they said, knowing that they could not have the birthright, they thought to capitalize on the form, or the order of administration. The Pearl of Great Price tells us specifically that they knew that they could not hold the Priesthood, yet they used the type of organization. Gradually the sons of Pharaoh began to denounce that concept and assumed unto themselves that they were the princes and not the descendants of Shem. There is a great deal more to it than that, but I wanted to point this out to you that all of this that we talk about with people is not just merely a little message that we proclaim to them; but all that we are doing is part of a great plan that was inaugurated under the same direction of the Christ in the pre-existence.

Listen to what Noah said to his other two brethren: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.” Who is Shem? Shem is who is known as the father of the Shemitics or the Semitics. He became the father of the children of Israel. Through the loins of Shem’s descendants, were born Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then twelve sons of the twelve princes of Israel. Therefore, Shem became the father or the progenitor of those who were to be born into this life who were the noblest of the intelligences who Abraham speaks of here when he said, “Notwithstanding that these two spirits are intelligent and one is more intelligent than the other – there is still another spirit or another division that is more intelligent than both of them.” Then the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and the Lord saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them and said: These I will make my rulers, for he saw that they were good, and he said unto me; Abraham, thou art one of them: thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” This is true with everyone who fits into the category of Israel. This is a part of the plan the world does not know anything about. The Christian churches never mention it. They never teach it because they know nothing about it.

Noah made another promise at this point and he said, “God shall enlarge Japheth, who was the eldest son, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” (tent or house). In those days that is the only thing they lived in. “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the house of Shem.” What is the house of Shem? The House of Israel. Therefore, the descendants of Japheth shall be enlarged and they shall be permitted to dwell in the House of Israel. Therefore, we call the descendants of Japheth the children of the adoption. Now, who are the descendants of Japheth? The descendants of Japheth are in all of Europe. They are in America; they are in Japan and Korea. They are in India and all these people can be traced. For example, we have here the generations of Shem as the Lord gives it to us in the tenth chapter of the book of Genesis. Those ancient prophets were careful to preserve those generations, and those genealogies, knowing their full meaning which the world does not understand but which we know by revelation from the Lord.

“Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer” they are the French; “and Magog,” they are the Slavs; “and Madai,” they are the Hindu, the Korean, the Indian, the Japanese and the Phillipenos. We know who the people are who migrated eastward through India in the area of the Tungus and then into Korea and Japan. This is the reason today why we are having such tremendous success among the Koreans and the Japanese, because it is the day the Gospel is to be preached to them. Then he goes on to say, “Javan” the people of Greece and Italy and of Turkey, “and Meschech”, the Meshechites, the Russians, “and Tiras,” the Siberians. These are the descendants of Japheth.

The day was to come, according to Noah, that these people and their descendants would come in and dwell in the tent, or the house, of Shem, or the House of Israel. You have to know what the Lord is doing today in preaching the Gospel unto the Gentiles, because this is the day of the Gentile. They are the people of Europe. They are the people of America. This is the time of the Gentile. Only one portion of the House of Israel is being called, and they are the children of Ephraim.

Everyone of you here, I assume, has had a Patriarchal Blessing. Is there anyone here who is not of the lineage of Joseph? You know what I mean? They are the only ones of the House of Israel that are being called – the lineage of Joseph, through Ephraim, and there is a reason for that.

I want to mention again, the teaching of Christ unto the Nephites. You will find this in the 21st chapter of 3rd Nephi; the sign of the Father’s work, the glorious destiny of the repentant Gentiles, the condemnation predicted for the impenitent and the coming of the New Jerusalem or the city of Zion. And the Lord himself, speaking unto the Nephites said this: “And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place – that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O House of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion.” Then he goes on to tell that the first of this day shall be the day of the Gentiles, and you read that entire chapter. I won’t take the time to do it, but he says, “in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.” (The Prophet Joseph Smith). “But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.” The Prophet Joseph Smith suffered martyrdom but he was not harmed, and he said to his brother in Carthage prison, just before he was shot: “Fear not, brethren. They may take our lives and destroy the body, but they cannot kill us.” This is what the Lord was saying here. If you read the rest of the chapter, you will read how the Gospel is to be taken to the Gentiles. The Lord said in verse 22: “But behold if the Gentiles will repent,” meaning who”? The French, the German, the Norwegian, the Yiddish, the Finlander, the people of Denmark and the people all over the countries of Europe. “If they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance.” This was spoken of before by Nephi, and you will read it in the 13th and 14th chapters of the Book of Mormon, where the Lord makes plain that the day will come when the Gentiles will receive the gospel and will come in and be numbered among the Children of Israel.

I will just read one of these scriptures, although there are many found in 1st Nephi, the 14th chapter, starting with the first verse: “And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles;” let me explain now again who the Gentiles are. In the eyes of the Jew, anyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile. But correctly speaking, the Gentiles are the descendants of the House of Japheth, the oldest son of Noah. The cursed people are the descendants of Ham. The chosen people are the descendants of Shem the second of the three sons of Noah. Through these lineages the spirits that compare with their station are born in this life. This is why you have colored people, why you have dark people and why you have white people. The Lord is speaking of the Gentiles. “And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles,” the descendants of Japheth, “shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.”

In other words, where they have resisted the church, resisted conversion, the Lord will remove the stumbling blocks, “And if they harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be a blessed people.” You see, this is the promise that was made anciently by Noah when he blessed Japheth. Because why? Because he did not rebel against the Priesthood that Noah held, like Ham did, neither did Shem.

We have a fulfillment of this scripture. When the Kirtland Temple was finished, there were a number of ancient prophets that made their appearances in the temple. The Christ was the first to come and receive the temple, and gave instructions to Joseph Smith many of which we have never been privileged to know about. Following this, there appeared unto them, Moses, and then came Elias and then came Elijah, each of them committing the keys of their specific work. Let me call your attention to the key of Elias. In the first place, who is Elias? Elias is Noah. Here we have the same one who gave the covenant unto Japheth anciently, that he would be blessed and that he would come in and dwell in the house of Shem. He returned to the earth to give the key unto the prophet Joseph Smith, to fulfill the promise to Abraham, that through the loins of Abraham, or the chosen seed, all of the children of the earth would be blessed.

There is another thing that you must understand for yourselves, to understand this whole thing, and that is that this life, or the day of this life, so far as the Gospel is concerned, begins the day you were born and ends after the period of the Spirit World – not when you die in this life. So the day of this life, so far as the plan of life is concerned is from the day you were born until the end of your period in the Spirit World. For this reason then, we can function and carry on the program than the Lord has intended in the Spirit World, so that they can be preached to, and have work done for them here upon the earth and that work will be binding in the worlds that are to come.

Now I want to go back again to the statement of Abraham and to emphasize here the importance of what we are doing. “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers.” All right, what did the Lord mean by that? I call to your attention now, the washing and anointing that you received in the temple. All of you have been through the temple, I assume. When you went into the washing an anointing room where you were washed and anointed with water and oil, you were given a new name, and you were promised that some day you would be called up to be a King and a Priest or Queen and Priestess. Don’t ever suppose that it is for this life. It is not. It is for the next life, and the Lord is preparing today, the rulers that will be the administrators of these degrees of glory after the Spirit World. The consequence of this is that the Celestial Kingdom must be peopled first because it becomes the kingdom of administration; so all of it becomes a part of the plan.

The Terrestrial Kingdom will receive its administration through the Christ and the Melchizedek Priesthood, and there will be a system of government established upon that kingdom. The Telestial Kingdom will receive its administration through the ministering angels of the Terrestrial Kingdom, and they will have their form of government, but they will exist and live under a government. They will be controlled by laws and regulations of advancement and development and growth all in accordance with the plan of the Lord – the same in the Terrestrial and Celestial Kingdoms.

Now let us suppose that we were a board of directors here today and we were going to establish a vast corporation that would hire millions of men and women. Would we go out and hire all these men and women right at the outset, or would we first build an administrative building and hire our executives or administrators, and then place them over to control and govern? It is the same thing in the plan of life. The Celestial Kingdom must be founded first because it becomes the kingdom of administration. The Lord has revealed these things to us. They are very plain, and what we are striving for today is to find those whom the Lord wants to make His rulers.

You like to think, I know, and I do too, that the Gospel is going to be received by everyone, but it isn’t. I call to your attention to the statements of Christ when He said, “Straight is the way and narrow the gate, and few there be that find it.” There won’t be many but these the Lord has chosen in the preexistence. If they are worthy and prove their worthiness in this life and this probation, then they receive the endowment. When they get the endowment, they are promised that they will be leaders. We call them Kings and Priests, but the correct word in our terminology would be administrators, a leader, an executive who will have power to govern and control the millions and millions of people who will go into these other degrees of glory.

Now you see how the plan opens up, and there is purpose and meaning as to what we are doing. I have often said this, “It is a frightening thought but it is undoubtedly true, that only those who are worthy of leadership will enter the Celestial Kingdom because that is the Kingdom of administration. Others who are less valiant, who do not have the qualities of leadership and direction, will necessarily have to settle for the Terrestrial Kingdom.

I don’t know whether the knowledge or the revelation of these things will have an effect upon you as a missionary, but I know that it has an effect upon me because, if I am to fulfill my destiny and my purpose here in this mission (life), as has been given to me, and proven to me by my pre-existent identity, then I would do everything in my power to measure up to what I was in the pre-existence because if we could this day, by some miraculous means be permitted to see who we were, I wouldn’t be President Dyer up there, or you wouldn’t be Elder Smith or Brown or President Gunderson. Oh, no. You would be someone else, and the day will come when you will know who you are, because you are a person of nobility. You may not fully know that now but you were a person of nobility in the preexistence. If you were not, you would have been born into one of these other channels, and you would not have been born in this day and age because the Lord has withheld the choice spirits of the preexistence to come forth in this, the last dispensation and the reason for this is obvious. Why? Because in the world will be just that many righteous spirits who supported and sustained Him, and who accepted Him in the pre-existence. That is why today I am telling you now to preach the Gospel to the people. They do not need to have long teaching. These people today who are accepting the Gospel know all about it because they have been selected to know. That is why they recognize it when they feel the charge and the impact of testimony and spirit. Then it all unfolds to them and many of them are even more brilliant than we are because of the place which they had.

This is not like any other day in the history of the world. The Lord now is preparing to establish His Kingdom – the kingdom that will govern the earth for 1000 years before we go into the judgment period that leads into the establishment of the degrees of glory. In consequence of that, He has wisely chosen the ones that are to come into the world in this day and age. It is a battle. He fought the power of Lucifer, in the pre-existence. He had to use His best spirits to defend Him, and here again He will have to do the same thing and He knows that. Now what does that mean in a probation?

In the wisdom of our Heavenly Father, He has made this life a probation which means that a person who is born in a lower division can accelerate through this life to a higher division. For example, if a colored person, being born into the Telestial division, will receive and accept the Gospel he can be elevated to the Celestial division or the Terrestrial division. That is the purpose of a probation. That is why the Lord set the plan of the Gospel, so that those who had not merited it in the pre-existence, may merit it here through this life of probation. Don’t you see that? Don’t you see the purpose of the probation, the planning of the Gospel, to provide even this last opportunity in this life while men are taking upon themselves the element of a body, to have another chance to improve their place over what they had done in the pre-existence?

Now I want to read to you from the Book of Mormon on that. This scripture will have new meaning to you, I am sure, as you understand the things that I have spoken. The prophet Alma understood this very plainly, and I want you to pay particular attention to what he says. This is found in the 24th chapter, beginning with the 31st verse. I am sure you have read it, but let’s read it now for this concept. “Yea, I would that you would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer, for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation. And therefore if you will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” Don’t you see?

All a man has to do is repent and open his heart to the Lord and immediately the plan will be made known to him. That doesn’t say the missionary will make it known to him. The power of the Holy Ghost will make it known unto him. He already knows it, because he stood in the councils of heaven and supported and sustained this plan. He recognizes Christ. He recognized the prophets, etc. “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.”

If life did not extend beyond the grave, then why did Christ go to the Spirit World, undoubtedly where Elder Wheat went. Isn’t it something that he was driving on the highway doing missionary work, and in the twinkling of an eye he was doing missionary work in the Spirit World. He had changed from life to death still a missionary. It came upon him and he will never know what happened. I know as well as I know anything that he is preaching the Gospel there.

Many of the people in the world like the descendants of Meschech who are living in Russia, live and die without hearing the Gospel and go to the Spirit World, because their government won’t let us do it here. Then the descendants hear of it and they themselves wield a great influence. In this way the Gospel is preached to all nations, kindreds and tongues.

“Now behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meed God; behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” Now listen closely: “And now as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end.” What is the end? The end of the Spirit World in this life.

“For after this day of life,” or from birth until the end of the Spirit World, “which is given us to prepare for eternity,” meaning if we do not improve our time while in this life, “then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” Do you see how plain this is? If we do not improve ourselves from one division to another, born into the world in a lower division, improving to one of the higher, then we can do nothing about it.

“If we do not improve our time and our place in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” It is just as plain and simple as anything can be simple.

I wanted to talk to you about that today because I want you to know the reason why you are preaching the Gospel. There is a purpose behind it and, knowing of your nobility, what kind of a missionary are you going to be from this day to the end of your mission? I know what kind you want to be. There will be no more wasted time because it is imposed upon you – the necessity of continuing you nobility, that you may prove your place. That you may be a ruler and a king and a queen and a priestess, as you were promised in the temple of God, if you are faithful in the fulfilling of you obligations.

I have always thought and have proven the point many times, that if you will place into the mind of a boy or a girl, firmly that they are noble persons born of noble heritage in the pre-existence, they will never stoop to anything that is sordid. They just won’t do it. You don’t need the preaching and the harassments of young people. All you need to do is accept that as your ideology, and what you do from now on will be the important thing, that you may not have known before, but you know them now, because the Spirit bears record. I bear record of their truthfulness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Internet Dating as an Active Member of the Church

Note: This is a guest post by Kelly Merrill who blogs full time at MormonBasics.com.

Online Dating

Oh, that it was this easy!

Back in the day, Internet relationships were treated with more aversion than blind dates in the shallow end of the gene pool. Yet it was through the Internet that I met my wife. In the late 90s I was a divorcee with four children. They ranged in age from 8 to 16 years of age. I had three girls and a boy. I had spent three years as a single father, and I really wanted some adult company.

Do not get me wrong, I loved my children dearly, but I really wanted some adult female association. The only problem was the lack of time for said company. I lived in Lehi, Utah at the time. I worked in downtown Salt Lake City. Normally that is a 45 minute commute, but they were redoing all the freeways in Salt Lake Valley, and it was not unusual for me to have a three hour one-way commute to or from work. By the time I got home at night it was all I could do to fix dinner, make sure everyone had a pulse, feed the pulse, then put them to bed.

I decided that I had to do something, but I was not entirely sure what options were available to me. Someone suggested I try the latest and greatest thing to hit the dating market, the Internet dating services. Well that sounded like about as much fun as a rusty needle at an inoculation party. But my choices were limited by my lack of time to actually see another adult human outside of work hours.

The Plunge

My first concern was finding an appropriate place to meet people. Since I am LDS, I did not want to join just any old site. I finally stumbled upon a place that offered to hook me up with some pen pals to help me find the woman of my dreams – ldsfriends.com. Yes, this very site. Back then it was a lot more wild and crazy. Don’t most pen pals equal wild and crazy?

I created my profile, which I just recently reread for the first time in many years, and I must say, I was very impressed with myself. I do not remember ever being that smooth. At one point I was corresponding with more than 30 women. That is where the wild and crazy came in. Talk about overkill and exhaustion! Finally, I received a note from a lady in Hawaii who, as it turned out, was a distant relation of mine. I think she said we were half second cousins once removed. I do not honestly know what that means, but it is not the same as first cousins, so I am good with it.

First Date

We started writing back and forth to each other in November of 1998. By Christmas time of that year we decided that since she was flying to Utah for Christmas we would meet in a safe place. Internet dating had such a sketchy reputation back then that one could not be too careful. We decided to meet on Temple Square, and each of us brought a child in tow. The child was our safety clause. We each secretly figured that if the other person was awful or scary for any reason, we could use our child as an excuse to leave. Yes, this proves that even adults can be cowards.

I cannot say that our time together for that hour and a half was wonderful, though we both enjoyed it as much as is humanly possible with two children who were bent on making their individual parent suffer as much as possible. They were both whiny, moody, and sulky. We did our best to ignore them.

After Christmas I was not too sure how to proceed, so I did the only thing I could think of, which was nothing. Finally, after a couple of weeks of silence, Elaine (that was her name) called to thank me for the date. She had to call me, because I was too much of a clod to call her. That was the beginning of the end. We started to call each other every weekend, and we wrote emails almost daily. During our phone conversations I would generally rehash what I had taught in High Priest’s group. She was in Primary, so it was always new to her.

The Courtship

By February things were getting more serious, and the M word came up a time or two. By the second Sunday of March I proposed over the phone. By the first week in April she flew me to Hawaii for a visit as a birthday present. Nice. No pressure. In June she flew to Utah during summer break at BYU-Hawaii. That is when she met the rest of my children. We were married on July 20th, and I moved my family to Hawaii on August 2, 1999. Counselors will tell you the most traumatic things you can do to a child is to move them, give them a new parent, change schools, and change cultures. Yeah, I did all of those things to my children at the same time. It is a wonder any of them speak to me today. I am happy to say that they have all finally learned to love their stepmother and have a good relationship with her. And I have a good working relationship with Elaine’s daughter.

My wife and I have been married for more than 15 years now. To give you an idea how evil Internet dating was considered to be when we met, here is a quote from one of the letters I sent to Elaine. And yes, she saved every word of our correspondence during our “dating” period. I think it was so if I backed out she could sue me for breach of promise or something.

“I really wouldn’t call this dating. Perhaps we can use one of the euphemisms of the day and say that we are cultivating a mutual familiarity with each other. That doesn’t sound nearly so bad as ‘dating over the Internet.’”

Some Wise Counsel

When meeting anyone over the Internet it is important to remember a few key factors.
1. Emotional intimacy can move faster than physical intimacy because you are not physically close to the person. Do not discount the importance of the physical chemistry part of your relationship. If you move too quickly with your emotional intimacy, then when you finally meet and you discover there is no physical chemistry, you might feel trapped. This can be very awkward, and it is very difficult to get out of this kind of relationship. There is no substitute for physical proximity.

2. Remember that when you write to someone you have time to put your thoughts in order before you say something. You can edit them or delete them at will until you are satisfied with them. In a live relationship you cannot do that. Make sure you have plenty of face time with your new friend. You actually need the time to stumble over your own words and make mistakes in conversation so that you can both see more clearly what you are getting into.

3. Before you commit to any kind of lasting relationship, be prepared to spend some time together working side by side. If you cannot clean the dishes or paint a room or do service without getting into arguments or grappling for power in the relationship then your relationship may be doomed before you have really begun. There just is no substitute for time spent together.

4. When you do get to spend time together, remember that you are both still on your best behavior. It is very difficult to measure the real attitudes of a person when they are still exhibiting “company” behavior. If your newly beloved’s family starts telling you stories about his/her temper or poor social behavior, even if you have not ever seen it, believe it. I have learned from personal experience that more often than not these stories are true. Consider yourself warned. And remember that your beloved will be looking for those same stories about you as well.

Getting to know someone and falling in love with them is difficult and complicated even under the best of circumstances. Using a medium other than a natural face-to-face method is risky. Assume there will be surprises down the road. Hopefully they will be good and not bad surprises, though you are likely to get a healthy mixture of both. Even face-to-face courtships can hold hidden surprises. I was one of the lucky ones. We had our hardships, and our times when we wondered if we had made the right decision, but it has all worked out well for us. I hope you are as fortunate as I was.

What tales do you have of your online encounters?

Author Bio

Kelly Merrill owns Mormonbasics.com, a website dedicated to strengthening the testimony of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.